Recent Comments
From categories:
page »

Seeing as nobody has posted anything in a while…


So, Divinity Original Sin 2 was an overhyped waste of time. All the same issues as the original game, just prettier graphics. I will give some props for the voice over work, but that's it. It is a Baldur's Gate 2 retread with a cool elemental system and that's it.

Stellaris continues to be a very cool half-finished game. The mid- to end-game remains oddly unsatisfying and feels like it is a huge wind-up towards something… that never materializes. The end-game crises are not well scaled to a game-in-progress and whatever metric is used for them occassionally misses the mark by a fuckin light-year. "Here, have an unforeseeable random event that crushingly ends a twenty hour game with no recourse. Fun!"

Elder Scroll Legends shows how free-to-play can be done right. Yes, you can sink cash into it for some early advantages, but there is no need. Basic (free) gameplay has everything you would need to excel at the game. I worry that they aren't making enough money.

by Seijin8Seijin8, 17 Oct 2017 18:22


I'm fairly shit at graphic design. Or rather, I'm good at tweaking and editing what's there (though I find it fiddly), but shit at actually starting from scratch. Everything I've done is based on lots of lines and colors and fonts and a command-line aesthetic precisely because I'm shit at graphic design.

Code I'm good at, but also stupidcrazybusy doing it for work, so you'd be waiting far longer than I think you'd like. (As are the designers I work with, or I'd ask one of them.)

by Delta VDelta V, 29 Sep 2017 02:40

Depending on how you define "professional looking," you should consider Weebly or Squarespace, which will allow you to make good looking (if a bit formulaic) websites quite easily. Weebly at least, is free1 until you move it to your own domain and remove their "created by weebly" banner, so you can try making a mock one to see if you like it, for no cost.

by HawkingtonHawkington, 27 Sep 2017 01:59

Semi-random question:

Anyone know someone decent at web design who might be available? I'm thinking I should get a page setup, but I don't know ass from elephants with this.

EDIT: The Graphics Design element is more the concern than the code. I can sling some Geocities-tier bullshit, but I want to look like I'm trying to be professional.

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 26 Sep 2017 01:04


You've still got a window. It's closing, but it's there.

We're still trying to get ML constructing sentences properly in the general case, much less paragraphs, chapters, or whole books. And while we don't fully understand these constructs, we're finding some really interesting ways to break them.

Also, they might spend their time fighting each other anyways.

Re: Scrivener

Can't say I've ever tried it. I'm a Linux guy, so it's not on my platform, and I'm a coder, so I'm most comfortable writing in my monospaced, syntax-highlighted, multi-cursor Sublime Text.

That said, I'm also waiting on a writing tool that can do footnotes, endnotes, and sidenotes, simultaneously. (Yes, I actually have a (currently-stalled) project which requires that.) A boy can dream…

[T]he post-work, always-networked world scares me, even in its most utopian framings. Deprived of want, drive, and struggle, are we also deprived of purpose? Purposeless, and always united in electrosocial networks, does Mouse Utopia set in?

I'm more worried about the behemoth corporate collective intelligences we already have, thankyouverymuch. Long, long way to go before Mouse Utopia is even an option, much less a bad one.

Then again, I'm speaking as one who currently makes their living wrangling toasters, so I'm not exactly first on the firing line, here.


Now I have an itch to go get the latest PyTorch and try out a few LSTM configurations I've had in mind, as a kind of sequel to my first dip into the ML waters. Maybe I'll throw The Sword into the maw and see what it spits out :P

by Delta VDelta V, 17 Sep 2017 04:36


Any toaster comes for my words, I'm throwing it out the frakking airlock.1


As for writing tools: I am a Scrivener man, through and through. Couldn't imagine doing it another way, unless it was automatically metadata parsed.2

Perhaps unrelated, but the post-work, always-networked world scares me, even in its most utopian framings. Deprived of want, drive, and struggle, are we also deprived of purpose? Purposeless, and always united in electrosocial networks, does Mouse Utopia set in?3

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 13 Sep 2017 20:30


Let's back up a second.

I haven't read ASoIaF, correct. I do know a fair number of its pieces, including pretty much all the points you listed. To me, though, they're (merely) tales of a foreign land I'll likely never see myself1. "[A]n entire mirrored world…but all darker, more threatening, and mysterious," containing, as you say, reflected versions of its component myths and legends. It remains, however, somewhere else, for me and for other show-natives.

So I think you're arguing past me, here. I'm not talking about the point, nor the methods and machinery, of A Song of Ice and Fire2. I'm talking about the point, methods, and machinery of Game of Thrones, because I see the show through its own lens, not through that of the books. And this, I think, is the root of our disagreement.

This is a series about texture. The richness is, itself, the point. Finding the hidden meanings, the buried gears, and then determining why they turn is the joy of the fandom.

The show lost that. It could never have it, because television doesn't give you the time to expound on it. But it had a passable verisimilitude, when Martin was involved to give the "key points", and D&D could parse down to the 'core story'.

I think it possibly could have, if they'd conceived it not as "Sopranos in Middle Earth", but as "Lost in Middle Earth". If they'd created the show from the beginning to be just the visible tip of all these vast, hidden machines. Did you ever see John from Cincinnati? It was HBO, and it very much like that3. But Game of Thrones, the show, isn't. It doesn't really have any hidden machinery4, and more importantly, it never did.

I would (counter-)assert that with the exception5 of whatever set the White Walkers to motion, the show has never had the basement full of machinery the books have. A couple hidden storage lockers down there67, and little more. It's a modern skyscraper, not an ancient fortress: the load-bearing structure is the outer walls, and its insides hang off them. The texture that you say defines the purpose of the books8 has, in the show, never been more than evocative, like the set and costume design. To the show, the web of history taken from the books — at least in terms of what drives the show, and what steers it — is roughly equivalent in influence to its art direction9.

So I'd argue that the show is its own thing, working its own way, and (subtly) even less related to its source than most close adaptations. Game of Thrones' relation to A Song of Ice and Fire is more like Blade Runner's relation to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? than anyone expected. And there's an ocean between the two lands.

Regarding R+L=J:

Specifically, it's a holdover from Martin's original outline, and given what you describe, I'm really not sure why he kept it in. N+A=J would've been fine, if he wanted a secret parentage aspect (and given the theory Ned and Ashara were secretly wed before Ned and Cat, might've even provided a way for Jon to be secretly legitimate instead of a bastard). It's making Jon a Targaryen that — to me, at least — undermines what Martin has to say elsewhere about legitimacy and birthrights.

Generally, what I meant by "emblematic of Martin's greatest flaw as a writer", I (mostly) meant that for a self-described "gardener" in terms of writing/plotting style, he's actually really bad at weeding. He doesn't seem to want to remove, or even cutail, almost anything, even when it would help his story.

Regarding ASoIaF ever being finished:

GRRM is stuck in the DOS days. It's better to hope some neural net will finish it off. (And mark my words, within 10-15 years this'll be pretty much SOP for publishers. 20-25 tops before "machine-learning-sourced derived works" becomes a standard contract clause.)

by Delta VDelta V, 07 Sep 2017 04:20

Re: GoT in General

I still have a lot of love for the series, even if I disagree with the direction the TV-show took. It brought high fantasy back in from the cultural cold, for a while, at least.

And, it gave us my favorite thing: transformative and interpretive musical works!

Some of my favorites:

Hands of Gold
When the Wolves Cry Out
Little Wolf
A Bear and the Maiden Fair
The Rains of Castamere
Game of Thrones Theme
Light of the Seven

Also, not music, but…



by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 06 Sep 2017 23:14

@Delta, Re: GoT


But, seriously, I have to disagree with many of your points. I would assert, in fact, that you've missed the point of ASoIaF, having not read the text.

Characters certain to win - don't. Prophecy is real - but it's such a bitch to interpret that it usually goes horrifically wrong. There are wizards - except their actually just live-in-professors… who were secretly wizards, once, but then they killed magic, WTF MIND BLOWN.

The entire series is about texture. It's about rubbing the surface, and peeling back layer upon layer of reveal. It's about characters being far more complex than they have any right to be. It's about the main players in the plot stubbornly refusing to give up viewpoint chapters1, and having to piece together the world by inference and context. It's about a half-dozen competing mythologies, which might all be right, none be right, or anything in between.

It's a series that revels in entire secret subplots, conspiracies, and machinations, many of which may never come into relief, but which inform the world through which the characters - real characters, not tropes - muddle. Dornish conspiracies, decades in the making, threaten a revenge-restoration of Aegon Targaryen2 The Citadel, the home of all learning, is implied to have been the source of an ancient conspiracy to extinguish magic from the world, and is now caught unaware as the old powers slowly return, aided by subtle interventions of the Faceless Men. Littlefinger3 plots from the sidelines, never showing his motivation, never even popping up in that many pages. He always gains, from every twist and turn, of "greater" men, as he slowly rises towards the throne, and his even-more-dastardly debt schemes threaten to force the hand of the Iron Bank. Entire myths lay cloaked in Black Stone, Asshai under the Shadow, Stigai, and an entire mirrored world to the East. This TV-unexplored-world contains reflected versions of the Last Hero, of the Wall, and of the ancient foundations of the world, but all darker, more threatening, and mysterious.

Hell, this is world where the "Night King" does not exist.

That's right.

The show's keystone-army final boss isn't even in the fucking books.4

The White Walkers are implied to be some version of a faerie court, alien and dangerous, but not one-dimensional cutouts. They are a threat in the sense of nuclear proliferation, or global warming56. They are a thing that is, built by the Children, which are now reasserting themselves, with an inexorable force7 They are not the "evil". They are a possible doom.8

This is a universe where complexity is the norm. Where characters, even the smartest, can get buried in hundreds of years of schemes from a thousand actors. This is a world where Old Powers are waking, terrible and horrifying, and threaten to upstage this delicate dance in the most unpredictable of ways.

This is a series where readers get lost in tracing ancestries, debating fact versus myth, hunting down scattered Valyrian swords. This is a world where conspiracies dead, a hundred years before the text starts, are just as vital as the POV-actions. This is a setting that leads to arguments over House Dayne, Starfall, and the Sword of Morning. It has us wonder about Rhaegar, about Summerhall, and what exactly the "Three Heads" mean. This is a living, breathing creation, where the Doom of Valyria may very well hold a key point in the plot of the Old God weaponizing, sailor-sorceror Euron Greyoy's apocalyptic plans.

Everything matters. The context itself becomes the purpose.

The show lost that. It could never have it, because television doesn't give you the time to expound on it. But it had a passable verisimilitude, when Martin was involved to give the "key points", and D&D could parse down to the 'core story'.

But, the more they stood alone, the worse it got.

TV-Stannis was an abomination of the character. Instead of the rigid, inflexible, but righteous military genius without an ounce of political charm, we got… the guy who got beaten by "twenty good men" and then burned his own daughter for keks.910

Even Jon Snow got whittled into something lesser. In the books, he's stabbed in a mutiny, yes… but he earned that stabbing. He pulled the Watch away from their duties, to support Stannis. Never directly. He never broke his oaths. But he bent them. He got the Watch entangled in a (righteous) political fight.

The mutineers had a point.

In the show, they're just evil racists.

In the books, they're desperate, broken men, who go to dangerous means to fight for what they truly believe is just.11 It's still awful, but you see how it got there, and Snow isn't just Ice Jesus.12

This is a series about texture. The richness is, itself, the point. Finding the hidden meanings, the buried gears, and then determining why they turn is the joy of the fandom.

There is a classical story here, but it is built upon this machinery.

The TV show, by this point, is a by-the-books fantasy, with cutouts of good and evil, driven by the built-in empathy from better seasons. Instead of deep context, we get cold reading. Instead of layers of meaning, we get "emoting" at the camera.

It's still decent TV, but it is no longer the king, and the items you've dismissed as "unnecessary", are, in fact, the soul of the series from which the show was translated.13

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 06 Sep 2017 14:48

So. Game of Thrones. S7 in the books. No more for up to a year and a half. The Long Night has begun.

I had fun. I liked it12. And I don't think it was as dumb or illogical as claimed. I know that goes against the critical consensus, but fuck it. This season had an impossible job to do, and mostly managed to do it3.

I'm one of those who haven't read the books, though — I know I've previously complained about Martin's prose, and those complaints stand — so I'm not viewing it in the context of adapting something beloved by me. Nor am I expecting it to be the Greatest Thing Ever, despite its position as perhaps the last4 TV show to occupy the coveted watercooler slot. So perhaps it's just the tyranny of middlebrow expectations.

All that said, of course there were problems with the season. There always are. What gets me is that for all the legions of TV critics taking aim, few have (in my view) accurately pinpointed said problems. Most of them have just thrown their hands in the air and said "it's stupid!!1!", which seems to me to be an…abdication of sorts. And at the risk of being That Guy, I've got some bones to pick with the critical universe.

Anyways, it's gonna be a loooooong offseason…

by Delta VDelta V, 06 Sep 2017 06:40


I was reading some of those Dev Tricks and I think my favourite has to be coyote time, gotta love the classics. Second up is probably Half Life 2 coding missed enemy shots to hit something interesting "like exploding barrels".

Interesting about the two Alien brains though, I've always suspected that game AI's knew more than they were letting on.


New expansion sounds pretty interesting, and I must admit the idea that we soft squishy humans have become the terror hidden in the fog is pretty appealing. Is the expansion worth the almost full game price, or would waiting for a sale be more prudent?

Re:XCOM - Ironman

I think Ironman mode pretty interesting, and the experience of beating XCOM:EU with my plucky band of survivors is definitely a memorable one, but it's not my typical go to experience. My body can only handle so much adrenaline. :-)

And speaking of (a different kind of) Ironman, this mod for ME:A almost seems like it's worth the price of admission on it's own.

Oh and CDPR put out a nifty little epilogue video for the 10th anniversary of The Witcher which is pretty cool.

by edisnooMedisnooM, 06 Sep 2017 00:25


Also, Ironman is still a no-go for me. I've found many infinite turn hangups that would've outright killed an Ironman playthrough…

Did they "fix" the (sorta) workaround where force-killing the game before the turn officially ends would let you start back at the beginning of said turn? I know that kept me out of the bugweeds more than a few times on my Ironman playthroughs.

Also, regarding ironman modes in general: I know I've banged on about time being the true currency of games. Ironman/permadeath modes are, I think, fundamentally about rebalancing the equation, making short-term losses more acceptable by increasing the replay time required — but increasing the cost of untenable long-term positions (and bugs). Nowadays, given how little time I've had for videogames, I'm not sure where exactly I stand on this sort of thing anymore.


It's the same old design problem that XCOM has always had in the reboot. EW tried to fix it, Long War did a number on it, but the basic design of the game has the break-point far too early before the actual end. And I don't know how to fix that.

It's the same old design problem that XCOM has always had, period. All the way back to the original. It's the same design problem virtually every strategy game has to some extent, at least those with some kind of technology/ability advancement.

The most interesting design approach to lessening that problem I've seen was probably Sword of the Stars, with its semi-randomized tech tree and mostly-randomized outside-context threats. Pity its tactical level was so…meh. And even more pity that nobody else seems to have stolen those ideas.

In the original X-Com, there were a few (small) branches of the tech tree only accessible under very specific circumstances (usually capturing live specimens of rather-deadly and very-rare aliens). The one thing I wish the XCOM series hadn't done is make those into mainline tech gates and semi-story missions. Or rather, I kinda wish they'd made most of the tech tree like that instead.

by Delta VDelta V, 05 Sep 2017 02:58

Re: War of the Chosen

Just to double down on what Seijin said: this is an amazingly fun expansion, that completely negates the already shaky challenge of mid/late-game.

I'll get the TL;DR out of the way, early: this is a great expansion. If you like the modern XCOM, buy it, and you'll love it.

Now, let's get into the reasons this breaks the game balance: too much control.

Every change in the game is great, individually. The game cranks up the challenge, with special mission restrictions1, the addition of fatigue2, and the increased tempo of operations3. All this combined, means that you're constantly reacting outside your optional sets, quite often. With the surprise interventions by the Elite Monsters from the prior expansion, and the appearance of the Chosen boss-mobs, randomly making easy missions into clusterfucks, the early tactical game is an impressive scramble.

This is reflected on the strategic level, with the Chosen constantly harassing you, launching extra "Dark Events", and even imposing special hardships like breaking your power plant, derailing a soldier's healing, or dropping negative-continent-bonuses on your team. You're forced to confront Advent, the Avatar project, and all three of the Chosen randomly dicking you4.

To counter think increase in threat, the game gives you a lot more control. When you do gain resistance factions, they give controllable, alterable continent-bonuses. Your soldiers are nearly completely customizable. Further, the resistance groups as you to gain favor, so you have are able to choose between goodoptions, when you do have initiative.

The enemies adapt and grow in power. But so do do you. You have the tools to survive, if you leverage them.

Which, of course, creates the problem.

Because the game is balanced so intensely during the early game, when all the cylinders are firing, the gongs are ringing, and the trumpets sounding, that once you start putting out the fires, the very control options you've been granted to deal with just this problem, right now, start to be leveraged towards "I can utterly close this negative option loop, if I double down, here".

Quickly, your advantages start to snowball, especially since, as you defeat the Chosen, the Elite Monsters, or win over a resistance faction, you gain tangible rewards, which make the next step easier. Once you down the first Chosen, you're on even footing. Once you take out the second, you're closing on victory.

The midgame wraps fast. Within a handful of missions, you will shift from reacting to controlling the enemy. There are now so many tools to mitigate the Avatar project that I have, without pursuing the main plot, knocked the damn progress bar back to square zero, and can hold it there, passively.

The tactical combat becomes even more lulzy, as Seijin mentioned. Every soldier can become a wrecking machine, with a double-spec'd tree, and four free perks. Chosen weapons and Elite Mob armor give you gamebreaking maneuverability and damage. Most dominating of all, the new factional soldiers possess the ability to utterly command a chunk of the threat economy.

  • The Reaper is a scout/sniper, that possesses multiple tools to maintain vision control, and thereby choose the nature of every engagement. A couple of Reapers can wipe the map clean, while the enemy never gets a turn, because you've properly managed your Concealed status.
  • The Skirmisher is an ultramobile flanker. It can zip across the map in a turn, can interupt every action the enemy takes, and can gain moves from the enemy. While not as powerful as the Reapers in terms of game economy, a properly positioned5 Skirmisher can choose which enemies get turns, which enemies get reaction-fired, and which enemies get hard-countered.
  • The Templars are the most lulzy of all, even if they are the least damaging to the economy. They are an AOE melee class that possesses a hard-counter dodge-tank mechanic. Like the Skirmisher, they have melee-attack-of-opportunity, extreme mobility, and very high damage. Instead of using actions to prevent actions, however, they gain immunity to attacks based on kills, and can be used to force the computer to take bad shots.

So, between these three classes, you have the ability to:

  • Pick the exact fight, at the precise time, on your chosen ground.
  • Control the turn order/maneuver options of both sides.
  • Decide which targets the enemy will get to fire upon.
    • Decide which of those targets will be immune to damage.
  • Punish the actions the enemy must take, based upon your choices.
  • Remove any number of combatants from the fight, upon command, for a length of time of your choosing.

Oh, and your stats are goddamn rediculous.

So, yeah… War of the Chosen late game is XCOM: Power Fantasy6. It's a blast, it's hilarious - but the game is over when you down the first Chosen.7

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 04 Sep 2017 21:32

Re: XCOM2 War of the Chosen

Been playing it since release, currently in the stage I always get into where there are many things that supposedly have to be done, but I'm adequately controlling things that I find a sustainable midgame with no pressure to finish.1

Also, Ironman is still a no-go for me. I've found many infinite turn hangups that would've outright killed an Ironman playthrough, and I won't pretend I've even tried not to be a save-scummer in this playthrough.

My simplest explanation is that XCOM Enemy Within remains my favorite iteration of the Firaxis reboot, and War of the Chosen is likely my second favorite. It has added many of the elements that I adored in EW, but has doubled down on them to such a degree that the aliens basically have no chance, even with all the new fancy tricks (of which there are many).

The end-state combat efficacy of the current crop of XCOM soldiers is capable of single-handedly leveling a Sectopod in a single turn without any real risk.2 Whereas EW might give you a character with a single special (non-class) trait that could be built around, WotC offers 43 as well as the ability to take all of the class abilities, and not have to choose between them4. So a previously awesome EW character who had a single extra quirk is now rapidly outclassed and rendered ultimately irrelevant by these superhuman wrecking machines we can now nurture into being. And just in case that wasn't enough, you can also send them on covert side-missions that pop up their base stats, too. No limit to those near as I can tell. I'm trying to construct a Ranger now who can just Reap a battlefield by his lonesome. Almost there, my current max is I think 11 kills in a row in a single action phase (granted, some were zombies).

by Seijin8Seijin8, 04 Sep 2017 06:45

The only thing which could've even tempted me to touch anything ME-related again would've been if they'd made some kind of Mass Effect: Tactics in the style of XCOM or the older Fallout games1.

Speaking of XCOM, this new War of the Chosen thing is apparently some pretty hot shit. I still haven't done much gaming, but my last real binge was XCOM2 during my aborted mod attempt. Might have to get back in (and try really hard not to get consumed again).

Also, a really neat bunch of developer tricks — make sure to read the full Twitter thread linked in the piece — of which my favorite is from Alien: Isolation: the alien has two brains, one which always knows the player's location, and gives hints to the second. Honestly, that sounds like a neat trick, and kinda makes me want to make a strategy game with that principle — instead of just cheating here and there, have an omniscient AI overmind dole out hints to each AI player (and possibly the player too, through some intel mechanic). Someday, when I get around to making another game. Maybe.

by Delta VDelta V, 03 Sep 2017 22:04

@FM5K & Seijin

Duly noted, though my contrarian nature now kind of wants to try it even more. :-)

That statement from Mr. Soderland struck me as very corporate, and somewhat reminiscent of them claiming that people hated them because they were successful when they won the Worst Company in America award.


There is a certain feeling of schadenfreude to it. It kind of amuses me that they abandoned an entire galaxy for a fresh start and then somehow mucked that up too.

by edisnooMedisnooM, 31 Aug 2017 23:55

@The Mani Mani

You know what you did. Go sit in the corner.

To be fair, the people of BioWare Montreal were absorbed into other studios, instead of just tossed aside.

I'm going to go continue being a horrible person by revelling in the idea that Mass Effect has become such a shit show.

by KitaSaturnyneKitaSaturnyne, 30 Aug 2017 20:22

^ What he said.

Was a decent game, but I won't play it or support it any further. EA fucked it, as per usual, and they shouldn't be rewarded for it.

by Seijin8Seijin8, 26 Aug 2017 23:22

edisnooM Said:

I had been thinking that maybe down the road I might consider the "complete edition" when it was on sale, but with nothing more coming I may look into it sooner.


I know I was really positive on the game when it first came out. That has changed.

My initial positivity was based on this being a first-title from a secondary studio. They overreached, and never hit their ambitions, but they seemed to be responding better to the critique than the corporate-lockdown of ME3's ending.

Then it changed.

Bioware/EA promised to fix it, then didn't. They shut down the studio that made the game1, instead of trying to fix it. Bioware had a mess, and, instead of owning it, they just fired a bunch of secondary people, shuttered the studio, and went radio silence.

They pushed the mess under the bed, and pretended nothing happened.

Then you get statements from EA like this one, from Patrick Soderland, "…if you go in and you buy the game today with everything that's in it today, I believe that that's a game worth buying."

So, Mister EA… the game is worth my money, but not yours?

If the studio was still alive, I'd say, support them. But at this point, the only people who would benefit would be the ones who shat the bed, then blamed the dog.

by Fapmaster5000Fapmaster5000, 26 Aug 2017 17:15

So interesting news1, BioWare has officially ended support for SP of Mass Effect Andromeda. Been something of rumour for a while now but now it's been confirmed.

It also seems like while there is more MP content coming, there will be no more client side content, patches etc. Reading some of the responses from the MP support team I feel kind of bad for them as they continually have to shut down things as requiring a patch, and that they'll see what they can do server side.

I had been thinking that maybe down the road I might consider the "complete edition" when it was on sale, but with nothing more coming I may look into it sooner.

by edisnooMedisnooM, 26 Aug 2017 00:35
page »
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License