Phaedrus' Street Crew
  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Merus

  • Rank
    I bet the abyss will blink first
  • Birthday 07/01/1985

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Not Telling
  • Location
    Sydney, a land of contrasts
  1. Missions Impossible

    Maybe I was tired, but I basically didn't see any of the double bluffs coming and was pleasantly surprised every time, but thinking back on it I can't spot any moments where it's unreasonable that the protagonists and antagonists were prepared for a situation they shouldn't possibly have been able to predict. Atomic Blonde couldn't manage that trick, in part, I think, because this film kept its twistiness to single scenes, so you don't have moments where characters act on information that should have dictated their actions earlier and they can't have learned it between then and now.
  2. Life

    The tricky thing about programming, and it's going to be tricky no matter how you learn it, is that it requires you to develop a unique mindset that doesn't really have much of an analogue in other fields. The code on the screen is a representation of an entire universe underneath it that doesn't necessarily behave how you expect. It takes practice! One thing that seems to be really valuable is having a course where you can see immediately what your code is doing, which helps you develop that sense of understanding. The Codecademy courses, for instance, have a split code/output view where the output updates in real time to what you put in. Python has a console mode where every line of Python you type in tells you what it evaluated to, which is also really helpful when trying to learn the language. Don't be afraid to try a different course if the one you're using isn't doing it for you. We have not yet learned how best to teach coding and some courses are simply rough going.
  3. Missions Impossible

    Honestly I liked the fact that 4 was structured like an Indiana Jones movie, so that the mission was actually credibly impossible. I have no time for Tom Cruise unless he's playing a douchebag or doing something reckless and probably deadly, and his cult-addled brain does at least still understand how to give the crowd what they want (Jack Reacher movies excepted).
  4. Modest Tech: The NX Generation (Nintendo Switch)

    The key to Hollow Knight is that, unlike a lot of games of this type, there's no real golden path. The game steers you towards the City of Tears, but after that the progression gets much looser, and you can probably make every trip be worth something. That's what makes it so magical: unlike most metroidvanias, where exploration is necessary but there's rarely more than one right answer, Hollow Knight is brutal enough and open enough that striking out in a direction can uncover anything from a unique enemy to a useful item to a whole area.
  5. "Cars sucks." - A Pixar Thread

    My test for a bad film is whether, while I'm watching it, I'm distracted by thoughts inspired by things the movie gestures as but lead to greener pastures than the movie itself. I've seen Avatar twice, once in cinemas and once at a movie marathon that was about extremely pretty but idiotic movies, and both times my attention wandered. My attention wandered during Incredibles 2 to 'what if Screensaver but actually had a point'.
  6. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    The subreddit was already on fire at that point, and it was 100% gendered. A quiet word to Deroir wouldn't have fixed anything.
  7. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    I'm aware of Price because we have a mutual friend (who guest stars in the tweets getting passed around where she is pleased over TB's death*) and she's real quick on the trigger finger when it comes to gender. ArenaNet knew that when they hired her, and they said at the time they were okay with this. This is, I think, the first time Price has ever talked publicly about her process. The thing is, despite O'Brien's claims, ArenaNet's communication with the community is rubbish. They've recently started doing 'Q&As' but it's almost impossible to get an answer out of them regarding certain pain points, one of which is the way the narrative focus has narrowed to mostly meaningless, cosmetic choices. I think this is understandable, because GW2's narrative is mostly incompetent (and I believe the only reason the recent expansion managed to approach decent storytelling is thanks in part to Price) so narrowing the scope to something they can actually execute on makes sense. A GW2 streamer seizing the opportunity of an ArenaNet employee talking about their approach to complain about the narrative was inevitable. Price taking someone trying to tell her how to do her job with umbrage was also inevitable. ArenaNet HR should have already had a plan in place, and may well have and been overruled by O'Brien. (ArenaNet PR has been badly mismanaged, and the new guy is busy trying to make competent trailers and probably didn't have a plan in place for dealing with community blow-ups.) That said, this is completely off-topic because ArenaNet don't have their core product on Steam and never will, for understandable business reasons. (I've also closed my GW2 account over this: given that a) they've fired half their narrative team when they insist on producing a narrative product, b ) their community is full of gators now, c) the problems with the game are still never going to be fixed, and d) so many great games came out in 2017 that it was already getting hard to justify playing a game that I had already kind of seen enough of, it felt like the right move.) * I first ran across TB when he did a podcast called Blue Plz about WoW, and saw his Cataclysm fly-through videos. The first time I listened to the podcast, he spent the first ten minutes talking about his haters before he got to anything he intended to cover. Once I saw his infamous philosophy post to Something Awful, I figured I knew all I needed to. Assholes like that don't change, they just get better at hiding themselves.
  8. Idle Thumbs Readers Slack & Discord

    I get the feeling that basically Slack and Discord are the new forums so I guess I'd better get with the program, grumble grumble
  9. Recently completed video games

    Yeah, I set up the teleport in Hollow Knight to go back to the town for just that reason.
  10. Recently completed video games

    It's one of the things that separates a good Metroidvania from a mediocre one, honestly: you want traversing and navigating your open world to be important, because otherwise you've just made a series of levels that have pointless little transition rooms. You want your map to be open enough that players do have to think about the space, but not so fractured that players have to dick around in the same five boring rooms to find the one that has something new to do in it. You also want it to be relatively easy to get from one end of the map to the other because it's the navigation that's interesting, not the actual hike. Hollow Knight takes a cue from Dark Souls and makes the hike more nerve-wracking thanks to difficulty; Yoku's Island Express makes clearing the path a real challenge and then lets you open up a track that lets you skip it in future. And that's not even taking into account that your player character will traverse the room with often quite significant differences in movement and the same level design has to work for the whole range while still feeling intentionally designed for all of them. They are deceptively hard to polish, which is why there's so many mediocre Metroidvania platformers around.
  11. Recently completed video games

    Yoku's Island Express: what a charming little game. This is a Metroidvania pinball game, and it's cute as a button. There have been games that have flirted with this concept, like Sonic Spinball and Metroid Prime Pinball, but Yoku's Island Express commits to the idea of using pinball as a traversal mechanic and not just building a pinball game that occasionally wanders off the table, so they've built an entire tropical island out of loops and gutters and drains and flippers and bumpers. It makes some smart decisions to marry the two concepts: there's honestly not a lot of traversal upgrades but you open up a lot of shortcuts, which is a genuine godsend when getting across a room can otherwise mean hitting a series of difficult shots; and instead of racking up a score, you earn fruit, which you spend to get further in the game (and have balanced carefully so you usually don't have to grind). I have been wanting to play a game like this for some time, and someone's done it and they've done it well.
  12. E3 2018

    The protein bars thing is interesting because I agonised over anticipating future consequences and the game was far less elaborate about it than I had anticipated. If I replayed the game, I'd probably just assign the other 3 bars to the three closest people on the way to Clementine. But I'd argue that the decisions you make in 80 Days are gameplay: they affect the long-term goal and your ability to make future moves. (I've realised that the biggest possible indictment of E32018 I can think of is that by page 2 we're talking about gameplay in narrative-focused games instead of whatever was announced at E3)
  13. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    The problem with this is that the horse has bolted: Valve already have Nazis on the platform, and so 'wanting to ensure that people can do what they already could do' means that Valve are in favour of Nazis. There is no such thing as a neutral stance; Valve is trying to pretend it takes no stance but that's like saying the person who doesn't pull the lever in the classic trolley problem didn't make a choice. Part of the issue here is that Valve is an American company with libertarian ideals. This causes problems in multiple ways: Libertarianism is an incoherent ideology Libertarianism is inherently unable to reckon with the threat of fascism or its political tactics In most of the world, libertarianism is a fringe ideology, yet Valve are making what are nonsensical or illegal decisions for a global audience the American experience with enforcement is based around rules, which would be a very bad choice for this kind of problem, while the overseas experience allows for principle-based regulation. Valve could define high-level goals for what games in the store should and should not look like (e.g. 'welcoming games made with care by a designer who stands behind it' vs 'incomplete, buggy or contemptuous games') and, with oversight from trusted developers and the community, assess whether the games being released to the store fit that standard. Valve's reluctance to regulate the store reads to Americans as a sensible rejection of defining exactly how much of a nipple can be shown before it's too sexy or what percentage of a game that uses Unity Store assets is an asset flip, while others interpret the same reluctance as dismissing what is a workable approach to make sure Nazis and grifters aren't in any way inconvenienced. The other part of the issue is that Valve are cowards
  14. E3 2018

    @eot I think you're defining gameplay far too narrowly, and in terms that not even linear narrative forms can imbue with narrative meaning without having to build the work around it. There are very few movies that make the act of driving into a narrative moment - it's almost always something the characters are doing in order to do something narratively important. Games that align their mechanics around things that can more easily support a narrative, like gaining and spending resources, unsurprisingly tend to do better at having narratives where the game mechanics help tell the story. (Then again, Nier Automata builds key narrative beats around its combat system and bullet hell minigame, but the game goes to extremes to encourage you to read metaphors into its gameplay systems.) I think this is also missing one of the big design trends since... probably Arkham Asylum? where instead of a mechanic having a 1:1 match to a narrative meaning, game mechanics are used in concert to invoke a complex emotional response. Arkham Asylum is a good example because it's easy to compare how Batman's supposed to feel based on linear narratives, and how you feel as Batman when in a stealth room, but you can also look at something like Cultist Simulator, and how it makes you feel like the antagonist of a cosmic horror novel who has realised they have made a fatal mistake meddling with dark forces beyond their understanding. The only thing that gives me pause here is that we've had several games where the big twist has been that what appeared to be separate narrative and gameplay elements were actually interrelated in a way that would have been clear had you expected narrative and gameplay to be working together, and it apparently hasn't stopped being novel yet.