Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (8-bit Cover Album)

 

Here’s another homage to an album that had a huge impact on me.  This is one of the first cassettes I ever owned and I’d play it again and again as kid.  I’m extremely poor at picking up on lyrics and often mishear lyrics to this day.  The song “Wanna Be Startin’ Something'” is one song where I sang along thinking I was obviously singing nonsense only to find out later that I was 100% accurate with my lyrics.

Click above to listen on YouTube.  My apologies that this video has been blocked in the United States.  I’ve disputed the copyright claim but my dispute was rejected.  Oddly Google allows it to be downloaded on Google Play but not YouTube which is also a subsidiary of Google.

Download “Thriller” (8-bit Cover Album) on Google Play

Pokémon GO Friendship and Training (One Week In)

Here we are.  It’s officially one week in to Pokémon GO’s new Friendship feature.  The Friendship aspect of Pokémon GO is something I always wanted added to the game, though I couldn’t have really articulated exactly how I wanted it to work.  Some way of connecting with — and keeping tabs on — friends that play the game was something I thought would be really cool.

Trading is something I never wanted in the game.  I thought it sounded horrible.  Why would I want to trade with anyone?  Wouldn’t that be potentially dangerous?  Wouldn’t it create a black market?  Wouldn’t it give the advantage to spoofers who can instantly collect 100% IV Pokémon from anywhere in the world and use them as leverage to get whatever else it is that they want?

Well, Niantic seems to have taken all of that into consideration and put together what may be their most well thought out update to the game yet.  They seem to have addressed almost every issue that could potentially make trading not work and this system really seems to work.  On the one hand it would be cool to potentially use a 100% IV Pokémon to trade to a collector or get for your collection, but this update anticipates that problem and it’s a necessary sacrifice that it is not possible to do with the current system.

Intertwined with friendship and trading is a gifting system that allows you to send gifts to your friends anywhere in the world.  This is a very nice feature in that total trading distance is now tracked so if you have friends anywhere far away, if you trade a Pokémon hatched from one of their gifted eggs you can use that to get a lot of trading distance.

This is a huge update to the way that the game is played, introducing lots more to do, new strategy, additional things to accomplish, and much more to think about.  The last few months have marked a huge change for Niantic from seeming to not do anything with this game to introducing things at such a dizzying pace that it’s almost hard to keep up even as someone who plays every single day.

As I see it, here are the current issues with the new update that I’d like to see worked out.

1.) It’s Clunky

With all the new things added to the game, navigating has become pretty clunky.  I think a complete UI redesign may be in order soon.  I think more should be accessible from the Pokéball at the bottom of the screen including friends and gyms.  Clicking through the avatar screen is getting harder and harder to navicate.

2.) It’s Glitchy

This is to be expected with a new roll out but it’s so glitchy.  Sending gifts, opening gifts, showing the wrong sprites, not clearing out the gift image once it’s opened, constant errors with almost every interaction, friends list not loading, all of this needs to be worked out soon.  Again, I wouldn’t expect perfection for this brand new feature but it’s hard to imagine how something so glitchy couldn’t have been ironed out before a full scale release.

3.) Friends Sorting

I can’t imagine anyone playing the game that doesn’t wish there was some sort of sorting feature for friends.  It’s actually remarkable that it wasn’t put into the release to begin with.  Even with my small group of 33 friends it gets pretty old scrolling down, down, down, looking for someone.  A simple sort by name, level, location, etc. would solve all of these frustrations easily.  While we’re on the subject . . .

4.) No Location Indicator

There’s no indication where any of your friends are from.  Some players (sorry, it’s hard to call them “trainers” with a straight face) have taken to naming their buddy Pokémon with their location.  This is a good workaround but this should really be built into the game.

5.) No Gift Indication

Currently there is no way to scroll through your friends to see who can or cannot receive a gift.  Having to tap on each friend individually is annoying.  There should be a way to see this at a glance and also a way to see your friend’s info if you currently have a gift waiting from them.

6.) Sorting Pokémon By Location

We need this in the game with the next update.  Simply sorting your Pokémon list by nearest or farthest from your current location will make the trading process so much easier.  Two players looking to wrack up trading distance will much more easily be able to do this rather than by individually renaming Pokémon based on their geotags.

7.) Pokémon Storage Space Increase

I can’t believe I’m saying this but 1500 slots is just not enough!  Between saving Pokémon for transfer or evolution for double candy or double XP events, all the shinies, new forms,  and now saving loads of Pokémon from far away places to trade these slots are getting used up pretty quickly.  I feel like we were in a similar spot back when training up gyms was int he game and we had to keep a lot of 800CP to 1200CP Pokémon in reserve.  Getting rid of training cleared up a lot of space but we have two additional generations, shinies, forms, etc.  It’s time to bring it up to 2000 slots so that then we can claim we need 2500.

8.) Egg Anxiety

With 7km eggs added to the game, and only available through gifts, this makes spinning Pokéstops so much more stressful.  Accidentally spinning a stop when you have an open egg space and getting a 5km egg is now the worst thing that can happen to you in the game.  A week in and I’m still trying to get my timing and strategy down for when to open gifts and when to spin stops.

9.) Overall 7km Egg Variety

Getting the new Alolan forms is cool and all but having a mere four new Pokémon in this class of egg got old by day two.  Having Meowth hatch more than half of the time (56%) with Vulpix less than 4% of the time seems like nothing more than a cheap excuse to get people to buy more incubators.  Having a wider variety of Alolan forms (or just more Pokémon in general) would be necessary pretty soon to avoid this getting old.  The only saving grace for this is that if you are lucky enough to get garbage (i.e. Meowth) from far enough away you can always trade it for someone else’s garbage Meowth and then transfer it right away.

The ability to discard eggs poses some legitimate problems but something needs to change.  An additional infinite incubators, having 7km eggs on a separate egg screen, having 9 eggs of each distance, permanent incubator bundles available, whatever it is it seems like there is a shift needed at this point.

10.) No Alternate Name or Message Feature

Combined with not knowing the location of friend requests coming in there’s no way to put an alternate name or message explaining exactly who this friend is that’s requesting you.  It’s also hard to remember who is who when scrolling the list.  Real names (optional) or nick names could help as well as locations.  That being said I do not think there should be a chat feature in the game for a number of obvious reasons.

This update has been a lot of fun.  A few simple tweaks and bug fixes could really take this new system to the next level.  This may be the single biggest update to the game since launch and it’s going to open the doors to many more great things in the future.

 

 

Trading is Coming to Pokémon GO

I’ve got to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of trading.  I think this puts me in the minority but I always envisioned this being something that could so easily be exploited by spoofers.  It could be something that created a black market within the game.  It could even propose real world safety concerns, meeting fellow trainers in some dark alley to do the deal.

I’m happy to say that earlier this morning trading was announced and it seems on the face of it they’ve addressed a lot of these concerns.  It’s not a perfect system at first glance but, honestly, it takes a concept that could break the game for many players and just layers in a nice new feature.

Firstly, the main thing that is being introduced, of which trading is just one part, is the new friendship system.  This is something I’d been hoping would exist in the game for a long time though I wasn’t really sure what it would look like.  Now we know.

I’ve met so many people at raids and playing the game in the general that just the idea of being able to keep in touch with them is a really cool feature.  There is now also the added feature of getting extra attack bonus and premier balls meaning that it will be easier to do raids with smaller, tighter groups.  This is huge particularly in more rural areas.

There is also a new feature which allows you to obtain gifts from Pokéstops.  Giving these gifts to friends increases their friend level.

Trading is a cool aspect though I wonder if it will really help me complete my Pokédex.  World travelers and spoofers may be willing to trade their regional exclusives with me but most people thought those regional exclusives would net them some high IV Pokémon in return.  With this update they have announced that stats would be re-rolled upon trading meaning that it would be impossible to get a 100% IV Pokémon in return for anything.  This is a good thing in many ways but I wonder what someone who traveled (or spoofed) will really want in return for their region exclusive.  Obviously one would want to trade for something that they really want.  I guess one could only hope they missed a particular legendary or are looking for a shiny variant of something.

The above screen shot has many people scared.  Many are wondering if this is just a mock up or if there will really be trades that cost 1,000,000 stardust.  A subsequent screen shows that getting “Best Friend” status with someone would bring this same trade down to 40,000 stardust.  That is totally acceptable but at 1,000,000 stardust I can’t think of anything I’d want that bad, never mind the Pokémon I’d have to offer up in return.

Overall I’m pretty excited about this feature.  It has the potential to be the biggest and potentially best change to the game of the year.  While research has added a new aspect to the game it has ultimately gotten stale pretty quick.  I’m hoping Friendship can have a more sustained impact on the game.

A little over a year ago there was little reason to open the game and play for more than five minutes a day.  Now with continuous events and updates there’s more reason to play than ever.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t be able to get every new shiny form that is released even if I spend hours a day trying.

This is what they game has needed for a long time, a reason to tap every Pokémon, and more features to keep things interesting.

Looking forward to many new friendships and looking forward to an action packed summer!

The Well Tempered NES

 

In past 8-bit albums I’ve tried to make it as close as possible to sounds produced by the original NES. Here I’m trying to explore more of the tweaked NES instruments created by @AfroDJMac‘s pack. For the preludes I’m keeping it pretty simple then expanding to more complex patches for the fugues. I’m hardly a Bach scholar but “The Well Tempered Clavier” made an early impression on me as one of my first music teachers made me learn the bass parts on my old Aria Pro II bass, The action on that bass was so bad that I could put my fingers between the strings and the fret board. That bass was a pain in the butt but it worked up such strong fingers that when my teacher brought in an upright bass for me to practice he was a little surprised when I told him how easy it was to play.

Click above to listen on YouTube or .  . .

Download “The Well Tempered NES” on Google Play

Pokémon GO Fest Was Almost Pokémon NO Fest

When it was announced earlier this week that GO Fest was returning to Chicago this year I wasn’t sure or not if I’d be able to go. In fact, I’m still not entirely sure.  Regardless I waited by the computer for the countdown and dove right in to buy tickets.

Last year I was fortunate enough to get my tickets within about five minutes.  This year it was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

There were numerous errors but after forty-five minutes I was able to secure my tickets for the 2018 version of Pokémon GO Fest.  Given the backlash last year I am pretty confident that they’ll have worked out a lot of the kinks for a smoother event this year.

What they’ll need to do this year to ensure a smoother experience:

1.) Figure out the lines.  The two hour wait was a little crazy.  On top of that the line just snaked around endlessly.  Despite getting there two hours ahead of the event we still had an additional two hour wait and it was four hours until we were able to start playing, albeit intermittently.  Two entrances should help some of this but, honestly, I don’t understand why there needs to be a line at all.  Letting people just check themselves in whenever or wherever they want seems like it would be much more efficient.

2.) Figure out the cell service.  This was the main issue with last year’s event.  There were too many people in too small a space calling on too much data from cell providers.  Hopefully with the event being much more spread out this year it won’t be as much of an issue.  Lincoln Park appears to be about 5-6 times the size of Grant Park so I’m hoping that keeps things running.  Luckily with the lessons learned last year I know that Niantic knows what to do if things fall apart.  Hopefully they’ll do it a little earlier this time.

3.) More diverse spawns.  I’ve seen screenshots of the Safari events in Europe with several Chansey and Larvitar on every screen.  I’d really like to see rare spawns and have the opportunity to catch stuff I don’t see every day.

4.) Exclusive Shiny Pokémon.  I haven’t seen a single Unown since last year’s GO Fest and I’m assuming we’ll be seeing a return this year.  Shiny Unown would be a great start.

5.) Go Fest Research Quests.  Having some specific quests to accomplish, rather than just wandering aimlessly through the park, would be great in having the event be a success.

6.) Mystery content release.  It would be great if some brand new feature would see a debut at, or slightly before, GO Fest.

The idea of what they are doing with habitats sounds like fun.  It would be great to be able to pick certain habitats to explore and stock up on Pokémon and candy we’re missing.

The challenges last year were worldwide but this did not work out in anything approaching the grand fashion Niantic had planned.  It would be great to see something like this pulled off properly even with in game notifications.

Research and weather are the two major new features since last year.  It will be interesting to see how they play into this year’s event.

And then there’s photo ops.  Personally, I’ll trade my photo ops for a Chansey with 93% or higher IVs.

I definitely feel the same feeling I felt in the lead up to last year’s event.  Last year I had this curious feeling about what a live Pokémon GO event could be like.  This year I have the same curiosity about what will be different paired with a hope that it doesn’t have the disastrous start hat last year did.

Pokémon GO Fest 2018 and Pokémon GO Safari Zone!

Last year I was so psyched to get tickets to Pokémon GO Fest.  I had imagined what it would be like.  The event ended up being nothing like what I, or anyone else, imagined.  The day started with about 6-8 hours of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever had and concluded with about 6-8 hours of the most fun game play I’ve ever had in the game.

It’s looking like Niantic has really learned from the mistakes it made in 2017 and that this event should go off much more smoothly.  Eliminating the two-hour line (hopefully) and expanding the radius of the event should drastically reduce the frustrations from last year.

Last year began with the two-hour wait in line, but the promise of the day ahead made it seem like it was going to be worth it.

The excitement of approaching those GO Fest Pokéstops made it seem like something major was about to happen.

Everyone was absolutely packed into the park, ready to play.

This is what most of those in the picture where looking at on their phones.

As you can see by the timestamp on this screenshot, I got the badge for successfully entering my QR code, four hours after arrival at the start of the line.

This is one of the four Pokémon I caught in Grant Park during the event.

Hours later the event spilled out onto the streets and Lugia and Articuno made their first appearance in the game.  This was nearly twelve hours after arriving and it was a pretty exciting moment for the game.

Here’s some brief footage I took of the first ever Lugia raid in Chicago.  I’m not sure, a year later, if they can recapture this participation and excitement but I’m really looking forward to seeing.

I’m hoping there are some other cool items this year, such as the regional they brought in last year.  At this point there is only one available Pokemon in the came that I do not have, Cradily, and that will almost certainly be not true by GO Fest.  With special events I’m sitting on thousands of candies for all the most useful Pokémon in the game.  Aside from ultra rare spawns, really only Chansey and Snorlax, there aren’t really any candies I need.

Here’s a brief wish list for what I’d like to see this year:

  • Ultra rare spawns
  • High IV Pokémon
  • New shiny release(s)
  • Rare candy rewards
  • Limited edition movesets
  • New Unown letters
  • BIG Margikarp
  • Increased overall shiny spawns
  • Bonus (Double XP, Double Candy)
  • Reduced km for hatches and buddy
  • Include rare raids
  • Something to do in gyms to make them relevant
  • Beginnings of Gen 4
  • Quests specifically for GO Fest
  • Quests for region exclusives

That’s an awful lot, but at this point at level 40 with my Pokédex missing only one of 362 Pokémon available to me, there needs to be something great at GO Fest this year.  I’ll be at 362 by the time GO Fest comes so I’d really like something exciting to keep me interested.

Just looking through my screen shots from last year it looks like a totally different game.  Niantic continually tweaks and improves this game so who knows what surprises are in store for us in the lead up to July.

 

Pokémon GO Special Battle Showdown

Wow.

After nearly two years it seems that Niantic has finally discovered a way to make events a surprise.  Out of nowhere Niantic announced this morning that they’ll be launching another event, a mere 24 hours after the previous one ended.  Just when I thought I’d be able to build my Pokéball inventory back up it looks like I’m still destined to have my item storage depleted.

Here’s the official announcement:

Trainers,

It’s time to test the strength of your Pokémon during a special battle event! Fighting-type Pokémon, such as Machop and Makuhita, will appear more frequently in the wild starting May 1 at 1:00 p.m. PDT.

But what’s a battle celebration without some competition at your nearby Gym? Until May 14, you’ll receive 2× bonus XP for Gym Battles and Raid Battles. Plus, Raid Battles will also award a guaranteed 3,000 Stardust for participating—and at least one Rare Candy if you win!

Several actions at Gyms will yield bonuses, including a 2× Badge multiplier, so you can receive even more benefits at a Gym you visit frequently. Just stopping by? Spinning the Photo Disc at Gyms will also yield more items!

Our Battle Showdown is sure to pack a punch, so don’t miss it!

—The Pokémon GO team

I feel like we were inundated with Machop during the Kanto event but this seems to be a very good way for newer or more casual players to earn their Gold Black Belt badge and earn some vital Pokédex entries.

The most interesting part of this event is that it focuses around gyms.  Battling will earn extra XP, raids will earn extra XP and guarntee rare candy, and there’s even a multiplier on gym badges.  To the best of my knowledge this is the first time I’ve seen gym badges be relevant in the game since being launched nearly a year ago.  It would be great to see some future research surrounding gyms and gym badges.

Additionally, with hundreds of shiny sprites added to the game we can no longer predict when or if a specific shiny variant will be added to the game.  It is very possible that we’ll see shiny Machop or even several shiny fighting types added with this event.

In a stark contrast to where this game was at this point last year, Niantic is giving us nothing but reasons to make sure we play this game every day.

Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (8-bit Cover Album)

 

As a kid I didn’t know much about Elton John other than that video he released for “Candle in the Wind.”  For some reason I lumped it together with other songs I really despised at the time no real reason.  I had no idea it was part of an incredible album from 1973, I thought it was just some weird guy who liked to dress like a French aristocrat from the 1700s.  I would later gain appreciation for this song, particularly in the greater context of the album as a whole.

Click above to listen on YouTube  or .  . .

Download “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (8-bit Cover Album) on Google Play 

The Problem with Research in Pokémon GO

I have been a huge booster of quest and research in Pokémon GO.  It’s the feature I was looking forward to for the longest.  Overall I’m happy with this addition but it doesn’t bring as much to the game as I had been hoping.

The pace with which new features and events have been coming to the game has been crazy over the past couple of months and that’s a very good thing.  At this time last year the game was so boring I was only playing for 5-10 minutes a day.  Now it’s hard to go an hour without checking in on the game to see what is happening.

Research added a great new element to the game.  The quest for Mew was cool but just too easy.  I completed it in a little over a week, doing it at a very leisurely pace.  Others completed it the day it was released.  The reason it was so easy is that for people who have been playing since day one most of the objectives were automatically accomplished.  The other ones, like transferring or evolving a few Pokémon, were incredibly easy.  Catching Ditto was probably the hardest part of the quest and that was more annoying than anything given it didn’t require anything other than dumb luck.

Some parts of in the special research would have been great had this feature existed since day one.  As a daily player for nearly two years it was a little disappointing.  If they make an element of quests be getting a gold Sinnoh medal, or evolving some rare Sinnoh region Pokémon then that will definitely seem like much more of a challenge.

I am currently sitting on 96 Lotad candies, and not a decent Lotad to evolve.  I’m excited any time I see one.  Imagine if I also knew that evolving Lotad would bring me one step closer to completing a special research assignment.

I’m also not sure if laying everything out in 8 segments is the best way to do it either.  Just having a complete checklist seems like it would work much better.  As it stands everyone is worried about evolving anything at this point as that evolution may be necessary to complete the next research project.

Field research has its own problems as well.  Since you can complete field research it’s really easy to just sit on three completed research projects then just use them daily.  Prior to research all we needed to do every day was catch a single Pokémon and spin a Pokémon and our mission for the day was complete.  During those boring days of the game last year a lot of days I’d open the game in the morning, do both of those things and then be done for the day in a matter of a minute.  Now I feel like my morning ritual also includes claiming a reward and that only adds a few seconds.

Including some sort of tracker to measure how many of each task you’d completed and maybe giving additional rewards for doing that task 5, 10, or 100 times would spice things up a bit.

Research is a great addition to the game but in the absence of an ongoing event it just becomes another task to perform to keep a streak alive.

The 7 day reward for Poké Stops is getting an evolution item, something almost completely unnecessary in the game at this point.  These are for Gen 2 evolutions and none of them are particularly useful evolutions at that.  So we’re all sitting on dozens of evolution items that we do not need.

The 7 day reward for research is a legendary encounter.  This sounded really cool at first but so far we have had four straight weeks of Moltres encounters.  This seemed like a really good solution for rural players who have no real options to get legendaries.  Imagine how stoked rural players must have been to have learned of this feature only to find out it would be the same encounter four weeks in a row.  On the one side you get four shots at getting something with decent IVs and you can get at least 12 candies for power ups.  The downside is at this rate you’ll need over a year to complete your legendary Pokédex, and that’s assuming that no additional legendaries are released.

Something about this needs to change.

It would be great if you could voluntarily select quests for the legendary Pokémon you need.  Long, hard quests that would result in a standard level 20 encounter.  There could be varying quest for each one and trainers could do them all simultaneously if they chose.  They could easily make the 7 day reward for research be something else like increasing an attack, defense, or stamina stat by one point, item rewards, or a number of other options.

Overall this has been a great addition and a solid test run of this new system.  Now, some tweaks are needed to add some more challenge to the game for hardcore players, and a little more incentive for rural players to want to continue to participate.

Pokémon GO’s Kanto Event Starts in a Matter of Hours

It’s official!  After my speculation the Kanto event begins later today, in just a few short hours.  Here’s the official announcement.

Trainers,

The appearance of the Mythical Pokémon Mew has attracted Pokémon that were originally discovered in the Kanto region. These classic Pokémon will be seen more frequently starting April 10 at 1 P.M. PDT, so you’ll have the perfect opportunity to earn a gold Kanto medal and even complete your Kanto Pokédex!

What’s more, certain Pokémon such as Aerodactyl and Snorlax will be featured in Raid Battles across the world. Keep an eye out for one you haven’t encountered yet!

As you encounter and catch more Pokémon originally discovered in the Kanto region, all actions will be rewarded with double Candy. So, not only will you be able to catch Pokémon you might not frequently see, but you may also get the chance to register their evolved forms in your Pokédex as well.

During this event, there will also be special boxes containing Raid Passes! These boxes will give you an opportunity to challenge many powerful Pokémon originally discovered in the Kanto region.

This special celebration ends on April 17, so get out there and make some more discoveries. If all goes well, you may be able to finish your first Special Research request and encounter Mew!

—The Pokémon GO team

It’s not quite the shiny extravaganza everyone was hoping for but the double candy will be enough to get me to transfer several hundred rare Pokémon and clear out some slots for Sunday’s Community Day Event.  I may also be rewarded with double candy if I’m fortunate enough to catch Mewtwo on Saturday.

We may still get surprised with shinies.  An interesting theory I’ve seen is that they’ve released all the shiny sprites just so they can surprise people instead of everyone always being able to predict what’s coming next.

Honestly I’d be happy to finally find a shiny Magikarp at this point.  Shinies are rare enough that I have a lot more hunting to do before I even collect half of the currently available ones in the game.

Who knows?  Shiny Pidgey may be mere hours away.