Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cocktail Arcade Cabinet: Software

I recently built a cocktail arcade cabinet from scratch.  I talked about fabrication previously, and I'd like to outline the software I've got on it for those who are interested.  It wasn't an dead-simple setup since emulators all have different interfaces, but I ended up with a setup that's relatively streamlined.


It's important to figure out what emulators you want.  I had decided that I wanted the 8-bit and 16-bit consoles, as well as MAME.  I don't have any analog controls, so anything requiring that was out of the question.  My primary goal was a cabinet that would play Donkey Kong, but I wanted the ability to play other things as well.  My final list of emulators was as follows:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

I had a really good time with Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is very similar, except for one game-breaking issue.

In Warlords, the gameplay is largely strategic, except for the fact that you don't know which pieces are going to slide in when you make a match.  This was the only real flaw in the game for me.  I'd make a match, then a bunch of attack pieces would slide in and the computer would get a free strike on me.  The good news was that you could mitigate this frustration a bit by matching pieces in areas where there weren't attack pieces.  As long as a full match wasn't randomly inserted, you'd be ok.  A bit awkward, but the rest of the game was so good I could overlook this little flaw.

Galactrix goes with hexagonal pieces instead of square.  This make for more possible moves.  The problem is that the pieces can now come into the board from all sides.  With the board being so small, it amplifies the issue from Warlords.  If there are attack pieces on the board, chances are any move you make will result in a random attack piece coming in and the computer getting a free strike.  What interesting is the better you play (the longer your combos), the more random pieces slide in, and the more chance you have of giving the computer a free attack.

I played Galactrix for a few hours over the course of two days.  My final 10 games were against the same ship that kept winning because of random pieces.  After that, I quit and uninstalled it.  I really really really wanted to like it but based on the number of swear words that came out of my mouth, I wasn't enjoying myself.

I'm still in on the next Puzzle Quest, though.  Hopefully they'll come up with a way to remove the randomness so I can strategize a bit more.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Halo: ODST

I just finished Halo: ODST.  It's a short experience (about 6 hours or so), but the atmosphere of it was really interesting.  Nice music, too.  I'd definitely recommend it at the Black Friday prices I've seen (30 bucks).

I like that it came with an "All the Halo multiplayer stuff" disc, too.  I think that'll probably just be the disc that sits in my Xbox if I'm not playing something else.  You never know when you'll want a little Halo Multiplayer :D

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cocktail Arcade Cabinet: Fabrication

I recently posted some photos of a cocktail arcade cabinet I built, and I thought I'd go over the fabrication for those interested.  A series of photos taken during the process is available here.  I also took some photos of a Revenge of Doh cabinet for research purposes, and those are available here.  I've detailed software in a different post since that was a significant undertaking in its own right.

I was inspired to make this cabinet after watching a documentary called The King of Kong.  It's about a guy's attempt at beating the high score record in Donkey Kong.  It made me try Donkey Kong on MAME, and snowballed into wanting a proper arcade cabinet to enjoy classic games.  I was also in need of small table for a corner in my apartment, and an arcade cabinet was the perfect fit.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cocktail Arcade Cabinet: The Unveiling

UPDATE 2009.12.12 - I've detailed the fabrication here, and the software here.

It's time I let everyone know what I've been working on over the last month. I bought a bunch of woodworking tools and have been very secretive about it, but the physical part of it is done now. So here it is:

That there is a cocktail arcade cabinet, which I built for 1. Retro-Gaming and 2. Breakfast-Eating. There's been an empty corner in the apartment for about a year now, and I figured it was time to fill it. So there ya have it.

This is just The Unveiling, though. I've posted a short gallery here so y'all can take a look, but I've also taken a bunch of photos of the whole process, and I'll go in depth on it all next week (hopefully).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

SF Bay Area Chinese Food (and hand pulled noodle) Class

I've just gotten word from my friend Chef Tomm that he'll be teaching a Chinese Cuisine class November 21st at the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell, CA. This will include how to make hand-pulled noodles. Check out the November class schedule at the PCI hobby classes page for more info. I would highly recommend this class regardless of your hand pulled noodle skill level. At the very least you'll get a hands on session with some primo noodle dough (he makes some awesomely stretchy noodle dough).

You can get yourself a 10% off coupon code if you drop Chef Tomm an email ( and mention my name.

Also check out Chef Tomm's website. He's got hand pulled noodle recipes and videos there, too.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bonsai update

I went through a couple weeks ago and took photos off my current "Bonsai" collection. They're still quite young, but growing very nicely. The gallery is here. I think a couple of my other plants snuck in there, too. I've got a spicy pepper plant that's doing really well this year.

Notable plants include this Jacaranda, which is one of a family of around eight that I have:

It has some really nice growth along the trunk that's hard to get going on a Jacaranda (in my experience).

Then there's the Oak I bought at a bonsai show last year. It was on the bargain/junk rack, and I liked it. It's coming along nicely:

I'm fond of my Dwarf Pomegranates, as well. I've grown them from seeds, which I got from the fruit of a co-worker's tree. I have five of them, but this one has been outside most of the time, and is looking quite strong:

I've got some nice Lilikoi growing (that's Passion Fruit), too. I got the seeds in Hawaii over Christmas, and I was unaware that they are actually a vine. So I put in some effort and planted them in a nice planter with a small trellis to climb up. I'm working on a Japanese Boxwood that I bought at Lowe's, too, but I haven't quite figured out what I want to do with it yet.

At any rate, it's starting to be a pretty big collection. I'm gonna need a more space pretty soon!