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People from all around the archipelago ask me what my favorite brand of canned spaghetti is and I have to say there’s no contest. It is TOPMOST brand.

2024feb21.

[cardhouse] It is time to talk about these two posters.

2024feb13.

Cinemadelicatessen: Alreadymade [NL Trailer]. See also A Dutch Artist Is Delving Into the Murky Attribution of Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ per Greg.org.

2024feb12.

CAN’T GET AWAY FROM IT ‒ EVERYBODY WANTS A PHONOGRAPH / Advertisement for highly-desired phonographs, Standard Talking Machine Co. Chicago (1906) Trade Magazine

is he suckin’ her hair
what is going on
Shreds HARD

RE: The free phonographs for your entire fuggin’ city. People could get “free” phonographs if they bought enough “not free” records, see explanation here. They also made the spindle larger to “lock in” sales. Whatever, capitalism [SFX: drill noise].

2024feb09.

Far Cry 5 is a problem (I’ve lengthened/updated this ridiculous review; some of this is repetitive just like the game because I’m too lazy to edit it down (as opposed to being intentionally annoying), got a lot on my plate after bugout #4 bone appetite). It’s another Ubisoft open world game with some sort of malevolent society/organization mucking about and you alone must stop thems. This time, a family cult of four members: father, two sons, one fake daughter who is running her own sub-fiefdom/killing people just like the boys, apparently against her will. Their old-timey religious core is “scary thing coming, get in our tiny sadistic killing machine club/bunker or die.” I have no interest in religous nutcase ramblings, so much so that I ended up just skipping all the cut scenes after it was clear that it was just the family pushing the same “join our ‘faith’ or die” button over and over and over. Additionally they’ll just contact you on your walkie-talkie and spout that olde-time family religious nonsense so the only way to kill that is to mute the damn game. Don’t care. Take back land, remove culty nut bags. Check. I don’t believe “actual” dieties are mentioned at all, but again, skipped the cut scenes.

The family has taken over the whole place, using farms etc to manufacture their potent mind-altering/controlling drug, “bliss,” that they are generously distributing everywhere w/o consent like the U2/Apple thing, including the water supply. They have songs. “Religious” songs. That they blast from speaker trucks, buildings, radios, etc.

I started an annoyance list for Far Cry 4 and it’s mostly the same thing for Far Cry 5.

[x] you are strong as an ox; non-combat npcs get tapped by a car/attacked by a bird/etc and die
[x] follow mission
[x] follow mission: “you’re too close” (two seconds later) “you’re too far, you’re losing them here comes mission fail you shit”
[x] EXTREMELY tiny/fiddly activate-switch area [DEFUSE BOMB (click/hold one button) “you’re too close” “you’re too far” oh no the bomb exploded]
[ ] enemy shoots you in full cover (hey they fixed a thing)
[x] can accidentally injure friendlies when attempting other operation
[x] no devoted map icon for personal vehicle (bonus: icons for random vehicles)
[x] bizarrely easy to trade your kitted-out weapon for random dead npc floor garbage
[x] no place to sit other than vehicles
[x] saving npcs next to impossible
[ ] npcs panhandle ‒ no facility to give money/food/etc
[x] random attacks w/no agency (instant animated cut scene + health reduction/death)
[x] blinking item to attend to, but functionality for action is off (loot blinks, your inventory is full)

Trading floor weapons drove me nuts. Happened all the time. [FX: goes into intense firefight] I have a pistol? YES OF COURSE I WANTED TO TRADE MY UPGRADED M60 FOR A PISTOL OR MAYBE YOU MADE THE “TRADE WEAPONS WITH DEAD GUY” KEY THE SAME AS THE “LOOT DEAD GUY” KEY yes I could re-map the key thank you (UPDATE: You cannot re-map the key; the “pick up loot” key will always be the “trade good gun for shit-gun-that-is-right-next-to-the-loot key”). I can do a thousand things but they apparently can’t get people to play-test because it was the same damn thing for Far Cry 4.

The busyness of the game was another strange decision. There are main missions, side missions, collectibles, and random missions that occur in specific spots. Many, many spots, all over the map. So many random missions they sort of bleed over each other. You can be saving a kidnapee in one random mission and then npcs from another nearby random mission go “hey, we’re joining your fun.” Which was actually sort of enjoyable. The odd decision is that these “spots” are never “cleared,” just like Control. You can save someone, turn around 180, then again, and there will be another kidnapee there with some baddies or whatever random scenario barfs up. Infinitely. Until you kill the major baddie controlling the area, it’s just endless random missions like this.

Additionally, when one of these “good” npcs get knocked and you’re not right next to them, forget it, they will die just before you’re able to save them. Over and over. So the missions keep respawning, and you can’t save knocked people ... it sours you on dealing with these missions at all. I happily drove by tons of these events, honking my horn. “Good luck being a hostage!” Some good npcs will barf out locations of loot stashes which are nice mini-missions, so I started half-ass saving a few of them.

Another odd decision: you pay for everything. The people that you’re constantly saving, they make you pay for the bullets. “Aren’t we under siege here? Can we just not do a capitalism right now?” And you level up your firepower pretty quickly, the endless garbage guns scattered around don’t make any sense. Game is sort of imbalanced in this manner with all consumables etc. The UI for weapon loadout etc is atrocious, I don’t understand this industry-wide obsession with burying everything under sub-sub-menus.

To make the game 7.2% more palatable, I tasked myself with taking photos of tranquil scenes between firefights.

(love that little eagle tchotchke)

I like the open world part of it. Everything else, the plot, the “ideas,” it can all go pack sand. There has been plenty written about the “politics” and how they neatly avoided taking a stand on anything. But what made me quit the game was the loss of agency, and the endings (I read ahead). You can be in any setting, doing anything, and you will randomly be kidnapped/drugged/transported. You can be hiding in a small room behind a filing cabinet in a building (I literally did this) and somehow they’ll get a shot of “bliss” on you, you pass out, and now you’re a prisoner. It’s ... kind of sad, that this was sort of rammed through. “Well they -have- to do this.” The game will literally force you to participate in one of three different types of ridiculous scenarios that you cannot skip/avoid. One of them is timed, my favorite. As far as I can tell, if you can’t finish in time, you never get out of the loop. Each of the three children of the main baddie “captures” you three, four times. So that’s ... nine-twelve times during the game you have to deal with this shit. “You know, I was running around in a field with my companion bear and dog a minute ago. Now I’m failing a speedrun and being chewed out by a religious psychopath.” The third time I did the timed speedrun, I had to run it over twenty times before I finished it. Have I mentioned how much I hate timed garbage. The fourth time the initial speedrun room fucking came up, I quit the game and uninstalled it.

Not bothering talking about all the twisted-ass shit in it ... we get it, you’re edgy because edgy gets the column inches or whatever platitudes your beancounters barfed out between coke sessions. The endlessly repeating Xtian-like songs that are part of the plot, the endless cut scenes of mass-murdering religious knobs explaining their philosophies ... ugh. Had to turn the sound off so much. Easily the worst gaming experience ever. Apparently one of the endings (spoiler alert here) is also you losing control of your actual game character! What FUN. Your character just goes off and finishes the game for you. Heck, why even allow input at all? Turn the game into a movie.

After I uninstalled it, I started reading around to see what people had thought of it. Three things: one, some people really hated it in the same fashion. I feel validated. Anyway. Second, some people liked it and spouted off about how the main characters were right or had a point. Uh. I stopped counting the number of people strung up on billboards or tortured to death, or slaughtered in their own houses, after about 100. I’d say I probably saw 200+ mangled bodies, tons of cages, implements, troughs of blood, etc. Just wondering what was “right” about that, that’s all. What I’m saying is that I use games as an escape from people exactly like this both in and out of the game. So really what I’m saying is that if you have an open-world game in which you want to use “real life” and really get in there and dig deep, maybe make an option to turn all of that off. I’m full, all full up, mmmm that was yummy! No thank you! Beancounter: “But ... the gritty ... so controversial ...” Me: [FX: asleep because huge meal of real-world horrible] “mimimi ... zzzz ... mimimimi”

The third thing was my realization: “oh right, there are probably mods to help me with my inadequacies as an elite gamer of gaming.” Don’t believe any of the AI websites that all repeatedly crow “you just have to add this parameter to Steam and that enables mods etc,” none of that works. There’s a whole working Far Cry modding system for all the Far Crys. Cries. Anyway. Very convenient, nicely put together, solves a lot of the most annoying problems like the “arcade guy” npc who plays a video game in a lot of the establishments spouting off banal platitudes about the arcade version of the game. “This is the best game ever!” Over and over while you’re on the roof trying to have a nice snipe. You can click a checkbox: “remove annoying arcade guy.” Done. They didn’t have god mode in the mod menu, but there were enough other options like doubling your speed, infinite ammo, etc, that combined was more than enough to get me over the hump of the annoying-can’t-skip/quit repetitive mission which got me into an annoying-can’t-skip/quit constantly-spawning npcs boss fight but mods again saved the day.

PS: The sheer fucking gall of using a commercial song for the bullshit Manchurian Candidate trigger is ... amazing. The religious nutcake opens a simple windup music box and then the song plays. It should have been a novel music box melody you utter drips. Thank you for using one song, over and over, for your fake psyop horseshit? For making me hate an actual extant song? Is that something everyone talked about at the game design meetings? “You know, it would be like the game is infecting their brain in real life ooooh.” I tried muting music specifically during the awful timed mission and the awful endless-spawning npcs mission after that, and wouldn’t you know it, it doesn’t mute the commercial song at all. Huh. Later, after you finally manage to get back to the open world, you will encounter radios “randomly” playing this song. Mod menu to the rescue again. You can kill just the religious songs, or all the songs coming from radios etc. Thank you modders.

PPS: There’s a mission called “Special Delivery” (I think) and you drive a couple to a midwife for an emergency npc baby delivery. Some people are having problems with a bug, but I’ve not seen this particular variant/solution mentioned online. The pre-planned route you need to take w/a truck runs through a second mission’s designated area, pigs juiced on the cult’s drugs or some such. The program errantly flips the current mission to this pig mission. Since you’re driving a truck full speed to get that damn baby babied, you almost immediately drive out of the mission zone and fail, and it sends you right back to the beginning of the emergency childbirth mission. Endless loop. You can’t exit the driver seat, you’re on rails. You can’t quit the mission (not sure why). If you stop and try to clear the pig mission, the childbirth mission is still on a timer and you fail that. Back to start of loop. The way to handle this is (1) do the pig mission first ... or, if you’re locked the Special Delivery mission loop ... (2) stop in the pig mission area when it switches, then (surprisingly) you can open the map and fast travel to the farm with the pig mission (it’s probably the closest fast travel point on the map), thus escaping the pregnants couple and putting that mission on hold w/o failure. Finish the pig mission, then maybe ignore the childbirth mission forever. The child will have a great story about a driver disappearing just before they were born in an idling truck. Since I’m not going to finish the game (awful endings #1 #2 #3 avoided; there are no “good” endings, just endings that make you chuck your pc out a window), I am not bothering to get yelled at by an expectant couple for the nth time. Wait, are there any cliffs near that mission? (Uncharted 4 actually has a “hidden” achievement for something similar ... just saying, Ubisoft, embrace the random stupid) Additionally I suppose you could ignore the wayfinding and veer around the pig mission, but that would entail trial-and-error or looking up locations etc and a lot more of the soon-to-be parents yelling at you to correct course, assuming it doesn’t fail you for creative detours. It’s a very Grant Theft Auto type of mission.

PPPS: There’s a bug with (at least) the bear companion, “Cheeseburger,” when he is knocked. Sometimes, he can’t get back up, you can’t revive him, he’s just sort of stuck in that state. You can pet him, but you end up in an animated sequence petting the air, because he’s sort of knocked/not knocked simultaneously. One time a truck came barreling at him because he was frozen-knocked in the middle of the road. BOOM. Cheeseburger gets up. It’s my favorite bug fix ever. “Hold on Cheese, I gotta find a truck.”

PPPPS: There’s an arcade section in which randos can edit maps and offer them up for inspection. The maps themselves are amazing, the variety and amount of raw material offered up is done quite well ... I saw a satellite dish from the Watchdogs series (maybe they carried that forward and I just didn’t notice until now ... wait no “Alongside the almost 5000 Assets from Far Cry 5, map creators have access to multiple different assets from other Ubisoft Games like previous Far Cry titles, Assassins Creed games, and Watch Dogs”).

There are problems. No milestones ‒ you die, you start over. Some maps are very linear, and 90% of the time I am not up for the re-do. Also the enemy AI is very basic (moreso than the game, it felt like), and there doesn’t seem to be any way to change that. “One of our teammates was one-shotted a half-mile from here! Everyone converge on position immediately!” They have three modes that they all do simultaneously as a group (for the most part). Sitting around, converging, or “spreading out” when they can’t find you. Fucking PAC-MAN had more strategy and personality. Reddy was aggro, Pinky was into tunnels, Bluey was sort of abstract/random and Burnt Siennay (or, if you grew up playing a certain Pac-Man machine in a certain pizzeria literally next to an arcade in Metro Detroit in the mid-80s, HANGLY DON), I don’t know what that cat’s deal was but that’s FOUR DIFFERENT MODES.

There’s a rating system for the maps, and some highly-rated maps compensate for stupid AI in different ways ... there was one map in which you were on a skyscraper, fighting enemies on the skyscraper across the street. Another one peppered the map with enemies that had you pinned down immediately “we’re in a tight spot,” and so on. Doesn’t seem to be any interactions with the maps beyond opening doors/hatches. It doesn’t mark the ones you’ve looked at and the UI is garbage. Map maker names are given one screen that appears once; the only other way you’re going to get that name is if you mark it as a favorite (but you have to bounce back to the pause menu to do so). You can’t search on the Ubisoft-created maps with “Ubisoft.” You can report a map for several reasons including getting stuck, but ... they’re toggles. “I got stuck.” Fookin’ WHERE AND HOW, mate.

It’s just a bunch of weird decisions that are combined into a potent slurry of wrong. Game UI in general is really starting to roil me. “Here’s another premiere AAA game design crewe with their hot-shit UI” [FX: wait staff lifts silver lid to reveal: yet another steaming pile]

Seriously. Here’s your first lesson in UI 101: Screens you use constantly shouldn’t change. Far Cry 5: Naw, when you click on this big box here before you start a map, it will get you to the solo menu, but if you click after backing out of a map, it will immediately start up another random map that you didn’t select at all! Isn’t that fun?

That said, here are some maps I enjoyed. You need to type the name as shown, no period. You can also search for “top rated” etc to weed out the weeds.

• Difficult Choices. A bounty hunt. Unfortunately there’s some sort of bug, either with the map or the game in general, such that second/nth time around you are shown the little red markers for every person you “interacted” with the last time. It’s better without. Additionally, at the end, when you’re supposed to go to the exit ... don’t try to go directly to the yellow dot exit (it’s out-of-bounds), there’s a different route you take. It’s not obvious, but it’s a fun little map hunt. I kept dying in different ways, I kept coming back. I was rewarded with a very weird (but short) endgame.

• Puzzled Escape. Another one that has a “secret” “exit” though this one is marked really well. Once you do that, it’s ... endless enemies, close quarters, and you and your infinite supply of prox mines. There’s one part in which you grapple up a shaft and there are four+ frenz waiting for you that I’m calling dirty pool. Then another giant heaping of enemies.

• MJ4 ‒ Last Day on Earth (Puzzle Pa[???]). Part of the fun UI means you can’t see the entire title with the thumbnail. I think if you type just “last day on earth” you’ll find it. This is a “figure out how to advance” sort of puzzle. Unfortunately I couldn’t get past the bridge with the railroad cars, couldn’t get the next grappling hook.

• The Underground. Another way to beef up the challenge ‒ tank the enemies.

• Escape the Volcano. Nice pathing. One guy got stuck in the crags.

• Skyscraper whatever: most of the ones with “Skyscraper” in their name are ok. One has you pinned down at the start (Skyscraper v9).

2024feb05.

Voice of a Star Wars Fan (with English subtitles) Reduced version (20min).

See this post at Daring Fireball after you watch the film (thanks to jon).

2024jan21.

Horse racing to end in Macau. “Wonder if they shut down the dog racing place I shot in 2004 ...”

South China Morning Post August 14 2022 [CW: animal cruelty]: How one dog helped end greyhound racing in Macau, and how he lived out his life free from the cruel sport

2024jan16.

top ten 2023 has finally finished slotting ... no particular order

- dogs
- coffee
- finding old local italian grocery store
- baguettes
- finishing projects
- “laying down the law” category tie: new keyboard / the tactile feel of using a grease pencil & resultant grease pencil markings
- cleaning electric razor
- sleep
- banana pancakes
- doin’ “art”

2024jan14.

Far Cry 4 is busy. “You know those moments of silence between things going haywire,” the designers apparently thought. “People hate those.” You are fighting in some sort of red team-blue team dethrone-the-fake-king situation in “Kyratt.” It is open-world-with-campaign. There is shooting. There is hunting. There is ... no rest. You may decide to creep up on a base to take it. While you are gathering intel, animals will probably attack you, random events will overtake you, your hired merc keeps shouting while you’re trying to stay in cover, eagles claw at your face, the fearsome honey badger wants your liver on a plate. It’s a bit too much. Not exaggerating here, start event A, it will be interrupted by events B, C, and D. It’s an odd decision. You can’t ratchet the frequency down, setting it to “easy” doesn’t seem to have an effect. You start to learn how to avoid events both “in-game” ‒ standing out in the open for awhile gets you an eagle attack, so you hang out in cars or next to buildings/trees ‒ and “out-of-game.” If you take a base, there are (a) small after-victory attempts by the enemy to re-take the base, and when you leave the base on foot/in a car, there is a major attempt. This is ridiculous because you’re usually leaving to go do some other thing, and you keep getting interrupted, over and over and over so that you’re in three+ deep. I reflexively now fast travel away from the base after grabbing one.

The random events are a mixed bag. There’s always some villagers being gnawed on by a bear or clawed at by an eagle. These aren’t even “random events,” it’s just ... what happens, almost all the time within earshot/just out of eyeshot. Rest assured, you’ll be just far enough away that when you arrive on the scene everyone is dead, or you’ve got a half-second to take a potshot at aggro eagle #827. There’s a bunch of shooting just over there, it sounds like a war, and you arrive it’s two of your comrades against one enemy. You potshot him, and think “ah, peace has restored to the kingdom. Now it will be quiet for at least a minute” and immediately your buddies start madly shooting into the air to celebrate ... your “victory.” “Did someone say ‘fast travel’ again?”

The map marks everything, but finding the main campaign or specific events/etc is sometimes difficult. “Can I not find the main campaign because I haven’t advanced yet in the open world enough to trigger the next waypoint, or can I not find the main campaign because it’s a small icon on a huge map that is sometimes 90% buried beneath other icons.”

Hunting is a total drag and part of the core game, you can’t skip it. It’s all the time. You can turn off all the “collecting” animations which includes skinning. This has the added bonus of reducing your time stuck in animations while a honey badger chews on your leg. Honey badger doesn’t wait for no one.

Weapon loadout is limited and annoying. (A) you are going to do a hunting event to get a bigger bag for your loot. You set up your loadout at base camp: your best weapons. You arrive at the starting point. “Grab this bow, because it only counts if you shoot the animal with a bow, because of course.” But I ... have a bow. You couldn’t tell me when we started? You can grab the bow, but your bow is better. So you start to back out. “Oh, you want to quit the mission entirely?” [FX: eye roll] (B) The UI for the loadout is ... incredibly poor. I don’t know who needs to hear this, but if I am equipping multiple weapons on my person, there should be one page where all of that is selectable/clickable/whateverable. “If you want to modify your large weapon, you can find it in the list of weapons in the “specialized” category, and your regular gun is in the “weapon” sub-page, and your sidearm is somewhere in the “sidearm” page. Then if you want to change any of these, you can click on the “holster” selection on these sub-pages to open up another page specifically for that particular loadout which ... ugh. One page, no scroll bars, no sub-pages.

The collectibles range from a quick roadside pullover to spending 15 minutes of anguish trying to work your way over a mountain face. Roping is a tad more advanced than Uncharted and Tomb Raider: The Tomb Raidering. If you die, you warp back to base (for the most part), so you can do it all again. I passed on these opportunities when offered.

The skirmishes/campaign battles worked for me after I ratcheted down to “easy.” Challenging, not ridiculous. My reflexes are poor and the fog of war continues to vex. I spend about 20% of my time running around yelling “who the dang is shooting me?” There’s a little lopsidedness in that the enemy can see you with pixel perfect aim, and you’re looking at ... some bushes. It feels like a touch of the “in cover, getting shot” problem with Uncharted 4 when you’re inside a hut and they’re getting a ridiculous angle on you through the window. Some of the advanced combat moves I can “earn” I anticipate never using so I’m not bothering to “earn” them. “To attack two guys in cover when one has a flamethrower and the other is reading comics, use the Hyped-Up Crazypants syringe to gain a 27.3% increase in head-bonking-coconutability by pressing W-H-U-T then move the mouse into the seven o’clock position.” Again, I play the long game with snipers and throwables; they are good about sniffing you out, firing mortars/charging to make you work for it. With this game I’ve also taken a shine to running full-bore into central HQ and holing up in a corner. Sometimes it works. The merc is useless. You can spend good money for a merc upgrade. You send out a merc, he’s all whoop whoop shouting, sometimes driving straight into camp. Seconds later, a pop-up: “The mercenary is dead.” Yeah, yeah. The computer fought itself and won, and lost.

It is important to note that this is a proper “open world” game, not like Uncharted 4 rail world. Go do what you want to do, leave the main campaign hanging for awhile or plow straight through it. Some events/items are time-dribbled, including a large portion of the map. Some performative bonuses are tied to optional events I will be skipping, like arena combat. Some things become unbalanced depending on your style of play. I have been accruing skill points for awhile but have nothing to spend them on, even though there’s still ~14 skill upgrades available. They’re all either “do this main campaign mission [which is 1X missions away]” or “do two of these side missions [that you are not going to do]” or “take over two bases without anyone noticing” which given how quick the enemy spots you sneaking about ... that’s too tedious.

There are occasional guffaws. Enemies yelling at you that they’re going to relish the opportunity of killing you suddenly being mauled by an errant bear, say. Or being rhino-shoved. I found my favorite vehicle in the game, a Tuk-tuk (you cannot own/spawn vehicles; yes of course they occasionally despawn when you’re in the middle of nowhere), and was putting along a mountain path when I passed a rhino that was charging another occupied car. “Well, it will be busy with that, I’m safe in my little tin can.” Then the rhino got bored with its toy and charged me. Turns out: Tuk-tuk is slower than rhino. The rhino bashed the hell out of the Tuk-tuk and I went rolling/flying half-off the cliff. It was like the ending of (spoiler inside spoiler) The Italian Job except with a car smaller than the film’s iconic Minis. I waited around for the deathblow, but the rhino trundled off to despawn somewhere.

Far Cry 4 is currently on sale.

2024jan11.

Horne Section Podcast: Wind the Bobbin Up (Greg Davies; Alex Horne; 34sec).

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2024jan05.

What A Combo (Fern Brady) “Fusion Food Is Bollocks” / Chef Big Has (34min)

2024jan02.

Finished Uncharted 4 which is on sale at the moment. Haven’t touched earlier versions, I don’t think they’re available for the pc. This one was pc-ported in late 2022. Early in the game, you’re tasked with playing a popular old-tyme videogame device named Crash Bandicoot during a “home” scene. I never played Crash Bandicoot, you run toward the screen so you can’t see where you’re going. My thought while playing: “Well, this is just bugnuts awful. I’m so glad this is a one-off and no one ever did this ever again.” [SFX: haunting foreshadowing wind whistles through empty cavern]

The gameplay is basically identical to the Tomb Raider series (I don’t which is copying from which or if they’re both copying from an earlier source, or etc), down to the annoying pitons (just ... the whole piton experience was a net negative one with the timing and whatnot). I felt better about roping in Uncharted (the protagonist’s hands get all grabby when he’s in reach of a reach, so you’re not just hoping for the best and launching to doom) than Tomb Raider, and there is no weapon/etc upgrade skill tree, for better or for worse.

I spent quality time wondering if I should go with gun X from a fallen enemy that I murdered or stick with gun Y, the gun that I killed him with. Since there’s no gun guide on the Unchartered fandom wiki and I’m too lazy to go hunting, I snapped to a “gun with most bullets equals most fun” rubric. You were allowed one handgun and one ... bigger gun. You couldn’t grab two AKs, or two RPGs, or even two handguns. Between major sections you would lose your chosen gun, I can’t remember if it was every time, but it happened enough that it probably was a thing. Sometimes I’d try switching between two guns and the old gun would disappear on the ground. “Huh. Choice is easy now.”

Shooting felt a little glorky, if you know what I mean. I felt like ~17.2% of the shots I fired should have hit when they didn’t, though the stats said I was hitting 35% which is in line w/my usual situation. But cover was annoying. Pull up behind a solid pillar, and shots that are clearly whizzing by you also cause damage. On top of this, your NPC pals occasionally would hole up behind cover exactly where you wanted to be. So you could either hold a non-"locked” position behind them, or find another less-good angle. They would also sometimes try to shoot enemies through walls, or continually miss after firing at one person for a long time while I just sat around waiting for a safer clip-pick-up time. We have an early entry in the worst sentence of 2024 contest, everyone [FX: party favors party favoring]. (New year’s resolution: do less with less)

Normally I wouldn’t have even mentioned the death scenes. I die a lot. But thanks to Tomb Raider, I have a low bar. Here’s a surprise: less gruesome deaths than Tomb Raider! Seriously, guys, get some help. Some health plans in the USA will actually pay for “non-continual” psychological counselling. You can have a problem, but it better not be a lifelong problem, that’s not covered. Adventure awaits: level up on phone trees!

The plot was serviceable, points off for [FX: spoilers inbound] chief antagonist actually saying protagonist-will-not-shoot-us after you’ve shot up 100+ of his underlings. Serious weird surreal points off for the whole “we’re chasing this treasure because this psycho guy helped my brother break out of jail” and you actually do that, you’re the brother for awhile and you break out of jail with the psycho guy and he’s all “I want that treasure or I will kill you lol rofl” and it is revealed that the brother was actually lying and the psycho guy died months before. So that whole jail break sequence you played out was a fictional story told w/in the “real world” of the plot. But I was there, man.

Triple-A Game: Okay you’re in prison and there’s a prison break, right? And you’re in a group of escapees. And the other escapees, they’re yelling at you because you’re just ... slowly walking. Not even a regular-paced walk. “Hurry up! Come on!” Over and over. It’s very dramatic, the way you saunter through the halls with this weird posture like you’re amped on looking for change on the floor extremely methodically while everyone else is shooting up the place way ahead of you.
Key bindings: “Run"? What’s that?
[ten minutes later]
Triple-A Game: Okay, you’re in a different prison and there’s a -second- prison break, right? And you’re in a group of ... just use the roll. It’s faster.
Me: Combat roll, got it.
Key bindings: It’s just “roll.” You can use it any time.
Me: Any time I want to look like a total dickhead constantly rolling through the prison like a fuckin’ boozed-up stunt clown during a shoot-out, yeah? Running was too “high tech” back in 2016?
Triple-A Game / Key bindings: [FX: staring]

Struggling to lift a gate or move a shelving unit by continually/quickly hitting “E” got old, really fast. It was not a challenge that added anything to immersion or gameplay enjoyment. If I stopped, then we all sat around looking at the gate etc. Same mechanic for breaking an enemy’s hold etc. “Oh no, I am incapable of hitting ‘E’ quickly.”

Uncharted 4 for all the chatter about it being “almost open world” felt more like a rail than some of Tomb Raider. The latter even had a lick of trading/money management thrown in to at least one of the titles. With Uncharted you come across a large abandoned town/settlement/whatever and immediately you will be shown/told that your destination is whatever-the-farthest-thing-away-from-you-is-which-is-also-the-tallest-and-or-biggest.

The entire treasure/pirate story was entertaining, all done up with real pirates that really existed. Though ... liberties were taken wrt their capabilities and amount of plunder plundered (game: “vast, just crazy-go-nuts”). Fun game fact: pirates had proximity mine technology in the 17th century. Interesting puzzles, litle too easy, little too much hand-holding (I played on the default “moderate” setting). Characters don’t repeat phrases over and over ... though, on the other hand, at one point someone said something clue-y during a bout of gunfire so it was lost to me. Compromise: make a “What?” command.

If something is chasing you, how do you convey that in a game? You could get the thing on screen with the protagonist, or you could show it in rear-view mirrors if the protagonist is in a car, or split-screen, or a picture-in-picture, or with sound, or with cuts, or with camera angles, or let the player move the camera around so they can see it, or you could fucking go Crash Bandicoot on everyone’s ass.

The thing with Crash Bandicoot is that you only participate in that one game mode, running toward your gaming IRL self. With Uncharted 4, when the switch to “running-toward” occurs, the control layout changes. Wait, does this mode have a name. [FX: looks at wiki] Why the hell is this thing a novel “The majority of the game takes place from a third-person perspective in which Crash moves into the screen.” They don’t have a name for this concept because it is ass. “... moves into the screen.” Ugh, phrasing. So. At one point in the game, you’re riding as a passenger on a motorcycle, and a truck is chasing you. You fire on the truck with your gun while moving into the screen. The truck eventually blows up. “Well, good thing that was brief.” Sections later, you’re on foot moving into the screen. There’s the same type of truck. Which way to go? Who knows, and who can remember how the controls are mapped. Seriously, I’m writing this now and I can’t remember if they flipped the controls when they switched to Bandicootview (there, I’ve christened the garbage) or if they kept it the same. Doesn’t matter, either way it takes time for your brain to work out the details, or maybe just my brain. Maybe my brain isn’t plastic enough. [FX: applies brain plasticity test, passes] Nope, that’s not it, turns out it’s just a stupid idea. The truck enthusiastically drives over you twenty+ times. The ragdoll death sequences are the most dynamic in the game. “Got some distance on that one.” “Oh here’s a side alley I could just --” Truck: “LOL NO” I don’t remember how I figured out what the program wanted me to do. Truck driving through me over and over and over again. Felt like a puppet, started disassociating, earth below me. “What is this?” At least GTA5 had a “skip bullshit mission” button, I mean, except for the torture scene (again, your USA health service provider may have co-payment severely-limited mental wellness shopportunities, check your five-inch thick contract volume II). Section going out with a least-enjoyable game portion award 2023.

If you’re in a convoy-type battle what happens if you’re taking too long to clear it? With Uncharted, they just re-loop the same sequence over and over. It’s a long bit, most people wouldn’t notice, but ... there was this bug. I jumped into an enemy car. Or that is, I almost jumped in. I froze right before I landed in the passenger seat. Couldn’t move/shoot/take damage, just look around with the mouse. And we kept rolling. So I let it go, out of curiosity. Looped for ten minutes. My enemy driver was courteous, but did not get me to my destination; five stars. Ran through it again, no problem.

That’s another thing. I’m never going to play this again. I replayed the three most recent Tomb Raiders once each. But this one, I tried re-visiting with some “bonus” hacks you can activate (infinite ammo, anti-gravity, etc) to go missed-treasure/journal-entry hunting (the protagonist keeps a journal w/pretty stylin’ drawings, does not take any photos except to drive the plot) but I just didn’t feel like doing the endless roping/pitoning/playing as child-you (that comes up twice) slog to get to the giant abandoned town, for example. Additionally, you cannot skip any cut scene at all. Maybe this was a transfer artifact, oops, it worked on the Playstation? Yeah, that’s it, he convincingly lied to himself because who doesn’t have a scene-skip in 2018). Maybe a “online video” person has recorded just the journal images (full online playthrough videos are ten hours, not going through that just to find 20ish journal images). The treasures (bottom-of-barrel collectible, does not affect metric/plot in any way other than “Treasures acquired”) were odd; a large majority of them were in a small rooms just off the main trail, and every one of them had an identical glint you could see from ... forever away. Didn’t really feel ... worth the bother.

PS: Don’t make the main antagonist look/sound like Rob Schneider.

PPS: There’s another campaign (Uncharted: The Lost Legacy) included w/the Steam PC version, two different main characters, set in India. Better main character, more interesting map (open-world, you pick where to go/what to tackle), more interesting puzzles/side quests. Two timed events with generous slop (so far) (I hate timed events, thank you no. “Do a thing, but faster” “or, shove your Taylorism up your ass”). Melee still a problem, but I’m uninterested in melee in general so maybe it’s superlative melee, doesn’t matter and I wouldn’t know, not enough experience with it. Still has that damn truck though. No Bandicootvision or whatever I called it as of yet. Occasional bouts of “you’re supposed to crash though this building run over here, the floor collapses while you’re being fired on” and I find some sort of refuge somewhere where I can’t get hit and the game continues with the dramatic soundtrack. I enjoy stuff like this too much, more than playing the game as intended. Main playing rubric these days: “How do I ... screw with this.” Especially when characters try to give me pointers. [FX: coming up on enemy camp] “We should sneak around/through/try not to disturb them ...” What? Did you say “shoot the sniper immediately to take out their long game, then let the rest of the brave boys funnel into our crossfire even though you’re only contributing about 5% of the total body count? On it.” [FX: pewwwwwwwwww; pew pew pew]

Which reminds me, somewhere in the middle of the campaign my boon companion, my sidekick, my thorn spouted off for awhile about culling tactics and I’m all shut UP maybe shoot a guy once an hour and we’ll talk about “tactics.” Why the game people thought that would fly in any regard in or out of the game is beyond me. ~"Your shooting sucks.” “YOU’RE SHOOTING AT A WALL HALF THE TIME AND LET’S TALK ABOUT THE EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL TWO MINUTES YOU SPENT DANCING AROUND RIGHT NEXT TO THE DEATHTRUK® GOING IN AND OUT OF “COVER” EVEN THOUGH IT COULD SHOOT YOU ALL THE WHILE HOW ABOUT THEM ‘TACTICS’ YOU CHILD”

That’s another recommendation, if you have a sidekick. A whistle. “Come over here and stand right fucking next to me ‒ DON’T TAKE MY SPOT ‒ because your algorithm is embarrassing me and my gameplay. You are heartbreaking my immersion, program segment.” That plus the “What?” command.

“What?” repeat last spoken bit of dialogue
“Whistle/heel/come” stop playing in bulletland and come take cover beside me
“Flank” go around to their side/back and do your sad little plinking

I just made your upcoming open-world sporadic-combat programmed-sidekick game 2.8% better. Standard 8% vig. Godspeed.

2024jan01.

What A Combo (Fern Brady) “Plugging the gaps with snacks” / Tim Key

“Do you mind me talking about a food combination on your show?”

2023dec26.

Joe [UK]: Fern Brady On Being A Stripper, Autism Diagnosis & School In ‘A Men’s Prison.’

2023dec26.

CGP Grey: Grey Grades Canada’s Flags! (And Merry Xmas!)

CANADA FLAGS UNLOCKED [SFX: HORN OF QUALITY SOUNDS THROUGHOUT THE VALLEY]

2023dec23.

F.D Signifier: Eminem and the White Rapper Problem.

2023dec21.

Aboringday: I Applied HIGH VOLTAGE to Electric Toys! #7 (Christmas Special)

2023dec18.


Everybody In The Place: An Incomplete History Of Britain 1984-1992 by Jeremy Deller (2019)

2023dec09.

i had seen what’s up doc (1972) in the theatre as a small, problematic child but couldn’t remember any of it. re-watched the “famous” drugstore scene

and they’re charging $67 for a radio. “that seems obscene.” how much were radios back then. 1972 wish book image included. roughly 1/3rd price for what looks like comparable kit.

do not shop at that drugstore.

(one of the previous pages features a radio cassette player with “Vernier slide-rule tuning for station choice” which as it turns out is actually a thing and not some marketing jagoff earning their paycheck)

let’s find a better ryan o’neal film

i should re-watch this

i should do a lot of things

2023dec08.