Letters from Somnolescent

 

Category: Retrospectives

The Somnolians looking back at the events and works of their lives thusfar.


September 10, 2022

surprise caby blog post

caby

I’m sat right now at my laptop, in my bedroom, with the window open. It’s about 11pm, it’s a little cold, and I can smell the last few embers of a barbecue my neighbours had earlier this evening. And I’m feeling… normal. It feels like early-mid September, it makes me think of the upcoming spooky season, makes me think about heading into college in the crisper, cooler air, makes me think of Christmas and New Years. I feel normal.

Tags:

August 15, 2022

Revisiting the Official MP3.com Guide to MP3s

mariteaux

The front and back covers of the MP3.com Official Guide to MP3s

I don’t think it’s a stretch to call myself an MP3.com historian at this point. From my initial essay two-and-a-half years ago, to digging deep into how the service worked, to previewing some of the music that MP3.com were promoting their service with, I’m part of that small group who have been trying to keep the memory of one of the most forward-thinking dot-com startups alive after it was all but forgotten post-closure in 2004.

I was effectively honor-bound to pick up the last copy of The Official MP3.com Guide to MP3s from Amazon after all that work, and I was not disappointed for my $6.29! We’ve got late 90s MP3 hype, forgotten MP3 and MP3.com competitors, and even some screenshots of the backend of MP3.com, far away from where any web spider could’ve gone. It’s a trip.

Tags: music, technology,

July 15, 2022

Exploring somnol.net’s Old Banners

bulb

We like to redesign our sites from time to time, and earlier this year, the top-level domain got its turn. The previous design came in the spring of 2020 and featured a rotating crop of big, toony banners at the top of each page that would show up either year-round or seasonally.

While we gave up on that site design, we’re still very fond of the banners. Obviously, they’re no longer featured on the top-level site. That’s a lot of art and a lot of work going to waste! While we’d like to reuse them in another design, for now, this post will have to do.

Being a longtime reader of the Video Game Critic, I decided to take a page out of his book (or off his site, maybe?) and not just write up a bit on my thoughts on each banner, but get the people who made them to tell their stories about each one.


February 23, 2022

2600 Pac-Man: Was it That Bad?

mariteaux

VCS Pac-Man's attract screen

I’ve recently been really enjoying RetroAchievements. It’s a site where you can unlock Xbox Live-like achievements for older games, provided you’re using a hacked emulator logged into the site. It’s a novel concept, and it’s a nice excuse to dig back into some of my favorite Atari games and try “mastering” (getting all the achievements in) them.

When I covered Racing the Beam on this blog back in 2020, I mentioned one of the games covered in that book being Atari’s Pac-Man. It’s a great tale of disappointment, one of Atari’s programmers given a mere 4K of ROM to produce the flagship game of the 1981 Christmas season. The results were not pretty, and along with E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, became the poster children of the glut of low-quality games being produced at the time and later symbolized the “game burial” in the Sunnyvale desert where Atari famously dumped their excess stock.

Game reviews of VCS Pac-Man often don’t dissect it any further than “it’s ugly and plays like crap and you already knew that”. But how does it play like crap? What are the little details that make it such a below-average port? Is it playable on its own merits, despite how alien it is to the arcade version? That’s what I’m here to discuss. You might want to wear ear protection.


December 21, 2021

How to Reconcile Your Friends at the End of the World

mariteaux

I often think of Somnolescent as an island, but we’re a rather interconnected bunch. We span the United States through Eastern Europe, and so, what goes on in a big chunk of the world is likely to affect at least one of us. Given the past two years, it goes without saying that Somnolescent didn’t make it out unscathed, though better than most, thankfully.

Though the world’s in a weird, precarious, unstable spot right now, given the 20th marked three years of Somnolescent (I wasn’t able to get this done in time, but I started it in time at least…), I figured I would write about a bit of an epiphany I had, and something of a silver lining while everyone heals: how social stress can cause good friendships to sour, and how pushing forward with that in mind can help mitigate the damage.

Tags: Somnolescent,

April 1, 2021

mariversary 3.0: The Platypus Years

mariteaux

Well, it’s been a tradition for me, every April 1st here at Somnolescent, to look back at something Neocities-related. I don’t quite think I’ll be carrying it along after this year, but there’s still one major bit of Neocities ephemera I’ve carried with me, something I unwittingly preserved unlike every other of its kind: my very first site design.

Given that I spent last year discussing my various Supporter’s sites, it’s only fair the main one gets its due too. And given that the other two mariversary posts both focused a bit on me and a bit on the community, I think looking back at just what I was up to will prove more positive, or at the very least, rouse the peanut gallery less.

Tags: web design,

January 1, 2021

Somnolescent’s 2020 Traffic Report

mariteaux

Happy New Year, everyone! Now that 2020’s over and I have a full year’s worth of data, I figured it’d be fun to look back at how we did as far as our Google rankings and traffic across our network goes. Of course, nothing here is especially mind-blowing as far as the numbers go, but fuck the numbers, it’s just curious to see what people are looking at. There’s lots of line graphs and pie charts too, if you like those. And…I might…


December 25, 2020

Caby Chrimbas Update

caby

Quick Christmas update from the resident cabybaba here. It’s 9am and we’ve finished unwrapping presents, we’ve done all the Christmas morning calls and webcalls, and now I’m sat in my room with far too much chocolate, patiently waiting for lads to wake up in Somnol. Timezones and all that,,,,


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