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My First... NOT Phone? A look back on (and inside!) the Palm Vx

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It's the year 2019. Let that sink in. You could be younger than the iPod and be a legal adult by now. In less than 365 days, we'll be closing out the second decade of the current century. And the tech revolution? Yeah, that's old-hat. Microsoft's goal of "putting a computer on every desk" has gone one giant leap further and put one in every pocket, on every wrist, in every car, and just about anywhere else you can imagine. To put things in perspective, Microsoft as a company officially revised that mantra way back in 2013 to the broader, and yet more personal, "[creating] a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most". That was only one year before Windows 10 entered public beta, by the way. Yup, it's already five years old.

The world of today is a very different place thanks to advancements in technology. But those advanceme…

Third Gen's the Charm? Pixel XL vs Pixel 3 XL Review

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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something crazy: Google's Nexus lineup of early Android smartphones was a mess. The constant trading of manufacturers made each new device unpredictable, with several misses among the hits along the way. Different devices might have quality control faults, issues getting stuck in bootloops, or any number of other hardware and software bugs. But we all forgave them, because Nexus provided a "pure Android experience" at a reasonable cost.

With the Pixel line, Google has attempted to solve unpredictable hardware with vertical integration while continuing to provide the best software experience Android has to offer. But now, three generations in, the Nexus days don't feel so far behind us.

Family ResemblanceThat's an unpopular perspective among Android types, but hear me out. Take a look at any Nexus device and tell me it doesn't feel... well, awkward through the lens of 2018. The bezels, the textures, the the chin o…

All About

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Hello, world! Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my personal corner of the web, and to the year 2019!

What's that? I'm not the first to welcome you to the new year? Aw, shucks.

Regardless, if you've followed me around the internet for any length of time, you'll notice quite a few new things around here! What you're looking at isn't just a reskin of an existing site, it's a ground-up rebuild at a new location. Yep, that's right! Just check your address bar! I'll wait.

So, what about the old site? Well, I'll give it to you straight: effective immediately, the ThinkBoxly brand is being retired. Sad, I know. It served me well for six years, but at the same time, it also held me back more than it drove me forward. Crafting an identity for ThinkBoxly often meant restricting my own. Switching to a more self-branded approach frees me up to feature more of my work while also going back to my roots, in a way, with the sort of reviews and news com…

Scratcheroids!

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Scratch is an online visual programming language designed to teach newcomers how to code. If you know me very well, you'll know I've often been critical of visual programming languages, citing them as being more cumbersome to learn and use than plain code. While Scratch isn't a total exception, it struck me as one of the better options out there, and so I set out to create something in it myself to find out.

The result is Scratcheroids!—a simple, yet sophisticated interpretation of the classic Asteroids game that uses many programming techniques I regularly employ in actual programming languages. While the limitations of Scratch are clear, I was pleasantly surprised to realize just how far I could take it, and Scratcheroids! barely... er, scratches the surface. Normally, Scratch projects are limited to a play space of just 480x320. I circumvented this by creating a barebones camera system which not only simulates a larger area, but supports parallax depth, variable positio…

XGASOFT

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XGASOFT is a middleware and game development studio I independently founded in 2017. Its name stands for International Game Arts, represented both by its diverse creative influences and its collaborators from all around the world. XGASOFT's mission is "telling stories with code"—using interactive technologies not just to entertain, but to impact and inspire.

Its first product, VNgen, is designed to facilitate just that, putting the power of interactive storytelling in the hands of developers of all skill levels. VNgen is designed to be a great experience for both developers and end users, placing an emphasis on smooth animation and production value previously only achievable on a large budget.


As a game developer, XGASOFT utilizes VNgen and other first-party technologies to create interactive stories of its own such as Yugure no Kagami: The Mirror of Dusk, a Japan-inspired urban fantasy adventure following the exploits of metaphysical Guardians of the Sun and Moon and t…

Edge Engine

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Edge Engine is a suite of software created from 2014-2016 for GameMaker Studio. It began from a utility I wrote for myself, originally titled Simple Display Scaler before being rebranded as Edge Display Scaler some time later. Although it was one of the earliest programs I ever wrote, the utility value of a drag-and-drop scaling solution that worked across all platforms appealed to developers of many skill levels and instantly put my work on the radar. Inspired by this success, I went on to write other tools in the same spirit, culminating in Edge VN, one of the first fully-featured visual novel engines for GameMaker.


Before GameMaker Studio's EOL in favor of GameMaker Studio 2, Edge Engine was used by hundreds of developers and included in projects spanning a variety of platforms, including PC, Android, iOS, and PlayStation 4.

While it is no longer supported, Edge Engine remains available to download for legacy users on both the GameMaker Marketplace and Itch.io.

Download on GameM…

Final Fantasy XV Radio Tuner

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Based on Vidsquish, Radio Tuner is a frontend for a collection of audio libraries that makes it possible to import, export, and replace music from the hit JRPG Final Fantasy XV—specifically, music designed to play while driving the game's featured vehicle, the Regalia.


As one of the first mods available for Final Fantasy XV, Radio Tuner was immediately popular among fans and was featured in a number of online media publications, including Kotaku, GeForce.com, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, GameWatcher, and many more.

Download on NexusMods

Download on ModDB

Vidsquish

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Vidsquish is a graphical frontend for a collection of video processing libraries designed to offer compression, customization, and enhancement of videogame cutscenes—including some ultra-rare ones supported by few other tools. Featuring a powerful profile system, new games can be added to the roster of supported titles without modifying the underlying code, and new profiles can be created by the community as well.

For those trying to save disk space, Vidsquish cuts down on the filesize of one of most games' largest components, sometimes by several gigabytes. For those wanting the smoothest experience, Vidsquish offers interpolation to convert low-FPS cutscenes to 60 FPS or higher. Running a non-standard monitor? Vidsquish supports virtually any aspect ratio with options to crop or letterbox content to best fit your screen.

The user interface is fully skinnable, supporting both landscape and portrait layouts. Not only does this allow customizing the frontend to suit your tastes, bu…

PalmDB

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PalmDB is a download catalog for Palm OS applications opened in 2018 to preserve the legacy of this highly influential piece of pre-smartphone tech history.

From the early '90s to late '00s, Palm pioneered many technologies we enjoy in modern smartphones today. Unfortunately, with the popularity of iOS and Android, Palm failed to gain a foothold in the smartphone market and was shut down in a series of acquisitions. In the years following, Palm OS's massive library of applications was nearly lost. With no first-party store and almost all third-parties dropping support, for a time it was virtually impossible to find any trace of what was once a thriving digital economy.

This began to change thanks to Reddit. A small community of Palm enthusiasts slowly found each other on /r/Palm, some of whom had archives of their old software ready to share. These were first collected on PalmArchive.com, where my own archive was featured among a handful of others. But I wanted to take thi…

Chaos Rings Preservation Project

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In the early '10s, Square Enix teamed up with veteran JRPG developer Media Vision to create a series of role-playing games exclusively for iOS, and later Android smartphones. For the time, it was an incredibly ambitious project with advanced graphics, console-style gameplay, a deep storyline, and a highly memorable soundtrack. Unfortunately, the games were a bit too far ahead of their time, and updates to Android and iOS broke compatibility with them just a few short years after release. Rather than fix the games, Square Enix simply pulled them from sale, leaving arguably the best original mobile game series to be lost to time.

The Chaos Rings Preservation Project resurrects the earlier games in the series by using offline, prepackaged emulators running compatible versions of Android on Windows PC. The latest game, Chaos Rings 3, currently retains compatibility with the latest versions of Android and iOS and is not included in the project, although it is possible to run it in the…