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Everything posted by marginalgloss

  1. Nintendo 3DS

    So I've now finished all three of the campaigns for Fire Emblem: Fates. (I'm also pretty sure I've done all the DLC maps, because I'm an idiot.) It took me something like 200 hours. Birthright I did on Hard, the other two on Normal. Permadeath on throughout. I regret it somewhat! Okay, I don't regret it that much. But I'm not sure I can recommend it, either. FE: Fates is clearly a very good version of what was already a very good game in Awakening. I still find these games immensely satisfying and charming to play. I think they are maybe my favourite portable game experiences ever, in fact. The presentation on 3DS is outstanding; even if they rerelease some of these games on Switch, I'm not sure it'll be the same,. I'm not sure I would want to see these games in HD, if that makes sense: they already feel perfectly scaled to the capabilities of the 3DS. But I also think the variety across these three campaigns was somewhat oversold. I'm not sure I could honestly recommend playing more than one of them, unless you really like Fire Emblem. There's just too much of 'haven't I seen this before?' in the maps and situations, even if they are sometimes presented in a slightly different format. So my recommendation would be: play Conquest, then if you really liked it and want more, play Revelations. I like Conquest because I think the cast of characters is just more fun (the Hoshidans are a rather self-serious bunch by comparison) and because the mission design is a little more challenging. You can still grind for XP if you really want to, but in Conquest you really have to think about how you want to invest in your team in each chapter. That's a huge part of the Fire Emblem experience for me - it's not so much about the permadeath (I am one of those maniacs who compulsively smashes restart if anyone dies) - it's about building a team which feels like it is uniquely your own. Revelations adds some neat mechanical variations which mix things up a bit, and it lets you play with the best of both casts - and you can make them smooch, which is obviously very important in healing the Nohrian/Hoshidan divide. To be honest, the story isn't great in any of the campaigns, but Revelations probably has the most satisfying ending (and best endgame levels) out of any of them. I wonder what the next full-fat FE game on the Switch will look like. It'll have to be in a new engine, I think, and I wonder if it'll crib some of the open world aspects from Shadows of Valentia/BotW/SMOdyssey. My main hope is that the plot is a bit more character-driven than Fates. The question of how to unite the actual plot of the game with the character-smooching aspect seems to me to be the biggest question that the 3DS games have raised thus far...
  2. The Nintendo Wii U is Great Thread

    It's a bit of a shame that they're closing this, though I guess it was inevitable ever since the Switch launched without it. I imagine it was quite costly to develop and maintain, and I can't quite picture the business case that would allow it to survive. I'm pretty sure they've said that nothing will be 'broken' for any games - it would just be as if you were playing them offline, I guess. I've seen people on Twitter saying that Affordable Space Adventures uses Miiverse integration for something very special late on in the game. I've played the game but never got far enough to discover it. ZombiU and the port of Deus Ex had some interesting online features whereby you could encounter other players in the game for the former, and in the latter you could leave Dark Souls-esque messages (even in audio form!) in places on the map. I don't know if those were tied to Miiverse, though. I suspect they were. Shovel Knight on Wii U also has a thing whereby you could leave messages and hints to other players on specific screens; the messages actually appeared in game, though you had to switch to a separate menu to see them, which rather takes you out of the experience. There's Mario Maker but the Miiverse integration in that wasn't especially useful because there was no way to get directly into a level from the UI. Apparently online course sharing will still work, though you won't be able to comment on levels any more. There's the Tingle bottles in Wind Waker HD. I can't remember what they do. You could share videos from Mario Kart 8 but the interface for it was kind of a fudge and I think they might have turned that part off already. I think the loss of the drawings by other players in games like Splatoon and SM3DW will be the biggest cultural loss. You couldn't really say that that they added a great deal to the games, as such - but they were nice. And some of them were amazingly good. The forum aspect was also really useful for specialist games like Fire Emblem and Monster Hunter for asking (or answering) specialist questions about the game which wouldn't really fit anywhere other than, like, GameFAQs. Oh, and as slow as it is, Miiverse on the 3DS is actually quite useful as one of the few dependable ways to get screenshots out of any game which doesn't support saving them directly to the SD card. You can even save up to three screenshots while you're offline, and then post them to your account when you get back online. I presume this feature will be totally gone now. Boo.
  3. Important If True 26: Get Hype

    Jake's app ideas were so good (all of them). The only app I want is a version of the personal AI concierge that Facebook et al are trying to create that actually works -- the one which will call your cable provider for you to re-negotiate your package, or call your energy company to give them a meter reading; or just find and book any kind of service while reading and responding to my calendar in a sane way. Basically something that will super-efficiently navigate the pointlessly arcane customer service systems of the modern world where other companies (or local government) haven't been willing or able to invest in bringing their user experience up to date. Of course at the moment this kind of thing is, AFAIK, essentially reliant on outsourcing your 'life admin' to a call centre employee, or someone on the gig economy. Somehow neither of those is especially appealing to me, but I would be okay with a robot doing it? Though the amount of data I'd have to trust Facebook (or whoever) to hold about me in return for such a thing is kind of terrifying to contemplate. But it would be so helpful! I don't want to call anyone!
  4. Game of Thrones (TV show)

    Finished the latest run last night. I think on balance I liked it a little more than s6, and though I don't disagree with a lot of the criticisms I've read about it, the show as a whole still holds some appeal for me. After all, the ways in which it is bad have been true for some time now. I think perhaps my expectations are just lower than ever before. Nothing about it was especially shocking, but it's gripping enough while I'm watching it, and as very expensive low art it continues to have its moments. There's a welcome edge of finality to this season but the whole thing still feels vaguely interminable. I know they've said the next season will be the last, at least before the spinoffs begin, but I can't quite believe they'll stop making it as long as the ratings are on a steadily upward trend. It's amazing to me that this show is continuing to attract new viewers in such numbers, even at this late stage. Where are all these people coming from? And what do they want to see? I think those questions might perhaps provide some answers to the recent change in vibe/direction over the past few seasons.
  5. No Man's Sky

    I'm pretty sure it's the latter – you're still a little person in a little spaceship, but you have infinite resources and can't be killed, so you can just swap into whatever ship you want on the fly, etc. But you still have to warp from place to place. And you have to charge your engines, I think. Hmm. I'm kind of reluctant to touch that mode because I worry it'll curb my (already slightly curbed) enthusiasm for the main game mode. It's probably asking a lot, but I wish the game would give players a reason to chop and change between the new game modes; perhaps let them pass resources or planet references from one save to another, in a very limited fashion to prevent exploits? But that would probably be an absolute nightmare to develop. In other news, Kotaku had a lovely story recently about a group of 5000 (!) players who decided to 'colonise' a particular galaxy. I'm still not really sure how this worked in terms of asymmetric multiplayer but it's a fascinating example of a community arising within a game that wasn't really ever intended to support such a thing.
  6. Other podcasts

    I second this – I know I've enthused here about that podcast before, but the recent episodes have indeed been something really special compared to some of the earlier ones that are specifically about American politics. As a general thing, I also really like the fact that I know next to nothing about any of the presenters, and that the podcast is entirely free from cruft – no introductions, no framing at all, nothing addressed to the audience – not even 'hi, you're listening to...' – they just get on with it. Almost every podcast would be better starting similarly in media res, IMO. You can always put the cruft elsewhere!
  7. Half-Life 2: Episode 3

    That's a really interesting little artefact. Much as I'd love another Half-Life, I've never really spent much time thinking about a serious sequel to the DLC episodes – to be honest, those games were never really about the explicit plot for me – but it's interesting to think about what could have been. I can pretty much guarantee that somebody is going to write something speculating that all of this is an extended metaphor for the experience of trying to make Half-Life 3 at Valve. I'm not a fan of biographical readings, but certainly that last paragraph seems tinged with a genuine sadness. Oh, and my favourite line:
  8. No Man's Sky

    I think I'm back on the Sky-train (do you see what I did there?) after the 1.3 update, after having set it aside for a while. It is really impressive how much has been added and overhauled. That said, some of it feels like expansion for its own sake. I'm not convinced that the game needed more resources and crafting materials for players to worry about collecting, let alone a second currency. Inventory management still feels like a bit of a faff, and new features like stackable objects and dedicated slots for tech upgrades work in strange ways (items stack, but not automatically; why are my old upgrades in my inventory and not in tech slots?). The sheer range of new things to craft has become quite intimidating. At the moment all my upgrades still feel pitifully weak. I want a freighter, but it feels like it'll take forever for me to get anywhere close to affording one. And yes, the old fundamental problems remain. Every time my nose is down and I'm chipping away at some rock with my terrible mining laser I'm thinking: this isn't very good. The way that minerals and items are colour coded still gives me a headache trying to unpick it; there's so little meaningful differentiation between different varieties of red/yellow/blue stuff. I don't understand why they've made it more difficult to craft/gather certain things – why do I now need an advanced laser to mine certain minerals when I didn't need one before? Why is that good? I don't see why they've made that stuff more complicated when there would be so much to gain from making it simpler. I've been thinking more about the nature of the story as well. The nature of the game means it can't really have 'characters' in the conventional sense, and so they've opted for an expansive, vague, abstract, post-singularity fable; and that's fine, but the game doesn't know how to marry the grand scale of this with the actuality of its own small-scale mechanics (mining, scanning, shooting spaceships). What little I've experienced of the story so far might actually work better in the context of the creative mode, where the player is free from the tedious constraints of fuel and life support and shields, and perhaps more at liberty to think about the nature of what they're doing – something like what we've seen with David O'Reilly's Everything, perhaps. (A version of NMS that 'plays itself' – just surfing around planets like a screensaver – would be amazing.) I realised I've mostly only had critical things to say thus far, and yet I was reminded while playing again last night of what a singular experience this is. It still looks and sounds and plays like nothing else, and it really does look extraordinary at times. I still like the basic experience of pottering about in space with some late Pink Floyd albums on Spotify. I think these refinements will be enough to keep me occupied for quite some time. I'm intrigued again.
  9. Hitman: Steve Gaynor Edition

    I feel like I might be the last person in the world to start playing this game, but I am, after picking up the GOTY edition on disc for about £20. It is, obviously, outstanding. It's the only game since MGSV to tickle the worst of my completionist urges. I am a little disappointed to have missed all the Elusive Contracts, but there's still an unbelievable amount of content in this bundle. If anybody is holding off on it for that reason, I wouldn't worry about it. I've put at least 15 or 20 hours into the training missions and Paris alone; I've not even started on Sapienza yet, but I will soon. The only thing I'm not so happy about is the speed at which I've been able to unlock all the mastery levels for Paris -- and that's only after doing about half the challenges, all the opportunities, and finishing maybe three or four escalations. I've got all the 'cheevos for that chapter, too, so…there's nothing left to get? It would be nice if they could patch in some more rewards but equally it's fine if they don't. I mean, I can see from looking at my trophy percentages that it's only a tiny fraction of players who will ever bother to max out their mastery. I sort of hate this modern dependence on doing the thing to tick the box or to make the numbers go up -- but it does feel good to make a number go up…
  10. Baby Driver (Boss Baby Successor)

    There's a great interview with Edgar Wright on a recent episode of Adam Buxton's podcast where he tells a totally incredible story that, to my knowledge, he's never told anywhere else. A long time ago, before he was directing films, one of Wright's first jobs in TV was as a researcher on a short-lived British show called Beadle's Hot Shots; this was one of those clip shows where people would send in their home movies in exchange for cash. His job was to watch all the video tapes that came in and pick the best ones. But in this interview, Wright admitted that at least half the clips they screened, he secretly made himself, and 'submitted' as someone else. He got them to send the cheques to his dad. I thought about this story when I saw that sequence of Baby (I won't call him Miles) at his music-making desk. The stuff with the cassettes struck me as maybe the most earnest moment in the film. Interesting that it's tapes, too, and not a computer; I thought of Wright's earliest attempts at films, made with VCR 'crash' editing. Lot of crashing in this film. Also interesting that Baby's never seen using a computer, even though his collection of iPods suggests he must have had one once. Perhaps vinyl records and drum machines just make for better visuals than even a vintage iMac could match. The sight of that big old iPod box did something to my heart, though. I liked this movie. It has actually given me a lot to think about, which I wasn't expecting. I thought it was a little slow in parts, especially the early moments between Baby and Deb. Perhaps that's mostly because Debora's character is a little under-developed. The last half hour is dynamite, but the ending is a strange sort of fudge. (I suppose it is implausible that Baby would get out of prison after five years of parole, but it's probably also one of the least implausible things in this movie. Do people still rob banks??) We've had versions of Baby Driver before. I can imagine a version of this movie from the 70s which would end with Baby and Debora going out in a hail of bullets. In the 80s, somebody would be so impressed by Baby's tapes that at the end he'd be propelled into a new career as a pop music idol. In the 90s, this would be Natural Born Killers. And in the 00s, the twist is that the whole movie is the visualised internal psychodrama of a Baby who was crippled as a child in that car accident (his real parents survived; his dad is Kevin Spacey and Debora is his mum). You could also read this film as being a sort of parable about the true nature of the millennial generation. They are tied into jobs they can't escape, but they tend to be really good at those jobs. They're under-appreciated by the Baby Boomers who are pulling all the strings, but they also get scorned by the older Gen X-ers who see them as pretentious, self-regarding, and somehow also too safe. They are happy to do creative work with little expectation of getting paid for it. And, for all the contemptuous rhetoric about 'snowflakes' and 'safe spaces', they get shit done in a way that balances their own dreams with an idea of what is good for society. …there's a thinkpiece in this somewhere, I just know it.
  11. Movie/TV recommendations

    I watched Dressed to Kill (1980) over the weekend. I find something strangely magnetic in Brian De Palma's movies. Here, as so often with his stuff, the plot is some truly wild pulp nonsense; but the directing here is outrageously good. On the other hand… I don't know that a more generous reading is possible. I think a lot of it is probably indefensible. But taken as one long bad (very, very bad) dream of late 70s/early 80s public anxieties about gender, reworked through a hybrid of Vertigo and Psycho, it's fascinating.
  12. Nintendo 3DS

    So, uh...after twiddling my thumbs over whether or not to buy one in my last post, I bought a New 3DS XL in the Momazon Prime day sale. It wasn't a huge discount (£150) but I haven't seen it so cheap elsewhere. I still play 3DS games enough for it to be worthwhile: I'm still finishing the third campaign of Fire Emblem: Fates (don't look at me like that) and I want to get around to Majora's Mask and Shadows of Valentia at some point this year. And then there's Metroid, and Pikmin. I might even pick up FE: Warriors, if the port isn't awful. In a rush of enthusiasm I downloaded a bunch of demos from the eshop, one of which was for Etrian Odyssey IV. I have no experience at all with this series, but man, that's a really interesting little-big game. I haven't played a first-person dungeon crawler since maybe Eye of the Beholder on the PC but the combination of thoughtful turn-based combat with exploration and drawing a little map on the lower screen seems so clever and compelling. Plus it can be had from the EU eshop for a little over £7 (with a My Nintendo discount) which seems absurdly cheap. Oh and the other benefit of buying a new console is that my girlfriend has inherited my old 3DS. I pressed it into her hands with my copy of Luigi's Mansion 2 and I've barely seen her since...
  13. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

    It's been a while since I did this but there might be an opportunity to plant C4 on/near the chopper at some stage during the conversations. Or you could book it out of the base and take it out with the CGM from a distance away; I recall having some success shooting it down from the road that runs along a little hill overlooking the base. The nearby guards might get a '!' but as long as they don't actually see you doing it you should be okay. Maybe. You'd have to use stealth camo for both of these, of course, but then the fully upgraded stealth camo and fully upgraded parasite armour suit can be used to solve most of the trickiest problems in this game. That's including the epic final Quiet mission. No need to find anywhere to hide when you can take tank rounds to the chest and survive! It kind of feels like cheating but at this level the systems start to look kind of broken anyway so why not.
  14. I've always found killstreak rewards in modern multiplayer games annoying in this way. I don't play them enough anymore to know if they've got better in recent Call of Duties, but the idea that the best players should also be showered with little presents that allow them to maintain or further that dominance is something I always found confounding and frustrating. Games like Titanfall and Overwatch attempt to remedy this -- everyone gets to have a go in the big robot, or use their super ability from time to time -- but I don't know if they go far enough. Overwatch gets credit in my book because it feels less intensely competitive; even when you're losing on a public server, it still feels like a stupid, goofy day out with your buddies. But too often I just feel like the game is throwing me a bone. It's like in Destiny, where you get a little onscreen boop for killing the guy who just killed you, or for coming back from an awful streak of deaths – I feel like the game is smiling and patting me on the shoulder in a way that just feels patronising. So I don't play those games very often! I was never a great fan of the Rogue Legacy approach; progress in that game seemed so tightly tied to upgrading your character over the generations, and seemed to have relatively little to do with skill. Shovel Knight is better balanced, I think: expert players can safely ignore upgrades if they want, while others can sort of fudge their way through the game, even if they don't manage to collect much gold along the way. But it is still a very hard game, relatively speaking. The question of whether games ought to be accessible to everyone regardless of skill level is a bit more complex. Perhaps my head wants to say yes but my heart wants to say no? Also the question of difficulty is just as often to do with knowing how to manage controls and UI than it is health bars and stat boosts. I know my partner would like to play games like Firewatch and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, but she can't handle moving a character around from a first-person perspective; those games would be well served by alternative control methods that don't require twin stick/WASD experience.
  15. Nintendo 3DS

    I had a go on the Hey! Pikmin! demo on the way to work this morning. I really like the core Pikmin games so I wasn't expecting much from this at all, but actually...I really quite liked it. The basic concepts of those games have been carried across rather well, albeit in a highly simplified form; there's no longer much in the way of exploration and RTS-style resource gathering, but what you get instead is a sort of simple metroidvania with some light physics puzzling. Unfortunately, it runs really poorly on my 'old' 3DS XL. I'm not a person for whom FPS means much, but I would guess this is sub-30, at pretty much all times. It's so bad it's enough to make me wonder if this was a New 3DS exclusive at one point that's since been released for all platforms. (It also doesn't have 3D at all; presumably that was another concession to performance.) I've been thinking for some time about upgrading to a New 3DS XL -- and this is kind of making me want to do it again? The trouble is, of course, that I have no idea for how much longer I'm going to want to play 3DS games, especially as I'll probably buy a Switch within the next year or so. The New 2DS XL is extremely tempting -- but I actually really enjoy the stereoscopic 3D feature on my current console, and I don't want to go without it... Oh and I also played the demo for Ever Oasis. That game runs very well and looks very nice. Another solid addition to the 3DS stable of simple action-RPG/offline MMO type games. It's probably a bit too much of a grind right for me to appreciate right now but it's certainly charming, if you like that kind of thing.
  16. The Idle Book Club 26: A Sight for Sore Eyes

    Finished. I thought this was really quite impressive. It's a very well-crafted piece of fiction; as a character study it's somehow constantly engaging, even though there isn't really much in the way of mystery to the plot. As a portrait of what it is like to grow up in Britain, it would make for an interesting comparison with Never Let Me Go. Both have a relatively 'plain' prose style, though Ishiguro does something quite different with it. The disposal of the letters is an odd thing. That whole part of the plot felt to me like an abandoned sub-plot, cut perhaps for brevity; it's rather a nice twist that comes at the end, though it was one that I guessed at first before subsequently forgetting about it for a couple of hundred pages. It felt like a clever tribute to the crime genre from a novel which isn't really a crime novel. (* - Their name is 'Grex' in the British edition, but I've read somewhere that this was changed to 'Brex' in the American edition...?)
  17. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

    Humming worked out all right for Glenn Gould, didn't it? I liked the humming. I don't know how much more I can write about MGS V. I feel like I've written a lot about it, and it feels rather distant from me now. Like most of the Metal Gear games I think I will always file the plot under 'interesting' rather than 'good'. But so, so few games ever make it to either of those. Of course it is also sometimes objectionable and often extremely silly. I think there's a lot to like about Quiet; my problem was that there just wasn't enough of her. I mean, there wasn't enough of any of the characters - but it's her perpetual silence which really feels like a wasted opportunity. The final canonical Quiet mission is really something extraordinary.
  18. Quitter's Club: Don't be ashamed to quit the game.

    'Perhaps I'll have a quick go on Destiny,' I thought over the weekend; I hadn't played it in a few months and I was vaguely aware that I still had loads of stuff to do in it. So I played some Destiny. I take a look at my quest list. I don't understand half of what I am being asked to do, but maybe that's okay. I do a story mission from The Taken King; it's fine. I potter around on Venus for a bit, doing patrols and looking for some Taken to spawn in so I can finish another TTK side-quest. They don't show up. It's fine. I think about doing some PvP. I pull up my list of quests and find one that asks me to be on the winning side in a set number of matches for a particular game mode. That seems achievable! Except then I go out to orbit to discover that this particular game mode is no longer an option in the Crucible. No clues as to where it might have gone, or when it'll be back, or what I should do with this half-completed quest. It's just - gone. I will be the first to admit a certain weariness with the excessive tutorialisation in many modern video games, but in this case I was just completely baffled that the game would do this to me. Presumably the expected reaction from a seasoned player is 'oh, I guess it doesn't really matter'. And I get that it doesn't matter because I guess now you can do just about anything in Destiny and expect to get better gear out of it, albeit at varying rates. But in this case I was suddenly just struck by an overwhelming feeling of pointlessness. This is stupid - even as I write this now I am thinking 'this is stupid' - but it's how I feel. I would rather play Overwatch with no quests in mind beyond those I set for myself. Anyway, I turned the game off and played the latest Shovel Knight expansion instead. It's great. Faith in games restored.
  19. Endorsements from Thumbs Readers

    Yeah it's exactly that. It's designed somewhat towards 'one page per thing', so then you file the pages into sections, and the sections into notebooks; but you could certainly just write in one page forever. In fact Microsoft claim that each OneNote page is infinitely large, which is enough to make me wonder about the potential for a Borgesian page which is a 1:1 scale map of the world... We had a bidet in the house where I grew up. I lived there for 18+ years and never used it once. Nobody told me how, I suppose? They seem eminently sensible; I hope one day to be washing my bum like a pro.
  20. Endorsements from Thumbs Readers

    This feels like an incredibly boring software endorsement, especially as I'm about to talk about a Microsoft product, but I've recently become a big fan of OneNote. I've never clicked with cloud-based note taking apps like Evernote previously, but for some reason I've really taken to this since I started using it as part of Office 365 at work. The full version is now 100% free even if you don't have Office. It's just a useful application for things I want to put down somewhere but can't think of where to put them. I really appreciate that the desktop client supports logging in from multiple Microsoft Exchange/Office/email accounts at the same time, so I can have access to my work and personal notebooks on the same computer in a way that's clearly differentiated. So I can save that recipe for dinner tonight to my personal notes that sync with my phone, in between clipping that useful work email to my work notebook, all with the same tool. It also makes for a pretty good bare-bones word processor. The web extensions for Safari and Chrome work okay for clipping long articles, although I still find that some sites clip better than others (which I suppose is inevitable). The Mac client is a bit light on features compared to the Windows version, and I'm not a huge fan of the UX, but it's basically fine. Here's hoping Microsoft don't try to use it as a way to flog me Office - there's little to no advertising of that at the moment, but I can see it happening at some point..
  21. The Idle Book Club 26: A Sight for Sore Eyes

    Thoughts from almost halfway through: This is my first experience of a Ruth Rendell novel, and it's not at all what I expected. The pacing is very curious. It feels very slow; I can kind of see how everything is coming together but it takes an awful long time for the book to gets its ducks in order. But somehow it isn't wordy - it covers a lot of time and space in relatively few words. Not many books would bother to chart the upbringing of the principal characters in such painstaking real time detail. I was surprised to find several of the characters living in a large semi-detached house in Ealing, which is an unassuming borough of London where I've lived for pretty much my whole life. So now I picture them living in my old family home, which is strange - but weirdly fitting for a portrait of middle-class anxiety. The book has a lot to say about class and I am not sure all of it is good. I may write more about this later, but some of it seems redolent of a certain tabloid atmosphere of moral panic that I mostly associate with the late 90s and early 00s. I'm not sure yet whether the novel is best read as a document of that thing, or an example of it; or both, perhaps? I've not finished it yet. I look forward to thinking about it more.
  22. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

    After a while without showering, I think the amount of slowdown time you get during reflex mode goes down a bit. I think it might also make you easier to spot in certain conditions. It's not a huge difference but it's worth doing. Morale boosting makes soldiers a bit more productive, though again it's a fairly small boost. Bad stuff can happen if morale goes low but it's not serious (and, just like when you don't shower for a while, there's a cool cutscene!). At worst, your peeps might leave? But there are always more peeps. The short answer on the animal stuff is 'nope'. Tranqing stuff is easy enough, but with the cages there's basically no in-game clues to let you know where to put them to catch a particular kind of animal. Some of the rarest animals can only be caught in one or two particular places - if you ever find yourself in a weird-looking clearing or anywhere remotely unusual, you might have a good chance there. But it is only ever a chance: even if you put a cage in the right area, the game rolls dice to determine what you get. I have the official guidebook, which has a map showing where all the animals can be found, and I still had to drop the highest level cages over and over again to get certain animals for the trophy. (I'm an idiot, though. But I'm an idiot with the platinum trophy!!)
  23. Really enjoyed the discussion of what it means to be 'very nineties' here. My memories of that decade are pretty vague - I entered it at 3/4 and left it at 13/14 - but looking back at it now, it feels like ten years of cultural trash with a light scum of quality trash. That seems wildly harsh, I know. Of course there was a lot of good stuff created back then, but having lived through it, I feel like my memories of the trash are overwhelming. Perhaps that's just what you get exposed to as a kid at that age. I mean, I went to the exhibition at the Millennium Dome twice. And at the time I thought it was really good! I had a Game Gear; I thought that was good too! Basically I was an idiot. Most of the really good 'very nineties' stuff I've only discovered in retrospect. David Bowie released a pair of albums back then called Outside and Earthling that I think make for a concentrated example of cultural tropes specific to that decade. This is to say they now sound super nineties - mostly in a good way. I don't think anyone would file them among his best work, but now it feels like they’ve aged in a way that's both really interesting and occasionally cringeworthy. At the time I guess Bowie was trying to absorb second-hand influences from other musical trends of the time, like drum 'n bass and industrial; and so we get a vaguely post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk-horror vibe - a lot of the 'wake up sheeple!' thing mentioned on the podcast - plus bizarre in-character monologues inspired by Twin Peaks, hanging over Brian Eno soundscapes - all the good stuff. There's also a song on Earthling which mimics exactly the garbled sound a CD player would make when you hold down the 'rewind' button while the disc is spinning. Only nineties kids will remember that.
  24. Real life things you have done because of video games

    I like the idea of this thread! Sadly, I can't think of anything significant I've done in real life because of video games. On paper I suppose this means they have been a tremendous waste of time. The idea of living vicariously through games - of games as escapism - is kind of unfashionable at the moment, but it has always been important to me. So it's more often the case that I'll have wonderful experiences in games and then think: there's no way in hell I would want to try that in real life. Perhaps I'm being too literal. I can say that whenever I've doing anything that involves corners (mopping, vacuuming) I hear the voice of Captain Price from Call of Duty 4 saying 'CHECK THOSE CORNERS' in my head. You've got to check the corners. Breath of the Wild really does give me the something of the same feeling I get when I'm up a hillside somewhere, walking alone. But I like that in Zelda because I like it in life. Firewatch is the same in that regard. I sometimes wonder how I would cope in a situation similar to Henry's; the prognosis is not always great…
  25. Is It Wrong To Eat Meat?

    I became a vegetarian when I was about 15 or 16. I remember how it occurred to me quite suddenly that, outside of personal taste and habits, I could only find good reasons not to eat meat. Eventually I lapsed into pescetarianism, where I still reside. I will eat virtually anything except for conventional white and red meats - I don't miss them at all. I remember having a sort of crisis of conscience over the one food group that seemed borderline permissible: molluscs. If oysters, clams, mussels and the like are sustainable, and grown like plants, and have little in the way of manifest consciousness, is it right to consider them animals for the purpose of eating? I wrestled with this problem for a while before I finally gave in and admitted to myself that I enjoy seafood far too much to give it up entirely. I have no particular justification for it: I know industrial-scale fishing brings with it its own set of problems. I've never been happy having to kill a lobster with a knife through the skull, even though they are basically just giant bottom-dwelling sea bugs. I like cephalopods; I avoid eating them, and wish we didn't catch them at all. And the dairy industry is its own thing entirely. Still, I would hope that it is no longer a controversial statement to say that most people, and society in general, would benefit from consuming a bit less meat. One thing I find tiresome is the way in which our culture seems to demand absolute moral commitment: either you're a veggie/vegan, or you're not; and if you are, people expect you to have reasons beyond 'I would prefer not to'. In a way, it would be helpful to eliminate those subcategories altogether. It's good to encourage thinking about food in a way that doesn't necessarily result in becoming a 'tarian' of some sort.