In which Our Stalwart Daughter plays a bullet-hell game to win, Our Vengeful Loli is defeated by Deus Ex Elf-Juice and Dad Power, The Maltese Doughball gets what he deserves, and Our Daddy-Hungry Countess rises to the occasion.
Verdict: Helvetica is dangerously close to overtaking Miriam for Best Girl status.
(cute dragonette foodie is unrelated, as usual)
Do not meddle in the affairs of Frieren, for she is subtle and
to anger plays the long game. As she was taught.
Verdict: I am now officially Hot For Teacher.
So I made it to Act 3, started to accumulate side quests so that I could finally get into the titular city, and… went off to read a book instead. I just didn’t want to do the things they wanted me to do, and there was nowhere else to go. It’s made very clear that you’re in a Race Against Time to Stop The Bad Guys and Save The City, but you have to run around talking to pretty much every named NPC in each region to make sure that you stumble across half a dozen plot coupons to get the thing to do the thing that unlocks the thing that opens the door to start the fight to see the guy to get the other thing, and half of it isn’t actually necessary but you won’t know that until you finally trip the flag that lets you progress the plot.
Meanwhile, most of the people I helped in Act 1 died horribly in Act 2, and the ones who didn’t are worse off, and most decisions I got to make ranged from Kinda Evil to Mostly Evil. And for all the apparent freedom in experiencing the content, you’re welded to the rails of this story, unable to even revisit the earlier areas if there was something that you missed.
For instance, in Act 1, you have the opportunity to rescue a young tiefling girl who stole something (for a pretty good reason). If you do so, you reunite her with her loving parents. If you stumble across her in Act 2, she’s been separated from her parents and asks you to find them. If you don’t find them before moving to Act 3 (and they’re hard to find even if you know what building they’re in), that quest gets auto-closed with a poor outcome, because you can never reenter the region and locate their tortured-to-death corpses. But you want to find them and shatter her hopes, because then you can recruit her for a plot fight later.
Honestly, the most positive thing I was able to do recently was tame a flesh-eating monster so that I could pet it at my camp. It still goes out and eats anything and anyone it can find, but who am I to make moral judgements, some kind of hero?
The most annoying thing that happened in Act 2 was that I didn’t talk to everyone on the first floor of the inn before going upstairs to see the Very Important NPC that I was specifically directed to speak to right away. As a result, one significant quest chain was closed off by the ensuing massacre, but I didn’t find out until several hours later when I groveled over the map searching for things that would be closed off by advancing to Act 3. There’s even a special cutscene where you lament the fact that you couldn’t make the world a better place.
Oh, and when I met the little girl, well after the massacre, I could tell her to wait for me at the inn with a friendly NPC. Who was dead, along with most of the people she knew from Act 1.
I’d like to play a game that used their D&D engine but had completely different writers and less grimdark epic railroading.
(true story: I gave up on the original Baldur’s Gate for a long time because I missed one tiny little corner of the map that contained a flag I needed to trip in order to enter the titular city; there was literally nothing left for me to do until I found it, and it was boring)
(Pete, I kind of miss the main feed that started returning 401 errors recently. It’s more fun than trying to track you through multiple feeds. 😁)
(Saturday update: ...and back, for
now; and yes,
there's RSS at
/users/anime/feed/, but not for the top-level
/main/public, so I visit that one by hand every few days to catch
up. As for signing up for an account somewhere, I'd need to have more
than one person to follow before I bother to figure out how... 😁)
In which overconfidence is bad, whether you’re a retainer with an obvious crush on your mistresses or a top-rank adventurer who’s never had to deal with mind games. On the bright side, Our Best Catgirl is happy to go wild against a bunch of generic mooks, which works for me.
It takes a while to get to the action, but Chubby Snidely Whiplash’s plot is now clear, as is the way he’s being used by Our Abused Child Prodigy (who is herself being used by Our True Villain, who made a brief tragic-backstory appearance). It still doesn’t feel like they’re really committing to a big fight, even though everyone knows that The Maltese Doughball is traitorous scum who wants everyone dead.
Verdict: Our Noble Sisters deserve the loyalty of their people. But if Helvetica ever finds out that Sasha got picked up…
(and, yes, there’s a touch of foreshadowing in that mind-game scene, but it will take some time to unpack)
In which much is explained and the JV goes to war, with more success than they expected. Frieren’s fight comes next week.
Verdict: take your time, we’ll still be here.
There’s a lot of nice story-compatible fan-art out there for Frieren, as well as the usual crude porn, but Fern has attracted attention not so much for her talent, intelligence, spellcasting speed, and quiet humor, but for “boooooooooobs!”. For instance:
Karlach is Best Girl, for looks, voice, and story; how can you not love a cheerful demonic berserker who keeps a teddy bear in her tent? And, yes, I turned on mods right before they released a massive patch, so I’ve disabled downloads until the basic dependencies get updated for the new release. I didn’t go crazy with mods, I just wanted to go back and get Karlath into my party early, unfuck some quests that I could no longer complete in my first run, and do a bit of min-maxing and power-leveling to reduce the annoyance of the do-it-again-stupid quests.
Playing as a half-orc monk, by the way, with a hireling halfling bard in the party; I haven’t ditched Shadowheart yet, but I’ve been thinking about trading her in on a warlock. Or at least pulling out the Gith-ho to do the crèche before passing through the next Door Of Warning; I’ve scoured the surface and the Underdark pretty thoroughly, and that seems to be the last thing left, now that my party is at level 6.
(unrelated little hellions did not deliver their trick-or-treats to my house for Halloween)
A Day In The Life of Our Shy Heroine Shy, where a visit to the stationery store leads to adventure and enlightenment. And shouting, as Our Shouty Super Gal drops in for some physical therapy and secrets and shouting. The adventure involves trying to keep up with an old lady on a mountain hike, because Teru’s not the outdoorsy type. The good news is that Miss Shouty actually stops shouting, and even gets a little quiet when she reveals that she’s not completely feral.
The enlightenment continues as Our Best Girlfriend is upstaged by The Strong Silent Type, who lures Teru into the world of zen brush calligraphy, where she gets some surprisingly relevant advice about focusing her heart to unlock her fire powers.
Verdict: a nice change of pace from the costumed adventure, even with the shouting.
Fallout 76, which to my surprise is a thing that still exists, is steeply discounted at the moment, but that wasn’t enough to convince me it could be worthwhile. However, it turns out to be free with Game Pass Ultimate, so I went ahead and downloaded it to try out.
TL/DR: it sucks. I was willing to overlook the graphics and UI issues for the $0 price, but I never even made it to the bottom of the hill outside the vault, because I kept getting rubber-banded back to the top. If this is what it’s like now, after all the widely-praised improvements, at launch it must have been an even bigger clusterfuck than I imagined.
(apparently one of the ways they’re trying to stay afloat is adding an optional monthly fee to allow you to play with just friends, not Random Internet People)
I had to revert to a previous save in Baldur’s Gate 3 after getting stuck in a conversation loop with an NPC. And it wasn’t any good the first time. I’m still not loving the do-it-again-stupid quest design, but this was a minor glitch compared to F76 (or some of the things I’ve run into in Starfield that require console hacking or reverting to much earlier saves; being trapped on an exploding starship is almost as bad as not being able to board it in the first place).
When my sister came to town last week, the first thing she commented on was that her Zoom meetings were a little choppy. Which was surprising given my trouble-free business-class Internet connection, and the fact that she was in the middle of the house right between the high-end Orbi base station and satellite.
After much fiddling, I discovered that the latest firmware update broke the connection to both satellite APs, so the only active wireless was in my office. In between her meetings, I moved the base station to the middle of the house and spent a few hours trying to get the satellites to sync back up. No luck yet, so I’ve left them unplugged until I find the time to factory-reset the whole system and build it back up from scratch. It knows that it has satellites, and I can connect directly to them via ethernet, but they think they’re fine while the base thinks they’re missing.
I’d been wondering why the Sonos speaker in the living room kept going offline; now I know.
Every once in a while someone manually goes to the effort of posting spam comments here, which I can delete with one click and which never get indexed by search engines anyway. Click.
In which Our Obsessed S-Rank Daughter wallows in hometown nostalgia, Our Favorite Dad fosters a catgirl, Our Adventure Gals manage to bathe without significant fan-service, stern parenting succeeds by failing, and we learn Something Important about how Bel lost his leg.
Verdict: I enjoyed this little interlude almost as much as they did, but I think it’s time everyone got back to work. That nameless villain’s not going to defeat himself.
(no new fan-art for this show, so here’s a cute dragonette foodie)
Amazon is heavily pushing “top picks for you” that include new books by Britney Spears and Jada Pinkett Smith. I don’t want to know what they were paid for these promotions, but they really stand out from the isekai novels, snack foods, and electronic gadgets that make up the bulk of their recommendations for me, and which are actually based on my purchases. I’m not interested in a sequel to The Firm, either, but I can at least understand why other people might be.
For two months now, they’ve also been constantly exhorting me to buy the hot-new-release Steven Brust novel, Lyorn, which doesn’t come out until April.
On that note, “Dear Amazon, this product couldn’t be gayer if it included a picture of two gay men drilling their buns, which it does”:
Twice now, I’ve gone through the Freestar Rangers questline and ended up having to hoof it at least five kilometers through heavy jungle, because the game generated a random POI that overlapped with the place I was supposed to be landing. And there’s nothing to do during that run except scan the local critters and maybe kill a few, all of which are level 1 and completely trivial. It was supposed to drop you off about 100 meters from your destination; your quest objective explicitly tells you to land there.
For more fun, the distance-to-target display is wrong, so you have to use the terrible on-world mapping to figure out roughly how much farther you need to go. Kind of ruins the tension of the big fight.
(there are no ground vehicles in Starfield, despite how sparsely populated the planets are with procedurally-generated content)
An exercise in side-quest design and lack of ground vehicles…
Random Martian: Hey, you should maybe talk to Trevor; I guess he’s having some problems with the mine.
Trevor: Hey, this mine we’re working that’s right under the middle of town? Yeah, we’re way below quota; could you maybe grab a cutter and get me some iron? For free?
Trevor: Great, now what we really need is a bunch of new equipment, but that dumb exec just won’t approve my POs. How about you fly up to Deimos and apply for a job as his executive assistant, fly back and hack into the local HR database to delete every other applicant, and then answer his mail and approve my PO?
Exec: Hello, assistant; did you change your hair, or are you a new one? I’m such a nitwit, but the first thing I need you to do is find out why I can’t get my special shipment; there’s some kind of hold on it.
Mars Governor: Yeah, that nitwit’s got a lot of unpaid taxes, but if
you do me a tiny little favor, I’ll release the hold. The favor? The
Crimson Fleet stole my company
car starship, and it’s really a
sweet ride, but I need you to quietly destroy it, off the record. For
Crimson Fleet: Seriously, kid, we let you bluff your way onto the ship, but you don’t speak pirate lingo at all, so we’re gonna kill you.
Crimson Fleet leader’s body: I’m an incriminating letter from the Mars Governor hiring the Fleet to destroy his own ship to hide the evidence of his affair with the woman who ran off with his ship.
Woman’s body: I’m an incriminating suicide note, and she was really, really sorry for all the trouble she caused.
Mars Governor: Nice work, I’ve released dipshit’s cargo. You didn’t… find anything interesting out there, did you? No? you just blew it up? Great!
Head of Security: Thanks for this incriminating evidence, we’re going to have a little chat with the Governor.
Exec: Ooh, thanks for the package; could you take care of my email now?
Trevor: Awesome work, the new equipment is on the way. Hank volunteered to go get it, but he should have been back by now. Could you maybe check at the docks?
Docks: Yeah, Hank left a while ago on some pickup job, but it was funny that he didn’t park here when he got back. I mean, there might be a good reason he parked waaaaaaaay over there, but really, that’s kind of a dick move. Or a smuggler move.
Trevor: Gosh, that doesn’t sound right. Check the local bars, and ask him why he did that.
Hank: Yes, I admit that I ripped off my fellow miners, because of reasons you won’t remember long enough to write them down. I repent my actions, though, so let’s go outside and I’ll hand it all over. My ship’s right over there, and while we spend the next 5-10 minutes walking, I’ll explain everything in a way that makes it really obvious that I’m going to try to kill you as soon as we’re alone. Really, really obvious.
Trevor: Wow, Hank was a dick. We’ll go bring his ship back to the docks so we can grab our new equipment. Oh, and could you check up on Rivkah? She doesn’t sound good…
(I left out the step where I had to fly to a shipyard, switch to another ship, and fly back, because I only had auto-turrets and the Governor’s ship wasn’t flagged hostile, so they wouldn’t shoot at it)
The only reason even more people aren’t playing Animal Crossing and other Nintendo Switch games while in lockdown is that all new online inventory is being snapped up by bots and resold on eBay at a substantial markup. And with walk-in stores still closed in most places, online inventory is the only kind there is.
Switch scalpers make the busty cheesecake cry:
I guess now we know what the decision-makers at the WHO and CDC were up to before they got sidetracked by Corona-chan…
Now that’s what I call evolution! Although, technically I suppose it’s Gainax rather than Gigantamax…
Related, on a whim I watched the new all-CGI Netflix Pokémon movie while on the elliptical, and while it’s shallow and cliché and poorly acted and basically impenetrable to anyone not well-acquainted with the anime, what really rankles is that they completely failed to make Misty cute. Most of the other females were at least presentable, but damn, the character designer must dislike her.
The Witcher series, on the other hand, is quite good. I bounced on the most recent game, and I’ve never read any of the books, but one of the random people still on Tumblr that I follow is obsessed with it, and it sounded like it had potential.
Remember when you decided that the multi-player interactivity in Sword and Shield would be restricted to seeing player names and pokemon nicknames, participating in raids without even hand signals, and burning curry together?
The following screenshot from the shiny new trade tool Pokemon Home tells me that your system needs a little work:
Seriously, how do you not block the all-caps N-word in an online service where you validate the data before allowing someone to start a trade?
Also, this was on Pokemon Day, when it was announced that Greninja was the most popular pokemon in the world, and sure to be searched for by lots of players.
In other news, I think I’m ready to face the first gym challenge in my new German Shield playthrough…