Oct 20, 2013

How To: Start A Fast-Food Receipt Combo

Many fast food restaurants (and maybe some slow food restaurants too; my wallet is too empty to check, however) have special deals where you can get your food for cheaper (or free under certain conditions) for taking online surveys. I know for sure that Burger King, Wendy's, and Subway have deals like this; the McDonald's and Jack in the Box in my area do not (Jack's instead has a sweepstakes, and McDonald's doesn't even encourage you to take online surveys). Here's how to take heavy advantage of this sort of thing.

1. Choose a restaurant that you can reach easily. It won't save you much money at all if you have to go far out of your way to get to the place.

2. Alternatively, choose a restaurant that has a lot of branches in your area. That way, no matter where you are, cheap food is not hard to reach.

3. Your first visit doesn't need to be anything huge, as long as you actually pay money for something. This means that you won't be able to walk into a Burger King and ask for a cup of water. You need to order something for which they will print a receipt.

4. Go take the survey. The receipt's back side will usually have a URL you can type in. Fast food surveys often ask you for information from the receipt, such as the store number and the exact date/time of your visit. Keep a pen handy as well, so you can write down the resulting coupon code.

5. Here's where the "trick" comes in. The next time you visit the restaurant and hand them the receipt with the code, make sure you buy something else to go with it! Burger King requires you to order a drink and fries to get the free sandwich, but some places (like Wendy's) are happy to just give you the free item without needing to buy something else. HOWEVER, if you let them do this, they will not wind up giving you a receipt, and your "combo" will be broken. Even if it's something small like a cheeseburger off the value menu, order something that you need to pay for, and make sure you get the new receipt. (They cannot deny you your receipt. I'm reasonably sure there is a law about that.)

6. Some online survey sites will attempt to stop you from taking the survey more than once a month. However, many (especially Burger King's) only track this through your browser cookies. If you are using a browser that has a Private Browsing mode (or Incognito for Google Chrome), open a Private window first, THEN take the survey and get your code.

Another thing: Burger King's receipt deal will grant you either one free Whopper or one free Original Chicken Sandwich if you buy the drink and fries separately. While they require that the drink and fries are at least Small (not from the dollar menu!), they do not mind if you ask them to add toppings like bacon and cheese to the sandwich. This all falls under the price of the sandwich itself, which with a coupon code, is FREE. Go ahead, add bacon and cheese to your free Whopper. It's still free.

Many fast food places will not even mind if you keep coming in a few days in a row with a survey coupon every time. And why not? You're giving them extra business, and (hopefully) good survey scores. While it has not been a problem for me YET, I would advise perhaps staggering your receipt combo across multiple branches of the same restaurant, just to keep them "off your trail" so to speak. I have no idea what happens if you keep this up for a long time with a single location, and as always, your mileage may vary.

Aug 28, 2013

Steam Greenlight: The Drinking Game

Back in the day - and I'm talking about half a year ago or more, not some nebulous decade like "the 80's" or "back when Nintendo games were all the kids would talk about" - Steam Greenlight was a completely unfiltered, unmoderated platform where everybody could submit their pipe dreams for the world to decide whether or not they would buy them on Steam if they ever got finished. The vast majority of cases...didn't get finished. And when I say everybody, I mean everybody - in fact, before Valve mandated a $100 entry fee to submit Greenlight proposals, there were quite a lot of stinkers that we loved to make fun of.

Nowadays, the quality of entries has gone up quite a lot. But there's still a lot of them that aren't so great. That's why I've devised Steam Greenlight: The Drinking Game.

As with any drinking game, I am obligated to give this Very Stern Warning: Drinking games are a very quick way to get yourself a nasty case of alcohol poisoning. In fact, since I've put no thought into balancing or "testing" this drinking game on myself or on a group of would-be drunkards, I highly recommend that you NEVER, EVER actually attempt this game with real alcohol. That said, here we go.

To play this "game," have a "host" (whether in person, via Livestream, etc) fire up Steam and visit Greenlight. Select all the genres possible and generate a new queue, then click the first game in the list.

Take a drink if...

- There is no video attached to the project.
- There are fewer than 3 screenshots.
- There is no demo download.
- There IS a demo download, but the link is broken or hosted on a free file-locker service like Mediafire, Dropbox, or 4Shared. (Take TWO drinks if the link is broken because it was hosted on Megaupload.)
- The game is made in RPG Maker, Fighter Maker, The Games Factory, Klik & Play, or is actually a mod for any game that is not Half-Life.
- The description directly compares the game to Minecraft, even if only to say "it's not like Minecraft."
- One drink per instance if any of the following phrases appear in the copy: "psychological survival horror," "free to play," "sandbox," "Slenderman," or "retro 8-bit."

Finish the glass if...

- You read the entire description, look at all the screenshots, watch the preview video, and STILL have no fucking clue what the game is supposed to be about.
- Even after all this, your "host" still clicks the "Thumbs Up" button, declaring that he would buy the game if it were on Steam.

Jul 29, 2013

MZXCon West Number Two

I don't recall blogging about last year's attempt at this. Perhaps I had forgotten about the Blaugh entirely, at that point. Suffice it to say, if you're at all curious about how MZXCon West got its start last year, you can feel free to see KKairos' video highlights of that event. This post will be about this year's edition, which was much shorter.

The turnout this year, despite the shorter itinerary, was at least slightly more prestigious than last year, as despite the absence of MZXCon West veterans Insidious and Burstroc, we made up for this with the presence of Amnesia creator Graham Peet and his wife. Our first stop on the agenda was the 23rd Avenue branch of one of Portland's finest Mexican restaurants, Pepino's.

It looks so happy. It is safe to say that the emotions expressed by this quesadilla are precisely the emotions I experienced upon consuming it.

After our meet-and-greet at Pepino's and some idle conversation, we made our way into the center of town to hit up Portland's most awesome arcade, Ground Kontrol. Surprisingly, I got very little actual gaming done there, since much of my time was spent sitting at a table drinking some of their on-tap root beer and talking. Though I did get a good round in on RoadBlasters...and I'm told that Graham was an unstoppable force at Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, which I only wish I were there to witness and/or challenge.

Once we had finished at Ground Kontrol and our remaining guests (THDPro and sibling TheJman) showed up, we made our way down the block to The Backspace, a cyber-cafe by all definitions. We claimed the back room tables with two laptops, and I finally remembered to start taking pictures.

Pictured from left to right: "Deedee" Peet, Corben, KKairos, THDPro, Graham Peet, TheJman, and San Francisco Rush: The Rock.

THDPro's laptop was brought into play with a pair of USB joypads to demonstrate KKairos' WIP game, currently titled "Money$hot" but evidently pending a rename. I have suggested renaming it to something less morally ambiguous, like "Shoot People And Take Their Money," but the jury is out as to whether it will be accepted. The game in question is a 2D side-view versus action game, which I admittedly did not get the chance to play, but I was enjoying the conversation too much to really assert myself into it.

From another angle, THDPro works to set up a match of "2Player," while Deedee looks interested in something...I honestly forget what.

After this happened, Graham passed around a USB drive containing in-development versions of his projects, Servo's Adventure and a "broken" version of Amnesia. As I forgot to ask Graham if it was alright to post screenshots or video of either game, I will give the benefit of the doubt and refrain from doing so, but I will mention that Servo's Adventure is one that you will want to look out for if you are still interested in the whole MegaZeux thing. (Because, yes, MegaZeux is very much still the reason we got this "con" together in the first place.)

I am unsure why I took this photo, and I'm sure THDPro wasn't sure either.

But the real highlight was this...last year, KKairos made a particular point of filming THDPro's reaction to Day of Zeux entry, Hipster Quest. This year, I am VERY proud to present a similar video of Graham Peet, playing the same. You will be surprised by his reaction.

Once we'd finished at the Backspace, Graham and Deedee had to get going to pick up their son, so our group was two people fewer. We hiked across Portland towards Pioneer Place, where most of us (save for Corben, if I recall) ordered dinner from Sbarro in the food court. Can't say much for the quality of the entrees...or the Pepsi, which was probably running out...but the cheesecake was at least worth the price of admission. We wandered a bit afterward to no real avail, and eventually made our way back to our conveyance to reach our final stop for the evening: Ava's Roasteria in Tigard, which by pure coincidence happened to have live music and a lovely patio.

Here is a picture of our final group: Corben on left, KKairos in center, THDPro to my right. While at Ava's, we stayed for the next few hours talking about pretty much the same stuff we'd been talking about for the rest of the con, except I also had a chance to perform a live-reading of my visual novel project, The Chatbox Shamus: From Sloth to Sleuth. Useful feedback came from most of the group, and reception seemed positive.

Around 10:30, I decided it was time that I get moving lest I miss my bus back to Forest Grove (I did miss it, but I made it back home...eventually, after waiting in the cold night for what felt like an hour, and watching the Beaverton Police arrest a drunk guy from the bus that I missed).

Overall, this year's con experience was positive. We might not have had Burstroc making tacos, but it was very nice to meet back up with half of the previous group, and get to know the Peets, who have officially been MZX'ing for longer (and to greater effect) than I ever did. =P

Here's to two good years, and here's to more to come. *wine glass clink*

Jun 14, 2013

Weasel Has Gained A Level (Wait, Didn't I Use That Joke Already?)

In roughly one hour and fifteen minutes, I will have officially turned 26 years old. I'm not entirely sure why I still keep track of my birthdays, since I stopped receiving large gifts long ago (perhaps since I gained the capability to buy them for myself), and the prospect of partying all night is something that is not really in my personality type.

This said, I find this year's birthday to be...strangely fulfilling. Where previous years saw me accomplishing nothing of note, this year saw my birthday fall immediately after the final exam week at the end of my first year of classes at Portland Community College. I am worn out, and yet I don't feel as if it has been a detriment to my health. It's the "good" kind of tired. The sort of "good tired" that I imagine one would feel after having just single-handedly won a game of football.

And yet, looking back on it, this year saw me accomplish far more than just a few terms of college. I've gained a newfound respect for my own work ethic. I've gained a modest sort of pride for my writing. I've managed to last this long as a ZDoom moderator without having stepped on too many toes in the process, and during such time, released a few mods that, dare I say, received a generally positive reaction.

Sure, I'm not quite done with college (still a year to go, then there's the logistical issues of how I'm going to continue this career path, if I should continue), my writing isn't to the point where I can publish it and make money (excepting the odd article for Hardcore Gaming 101, which does net me a small amount of pocket change), my Doom mods haven't dethroned current champion Brutal Doom for popularity...but you know what? I'm happy that I've managed to get this far by myself, without having to shove anybody else down. And that's really all I've ever wanted out of life: to succeed under my own power, and not have to kick anyone aside in the process.

Apr 22, 2013

When we "tuck away" old knowledge from school at the end of the year and forget about it, is that the same neural reaction as would happen with a traumatic experience? In that respect, would remembering something taught from school after years of never needing to use it, be akin to a Vietnam flashback? Might need to ask a neurologist about it.

Mar 24, 2013

Let's Play: Final Fantasy V Spoof (part 4)

Welcome to yet again another installment. (Who says I give up on these things?) This one is yet more combat-heavy, but hopefully my Winning Strategies won't have you all up in arms. I'm actually told they're quite hilarious in and of themselves, so I almost wonder if I wasn't destined to LP this hack in the first place. Ah well, it gives me something to do over spring break, I suppose. Anyhow...

Chapter the Fourth: That All Changed When The Fire Nation Attacked

At the end of the previous installment, we had just attempted to vaporize ourselves with a meteor teleport, and wound up...somewhere.

Well, I've got no freakin' clue where this is, so it's time to try out this World Map that Galuf was so fired up about.

Um...okay? I really kind of wish this thing were a little larger, or perhaps had some labels on it that are more visible than the blinking white dots, but at least I'm able to figure out a vague location somewhere to the northwest. We're not in Tycoon anymore, that's for sure. ...wait, where the hell's Tycoon on this map?

Some wandering about leads me to Karnak, the Kingdom of Fire (and totally not the city in Egypt).

And boy, oh boy, does Karnak take its fire seriously.

There is something massively wrong with this town.

Well, time to do what we do at every other place and shop for--

Well, crap. I didn't know buying armor was illegal. Were I a bit younger, I'd probably assume this was the "bad" ending, but a while later of mashing the A button against every wall in my cell results in this creepy old guy with glasses blowing up a wall.

This hack has some strange obsession with death, and the self-administration of such therein. Evidently the party thinks so, too, as they bust out laughing in front of him.

Thank you for that wholly enlightening science lesson, Professor.

Finally, someone notices.

Of course! It all comes back to them! (note: the opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the actual feelings of the author. I hate politics, I really do. =P)

Stilton shows Cid a glowing blue thing.

Our conversation is interrupted by the Minister appearing.

As is typical.

Well, before we go meet Cid, we should go explore the rest of the town that we didn't have the chance to look at before being so rudely arrested.

Uh-oh. But it turns out that's the least of Karnak's problems...

I didn't mean this guy.

...Or this guy.

Enough of this Karnak Castle malarkey. Off to the Steamship!

A convenient excuse.

Always with the monsters.

This comes to mind.

So does this.

Riding conveyor belts is fun and all, but it all has to end eventually, and we have to stop Queen Karnak from stealing Cid's stash, so here we go!

I know, right?

Well, time to do battle!

This battle's not nearly as much of a pain as HeavyP was. I did get my ass kicked maybe once, because I got impatient and tried to fast-forward, but actually paying attention did help considerably (as did not getting myself blinded in a random battle immediately before meeting the Queen).

Took you that long to figure it out?

Oh crap, this guy?

Oh crap!

...in a fire? With fragments of crystal embedded in the walls? I guess we'll never know!

...how did we get into the castle?!

We high-tail it out of the castle - ignoring most of the monsters-in-boxes that are now accessible - and, predictably, Karnak explodes. It was only a matter of time, I suppose.

Now what did we just unlock?

None of which I'll probably be using at all at the moment, since Team I-Kick-Ass-For-The-Lord has been faring quite nicely.

The author's thoughts on Final Fantasy "II" are made quite clear.

Prices so outrageous...they ought to be illegal! (For the customers, not us!) ...*cough*

Things are going to get creepy again, aren't they?

Wonder why I haven't run into anybody going "*sigh* Times are tough."

Hm, so the Queen being alive made Karnak less safe? Or maybe I'm reading too far into it?

Good, I was just checking.

Speaking of checking, let's check in Cid.

Well, I guess it's time to go find this guy's grandson...or whoever the hell he is.

But first, it's time to buy more spells. I pick up Cure2 - the sequel to Cure1 - but realize that with Faith level 1, I can't cast it out of class yet. Come to think of it, the game doesn't really tell you what level a given spell is, so you kind of have to grind until you get to that level to be able to know for sure.

Welp, time to bring back the Churchy Brigade. To the library!

And some of these books are possessed. By who? No idea. But the random scholars running around in the library are kind of creepy; I guess some of them are caricatures of actual manga "fans." The guys on the roof are a lot more sane. The book on the right in this pile actually did have monsters in it, as do the books in the basement (which, according to the random scholars, is where all the hentai is, and they have far more of that than anything else). Since "Jacob" isn't around upstairs, we can only assume he's down below.

I hate darkness effects in SNES games. At least give us a torch or a flashlight or something.

If the NPC dialogue is any indication, he's pissed off that he's now classified as a "Pokémon."

A battle ensues.

And much ass is kicked.

Says you. Now, what to do with our Sweet Catch?

...naaah, too obvious. I'm honestly planning on handling the rest of the library later, so join me then to figure out just what the hell Jacob's doing in this creepy haunted basement of porn. (Hopefully not the obvious.)