The last couple of weeks have brought about some things that will lead to some major changes to my project and this website. Let me be clear that I am not stopping anything and these changes could be very good! I have also had a few other thoughts that I might as well air out now and get some discussion going. Even though this is my pet project I do want to keep this interesting for you and everyone else that has been reading and following along thus far. With all that in mind, let’s get started!
I have recently made two purchases that directly impact Take On The NES Library. The first purchase is the brand new RetroUSB AVS console! I have been using it for a week and a half and I really like it! In case you haven’t heard about it, the AVS is a brand new HDMI based NES console. This is great for me because aside from a few exceptions I do all my NES gaming on a flat screen TV. It displays games in clear 720p and it has a good amount of customization options to the video to make it look just about as nice as possible on my TV. Some other features that I really like about it are the Famicom slot, PAL region support, and the Scoreboard for uploading high scores on dozens of games. It has held up very well with every game I have tried so far. I am planning to use it as my primary system for playing NES games going forward.
Even though the AVS is a great system, I do have a couple of concerns around legitimacy. The AVS contains a built-in Game Genie for applying cheats without using any extra peripherals. Unfortunately with that as part of the firmware it’s not easy for me to prove that my playthroughs are cheat-free. Up until now I have played on a top loading NES and I have included a picture of my TV screen and console when I beat the game. From there it will be obvious if I am using a cheat device and that approach will not cut it with the AVS. The only way to really prove it is with video. Otherwise, legitimacy is only as good as my word. Though my detailed reviews and stories may be good enough for most readers, I am certain there is at least one person out there that would be willing to call me out and claim that I have not cleanly beaten some game. It may never happen but I don’t exactly have a leg to stand on in an argument if it comes up. The other concern is about accuracy. It has come to light recently that the AVS plays games a tiny bit slower than on an original NES console. Informal testing has shown that the AVS plays about a second behind an original console for every 10 minutes of play. It is a very small imperceptible difference, but it’s there. Both of these issues in my mind are not enough for me to stay away from using the AVS for my primary console. If I am able to win on an AVS, certainly I can win on a normal console and I would be able to back that up and prove it in some extreme case of doubt.
The other device I bought is a brand new Elgato Game Capture HD. This is very exciting! With this device I can connect my console with my PC and record video of my playthroughs, and combining that with the AVS will produce high-quality video for personal use. It’s obvious there are some great possibilities for enhancing the site with this. One thing I want to try is uploading games to my YouTube channel. I’m not that big on video editing but it shouldn’t be too difficult to create longplay videos for games I finish. I imagine there are quite a few obscure NES games that don’t have a lot of video on the web and I will be able to generate some archival footage that may prove useful. Videos will also provide me proof of victory that could come in handy! The video quality is so good with the AVS that I can grab my own screenshots from the captured video for use in my blog posts. I have resorted to extracting images from emulators or finding them on the web, so the ability to generate my own screenshots on console is really going to enhance my reviews as well.
Another benefit of the capture device is that I can stream gameplay on my Twitch channel. This is actually the main reason why I bought it, but for a non-obvious practical application. My wife likes to watch me play but it’s been difficult to set it up when my young daughter isn’t sleeping well. Streaming lets me play downstairs while she watches and lays in bed upstairs! We have already tried it a couple of times and it works well. The Elgato makes it easy to stream and I should be able to broadcast a few times a week whenever I get to play. My schedule makes it difficult to stream at a convenient time, so when I do it will generally be after midnight for up to an hour on a good night. Despite that it’s another way to expand my reach for the site!
Since I started the blog I have kept a tight lip on what games I am playing until I reveal my review. I have wanted to keep things a surprise in the same way that the next game I play is a surprise to me. Obviously if I am going to start live streaming that will be impossible. I have had more than one person show interest in my current progress and I suspect it will be better overall if I am more transparent with my progress especially if that information is going to be out there anyway. Therefore I am going to start revealing more about what’s happening here on places such as my Twitter account and my Nintendo Age discussion thread. I hope these things may spark some more interest and discussion in what I’m doing here.
In the spirit of transparency, I am revealing today that I have been working a bit on the side learning to play piano using the NES Miracle Piano Teaching System. A little over a month ago I bought the CIB Miracle Piano set from a collector that was selling off all of his games. The set is a bit challenging to track down and I jumped at the opportunity to obtain a good condition set for what I think is a good price. This appeared on my list immediately before Ikari Warriors but at that time I didn’t have the set so I couldn’t even show it off. Good thing I put it off! I have the entire setup connected to my CRT TV in my office for the near future so that I can work on the teaching program a few times a week. Now, I have no music experience in any form whatsoever so I am learning from scratch. From what I have done so far I think the program is quite good, but it is also shaping up to be a very difficult endeavor. It may be harder to finish than Ikari Warriors! I have just started Lesson 8 out of 36 total lessons and this new lesson really beat me up when I first started. It will take a lot of effort to finish everything but I am dead set on completing it. I estimate that it will take me at least a year to finish the program but at this point I won’t be surprised if it takes two or three years to complete.
A part of my project methodology has been bothering me for awhile. When I first created my master game list I bumped a number of games that I wasn’t interested in trying to beat down to the bottom of my list. That mini-list mostly consists of sports games, strategy games, and flight simulation games. There were 83 games that got this treatment which is really a significant portion of the library. I’m starting to regret that choice. There’s really no point in delaying these games considering my goal of beating them all. I did that initially to minimize the chance of losing interest in the project if I got stuck with a long uninteresting game. I think I have proven by now that I am willing to spend a lot of time working through any game so I want to reintroduce those skipped games in some way. The most likely option is to periodically sprinkle one of these games into my master list. Another possibility is to work on two active games, one from each list. If I decide to go that route I will defer that until after I finish Miracle Piano since that is already my alternate game!
Since I’ve been working on the website and project I have always been thinking of doing things to expand my reach and get the word out about Take On The NES Library. I am getting ready to take a big step forward with attempting to expand my content to Twitch and YouTube. I am wondering if I should take it even further and set up dedicated channels and accounts for the blog, or if it is fine using my personal accounts for that. I even wonder if I should bother trying to market the site in the first place and just stick to word of mouth and keeping things small. I don’t really have the bandwidth in my life to have a dedicated streaming schedule or upload schedule. I have a hard enough time keeping up with posting reviews every couple of weeks. It’s probably best right now to stick with my foray into video and see how that goes first!
I think that’s all that has been on my mind. I would love to hear from you! I know my blog comments have barely been used, but please feel free to try them out and send something my way if you have any suggestions for how I can further improve this site. You can also find me on the Nintendo Age forums as arnpoly as well as that active forum thread there specifically for this project. Keep your eyes peeled for more frequent updates!