Phaedrus' Street Crew
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About Merus

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

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  • Location
    Sydney, a land of contrasts
  1. Idle Thumbs Hiatus

    I'm not really surprised the forum has died down; there's a lot of problems with fora as a communication model and things like Slack and Discord plug that gap a little more ably. I think the dream of substantial in-depth discussion on a forum was largely illusory - most of the good came from just giving people with diverse backgrounds somewhere to congregate together, and a lot of the bad came from the way that forums encouraged you to hold to your point even after it was clear to everyone else that it was bad. Quiet forums get quieter; noisy forums become unmanageable; and the quality of conversations and the community can be really brittle. Of course, chat rooms have their own problems (which Slack and Discord address to a lesser or greater extent) and they don't even try to solve the same problems as forums do. Honestly, I'm not really sure where you'd start in 2018 if you want to try and contribute a logical argument to the world, and I'm conscious how much of my output over the past, god, 15 years has been to forums where my contributions will be forever forgotten. But I'm happy to let forums go the way of usenet mailing lists and make room for whatever's next.
  2. Modest Tech: The NX Generation (Nintendo Switch)

    The World Ends With You is out. This is, I think, my third? playthrough of it. I'm still angry at how good some of the game systems are. The drop system, for instance: every enemy drops one pin per difficulty, which can be a new ability, a special item pin, or vendor trash. If you play on a higher difficulty, you get access to new, more powerful pins, but you can still get the lower-difficulty drops. But because the drop rate for each pin is different, sometimes you want to play on easy because normal has a high chance of dropping a vendor trash pin instead. And, you can add a multiplier to the drop rate by playing at a lower effective character level, volunteering to fight multiple enemies in a chain (which gives them a difficulty boost) and, new to this version, using your partner attack, which also boosts your drop rate. It's incredibly simple - there's no drop table, no rarity levels. You can guarantee the drop you want if you boost the drop rate enough, the game helpfully keeps track of every drop, and it ties into all the game's systems in a way that makes the other game systems more interesting. It's pretty close to perfect, honestly - every thing I can think of to 'improve' it would just make it more complex for no gain.
  3. Modest Tech: The NX Generation (Nintendo Switch)

    Nintendo games don't get cheaper as they get older. They'll stay at the same price for years (and they keep selling for years, so)
  4. Yeah Daybreakers is the one with interesting worldbuilding that they do basically nothing with. I liked it but I found it quite frustrating.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. "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'.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. Recently completed video games

    Yeah, I set up the teleport in Hollow Knight to go back to the town for just that reason.
  14. 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.