Mixolumia Drops onto Switch on August 25, 2022

Yours truly two years ago…

Mixolumia is only on PC and Mac at the moment through itch.io. I haven’t tried rotating my screen, but I feel like the game was made for a “tate” mode. I think it’d be right at home on mobile and especially on Switch, which would be able to support all those features. Hopefully, davemakes considers those and other platforms for the future. Mixolumia is a visual puzzler treat that deserves to be as widely available as possible.

Finally.

I’ve been working with @MoonGlassGames to bring Mixolumia to Nintendo Switch very soon! And to really make it special, we’ve been working on a number of new features and improvements which I am thrilled to finally tell you about in the lead up to launch :)

davemakes on Twitter on August 8, 2022

The End of Better Call Saul

Breaking Bad and Leicas – Roden Issue 067, April 4, 2022 by Craig Mod

As Better Call Saul wraps up this evening, I figured it was finally time to share this excerpt from Craig Mod’s Roden newsletter.

All of that is a sort of rambling preamble to say: Better Call Saul feels like a miracle. It feels like Breaking Bad’s first three or four seasons were Gilligan’s warmup to excising all cruft from scripts. Saul is pure narrative, pure gold.

I enjoy when people come into something I love. Craig is right that his approach to skipping chunks of Breaking Bad would drive show purists insane. Heck, I rarely listen to music albums out of order.

But Craig’s recognition and appreciation of Better Call Saul is a testament to the prequel’s effectiveness. I am glad AMC let this odd-sounding spin-off be made and grow into a show that surpasses the original. I’m excited to see what Vince Gilligan and crew come up with next after stepping out from under this Breaking Bad clout.

After tonight, it will be Saul Gone. What has been a significant part of my life for the past decade comes to a close; just as a new chapter prepares itself to be written.

How ‘Better Call Saul’ Refined the Art of Television – The Wall Street Journal

How ‘Better Call Saul’ Refined the Art of Television by John Jurgensen for The Wall Street Journal (Apple News+ link)

The visual language of “Saul” begins with its writers. Their breakdowns of how scenes should look are more extensive than those in typical TV scripts. “A lot of people think writing is about dialogue, but for us it’s the spaces in between the dialogue that are the most important,” Mr. Gilligan says.

It is a treat to see actual pages from the script. The thought that has gone into lines, shapes, framing, and contrast is expected with a crew of this pedigree. Near 15 years after the premiere of Breaking Bad, everyone on crew is at the top of their game.

Better Call Saul is impeccable. Next Monday will be a de facto end of an era.

Also, I’m not sure how the article appears on The Wall Street Journal’s website, but the layout and animation in Apple News+ is slick.

“A Growing Individualistic Power” with Colin Moriarty

Colin Moriarty dives into his origins of writing walkthroughs and FAQs before the rise of video. Max and Colin then explore the history and development patterns behind Naughty Dog before the imminent release of The Last of Us Part I.

Download (38MB)

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Welcome

Starting out with FAQs

The True Guide Era of IGN

Trophy Guides

Rising to Greatness and the Loss of Long-form Writing

What Happened to Part V of Rising to Greatness?

The Origins of The Last of Us Part I

PlayStation Studios’ Pattern

Factions 2

Wrap-Up


Max Frequency

Chapter Select @ChapterSelect

Max’s Twitter @MaxRoberts143

Last Stand Media

Colin’s Twitter @notaxation

Analogue Pocket openFPGA – How to Set Up and Woes

It’s been a long time since I whipped up a guide or tutorial of my own volition. Bore out of immense frustration over the course of five or so hours, I had to write this story and guide.

On Friday, July 29, 2022, Analogue released the 1.1 beta of Analogue OS for the Pocket. I’ve written my fair share about both the console and the software. This particular release was exciting, giving Pocket owners something. Analogue even broke signature silence and gave the public a development roadmap.

The crucial component of this update is openFPGA, Analogue’s copyrighted and trademarked name for their FPGA platform. The Pocket is finally open for FPGA developers to create or port their own cores1 for the Pocket hardware. This has been the promise before launch. Here’s what I said in my initial impressions:

The Pocket has uncashed checks. At launch, there are no third-party cores, major features are pending on AnalogueOS 1.1, and Analogue’s own promised core support via adapters. The future, like a modern console (or game) is contingent on software support. I’m confident it will be delivered. Heck, the jailbreak could be dropping any day now. It’s still early, but after two years of hype, I was hopeful for more at launch.

Turns out the “jailbreak” was also tied to AnalogueOS 1.1 via openFPGA.

Sometime Friday evening, three openFPGA cores for the Game Boy consoles were released by user spiritualized1997. It’s a rather snappy turnaround from the software release that day. This falls in line with Analogue mythos that FPGA engineer Kevin Horton aka Kevtris releases the Analogue cores under another name, letting users have the same experience while being able to use ROMs. Traditionally this happens much sooner for Analogue’s consoles, not seven months after launch.

I woke up Saturday morning, scrolled through my Twitter feed and saw the news. I was happy! My plans that morning were to work on some Chapter Select production. I decided to fit in adding the cores to my Pocket so it’d be all set up with my games and saves. I thought, “this won’t take long. Move some files to the SD card, boot, bada bing bada boom, new cores!”

That was at 6:00 AM. For three hours straight, I tried to load these cores. Then I kept trying on and off for about two more hours. From reddit to YouTube to developer documentation, I tried to solve my problem. All Analogue-provided instructions were short and lacking: reddit was more helpful, but nothing worked.

So what was my issue? I could not get the Pocket to enter the openFPGA menu. I would be prompted with a QR code that pointed to a “Getting Started with openFPGA” page on Analogue’s site. No feedback from system whatsoever. No detailed official instructions.

Perhaps it’s my career as a technical documentation writer, but this infuriated me. So I’m making the documentation. This process is simple. The troubleshooting should be easy to follow. Shouldn’t be too tough to surpass the current instructions out there.

Current AnalogueOS Version (Updated: 8/1/22)

Current openFPGA Cores (Updated: 8/9/22)

How to install openFPGA Cores on Analogue Pocket

  1. Make sure the Pocket is updated to at least version 1.1 beta.
  2. Download the latest software here. Place the .bin file on the root of your Pocket SD card.
  3. Eject the SD card from your computer and place it in the Pocket.
  4. Power on the Pocket and the console will load the firmware.
  5. Pop the SD card in your computer. The file structure should look like this.
    1. Assets
    2. Cores
    3. GB Studio
    4. Memories
    5. Platforms
    6. Saves
    7. Settings
    8. System
  6. Download the ZIP file for the core/s you would like to use. Unzip them to a location on your computer.
  7. Inside the uncompressed folder, you will see three folders: “Assets”, “Cores”, and “Platforms”. These three folders will also be on the SD card, but will be blank at creation.
  8. Copy or move the files inside the uncompressed folder to the matching folders on the SD card, i.e. move the contents of the “Assets” folder on your computer to the “Assets” folder of the SD card.
  9. If you are adding the Game Boy cores, you will need to add the BIOS and your ROMs for the consoles.
  10. Take the BIOS and make sure the name is “ABBR_bios.bin” where “ABBR” is the abbreviation of the console:
  • Game Boy is “gb”
  • Game Bot Color is “gbc”
  • Game Boy Advance is “gba”
  1. Move the BIOS and ROMs to the respective core’s common folder. This is located inside Assets > common.
  2. Eject the SD card and pop it back into the Pocket. Select the openFPGA menu and select the core you would like to use.

How to Install the Image Library

The Pocket supports an image library that will show off art for selected games (as of this writing, it is only for physical games). Spiritualized1997 has also provided these files. You can check out their original reddit post here.

  1. Download the library ZIP from here.
  2. Unzip the files.
  3. Insert the SD card into your computer.
  4. On the SD card, navigate to System > Library > Images
    1. If Library or Images are not present, that’s okay. We will just copy those files over from the uncompressed zip as well.
  5. Copy over the “GB,” “GBA,” and “GG” folders from the uncompressed “Library Image Set v1.0” zip to the “Images” folder we navigated to on the SD card.
  6. Eject the SD card and reinsert to the Pocket. Insert a cartridge and start it to see art.

Troubleshooting

Problem – I can’t get past the openFPGA QR code!

This is what tripped me up for hours. The solution I found was inside the “System” folder on the Pocket SD card. There are these .bin files located there. Two of them had a file size of zero bytes — “corelist_cache.bin” and “cores_cache.bin”. I deleted those .bin files to force the Pocket to make new ones. Upon boot, the files were recreated correctly and the openFPGA menu opened immediately.

Problem – Some of my ROMs are not listed in the openFPGA core! Where did they go?

I noticed a selection of games were missing from my GBA core. Turns out the ones that were MIA had the file extension “.GBA” not “.gba”. The Pocket is case-sensitive to the ROM file extensions. Fix that and the ROMs will appear.


It is great to see the Pocket cracked open now. It was not great to have these issues and no clear help. I’m hoping these instructions will assist you in tapping into the Pocket’s full potential. It is great to finally see Analogue cashing promised checks.


1. Cores is the term for hardware emulated computers or consoles. For example, the Pocket’s official cores at this time include the Game Boy line and the Sega Game Gear.

Announcing Chapter Select Seasons 4 and 5

There’s a first time for everything, right? I wanted to experiment with announcing the season topic well in advance for Season 4. As we ironed out the next few seasons, we ended up with a pairing in Season 4 and 5 that compliment each other quite well. So why not announce them both at the same time?

Season 4 is The Fast & The Furious

Yes. We are branching outside of video games. That’s actually been a goal from the show’s inception. And the first film series I wanted to do it with was The Fast & The Furious.

Logan has never seen these movies, outside of the first one, which he watched for the first time last year. I have been watching them since my aunt rented 2 Fast 2 Furious from Blockbuster in 2003. I have always wanted to share these movies with Logan. It’s going to be great.

I wanted the season to be a true bouncing back and forth, but Logan wasn’t into the idea of narrative whiplash.1 Instead, we are watching the movies in chronological order. Logan is very curious why Tokyo Drift is the fifth movie in this order.

We have three guests lined up for the season so far, but would love more. If you are interested, shoot me a message on Twitter.

The beauty besides Logan’s introduction to the Fast Family is the time commitment. Movies are (generally) much shorter than games. According to reddit, the total runtime of the entire franchise is just over 21 hours. That’s the length of one Paper Mario game. Saving all this time is allowing us to work on an ambitious, longer Season 5 for you all in the front half of 2023.

Season 5 is Resident Evil

It feels like there is no better time to make a season on Resident Evil than right now. RE4 Remake is out in March 2023, three games just got next-gen patches for free, Resident Evil Village is getting a third-person mode and DLC in October 2022. We are in a golden age for the franchise.

Logan has been a fan since playing them on GameCube. My introduction to the series didn’t happen until Resident Evil VII in VR. I’ve played others in chunks or in whacky orders. Speaking of which…

This season’s order is also not a traditional bouncing back and forth. Logan and I cooked up a special order given his knowledge of the lore and the versions we anticipate on playing.

  • Resident Evil (Based off 2002 GameCube remake)
  • Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (2017)
  • Resident Evil 0 (2002)
  • Resident Evil 2 Remake (2019)
  • Resident Evil: Code Veronica (2000, PS2 Version)
  • Resident Evil 3 Remake (2020)
  • Resident Evil 4 (2004)
  • Resident Evil Village (2021)
  • Resident Evil 5 (2009)
  • Resident Evil 6 (2012)
  • Resident Evil 4 Remake (2023)

I included the years of release to help paint the picture we want to present. We are bouncing back and forth through the years, versions, and remakes. We paired RE1 and RE7 for their similarities, according to Logan. We then have this Raccoon City chunk with RE0 through RE3R. Then its the modern-ish era of Resident Evil to round out the season. Placing the remakes throughout with the modern PS4/Xbox re-releases of the older games should give us interesting discussion with controls, design, etc.


We don’t have premiere dates locked in on the calendar yet. When these seasons are ready to premiere, you’ll find trailers in the podcast feed and posts here at Max Frequency. If you are interested in playing (or watching!) one of these titles with us for an episode, send me a message on Twitter and we can try to make it work.

Our best work is ahead of us and I cannot wait to share it with you all.


1. I think there are some interesting pairings when bouncing back and forth.

Let’s Talk about Wiki Stories

It’s been a month and a half since I’ve written a Wiki Stories newsletter. I got up to Dying Light: The Following and just stopped. I missed one week, then two, and so on, feeling crushed I missed my own deadline. Some days, I joked to myself that I’d just send out a “screw this game” for the DLC and then move onto the next guide.

I’m not sure what to do here. The guides and stories coming up are good and fun (at least I think so), but I know I failed the mission. Do I just cut ties now and shut it down? Do I pick back up and try again? Do I keep the letter around in limbo, sending when I feel like it?

I feel sort of lost with this project, just shy of halfway. I got a polite nudge from Buttondown that I hadn’t sent an email in a while. I knowingly shook my head. I clearly fell off the wagon of building these writing muscles — just like I’ve fallen off working out and building real muscles. The thing I know though is that I can get back on the wagon again. The problem I feel in my gut though is, do I want to right now?


Heck, I wrote the above a week ago – the Buttondown reminder still at the top of my inbox, as another reminder of my missed delivery. I think it’s time to do what I knew I needed to do a week ago.

I’ll be shutting down Wiki Stories. I’ll delete all subscribers as promised and archive the posts.

Now for some brief thoughts and lessons. I have this website where I write. I have this newsletter where I write. Why did I segment my writing?

One goal of Wiki Stories was to foster a group of folks interested in my work as a guide writer. Newsletters are tailor made for that type of shared storytelling. But I think writing in two places helped break my writing momentum down.

Another goal was the building up of regular writing muscles. A one week deadline was too tight for me to start out with. Maybe if I started out as a monthly letter, I’d feel better.

What I do know about myself is that I am a passion driven writer. When I am into a topic, I go all in. 1 When the passion or curiosity goes away, so does the umph to write on said topic. I got to Dying Light: The Following and internally fought against writing about it. Maybe this emotionally driven writing preference reveals a failure as a writer in the true sense of the word. Perhaps I’m nothing more than a self-glorified diary-writer gushing in public. I’m okay with that assessment given how much I enjoy the act of writing and its creative challenges. I think a part of being a writer is also knowing when to pause an idea, tuck the manuscript away until another time. Maybe I’m wrong about that. Who knows.

Maybe I’ll feel invigorated to share these stories again. I’ll make no promise here. For those that subscribed or read any of these letters, thank you. If you care to see what I am writing about, check out maxfrequency.net or follow me on Twitter @MaxRoberts143. I hosts some podcasts as well that I am proud of.


1. I.E. my writing on Naughty Dog games.

Chapter Select: Season 3, Episode 4 – Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge

Font by Oakland Elliff, designed by Max Roberts

It’s time for Banjo and Kazooie to make their debut on the go! Max Roberts and Logan Moore wrap up Season Three-ie of Chapter Select with the portable (and mobile) debut of the legendary duo. Is this entry worthy of the name or would it be better to time travel back and forget Grunty’s Revenge?

Download (32MB)

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Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge

  • Developer – Rare
  • Platform – Game Boy Advance and Mobile
  • Release Date – September 12, 2003 ( June 2005 for Mobile)
  • Game Director – ?
  • Producer – Philip Holt (THQ)
  • Composer – Jamie Hughes

Metacritic – 72/100


This episode was originally recorded on June 14, 2022.

Max’s Twitter @MaxRoberts143

Logan’s Twitter @MooreMan12

Researcher, Editor, and Producer – Max Roberts

Hosted by Logan Moore & Max Roberts

Font by Oakland Elliff. Art designed by Max Roberts.

Hand Animating the Faces in The Last of Us Part I

Since announcing The Last of Us Part I, Naughty Dog has shared two side-by-side character comparison clips; first one of Tess and then one of Joel. These are great comparisons that emphasize the new character models, lighting, and environment detail. They look less shiny and young and more like 40ish-year-old smugglers in a post-apocalyptic Boston.

The game is using the exact same performances from the original game. The nuances gained in these new models and animations convey way more subtly. Watching these clips, I remembered that the original game, while using mocap for movement and performances, did not use facial capture. The faces were hand-animated.

“We don’t do facial capture. We don’t track eye movements on stage. It’s just the motion capture data. Everything that you see on the faces is hand keyed. You can see this is all her mo-cap data. And so when I am doing something like this I go back and forth to performances she was giving and I watch just this section over and over and over again.” – Marianne Hayden

My brain then wonders, “Is Naughty Dog re-hand-animating these faces?” Thankfully, Neil Druckmann addressed this during the reveal at Summer Game Fest.

“Yeah, actually we came up with a process were we could take the original animation that we did for the faces and kind of like retarget it on these new rigs that have a lot more fidelity. Animators went back and – [Geoff interrupts about side-by-side shots] everything is rebuilt from the ground up. The same art director re-art-directed the whole thing from the ground up. But the great thing about these faces is that they’re closer to the original performance. All the animators went and studied those videos and got it closer to what you [Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker] did on set then we could have achieve before.”

To me, a person with zero programming experience, it sounds like the studio is taking the facial animation data from the PS3/4 game and pointing it to these new PS5 character models. My brain imagines that skeleton song: the PS3 eyes are connected to the PS5 eyes.

It’s much catchier in my head.

Then, just like they did in the early teens, the animators studied the facial reference footage of the performances to give us the results we see today. Wild to see techniques used two hardware generations ago be adapted to modern development practices, but still have that human touch of hand animation.


Another note on these particular comparison shots: They are presented at 720p resolution. That’s the native resolution of the PS3 version. Part I likely will have a native 4K output option – nine times the amount of pixels. Toss in inherent compression from web video and the PS5 shots here are being crushed from their native performance. The clips do say that the PS3 clip was captured on said console. I wonder how much we are missing solely from the compression.

One more fun tidbit: According to Naughty Dog Senior Editor Samuel Prince, any clips longer than seven seconds have to go through the ESRB.

Michael Mumbauer has Left That’s No Moon Entertainment for Web3

Michael Mumbauer has left That’s No Moon Entertainment roughly one year after founding said developer. That’s No Moon was co-founded with a three other devs, including former PlayStation and Naughty Dog developer Taylor Kurosaki. Michael’s new studio – Liithos – is co-founded with John Garvin of PlayStation studio Bend fame.

The studio has assembled an impressive roster of award-winning talent including Michael Mumbauer, former Head of Visual Arts at Playstation (The Last of Us, Uncharted) and John Garvin, writer & co-creator of the massively successful open-world title Days Gone.

— Hedera on Twitter

They are wholly leaning into Web3. A slate of NFTs already for sale.

I wonder how long Michael will stay at Liithos.

Update: Michael and John were clearly not in the room together when this photo was taken/made. Reminds me of Beyoncé.

GMTK Platformer Toolkit

I Made a Video Essay That You Can PLAY by Mark Brown for Game Maker’s Toolkit

Mark Brown has just released a free game that allows players to fiddle with platformer mechanics and controls to learn about game design. This looks delightful. A great expansion of the GMTK pool of resources.

It’s playable in your browser or can be downloaded to you PC or Mac. If you are curious, you can check out the toolkit here.

Wishcasting for The Last of Us Part I

My third post since announcement. Can you tell I’m excited?

I’ve seen some criticism for The Last of Us Part I for being the same exact game, just prettier. Besides being a shallow opinion, it’s short-sighted as well. All we have is a blog post, a cinematic trailer, and some comparison screenshots. At the time of writing, there’s no details on the gameplay, modes, and features.

Those concerns could all come true! But, until we know more let’s speculate / wishcast! Nothing like tossing out hopes to properly establish expectations.

Grounded

The documentary, not the mode. I think they should keep Grounded: The Making of The Last of Us included with this remake. It was available to both the PS3 and PS4 versions. I think it is important to provide access to this in-game.

One Night Live

In a similar vein, I say go ahead and include a copy of the One Night Live performance with the extended ending that was only performed for the folks there live. Turns out that scene is essentially the start of The Last of Us Part II. It would make total sense to include that now. I have no doubts that was recorded. The show was unique. It’d be nice to see it attached to the game itself.

The Alternate Ending

If Naughty Dog is going back and animating everything again from the mocap sessions, I say it is time to animate the true ending of The Last of Us.

Seriously, they have the reference footage and the character models. Make it an unlockable. Bring some goofy, easter egg, video game-ness to this remake.

Load Up on Concept Art

Both games have unlockable concept art. Keep the train going with design doc scans, interviews, and more art. My brain views this remake as a celebration of The Last of Us. Allowing for a broader peek behind the curtain of the development would truly be celebratory.

Graphics Toggle

If at all possible, I think a toggle to flip between the PS3/PS4 graphics and these new PS5 ones would be wild. Always loved that in Halo 2: Anniversary.

What’s unclear at the time of writing is how much of a 1:1 remake this is going to be. Has Naughty Dog reimagined or expanded some combat scenarios? Are some environments reshuffled around?

If it is a 1:1 remake spatially, I think a toggle like this would be neat to show the leap in visuals. But I would take reimagined environments over this any day.

“New” Mechanics

We do know for a fact that the combat and gameplay have been enhanced.

We’ve implemented modernized gameplay, improved controls, and expanded accessibility options in this single-player experience to allow even more individuals to enjoy the game. Effects, exploration, and combat have all been enhanced.

What we don’t know is the scope of those improvements. We can imagine accessibility features in line with those found in The Last of Us Part II. What about combat though? Is Joel gonna be diving around like Ellie? How will Ellie play in Left Behind since she doesn’t have the same experience as in the sequel?

I’d love to have the MGS3-inspired combat across both games, but the question is does it fit within the encounters of the first game? This sounds like fitting a square peg in a round hole. Unless the environments and scenarios are redesigned (see previous wish).

If Naughty Dog does go down the redesigned route, I would like to see some tech from Left Behind incorporated. Those Infected vs Hunters vs player encounters were unique. I recall Bruce Straley mentioning it was cut from the base game due to time. It’d be nice to see that vision incorporated properly into the original story.


It’s fun to have the game be so close to release while simultaneously knowing so much and so little about it. In this rare window before release, it’s fun to speculate. I think additions like this would help entice those that think the price is too high. These would be fun surprises and enhancements to offer players that’d be truly unique to this PS5 version. Time will tell though come September.

Chapter Select: Season 3, Episode 3 – Banjo-Tooie

Font by Oakland Elliff, designed by Max Roberts

Has there ever been a more perfect name for a sequel? Max Roberts, Logan Moore, and special guest Brian Henken explore the Isle o’ Hags to see if Banjo-Tooie is more than just a clever name. Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?

Download (48MB)

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Banjo-Tooie

  • Developer – Rare
  • Platform – Nintendo 64 and Xbox 360
  • Release Date – June 29, 2000 (Apr. 29, 2009 for 360)
  • Game Director – Gregg Mayles
  • Producer – ?
  • Composer – Grant Kirkhope

Metacritic – 90/100 (73/100 for 360)


This episode was originally recorded on May 17 , 2022.

Max’s Twitter @MaxRoberts143

Logan’s Twitter @MooreMan12

Brian’s Twitter @BrianHenken

Researcher, Editor, and Producer – Max Roberts

Hosted by Logan Moore & Max Roberts

Font by Oakland Elliff. Art designed by Max Roberts.