Phaedrus' Street Crew
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About Gormongous

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    Ghost Bird

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  1. Life

    I successfully defended my dissertation yesterday. It's (almost) the end of a grueling three-month process where I was promised another year's extension on the program deadline, denied that extension by the university administration, and then given the chance to defend an abridged version of my dissertation, after much bargaining and pleading with my department. I have a lot of feelings: pride that I was able to write almost 25,000 words in the space of a month while also working full time in order to finish a draft for submission, disappointment that my dissertation couldn't be the full work that I'd envisioned, relief that I got it all done anyway, humiliation that I was forced to spend weeks begging for professors and bureaucrats to suspend arbitrary and often informal rules that they'd always tell me they didn't personally agree with, and anxiety that... well, that feels a lot like low-grade PTSD, like I'm on the plane home but I'll always be ass-deep in that jungle muck. I've been incredibly lucky to have a lot of friends, not a few of them from this community, who've supported me in this decade-long process, and I owe each and every one of them my thanks. Whether or not I use my doctorate to teach, as I had planned, I'm incredibly happy to have achieved a lifelong goal of mine, against such odds.
  2. Clickbait Games Journalism: Polygon vs Kotaku

    Yeah, that's a big issue for me, too. At the peak of the site's output, two thirds of the "articles" were either podcasts or those discussion prompts that they've thankfully gotten rid of now. I don't know why they hired some of the best writers in games journalism in order to put them in front of a microphone and have them churn out half-baked gut takes on stuff. Lately it's been really frustrating that their Neon Genesis Evangelion (re)watch has been almost entirely "I like this" "I don't like that" with Austin doing some history lessons in between.
  3. Movie/TV recommendations

    Also, I was such a big fan of the first couple seasons of Letterkenny and I was hoping that the fifth-season premiere was a sign of better things to come, after the slump of the third and fourth seasons, but instead it was bad and the sixth season is even worse. Jared Keeso has clearly chewed through all his material about small-town life in rural Canada and, accordingly, has fallen back on the last resorts of every long-running comedy: flanderization and in-jokes. The show's tight dialogue, a cocktail of obscure slang run through a byzantine syntax, has devolved into repetitive patter that fills up way too much time. Sometimes a joke going on for too long can be funny (and it was, in earlier seasons), but it's basically Letterkenny's only class of joke at this point. For example, their gag about "To be fair" is four seasons old now and the humor is entirely that they haven't forgotten said gag. I wish they would. I wish I could. The fifth and sixth seasons are also odd because they feature cartoonish portrayals of Quebecois, Mennonites, and... gay men? I guess the show used up all its earnestness looking at farmers, druggies, and the natives on the neighboring reservation. I can tell that the writing of recent seasons wants to push this show to a fantastical place where everything can be exaggerated and outrageous (a place where there's more and easier material, presumably) but I just miss episodes like "A Fuss in the Back Bush" or "The Native Flu." Oh well!
  4. Movie/TV recommendations

    Saw Bad Times at the El Royale half a year late. Generally speaking, I like Drew Goddard, but this movie needed someone else on the script or a different person directing, because it was full of bright ideas (including one tremendous scene involving an a cappella rendition of "You Can't Hurry Love") but struggled to integrate them into its flashback-heavy chronology without gutting the pacing. By the time that a surprisingly miscast Chris Hemsworth showed up, I'd mostly broken up with the film, but I imagine it'll be one of those experiences where I remember only the high points a couple years from now, like its motifs of people pushed to the fringes and the need for absolution, and not that it overstayed its welcome by a good half an hour.
  5. Movie/TV recommendations

    If it makes you feel better, Martin's said that the endgame that he gave to Benioff and Weiss was just one possible outcome, so any resemblance to the books that'll hopefully come out someday will probably be only passing.
  6. Weirdly, I didn't have that reaction to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but I did to Mankind Divided. I'm not sure what the difference was: the formula getting tired with another thirty- or forty-hour game, the layout change from corridor missions linking small open-world areas to a more holistically open-world design, the incredibly dumb and obvious "ripped-from-the-headlines" themes of Mankind Divided... Whatever it was, I played through Human Revolution twice but gave up ten hours into Mankind Divided.
  7. I also bounced off of Stardew Valley, despite the farming life appealing a lot for me, but it was because I couldn't handle the combination of (perceived) time pressure and missable unlocks. I know that it's supposed to be the kind of game where you say to yourself, "Aww, I didn't manage to plant the strawberry bushes early enough! Oh well, next year," but I'm just not set up like that. Also, I found myself getting kind of annoyed that you could give a nice gift to someone and they'd feel indifferent or even negative towards you, because of a secret list of likes and dislikes for every character. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm built for more of a management sim-style farming game, but I liked the surface vibe of Stardew so much...
  8. I'll drink long and deep to that!
  9. I feel you on Dead Cells. I can appreciate the intricacy and the skill of it all, but beating a boss or getting a cool new blueprint just leaves me feeling exhausted and frustrated, not exhilarated like in Dark Souls.
  10. I bought Star Traders: Frontiers last year on the dual recommendations of Rock Paper Shotgun and Tom Chick. It is everything that they say it is: a breathtakingly vast space sim where you can do well as an illegal or legal trader, a mercenary, a diplomatic courier, a pirate, a spy, or any mix of those roles. It's got as many interlocking systems as a Paradox game and it truly does its best to let you engage with or automate them, whatever your taste is. And yet I've played over twenty hours without really clicking with it. It seems at once too deep (the reputation and character RPG systems, especially) and too shallow (you make money to make more money to make even more money). I recognize it as an objectively good game, and I keep wanting to come back to it, but I just can't connect. Have my tastes changed? Is it the presentation, which is admittedly anemic? I don't know. Do you have any games that you should like and that you keep trying to like, but just... don't?
  11. anime

    Well, after watching too many airing anime for the winter season because of holdovers from fall and two girls-in-airplanes shows, I only have one anime that I'm planning to watch this season: Sarazanmai, the new show from Kunihiko Ikuhara. Do I think it's going to be good? No, not after the unevenness of Penguindrum and the blowout that was Yurikuma Arashi. Am I going to watch it anyway to see what will be, at worst, an interesting failure by the creator of one of the greatest anime of all time? Yup.
  12. Looking for TBS recommendations

    Yes, but could you have a tactics game like XCOM where you control zero characters? I think that's the more instructive edge between the two terms.
  13. Looking for TBS recommendations

    "Maneuver" or "move," I guess?
  14. Looking for TBS recommendations

    I think the distinction between strategy and tactics is important here. Strategy is the overall plan to achieve a goal, tactics are the moment-to-moment decisions that execute that plan. I think Divinity: Original Sin 2 probably has a lot of tactics, but I can't imagine that it has that much strategy besides "go to this place and talk to/kill everyone."