Friday, December 21, 2018

Nationaal Video Game Museum, International Pump Festival, Guilds of Ravnica, Netherlands

IPFs happened all over the world a quite a while ago, some of you were at BITE or elsewhere to participate. I went to Netherlands were IPF was held, at Gamestate Rotterdam. I knew that I'd probably end up at the end of the standings but I wanted to participate, but my name on the list of IPF contestants and maybe next year be able to actually compete without failing all my songs. Before I get to IPF I'd like to talk about other stuff that happened.

Things were very bad at work for me. There was utter chaos since there wasn't anyone who wanted to put some order in it and I could clearly see that the motivation to keep things running was gone. I had a lot of work with which no one helped me and I was accused of not helping anyone else because they have so much work and I do nothing. I tried to help, that is something I was doing, and I also tried to put some order into some of the chaos. That resulted in others talking about total nonsense and totally ignoring me and disregarding anything I said. I needed to leave and I was glad that IPF was coming because for few days I could forget about this hell that was my workplace.

I arrived on Friday evening and I had a rather fun trip to Nootdorp. When I landed in Eindhoven I broke. All the stress and whatnot that I tried to hide or ignore just surfaced and I started crying. That is something I didn't manage for a long time while I just hoped things would just end somehow. I was somewhere I wanted to be though and thought of my friends there and Kevin's family. I was somewhere I felt safe, a place I could call my home. This realization made me cry even more.

When I got out of the airport I saw the bus 400 arriving so I ran to the bus stop and got on. On the bus I read that the bus would arrive at 6:12 to the train station. 6:12 was also the departure time of the train I wanted to catch. All platforms were close enough to the bus stop, the distance could be covered in less then a minute. I decided to try to catch the train. I still had some time to ponder about live and death and tried to stop crying even though I wasn't particularly successful at that.

At Eindhoven train station I got off the bus and ran to see from where the train departs. I got there in time! I could freeze there for an hour or so before arriving to Rotterdam.

The rest of the trip was hopefully uneventful. I notified Kevin when I'd arrive and we met a bit later. I was invited for dinner which was delicious and we talked about stuff.


On Saturday we decided to go to NVGM (since I couldn't go to Netherlands and not visit the place) and Kevin's mother decided to join us which was cool. We went in the morning to Zoetermeer by car and walked to the shopping district from there. The short walk was nice. At NVGM I went to play all the music games I could and it was kind of a catastrophe^_^. Pop'n Music had a not so fully functional pin pad. My PIN unfortunately contained the digits whose keys weren't working. I wasn't particularly looking forward to playing without e-Amusement so that annoyed me quite a bit. When I managed to log in after a 13th attempt I found out that some springs were stuck. That wasn't great but I got to play some songs even though with some difficulty of some buttons getting stuck (I was totally offsync).

NVGM got Drummania recently so I wanted to play some songs. At first I just played some easy songs and wondered if 4x speed mod is ok for me. I asked Kevin to record a video for me and while trying to change the difficulty on a song I found out that cymbal doesn't work. I played part of the song until I got into Cymbal/Hi-hat section and failed. Next I managed to crash the MiraiDagaki machine. Jubeat worked fine even though the rubbers were producing an odd sound that was audible in the total mess there was in the arcades. I also played some DDR doubles and asked Kevin to record a video of me playing now the meme song - Max300 - on doubles. I got a lousy A on it. I asked to see the video afterwards and I noticed the ITG Dedicab no one was playing on at the time. I knew what the very first comment on this video would be 'Why are you playing on DDR Supernova when there is ITG Dedicab just next to it?!'.

I was very tired and hungry, all those games were very tiring. We went to Eazy (not sure how it is spelled) and ordered some food. I got the food with the most calories in it and we talked some more. We returned to the museum later. My plan was to play Jubeat but it was occupied and when it wasn't someone decided to start a game or not log out. It was time for some more DDR, or well ITG this time. We played some songs with Kevin alternating between some 11s and 9s and then it was time for everyone to leave (people stared at us).

After that I went to SW in Schiedam to play Pump it Up Prime 2 to figure out what speed I can possibly read and see how auto-velocity works. I have to say that I failed at both things I wanted to figure out - finding the correct speed and figure out how to use AV correctly. I also experienced how it feels to play on stock unmodded pads. Honestly the sensitivity was still high for me in most cases. When it came to holds I had to be very careful and try hard not to break them. The overal experience was good but I can understand that for those used to modded pads this wasn't good.

Since I didn't get my AM.Pass yet (for which I really thank all those involved in getting it for me) I could still try a flash drive. It worked and thus saved me a lot of time!

Anyway, for you pump players out there Prime 2 is nothing new but for me it was. Even though I already played on it (I suppose that what I stood on in LV and La Tete dans Les Nuages was Prime 2) I didn't have the time to actually go through the songs, figure out how it works and I certainly didn't have enough time to get used to it. Since the day later I was supposed to compete I probably needed some practice. Even though I knew the IPF songs I didn't try them out. Rather I played some easy songs so I wouldn't kill myself even before the event (note that once again, thx my awesome body, I felt like crap). I was told the menu has 'levels' so thanks to it I was able to find songs I wanted and I also found some mods I wanted to use. As for the speed I started with 573 and went up to 640 and couldn't figure out what is good for me. It was a nice and calm session and gave me a lot of energy even though my body was saying 'no' all the time.

I went to eat at Mr. Chow later and they told me that they don't have any small meals. I got a noodles soup with chicken. It was HUGE! Hot and spicy and delicious. But there was way too much of it. I ate as much as I could, spammed Kevin on Facebook or somewhere (I was too excited), and then went back up to SW to play few more credits. My 30 EUR were gone in no time and then it was time for me to leave.

After running around the train station since I couldn't figure out which train goes to Rotterdam (and the train was supposed to leave in 2 minutes) I decided to just run up at one of the platforms and try to see if I wouldn't be able to get some better clues. Luckily for me the train I needed to get on just arrived next to me, so I got on. Day 1 concluded and I was looking forward to IPF even though I wasn't sure what to expect.

This day wasn't supposed to be the lucky one. I learned that while I was gone my father passed away. I'm not good at processing any kind of emotions and I hardly imagined that I would experience a death of a family member at this age. Since I was already in a total turmoil when coming to Netherlands due to my own life situation this hit even harder but I knew that I'd have to put my feelings 'on hold'. When I came to Netherlands, after I calmed a bit I was thinking about selling some cards and moving there. I even asked my flatmate if he'd come with me. I was thinking about many things but mostly about the pain I experience everyday because people in the Czech Republic can't accept the fact that an Asian person is well a person, a human being. I was always shown that I do not belong and I was used and I don't think this is right. I couldn't see any other choice though than just continue suffering since it is very likely no one would hire me. I was considering quitting the job. I even made one decision. If I won't feel depressed and will be able to think straight and people at my job would just do something wrong again, I'd quit. I wasn't ready to quit just yet on my own, I needed one more serious reason to (came very soon). This was bothering me when I learned about my father's death. I was sad and I felt the big injustice once again. He was a strong person, someone who loved his job, projects he was working on and was always striving to achieve. He was full of energy and someone I believed would just easily outlive us even if he was the oldest in the family. He got the aura around him saying, I can withstand anything. And then death came, suddenly, without a warning. I wish it would have been me who suddenly died because my suffering would have ended and my father could just live on and be happy, something I simply wasn't. I tried to ignore what I feel but couldn't stop wondering how my mother was doing. She needed help and I wasn't there for her. IPF awaited me and the long sleepless night were my thoughts haunted me didn't really help me get ready for playing Pump it Up. It was clear my mind would be elsewhere other than IPF.

Since Kevin was organizing the IPF we came early to Gamestate de Kuip. Several players were already there and I was also allowed to play some doubles which I highly appreciate (thx guys!). We played some easy songs and even some 17s even all those levels were very low compared to what we were supposed to play at the upcoming event. The songs for all events are on the photo below. Randomly picked Mental Rider and Hyacinth were very unlucky picks for the female players.

The event started at noon, I think. The sun was directly shining on the screen. We hardly saw anything on it so someone came with a great idea of creating IPF sunscreens and making them a bit nicer^_~. Those were then held by the players while someone else was playing their qualifier song (sometimes they didn't help much) and was one of the small things (big) that makes you see that there is a nice community of players here. Everyone was nice and friendly.

When I played one of the qualifier songs for IPF I broke a freeze or rather it didn't register as being stepped on when my foot was already on that panel. I was confused and didn't even catch the freeze again which was a shame since it was at the beginning of a song and my score thus went totally south (I would have FCed the song). The crowd started yelling at me that I have to step on the freeze but my brain was too slow to understand the information given. I finished the song and then asked someone what happened. I learned that there are freezes in the game that require a player to step on them which was a totally new thing for me. I asked how to recognize them and was given an answer I was afraid of 'you don't'.

Next song was Mental Rider and I admired all the girls while playing this song way above their doubles level. After seeing the chart I was sure that I'd do way worse than that! I actually didn't do worse in terms of score but I just couldn't keep up, I felt like I have totally no energy to step through half of the song and I expected that I was the only person feeling like that... The sleepless night was partly the reason why I lacked energy but it was clear that in general I'd need way more stamina for all this and I admired the players even way more than before. The thing is that how my body works is that there are two modes it operates in. One is the normal one that is currently very weak and can't do Mental Rider D19 right away. The other one is the mode I get into after my body warms up and something else changes (probably oxygen intake I guess). At this point I become a beast usually, there is a huge difference between the two modes currently. There wasn't that much of a big difference when I was fit, but now I can't consider myself fit at all. In the second mode I could just play any dance games for hours at high difficulties and then still run home. I decided that when I would come back home I'd try to find a way to play Pump or something else everyday (I started playing DDR).

After watching the male division D20 - Smile Diary - I was a bit sad that it wasn't our song instead of Mental Rider. The song seemed fun and it wasn't actually that difficult (yeah, still a d20).

Then it was time to announce the qualified players for IPF rounds and play them. I watched the players amazed how good the players are. I learned that some are very new players, actually most of the players in the community now are very new (few months) and they reached a high level already. The Discord group was growing in the past few months and I wondered where all the players came from (how did they start playing). I couldn't believe that GS buying Prime 2 could just be the reason. How could someone not playing dance games prior would just pick up Pump it Up out of nowhere? Nevertheless it happened unlike in our country where it seems that no one would be interested even if Prime 2 was a thing there.

I'll digress a bit (might be rant-y). A Pump it Up Pro machine was bought by my friend and placed in their arcade bar. I was allowed to upgrade it to Fiesta but unfortunately that wasn't to last since the game is too unfriendly to new players and supposedly the players complained about the game. It's not what I experienced myself when I was there. When I was playing the game many players were surprised about all the K-Pop songs there and wanted to play them. I can't deny any complaints that were made because I simply don't know anything about that. Pro is easier to operate and has easier songs to play if you never played a dance game (and is faster in terms of going through the menu and stuff) and thus I put Pro back in which meant the end of my Pump it Up WPF dream. One can't simply get better on Pro. Anyway the reason why I wanted to digress is not to rant about Fiesta. When PIU Pro showed up and became accessible to public I hoped it would bring some players as well. There are DDR players (I should probably say 4-panel players since many of the players probably never played an actual DDR game) around and there are also players that already have experience with pump. I also hoped that maybe one or two new players could emerge. I asked former music game players to come join me and play some Pump and until now only two players actually did that - Xsoft and Srandista. I'd like to thank those players because it was really great experience and it was fun. No one else ever came and I met no new players. The machine earns a lot of money but it seems it's just people that want to try the game and then just leave it at that. I often came to the machine finding credits on it which was good for me but it was always a sad thing to see. Could Prime 2 change this? After the owner of Pro decided not to keep Fiesta around I decided not to buy a PIU XX even though I'll consider sponsoring it anyway if it ever comes down to that.

Back to Netherlands. We continued in IPF and many of us just got terribly massacred on our doubles songs. F grades were totally normal so a better grade usually meant a double applause from everyone around. I stared in awe, talked to some players, admired the players and was happy. I saw that this is a good healthy community that is growing. I wanted to be part of it but at that moment I already new I would stop playing pump since I just can't force myself into playing Pro after I experienced Prime 2 and Fiesta 2. EPF was still to be held in December and I hoped to come back, prepared better than for this IPF.

After IPF ended, the winners played all the World Cup rounds. They did very well, they can be proud of themselves. When this was all over we went to a restaurant nearby and ordered some delicious food. We talked about many different things and I got to know some of the players a bit more and admire them even more. After we were full (the meals were big O_O) we decided to hit Gamestate again. Mimi's boyfriend arrived with my AM.Pass for which I am thankful and I looked forward to using it (my flash drive doesn't always work and I expected this to be better, ehm it started by the card reader on P1 not working).

Finally we got to play on some lower difficulties so I tried some 17s and even got some nice scores on some! Not only that, we could just do whatever we pleased. Kevin played some custom steps showing us a great performance, he also played with his backpack (heavy!) on his head when playing on P1 since he couldn't card in and used USB drive with his no bar profile. I also asked some of the remaining players if they would be up for Tribal Attacker co-op. We totally failed but it was a fun experience. I also decided to play Canon-D D23 to reminisce and I got a hell a lot of PP for that and reached level 13!

I couldn't believe the day could have be any better but when we got back to Kevin's place my mind wandered back to reality in which my father died. A long night awaited me.

While being in Netherlands I really wanted to go meet CTK and Heat and possible undergo a job interview. The interview part got a bit complicated because my situation changed overnight but we could hopefully meet each other and have some fun. Unfortunately it was a very short. I got up and was taken to the metro station by Kevin who then continued to his job. I arrived to Den Haag where I almost collapsed because my body decided to give up. Fortunately I had some food I received from Kevin's family so I sat down and ate it. CTK called me while I was there trying to persuade my body to function. We met a bit later and went to a nice cafe somewhere near Hommerson's Casino in the city. I got a delicious pumpkin soup and flat white which was actually better than what I had last time. We talked about life, games and stuff and I realized that I'm sitting there with two people with common interests, live experiences and that we understand each other and we can joke around.

The plan for the day was to draft GRN which is something that totally did not come to my mind. Getting to Heat's place was a bit tricky because there was a power outage and we got stuck at a tram station full of little screaming kids. After seeing people not being able to follow simple instructions we made it safely to Heat's place. It was time to crack some packs! My first pick was Nightveil Predator, followed by Dimir Guildmage and a removal spell. Then I hardly saw a blue card and noted that GW cards are wheeling. I started drafting this and ended up with the deck below.

I was particularly happy about playing GW but the deck was good enough for 3-0. It didn't happen though because I was a bit unlucky and didn't draw a fourth land against Boros aggro. We played some nice games though and I hope my opponents didn't suffer much, I was partly absent from reality since all I could think was my father's death, paying attention to things happening around was difficult. I had a great time though and I hope I didn't make it a bad one for someone else. Soon after we finished our matches I had to leave which was rather sad. Wish I could stay for few more days but I couldn't. Work and reality was calling.

I got to the central station and left for Eindhoven airport. When I got to the Czech Republic I went to my mother's place to help her and support her. Seeing someone strong who doesn't show much weakness or emotion be broken is not something I was prepared for but what we can do is stay together, stay strong and get through all this together.

I couldn't write anything when I came back, my life kind of stopped and you could observe that my presence online was rather none. I was in turmoil. Even though I feel depressed and very sad I managed to put at least a little bit of order into my thoughts and emotions and it is time for me to once again start doing something. I need to get a job or earn money somehow, and I also need to do something productive, do something that can make me feel better if I can't find professional help that I need. One of the things I needed to do was writing this, my trip to Netherlands was very difficult on emotional level.

Thank you for reading