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I have come to the conclusion I am below average :(

Hello, frens. I played my game instead of coming up with something interesting to post tonight, in a pattern that has repeated in my life for upwards of six decades.

I’ve come to the conclusion I’m quite bad at vidya game combat. I’ve hated boss fights increasingly in recent years and finally had to nerf this one right down to easy mode to beat the big battles.

I’m supposed to have killed, like, five trolls by now, but any trolls I find bound across the room and smash me to jelly with one good whomp. Humiliating.

I keep taunting myself that this is a game for literal children, but I’m not so sure. The game and the rig to run it properly are not cheap and I wonder how many middle schoolers are playing.

Also Deek, my house elf, has been told to teach me how to breed magical animals. He has instructed me to capture one male and one female Thestral and buy blueprints for a breeding pen.

I’m dreading this.

April 16, 2024 — 7:50 pm
Comments: 4

Ha ha! The wizard game has a real-world problem

The Hogwarts game has an insurmountable problem: it’s set in a mythic English public school. To work, it has to be stereotypically English, and aggressively so. But white people are bad, m’kay? and must never be allowed to congregate without brown chaperones. Goodness me, English people are like turbo white people. What to do?

You can accept an African or Indian professor because I guess a school of magic would want representation from other magical traditions (lookit me, taking the world building seriously!). But when the student body is more brown than white, you start to wonder if you’re really in Albion any more. Subvert expectations too far and you’ll break them.

This is happening in meat-space, too. There’s a school near us that attracts a high number of foreign students. It isn’t a terribly good school, but Johnny Foreigner doesn’t know that. It has smart school uniforms and a horse riding program and it looks like Hogwarts inside. That still has cachet around the world whether our masters like it or not.

I read that the school has a target of…either minimum 40% English students or maximum 40% non-English students. I forget which. They struggle to maintain it.

It’s hilarious to see something marketed for its whiteness and Englishness, particularly when I know for a fact they’re exaggerating the whiteness and Englishness because whiteness and Englishness is their main selling point.

p.s. This is a very fun game in spite of itself.

p.p.s. I screwed up somewhere along the line and gave myself pink hair.

p.p.p.s. Good weekend!

April 12, 2024 — 7:06 pm
Comments: 6

“Maybe not quite so heavy”

Just watched a Portal fan film called GLaDOS – which, frankly, wasn’t very good. It had lots of fun call-backs to Portal (and Half-Life), but it needs a tight edit and it’s not really for normies.

But it made me think of the night I finished Portal for the first time. I was sitting in this very spot. Uncle B had gone to bed, but I knew I was close to the end and wanted to stay up and see it through. It was a stonking experience. And then the credits rolled.

I think Still Alive is the cleverest passive-aggressive manifesto from a deranged and murderous AI ever written. It’s brilliant work, and you’ll enjoy it even if you haven’t played the game.

Want You Gone from the credits of the second game is also good.

I’ve been thinking about the mess DEI is making of AAA games in 2024. There are 186 games in my Steam account (most of which I’ve never even looked at). If they never make another game I want to buy, I can still play vidya for the rest of my miserable life.

April 9, 2024 — 7:31 pm
Comments: 5

Leaning into it

In contrast to several recent expensive AAA flops – corrupted by the dour influence of blue-haired “story consultants” – an unabashed shoot-em-up leaning into the Starship Troopers theme has been the surprise hit of the year so far. Helldivers II.

Seriously, watch the trailer. It’s funny as hell, in a fascistic sort of way. Is there a word when someone is tongue-in-cheek, but really sort of means it, too?

The motto of the studio is “a game for everyone is a game for no-one”. Sadly, it’s probably not a game for me.

It’s a co-op you play online with up to three friends, and all my friends are frail, elderly Englishwomen. I don’t think I can get them on board. So anons it would be, then.

Also, it’s hard. I avoid any game that requires good reflexes and not completely losing your mind under pressure, especially online where I’m likely to play on a team of anonymous 14-year-old boys. I got a lot of poop kicked out of me before I learned that lesson.

“Managed Democracy” – still chuckling.

April 3, 2024 — 7:39 pm
Comments: 4

Tea time’s over

I had a wonderful Easter. I spent the sunny hours – of which there were many – sitting in the garden watching the new lambs gambol.

I spent the less sunny hours – of which there were also many – wearing my magic spectacles and playing games in VR. Specifically, the Hogwarts game. Yes, I got the plugin working that makes non-VR games into VR.

It’s an astonishing piece of work. I’m not a fan of the books, which were derivative as hell, but the visuals and the scale of this thing are amazing.

There’s a sort of giant junk room in it that contains thousands of individually-modeled items – I know they are because they animate as you walk past them. That’s the room in the picture above, but it’s many times larger. There weren’t any loading screens, either. How they fiddled the memory management for that, I do not know.

It should have been Game of the Year but wasn’t because JK Rowling.

Sadly, though, I have to run it at the game’s lowest resolution. In VR, games have to render three times: once for your left eye, once for your right eye and once for your monitor (I think there’s a way to turn off the monitor render, but I haven’t found it yet). My five-year-old rig coughs and wheezes at the prospect.

April 1, 2024 — 6:51 pm
Comments: 1

Git offa my land!

The latest howling controversy in gaming has been over a consultancy firm hired onto gaming projects to make them more woke. It turns out their fingerprints are all over several recent big-budget flops.

I won’t go into it. Gamers make up a tiny number of my readers. It just made me think what a tiny, underrepresented identity group I belong to: old lady gamers.

As far as I know, it’s just me and Shirley Curry. (Seriously, check Shirley out. She’s an 87 year old grandma from Ohio who plays Skyrim. She’s a hoot).

And I was thinking how *I* wasn’t bitching about my identity group not being represented in video games. And then I thought hang on, that would be kind of awesome.

I can see a crabby old lady NPC with a sniper rifle who shouts at you and plinks you from a great distance. Kind of like Bette Davis in Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. Which, if you’ve never seen it, is the most fantastic old horror film featuring an enormous cast of famous scene-chewing old hams. It’s all Oscar-winners and low-budget gore.

Only in 1964.

It was originally supposed to star Joan Crawford against Bette Davis. Check out the making of for some hilarious behind-the-scenes drama.

When I was a kid, we watched it strictly for the “head rolling down the stairs” scene.

March 27, 2024 — 8:49 pm
Comments: 9

Oh, swell

When I tried to shut down my headset this afternoon, it fired up a long firmware upgrade. It updates about every six months. I didn’t think any changes would be immediately apparent, so I looked up the release notes and – whoopee! – Horizon Worlds avatars will now HAVE LEGS.

That’s those guys up there. I’ve said it before, a big part of the incredibly low uptake on Zuch’s metaverse is that everything so goddamned ugly. The man has to be face blind.

I’ve only gone to his shared worlds a few times. They’re painfully stupid, too. Bunch of Weebles wobbling around mumbling to each other. What do you say to a lumpy pastel stranger? The occasional kid bumping into someone repeatedly to simulate sex (this got so bad they had to institute adjustable personal boundaries).

Kids. The last thing on the planet earth I want to do is interact with somebody’s children on the computer. Jesus, Zuck.

The ugly isn’t due to hardware limitations. There are restrictions on what you can do, sure, but most of this shit is bad design, plain and simple.

Having delivered myself of this rant, I’m off. Have a good weekend, everyone!

October 27, 2023 — 6:43 pm
Comments: 6

Tense moment

So I’m using my thrusters to float down a corridor coated in pulsating orange biomass while carrying a power cell (those blobby things eat power) and I’m just getting to the part where you have to make a hard right or get a faceplate full of lethal alien goo annnnnnd…the power goes.

Not long. Just long enough to shut everything down. I love Lone Echo, but there’s no manual save and I’m not sure how much of that I’ll have to redo. Am pissy.

Counterpart to yesterday’s Tabasco post, this guy experiments with making Sriracha. Fermented chilis, just like Tabasco, plus garlic (which you will know if you eat Sriracha) but also brown sugar.

I wasn’t aware of the taste of sugar, but then I rarely it it directly. A squirt into a mess of soup does the trick.

October 26, 2023 — 6:31 pm
Comments: 5

I’m going to have to do it, you know

The Meta Quest 3. I’m going to have to have one.

Not for the mixed reality – I want VR to get away from my lousy housekeeping – but because it addresses pretty much all my complaints about the Quest 2.

A faster processor. Bigger, brighter lenses. Higher resolution. But most important, the 3 has pancake lenses.

The Quest 2 had Fresnel lenses. Yes, like lighthouse reflectors. I guess it’s a way to cram a lot of glass into a thin package, but the visual result is sometimes called the screen door effect. You can imagine.

It’s not awful. If you wanted to try VR for not a whole lot of money (in VR terms), I understand they’re kicking out supplies of the Quest 2 for cheap(er) and I really would recommend it. But, you know, when you spend hours mining tritium in a teeny cockpit, those visual quirks can wear you down.

But it will have to wait. I put aside money every month into a technology account. I’ve got it. I just can’t quite talk myself into handing £479 to Mark Zuckerberg.

October 17, 2023 — 7:29 pm
Comments: 3

Now you’re just screwin’ with me

Six more community awards on Steam. This is hilarious.

Made me scrutinize my 26 friends. I see Skandia Recluse hasn’t logged onto Steam in 11 years. Gosh.

Worryingly, Ermine hasn’t logged on in 50 days. That’s not like him at all. Dude played enough Skyrim to apply for citizenship. Surly, you okay buddy?

I haven’t played any games in ages, myself. It’s summer. I’ve spent every minute I could sitting in the garden.

But now that cold weather is coming, I have been checking out digital amusements again. This VR experience is mildly hilarious: “A virtual reality project in Spain allows visitors to experience the episodes of daily discrimination suffered by lesbians, gays and transgender people.”

Headline: “12 minutes in the skin of a victim of LGBTphobia.” The illustration shows a woman sitting passively in a chair, so it’s – what? Twelve minutes of people walking past giving you the stink-eye?

Okay, the T I’ll give you – they probably get treated to lots of hairy eyeball in a typical day.

But how does anybody know you’re LGB unless you’re doing the naughty right there in front of everyone? Eh. Maybe it’s applying for home mortgages from bigots or something. Sounds riveting.

September 27, 2023 — 6:40 pm
Comments: 6