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Pokethon 3 Wrapup!

It's difficult to write about events that you have a hard time believing actually happened. Our most recent Pokemon Marathon for Free the Children definitely falls under that umbrella.

There were so many instances where the Marathon almost didn't go off. To be honest, I wasn't even seriously planning any event up until a couple of weeks prior to New Years. Finals had been eating up all of our time and if it weren't for Jason and his barrage of text messages asking me about having a fundraiser, there likely would not have been one at all.

Fast forward to a few hours before the event was slated to begin. A couple of team members had fallen pretty ill and we had no idea if they'd be able to make it to the Marathon at all (y'know, sleep deprivation and a diet of snack food doesn't make for the best bed rest). Since we had planned three games to be played at once during this Marathon, we really weren't sure if we'd even be able to go through with the event as planned. Even once we started the Marathon, the whole thing kept going offline (nearly 100 times in total!) due to a whole host of tech issues.

If anything, this Marathon had virtually everything working against it from the beginning. But hey, everyone who was sick recovered, the internet eventually came back (kind of) and you guys made our last event the most successful fundraiser we've ever had. Not just by a few dollars, nor a few thousand dollars... but by over twenty-thousand dollars.

Let me put that in perspective-- here's a handy little graph I whipped up showing just how the funds raised over time in this one event stack up to our previously most-successful fundraisers.

(Ignore the slightly dubious color choices-- I never claimed to be an artist.)

You guys and your amazing generosity made this event so mind-blowing successful that we reached every single one of our extra stretch goals-- even the one intended as a joke. Going into the event, I never once thought we'd reach the $25,000 mark, unlocking extra playthroughs of the first three generations of Pokemon. Serves me right for ever doubting you!

I guess everyone out there really loves their Pokemon because you helped us smash through that $25,000 milestone and reach a whopping $34,271.69 for Free the Children.

So, let me say it again-- thank you. This was the best possible way I could have ever imagined starting off 2013. I can't express my gratitude to each and every one of you who tuned in to this event, donated or spread the word. We really couldn't have done it without your help. You guys are the greatest.

I'm sure you'd all like to know what all the money will be going towards! While we originally proposed funding 700 goats a few individual schoolhouses, Free the Children recommended we use the funds for their Adopt a Village program. This lets us tackle many aspects of international development at once and the donations, breaking the donations up into...

  • $12,000 for education which will fund the construction of a schoolhouse and fully stock it with furniture, school supplies and books.
  • $7,000 for clean water and sanitation where it'll fund well construction, water pumping projects and latrines for the schoolhouse.
  • $5,000 for health projects, including setting up a clinic (and stocking it with the required medicines and supplies), providing training for healthcare workers and funding programs for health education.
  • $5,000 for income and livelihood programs where the community can learn about animal husbandry, various forms of vocational training and financial literacy courses.
  • $5,000 for agriculture and food security to provide the supplies and training for high-yield agriculture as well as funding lunch programs and gardens at the schoolhouse.

Pretty great, huh? You guys really generated a lot of good through your outstanding generosity.

The only thing that's left is to decide just where this project will take place. Free the Children had mentioned that a few countries had a greater need for the project than others, so we've narrowed down the choices in the poll a bit to just those four. ExtraLives.org is absolutely nothing without your support, so we're tasking you guys to vote on where you'd like to see the donations go. There are no wrong choices here and feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments section if you wanted to ask any questions.

Click read more for a rundown of the countries in which Free the Children operates, reasons why they need a schoolhouse, and a poll to cast your vote.

Pokethon 3. 3 Screens. 2013.

It's time to emerge from my doomsday bunker to admit to myself, well, I guess the December 21st apocalypse never quite happened. I'm all for a change of pace from eating canned beans and reading old magazines by candlelight in my cellar.

So, why not celebrate the new year and the fact that we're all still alive with a Marathon?

The title probably gave it away, but we'll be broadcasting Pokethon 3 (Pok3thon?) over New Years, starting Saturday, December 29th at noon. Yes, that's just about a week away! Sorry for springing this on you guys on such short notice-- finals have been eating a load of our time. Just about a week ago, we weren't slated to have any fundraiser but thanks to a couple dozen cups of coffee and a load of help and feedback from the folks in the IRC chat, we've now found just the way for you guys to celebrate New Years. A special thanks goes out to EdTheNerd for sending over a huge box of supplies and games and Jyn for working on the banner on such short notice (again).

So, what makes this Pokethon different than the last one? For starters... we can now legally drink.

We've got three screens!

Yes, 50% more screens means 50% more fun/accidental resets.

Plus, we can play each version of Pokemon at once-- pretty neat given that they're all a little bit different somehow. Case in point...

(Kelar is my favorite Pokemon. Anyway, that's Pokemon Green, Red and Yellow side to side. Neat, eh?)

Don't worry, the bootlegs will be making a full reappearance here. I've got at least one for every generation on the Game Boy. Should be an interesting comparison.

We'll play the DS games!

Gone are the days of the Rulercam! We've our hands on two DS capture devices so we'll be throwing a few DS games into the mix. I can't confirm that they'll be races (will need to keep testing to see if two will work at once), but they'll definitely make an appearance.

And, a couple other notes of interest...

ExtraLives.org has raised nearly $100,000!

As of this posting, the site has raised a grand total of $91,837.25-- let's try and ring in the new year right and bring this to $100,000!

We've got photos of OUR schoolhouses!

No more posting up photos of other schoolhouses in the village and saying, "well, ours probably looks like that. Maybe?" We've now got honest-to-god photos of the schoolhouses you guys helped fund! Go and check out the galleries! Let's try for a seventh!

So, again, starting Saturday, December 29th at noon, stop back here and check out the event! Given that everything came together on such short notice, any amount of help you could lend us in getting the word out would be EXTREMELY appreciated. Let's build a school! Let's bring the grand total to $100k! Let's play some Pokemon!

The ExtraLives.org Guide to Capturing and Streaming Video (On a Budget) Part 2: Dot Crawl and Rainbowing

The object of this guide is to get the best possible video quality for the lowest amount of money. While we've gone over how to fix the whole interlacing problem in the last article, why stop there? You can make your video look EVEN BETTER with a few easy steps. Oh, and it's worth pointing out most of these fixes won't cost you a dime.

There are two other issues that tend to crop up when capturing standard definition video with plain-old, "probably-came-with-your-console" composite cables.

Dot crawl (AKA: "That Checkerboard Pattern Along the Edges")

...and...

Rainbowing (AKA: "Where did these other colors come from?")

Read on for more information on these two video defects and how to take care of them!

The ExtraLives.org Guide to Capturing and Streaming Video (As Cheaply As Possible) Part 1: Deinterlacing

We're all about streaming video games here at ExtraLives.org. Still, this presents a bit of a problem-- most of the games out there are on consoles and are designed to be played on a TV. Unless you wanted to point a webcam at your TV and broadcast that (which is not recommended because it looks absolutely terrible), you'll need some way to directly capture video from a game system.

Well, I've been broadcasting junk online for more than three years now and I've wasted a lot of time (and money) on various pieces of hardware and software to do the job. It's 2012 now and I think I've gotten it down to a science.

There will be a bunch of different parts to this series but I'm going to start off with one of the most abundant (and easy to fix problems) I see with a lot of live video...

Interlacing (AKA: "My video is breaking into lines")

Link has two sets of eyes-- one for each sword.

Keep reading to learn more about interlacing and, more importantly, how to fix it. There are also pictures. Lots of them. Good times to be had.

Zeldathon II Wrapup (AKA: You Guys Rock!)

Seventy-eight hours. $13,659.85 in donations for Free the Children. Nearly 100 pieces of Groose fanart (count 'em!).

A few weeks have passed since our second Legend of Zelda Marathon ended. While I still can't seem to get this dirty feeling of playing the CD-i Zelda games off myself, I'm constantly amazed at how well this event went. It was nearly a year since the last fundraiser ended in August (cut short by a run in with Hurricane Irene) so we were worried that nobody really would watch.

Well… you guys blew apart EVERY expectation we had. Your amazing generosity shattered our previous record donation total by over a thousand dollars and brought in more viewers than we've had in recent memory (even to the degree that the site crashed-- three times).

Not to mention, there's now a gigantic gallery of fanart you guys submitted, a brand new theme song made by up-and-coming musician Rory Powers and a bunch of other things to check out, including our… "dub" of the first Pokemon Episode recorded during 2011's Mop Up Marathon (made by EasterFerret), and Game Gent, our latest Marathon creation.

I really can't thank you guys enough for what was nothing short of an amazing weekend. It's difficult to put into words just how much it means to see so many people supporting our events year after year. What was once an idea that almost didn't quite happen (and was almost named "Charigamers" shudder) has become a great little internet community, responsible for raising nearly $92,000 for charity so far. Thanks for being awesome. (No, seriously-- you're the best.)

Of course, the fundraisers aren't just about a warm fuzzy feeling-- they're about making a difference somewhere. In this case, the second Legend of Zelda Marathon raised enough for Free the Children to fund the construction of 273 goats a schoolhouse, in addition to a school lunch program, school furnishings and supplies and teacher training programs, in a developing nation. ExtraLives.org is nothing without everybody's generosity so we're letting you guys decide where you'd like to see the school built.

Click read more for a rundown of the countries in which Free the Children operates, reasons why they need a schoolhouse, and a poll to cast your vote.

New Website, New Marathon, New ExtraLives.org!

Hey! Remember us? No, you didn't end up on the wrong website-- welcome to the brand new face of ExtraLives.org, The Fundraising Gaming Website! We owe this new redesign to Toby of GameToAid.org who lovingly (and very patiently, considering the many dozens of emails I flooded him with) built the site from the ground up from a concept image I doodled close to a year ago. Given that the old website design was virtually unchanged from the earliest designs I whipped up back in March of 2008, it was definitely time for a change.

Tables go here, there and everywhere.

ExtraLives.org-- too cool for lorem ipsum.

While there are still a few things that this new design needs (mostly carrying over and fleshing out the tabs and old Marathon pages), the new site has a bunch of great new additions, including...

  • A Marathon page stream and chatroom switcher-- switch between Ustream chat and video, Twitch.tv chat and video or any combination of the two.
  • Automatic fanart uploading and gallery making-- you'll never need to wait years a while for me to manually upload Marathon fanart.
  • An actual article commenting system-- gone is that half-baked system of having to post comments on the forum.
  • Multiple pages of articles-- the old site never had more than three or four news posts up at a time. Now you can go all the way back to the first update ever.
  • Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons-- we're finally stepping into this crazy Web 2.0 world.

...and a whole bunch of other great little features that help keep everything prettier and dramatically more organized. Compare it against the original design, kept uploaded for posterity here.

And hey, even the forums got a redesign-- we had to move on from the default phpBB3 theme eventually.

But what good is a snazzy new site without some new content? Well, we've got that covered too. It's been entirely too long since we last had a Marathon-- let's fix that. I'm sure you guys noticed that fantastic new banner at the top of the page (made by Jyn, Twitter/Tumblr). We're having another Zelda Marathon scheduled to begin in just two weeks, starting Friday, June 8th at noon, Eastern Time. Check the Marathon page for more details. We'll be raising money again for Free the Children, a charity devoted to improving the lives of children in developing nations. With $8,500 in donations, Free the Children is able to construct a schoolhouse in a developing nation which goes a long way to improving the quality of a child's life. Let's build that school!

Apologies that the Marathon announcement was made on such short notice-- been busy with finals and making sure everything was ready to be rolled out. We're going to need your help now more than ever to get the word out and tell everyone about our upcoming fundraiser.

As always, I need to thank you guys for your unceasing support. Since our earliest fundraisers in 2009, your continued generosity and enthusiasm has blown us away time and time again. We hope to see you all at the upcoming Marathon!

Bootleg Bonanza Aftermath

As I'm sure you're all aware, we had a bit of a run in with a hurricane here on the East Coast during Marathon time. We started the Marathon around noon, Eastern Time on Friday and went until a little after midnight on Sunday Morning (so about 36 hours or so long). We lost power and cable around this time, rendering us unable to continue streaming (we couldn't even do what we tried during the April 1st update...)

If anyone was wondering what it was like, Rory Powers had a pretty accurate depiction of what we went through:
 

 

 

(Okay, maybe it wasn't quite THAT bad).

We've Got Banners!

Well, we issues a call for banners last Friday. Needless to say, you guys really bailed us out-- we got a bunch of submissions!

We picked our three favorite banners and the following people will be getting an ExtraLives.org T-shirt for their submission.

   
  ...by SabertoothLizzie  
   
  ...by Yannick  
   
  ...by Thomas  

We Need Banners ASAP!

Something was missing from this Marathon announcement: a call for banners! We need some-- badly! The Marathon is a little more than a week away and we're still rocking the Mop-Up Marathon artwork. As great as those banners may be, we need something to reflect the Bootleg Bonanza.

The deadline for these banners is this Sunday at 11:59PM. I realize that this only gives you guys a few days to work on the banners. However, we've got a gift for a few of you guys who make banners: ExtraLives.org T-shirts! We'll take three of our favorite banners from these submissions and give you three guys a T-shirt, no questions asked. Consider it to be our thanks for bailing us out at the last minute.

Okay, as always, here is the criteria for the banners:

  • We need two versions! A bigger one for the Marathon's page (640px × 200px) and a smaller version for general use (500px x 157px). This should just be two sizes of the same banner.
  • The banner should include images related to bootlegged video games.This can include screenshots of the games, artwork on the cartridges or imitating certain characteristics of bootlegged games (bad english, awful spritework, etc). Check here for resources or inspiration.
  • Include the text "Bootleg Bonanza" somewhere on the banner. This should be big and easily legible. No other text is needed. The way the text is formatted and if the word "Marathon" is included is up to you.
  • If you have a different idea for a banner, clear it with me first at Tim@ExtraLives.org before you go ahead with making it.
  • I'd appreciate if I could get the banners by 11:59PM (Eastern Time) on Sunday, August 21st. 

Send all banners to Tim@ExtraLives.org.

Thanks again to anyone who makes us a banner-- we really need them!

Bootleg Bonanza Announcement!

We here at ExtraLives.org love bootlegs. From Vietnamese Crystal to Pokemon Adventu, there's just something about bootlegged games that intrigues us. Whether it's laughing at God-awful translations or wondering how the programmers ever got away with such egregious gameplay faults, these games have a distinct charm.

What better way to exhibit this than with a Marathon full of bootlegged games?

But first, let's just get a working definition for what a bootlegged video game is. Bootlegged games...
-...incorperate copyrighted content from one or more sources in another game... 
-...are not officially authorized to be published or sold on any video game console... 
-...may represent attempts to bring games over from one console to another.


Of course, all of these bootlegged games are entirely unofficial. After all, what self-respecting game company would expect anyone to actually pay money for something like Pokemon Adventu? Usually these games are put together quickly with the intention to make a quick buck, though there exist quite a few surprisingly well-made bootlegged games out there.

With that said, we've got a working list of the bootlegged games we're looking to play for the upcoming Marathon.

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