Hello Arduboys and Ardugirls! Holy wow! I totally fell flat on my face over the last few days. Amazingly, I haven’t been falling down. I have been falling up. Yesterday was the best possible disaster I could possibly hope for. I know this is an oxymoron, but this whole situation is an oxymoron. Before I reveal what I mean by that, I am going to provide an exposition dump about my life in general and how a series of unfortunate events have been leading up to something amazing and what I intend for that to mean for the Arduboy.
Let’s not dice words here. I was literally born into slavery. I grew up in a militia/white supremist/boogaloo environment. In the absence of black slaves to call their own, boogaloos will enslave each other. My life story is an example of this. To drive the point even further, my grandmother and mom rarely ever called me by my legal name. They literally called me, “Slave.” If you have ever read the book, “A Boy Called It,” by David Pelzer then you already have a solid understand of what my life was like growing up.
I literally never got anything for Christmas that I actually wanted or asked for. Quite often, my grandmother and mom would buy presents for me that they wanted for themselves. As such, whatever I got would be immediately taken away from me. It was quite the cruel joke. This all changed in fifth grade in elementary school when my grandfather came to visit me for Christmas (he was long ago divorced from my grandmother). He placed this gigantic box under the Christmas tree. It was abominably huge. I was absolutely perplexed by what could be contained inside.
When Christmas came around, I finally got the opportunity to open this gift. Once inside, I found layers upon layers of newspaper. I was initially heartbroken. I saw it as another cruel joke being played on me yet again. Halfway, through I stopped unpacking the paper in the box and sat back down silently. My grandpa told me to keep going. I gave him a bemoaned look, but obeyed his request. Once I reached the bottom, I found a Nintendo Game Boy with Tetris included. I absolutely wanted a Game Boy. I saw the kids at school with them. I never expected that I would own one myself. As odd as this sounds, I didn’t really comprehend what happened. I just stared at it. I didn’t even open the Game Boy box itself for another five hours. I just stared at it, half expecting either my mom or grandmother to take it away from me at any moment. Once I did, I meticulously read every word in the instruction manuals. I learned years later that my grandfather thought I didn’t like the gift based on my reaction and was kind of bummed out. I had the opportunity to correct him on this years later.
This Game Boy became a source of contention with my slave owners, however. They insisted that I was going to become a violent criminal who would end up in prison for playing Tetris and a drug addict because of Dr. Mario. They were furious with my grandfather. He was supposed to visit for two weeks, but his visit was cut short when they forced him to leave as punishment for buying me a video game system.
I am going to gleam over some significant details for the sake of getting to the point. I was later removed from that home by the state when I was sixteen years old and I was placed into the care of my grandfather until I became a legal adult. The same grandfather who got me the Game Boy all those years ago. The Game Boy taught me vicariously some life lessons as well, but not in the way you would expect. Very specifically, the design philosophy of Gunpei Yokoi and the principles of “Lateral Thinking with Withered Technology.” This is essentially repurposing dated or niche technology to serve new purposes. Nintendo is well known for this. It became a guiding principle of for me navigating life and excelling despite being objectively poor. I wasn’t allowed to do homework when I was growing up. It was forbidden in my household. The concept was that if I had an education that I would leave when I was eighteen and they would be down a slave. They were so committed to the concept of owning a slave that my grandmother created a “breeding program” for my mom (that she agreed to) in order to produce dumb offspring that would be more inclined to stay in the family to remain as a servant, even when he or she was of age to leave. Fortunately, my mother was never able to get pregnant again after having me.
My life has largely remained a living nightmare. My grandmother’s brother tried detaining me at the age of twenty-one with the purpose of making me his slave. He groomed me into believing he was going to help me get into college and pay for it. It was all a lie. I left and literally had a $5,000 USD bounty put on my head by him to recapture me. A few years later, I ended up working at a zoo when IMTEC (a dental implant manufacturing facility) was bought out by 3M and they started laying off employees.
This zoo was called G.W. Exotic Memorial Park and was ran by Joe Exotic. Those of you who watch Netflix or American news may know him as “Tiger King”. I was only there for 3-4 months, but it didn’t take me long to realize this guy was either already a murder or had plans to become one. I literally moved halfway across the country and changed my name. Below is a picture of me from December of 2008 with a six week old tiger (I think he was 6 weeks?) named Lefty because of the curl in his ear.
I remained a handheld gamer because the systems were typically cheaper, along with the games themselves.
Sadly, my grandfather passed away. Time has become a bubble lately. I think he died in June of 2016. It’s sad that I don’t know this off the top of my head, but that is how wild the last few years have been. I thought it would be a fitting memorial to my grandpa if I created a Game Boy website that took the odd technical details of the system and streamlined the information into something more digestible for a more mainstream audience. Which Game Boys had a special color scheme on the Game Boy color? Which games had Game Boy Printer support? Which had battery saves? What color palette was used for hybrid Game Boy/Game Boy Color games? Did it have Link Cable support? I had all of this streamline iconography that made the information glanceable. I even planned a YouTube Channel, much in the vein of Jeremy Perish for Game Boy Works, except I would be introducing a new review system with a scoring system that determined not only quality, but the demographic of a particular game.
The website was finished. I played Tetris for Game Boy for the first time in 20 years and recorded it. That landed me on SpeedRun.com global leaderboards. I can’t recall, but I think I was initially 22nd place. I am at 31st last I looked as I haven’t submitted a run in two years. My remaining family was outraged by this whole endeavor. First off, beyond my grandmother, my relatives commit all sorts of crimes. If you ask them, however, they will suggest to you that they are symbols of purity. Me, on the other hand, I was supposed to be in jail and a drug addict. My relatives are more preoccupied with being right than they are about being correct. I don’t know the whole background story, but it seems like they paid off my roommate at the time to sabotage me. He threatened to kill my birds (cockatiels) and said he would evict me if I didn’t delete my SpeedRun.com account. I deleted my account as requested. I selected the option to maintain my placement on the leaderboards and lied to him saying, “I wasn’t able to delete my runs after deleting my account.” Well, I got evicted anyways. This was followed up by a snow storm that saw me out of work for a week. That snow melted and turned into a flood back in March of 2019 in Eugene, Oregon USA. I was homeless, broke, and out of options. I had to let go of the website I spent so many months working on.
I was just barely crawling out of that hole when the pandemic hit. My future was looking even more uncertain than it was before.
You may be asking yourself what all of this has to do with the Arduboy. The answer is a lot. I couldn’t afford to most gaming systems, especially including the games. I was telling my friend that I was thinking of collecting these little credit card sized Micro Arcade game systems that I saw at Walmart. I was incredibly amused by them and the price point was right for me to dabble into these tiny handheld game systems. My friend never heard of these things before, so I showed him what they were online. This is how I came across the Arduboy itself. He asked me what it was. I told him that I honestly didn’t know and never heard of it before.
This opened up a whole new rabbit hole for me. I initially got the Arduboy as a bit of a novelty. I really wasn’t expecting much from the game selection since they were made by the community. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to have a way to learn programming in a focused environment. I have tried learning to program before, but with no direction I went no where with that. I figured the Arduboy would give me more of a singular purpose to focus on.
You all surprised me. The games on this open source system has absolutely amazed me. The quality is beyond anything I was expecting. I’ve played Farkle, Minesweeper, Catacombs of the Damned, Micro City, Castle Boy, Arduventure, etc. It catches a lot of head turns on the bus and inquiries at work.
In hindsight, perhaps it was a good thing that the Game Boy website wasn’t able to see the light of day. Nintendo has gone a bit bonkers with punishing people who praise them in the wrong way. Whether it’s take downs of fan games, stifling Smash Bros. tournaments, or canceling Splatoon’s Splatfest - I am just find this company to be abhorrent lately.
I decided to direct my previous affinity for classic Nintendo to a cause more deserving. Before losing my job from the pandemic, I was going to use my free ad space at the event center I worked at to advertise the Arduboy for free on the monitors at the event center. That obviously didn’t pan out since I don’t work there anymore. I wasn’t done yet. I decided to repurpose some old cellphones into webcams so that I can start streaming video games. My goals are as follows:
- Stream Game Boy and NES games via an emulator to make submissions to SpeedRun.com with the intent of taking the world record on some specific titles.
- Obtain a genuine NES, CRT, and capture card equipment so that I may participate in the Classic Tetris Monthly and Classic Tetris World Championships.
- Stream Arduboy games to increase awareness of this product for both consumer and hobbyist purposes.
Streaming Arduboy games is the keystone of this plan. I decided that if Nintendo ever forces me to take down any videos of their games that I would 1-UP them by flat out dropping all Nintendo related videos all together and even remove videos not flagged by Nintendo. Thus, I would default to Arduboy in such a situation. Depending on whether you are an optimist or pessimist, you can look at this in one of two ways. The Game Boy and NES games is the bait while the Arduboy is the switch (no pun intended). Alternatively, you could say that Game Boy and NES is the stick and the Arduboy is the carrot. Haha. Of course, the stick is to beat people with considering Nintendo’s business practices.
I also have more lofty goals, but considering how much I have been tripping over myself to get this idea off the ground I have been withholding those ideas until I can smooth things out and look less flakey.
Okay, so what’s going on with the stream then? Originally, I had too much time on my hands. I haven’t had an income in 3.5 months. My Surface 3 fried my Arduboy and I need to get a new one. I’ve been so broke lately that I shaved my head because I couldn’t afford shampoo and bar soap turned my hair into a floofy nightmare. When I setup this plan to stream Arduboy/Game Boy/NES on Twitch, I had all the time in the world. Job interviews usually consisted of 3-5 interviews in total and I never seem to make it to the last interview. Job searching only took two hours a day because there are only so many jobs in my area I could reasonably apply for.
I went to war with my family. I decided to take them on head on. I have been encouraged to write my own Netflix pitch to counter “Tiger King” as my own spin off of the show and to act as his polar opposite. I decided to learn to program so I could take my life story and gamify it. There might be a book deal featuring my life as a biography.
This is where I have fallen on my face lately, but have fell up instead of down. I got a job out of nowhere. I applied Monday. Interview Tuesday and was hired Wednesday. I began this past Monday. What’s amazing about this is that I am working at a local TV station for a major network as a Master Switch Operator. Their video production has been outsourced. There is a studio with a green screen and everything. I made arrangements to meet with the production manager to be approved to use the studio and green screen for my own YouTube Channel. My managers are suggesting I submit my pitch for a televised version of my life story by utilizing their contacts within this TV network. I only have three hours of actual work during my eight hour shifts that allows for plenty of downtime to do streaming onsite (once I get a laptop) or to even spend time on projects (like my website or programming for the Arduboy). I am having a spectacular amount of opportunities just dropping into my lap here lately.
This is why I failed to stream yesterday at my intended time. I had new employee onboarding. Insurance to pick out. Contact with the production manager about use of studio. Meetings with the IT department to get me setup on their network so I can achieve personal goals in my downtime. It’s been rather amazing. I am absolutely pleased with this new job, and they seem to be pleased with me. Really, the only thing I am having a hard time with is adapting to a radically different sleep schedule. I will have to radically change my sleep schedule again next week as I start working on my own and working my new shifts. Today was only day four and all of this has happened in the last few days.
I am having to stop for a moment and regroup and re-plan this whole Arduboy endeavor. I am meeting with a friend Saturday to discuss him being a camera man for me. I am having more resources to accomplish my goals being tossed at me at a rapid pace. It’s all great news. However, I don’t want to keep misleading everyone on here about the objective. As such, I am reorganizing this whole endeavor.
Instead of focusing on “launching” the stream. I am going to convert it to a BETA. Instead of providing schedules, I am just going to drop on when I can over the next two weeks and just do what I can and look for opportunities for improvement. Once I am settled into my new schedule and find out when I am sleeping, I will work on doing a hard launch with marketing materials that any of you can share on your social media to promote the stream and eventual YouTube Channel.
Consider the following to be a roadmap and not hard details. I will begin streaming randomly sometime between Saturday and Monday this week. I am waiting for a reply from Catskull Music and Games to see if I have permission to use their chiptune music on the stream. I will be accepting input from anyone who has the time to view the streams, even if they weren’t viewed live. My first payday is January 29th. I will be ordering an Arduboy on this day so that when I begin streaming I will actually have the device on hand. I will use it as a controller for the web emulator, which is what I will be using to stream gameplay on Twitch. I will be creating a lineup of games to check out and will be reaching out to developers on this community for an indepth look at the games you all have created. Perhaps some of you will be able to be a guest on my stream. Perhaps some of you will be able to provide me quotes to share with viewers about your games. In the meantime, I will be pulling some strings in the background to see what else I can pull off. I will share more when I have something more definitive to say.
I also just recently discovered there was an Arduboy Magazine, which seemed to have ended production about three years ago. I haven’t read them yet, but they are download to my color eInk smartphone. Does anyone one know how I can contact the original authors of this magazine? I have an idea stirring in my brain.
Nintendo misdeeds may be Arduboy’s good fortune. I hope I can deliver on my goals and promises. I think I actually have a shot this time since I have some people backing me on this. I am aiming to do a hard launch in early March. This will provide me some time to utilize the new resources available to me and increase the production quality of these goals.
Sorry if anyone is miffed about me not making good on my promise to stream yesterday. I think this glorious goof will be of benefit. While the gears are turning, if anyone has suggestions or recommendations I would absolutely like to hear them. I would particularly like to thank @Pharap for your attentiveness. Before all of this great news started happening, I was really getting bummed out about life. You’ve checked up on me more than my “friends” who have all scattered to the wind since this pandemic. When I was reassessing my goals, your thoughtful and kind comments encouraged me to get out of bed and put my pity party to sleep instead. I wouldn’t say you pushed me. Instead, you gave me momentum. Life was feeling pretty dark for a while there, so your witty comments and perspective woke up my brain and gave me reason to get busy with personal projects when I felt like I had nothing to do and seemingly no future. It’s funny how all of that despair was flipped upside down in the last few days. Thanks for keeping me on task, whether you knew your importance in all of this or not.
Best regards everyone. I will provide updates as I am able to do so. Let’s do this guys.