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Everything posted by Atlantic

  1. Books, books, books...

    I have recently read Perdido Street Station and The Scar by China Miéville, poster child of the New Weird. I have read a few of his other books. I really enjoyed The City and The City and Embassytown, and I liked King Rat decently enough. Now I'm two thirds through his Bas-Lag trilogy, and I have some Assorted Thoughts: Perdido Street Station is absolutely crammed with interesting ideas, from severe body horror to friendly hell-dwellers to a rejection of Tolkien-esque fantasy tropes. Sometimes, this is to its detriment. I don't particularly care for elves and orcs and dwarves and such, and PSS avoids all of this in favour of a bunch of much stranger creatures, like the man-bird Garruda and the extremely sexually dimorphic Khepri. These all have different cultures and ways of living, but they're all overlapping in the city of New Crobuzon. All of these details are interesting, but the story focusses on the invasion of some monsters into the city and the efforts of "rogue academic" Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin. There are a bunch of subplots that weave through this, but some of the story is lost in all of the world details, which is the same problem as the Lord of the Rings just in a different skin. There are a few revelations that happen towards the end that made me feel manipulated, and not in a fun way. I found this book to be mostly a slog, but I spite-read my way through it because I have enjoyed some of the other things that Miéville has written. The Scar is much better! It's the story of Bellis Coldwine and the pirate city of Armada, a conglomerate of stolen ships and scraps. Again, there are a bunch of New Weird fantasy races all living side-by-side. Despite the fact that PSS and The Scar are pretty log (~800 pages each), the latter was a much easier read. There is a smaller cast of characters and they are all contained on this ship-city, and they are much more developed. All of the world details didn't feel like fluff this time, but rather relevant information that also fleshes things out. Some of the twists and turns are obvious to see from miles away, but there are still a few surprises. I really enjoyed The Scar, way more than Perdido! The problem is that I don't know if anything in the setting would make a lot of sense if you just jumped in here, but maybe... ? Anyway, I am interested now in the last of the trilogy, Iron Council.
  2. Other podcasts

    The Flop House is good! All of the Max Fun ads are terrible and do a poor job of capturing the enticing parts of each of the shows. The best episodes are the ones where they watch a film that ends up as "good-bad" in their final judgements, especially the ones that are completely crazy. They all have a deep appreciation of movies, but they have wildly different tastes. Someone has been keeping track of their recommendations, and once you know that Dan watches whatever, Elliott likes old movies, and Stu likes schlock you might find something you like. You will in time come to love Elliott's letters songs!
  3. The McElroy Family of Products

    I'm a relatively recent TAZ listener but I have some opinions. Mostly parroting what others have said. The impression I get is that each of the McElroys wants the show to be something different. Justin wants it to be entertaining and Clint just tags along. Travis has more experience playing tabletop games and has more confidence in the mechanics of D&D. Griffin wants to tell his story. All of these things are clashing! With FatT, everyone is confident in the mechanics, understands that the tone is going to shift wildly between comedy and tragedy from session to session, and ultimately everyone has confidence in Austin as a GM. However, FatT is an actual play podcast and TAZ is a comedy podcast that uses D&D. It does get bogged down in LORE and STORY a bit too often, and the players are shut down from doing something clever or interesting by Griffin a few too many times. He's just not as talented or experienced as Austin as a GM! That's the long and the short of it. It should also be noted that not everything the McElroys do is gold. MBMBaM took several years before they weren't awful, and even now they sometimes go off on a jag that isn't that funny (I know humour is subjective! but for me the quality of their podcasts varies wildly). TAZ has brought up very different problems, like scope: this whole story has been going on for YEARS now at this point. I suspect they didn't expect to take this long to do, and they occasionally mention that there are long gaps between their recordings. It's easy to forget all the details when there are a lot of moving parts. When the current campaign wraps up, I hope they do some shorter form stuff and use a few different games. I'm still enjoying TAZ as light entertainment and not some great work of fiction from a GENIUS STORYTELLER.
  4. Other podcasts

    @SuperBiasedMan @Twig Aw man, that's like 30 hours of post-fantasy actual play podcast that you're going to make me make myself listen to now. I already listen to too many podcasts and now I listen to too much of too many podcasts.
  5. I would say that was a successful "Um, actually" on my behalf, because it showed me to be a real ding-a-ling!
  6. Other podcasts

    Friends at the Table chat: Is anyone else finding this current season a real drag? I loved Counter/WEIGHT once it got going, Marielda was fun... but I don't really care about any of the characters or conflicts in the current game in Hieron. I didn't listen to the first season because the audio quality wasn't great, and this seems like a sequel to that, so I don't get any of the callbacks. I am tempted to drop it until they start a new campaign. (I am wrestling with the sunk cost fallacy! Also I don't really give a shit about fantasy) The Adventure Zone chat: I started listening to TAZ a few weeks ago to get my actual play fix. I'm enjoying it! A few too many situations are resolved through combat, but it's really just a vessel for jokes. I think Griffin really gets into it and wants to emulate FatT at times, but the others just want to put on a good show. Travis really shines in TAZ, whereas sometimes he's not as quick off the mark in MBMBaM.
  7. I'm going to "Um, actually" this but Shawn is just an anglicisation of the Irish name Seán, which the the Gaelicised version of the name John or Jean. +1 for schoying horne though
  8. NieR: automobile

    It has a good mix of both. There are main mission sections that do the third-person combat/shmup sections with cutscenes and story, and then there is the open world that connects everything. The world isn't huge, but it changes drastically at certain points in the story. I would recommend doing the main missions until you unlock the fast travel system, and then doing a few side quests. The side quests themselves don't always have the most interesting scenarios, but there are good bits of writing in them. For what it's worth, I often get bored with open worlds in games but I didn't get bored in Automata's world.
  9. NieR: automobile

    I don't really have an answer for it. There are male characters who are sexualised, and there are other female characters who are not sexualised, and all of them have agency over their situation. But they're also all androids, and there are some references to their sexualities without any real answers. This is a game that is interested in asking questions of you every hour or so, sometimes frivolous, sometimes heavy. Maybe there's a deeper reason for it, maybe that's just how the developers decided she should look. Or as Anita Sarkeesian used to say, you can simultaneously enjoy media and be critical of its pernicious aspects. That's not really an answer, but like I said I don't one.
  10. NieR: automobile

    Well, it's complicated. Nier was actually way ahead of the curve in some areas. For instance, there were gay and intersex (and specifically intersex and not trans) characters in that first game, and they were shown to be fully rounded characters, with positive traits and character flaws. This game came out in 2010, and I can't think of another intersex character in games. In Automata, 2B's design is referenced in game in a couple of ways. There is one line of dialogue that points at it (but it does also highlight that this game was made in a traditionally Male Gaze-y way), and there is an achievement that scolds you for trying to look up 2B's dress. But you can still look up her dress. Yoko Taro, the director of the game, said that he was trying to imagine a world 10,000 years and the future and didn't want bald space marines, but he also said that he just likes girls. There's no Kojima horseshit there, but it's still a knotty situation. I got the impression playing through this that every element has been considered quite thoroughly. You still might not like them, but it feels like there is a point behind everything.
  11. NieR: automobile

    This game is GREAT It features a simplified version of the usual Platinum Games style combat, with a dodge move that grants you invincibility frames and access to new moves and combos mixed with shmup-style shooting sections (of various flavours) and there are androids fighting machines on Earth in the year 11,300 (or thereabouts) and there are wild twists and turns in the story and your moveset and perspective and the music is astonishing and beautiful and invigorating and there are cute anime boys that are born from a robot orgy and there is Journey-esque sand surfing and moose riding and a robot that is modelled after the philosopher Sartre and the ability to rip and your own OS and die EDIT: i love it
  12. Movie/TV recommendations

    Caché has been on my watchlist for a while but this has just made it jump nearer the top.
  13. I Had A Random Thought...

    Threadfolks, how often are you asked to rate things?
  14. Return of the Steam Box!

    I have those exact ones (well, different plug/socket since I live in Ireland) and they work a treat. Simple to set up and speed is much improved compared to wireless.
  15. Ranking the Films of the Coen Bros.

    Oh lol no. I rearranged the list after I wrote that.
  16. wrong thread

    This was a vision, fresh and clear as a mountain stream, the mind revealing itself to itself. In my vision, I was on the veranda of a vast estate, a palazzo of some fantastic proportion. There seemed to emanate from it a light from within, this gleaming, radiant marble. I'd known this place. I had in fact been born and raised there. This was my first return. A reunion with the deepest well-springs of my being. Wandering about, I noticed happily that the house had been immaculately maintained. There'd been added a number of additional rooms, but in a way that blended so seamlessly with the original construction, one would never detect any difference. Returning to the house's grand foyer, there came a knock at the door. My son was standing there. He was happy and carefree, clearly living a life of deep harmony and joy. We embraced, a warm and loving embrace, nothing withheld. We were, in this moment, one. My vision ended and I awoke with a tremendous feeling of optimism and confidence in you and your future. That was my vision of you. I'm so glad to have had this opportunity to share it with you. I wish you nothing but the very best in all things.
  17. Ranking the Films of the Coen Bros.

    I haven't seen all of the Coen brothers films but here's where I am so far: I like these: Miller's Crossing A Serious Man Fargo The Big Lebowski Barton Fink No Country For Old Men O Brother, Where Art Thou? The Man Who Wasn't There The Hudsucker Proxy I did not like these: Blood Simple Raising Arizona Burn After Reading Intolerable Cruelty Haven't seen: Hail, Caesar! Inside Llewyn Davis True Grit The Ladykillers I think I'm a bit different to other people in this thread in that I did not like those four in the middle group at all. I disliked most of the characters and their relationships. Those are also the more overt "comedy" films, and I saw them in the last few years and they feel very dated and kind of tacky and cheap.
  18. Twin Peaks Discussion

    Very Quality.

    I meant to do this ages ago, like I did for the Deus Ex: MD thread: - Alex Wiltshire's The Mechanic column on Rock, Paper, Shotgun takes a look at the Jindosh lock in the Dust District mission of Dishonored 2 When I first did this mission I wandered straight past the room with the lock and rambled around the rest of the area. I solved the conflict between the gang and the Overseers, and then had to go find the lock itself. I love that just by building this area in such a way as to allow for a variety of different paths is such a strength of these kinds of games. Some people found the lock and hammered on it with logic until they broke through, people like me who bumble through a first playthrough get to have a more stealth/combat approach. I have some issues with the area behind the lock, but again, I was happy with what I did on my first playthrough (I won't write about it because there will be spoilers). - Over at Waypoint, Campo Santo's ombudsman Duncan Fyfe compares Emily Kaldwin to D*n*ld Tr*mp It's a bit grim. Fyfe finds that Emily/Corvo fighting for the throne to which they are entitled, even though as a player you don't care about what happens next, is also an apt description of the life of Tr*mp. However, you can choose to play more compassionately (as much as the world of Dishonored allows), and that changes the context of the ending. I think that highlights one of the things about Dishonored that is more true of it than a lot of other games: it is the journey that matters, not the destination. I'd argue that the journey is mostly nonsense, but the moment-to-moment is fantastic. - Gareth Damian Martin at KillScreen writes about Karnaca, the mongrel city There are a few quotes from art director Sebastien Mitton about the city in Dishonored 2. Karnaca is a mix of Cape Town, Gibraltar, Havana, Barcelona, probably a lot more. But wandering through its streets, you never get the sense that places are pulled directly from the real world; instead, they are part of Karnaca, and nowhere else. There are very few other cities in games that feel like they exist without you. Bonus: some pretty pictures of Dunwall from Dishonored 1. Double bonus: a gallery of handsome Dishonored screenshots (?) by Dead End Thrills. - Claire Hosking examines how Dishonored 2 treats murder compared to other games over at Polygon The combat mechanics of Dishonored are really good, leading you to want to kill people. But the world reacts in a negative way, through excessive gore and the city turning to ruin. It's a strange tension, but one that suits: Emily/Corvo could kill their way to get back to the throne. It would be quickest! That leaves you as a ruler, born to a pampered life, killing the lower classes. It makes your decision to use stealth an explicitly political action (and I think that is very cool (also, of course it's political because games are political, but you know what I mean)). - Ian Birnbaum at Motherboard notices the depths of history seen in Dishonored It's worth a read for a few choice quotes, like "History is everywhere in a way that Americans sometimes fail to understand" when chatting to game designer Harvey Smith and lead narrative designer Sachka Duval. I would love to see or be able to notice these cultural differences in games more often. Yes, Karnaca and Dunwall are mashups of a handful of different real world places, but there is a history ingrained in their geographies. - Tom Francis found a... disturbing way of landing safely from a great height: - Glixel did an amazing profile of/interview with Harvey Smith, the creative director of Dishonored 2 Smith has had a tough life. He seems like a lovely and intelligent man.
  20. There is not a lot of variety in enemy types or encounter design. A lot of your time is spent fighting other humanoids, with the occasional big demon guy or spider. Most of the encounters end up being one-on-one or two-on-one. And the level design sometimes feels a little bit flat. Sometimes there are surprises, but most of the missions are solely about combatting your way through this zone and then moving on to the next. I still enjoyed playing it, but unlike the Souls games I don't really have any inclination to go back and play it again (a higher difficulty mode is unlocked after beating the final boss).
  21. When Chris was describing the kitchen implement at the end, I was thinking it was what I know as a "fish slice." And apparently it's called a fish turner in the US? Separated by a common language, I suppose. Also, while watching the video version on youtube, I realised there are much more dainty little hand gestures being made at all times than I ever imagined during an episode of Idle Thumbs.
  22. Movie/TV recommendations

    If you need a film from China for your list, I also recently watched Raise the Red Lantern (1991) which explores similar themes in a very different way. It's set in 1920s China, and follows a young woman as she becomes the Fourth Mistress of a wealthy family. It's also very good, but I wasn't thrilled at the ending. I'd love to hear what you or other people think.