Fanfiction coming to The Spiders Lair

I am still working on some original stuff behind the scenes. As I delve into writing things I get tons of ideas in my head. I used to write some pretty lousy fanfiction back in the early days of the world wide web. I am thinking of a few ideas that I have been kicking around. Below is a list of some of the fanfics I would like to do. The purpose is to jump start my imagination to, hopefully, inspire me to finish some of my other works of fiction.

The first day I took a job at the newspaper I was thrilled to be able to finally tell people I am a writer, and I actually get paid to do it. I have always been a writer. Ever since I was a kid. I just finally got around to finding a way to make a living doing what I love.

That being said, every writer has writers block. In terms of fiction stories, especially the suspense and horror stuff, I have hit a dead end for the time being. So I will start up some fanfics as a way to get the creative juices flowing again.

Here is a list of settings I would like to delve into. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few that I have ideas that I think would inspire me. Also, I am absolutely not making any commitment to finish any of these. The idea is to get excited and inspired to write something original.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Specifically the original team of Jason, Trini, Kimberly, Zach, and Billy. The good thing about a fanfic here is you can cut out all of the cheesy acting and low budget special effects and focus on writing a fun and exciting story. There are a few science fiction stories I have swirling around in my head that a MMPR fanfic could be a good starting point.

Robocop vs. The Terminator

I have a lot of verses ideas. Actually who doesn’t to be honest. I don’t imagine any of mine will be award-winning stuff that makes fans geek out. Rather I expect it to be the types of stuff that only a certain type of fan might enjoy. I would set mine basically in the world the Sega Genesis game created.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

I have seen every film starring Freddy Krueger. I have seen all of the episodes of Freddy’s Nightmare’s a low budget TV series set in the same universe. I have even read all of the comic books and played all of the video games. It’s safe to say I know this character well enough I could write compelling fanfiction. In fact when I was younger much of the fanfics I wrote were based on this character.

Doctor Who

I have an idea for a Doctor Who fanfic where the Doctor travels into the Star Wars universe. I haven’t decided if it would be a parallel universe type story or something else. It revolves around him trying to prove the science of the Jedi and use that to dispel their “magic” as he often does. Thankfully Mr. Lucas created a way to science up the Force in a perfectly Doctor Who way.

Inspector Spacetime

Okay so ever since I fell in love with Community (and Alison Brie I won’t lie) I have been super excited to explore the Doctor Who rip off set in that shows universe. I have seen enough Doctor Who, Community, Futurama and The Orville I know I could get into this world and have tons of fun.

Speaking of…

Yes, I would love to write Community, Futurama and The Orville fanfics as well. I mean they are just each ripe with uncharted territory that needs to be explored further. I want to be free of the shackles of actors leaving the show so I can continue the adventures of Troy and Abhed in the Morning without worrying about one of them pretending to be a gangsta rapper or whatever it was. Futurama is also a goldmind for fanfiction material. I must confess it’s one of the few comic book series I truly enjoy so it’s quite possible I might already be able to get my fix that way, but still I think I could delve into that universe if I was properly motivated. As for The Orville. Okay it’s still new enough writing fanfiction might be premature. However, as it is loosely based on Star Trek, yet free from the convoluted retconning, it would be a cinch to jump in as there is little to go on and nothing can contradict anything else since it’s so new.

Super Mario Bros.

I loved the Super Mario Super Show. I know what you are thinking but I did. I would love to write stories set in that world using the characters and settings that have come since it’s end. The best part is, there really is no wrong way to do a Mario story since technically each game is disconnected from the rest. I might even have a way to write some Super Mario Bros: The Movie fanfiction that fixes some of that universe’s issues. Hey one can dream right?

I won’t dig into explanations for the remainder just list a bunch I can see myself having fun writing, even if nobody ever gets to read them but me.

Transformers meets Gobots

Boy Meets World

Saved by the Bell

Psych

The Goonies/The Monster Squad

Gremlins

Shinobi

Mechwarrior

Dungeons and Dragons

Loony Tunes/Disney/DuckTales

Indiana Jones

Legend of Zelda

Rainbow Brite

The Smurfs

Sonic the Hedgehog

Mortal Kombat

Friday the 13th

Pac-Man

The Matrix

G.I. Joe A Real American Hero

Super Smash Bros.

Final Fantasy 6 and 7

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Sabrina the Teenage Witch

And that should do it for this wish list. Thanks for reading and if you have any fanfiction you would like to share feel free to send it in.

The Dark Web is coming to The Spiders Lair

dark web logo

It’s been a long process. I have done shows where I talk exclusively about video games. I did a show where I talked about YouTube and internet culture. I have even worked for a local news station and done the 6 o clock news. In all this time I was not satisfied with any of the work I was doing. I enjoyed most of it, and I promoted all of it even the stuff I wasn’t proud of. This week marks the return to a new vision, an original vision I had for the site to be taken to the next level.

This week I am planning on starting a new podcast called The Dark Web. I am considering hosting the show under my stage name THE RAT, I haven’t decided if I want to do that yet but it’s a very strong possibility.

When I sat out to create The Spiders Lair I wanted to give a voice to those of us who society has called basement dwellers. Those of us who are outcasts or outsiders who gravitate to a inner circle of anti-social groups and activities. The problem is when I started out I failed to realize the main stream culture had co-opted much of our culture without asking for our permission. On the surface it looks like we gained some power and status. Under neath the surface you realize that is not the case. The insiders, the elitists, the marketing wizards that finally figured out how to hack into our culture discovered there was a movement they could not control so they changed the rules. By making “nerd culture” “geek” culture or “gamer” culture mainstream what they did was what they had been doing to us all of our lives, the constant bullying. Taking the things, ideas and activities that we used to hide from them, to shield ourselves from them, and twisting it into some sort of marketing tool.

When it comes to consumerism there are trends and there are fads. The geek culture, which began as a counter culture for outcasts, was integrated into mainstream culture when people who love to make fun of us realized we wielded more power than they expected. So they diluted that power by flooding the market with products that were intended to feel like you could buy this and be a geek, or a nerd, or a hacker, or a gamer. But they didn’t understand us one bit. They don’t realize that to someone who is smart but socially akward calling them a nerd  because mainstream culture says it’s okay doesn’t make it hurt any less than calling a black person a negro or other synonym of the word. It doesn’t quite contain the same stigma or social scars to be sure, but it’s really just a sign that they were telling us to “get over it, nerds, it’s okay to be a nerd, because everyone is a nerd so stop pretending like you’re something special.”

I have heard people call them selves a geek, or a nerd, but then exhibit the very traits ‘we’ shun without realizing it’s that behavior that pushed us to the edges of society in the first place. This website was supposed to be a way to take back what was ours. It was supposed to be a safe haven for those of us who can’t or won’t find success in the dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest world Darwin unleashed on the world. We have to survive on scraps. We have to hide in the shadows and put on a mask in order to blend in. Those who aren’t one of us don’t get it so they think it’s just because we collect action figures from our childhood because someone told us it was cool to do so. If you are a grown adult and are buying Transformers action figures from your childhood because you think it is cool, you are NOT a nerd you are NOT a geek, you are NOT a social outcast whose best friend growing up was a piece of plastic. You don’t understand the loneliness we felt when we learned that the only friends we had were those toy companies sold to us or delivered to our doors in the form of a video game or some other form of media.

Everyone is a nerd is a mantra of consumerism. They think oh Transformers movies are popular so it’s cool to buy the toys. The Marvel movies being a success have done the same thing to comic books. Except all it’s done is destroy the heart and soul of what made the comic industry thrive. If you want proof of that, despite the main stream success of the super popular characters due to Disney’s power house marketing, comic book sales are down so low the entire industry set aside one day a year to give out their BEST works entirely for free. This began as a way for those of us who care about comics because we understand the social commentary to come out of the shadows and return to the public places where we used to find solace. I used to spend HOURS in my local comic book shop or used video game store not shopping, not even browsing but socializing. Because it was the only safe place to discuss these things in person with other human beings.

The internet gave us a voice. I started out like all other nerds, true ‘nerds’, on the real internet. I used Usenet, if you can’t figure out what Usenet is or how to access it WITHOUT google you are NOT a nerd. I won’t describe usenet here only say that when I discovered alt.toys.transformers.classics.moderated I was ecstatic to have found a group of people online that shared my interests and experiences I could socialize with. Eventually Google discovered how there was still a corner of the internet using this antiquated (by computer technology standards look up Moores Law for more) well they didn’t see it as a thing on the internet nerds were doing, they saw it as a way make money, so they created Google Groups as a way to bring the old internet into the new internet. Somewhere along the way usenet morphed into discussion boards, also called forums. While we were going through the painstaking process of creating avatars to hide our identity and seek out others who shared our culture to be a part of a group, the mainstream internet was hitting up the Yahoo Chatrooms looking for a quick connection with nothing more in common than I have a genital that fits inside yours wanna chat. Why did every conversation in Yahoo Chat start with ASL? The moniker was Age Sex Location. Because the only thing a “normal” socially capable person needs to know about the other person is can our sex organs get together at some point. They don’t understand how we were not motivated by sex. No, not because we can’t get laid or can’t find love. That’s a topic for another discussion. The truth was we were above it.

You think Sheldon Cooper is a circus clown. He is a freak you enjoy laughing at because you know someone like him and it’s fun to make fun of that person. You don’t realize the Sheldon Coopers, the Rajesh  Koothrappali’s and the Howard Walowitz’s of the world actually DO exist, they do find your show and view of them offensive and they are even more scared of the world we live in than ever before because they can’t hide in the shadows anymore. We’ve been unwittingly outed against our wills because mainstream society believes if you don’t conform you aren’t valuable to them.

The Spiders Lair is taking back the word nerd. To me, it’s as offensive as the other N word so don’t come here and call us nerds. See us as people who have our own pains, our own struggles and yes despite our often intellects getting in the way, we have feelings too.

This is why we aren’t into the new Disneyfied Star Wars. Because Disney didn’t understand the world the social outcast George Lucas, a film student who makes indie films, was selling. They didn’t understand the culture behind Star Wars. They (and so DID you) stopped liking Star Wars in 1984. I was alive then. I grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s. NOBODY liked Star Wars then, except us ‘nerds’. In 1996 I met the first person who wasn’t a kid who had moved on past the hype of the movies who described himself as a real fan. This person was in his 40’s at that time and described to me what Star Wars meant to him. I shared that feeling and it became something personal to me.

In 1997 George Lucas, in an attempt to FUND the prequels because nobody was buying his toys or comics anymore, released the Special Editions. The nerds lined up to see this new take on their favorite films. The mainstream went out in droves not because Star Wars meant anything to them, but because they remembered how popular it was in the 70’s and were relying on nostalgia and media hype. Except the media was being run by nerds who were alive in the 70’s that also loved Star Wars and the Prequels were unleashed upon the world. The mainstream audiences hated them because they weren’t the Star Wars they remembered. Those of us who actually followed the stories in the books, the video games and even the comics, we loved those movies despite their flaws because we enjoy B movies. A B movie can be one of our favorite experiences. One of my favorite movie franchises is the Killer Tomatoes series.

This time Lucas was actually trying to make the movie he saw in his head and the masses rejected it, hurled hatred and vitriol his way for “raping their childhoods” as the expression came to be. Then slowly but surely those of us who loved Star Wars our entire lives were once again relegated to the outcasts, not labeled as Star Wars fans as a bad thing, everyone is a “Star Wars fan” now so it’s okay because it’s cool again. No, the word they use now is prequel apologist. The word I use is dedicated fan that stuck through the good and bad times.

It’s like rooting for a sports team. Star Wars is the sports team that was popular in the 70’s when they had the superstar bringing home trophies for the team. Then it went through a slump in the 90’s where it was forgotten, rebanded itself in the 2000s with some players that got the mainstream attention again, probably using retro jersey’s and doing some plays that were considered old school to get the old fans fired up and the new fans on  board. Then it hit mainstream success when it began bringing home the money and nobody cared it wasn’t getting trophy’s anymore it was selling tickets. It became a spectacle not an athletic competition. Star Wars used to mean something to me. Now it’s just like everything else. It’s too watered down and mainstream. It no longer resembles the space fantasy that lit up my imagination as a kid. It’s morphed into The Avengers with Jedi. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a good spectacle but science fiction wasn’t important to us because it was spectacle.

The best sci-fi movie I have seen in years was Passengers. The mainstream didn’t get the commentary so it was a boring “Titanic in space” those who were explained the commentary were offended and repulsed by it and shunned it. Those of us who got it from the start and understood what it was saying knew it did exactly what science fiction was supposed to do. Spark the imagination by starting a conversation. The movement eventually did reach mainstream culture, right now it’s in the form of #metoo but the mainstream again rejects it not out of moral reasons or even immoral reasons, they reject it because their heroes are falling and they can’t stand to see that. It destroys the illusion they built and people need that illusion to function. Those of us who see through the illusion and see the world for how it really is, of course we battle depression. We also fight the fight nobody else wants to take up. We do what is within our power to make a difference, to try to make the world a better place.

I am here to provide a voice to those who lost it to the internet culture. I am here to provide a safe place where we can take back what was ours and tell the posers to grow up. I am here to provide commentary on the identity theft that has occurred and use every tool at my disposal to get it back. I am not a nerd. I am a hacker. I am taking back the word that WE invented to describe ourselves. It has also been stolen by the masses. Life Hack has replaced the world Tip. Nothing is a tip anymore it’s a hack. Except the mainstream think of hacks as a bad thing so why did they take a word that wasn’t but had a specific meaning? Because they didn’t understand what a hacker does.

A hack is not easy. It’s not supposed to make your life easy. A user turns on his or her computer and it just works. They want it to work as seamless as possible and expect it to just do what they want it to, most often take them to the naked pictures of girls or the place where they can share photos of that new dress they bought. A real hacker is someone that takes the computer a part and rebuilds it from scratch. Someone that breaks the user agreement and forces their computer to do things it was not intended to do. Not to make life easier, on the contrary, to prove they are smarter than the hacks (not hackers) that designed the system. It’s a way to modify the code, the OS, the registry and other “nerd words” you have to look up on Google to understand. If you have to run to google everytime you encounter a blog real hackers use then you are not one of us. You are one of them. We don’t like you. We don’t like bullies. And we are taking back our culture. A hacker hides in the shadows and lives in the dark web. Not the deep web but the dark web. We know the difference because we built it. You probably never wrote a line of code in your life. Oh you maybe googled how to do something cool in HTML when you had a Myspace and modified it to see what would happen. I wrote entire websites from scratch. I wrote entire animations pixel by pixel using code. Pixel. By. Pixel. If you don’t know what that means you are not one of us.

The Dark Web podcast launches this Sunday on The Spiders Lair. Join me in taking back the world we built.

 

Dreaming of some good Mash Up movies: Versus, team-up and cross over films that might be interesting to see just for fun

Over the years there have been a lot of cross overs done in comic books, video games and to a lesser extent, films. Now that the comic book multiverse concept has firmly taken Hollywood by storm here is a list of completely fantastic team-up, cross over and versus films that would be fun to see. This is just for fun so there are no rules, rights issues, budget, mixing genres, etc., none of that will be taken into consideration.

1. Spider-Man vs. Wolverine

This one has been done in the comics before. It could be a team-up or it could be a straight brawl to the death, either way it would be lots of fun to put these two anti-heroes together on screen as opposites.

2. Beetlejuice meets Scooby Doo

Imagine a movie where Tim Burton directs an all CGI world with  a mix of live-action and computer characters. The plot would basically turn out that Scooby and his companions find themselves facing an actual ghost. It would be a total over-the-top comedy of course.

3. GI JOE and Transformers

Hasbro and Paramount had a missed opportunity to put the GI Joe and Transformers characters into the same universe. With reboots all the rage in Hollywood it would be really cool to see them reboot both the GI Joe film franchise and the Transformers with them teaming up to take on Unicron.

4. Mega Man and Castlevania

It would probably be best as CGI but it would work as cell animated. Live action would be harder to pull off. It would have a Belmont team-up with Mega Man in a weird alternate universe where the robot masters are all horror movie themed and the locations are set in Castlevania. This might make for a better video game than movie but whatever it needs to happen anyways.

5. Pinhead vs. Chucky

These two don’t really exist in the same universe but it could work. Pinhead and his goons all wind up terrorizing Chucky who stumbles upon the puzzle cube believing it could finally set him free from his doll body. He ends up defeating the cenobites because they learn since he is made of plastic their torture methods don’t work on him. In a weird way he would actually be the hero of the film.

6. Ghostbusters v.s Gremlins

This one would have to be animated with a retro throwback style of the Real Ghostbusters cartoon. The Gremlins could be CGI but I suspect it would work best if everything was animated. It would blend horror and comedy with the Ghostbusters trying to find a scientific explanation for the Gremlin problem while looking for a solution. It would put them out of their wheel house as they fight a physical monster their proton packs would be useless against. It totally has to be holiday themed, probably Valentines Day or Groundhog day just for the hell of it.

7. Marvel vs. DC the movie

This absolutely absurd idea somehow worked in the 90’s with a comic book crossover that shook up the entire comic book fandom. With Marvel making so much money from their ventures for Disney they could easily strike some sort of deal where they step in and “save” the failing DC film universe by bringing everything together for an epic 3-film blockbuster record breaking behemoth. This one actually needs to happen one way or another, somebody make it so.

8. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers meets Sailor Moon

It needs to be live-action with Japanese characters for the Sailor Moon side and Americans based on MMPR Season 1, or you know those kids from the recent reboot. I imagine it would start out with the two sides as enemies then teaming up as the monster shows its face and they do what they do best. It should have a totally 80’s metal glam rock soundtrack too.

9. Smash Bros: The Movie

This one is a piece of cake. It needs to be CGI. It needs to be PG-13. It needs to have voice actors from the entire video game and comic book spectrum. It just needs to happen A.S.A.F.P. ‘Nuff Said.

10. Monster Mash

This would basically be a full reboot of Monster Squad but with a hard R rating, and feature not the Universal Monsters but Chucky, Jason, Freddy, Pinhead, Letherface and Michael Myers as the monsters. It would follow a similar structure to the original but would need to have teenagers instead of pre-teens.

Whether any of these actually happen or not, these would all be completely entertaining films to watch.

Why we should celebrate Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day. While some are trying to erase history others want to celebrate it. Despite all the good, and bad, things that came from Christopher Columbus setting sail all those centuries ago, we today should at least remember what he did accomplish.

Columbus Day, like most holidays, is not steeped in historical fact, it’s about the myth. All those people running around dispelling the myth are missing the point. We know the TRUTH of the historical figure, history isn’t dead (as long as you leave it alone and stop trying to erase it) rather the truth is it’s just like Easter, Christmas, or even the 4th of July, we celebrate the myth, the legend, the story, not the man or the men who lived hundreds of years ago.

Every year on February 14th people who are in relationships buy cards, chocolates and flowers for their significant other. None of them are Roman citizens performing marriages ceremonies despite the law forbidding it. Most people don’t even know, or care, the historical truth behind Valentines Day, nor should they. We celebrate it as a day of LOVE, that is all. All of the symbols, the gifts, the rituals; these are just ways to show the people we love how important they are to us.

On Halloween kids dress up in costumes begging for candy. I am certain more than the VAST majority of them are not doing so to “ward off evil spirits” or to celebrate the dead in any way, shape or form. Most also don’t even believe in ghosts or spiritual forces yet they participate in the activities and celebrate the MYTH, or the idea of Halloween, not the actual “true meaning” or whatever that nonsense is. Same for Christmas, how many parents tell their kids to be good or else Santa Claus won’t bring them any presents? Now how many of them actually believe there is a magical elf king enslaving little elves forcing them to make toys for him. Oh, shoot, we celebrate the subjugation of elves if we celebrate Christmas. Darn it.

Looks like people just need to get over themselves and learn that Columbus Day celebrates the sense of DISCOVERY. It’s not about the actual truth or the consequences of those voyages, it’s just another way for us to wrap up an IDEA, in this case discovery, wonder, and exploration, around a semi-historical tale loosely based on real facts. Nobody cares that when we celebrate Christmas we don’t actually celebrate the Birth of Jesus at a historically accurate time of the year, or that we don’t remember the historical Saint Nicolas figure. Nor do we actually believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with a little green leprechaun waiting to greet us on St. Patrick’s Day.

Why is it okay to ignore history on literally every single holiday, except Columbus Day? I for one think you should have your kids make little paper renditions of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Tell them them the story, not the history but the STORY of the man who “discovered America” in a way that lets them know, it’s just a story, we exaggerate it because it’s another day to put aside our worries and just forget try to remember what it was like to be a kid exploring the world around you. Don’t take that sense of discovery, wonder, and curiosity away from your children. Not if you want them to actually grow up to become educated adults who question the world around them. Teach your kids the MUTH of Columbus Day and let them learn the real history when they go off to college and have to leave childhood behind. For now, just let them be kids.

Exploring digital music stores

I have reached a point in my music collecting that I need to explore other options. I like buying CD’s because they offer me a physical thing I can put on a shelf while also giving me the ability to rip the tracks to my hard drive and then move them to my iPod. The problem is, CD’s are not getting any cheaper for some reason. I buy from Amazon and even though I have Prime, it still ends up costing 7-10 per CD. I was buying them for $2 to $3 each brand new unopened or $.99 used from Hastings. Sadly, Hastings is no longer in business. There doesn’t seem to be any other new or used CD retailers near by so I have turned to the internet. I was hoping I would find some cheap alternative to Amazon but it doesn’t appear to be the case. Now I am exploring digital options.

First, I am NOT anti or pro digital. I have always been for whichever options is cheapest while being the most consumer friendly. My primary reasons for sticking to CD’s has always been cost. When I can get a CD for under $5 even if I only like 2-3 songs, it’s worth it because I value the packaging and artwork, the physical item, at least $1 value so I tend to figure that’s a good price. It’s not like in the 90’s and early 2000’s when I was spending $12 to $15 for a CD just for 2-3 songs, if that. Cost value has always been a factor. I purchase music from iTunes a lot but based on cost alone. For instance, if I know for a fact I only want literally 1 songs from a certain CD and it’s not worth the space having a physical copy would add to the clutter, then I pick up the song from iTunes for the $.99 or $1.29 they tend to be. However, if I know I want all of or a majority of songs, for example Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg, I wanted the whole record, so I was not going to spend the $9.99 on a digital copy when I would prefer a physical copy with the fold out pamphlet. This is another reason why just having a single JPEG for the album art sucks, you just get the superficial cover, you don’t get the actual contents of the booklets.

I realized there had to be a better option. I shot down Amazon digital because the selection sucks. Sometimes they have a “CD” I want and sometimes they just have selections from the artists library. I have come across HUNDREDS of songs or albums they do not have. iTunes has a similar shortcoming so in those instances I tend to look for the actual CD. I tried Pandora but I hate Pandora. I even tried the paid option for a period and it wasn’t any better. I learned Pandora is designed to help you “discover” music. I am 35, I discovered all the music I like when I was a teenager now I just want to build up my collection so I can have music to listen to when I am in the right mood.

Then I tried Spotify. At first it seemed like the perfect option. I could add ENTIRE albums to my playlist, if I paid a monthly fee I could turn off ads, and the player wasn’t terrible to navigate. The first shortcoming I noticed, however, was like Amazon and iTunes they are limited to licenses. This means sometimes they have the ORIGINAL recordings by the original artists, and other times they have those disgusting “Remastered” copies. It’s never clear if a remastered edition refers to them cleaning up the original audio recording tapes from before digital like they did in the 90’s, or this new, very disgusting trend where old men attempt to re-record songs in their twilight years hoping they will sound the same as when they were young men. Trust me I have compared plenty of original recordings to the remastered versions and I can ALWAYS tell the difference. Something  is always off. Maybe the drummer gets tired and starts to slow down, maybe they are using a different drum kit than before, sometimes the guitarists tunes his guitar different or the singer just can’t hit the high notes like he could when he was young. Sometimes it’s noticeable but not too terrible and other times it literally sounds like a damn cover band. I hate that.

Also, they always add new tracks, usually “studio sessions” or demo crap I am not interested in. I want the ORIGINAL album just like it was when it was originally released. The whole point in buying CD’s or records even if you go that far, is to have a tangible item from your actual past. Not some replica. I don’t want reproduction NES carts and I don’t want artists re-recording their songs and selling replicas of their real works.

I have also run into the issue of rights. Sometimes Spotify only has the rights to a selection of songs from an artists not their entire works. This isn’t a problem for mainstream artists but when looking for tracks by techno DJ’s from the 80’s or those quirky low-selling alternative bands from the 90’s suddenly it becomes an issue. To make matters even worse, sometimes they don’t even have full soundtrack albums just a user created playlist containing the closest example of the songs from that soundtrack. I couldn’t even find a single recording of Techno Syndrome by the Immortals, the THEME song to Mortal Kombat. It wasn’t available on any of the digital stores, not even Pandora or Amazon. Nothing. Now I already have the complete line of CD’s, including More Kombat which is just a few bonus songs, but still if someone wasn’t aware of that shortcoming they wouldn’t be able to “discover” that song because it doesn’t exist as far as the digital stores are concerned.

All things considered I realized that buying digital is not the best way to go even still in late 2017. By now you would think they would have everything digital but its like streaming movies services, somehow less is more is their philosophy and its just frustrating as a consumer. I guess I will just stick to buying CD’s for the most part resorting to digital only when it’s necessary to acquire the one or two obscure songs from a particular artists, assuming iTunes or Amazon even has the song I want. I couldn’t find a single store that had Beautiful by Joydrop. I don’t want to spend the outrageous price they want for a copy of the CD for just 1 song so I either have to do without or settle for streaming from YouTube. That is, until YouTube decides to take the video down, again.

The Science Fiction Paradox: Why Physics is not for everyone…

Niayesh Afshordi. Who is he? Well based on preliminary research he is a scientist who recently, well in 2014 that is, published a new theory of the origins of the Universe. I won’t get into the math, science, or physics of what he is proposing because frankly, I couldn’t explain it if I wanted to. What I want to do, rather, is use it as a way to contemplate some of the other mysteries of the Universe based on my current understanding. At least from a simple, lesser educated stand point.

When I first sat out to be a writer my goal was to write fiction stories. Originally I desperately wanted to write science fiction. I spent my early childhood reading books by Isaac Asimov, Isaac Newton, even Stephen Hawking. I was obsessed with astronomy for a good portion of my childhood. So much so that it fueled my other interests. I became interested in Star Wars primarily because of the space travel aspect. In fact all of my favorite episodes of the Transformers cartoon were not the ones on Earth but all of the ones that took place either on Cybertron or elsewhere in the universe in “outerspace.” I didn’t develop a purely academic interest in astronomy, physics or astrophysics, mostly because of all the damn complicated math. I make it no secret I hate math. So my interest remained mostly casual. Thanks, in part, to TV shows like Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory and Star Trek, I have continued to explore my interest in these subjects.

That is where this particular scientist comes into play. The purpose of this blog is “To Organize Chaos” and that includes trying to unravel the mysteries that I come across. In other words, its my way of making sense of the world around me. That includes the world of physics, something I have a basic understanding of and a strong passion for but nowhere near the level of understanding I would prefer.

The theory Niayesh Afshordi and his colleagues proposed was mind boggling at first. It basically suggests that our universe originated with the ball of mass that exploded began expanding outward to create all the matter we see around us, this we all know the gist of it’s the Big Bang Theory (the scientific theory not the TV show). The interesting thing this guy and his team proposed was that OUR universe began when a 4 Dimensional star collapsed into a black hole creating a 3 Dimensional Event Horizon. The theory is interesting because in our universe the world we see around us is considered to exist in 3 dimensions and space-time is considered to be  continuum. Some of us have a very, very, basic understanding of this thanks to Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies. However it gets more complicated than that. Fortunately I did take at least one physics class in college, the absolutely most fun and interesting course I took my entire college career. So to some extent I can kind of understand the basics of the 3 dimensional space-time, special relativity, and I know a little about what an event horizon is more than just the very basics you get from watching the film of the same name, or the movie Sphere if you want a little better scientific explanation.

Here is the tricky part. It doesn’t really explain anything. I mean not to the layman. Actually not to anyone other than a scientist really. You see, the basic question the theory proposes to explain is how our space-time could work within the framework of our own laws of physics. IN other words, how could a singularity that contained all the mass of our universe be bound up into a single point so densely it could explode and create the universe we see. The simple answer is this, it doesn’t tell where the universe came from. In fact all it really does is makes it even more complicated. The simple explanation they propose is that our universe is just the left over crap from the dying star of a separate LARGER universe. Again this begs the question, if the laws of physics that govern our universe can only be explained if you place it within the scope of being a particle within a larger universe, then doesn’t that basically mean that 4 dimensional universe follows the same rules? SO does that mean THAT universe is the event horizon of a 5D collapsed star turning into a black hole? IF our universe began with the death of an older universe, where did that universe begin? IF the only way the math checks out is to keep staking older universes on top of each other then doesn’t that mean there is some fundamental flaw in the entire system to being with?

Sure, as a Christian I could just take the easy way out and say duh, it basically all points to God being the starting point and his words spoke it all into existence. That doesn’t really satisfy the scientist though, and it still leaves unanswered the question of where did God come from and all the crap he made the universe out of as well? That’s not a question I personally need answered. What I want to know is if every new theory requires the discarding of the old, while simultaneously keeping it all in tact due to a mathematical formula that was BASED on the Earth being the center of the universe, which has been disproved by using the very math it was used to prove, it gets complicated from here. I won’t get into Ptolemy or Newton, Google exists look it up, what I will say is if the math that is used to prove the Earth is NOT the center of the universe is predicated on it BEING the center of the universe and it also disproves the space-time conundrum that also exists because we still rely on that same math, which has been disproved by another proof using the same math it was used to prove, it goes in circles.

Now I must admit my understanding of the math is limited, but I do know if you have to keep adding new layers in order for the model to work, even though its using a proven false formula to begin with, that itself is used to disprove itself, GRR!

Maybe it would be best if I just did quote the Bible “In the Beginning God…” and walk away, it would be best. I won’t being to question the experts that know the math better than I do, just like for them to reconsider all the work they have to put into trying to ask a question that was answered thousands of years before they were born.

None of that is where I wanted to go with this. You see, getting back to my original paragraph, I set out to become a science fiction writer years ago. What deterred me over the years was my limited understanding of physics. I could go the lazy route and use the basic, preliminary approach so many writers use falling back on just letting a bunch of techno babble explain away any plot holes I created as a write. What I set out to do was to learn more than I currently understood. Sure I kind of remember what it means to be a main sequence star, the basics of what a pulsar, quasar, nova, black hole, galaxy, galaxy cluster, etc., is, and I kind of know the very basics of space travel, Newton’s laws, Ptolemy’s laws, the simplified version of relativity, and all the nonsense I learned from movies and comic books. To me, that’s not enough. I don’t believe I need to be an expert lawyer to write a crime drama, but if I want to do it well I would at least need to study the topic. Since I have no interest in writing crime dramas I have no need to study criminal law or criminal justice.

What I set out to do was to learn more than the basics. I picked up a bunch of books on physics, astronomy, the universe, stars, the Sun, etc., in the hopes I could at least fill in some of the knowledge gaps I have in the event I decide to actually set out to write the science fiction novel that has been swirling around in my brain since my youth. Then I realized I can’t get more than a few pages in before I become overwhelmed by the math. I always had a problem with how physicists always have to use complicated equations and formulas I can’t make sense of using symbols I have no clue what are the meanings so I bail early. I decided I needed to tackle this head on. So I set out to first fill in the gaps I have in the math department.

I picked up textbooks in basic Algebra, College Algebra, and fundamentals of mathematics, to supplement the math books I already had from college. I started with the most basic book and found that as I went through it I was actually starting to make some sense of some of it all. Not enough to consider it real progress but enough to keep going. I don’t have the time or money to take a bunch of math classes at college right now, so my plan is to settle for just going through these text books and trying to see if I can make some sense out of enough of it all to get to the next level. My ultimate goal is to tackle the Calculus head on so I can then dive into those physics books at least with enough of an understanding that the math doesn’t give me a headache and I give up, again.

Who knows, maybe as I go on this journey I will learn enough math to be able to get back into writing computer code. I also gave up on that because the math was too much for me. I had one college professor tell me my brain was just not wired for math. She said I was an artist, a dreamer, I was wired to be a writer, or a story-teller of some sorts. I had another professor, one in the psychology department tell me that was a bunch of crap and anyone could learn anything if they put the time into it. I think I fall into the latter category. I didn’t retain much due to not using it, but I studied the hell out of Japanese and learned enough to make small talk with a Japanese girl at a Mochi party planning event I attended while in college. Okay learning Japanese should be easier for someone who loves languages anyways, and video games, but still I am determined to push through this to the end. Then I will be able to re-watch episodes of the Big Bang Theory and laugh at the science jokes and not make fun of the nerds just struggling to live their lives as best they can.

A tribute to Code Red Mountain Dew

The year was 2001. I was sitting on a school bus heading down to Las Vegas for a high school track meet. My event, 800 meters and shot put. I wasn’t over weight at that time. I was fairly active, especially being into break dancing. But I loved my Mountain Dew soda drinks. My track coach always got onto me how bad it was to drink a soda before a run. I never listened. My teammates teased me saying with as much Mountain Dew as I drank my blood had to be green. Fortunately we never tested that theory.

As we were sitting at the first stop in Wells on our way down I went into the convenience store to grab me a soda as I did every stop. One of my friends pointed out to me there was a new Mountain Dew, a cherry flavored drink in a red bottle. I like cherry flavored drinks so I gave it a try. They were selling them 2 for $1. This was at a time when the normal price for one was $.79 cents so it was a bargain to get the extra one. I filled my gym bag full of as many as I could spending some of my food money on getting these sodas. I was hooked instantly.

From that day on I have pretty much drank the Code Red soda basically non-stop. How much do I drink? Enough that when a new store adds it to their line they quickly sell out. I have had grocery stores that didn’t carry it add it and it became a big seller. No I am not exaggerating, I buy about 3-4 12-packs of Code Red a week. On top of that I usually go through 2-3 20 Oz bottles a day. I drink so much, yes by now you are thinking this guy must be very unhealthy. Well no, not really. I am not as active as I used to be, but I get out and walk from time to time. I still break dance when I can. I even eat healthier than I used to. Also, I don’t drink alcohol or smoke, anything. I never have. So I always justified it as my one vice, if you can even call it that really.

In later years it got to the point where I would walk into a store, go to their soda section and if they didn’t have Code Red I would instantly walk out. The only time I would ever settle for a drink that wasn’t was if every store in town was sold out and I had no other choice. I would even order cherry mix at restaurants to add to my normal Mountain Dew, if they offered that as an option. The reality is, I became obsessed with drinking this drink.

I do, as an adult, understand the health risks. Therefore I don’t put any blame on society, my parents or the soda maker. I also certainly don’t blame the Government either. I quite enjoy living in a free society where *I* get to make that choice and nobody gets to tell me how to live my life. The problem is, I am getting a little bit older now. I am in my mid-30’s which means some of the things I could do when I was younger are now catching up with me. I have tried to get off the soda before, but I never can stay away for too long. I have tried tea, juice, energy drinks, even water. Nothing really tastes quite as good as a fresh, ice cold can of Code Red Mountain Dew. The only time I ever drink the green one anymore is if there is no other option. I still enjoy the green one too, but not nearly as much as the red one.

Yes, I have written about this before elsewhere, and I will probably write about it again. It’s one of those things I write about much like Nintendo or The Beastie Boys, it’s a big part of my life. It’s a defining characteristic of who I am. This isn’t even a confession. I drink Code Red Mountain Dew and you know what, I enjoy it. I will probably stop when I get to the point where one more drink will kill me and even then it might be the last thing I do before I die.

My philosophy has always been just enjoy your life and live it how you want. I don’t let people tell me I need to quite because it’s bad for me. I don’t always feel that great after I finish a soda, but I usually still crave another one not to long after. I am sure I would probably feel better if I could get off it entirely, but really why bother? I enjoy it, it’s something I like and I think the negatives don’t really outweigh the benefits, which include giving me some comfort at the end of a long day. Everyone has something in their life that identifies who they are or what type of person they want to be. I don’t drink Code Red, or Mountain Dew before that, because of some TV commercial. In fact I always hated the image it portrays and drank it in spite of the piss poor advertising. I never thought drinking Mountain Dew made you “cool”. Listen, I was a white rapper in a town full of non-Whites, I was about as far from cool as you are ever going to get. I drank it because of one reason, I liked the taste. That’s it. You don’t have to blame Pepsi or MTV or even Xbox. Hell I never even owned an Xbox until less than a year ago, any model.

I drink Code Red Mountain Dew and it’s green big brother because I enjoy it. It tastes good. I like the fizzy drink. And above all else, it’s just one of those little things in this life that helps me get through the day. Enjoy the things you enjoy in life. Tell the haters to go jump off a bridge with all the other sheep.

 

Master P Ghetto D: A look back at a classic gangsta rap album

Between the years of 1995 to 1997 there was a war waging between the two coasts of the United States. The East Coast Gangsta Rap scene, led by Puff Daddy and his boy Biggie Smalls, against the hardened West Coast Gangsta Rap scene led by veterans of the L.A. gang scene, and pioneers of the genre N.W.A, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and newcomers Snoop Dogg, The Dogg Pound, and 2Pac. While Death Row Records was at the forefront of the West and Bad Boy was taking the helm in the East, there was a newcomer about to bust things wide open.

Shots were fired, literally, in late 1994 when 2Pac was gunned down entering the Bad Boy Record studio. He miraculously survived this attack, taking five bullets and then recovering to launch the war full force at Death Row records a couple of years later. In September of 1996 the shots fired again, this time ending 2Pac’s life. Presumably in retaliation, or perhaps as an indirect results of the gang wars, for whatever reason Biggie Smalls was shot and killed just a few months later right before the release of his double album, Life After Death.

Just when everyone thought the Gangsta Rap genre was going to fizzle out, Puff Daddy quickly dropped the gangsta rap persona and shifted to a more radio friendly hip-Pop sound, reminiscent of the main stream sound Will Smith was employing. The gangsta scene looked like it was going to disappear for a brief moment. Even Bad Boy’s next rising star, Ma$e, altered his gangsta image to a more MTV friendly look and their music videos reflected this by focusing more on their flashy parties and money than their gangsta life styles as previous videos had done. The Mafioso rap would live on, under the head of superior producer to Puffy, Jay-Z, as his masterfully crafted Rocafella Records picked up the pieces of the crumbling Bad Boy empire.

In the middle of all the coastal wars there was a new gangsta rap guru waiting to take over and push both Bad Boy and Death Row into obscurity. The mans name was Master P. The record label was No Limit Records. The album, Ghetto D.

By the time No Limit Records came onto the scene, gangsta rap was either west coast G-Funk or east coast mafioso, the southern blend of hard core street and down to earth thugs just trying to make a living was a different change of pace. Although No Limit Records quickly supplanted the two dominant gangsta rap labels of the day, they did so using the very same talent Death Row used to launch. Snoop Doggy Dogg, rebranded as just Snoop Dogg when he left Death Row and joined No Limit. This story is going to focus on the record that made the shift happen. Keep an eye on part two where you can learn more about Snoop’s time with Master P and company.

Ghetto D (short for Ghetto Dope, as per the albums title track) came out hitting hard and fast. The first track on the record hits you in the face with it’s message, “a shout out to drug dealers” as the record claimed. The record didn’t spend a lot of time talking about pimping hoes, drive by shootings, or hit men coming to snipe the snitch, the record just painted a picture of a working class thug trying to make a living selling drugs.

The album gets straight to the point with tracks like Weed & Money, Ghetto D, and Stop Hatin’, it’s the single and subsequent music video that really propelled the record to mainstream recognition. “Make Em Say Ugh!” quickly became a radio hit, a hit on MTV and the anthem for the new wave of hard core gangsta rap that was about to burst onto the scene. That track brought the entire No Limit studio crew right to the front of the Hip-Hop scene and proved that gangsta rap didn’t have to take a side in the deadly gang wars.

The record itself is massive. It sports 19 tracks of pure, hard core hip-hop. Not a single track of interludes, fake radio broadcasts or people talking. The album didn’t tell a story using theatrics like Doggystyle, a superior gangsta rap album in many respects, it did manage to get straight to the point. Master P didn’t need a lot of story lines cluttering up the record, he let the music speak for itself. With solid base lines, quick battle raps, hard beats, and lot’s of G-Funk melodies mixed with some southern beats, the record demonstrated there truly was a middle ground to the gangsta rap turf wars.

1998 was defined by the sounds of Master P, C-Murder and Silkk The Shocker, all who quickly dethrowned the entire Bad Boy and Death Row crews from prominence. Ice Cube, one of the founders of the Gangsta Rap scene, turned to Hollywood and left the music industry mostly behind. Dr. Dre responded to the  new label by hiring a White Boy to get his game back on track. Snoop Dogg himself even followed the old, if you can’t beat em, join em, mantra as he released several albums on the record label that left Death Row in the ashes. Silkk The Shocker would quickly follow up Master P’s glorious sounding Ghetto D with a record of his own, Charge it to The Game, featuring the hit “It Ain’t My Fault” and prominently featuring newcomer Snoop Dogg on some respectable gangsta tracks.

Much like Doggystyle before, each track serves a purpose in getting the listener to fear and respect the talents of the producer behind the scenes. Ghetto D rose to the occasion of filling in the gaps created by the decline of the two East Coast/West Coast giants. Their reign didn’t last forever as Jay Z and his Rockafella Records would soon surpass all three gangsta rap labels in terms of sales, money, presence in the market, and number of important artists all combined.

The aftermath of the decline of the Coastal Wars left Death Row in ruins, Bad Boy turned pop, and Dr. Dre selling records featuring a bleached blond Backstreet Boy lookalike. Master P stood up and reminded the world that gangsta rap music could still be about hard music with a prominent message interlaced within some head bobbing tracks. Ghetto D is easily one of the top 25 gangsta rap records of all time.

The story of a home brew part 2: A case study of one game that did it right

The Immortal John Hancock, a prominent YouTube gamer, posted a thread on June 3, 2016, to a Nintendo collectors’ forum asking for a programmer for a potential project. Antoine Fantys was the programmer that answered that call.

From his early days as a programmer fiddling around with BASIC on his Commodore 64, Fantys wanted to be a programmer.

“I came across a Commodore 64. The beauty about this machine was that you could learn BASIC programming and program simple games directly on the computer.” he said.

“I ended up learning BASIC and coding my first games on a retro platforms, which included text adventures and a horse racing game of all things.” he added.

His interest in retro games began with his NES games on a Game Boy Advance, which later developed into full blown passion once he discovered YouTube.

“I found footage of the first Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Finding out about Super Mario Bros. and all those games of yesteryear sparked my interest in retro gaming, and especially the NES” he said.

When Hancock made the call asking for a programmer, he jumped at the opportunity. It was his chance to do something for the community, and make a name for himself while honing his programming skills. He reached out to Hancock via that forum and they two went to work.

“The game was John’s idea. I believe the game was a favorite of his. It’s based on an old 1981 Stern/Konami arcade game called ‘Turtles.'” he said.

He knew right away it was a project he wanted in on.

“As soon as I saw the video of the game John sent me, I knew I would like to work on this game because such arcade games are fun and easy to port on a console like the NES.” he said.

Fantys got his start on the NES doing, in his words “crappy rom hacks.” From there his interest grew. He found his way onto a Nintendo fan site that had a home brew section and he began learning the programming language of the NES.

For the most part, he works alone. He will occasionally bring on help with the music, in this case he did it all.

Once the game was finish John Hancock shared the story to his YouTube channel. From there John Riggs took the game and turned it into a charity work for an gaming expo he was a part of. With the help of prominent YouTubers, Fantys was able to get his name, and work, to a wider audience.

When it comes to ROMS and the home brew scene. Fantys tends to play it safe. He doesn’t make his roms he owns available, choosing to just sell carts if he can. He indicated he would consider using a form of DRM if it was a work he owned the rights to, yet he did claim he often sells the rights to his games.

This is where the gaming community and the home brew scene can come together. While I believe it to be okay to download roms of games nobody is profiting off, of course except the re-sellers making cash on second hand merchandise, I think original games have a right to be protected. On the other hand, when it comes to games like Pac-Man, Mega Man, Mario, Zelda, etc., then the user should make a attempt to purchase, or obtain, a legal copy before pirating. In this case I tend to favor supporting the Nintendo eShop, the PSN, Xbox Live Arcade and Steam. It sucks paying money for a ROM of a game you already owned at some point in time, yet you do have to remember once you sell the physical cart you sold your rights to the program on that rom. Also owning physical carts does not automatically give you the right to the program stored on the carts rom chips.

All things considered Fantys took a game someone else already made, an arcade game, and ported it, at the request of a collector in the industry, and made it available as a clone to those who were interested in obtaining that version. Since the game in question is based on someone else’s property, it stands to reason the gamer who does wish to play the game would be better served tracking down a legit copy, or playing it on MAME if they have no other option. The real need to play a ROM of a port of an arcade game to the NES, decades later, seems kind of counter intuitive. Is it scummy, shady or illegal what Fantys and Hancock have done? I don’t think so. They made it very clear every step of the way it was a clone of an arcade game, they made it very clear they were making it available to collectors who wanted physical copies, and it was done as a labor of love to the community of home brew gamers, programmers, collectors, and retro gamers in general. All in all this is how you do a retro/homebrew based on existing works the right away.

Now if they called it Turtles, basically recreated the original game in its entirety line byline and tried to sell it a their own without recognizing the original rights owners, that would be a different story entirely. Kudos to Fantys and Hancock for creating a project that was done out of passion for the scene, the community and the love of retro games. While it is easy to get caught up in who owns the rights to what, which degree of piracy counts as infringement and where the line should be drawn, at the end of the day all that really matters is gamers get to enjoy the works of programmers who enjoy making games for others to enjoy. It’s the circle of gaming.

Be sure to check out his YouTube video discussing the game Here

 

 

 

The story of a home brew that redefined what it means to be a home brew: Part 1 the morality of home brews.

A kid turns on a small, square shaped tube television set his parents kept in the basement for some reason. Hooked up to the TV is a square, mostly gray box. Inside the box is a tiny little rectangular piece of plastic that holds some computer program inside a ROM chip. The kid turns the TV to channel 3, pushes the piece of plastic down into the slider, closes the lid hits the power button with fingers crossed the game turns on this time glitch free. If everything lined up perfectly, the cart was cleaned, the console was dust free, the stars aligned just right, the game would begin. If not, the ritual of blowing into the cart, wiping the spit/grime of with a Q-tip, then jiggling the cart in, shaking it, pushing reset 25 times, etc., would commence in hopes things would find a way to get to work.

Everyone that was a Nintendo gamer in the 1980’s went through a similar ritual at least more than once in his or her life. The reality was the NES, as fondly was we try to remember it, was actually a terrible product. It required constant maintenance, care, cleaning, the cords were fragile and easy to bend, the controllers, while sturdy, were made of a very hard plastic that could crack or break if not taken care of properly. It had sharp edges that dug into kids hands, the console it self was sharp edges that if you weren’t careful could stub a toe on or hit an elbow or in some cases just jam a finger trying to shove the stupid cart into the machine. While any game would legitimately have GOOD memories of the games they played, when they in fact worked, more often than not we tend to push aside the negative memories we really have of the NES and allow blind nostalgia take us on a trip down memory lane.

One of the reasons we forget is, aside from a small subset of eccentric collectors, most gamers don’t actually play their old NES games on physical NES systems anymore. In fact, even a growing number of those who do play using PHYSICAL carts, do so on either refurbished consoles with extra money put into keeping the machine working, or in those increasing cases, play on a clone console that actually, compatibility issues aside, works better in many cases. The need to own a physical cart is even supplanted, but still satisfied by those who purchase a FLASH cart and load it up with ROMS. The point is there are a lot of different ways to enjoy an old NES game, playing the original cart on original hardware worry free is not the number one way of doing so. Despite that there remains a retro and home brew gaming scene who prey on the customers who have desires to relive, a false version of their childhood. These people are not all predators, some are but most are just coders who have fond memories of the NES and want to share their games with others. The problem is some of them take it a step too far, going as far as implementing copy protections on games they didn’t actually create, they really just took someone else’s design and made a port, calling it their own work and preventing others from playing the games the way most gamers actually DO play NES games, on a emulator minus all the hassle of tracking down all the satanic little emblems you need to make your retro machine work. Hyperbole aside, I have never in my life had a good experience picking up a USEd NES cart, inserting it into an original NES and it just worked. Not even when I was a kid and the machine was fairly new. We would rent games from the video store and I would spend the first half an hour or so just fighting the stupid thing to get it to work. You only had a game for the weekend if you were lucky or 1 night if it was a new release, so every second you spent twisting and tugging on carts was precious sec onds you would have been playing, what could have ended up being a shitty LJN game.

If you put aside the fact that most people don’t game on physical hardware, then why is it scummy for a programmer to charge money for a ROM they programmed? They put in the work and time after all? Honestly, it’s not scummy to charge for your time or work. It is, however pretty shady if the work you did was merely just porting a game some other creative person actually thought up and created decades back. If all you are doing is copying someone else’s work I, personally, think you have no right to sell it to the general public. If you want to sell your work to a collector, the physical cartridge, the art work, the case, etc., fine by all rights, but when a programmer, or coder, ports a game from another system, or just hacks a rom and calls it their own, to me that is kind of shady.

At the very least, if you can get permission from the original programmer, or their blessing then by all means do so. Sometimes copyrights are infringed but they can be done so in certain contexts without repercussions. My stance has always been respect the copy rights of those who do the actual creative work, not the pirates who stand to profit off other peoples work yet claim it as their own.

I do understand as a new programmer, especially one unwilling to actually go to college and get a job in the industry, starting out you need to get experience somewhere and porting other games to a new platform, or writing a clone program is certainly a very TRUE and legit way of honing your skills. However, make sure you let people know your CLONE is just that. I am okay with clones existing and if you want to sell a clone game by all rights you should be able to do that, as long as your clone is at least somewhat original or at the very least going to a good cause.

I did some digging into the behind the scenes development of a few different clone games, some home brew games and some rom hacks. There are cases of games like Battle Kid where the game is truly original the programmer has every right to brag about what his or her team accomplished. Games like Pier Solar are cornerstones of the home brew and aftermarket industry. Then you have the 150 thousand Super Mario Bros and Sonic 1 rip offs that just alter the sprites, rearrange the levels and try to pass it off as something original.

All of this has to have some middle ground. While I certainly do not in any way begrudge a programmer cutting his or her teethe on doing a rom hack or a home brew that is basically a clone of another game, there needs to be some honor in doing it. First, you should make sure people are fully aware it is a CLONE and do your best to reference the original game, if you CAN give credit to the original programmer, and better still if you can at least make an effort to reach and and get said programmers blessing more than anything great fantastic.

There are examples of some scummy home brew hacks who profit off other people’s work, I won’t list them you can dig up the dirt your self, google home brew. There is one hack in particular who just did a straight port of a certain PC game to a long dead nobody cared about console, I won’t say more than that except it’s not even a clone he did it entirely as a straight port. This, to me, is a gray area closer to don’t even bother. Now if it’s an open source game go ahead.

Then there is the example I want to highlight if you are still reading. This is a two-part story, part one set the stage, which is all the opinion above. Keep in mind my opinions are just that, my opinions and are meant to get people thinking. There is no need to attack me, argue with me, or hate me for getting people to think. If you disagree, share that, explain, in a civilized way, why you disagree and maybe I will listen to what you have to say. I often make claims not as my own but just to get people to really think about things so they can defend their stance.

That being said, I do think home brew games are fantastic, and when they do get a physical release for the collectors to enjoy, I am all for that. I think roms should ALWAYS be dumped at some point, minus copy protection because one, if nobody is copy protecting Mario or Zelda games, games Nintendo still profits off, then they shouldn’t be copy protecting their own roms. Two, I believe that roms should always be available for preservation purposes even of new games. The reason, the collectors who WILL pay for the game are not going to download a rom and those who WILL download the rom were NEVER going to pay for the physical cart in the first place. If you want to hold the rom until you know the collectors who want carts all have it and then dump it, DRM free at a later date, fair enough, do that. But holding a rom hostage, especially when its not a 100 percent original work, is shady at the very least. Holding roms hostage when it’s a rom hack or a prototype is 100 percent scummy, UNLESS you are the actual copy right holder and you just don’t want your failures made public, that is your right.

So when is it okay to charge for a rom and when should you limit the audience of your game? In the case of Battle Kid, that is an easy answer. If the game is 100 percent original and you did the work, then preventing people from stealing your work is your right. I also agree that Nintendo has a right to prevent you from playing Super Mario Bros. on your PC, support them buy a 3DS if you can’t stomach the Wii U, and download the rom from their virtual console. If a game was released by a company that no longer exists, and the only people who profit are re-sellers of used copies, then by all rights pirate that game all day long if you so desire. It’s technically illegal but it’s close enough to fair use you should be able to justify it.

What about when a programmer takes an existing game, say Pac-Man, and ports it to a system it never had an official release, say the Channel F, as an example? Should this person have a right to copy protect THAT rom? No, because it’s not their work. They have a right to burn the rom to physical carts and sell those to all of the collectors that are willing to pay a price for it, but copy protecting that rom is wrong and should not be tolerated. However, come on if you aren’t buying a physical copy why would you want to play an inferior port if there is no historical context? As bad as it is I do re-play the Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man from time to time, because it has historical value and I had it as a kid, there is nostalgia. Nobody had Pac-Man on their TG-16, it was never ported officially to that, so if a rom hacker makes a port of that game and sells it, that is fine for a CART but wrong, in my opinion, to sell a ROM. Even releasing the ROM to Steam is wrong, not to mention that is actually illegal no question.

But what if its a clone. Not a true port but a game made to resemble another game? KC Munchkin was considered a Pac-Man clone. While I disagree with the courts decision to pull it from shelves, the fact remains it was pretty much a clone. However, there is historical context there and nostalgia. What about porting PC games to non-PC systems, or would it be okay to port Super Mario Bros. not a rom, not an emulation but a re-programmed straight port, or clone even if you will, a la, Giana Sister, to a PC? I think even this is acceptable to do, but not to profit off.

Here is where I draw the line. A truly original work that is your own, charge money for it protect your copy right until your death and leave it in your will to someone you love. If it’s just a labor of love, a practice, a port of someone else’s work to a system that didn’t already have that game, if you want to sell the physical cart to collectors fine but let the rom go to those who will download it do so. I mean as a gamer myself I don’t download rom hacks or games that didn’t exist anyways, like I said I need historical context or else I have no interest in playing Mortal Kombat on a SNES, I would be better playing the actual arcade port on PS3 or the rom on MAME.

Check back for part 2 as I investigate an outlier I think did it right, but did leave room for error.