Merus

Phaedrus' Street Crew
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About Merus

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    I bet the abyss will blink first
  • Birthday 07/01/85

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    Sydney AU where they're always drinking coffee
  1. I don't think the Dark Souls hard is really the same as Kaizo Mario hard. Kaizo is definitely about comedy - it's hard, but it's hard because unexpected things happen that just happen to kill you. I Wanna Be The Guy is strongly inspired by Kaizo Mario, and it's why the first screen of the game has apples that fall down on your head and kill you, then apples that fall up as you're walking over the trees. Dark Souls is trying to invoke despair. You're in a lost and broken kingdom, trying to do something which no-one seriously expects you're able to do. You're supposed to feel a little overwhelmed and frustrated when you're playing it, punctuated by slivers of elation when you manage to find a bonfire or defeat a boss.
  2. Movie/TV recommendations

    I also saw Swinging Safari, an Australian film its posters bill as 'The Castle for a new generation', which strikes me as being incredibly inaccurate: Given how much the movie relies on nostalgic references to 1970s Australia, it's very clearly for Gen-X, which is basically the same generation The Castle was for The Castle was a very specific story about a somewhat caricatured battler family, whereas this is trying to be much more sweeping and diffuse To be compared to The Castle, it would have to be funny I suspect the film was strangled in the edit; there's several sequences that I can see working but just aren't funny on screen, and there's lots of cuts to things you might remember from an Australian childhood that are either alleged jokes or scene setting. It pinballs between tones without either finding consistency or taking advantage of the whiplash; this is a film that contains a beached whale, a failed swingers' night, a schoolkid riot, a pathetic adult prank war and a pet funeral. There are some things that work; the pet funeral has some jokes that land, and there's a well-executed punchline involving a horny teenage girl propositioning increasingly unlikely targets, but the bulk of it really doesn't.
  3. Movie/TV recommendations

    My new local cinema, it turns out, does $10 movie tickets, which is cheap enough that I can go to the movies without thinking about it. Coco was pretty good! I mean, its inventiveness is basically confined to its art style and it's been a long time since Pixar have been willing to take risks with their storytelling but it was very sweet. I liked how much the movie implies, so that if you can basically anticipate all the beats you can still get a lot from the subtext. I'm not sure how I feel about Darkest Hour: it's extremely good at ratcheting up the tension, such that you're fairly sure Winston Churchill is going to get dumped at leader just after being installed and all those people at Dunkirk are going to die. The problem is that I'm not entirely sure the movie pulled it off. Gary Oldman's pretty damn good as Churchill, though - there's enough nuance in his performance that you can believe everything that people say about Churchill in the movie - that he's a egotistical maniac; that he's deeply unpleasant; that he's a charming orator; that he's a thoughtful and kind man. (Edit: I think it's a fatal strike against the movie that one of the pivotal scenes showing Churchill finding his way forward is entirely fabricated. It felt suspiciously pat while watching and I figured the filmmakers had embellished a real incident to make their emotional climax work, because surely they wouldn't dare just make up a scene this transparently manipulative? Reader, they did dare.)
  4. [RELEASED] The World Begins With You

    The only reason I'm reading this topic is because I'm expecting references to The World Ends With You (the game literally ends with a rework of the title art to say 'The World Begins With You')
  5. I think your points about where Bennett Foddy's interests and blindspots lie were very good. What I was driving at was that the market is far too large for the 80s and 90s model of hard games to ever be the dominant form of video games, because nothing can be. And meanwhile we've learned about people who have quite serious disabilities playing games, and so the model of, say, Space Quest, where it's mostly not time or reflex dependent except for some sequences where it is and you can't progress if you don't have them. I don't read Foddy as fetishising difficulty in the way that Salt & Sanctuary or Hyper Light Drifter do. He seems to be reaching for something more... esoteric, and looking at the game and saying 'well, fuck that' is an intended and acceptable response. (I think the Dark Souls series does the same thing: its world and story seem to suggest that giving up partway through is a satisfying and complete end to the story the game is telling.)
  6. AGDQ 2018

    I did like the comment I saw from one of the Vlambeer guys that said that he'd really like it if GDQ players would stop sarcastically saying that the game was well-programmed when they exploited a bug.
  7. I think it's not a case of Foddy 'forgetting' about low skill players and more that he deliberately made the game for a specific audience. As the trailer says, it's made for a specific kind of person (to hurt them). If you don't get anything out of the game because you don't have an artificially inflated idea of how good you are at games, that's fine, you're just not in the audience for it.
  8. Non-video games

    I have quite the collection of board games at this point (and yet the one that ended being best value was Tsuro: a short up-to-8-player game turns out to be perfect for what we want, which is 'something we can play now that's zero commitment while we wait for others to arrive'). Codenames is, I think, a breakout hit. You could put that games on shelves next to Monopoly and people would have a fantastic time. I had my worst ever game of Codenames on New Year's Eve, playing with the new girlfriend of a friend of mine, who as it turns out really does not know him well and kept steering us onto the assassin. It was fantastic which is what's so good about Codenames (the fact I was a little drunk certainly didn't help either, but come on who decides to say that Godzilla is an alien, really) I bought Gloomhaven as part of a Kickstarter and it came in a box that contains its own expansion. It's a dungeon-crawler with a surprisingly well-written campaign, but it's thought carefully about the moment-to-moment mechanics and has built a game that's fun to play on that level, and then added all this crazy campaign and legacy stuff on top. The basic interaction is that you have a hand of cards and you play two each round, and when it's your turn, you do the top of one card and the bottom of the other, but you don't exactly know what everyone else is doing until after you put your cards down. So there's an element of improvisation and some tough decisions: once you run out of cards you reshuffle then lose one for the rest of the game, so you start having to get real clever with the tools you still have. It's co-op to a point, which I love.
  9. Star Wars Episode 8

    I'm going to quibble with the premise of the article: there's a pretty clear consensus that people didn't think the casino planet plot was properly connected to the rest of the film, and I can see that if that's how you feel, the film is going to be fatally flawed for you. It's difficult these days to really say that people are attacking a strawman - for every stupid-ass opinion out there, you can probably find someone who has it - but it's not really addressing any of the complaints about the film other than the ones it can use to support its argument. I'd suggest the people making those particular complaints are probably open misogynists, so it's not that insightful to demonstrate that an complaint they're making is rooted in misogyny.
  10. Star Wars Episode 8

    God, imagine if it was still Colin Trevorrow who was following this up.
  11. AGDQ 2018

    I don't even know how you play Symphony of the Night without killing any bosses.
  12. I learned about metamodernity, which is not a thing I expected to learn from a games podcast! This was excellent. What is the new theme music? It doesn't sound like it's from the same piece as Season One.
  13. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    On platforms such as Steam, I think this approach scales up: in your own community, you can set the terms to whatever your heart desires. In the broader community on our servers, we provide you with tools to steer the community to some extent, which will almost certainly include suppressing hate speech. For communities that are run by individuals dedicated to real-world violence, your Daily Stormers and the like, this obviously doesn't work. It's been interesting seeing how thinking about this problem has evolved over the last year - one prominent neo-Nazi site was knocked offline last year because it relied on a bunch of tools provided by companies that all refused service. It might still be around - it's probably hosted in Russia - but making it less prominent curtails their ability to make connections and recruit, making them much less threatening as a result. Neo-Nazis aren't the only toxic communities that can exist - quite apart from the various kinds of hate groups, you have conspiracy nuts, pro-anorexic support groups, that one Sonic community that was very clearly just the one person posting thousands of conversations - and the same dynamic that allowed lonely LGBT teenagers to reach out to others is the same thing that allows anorexic girls to reach out to each other and reinforce their sickness. The internet makes this trivial, and I don't see us stuffing the genie back into this bottle without essentially shutting down the internet (a prospect that looks increasingly likely in 2018). It's a much harder problem! I wouldn't claim to be an expert here, but I've read a little into how toxic groups work. They appear to share two common factors: firstly, that the group has outsize control over the members' worldview, and that their stated goal doesn't match their behaviour (e.g. "I love you baby, I don't mean to hit you"). The second one probably needs to be culturally taught, but the first one we might be able to do something about. How badly do they react to strangers turning up?
  14. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    My argument was two-fold: 1) that this has been tried - Facebook has lots of mods, for one - and 2) that people do not want to acknowledge that this has been tried because it is more fun for them to imagine that we're dealing with a new problem instead of one that was identified and described before the Internet existed. The solution that we know works is to not have such big communities. A solution that hasn't been tried very often but should work according to the underlying social science is to empower the individual users to police the boundaries of their own communities, instead of requiring everything to go through a mod. (I've seen this exactly once, in an MMO called Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates: anyone of sufficient standing in a crew (guild equivalent) got the ability to silence anyone in their immediate area for a few minutes, with limitations. It worked very well.)
  15. Is Steam (Valve) Good? If not, what then?

    Before we go any further here on the topic of 'what $LARGE_INTERNET_COMPANY can do to stop bad behaviour', I want to suggest that what people are envisioning is impossible, not merely very expensive. Take Facebook: they've gotten in trouble for censoring the classic, Pulitzer-Prize winning picture of a terrified, naked Vietnamese girl because of nudity. How do you envisage that more moderation will avoid that problem? It's not caused by moderators being too harried, but because what's okay in one context or country or community is not okay in another context or country or community, and those differences are what makes those places valuable. America is permissive of depicting violence that is taboo in other places, while Europe is far more casual about nudity than America is. Some communities see any attempt at moderation as being an affront to the community, while others see unfettered free speech as being hazardous to the safety of the people in that community. You can't square that circle. You cannot have a single, centrally enforced standard of behaviour across more than one context. I'm of the opinion that you can't have a single, central community, either, because you can't defend it when bad actors inevitably show up. There's a trend where most social media and social sites deteriorate rapidly once they reach critical mass, and how traumatic that is, I believe, in large part linked to how well the existing users are able to defend their platform and community from bad actors. Twitter, for instance, has no defences - the system is designed to frictionlessly connect strangers together on a mass scale. Chatroulette deteriorated pretty quickly. 4Channers complained for years about 'the cancer that is killing /b' until the site is almost entirely a neo-Nazi staging ground. Places like the ol' Idle Thumbs forums, or some of the really venerable forums, can survive for decades mostly through the tireless work of mods, but mods can't scale. I'd recommend reading A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy. It's 15 years old at this point, and it opens with an observation that designers of social software don't do the research of what's been tried before, then get surprised when they make all the same mistakes.