Summer RPG Update 2016

I don’t really have much progress to report for the last month, so I thought I’d throw out a few of the games I’ve been working through to see if I can generate any interest in the next article ;)

First off, I’ve been playing through Golden Sun for the GBA.

I really like the psyenergy system and how you use it for puzzle solving. It makes this game a bit more of an ARPG along the same lines as Lufia 2.

I’ve made it as far as Kraken, but I’m finding beating him is proving to be more difficult that I’d expected. Probably going to have to back out and grind for a while, which I don’t have a lot of time for …

Next, I’m pretty sure I’ve given up on the 7th Saga. I’m still at Telaine with a party at level 17, but I’m pretty sure that to progress, there is grinding in my future.

Similar to the situation I’m having above with Golden Sun, i just need to set many hours aside to level up in order to proceed, but with the amount of time I’ve got these days to devote to these games, that may never happen.

Read on →

Just Finished - Dragon Quest I

I actually finished this game around the end of June, but haven’t really had a chance to write about it until now. I’m currently sitting out by the lake at the cottage and figured it was about time :P

The last time I played through Dragon Quest was likely in the late 80’s. I’m pretty sure I either heard about it, or got a copy of it through Nintendo Power, and like most kids in North America at the time, this would have been my first introduction to what would become known as JRPGs.

I decided to go with the SNES re-release of this title for my playthrough as I wanted some updated graphics and music. Although the SNES version was never officially localized for North America, there is an excellent fan translation available.

It threw me off a bit when they refer to the legendary hero as Roto (as opposed to Erdrick), but I’m assuming this is a better translation than what we got in the 80’s so that’s probably what the name should have been in the first place.

Dragon Quest was essentially the first JRPG. As a result, there are a lot of concepts introduced here that would be adapted and refined by other titles and series over the years. This means that some parts of this game feel a bit rough or unbalanced.

I originally played the NES version of this title, and have fond memories of just how brutally hard it was. This game introduced me to what I would come to know as “grinding”, as you couldn’t progress through the game unless your character was sufficiently leveled up in order to tackle the monsters in the areas you were exploring.

This meant walking back and forth and fighting random monsters.

Enemy encounter rates are high. Very high. I think the SNES version actually optimized this a bit, but the rates are still high. This is useful for grinding, but gets tedious when you want to explore, or really need to get back to a town to heal.

The story is pretty simple.

You’re the descendant of the legendary hero, and have been tasked with rescuing the princess and defeating the Dragon Lord.

Read on →

Just Gave Up On - Shadowrun (Genesis)

UPDATE: 2016-09-05 - It was pointed out on the Reddit thread and in the comments below that I might have used a cheat which prevented finishing the game. I didn’t think I’d used one, but I think while doing research for the article i may have been testing it out :(

Note that you don’t really need to cheat in this game to get more Nuyen; just grind ;)

Thanks to those who responded. It’s worth noting that if you’re going to play this game, avoid the cheat menu as it will bite you in the ass.

As I work my way through the 8-bit and 16-bit games I grew up with, there are (and will continue to be) those that I just can’t get through. Shadowrun for the Sega Genesis turned out to be one of those titles.

I’ve made it all the way to the final boss, and though he doesn’t beat me, I empty all my clips (and my runner’s clips) into him and just can’t seem to kill him and trigger the endgame sequence.

This is extremely frustrating as I’ve effectively finished this game, but if I can’t beat the last boss I can’t in good conscience call this a “Just Finished” article.

Regardless, I’ve gone through enough of this game to be able to write about it, and based on my experience, recommend it to other players looking for some good retro cyberpunk action-RPG gaming.

Read on →

Extracting Best ROM from GoodTools Generated ROM Sets

As a kid of the 80’s, I have fond memories of all the old 8-bit and 16-bit consoles that I grew up with.

Although it’s easy enough to find ROMs, I tend to find myself going for the GoodTools generated sets more often than not as they’re considered “complete”.

This is kind of ridiculous as I don’t speak Japanese, which constitutes the vast majority of the contents of these sets.

Even though most emulators support compressed ROM sets, I’d prefer to just have the English ROMs available on their own in one place.

As a programmer, I thought “How can I do this in Linux?”, but more specifically, “how do I do this from the command line directly?”.

# extract best rom to directory
# best contains !
7z e "*.7z" -o../../ *[!]*.* -r

# purge all non US/European
find . -type f ! -name '*(U)*' ! -name '*(E)*' -delete

# purge duplicates where a (U) exists alongiside an (E)
for f in *"(E)"*; do us=`echo $f | sed -r 's/\(E\)+/\(U\)/g'`; if [ -e "$us" ]; then echo "FOUND $us - removing $f"; rm "$f"; fi; done

If you find yourself with compressed ROM sets and you want to just grab the English ones, this might just come in handy ;)

Redmine Knowledgebase 3.2.0 Released

I haven’t been very actively involved with this plugin or the Redmine community as a whole lately, but it would seem there is a very active user-base still logging bugs and enhancing this project.

You can grab a copy of the release on GitHub.

I’m pushing out version 3.2.0 of the plugin thanks to the efforts of some very dedicated community members, who I’d like to highlight below:

Thanks to Frederico Camara:

  • updating acts_as_rated to work with Redmine 3.2.x

Thanks to Eduard Kuleshov:

  • getting this plugin supported in Redmine 3.0.x

Thanks to Axel Kämpfe:

  • getting this plugin supported in Redmine 3.1.x and 3.2.x

HUGE thanks to Rob Spearman for basically taking over the project and pushing it forward:

New Configuaration options

  • Show articles without tabs
  • Show attachments before article content
  • Show thumbnails for articles in lists
  • Show breadcrumbs for articles in lists

New permissions

  • Article history will only show up if have view permission
  • optional permission for users to manage just their own articles. (#306)


  • Sort Tags on the index page
  • Added authored view so users can find articles by author easily
Read on →

What's Up - May/June 2016

It’s been a while since I posted the Seiken Densetsu 3 review, so I figured as it might be a while before I get around to posting more content, I’ll just throw up a quick update.


I’m currently working my way through three games. After finishing the Shadowrun play-through for SNES, I got some good feedback about the Genesis version. I decided to give that a go, and I’ve currently made it to the last boss, but am having no luck beating him.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to save up some nuyen and grind it out with some better runners in order to be able to beat Thon. This is a bit of a pain in the ass, and is the reason I ended up abandoning Terranigma previously.

I really enjoyed that game, but since I’ve got very limited time decided to move on to the next challenge.

By challenge, I meant CHALLENGE. I decided to give The 7th Saga another shot, and have now officially made it MUCH further than I ever have before.

Read on →

Just Finished - Seiken Densetsu 3

Seiken Densetsu 3 (聖剣伝説3) is the third installment in the Mana series. It’s the sequel to Secret of Mana, which is the entry into the series that most North American gamers would be familiar with.

Once again, I played through this game on my phone using the fantastic Snes9x EX. Please support this dev as he provides a fantastic product. For some reason though, most of the screenshots I took came out stretched. This hasn’t happened before, and I’ve been playing a couple other games that this isn’t happening for either, so I’ll chalk this up to bad luck :|

NOTE I ran these screenshots through pngcrush (ls *.png | while read line; do pngcrush -ow -brute $line; done) to get the size down a bit ;)

I’m leaving these images in here as they were part of my “journey”, though hopefully they don’t deter anyone from playing this game, as the game is fantastic.

First off, if you’re a fan of Secret of Mana, the initial “feel” of the game will be familiar, as will the art style and sound.

Read on →

Redmine Plugin Extension and Development is Apparently Still Relevant

For the first five quarters that this book was out in the wild, I was posting publication numbers any time I got a royalty statement from Packt Publishing for Redmine Plugin Extension and Development.

I haven’t been very active in the Redmine community in the past year or so as I’ve been a bit busy with work, contracts and life, but after seeing the last batch of sales figures, it seems people are still interested in this topic.

Ebook Mini Subscription Packtlib Mini Print Book Mini Subscription (3rd Party Mini)
Q4/2015 30 8 18 3
Q3/2015 24 3 15 4
Q2/2015 30 2 18 3
Q1/2015 90 0 25 2
Q4/2014 33 2 31 2
Q3/2014 25 2 24 4
Q2/2014 73 1 33 2
Q1/2014 18 3 18 0

As was made clear with the above info, there is steady demand for this book, so there must be quite a few plugin authors out there looking to get started with the Redmine platform.

I’m going to try to get my knowledgebase and dropbox plugins updated in the next couple of months, but if there is anything Redmine-related people might be interested, please leave your comments below ;)

Just Finished - Shadowrun

I had this game finished around Christmas, but I find my motivation for writing these articles is starting to languish. I’m hoping to get that spark back with the next couple of titles i’ll be tackling, even though Shadownrun was one of my favourite SNES games of all time.

You wake up on a slab in the morgue. You don’t know who you are or how you got there. That’s pretty much all you’ve got to go on when you start this game for the first time.

The intro shows you being gunned down, then a shapeshifter casts a spell on you and takes off. After getting out of the morgue, you run into “Dog”, who appears to be a shamanistic totem.

This was the first 10 minutes of this game, and I remember playing this back in ‘94 and being hooked at this point.

Shadowrun is a cyberpunk action-RPG for the Super Nintendo. You control Jake Armitage, a courier who has something important uploaded to his head computer.

Read on →

Recovering a WiredTiger collection from a corrupt MongoDB installation

Recently at work, we experienced a series of events that could have proven to be catastrophic for one of our datasets. We have a daily process that does daily cleanup, but relies on the presence of control data that is ETL’d in from another process.

The secondary process failed, and as a result, everything was “cleaned” … aka, we purged an entire dataset.

This data happens to be on a 5 node replicaset (primary-secondary-secondary-arbiter-hidden), and the hidden node died over the holidays and I waited too long to recover it, so it was unable to ever catch up to the primary (always stuck in a RECOVERING state).

My incredible foresight (… laziness … ) resulted in us having a backup of the data ready to be extracted from the out of sync hidden node. All we had to do was start up mongod … right?

2016-01-29T21:06:05.180-0500 I CONTROL  ***** SERVER RESTARTED *****
2016-01-29T21:06:05.241-0500 I CONTROL  [initandlisten] MongoDB starting : pid=1745 port=27021 dbpath=/data 64-bit host=xxx
2016-01-29T21:06:05.241-0500 I CONTROL  [initandlisten] db version v3.0.8
2016-01-29T21:06:05.241-0500 I CONTROL  [initandlisten] git version: 83d8cc25e00e42856924d84e220fbe4a839e605d
2016-01-29T21:06:05.241-0500 I CONTROL  [initandlisten] build info: Linux 2.6.32-431.3.1.el6.x86_64 #1 SMP Fri Jan 3 21:39:27 UTC 2014 x86_64 BOOST_LIB_VERSION=1_49
2016-01-29T21:06:05.241-0500 I CONTROL  [initandlisten] allocator: tcmalloc
2016-01-29T21:06:05.315-0500 W -        [initandlisten] Detected unclean shutdown - /data/mongod.lock is not empty.
2016-01-29T21:06:05.315-0500 W STORAGE  [initandlisten] Recovering data from the last clean checkpoint.
2016-01-29T21:06:05.324-0500 I STORAGE  [initandlisten] wiredtiger_open config: create,cache_size=13G,session_max=20000,eviction=(threads_max=4),statistics=(fast),log=(enabled=true,archive=true
2016-01-29T21:06:05.725-0500 E STORAGE  [initandlisten] WiredTiger (0) [1454119565:724960][1745:0x7f2ac9534bc0], file:WiredTiger.wt, read checksum error for 4096B block at offset 6
799360: block header checksum of 1769173605 doesn't match expected checksum of 4176084783
2016-01-29T21:06:05.725-0500 E STORAGE  [initandlisten] WiredTiger (0) [1454119565:725067][1745:0x7f2ac9534bc0], file:WiredTiger.wt, WiredTiger.wt: encountered an illegal file form
at or internal value
2016-01-29T21:06:05.725-0500 E STORAGE  [initandlisten] WiredTiger (-31804) [1454119565:725088][1745:0x7f2ac9534bc0], file:WiredTiger.wt, the process must exit and restart: WT_PANI
C: WiredTiger library panic
2016-01-29T21:06:05.725-0500 I -        [initandlisten] Fatal Assertion 28558

Aw crap. I could not for the life of me get the node back up and running. Since this was a replica-set member, I thought maybe if I just copied the failing file from the (working) primary it would just work. Apparently that’s not the way MongoDB or WiredTiger works :P. Back to the drawing board.

Read on →