Recently, my brother introduced me to a new Tetris website called Tetr.io. After using it for a few days, I’ve found it to be a lot more versatile then the website I’ve been using. So this week, I want to share why it’s better and my experience so far with it.

To start, why exactly is this websites better than previous ones? The short answer is customization. Prior to Tetr.io, the website that gave me the most freedom was Tetris Friends. On that website, you could select up to nine game modes from Marathon to multiplayer PvP. Tetris Friends also allowed you to spend in-game currency to customize more technical aspects of the game that’d allow you to play faster. Tetr.io takes this a step up, where you can freely customize your AAR (Automatic Repeat Rate), DAS (Delayed Auto Shift), and SDF (Slow Drop Factor) free of charge. They all do different things but to keep it short, AAR makes pieces fall faster, DAS allows you to move pieces side to side quicker, and SDF determines how powerful the slow drop is, a feature that makes pieces fall faster when pressing a certain key. 

Unfortunately, Tetr.io does have less predetermined game modes. Including the multiplayer, there are four game modes. In single player there is 40 Lines, the goal being to clear 40 lines as quick as possible, and Blitz, where you want to clear as many lines as you can in two minutes. In multiplayer, there is a casual and competitive game mode. In casual or Quick Play, there is no regulation between top tier and bad players. On the other hand, the competitive scene or Tetra League, pits you against another player with a similar skill level. Tetris Friends had all four of these game modes, including five others. However, notice how I said predetermined. In Tetr.io, you can recreate virtually any single player game mode in Tetris Friends and more. I haven’t fully explored the full extent of Tetr.io’s customizability, however there is seemingly one missing feature. The feature in question being the skill progression one seen in many Marathon game modes on the internet. Basically, in most Marathon game modes where the goal is to achieve the most amount of points you can before topping out, the game slowly speeds up making the it harder overtime. Tetris.io doesn’t seem to have this feature, that or I simply haven’t discovered it yet, there are just so many options. 

In addition to the amount of customizability Tetr.io offers, there are also the quality of life improvements as well. While you’re playing a game, the website makes it really easy to restart or exit to the main menu, both being done by holding their respective key on your keyboard. The website also added a feature I’ve never seen before, the 180 spin. To be honest, I’ve never honestly really thought about it, but a 180 spin button would’ve really been the next logical step. For example, let’s say you have a L or J piece and you want it facing the opposite direction. Regardless how it’s positioned, you’ll need two spins of either clockwise or counter-clockwise rotation to accomplish your goal. Two spins take up more time and can be costly if your pieces are falling fast enough. In some cases even the direction of how you spin your piece will matter depending on your stack (the arrangement of previous pieces), another small thing you need to consider when placing. With this new 180 spin button, you won’t need to worry about spin direction anymore. Theoretically if you’re really good, you’ll only need to press one key when getting ready to place a new piece, excluding tucks (filling a gap in the stack by sliding it in) and spins (filling a gap in the stack with a precision spin). However, even with all these neat quality of life improvement, there is one thing absent, the pause button. Scrolling through the menu, I could not find a way to freeze the game. If you want a good score you’ll just need to soldier on, no breaks in between. 

Overall, Tetr.io is a great website and my new go to for Sprint and Blitz. I’ve slowly interest in Tetris PvP but still occasionally play, though the casual scene on Tetr.io might be a bit much for me. I’ll likely still use Tetris.com for my Marathon needs, but Tetr.io does everything better. In the end, Tetr.io is great for people who like PvP Tetris or just want to challenge themselves against the clock.

Moe Anthropomorphism

Over the years, I’ve played all sorts of Gacha games on my phone. However, if there is one similarity, it would be that most of them involve Moe anthropomorphism. In this blog, I want to talk about what Moe anthropomorphism is and where it can be found. 

To start, what exactly is Moe anthropomorphism? From what I understand, it’s an umbrella term for giving non-human traits to humans. These non-human characteristics can range from mythical creatures to transportation. The most popular example would likely be the cat-girl/boy, where the artist gives their character cat ears and a tail. Unlike more western interpretation of anthropomorphism like Disney’s Zootopia, Moe anthropomorphism tends to keep more human characteristics. A good way to differentiate the two is that Moe anthropomorphism has humans embody a subject, while anthropomorphism give animal human traits. 

Now that we’ve established what Moe anthropomorphism is, I can give a few examples of it. I have already mentioned the very popular cat-girl/boys, however they’re only one subculture of Moe anthropomorphism. To give a range of what Moe anthropomorphism can encompass, I want to share a few more examples. 

When looking at inanimate objects given life through Moe anthropomorphism, the most well known subculture is likely ship-girls. However, this is only because of the popular browser game called Kancolle. It has since expanded its influence to manga and anime in addition to influencing future ship-girl franchises. Today, some of the more popular franchise that uses ship-girls are Kancolle, Azur Lane, High School Fleet, Blue Oath, and Arpeggio of Blue Steel. Unlike aforementioned cat-girl/boys, they don’t have any noticeable traits of ships. Ship-girls for all intents and purposes like exactly like humans, and this extend to other subcultures that Moe anthropomorphize inanimate objects like tanks, planes, and guns. Instead, the ship the girl is based on is a big influence on their design, equipment and personality. For example Shigure for Kancolle has a rather depressing personality and high luck stat, as her real life counterpart was the sole survivor of the Battle of Vella Gulf and Battle of Leyte Gulf. 

Besides transportation and animals, there are also instances of countries being Moe anthropomorphized. However, this is a much small subculture and I can only think of one notable example in media. Like the inanimate objects, countries also look exactly human and are influenced by their country’s stereotypes. For example, from the popular manga Hetalia, America is portrayed in an American army air force uniform and a love for hamburgers, two American stereotypes. Just a quick look at a Hetalia character and you’d likely find a hint of their origin on their clothes. It’s also interesting how these interpretation of country’s interact with each other based on past event in history.

However, excluding mainstream media, there are all kinds of Moe anthropomorphism on the internet. Whenever there is a major world event, someone is almost guaranteed to Moe anthropomorphism it. An example of this is during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, and even more recently the Coronavirus of 2019. There have even been cases where the hacktivist group know as Anonymous has used Moe anthropomorphism to disrupt ISIS’s propaganda. But when the world is relatively calm, you can continue to find all sorts of Moe anthropomorphism art on internet forms and places to share art. 

Personally, I find it intriguing why certain characters are designed the way they are. It’s always interesting to see how an artist will interpret an event, object, or creature and Moe anthropomorphize it. However, I also can’t deny I play many Gacha games because the anthropomorphized girls are rather cute. 

Modding and ROM Hacking

A few days ago, I decided to play a bit of Skyrim, an almost decade old game. That got me thinking, how is this game still relevant? The answer to that is mods. Today, I want to explore how modding and ROM hacking can revitalize a game or help it maintain its relevancy. 

To start, I should mention what modding and ROM hacking do to maintain interest in a game. The encompassing answer is that these two hobbies add content or give a new experience to the players. However, they achieve this in two very different ways. From what I know, modding adds completely new assets into the game, without altering anything else unless specified too. On the other hand, ROM hacking takes the existing assets and manipulates them into something else. For example, let’s say a game has an iron sword. With a mod, you could add in a completely different sword without altering the existing iron sword. In ROM hacking, to add in that new sword, it would need to take the iron swords place. 

So, how does this help? In RPGs like Skyrim, modders have achieved a bunch of crazy stuff. People have created entire maps, some could even be considered on par with DLC. There have also been mods that add new features like flying, and there’ve even been cases were modders have created their own patches. And this is all on top of the original game, nothing is lost. My personal favourite has to be the Beyond Skyrim project. In terms of map creation and adding in assets, it has to be the most ambitious project ever. For some background, Bethesda the people behind Skyrim have created their own little continent called Tamriel, were their Elder Scrolls series takes place. Starting in 1994 with the release of the first Elder Scrolls game, Bethesda have constantly expanded Tamriel, with each game take place in a new province. From Bethesda’s preestablish lore there are nine provinces, with the Elder Scroll series only covering five provinces in its twenty six years of existence. The goal of Beyond Skyrim is to eventually add in all of these provinces into Skyrim through mods. As of now, Beyond Skyrim has already added one province, Cyrodiil which was previously featured in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls Oblivion. It is admittedly a colossal effort, however, you can’t help but admire the dedication modders bring to keep a game like Skyrim alive.   

ROM hacking on the other hand, essentially creates an entire new game. Like I said before, it manipulates and replaces most of the assets in the original game. Because of the nature of how ROM hacking is, it’s more commonly seen in older games. From personal experience, almost all the ROM hacking I’ve seen done has been accomplished on the GBA platform, though this is mainly because of how much more complex 3D can be. However, just because it’s being done on an older platform doesn’t diminish its prominence in the gaming community. For example, there was a Pokemon Fire Red ROM hack called Pokemon Ash Gray which followed the events of the anime to a tea. 

Unfortunately, we get to the legitimacy of these hobbies. Fortunately, modding seems to be completely legal, with companies like Bethesda embracing it. For its more recent releases like Skyrim and Fallout 4, Bethesda has a free creation tool, allowing more people access to modding. In fact, Bethesda has embraced modding so much they monetized it through their creation club. It was a move that raised many eyebrows and certainly still does today. Most still question why Bethesda is charging people for mods that have been free in the past or have free counterparts, but in my mind it at least cements modding as a perfectly legitiment hobby. Unfortunately, ROM hacking is a little more grey. From what I’ve seen, the act of altering the game code doesn’t seem to be the problem. Rather it’s how one gains access to a game, and later it’s redistribution after its alteration. The legitimate way of getting your hands on these ROMs is to buy them. Usually this entails purchasing a legit cartridge and covering it into a ROM with special software. The less legitimate way is to pirate these games through the internet, this is why no one will point you in the direction of where to find them. Regardless of how you obtain your game, the manipulation of data should be fine under fair use. 

Overall, modding and ROM hacking can breath life into old games. Personally, I have my eyes on a small group of modders trying to create a multiplayer version of Skyrim, and of course the Beyond Skyrim project. In the future, I can’t wait to see how modding and ROM hacking will evolve, and hopefully expand into an entirely ligament hobby.