February 06, 2016
The convention was all right, though if I'd gone solo I probably wouldn't have been particularly impressed - the game rooms were predictably packed, the panels were not things I'm usually interested in, and a good chunk of the indy games in the exhibit hall were... way too indy (in the bad way). I did see a Marble Madness-inspired game I'm looking forward to, though.
Fortunately, friends made it a good time, especially as I hadn't seen several of them in many years. StarCreator put on a heck of a show at the Tetris Attack tournament, and I managed to boggle Konoha and Cthulhu by drinking a margarita the size of my head (and that is not a small size; I don't call this place the Ego's Nest because of my modest nature!) Didn't end up grabbing much swag, but I did find one thing that had been on my "hey, get this sometime" list - a copy of IA/VT Colorful for the Vita.
I don't normally buy games in languages I'm illiterate in, for the obvious reasons, but since this is a rhythm game, it's not really an issue. I'm having a good bit of fun with it, but from a technical perspective, it's just not as good as the Project Diva games. Every song in those games features a full CG background with at least one character model you can set as various costumes, and "keep playing to earn points to unlock the costumes" is the hook in that series. IA/VT has some costumes, but they're only visible in about a quarter of the songs - the rest have static videos, some of which ain't particularly impressive.
The scoring system is interesting. The Project Diva games say "you got X score, you get Y points, have fun spending them". IA/VT uses the points only to level up the player, and then songs and costumes unlock based on that level. Play the song again, and get a better score? You get the delta between "points you'd already banked" and "points you've now earned" - and if you don't get a better score, you get no benefit at all. A serious "git gud" scoring paradigm, with the only other source of points being a daily challenge (that you get a -single- attempt at).
This could get frustrating really fast if you were new to rhythm games and got fairly terrible scores. If you're an experienced player of rhythm games, you'll be scoring A, S, double S, and even triple S and have nothin' to worry about - I'm about 2/3 of the way through the unlocks and have not even played all the songs yet. (And there are 60, plus some DLC which you need a Japanese PSN account to get, so I'll live with 60.) This is mostly because of the strike zone for the notes, which is -huge- (with "cool", "fine", and "safe" results all preserving your combo). On easy difficulty you can miss a note, realize you've missed it, go back and hit the correct button and still get credit.
The song selection is all right, given that it's all IA songs; there's some in there I've listened to and enjoyed, but there's less variety than in the Miku games. Good enough to make the game worth it but not so good that I'd shout it from the rooftops or anything. Still, if you already worked your way through Project Diva F and F2, and you're waiting for X in a few months, this will fill up that time nicely.
October 30, 2015
Anime lately? One Punch Man (more subtle than it lets on, heh), more Ushio and Tora, more Is the Order a Rabbit, the new Utawarerumono, and Sakurako. Komori-san Can't Decline isn't all that great but eh, two minutes is not a huge time investment. Lovely Muco is terrible but charming for some reason. Ditto Hakone-chan. Shomin Sample is pretty dumb but is enough fan-service to get by. SD Attack on Titan is not doin' it for me. Watching some One Piece - I suppose there's an inexhaustible supply of it out there, not too bad if I've had a little rum to drink. (Incidentally, DarkSong turned me on to Capt. Morgan Cannon Blast, which is goddamned delicious rum; it tastes too good to mix it! Pricey though.)
Reading, I've dug out copies of Churchill's memoirs. Six volumes, this'll take a while...
Kind of a good time to be a 40K fan - GW's releasing a board game with a ton of Mk4 marines in it, and next year they're releasing a 12-book series of Ork-centric novels. Heh, that'll be something to look forward to! (of course, so is the eventual delivery of that Ork kickstarter...)
September 08, 2015
I have a couple of friends who are also greatly enjoying the game. However, they're a bit less into the military history than I am, and were asking me for a book recommendation regarding the Afghanistan conflict in the 80s. And I don't have one; I've never read one even. It's been long enough that there should be some good ones available. Anyone got any recommendations on where to start?
September 03, 2015
August 14, 2015
The anime this season isn't doing half bad, better than I honestly expected. Not everything is great - when is it ever - but there's plenty of stuff that's worth watching for me. So far, keeping up with:
Jitsu wa - thoroughly stupid concept, but funny enough for good background noise.
Non Non Biyori Repeat - slice of life by way of rural Japan, it's amazing they can fill up a show with so little actually happening and still keep it pretty good. Definitely carried by the characters, who don't quite rise to the level of "zany cast" but are done quite well. Ren-chon's cuteness is not to be underestimated.
Overlord - interesting take on the "trapped in an RPG"... I guess we can call it a genre now, huh? Serious power fantasy tripping here, like "Arthas raiding Westfall" level of mismatch. But the main tension of the show isn't so much "is Momonga stronger than the ogres?" (hint: very yes) but more "how can he keep his minions happy as their evil overlord when his actual nature is actually kind of a nice guy?" Weakest point is the pacing - it's a bit slow, this had damned well better be 20 plus episodes or it's not going to get anywhere. But it's fun, it plays well with the RPG tropes while subverting a bunch of them, and I would very much like one Albedo delivered here; she's got 99 problems but a lich ain't one. (Forced that one a bit, but I couldn't resist.)
Monster Musume - this is... actually quite a bit harder to enjoy than the manga, I think. The popularity of the originals wasn't so much "lol it is porn with monster girls" as it was "this is actually some funny comedy with a sweet flavor and oh, it has porn in it". It's not that the anime is significantly different than the manga in content, but in the latter you can pick the parts you want to pay attention to. In the anime, you're going through at the pace the director had in mind, and a lot more of the time is being spent on "lol, we want to satisfy people who want to boink a harpy". Sigh. Still, I can get through shows that have some "dammit Japan, quit that" content (Nanoha S1's inordinate panty shots of grade schoolers, for example), so maybe I just have a callus built up. If I had to cut something for lack of time, this one would be it, methinks.
Himoto Umaru-chan - Huh. Watched ep 1 on a day I was really bored and wasn't too wild about it - Umaru's not that endearing on her own. Watched a bit more and now I really enjoy it, not because of Spoiled Brat In the Middle, but because the other characters are quite good too. (Helps that the show is not merely willing to take Umaru down a peg, but to dump her right off the board from time to time.) That said, this could run out of material REALLY fast, so no telling if it'll keep up.
Ore no Monogatari - it's a romantic show, but it's so completely against the shoujo type that it's scary. Miscommunication comedy? Hell no, it's a couple who talks to each other despite being awkward. Angst? We don't need any of that! At the end of the day it's a show about a boy and a girl who are really into each other, if rather innocently, even though the guy isn't handsome... well. That doesn't really do it justice. Takeo is a man-mountain caricature drawing in a show where everyone (but his parents) got a normal character design. Early on I saw his buddy, the handsome and somewhat withdrawn bishounen type, and thought "oh, here comes the love triangle..." But no! Nothing of the sort. I don't think the show's really good, objectively speaking, but it's so against type that it feels liberating just to watch.
Ushio and Tora - because come on, man, I had this on VHS back in the day. Hell, I screamed and died in the dub, even. Massive nostalgia. I'd watch this even if it sucked, but it's still as good as it was back in the day. Only downside is that it's following the manga just like the original OAVs did, so there won't be anything really new for the first ten eps; however, it's been so long since I've seen it that I'm totally okay with the refresher.
Wakaba * Girl - Not precisely sure why I tried this, and the concept isn't that deep (it's lighthearted rich-girl fish-out-of-water comedy). But eh, at eight minutes a week it's fine.
GATE - if you're reading this you already know why this show is the best thing this season.
I will probably end up watching School Live sometime as well, the recommendations are pretty good. For catch-up from last season, I want to sink my teeth into Euphonium; in my "I really ought to have watched this but I didn't and now I probably won't get to it for a while" pile is Shirobako.
Good times, good times.
July 05, 2015
This year, two years later, I went back there and enjoyed the show from the patio. Same in a lot of ways, different in quite a few. For one thing, there's a lot less of me to enjoy it - I've just nudged under 50 pounds from my heaviest weight, down to 244.
Feeling pretty good, though. Had fun playing games today, had good wings, had some nice vodka when I got home, watched some good anime, overall not a bad way to spend the holiday. Not terribly productive, to be sure (I -really- need to get cracking on that desk so that I can set up my office already), but eh, it's a holiday.
June 15, 2015
Figures are unpacked, and the damage isn't too bad. Only real breakage occurred with that huge Hayate figure, who had a broken ankle (superglue ho) and one of the little wings snapped at the tab (this will be rather difficult to glue, since it's a hanging part, but it'll look fine when it's done). She's also got some smudges from the newspaper, as do a couple of the other figures, but I'm told that some Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will fix that, so I'll give it a shot. Everything else came through okay. Still need to build out four Nendos - Amatsukaze, Rin, Rico from DD, and Yukiko from P4.
The wrath of the moving gods seems to have concentrated itself on the Warmachine model I had in the same box, which was practically dismantled; it will need massive reconstruction.
The desk for my office will be a big project - going to refinish the bastard, since it's about twenty years old at this point and showing the wear. Gonna take a lot of sanding...
May 07, 2015
April 28, 2015
Road trip should be pretty fun - only main concern is that we want to try something aside from the two usual routes. Dad and I took I-40 on our road trip to the Grand Canyon and Vegas, and so heading back that way doesn't do much for us - and we took I-10 out when I moved out here, so we've done that one too. I'm thinking about heading into Utah and going by Bryce Canyon, which is a pretty good spot without requiring us to do a lot of hiking.
Work is basically "get here when ya get here" and it's not like I have rent to pay until I arrive, so we can afford to stop and smell the roses along the way.
I won't be completely out of contact or anything (internet is on until the moment I unplug the router on the day I leave, and I've got a tablet and, I suppose, a laptop as well), but it'll sure FEEL different. At least this way the computer will be waiting when I get a place to put it.
April 06, 2015
Imagine my surprise when they informed me that my company had thoughtfully filled out the W2 with information for Kansas instead of Hawaii. Not only does this mean they under-withheld pretty grossly (not something that particularly bothers me - doesn't change the amounts), but... they paid the money to Kansas too! H&R's reaction is basically "derp?". Gonna see if work can get it fixed so I don't have to file an extension.
March 30, 2015
Had some real potential for awkwardness, since the ex and I were Richard's only help for his booth for two years running. As it happens it wasn't a problem, though... the ex has some health trouble that kept her home and Richard brought out a few other friends: his partner Kaz and old friends Lucan and Tim. The former was one of the ADV translation gang, and the latter is another vet from the #animedvd channel who's mad for concerts. I hadn't had the opportunity to hang with either in a long time and a great time was had by all. We did gangbusters business too - who would have thought that Richard's strategy of putting the lucky bag stuff in Gurren Lagann backpacks and branding them "manly bags" would move so many?
(sorry for lousy photo, busy day)
First time I've ever left a con with more money in my pocket than I arrived with! Major purchases were two nendos - Amatsukaze to keep Shimakaze company, and Rin because RIN. I've wanted one for quite some time. Got lucky on the prize figures too - two GuP ones netted me a Yukari on the first open, and Kotori from a LL one is never a bad thing (no "loser" draws there except Nico, heh). I took the Madoka one as part of my pay and what do you know, the special figure came out...
The little guys off to the side are some Kancolle keychains we were selling, though we forgot about them until Sunday. Miku coasters for fun, and the two little art pieces are from the Nemu Nemu booth. I also picked up a few buttons from artist's alley, which I'll snap a pic of later once I sort them all out. Also not pictured is the entire run of Aria on DVD, plus Blu-rays of Railgun S1.
Had fun, ate fantastic Japanese from the best-kept secret restaurant in Kaka'ako, walked through darkened downtown streets with far too much money in my pocket, ran into a mother/daughter pair of Lucky Star fans... good weekend all around. Hopefully my back will forgive me in a couple days! Getting old for this stuff...
February 20, 2015
Most games of 40K are played on a 4'x6' board. Usually it's... a flat board with some pieces of terrain put down on it, hills or forests or ruined buildings (and, more recently, fortifications bristling with guns.) The game shop I went to and, presumably, will go back to in Dallas had one with a kind of volcano paint job in black and red, one that was just flat green, and one that was just sand texture the whole way. Gets the job done, but lacks a certain visual interest.
The shop here has one of these that they just acquired. Interestin' in its own way, but like most Games Workshop terrain, both overpriced and Imperial-centric. Good enough for what it is, don't get me wrong.
Instead, I picked this one.
I've got the dirt more or less complete for all 24 tiles, so I picked one with a lot of scrap on it to start messing around with various techniques. Unfortunately the flash on the photo tends to wash out some of the detail, so the wash work doesn't all come in, but a few things look okay...
The rusty crates in the lower left came out really well. That's nothing but silver paint, then rust powder and water. I'm pretty pleased with the brown rust and red rust (both colors from the same place as the board - I've owned 'em for a year but haven't rusted anything in all that time!) The orange powder is, well, quite orange. I used it over the red in a couple of places and the result is quite bright. I think in the future it'll get mixed with some red powder before use and even then maybe only as a highlight on something super-rusty. I also have a "sandy" powder that I haven't tried out yet.
I also have some corrosion paint, which I tried out here and there for rain runoff areas. It's all right - it's another paint with some texture in it so it does "dirty" quite well, but it's also pretty opaque, so it's really only good for really dark-dirty areas. Might work nicely for my ork boots, though, which I've been double-washing with mud and black.
I tried a bit in a couple of the rivulets running off of the scrap pile, but I think it's a bit too much of an effect. Did the same thing with a touch of black wash and that seems to be better at doing "subtle". Might be even better if I try it with a mud wash...
This tile still isn't "done" - I need to go back and put a bit of metal highlighting on the edges and then drybrush the whole scrap pile with that sandy color to help tie it in to the rest. But it's a good start! ...and I have 23 to go, though most aren't quite as scrappy as this one (one is, however, just about nothing BUT scrap.)
February 16, 2015
And I got the kid.
Okay, that takes some explanation... when we were playing Mabinogi, that game had a family system where a couple of characters could get married and then adopt other characters as children. Naturally our characters were married (seemed a pretty natural step given that we were planning a real wedding) and she enthusiastically adopted a bunch of kids. Most of them were fun friends... but one of them she took a very quick disliking to.
Ana-chan is a kid, just past 10 now. She was impatient a lot and needed a lot of hand-holding, shortish attention span, "I'm bored!" and expected people to drop what they were doing to come entertain her. It's little wonder that rubbed Jessica the wrong way, as she's a schoolteacher and has to deal with plenty kids around that age at work. I ended up spending a good deal of time with her.
I quit Mabinogi, relationship broke up, I moved out, but I still heard from Ana-chan from time to time. She's... improbable in a lot of ways. I won't list all of them, but the end result is a little like the Perfect Moe Girl from that one Welcome to the NHK episode, but in slightly better health (and not a space alien with cat ears, presumably). Taken as a single lump it's not something I'd believe, frankly.
That said, it's not like I'm being cat-fished (she doesn't want money, she doesn't want stuff; I have to convince her that as an adult with a pretty nice source of income I don't need her to give -me- things.) I mean, theoretically it could all be an elaborate setup, though the idea that anyone would take the time is kind of bizarre. And it's unlikely but my life has been chock full of weirdness from time to time.
At the same time, I don't actually want to check, right? For one, I don't want personal information from a little girl - that heads right smack into the creep zone and I'd just as soon not go there. I don't want photos, I don't want addresses, I even made a point of not remembering her last name (only came up when she was practicing katakana).
The other reason, though... is that I'm not really too worried if it's all true or not. Say it wasn't, and I turn my keen analysis and investigation skills towards proving it wrong. What, am I gonna get a gold star? If it turns out she's just a lonely kid with a rich fantasy life, is there really any point into poking holes in the story? And if it all checks out, it doesn't really change anything either.
So why do I keep talking to her then? Well, why not? She's interesting, most of the time, certainly bright enough, and it's entertaining even if it's embellished a little. She's not asking anything from me but some attention and the occasional online game, and frankly I've got both to spare. She sends me interesting stuff, I send her links to Vocaloid stuff that she likes, life's a little more fun for me. If I can't have a rich fantasy life I might as well have a proxy daughter with one, no?
January 27, 2015
So I'm probably headed back home to Texas at the end of my lease. It's not terrible out here by any means, but at the end of the day, I'm nerdy enough that the benefits of Hawaiian living aren't a major point in its favor... and the potential savings are pretty enormous. Hawaii, not to put too fine a point on it, is a pretty lousy place to live if you're keeping your carb intake low. The cheap stuff is all off the menu, and the things you want to replace it with are stupid expensive (to say nothing of the rent, the electric bill, etc etc.) I'll probably save about a thousand bucks a month by being back in Texas, in a much larger place.
Working from home has been all right but it does turn you into a bit of a hermit. Wasn't so much of an issue when I was living with other people, of course, but on my own there are seriously several days a week that I just don't get out of the house. And when I do, it's mostly to go to the grocery store or to sit down and have dinner; it's a bad sign when the people at Chili's start recalling your name... (I have only big tips to blame for that, heh.) It's quiet enough around here that I'm glad for Ana-chan's occasional company. Ana-chan... will eventually get her own post once I decide what to say about her; suffice it to say that in a life full of weirdness she fits right in.
Biggest point in favor of returning is the boss offering to pay for it. That's pretty huge, honestly. I have the dosh to get back on my own power - frankly if I hadn't, I would not have come in the first place - but it's the difference between "I can get my stuff into a new place and that's it" and "while replacing furniture I got rid of and generally living comfortably." Also a pretty good professional compliment from the company, though a good sign of exactly how busy work is as well...
Been playing a ton of War Thunder (above is Big Tex, my Tiger; I've figured out that I can sort of do an ersatz Texas flag by sticking a Polish flag right next to, of all things, a Somalian flag. They're not quite the same dimensions though, so even if I monkey with the zoom, one is always slightly bigger than another... ah well, when I'm actually driving it I have other things to worry about.)
Also a lot of Harvest Moon, go figure.
I'll talk anime later on. New season isn't bad but not a lot of things jumping out at me really...
December 29, 2014
I generally take that sort of thing with a grain of salt. Steven hates recommendations and thus I don't expect him to give many either; he's perfectly capable of watching a show and enjoying it but not to the point where he'd point it out to anyone else either.
At the same time, was the year really that bad? There are plenty of shows I'd recommend with certain provisos...
- World Conquest Zvezda Plot was great, hilarious fun, far better than I expected going in. Proviso - underdressed loli.
- No Game No Life has that same proviso squared - more than one loli, underdressed much more often, and with sexual humor involving same (not quite creepy but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who didn't already have a callus built up for that). On the other hand, it had some genuinely clever writing - the shiritori episode was fantastic. Also quite nicely animated too.
- Encouragement of Climb. Mediocre first season of very short episodes. Follow-up two cours with half-length episodes, much stronger. Cute as a button without getting as saccharine as, say, Is the Order a Rabbit could get. Plus I like mountains to begin with... Only real negative is that it's not really a deep show; girls go climb mountains and, well, that's what happens.
- Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun - shoujo trope comedy. If you're interested in that sort of thing, it's just great.
- I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Thinking - best 3-minute show out there. "Got more character development than most shows do in an entire season," someone mentioned on reddit, and that comment hit dead-on. This could have really easily turned into the same ol' same ol' of otaku jokes every week, but they did a great job of leavening it with interesting characters.
There were other things which I personally enjoyed but which I don't know that I'd recommend to anyone. Nanatsu no Taizai is/was plenty of fun. Inou Battle started off as a basic trope subversion, subverted the subversion, then subverted the subverting, though all within the context of a harem comedy, so that kind of limits the praise you can give it, y'know? Fate is Fate, absolutely quality, but it doesn't "feel" new given that it's not exactly the first bite at that apple. I liked Invaders, Locodol, Hozuki no Reitetsu, and of course there's stuff like Kill la Kill and Log Horizon that you don't need me to recommend or not recommend at this point... Silver Spoon and Strike the Blood were pretty good too for completely different reasons.
I don't know that any of these shows would make my "very favorite of all time" list, to be sure. But a few are close enough for an honorable mention. Don't think it was a particularly bad year for anime, honestly - few outstanding shows but enough moderately entertaining ones.
December 28, 2014
That anglerfish is as good as an extra 50mm of armor plate, evidently. Immediately took it out for a spin and had an absolutely monstrous round, 8 kills, 2 assists, no losses. Took a bit of damage but nothing that kept me from scooting back and fixing it up. At least one T-34 and two SU-122s in that score total! (Pretty sure the SU-122s took some pretty severe damage from my initial shot, a shell from one of those would open up a Panzer IVF like a ration tin.)
Unfortunately other people can't see your custom skin. Fortunately you can't see theirs, though...
The game's been doing a Christmas/New Year's bonus. Normally every day the first win you get from each nation gives you a double bonus... but during the event, it's a 5x bonus. ("Win" so you probably have a good score instead of a multiplier on a crappy score...) At any rate, I've been unlocking stuff like mad.
-US tanks: M2, M3 Stuart, M3A1 Stuart, M3 Lee, M4A1 Sherman, M5A1 Stuart
-US planes: P36, P38G, P400, P40E-1, F4F, F6F-3, F4U-1a, SBD Dauntless, A-20
-German tanks: Whoa nelly. Pz 38(t) A and F. Pz III E, F, J, J1, L, M. Pz IV C, E, F1, F2. StuG III A, F. Marder III. Couple of AA guns.
-Russkie tanks: BT-7. T-28, T-50, T-34 ('40, '41, and '42). KV1-L11. SU-76M and SU-122.
-British planes: Hurricane Mk I, IIB. Spitfire Mk1a. Blenheim.
-Japanese planes: A6M2-N, A6M2. Ki-43-I. Ki-61 (both).
Been playing tanks on the teams with tanks, but I've unlocked everything I can on the US tanks so far (more advanced tanks are locked unless you are in the "beta test", on the live server, which they're charging for. No thanks, I don't want to pay to beta test...) Had some serious luck with the US planes lately, either the .50s are doing better or I'm better with them...
December 09, 2014
Duck, you got me hooked...
War Thunder uses a "battle rank" system to try to make a game that can include late-30s biplanes and the F-86 without putting the one up against the other. Your vehicles get weighted so that you're only up against stuff from within a certain range away from your best vehicle.
Unfortunately, this means that several vehicles are... disadvantaged by the game system. Not because they're BAD exactly, but because their score is sufficiently high that you are suddenly eligible to fight something from another country which is more than a match for you. (This combines with the normal balance problems you get in an online game, plus the Russian developer's tendency to make the Russian stuff quite good.) So while I've unlocked the StuG IIIA, which is a nice piece of kit if you aren't married to the idea of a turret on your tank, it's... a big jump over the rest of your tier I stuff in battle rank, meaning suddenly you're seeing T34s on the other side of the line.
So basically you take out your shiny new tank and it gets perforated in short order, and your reinforcements are armed with popguns and armored with paper... not exactly an ideal circumstance.
Setting up a good team isn't a matter of taking the best things in your available arsenal, but instead getting enough in the same kind of range that you can play an enjoyable round even after losing one, without having any of them so high that you're suddenly trying to punch over your weight class.
(It can be done. When flying my US planes tonight, I got an award for taking out a plane two ranks higher than mine - sometimes you just need some 50 cals in the right place and time. But usually it's the other way around, right?)
The tier 1 German tanks are actually pretty fun to play, ignoring the StuG (which ranks you up into the hurt-me zone) and the basic Panzer II C (20mm main armament... what are you, British?) The Flakpanzer is especially fun, since you get decent penetration against other tier 1 vehicles, you've got good range, and you're using an automatic weapon versus their single-shots. Of course your gunner isn't armored (at all) and if the game were modeling machineguns as well, taking that thing to the front line would be crazy... but it doesn't (yet) and so it's basically a slow-ish glass autocannon. Always fun to see someone shoot you in the gun shield, their armor-piercing shell going completely through it and finding nothing on the other side but air, while you pekka-pekka-pekka away until a shot goes in his vision slit or turret ring and he brews up.
I figure I'll make the jump to the tier II stuff when I can field a decent setup...
November 27, 2014
My folks came over for a week and a bit, and I burned the vacation time that had been building up all year. Always good to see them (neither of them are getting any younger, nor me for that matter) and we got out and did some good stuff. Dad hauled in a nice-sized mahi mahi and I discovered that I'm susceptible to sea sickness in moderate chop. We didn't hit the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center (my folks aren't really into luau since we did one in Maui years ago), but other than that, we made it all the way down the list of "stuff they wanted to do". Aunt Susan also came and had a good time as well.
That said, I'm kind of glad to have the place back to myself (especially the bed... been camping out in my office for a few days and my back has been lodging protests the whole time.)
Dad and I visited the Pacific Air Museum (and the Missouri) and I managed to find a copy of Shattered Sword at the gift shop. After years of Wonderduck's effusive gushing about the book, I couldn't pass that up, could I? And indeed, opening it up and reading it is a joy. It's kind of the literary equivalent of the taste of umami, like a really good steak or a Neal Stephenson novel, where you want to tuck in your napkin and just gorge. As indeed I shall!
Anime watching was more or less on hold for the week, so I've got a backlog to work through and a weekend to work with. Did manage to get some gaming in. Enjoyed the first few songs of Project Diva F2, until Mom reminded me that resistance to the more armor-piercing aspects of Japanese idol singing is an acquired trait which my visitors lacked; I'll get some more of that done tonight. Also played a good bit of Far Cry 4, which is a little better than 3 (fewer annoyances, some extra clever bits, mortars to play with, and didn't screw up any of the basic systems) but not precisely deep; beer and pretzels shooter. I do prefer the Himalayas as a backdrop, I think, though partly because if I want tropical island, I'll -go outside-.
November 16, 2014
Looks like it's effective. My blood sugar dropped, within a couple of days, right into the "ideal" zone and stayed there (though of course it's likely that part of that is because I'm not giving it a whole lot of carbs to work with, heh.) In fact, sticking to the "recommended" amount of carbs per meal leaves me with post-meal numbers which are in the ideal range for fasting, so I'm probably overdoing it a little... Feeling pretty good, though. And in the intervening two weeks, I've also dropped 15 pounds.
Downside is, this isn't one of those things where you deal with it for a few weeks and then it goes away. I'll pretty much need to stay off the grain train for a while, at least assuming I don't continue to lose a pound a day for a while. Tricky that, in the land of "every meal comes with two scoops rice and one scoop mac"...
October 24, 2014
In a lot of ways it's Civ 5 with a new skin on it. Cities make food/money/science and grow semiorganically in an interesting manner (though you tend to get these weird shapes as the city AI prioritizes resources over everything else... which is exactly what it should be doing from a gameplay perspective, to be sure, but your cities end up looking like Congressional districts after a particularly bad gerrymander). The trade system is straight out of Civ 5. There's even minor powers, in a game where that doesn't particularly make a whole lot of sense thematically, though they've been toned down from "one city civilizations" to "send your trade guys here for teh bonus!"
The biggest difference is in the technology and development of your civilization. In all the previous Civ games, everyone was on the same development arc, and you basically had to pick up all but a handful of the technologies somewhere along the line. BE has a "web" with branch-and-leaf techs (basically, you move along the web to "branch" techs, then you can pick up "leaves" that you're interested in from that branch). You are NOT going to get all the techs, not even remotely; even all of the branches is unlikely. Many of the techs are... unimpressive in their effect, giving you a building or two, possibly not all of which you can use, because of...
...the affinity system. Hoh, now we're getting somewhere. Basically this forms the "theme" of your civ's development. Are you concentrating on Harmony with the weirdness of the new planet? Or Purity of the original human form and terraforming? Or Supremacy by saying "screw you biologicals, uploading your brain is where it's at?" Or just a big pick and mix? This ends up having a few different effects on your game. Picking anything and working on it gives you a few direct bonuses, so it can be worth going a bit into all three of the trees. But the game also upgrades your military units, and the further into a tree you go, the bigger the bonuses available, so specializing REALLY helps. (This also prevents the game having to have fifty basic military units - you've got one basic soldier which can be at a dozen or so different upgrade stages, and the game upgrades your whole army automatically.) There are also certain buildings and units which are only available to civs that have reached a certain level of affinity, even if you have the prerequisite tech, culminating in a unique victory condition for each.
These two systems feed into each other big-time. While there are the occasional boosts to your affinities via "virtues" (social policies from old Civs) and quests, the biggest way you can directly manipulate your affinities is by researching the appropriate technologies. So sometimes you'll research a tech that you're not particularly interested in, just for the affinity bonus learning it will give you, because THAT will push you over the upgrade level for one of your units and suddenly your Marines are running around with more combat power than the enemy's armor.
The last big difference is that you generally get a "choice" quest when you do things like build a new building for the first time, and you get to pick an upgrade to it ("do you want this building to produce an extra culture, or an extra food?") Sometimes these choices are pretty trivial, sometimes they're hugely important ("why yes, I would like an extra spy for every one of these things that I build!")
All of these things come together for replayability. Different choices mean you've got a different game, much more so than the usual "rush to certain useful techs before everyone else" of older Civ games. We'll have to see how that works in practice, but it sure feels fresh at first blush.
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