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Current Projects: Americana Engine (Game Engine Development)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Keep Running

Training for a potential 5K run, and saw this graffiti mark twice. So does that mean it's an official course? Maybe not. (An official measurement of the run path maps it to 2.8 miles, the same run distance that was in running the 5k in the 24hr Fitness class.)

Anyways, managed to reduce my run time down from last year at UOP by approximately 25%, down to approximately 36 minutes. Getting better and being able to run for longer periods of time without stopping. However to complete a marathon and place decently I would be required to finish this course in less than 20. That means doubling stride length.

While I can run on this course faster each time, there are a few cases where there is simply no running away from, and will be required to face head on at some point. Like messaging someone that was mentioned on an earlier post.

I have concluded that I cannot finish a decent art project that includes them in a reasonable amount of time at this time, so I'm stuck with a one-liner message at best. I don't expect the resulting convo to go too far.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zuma Blitz Level Modding

Testing out a Zuma's Revenge map in the Zuma Blitz game engine.

I've always had an idea for the past few months to play new maps - every week has been an exact repeat of a previous board (this week's board was done in March), and apparently they ran out of curve ideas.

With a bit of modification, it's entirely possible to change the ball path entirely. Though I took the curve from Zuma's Revenge, it's apparent that we can actually build new curves. Research on reverse-engineering curve files in order to create a new board is underway in an attempt to build up creative levels.

Note: Doing it this way with boards found in Revenge are harder since it wasn't designed for Blitz play (with five colors and balls are easier to clear). Expect a difficulty spike.


  • Number of colors of balls that occur, as well as some other things (like curve speed how frequently colors appear in groups, etc.) is within the curve file.
  • Skull position is determined within the curve file, not in the level xml file
  • Zuma Revenge boards work on Zuma Blitz (board images may need to be adjusted however)


  • No 'frog on rails'. I like to have this (and so do many people), but it's not implemented in ZB.
  • No lily pads either, but you CAN choose where your frog will be at (it doesn't have to be at the center). Keep in mind the size of the board is 800x600px when choosing a position when modding the xml file. It's scaled down appropriately from there.
  • No more than two curves.
  • On Kroakatoa, board mods are permanent - this may or may not be a good thing.


This might be a bit complicated for some to do, but I'll try to explain briefly. This is client-only, meaning only you will see the changes. Will post detailed instructions later.

  • You'll need xampp, popunpak, and a copy of Zuma's Revenge (for example boards).
  • Run xampp on your system - this will create a web server on your computer.
  • Copy the board image/curve files (.dat files ingame) from ZR to the htdocs folder.
  • Use Fiddler to redirect board/curve requests to files on localhost.
  • Play ZB as usual while traffic is being captured on Fiddler. You should have the new board layout.


NOTE: Not guaranteed to work on all systems.

  • Disable secure browsing on Facebook
  • Install Fiddler
  • Run Fiddler, Go to FiddlerScript, add this somewhere in the OnBeforeRequest function (between the curly brackets) and click on Save Script:
      if (oSession.uriContains("/level.xml")) {
       oSession.url = "";
       if (oSession.uriContains("grotto2-2.dat")) {
       oSession.url = "";
       if (oSession.uriContains("grotto2.jpg")) {
       oSession.url = "";
       if (oSession.uriContains("splash.jpg?v=")) {
       oSession.url = "";
  • Ensure Fiddler is capturing traffic
  • Run Zuma Blitz, make sure it's not https in the address bar, if so change it to http
  • Start the game and you should have a new board.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Youtube: Unlisted does not mean unsearchable

Upon looking at my video stats today (I typically check a few times a week), I've noticed that one of my unlisted videos are surprisingly getting pageviews. According to the definition of 'unlisted video', it means only people who have the link can see the video. I looked into where the views were coming from.

(This video, if you were wondering, is one of my perfect game recordings on Solitaire Blitz, doing a full 67 card run without drawing any cards from the deck. I switched its setting to unlisted after it was panned for playing too slowly. It's three seconds short from a perfect time bonus, however, which makes it insignificant. You can see it here.)

Apparently, the only pageviews linking to this video came from not direct links or external websites, but instead from Google Search. I did the keyword search myself, and apparently Google has no problem linking to an unlisted video.

I cannot rule out the definition of 'unlisted video' is wrong because it explicitly states it can't be found publicly on Youtube. Although some unlisted videos can be found online using search engines using some very specific keywords, I am more surprised that one of my unlisted videos can be found with conventional keywords. (the search term was 'solitaire blitz perfect game' in this case)

If this is the case, I wonder what privacy issues can arise when people who have belief that their videos are private are having their unlisted videos being viewed by other people.

Summary: If you want a video to be completely unlisted, make sure you have it unlisted when you upload it before it goes live. Otherwise that video, whether it's unlisted or not, is not guaranteed to be search-proof.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Drafts: Chibi Style

#zpg pre-concept art, Attempts 1-3 at Chibi drawing.

I have tons of ideas and concepts in my head. Unfortunately I lack the ability to actually draw them, much less draw them well enough in a short period of time... which is why this blog typically consists of photos (some edited). Therefore ideas are placed on a text file, with as much descriptive information about the image as possible to draw it later.

There's around 90 ideas for drawings currently in my queue. Relative to CKI, 30 images are proposed covering 24 people. These are photos, right? No, these are proposed hand drawings, particularly if it's difficult or impossible to recreate that scene in real life.

I'm hoping this summer I actually improve my art skills - after all, I don't want my works to be of this quality. Also, I've always had the idea of having a unique style to my original content. In the scope of CKI, very few (obligatory reference to Amanda Tran here) have ever attempted hand drawings of CKI people, so I've decided to give it a shot. As a side hobby, of course.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Fourth Return to Delta

Almost two years have past since the near start of construction of the math and sciences building - it's set to open later this summer.

This is the third building to adopt the new color scheme (the other two being the Student Services building and renovated Goleman Library, and maybe the bio sciences building) - whether or not they will renovate the other buildings with the same color set, I don't really know. One thing's for certain - Cunningham might not be around after this building's done.

I've also tried looking for the methane digester that I helped build during ACADEC five years ago - no luck with that. I've compared it with images taken at that time - the greenhouses are present, but there's a PD next to it and the area's now fenced in.

Memorable Stuff in Cunningham: Computer Lab (at the time when floppy drives and zip disks were around), Clever Planetarium Reopening (with Jose Hernandez), MCHS Solar Car Races, some MCHS end of year luncheons (notably Senior Potluck nearby), Spanish classes with Prof. Rich, Langone's courses

Fourth Return: Not exactly. Counting backward, the third was in May, the second being in August 2010, and the first in April 2010. Prior trips were not counted.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ginger Estate Sale

Estate Sales: I find them interesting for both being able to peruse through (and possibly buy at a discount price) items they once had and to explore the house in question - typically to get new ideas on how to design structures in CAD programs. (When designing structures, I tend to factor livability a bit into the design.)

Normally when I buy stuff from estate sales like this, I show little concern about the value of the items in the (previous) owner's hands. Things change, however, if you as much as know the person who they used to belong to. Mindset switches from 'Oh, it's just another item that I got for a low price at an estate sale', to 'It's something that I got for a low price... which belonged to someone I knew.'

I wonder: If I buy something from such a sale and it has sentimental value to the owner, should I just give it back to them?

Something to think about.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July Fireworks: Weber Point

The 4th of July Fireworks: Same spot, new location. Leaving my normal spot of taking fireworks (parking garages) and moving to ground level.

History: It was previously known as the Waterfest, with their own shows at Weber Point and fireworks at the end, however they no longer do this (due to budget cuts and especially when Stockton went into bankruptcy).

As a result, Weber Point remains bare, but the Stockton Ballpark now does the fireworks now, with fireworks being launched at the park where lots of people used to be.

Additional Things Done: Watched The Avengers (it's been a while since I wanted to watch this).

Still yet to Complete: There's still a few other people I need to contact before the summer ends. (For one person, whether to build the #zpg fan art that includes her, or message her first...)

Additionally, play through the demo of Americana Dawn, set to release today. Speaking of that, couldn't find the link... where is it? Hopefully I can find the demo and get a video walkthrough up before someone else beats me to it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lucky Gem Casino Levels (and other tips)

Peggle Slots = large jackpot payouts, this is 1/3 of the maximum possible payout.

Below is a list of levels for Lucky Gem Casino. (Up to what level I'm currently at)

Probably one of the games where the rate which you level is purely based on luck - from video slots. Only you're using virtual money. And there is really no point in hoarding your (virtual) cash anyways, since you'll need to use them anyways to reach the top of the leaderboard. Also needed to raise your level, which gives you more money when you get your free coins per four hours (one for happy hour.)

Notes + Tips:

  • There are 40 different ranks that you can achieve in this game, over 300 levels.
  • XP ratio is one coin spent -> 100 XP.
  • Featured Games gives double XP (and in some cases, even more)
  • Happy Hour is typically on Wednesdays, all day, and you can collect your bonus each hour. You should also check their app page for some bonus coins as well.
  • Higher levels = more coins per payout interval. Also, it increases your betting limit.
  • It is better to save up multiple coin bonuses and playing a higher bet on a slot machine than using it all up the minute you get the coins. The XP gain rate is the same whether or not you play .25 per line, or 5, or 10. The latter however allows for biggger payouts, which you can then use to level up quicker.

Board Recommendations + Tips

  • Monopoly Party: Bonus round place at least one house on each property. That way you get the most of guaranteed wins before the bonus game ends. (Having a get out of jail card doesn't help much - you'll probably end up in jail after around two more rolls, the first landing on Free Parking.) You'll need to bet max quite often in order to raise the bonus round multiplier to an acceptable multiplier.
    • Another small note: The dice are indeed loaded since you can be very sure a six won't come up at all on any die during the bonus round.
  • Battleship Command. Always max bet, since it's the only way you'll get the full jackpot if you do sink a ship in the bonus round. (This is a rare occurrence, even if you do happen to get 4 gunners in the bonus round you can still end up not sinking a ship.)
  • Peggle. Extremely high paying Bonus Rounds (and Peggle bonuses, when they happen). This is offset by the huge number of spins required to get this. Renfield is recommended imo b/c wilds remain on screen after each spin, and enough of them (especially four in a row) guarantees large payouts per spin.
  • Big Money High Roller - exactly the same as Big Money with double the max coin bet. Equity bonuses seem to appear more often here than Big Money slots.
  • Bejeweled Blitz Cascade - use the boosts whenever possible with max bet. They recharge every 15 minutes, can increase your payout / chances of a bonus round, and does not use up any coins when a spin is made with a boost (although you will get no xp for those spins). This recommendation no longer applies as of Sept 2012 as its boosts are extremely expensive, you get no XP, and you'll most likely lose in the long run.

Level Table

(Stopped playing at lvl 100)

Lv  Rank                   XP         Reward  Coin Bonus* (4hr)
1   Beginner Spinner       0          0       200
2   Beginner Spinner       20000      25      200
3   Coin Scrubber          100K       50      200
4   Coin Scrubber          250K       75      300
5   Coin Scrubber          500K       100     400
6   Big Fish               850K       125     400
7   Big Fish               1300K      150     400
8   Big Fish               2000K      175     500
9   Arcade Apprentice      3000K      200     500
10  Arcade Apprentice      4300K      225     500
11  Arcade Apprentice      6000K      250     650   
12  Plucky & Lucky         8200K      275     650
13  Plucky & Lucky         11M        300     1000
14  Rising Star            14.4M      325     1000  
15  Rising Star            18.4M      350     1000
16  Rising Star            23M        375     1000
17  Bandit Buster          28.2M      400     1000
18                         34M        425     1000
19                         40.5M      450     1250
20  Slot Prodigy           47.5M      475     1250
21                         55M        500     1250
22                         63.2M      525     1500
23                         72.5M      550     1500
24  Spin Sensation         83M        575     1500
25                         95M        600     2000
26                         109M       625     2000
27                         125M       650     2000
28  Arcade Ace             143M       675     2000
29                         163M       700     2000
30                         185M       725     2000 
31                         209M       750     2000
32  High Roller            236M       775     2500
33                         266M       800     2500 
34                         299M       825     2500
35                         335M       850     2500
36  Wild One               374M       875     2500
37                         416M       900     3000
38                         461M       925     3000
39                         509M       950     3000
40  Reel Genius            560M       975     3000
41                         614M       1000    4000
42                         672M       1025    4000
43                         734M       1050    4000
44  Class Act              800M       1075    4000
45                         870M       1100    4000
46                         944M       1125    4000
47                         1022M      1150    4000  
48  Big Cheese             1104M      1175    4000
49                         1190M      1200    4000 
50                         1280M      1225    4000
51                         1374M      1250    4000
52  Virtuoso               1474M      1275    4000
53                         1582M      1300    4000
54                         1692M      1325    5000
55                         1810M      1350    5000
56                         1934M      1375    5000
57                         2067M      1400    5000
58  Hot Shot               2200M      1425    5000
59                         2342M      1450    5000
60                         2490M      1475    5000
61                         2645M      1500    5000
62  The Hammer             2806M      1525    5500
63                         2976M      1550    5500
64                         3154M      1575    5500
65                         3340M      1600    5500
66                         3536M      1625    5500
67                         3739M      1650    5500
68  Spin Supremo           3948M      1675    6250
69                         4164M      1700    6250
70                         4392M      1725    6250
71                         4625M      1750    6250
72  Bonus Baby             4868M      1775    6250
73                         5123M      1800    6250
74                         5386M      1825    6250
75                         5660M      1850    6250
76                         5944M      1875    6250
77  Action Jackson         6238M      1900    6250
78                         6542M      1925    6250
79                         6856M      1950    7500
80                         7180M      1975    7500
81                         7514M      2000    7500
82  Jackpot Jumper         7862M      2025    7500
83                         8219M      1636    7500
84                         8590M      1735    7500
85                         8968M      2100    7500
86                         9366M      2125    7500
87  The Magician           9771M      2150    7500
88                         10190M     2175    7500
89                         10622M     2200    7500
90                         11061M     2225    7500
91                         11520M     2250    8750
92                         11988M     2275    8750
93  Slot Wizard            12468M     2300    8750
94                         12965M     2325    8750
95                         13476M     2350    8750
96                         13996M     2375    8750
97                         14534M     2400    8750
98                         15084M     2425    8750
99  Super Hero             15653M     2450    8750
100                        16230M     2475    8750