I'm 34 years old, and I live in Camp Hill, PA with the fam: I live with my father, sister, and stepmother. I don't drive right now, but I'm planning to have a car again soon enough. As for what I look like, you can reference the picture to the right. Though there was once a time I worked for a living, due to my having Asperger's Syndrome (a decidedly mild form of autism), I am not and shall not be formally employed; instead, I spend my infinite free time streaming on my Twitch channel and working on simfiles (which now also happens on my Twitch channel).
I don't just write simfiles, I play them, too. But you probably knew that, especially if you watch my Twitch stream, which is where most of my hobby time goes. I do enjoy anime (if I ever find time to actually watch any), but mostly, I watch other streamers on Twitch these days (I don't really watch actual TV anymore; if I go over to the house of someone who has it, and I actually get the remote, you'll find me watching game shows and competitive cooking shows).
Last but not least, it is a well-known fact that I love coffee.
This is a much more recent picture of myself, taken in late 2017.
This isn't really a "battlestation" anymore so much as it has become a studio. Not seen, off to the left, is a big-screen TV on my tall dresser. This was taken on October 27, 2017.
How to Tell Me Something's Wrong
Best way would probably be on Discord. Be nice about it, but do clearly tell me precisely what's wrong. The more detail you can give, the better.
What to Watch For
Granted that I do try very hard not to release anything that needs fixed, but it does happen, given circumstances and/or what I thought of the chart at the time. Here are some things that can potentially be wrong with a chart:
Incorrect Numerical Ratings
I said it was a 9. Do you disagree? Do you think it's actually harder and should be bumped up to being a 10? Or maybe you think it's too easy and should actually be downgraded to an 8? Either way, tell me. Be clear as to which difficulty is in question, and tell me what you think the rating should be. Bonus points and bias toward my agreeing with you if you can explain why you think it's wrong. I'll look into it to see if I agree. If I do (and I probably will, though I might not), I will fix it.
Do Not: "Song X is rated wrong."
Do: "You have Song X [Hard] rated as a 9, and I think it should be a 10 because it has a lot of crossovers in it, and there are a few too many 16th notes in it."
Just So You Know: Recently, my overall policy when I'm not 100% sure what to rate a chart is that I'd rather rate it as the higher of my two considerations and have to downgrade it later: I would much rather hear "this is too easy to be a 6" than "this is too hard to be a 6;" too-hard criticism has a tendency to be harsh, especially from newbies.
All my charts are meant to at least be able to be played on foot. By extension, one should be able to tell which foot should be necessary for hitting the next arrow in a chart reasonably well. (What do I mean? On Novice and most Easy charts 5 and below, there's usually a lot of same-foot-hitting-same-arrow-in-a-row action; anything 6 and up usually has you alternating feet every step.) There are, of course, places where gimmicks are used on higher difficulties (such as "footlift", where a mine is placed to tell you where not to have your foot, because that foot is the one needed to hit the next arrow), but you should always have a decent idea where you're supposed to put your feet. Every once in a great while, flow breaks get into my charts and make it to first release. If you spot one, tell me about it! If it truly was unintentional, and not supposed to be in there, it warrants an IMMEDIATE fix and re-release!! Be as clear as you can as to where it happens; even better if you're savvy enough to be able to open the editor and tell me exactly what point in the stepchart is to blame.
Do Not: "Something's wrong with Song X."
Do: "Are you supposed to double-step around the midpoint of the second verse of Song X or something? I opened the editor to look at it; it's in measure 72, where it goes left-down-up-left, and then there's a hold on the down arrow? That up-left is where I have a problem. It doesn't look like it's supposed to be a crossover, and this is on Medium, so I doubt it's an intended twist, so I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be like that."
A Note On Easier Difficulties: Foot-flow breaks can strike any difficulty, so don't be afraid to criticize Medium, Easy and Novice charts; I have already fixed a fair amount of those. (Besides, I tout my pack as newbie-friendly, so I'm just as concerned about something wrong with easier charts for the sake of newbies as I am concerned with errors in harder charts for the sake of expert players.) Just because I mostly play on Hard and Expert doesn't mean I won't fix easier difficulties - it just means I have more of a tendency to notice on those difficulties because I see them more. (So, all the more important for you to point out anything you believe you've found wrong with easier charts.)
I try very hard to make sure arrows actually fall where they're supposed to. Red arrows are supposed to be directly on the beat, not a split-second before or after. However, if I chart on yet-unfamiliar computers, even if a chart seems to feel on-sync before I release it, I or others will discover later that it's actually off-sync. Individual charts can also become off-sync if I need to move large blocks of arrows around when editing, and even small sections (like slowdowns or tempo stutters) can turn out wrong, throwing the remainder of the song off, even if it was fine before that point. In any case, like foot-flow breaks, if you find that a chart is off-synch, you have to tell me immediately, because it warrants an IMMEDIATE fix and re-release. Again, as much info as you can give helps me find and fix the problem; do tell me if the arrows feel too early or too late, so I can tell which direction to fix it in.
Do Not: "Song X is off-sync."
Do: "Song X feels off to me after the tempo stutters in the second chorus. It seems like the last, longer tempo stop at the end of the chorus should actually be just a little bit longer, since the rest of the song feels slightly too early; the arrows started feeling like they were arriving before they should be."
Just a Bad Chart Overall (Poor Quality/Not Fun in Any Way)
Every once in a while, I will write a chart, thinking it's good at the time, then later, I or someone else will look at it, and ask what the heck I was thinking when I wrote that chart. It isn't fun, or just doesn't seem to be a good chart; something you just wouldn't expect from me. I have done my fair share of scrap-and-rewrites when I've seen this happen, so I do have a history of admitting when my bad works are bad, and replacing them with better charts. If you think one of my charts fits this category, try to let me down nicely, but do be firm in your resolve, and if you can, if there's something specific you think is wrong, don't be afraid to say so.
Do Not: "Song X sucks."
Do: "What's up with Song X's Medium chart? It just doesn't feel fun to me, and though it flows decently, it just...kinda goes weird places. I don't really get this chart. Could you just...look at it once and see if you agree?"
A FAQ for questions I'm often asked when I'm at the arcade, or about my playing ability in general. For the technical stuff like questions about my stepchart authoring, see the "Ace Of Hearts FAQ" below.
I've seen you play on foot; you're good! How long have you been doing this?
I'd played Dance Dance Revolution since October 2003, and started playing In The Groove in the summer of 2006, so it's been just over 10 years now in total. Time flies.
How long did it take you to memorize the steps?
I don't. There's a degree of familiarity involved, of course; after playing a song a few times, you get a general idea of how its charts flow, such as where the jumps and, on Expert, handplants are.
You must be the best!
Er...no. There are people (even locals) who are better than myself.
You have this at home, don't you?
I don't own an arcade cabinet, and I actually no longer own any of the official DDR or ITG video games. I do, however, play StepMania, which is an emulator that does the same thing, except on a computer, and it can play both official songs and simfiles written by anyone on the planet. You can get StepMania and/or some simfiles here on my website if you want.
This looks like quite a workout!
It is if you're playing Hard or Expert; Novice, Easy, and most of Medium really isn't too much of a workout.
You could probably lose weight doing this - have you?
I've always weighed the same, but I have heard of a good many people who have lost some amount of weight playing this game.
Do you take requests?
Yup! If you know the name of the song, don't be afraid to ask. If you're talking about requesting that I write a simfile for you, the answer is also yes; make your request in the Shoutbox and I guarantee at the very least that I'll look at it. I'll get back to you with an answer soon, and let you know if I will definitely do it, will consider it, or for some reason will not do it (I will always explain why).
This looks really hard; I couldn't possibly do this.
Wrong. There are five difficulties on the machine (Novice, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert), and the Novice charts are incredibly easy.
Can I play with you?
Of course you can! I don't bite; I think you'll find I'm rather friendly.
What are the best tips you can give a newbie like myself?
Some of this is in The How-To Guide, but some of it isn't, and besides, this is a great place for this question.
1. If 2 people are going to play, make sure you insert 2 credits, and make sure you hit the green buttons on both sides of the machine. (Doesn't apply at my arcade, Family Fun Center in Harrisburg Mall, as we have Joint Premium on, so it's 4 tokens regardless of 1 or 2 players.)
2. You want "Dance" mode. (Yes, as stupid as this sounds, I have to say it. You would not believe the number of people I've seen mistakenly pick "Battle," "Marathon," or "Survival" mode!!)
3. If 2 people are playing, make sure you actually choose "2 Players," not "Doubles."
4. For the love of Pete, vary your song selections. There are a few reasons for this. One, it doesn't matter what song it is, nobody wants to hear you play it three or four times in a row - you will bore people to death. Two, if you only play one song, how will you get better in general? Three, you won't learn about the game - you'll only learn about that song. The blue left and right buttons are on the machine for a reason - please use them.
5. As for what songs to pick, it really doesn't matter too much. If you're playing on Novice, most everything's a 1 anyway. Still, songs I typically see most beginners pick (and do well on) include "Bumble Bee," "Funk Factory," and "D-Code." I personally recommend "No Princess," "Birdie," "Little Kitty Mine," "Space Man," and "Sunshine."
6. If you've decided to move up to Easy difficulty, "Energizer" is NOT a good first choice for a song (again, something stupidly obvious, but I've seen it a million times, so I feel I have to say it). Energizer is a 5 on Easy, which makes it one of the most difficult songs on that difficulty level (most Easy songs are rated 2-4). If you're used to playing on Novice, there's no way you're going to pass Energizer on Easy. I'd go with "Driving Force Classical" as your first Easy song instead (as that is a 2, not a 5).
7. You don't have to return your feet to the center metal panel after every step. (You're nowhere near the point where you have to worry about dodging mines.)
What's the little thing you stuck into the machine? What does it do?
That's a USB card (also known as a "flash drive" or "thumb drive").
Its foremost function is that it keeps track of your high scores, and your display name and high score initials so you don't have to keep punching them in after every game. It also remembers the last modifiers you used and the last difficulty you played on, and if you know how, you can put Custom Songs on your card for play at the arcade! See my "USB Card Guide" for more info on exactly how a card works with the machine and how to put songs on it.
Ace Of Hearts FAQ
For Writing Simfiles: StepMania 3.95 CVS
For General Play: StepMania 3.95 CVS
For StepMania Online: StepMania 5
Are you stuck on 3.95?
Well...not so much anymore. I play SMO using SM5, and I really like the CyberiaStyle 7 theme available for it. About the only reason I hold on to 3.95 CVS anymore is because of my laptop; it runs really well on it, where SM5 lags just the smallest bit (which, in a rhythm game that needs to flow smoothly, is very noticeable). That's about the only thing still holding me back - if I want to assure the compatibility of my stepcharts with ITG cabinets while charting using SM5, I just have to continue not using Lifts and Fakes (which I don't use anyway, as I see no reason Mines can't take care of situations where one might use those). Indeed, 3.95 is indeed technically inferior to what's available nowadays (though it runs fine, it's apparently coded horribly, and of course doesn't have all the flashy features SM5 does) - in fact, StepMania.com forum-goers often voice flat-out hatred of 3.95. Even StepMania 4 is kinda outdated now, which technically makes builds like 3.9, 3.9+ and 3.95 ancient by today's standards. When I get a new computer that handles it with no lag whatsoever, I will move on to SM5 entirely, and leave 3.95 CVS behind.
What theme do you use? Do you have a favorite noteskin?
For StepMania 3.95 CVS, I alternate between my own PrismRhythm theme, which is currently version 6.5, and the other themes I offer for download on this site. As for noteskin, I use AcePro.
Your pack has a mascot, according to your banners. Can I have more information on who that is exactly, and why you chose her?
Sure. My pack's current mascot is currently Makoto Kikuchi, one of the original idols from The Idolm@ster; she's also my avatar on Twitch and elsewhere. She's a tomboy, and something of a sporty type.
The previous mascot was Ia, one of the more recent Vocaloids, chosen for her look.
Before that, I used Lia Berlioz, from the 2010 visual novel game "PrismRhythm;" she is one of four of the main girls in that game (alongside Elisa Marigold, Kasumi Tokitou, and Gin Mizune). I chose her for her confident personality, good sense of humor, adorability, and last but certainly not least, her heart-shaped barrette.
My first mascot was Lisa Sakakino from the anime eX-Driver, but I had chosen to abandon her, because one, I had no other good pictures of her, and two, my personality no longer meshes with hers; I no longer constantly complain of my singleness.
Yeah, it's kinda corny. Get over it - you asked for more explanation and you got it. :p
What are your favorite stepcharts you've written?
I've written so many stepcharts, I'm going to have to say it's really impossible to even pick a top 10 list. I love so many of them so much that you couldn't ask me to pick and choose anymore. I have to say, though, that my singles pack is really underrated; there are a lot of really good charts in there (one of my personal favorites being "Negai no Hana").
If you can't really name favorites to follow arrows with, how about favorites to listen to outside the game?
That's a much different question. Though I like everything I chart to some degree, I certainly have preferences (and tolerance levels) for what I'll listen to outside StepMania. When it comes to regular listening, I'm a huge fan of Rita ("Hajimari no Toki," "Negai no Hana"), Girls Dead Monster and the two girls who play the main characters' voices, Marina and LisA ("Alchemy," "Crow Song," "Oath Sign"), and when I want a dose of adorable, my top picks are Chata ("Koi wo Shiyouyo," "Winter Bells"), ave;new ("Pure My Voices," "Lovable") and Kotoko ("Bumpy-Jumpy," "Blaze").
Not only do I love music with lyrics, I also surprise lots of people by saying I listen to a lot of metal mixes of Touhou music, my favorite artist in that category being Demetori. I have a tendency to love listening to stuff that'd be really difficult to play if charted.
Speaking of which, is your StepMania skill level different from your arcade on-foot skill level?
By worlds. On foot at the arcade I can do up to 13s, but in StepMania, I can currently play up to 16s. Thanks to the Tachyon Gamma and Delta packs, I have plenty of simfiles 17+ feet to attempt when I feel like.
Do you play keyboard charts?
Back when I used to be affiliated with Otaku's Dream, I'd at least try everything they came out with. But after one look at "Silly-Go-Round," I determined that keyboard charts were not going to be my forte, ever.
You know, though, the line between "keyboard chart" and what is "paddable" has gotten pretty blurry lately.
Oh, I know. I know very well. My own Expert chart for "Dangerous" contains bracketing, several of my simfiles have footswitch, and more and more of them are seeing triple- and quad-stomps. Who knows, within a year or two, perhaps there isn't going to be anything truly possible only on keyboard; players are finding more and more ingenious ways to play stuff previously thought to be only keyboard-playable all the time.
They're also passing harder songs.
Oh yeah. Back when DDR Max first came out, "Max 300" (10 feet) was considered really hard. Then ITG came out and "Pandemonium" (13 feet) was considered ridiculous. Then stuff like the Dragonforce pack (mostly 14s and 15s) came out, people started trying to push their limits to see what they were truly capable of, and now people are passing 17s and 18s. The Tachyon Delta pack even has four 19s and a 20. My brain doesn't yet even read that fast, and both my fingers and feet as yet refuse to move that fast. I will still try once in a while though, and will hopefully continue to improve.