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The book section of this website is a disaster because the book section of my life is a disaster.

I'm tracking things in a Notion database I built, the random books I've bought that have been added to my Kindle library, and Story Graph. I just don't know where this website fits in.

Ideally, Story Graph will add an API one day. Until then, I am thinking of just ripping the book section out. It turns out, I don't really have many thoughts about books mid-read and I don't really enjoy writing reviews when I'm done with them. When I do have something to say, I'm just sticking it on Mastodon. So the books section here is extremely vestigial and wasted.

At the end of the day, I was not as erudite as I'd hoped to be and I built an entire feature as a monument to that shame.

So if I delete the feature, at least I can just lurk quietly in the background without publicly claiming that it's taking me years to read Spock's World just because I never update my actual website.

Everyone's raving about Infinite Wealth; but I never finished Like A Dragon so I started a second playthrough of that one a few weeks ago: so far, entirely on the Steam Deck.

I never finished my first playthrough, though I was many tens of hours into it. I think I hit a wall where I was going to need to grind a bit to move on.

Hopefully, I'll avoid that on this run because it really is a fun time.

I started FF7:Rebirth a couple weeks ago but haven't really played it much.

It's extremely open world in all the ways I don't really enjoy.

I need to try to push past that and just mainline the story; but I'm concerned about being under-leveled. I'm also a little concerned about missing most of the game...but, then, SE should've been concerned about making most of the game fun.

I don't think I'm going to have rave reviews about this one, to be honest.

I keep thinking about starting a new playthrough of this (because I have no idea where I am in it) but I just don't want to. So much for me and Fire Emblem, I think.

This is a cool game that I am probably never going to touch again. It doesn't have that certain je ne sais quoi to bring me back in my limited leisure time, unfortunately. But I'm glad I experienced what I did.

This didn't hold my interest; which makes me sad because so many people I want to be like just absolutely love it. And yet.

The amount of time and attention I have had for an economic grand strategy sim is exactly 0 hours. And that's been over nearly a past year.

Maybe I'm really just not the sort of gamer who can handle these kinds of things.

In any event, I'll stop fooling and take the "in progress" tag off this game.

According to Steam, I last played BG3 immediately before Christmas.

I got stuck in an Act 3 spot and am not keen on backtracking. At this point, I imagine when I come back to this game, I'll just start a new character.

I think I'll take the "in-progress" tag off it, though.

I have done nothing on this site since...well, probably since July 2023 (the date of the last update here).

I just don't want to deal with the code, to be honest.

At this point, I am thinking of doing a rewrite in C# and switch around some of the database object structures since I now have a better handle on how it should all fit together.

I still want to make this a real ActivityPub site. In particular, I haven't even been posting on this site because I know no one will see it. If I were able to push the posts to Mastodon and other Fediverse friends more easily, maybe that would be different.

But that particular feature is such a long road and the current codebase is just not cut out for it.

That said, a rewrite would also be a fairly long road and I have many other things holding my interest right now.

So this site is just going to languish with no new features for a while, I think.

It's been nearly five months since I last thought to check-in here.

Then, I'd just made it to the first dungeon in Shadowbringers.

Five months later, I'm now ready for the last trial of Shadowbringers.

But I've been messing around doing other things: trials and crafting mostly.

I spent the better part of today (and like 500000G) outfitting five retainers with the best gear for their level so they can keep advancing. Eventually, I hope to be able to send them on missions for ingredients; but I'm still focusing on leveling them.

I've also unlocked and started doing the Crystalline Mean stuff (for everything but fishing; I'm done with the RNG) and am working on leveling some other jobs up to 70 (BLM, DRK) and 80 (DRG). I've left most of my jobs behind and am thinking seriously about some level skips after Dawn Trail lands (and the skips are kicked up another level cap).

Finished Act II. Received some astounding revelations. Failed an important WIS check and now my entire character concept is in question.

Lots of food for thought for future playthroughs now that I have some future knowledge. Looking forward to riding it out to the end.

After I finished Act II, I got an achievement for making it this far into the game. According to Steam, only 36% of players have this achievement.

I thought I was taking the slow path, but only a third of players have finished the first two thirds of the game. So maybe I'm not doing that badly. (I know that some amount of that are people who didn't enjoy it and stopped playing altogether; but still.)

I failed to save the Tieflings. I'm not even sure what I did wrong. The quest just failed.

I honestly feel pretty bad about it. But I don't know how old of a save I'd need to load to fix it.

So...they're just gone in this playthrough, I guess.

My next playthrough was going to be a dark urge playthrough; but now I think it might be a Save The Tieflings run.

Added Halsin to the party.

Spent some time leveling him up from 1 to 8.

Spent more time getting him some gear from my camp chest.

Went to hit F5 to save.

Hit F8 to load instead.

I'm...going to go do something else now.

I thought I might both start and finish Act II over this long weekend; but I spent just a little too much time dodging traps in the Gauntlet of Shar and now I'm just overly annoyed with the game.

I think I need a break.

Possibly until next weekend; possibly longer.

This game is a stunning and towering achievement. But the trap mechanic is just hateful.

I don't like traps in real D&D. I don't like traps in this, either.

Traps are just the game designer's way of shoving your finger into the Random Punishment Box over and over and that is not what I am here for.

There's a fight in Act II where you have to save someone and, as far as I can tell, it is just completely impossible.

To add insult to injury, there's a loooooong cut scene that plays between when you can save before the fight and the actual fight.

I might have to go respec all of my characters (or, certainly, my main since I can't swap her out of the party) to build a party just for this fight.

I shouldn't have spent all my gold on shiny swords, I guess.

Maybe I need a Paladin in this fight. Hmmm...

Better go talk to Withers.

That's a wrap on Act I.

I still think there's so much I've been missing, though.

I'm going to have to do another playthrough with a guide, aren't I?

Did finally make it to Shadowbringers...

...and just tore through it to the first dungeon.

People say that the story "gets good" in Heavensward but the pacing doesn't get good until Shadowbringers.

I think they've finally figured out how to use their engine and general setup to draw you in.

I'm excited to see where it goes from here.

I'm nearing the end of Act I: the only big thing left to do is the Underdark bit which I've just started exploring.

Oh, what optimism.

"The Underdark" bit is big enough to be its own damn game.

Also, I discovered that I've missed at least one major quest topside in Act I. I thought it was actually leading me into Act II, but I've learned that there's just a major location I haven't found yet. might be a couple more weekends before I leave ~the Hinterlands~ Act I.

I am just about to cross the 60 hour mark, too. So...multiply by 3, add 10% for safety...

This is shaping up to be a 200 hour game where literally every minute is engaging.

This game is $60. What an absolute bargain this game is. That shakes up to about $0.01 every ten minutes.

I can't even talk about the dollar-per-minute value! I'd have to get into mills like I was assessing real estate taxes.

Even though I've found that the experience doesn't truly match the's still an amazing experience. What a thing.

Spent another day playing BG3 like it's my job. Except I usually try to stop working after 8 hours in a day.

I'm nearing the end of Act I: the only big thing left to do is the Underdark bit which I've just started exploring.

Among other things, I did the Auntie Ethel bit today and I found it pretty frustrating. With all of the spells and abilities and things, you have so many tools at your disposal...but Ethel's lair really just allowed for one or two solutions. Everything else was just an expensive no-op.

I definitely think I'm starting to see the seams where it's no longer an amazing world full of possibility and is actually a C++ program (at least, I assume there's some C++ in there).

It's still a good game! But...the bloom has definitely started to fall off the rose.

Or maybe I just need to get out of Act I.

Is Act I the Hinterlands of BG3?

I'm curious to find out. I should definitely move on tomorrow unless the Underdark portion becomes terrible.

Pretty much spent all day today playing BG3.

Finally (finally) cleared the Goblin camp. I have well and truly cleared it.

Far more than I wanted to, tbh. I didn't want t be a murder-hobo. But I'm honestly not sure how to get rid of one of the objectives without getting everyone mad at you.

So I just had to get mad at them first.

Still glad to be past that part. I spent so long in the Goblin Camp that I forgot why I was there to begin with. When I finally finished it and the guy was like "Meet me back at the place", I was confused for a second until I remembered what was actually going on.

I'd definitely gotten into a loop where it felt like the entire game was that stupid camp.

There's just so much camp there. So much to do.

Anyway, I progressed at a far more reasonable pace today. I met Karlach and...fully understand the memes about her. She's wonderful.

I progressed the stories of several of my companions and killed some gnolls and then killed some more and respec'd Shadowheart too.

Still lots of map that I haven't seen yet.

Definitely getting my money's worth for this one.

I'm starting to move a little bit faster today. I did two major fights! Two!

I think I'm getting a little less timid and a little more willing to actually do a fight (instead of spending hours trying to find a non-initiative way out of a situation).

I'm also starting to see BG3 (and, by extension, D&D) as more of a resource management game: there are just lots of resources (HP, spell slots, sorcerer points, arcane recovery charges, channel divinity charges, etc.).

This is not novel in any way, of course. But as someone who tends to finish games with 99 of every item because I hate to use them, it's a big step for me to realize that it's okay to spend a couple spell slots to get through this battle.

I'm also learning the systems a little bit better. I had two minor instances today where I was able to lure some folks off by themselves to quietly murder! It was neat!

In other news, I'm not sure if NPCs will stumble across the bodies of their brethren and raise an alarm or not. So I've started a small Goblin Corpse Collection in a burlap sack that's a little bit off the beaten path.

This game is starting to feel just a tad like a serial killer simulator. I'm not sure if that's what Larian was going for or not, but here we are.

I remain where I was, though I have accomplished a little bit (I've eliminated one additional Goblin since last time).

This is a good game. It's an amazing game.

But you cannot turn your brain off for a second while playing it. And there is so much freedom that the paralysis of choice is a real problem.

This might be something I play for the rest of my life. Eventually I'm bound to get out of Act I, right?

But it's hard to make any headway because all I really want to do is go play a much simpler and straightforward game instead.

Unlocked the last story dungeon of the Post-Stormblood content.

I'm finding myself with a bit of a gear and level problem, though. Thanks to Sage coming with high-level gear when you unlock it, I have the iLevel I need to heal. And I managed to squeak my way to good enough gear to be able to magical-DPS it with my ostensible Red Mage main.

But it'll still need a bit of Tomestone grinding to get my Paladin's gear up to snuff.

And I don't even have a level 70 melee or ranged physical DPS. So at least I don't have to worry about their gear.

There is definite wisdom to just playing through the game with a single job. But that also seems like it'd be a little less interesting.

I wish grinding were not so dependent on the roulettes. I simply refuse. So it's back to the slow path for me.

I finished Chapter 1 yesterday.

I can see the story starting to open up (Intrigue! Great Powers conflict! Mysterious artifacts!) and we've got a new proper noun ("Divine Blade", which I can't recall seeing before, at least). Every good fantasy story needs to accumulate Words With Capital Letters.

I also really love that the primary conceit driving our characters forward is that they're going to walk the land.

It's just so charming! It's just so delightful!

I mentioned previously that I am a bit daunted at how many games there are in this series and how far behind I am.

But I'm also a little excited about it. If the rest are even fractionally as good as the first, I'm in for an of my life.

My static is back from vacations and we've started our weekly sessions again. So we did Castrum Fluminis and now I've got some more MSQ to do.

Here's the thing, though.

I've been playing some really good games lately. It's really hard to put down one of those and go back to the "Thanks for coming to talk to me here. Now go there to talk to me. Then go there to talk to me some more. Finally go there to talk to me and I will send you to someone else to restart this loop with." style of questing.

I'm not sure if it's to prolong the playtime, sink gil, or they just couldn't figure out a better way to pace the story using their engine (since FF16 did the same thing and uses the same engine; although it also uses a lot of the same talent, so it's hard to know where technology ends and personal tastes begins). But I'm definitely over it here near the end of the post-Stormblood content.

It's weird because Trails in the Sky has A LOT of dialog, but it doesn't feel slow or drawn out at all. Trails in the Sky has something to teach every JRPG about pacing, but I think that goes 100x for the more recent Final Fantasies.

Fighting Tsukuyomi this week, I was also really struck by how same-y the fights are. It's all breadth and no depth. To make fights harder, they just throw more mechanics at you to deal with at the same time. But you don't have to learn the systems and figure out the right strategy to deal with those mechanics. You just have to learn which increasingly small non-AOE spot to stand in.

Sure, you also have to master the timing if pushing the buttons. And there's some muscle-memory skill stuff there that can be fun. But is it interesting?

I'm not so sure.

It is definitely a difference from a year ago when I was playing FF14 constantly and having a blast. Maybe I just played too much too quickly and now I'm burnt out?

But I don't think so. I think the game is kind of boring in a lot of the same ways that FF16 was boring. And I don't think that is entirely on me.

I just have no idea where to even start. Everything I've tried has ended up with a a very large encounter that I just have no chance against.

This remains true.

I felt pretty clever. I used a Minor Illusion to pull a bunch of Goblins off to the edge of a pit and then I Thunderwaved a bunch of them off into spider-town. I was then able to pretty effectively Magic Missile everyone else, including one of those bosses.

It burned a lot of spell slots, but I'd taken care of 25% of the objective!

But I guess I was too noisy and even though I killed everyone in this room, the rest of the camp noticed me and they are pretty upset.

This is not a viable strategy.

I might need more sleep (both in real life and via a fictional long-rest) before I figure this one out.

I think I am finally starting to figure this game out.

I am at the very end of Chapter 1 (with just one more main quest to finish) and feel like I’m finally able to understand the magic system and the battle systems in a reasonable way.

I’m no longer hoarding CP like I used to, at least. And the endless supply of healing items from my Apple Ice Cream profiteering doesn’t hurt either.

Overall, though, I’m just having so much fun. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun with a classic JRPG in a very long time. Maybe ever.

The battles are great and whatever, but it’s really the characters and the writing that shines.

There is so much dialog (especially when compared to something like a textbox-based Final Fantasy) and it’s all so well written and lets the characters shine so brightly.

I’m sad that I didn’t play this 12 years ago. I even had a PSP! I had a PSP and I didn’t even know this game existed. And now the series is so huge that I feel like I’ll never catch up.

Oh well. At least the journey is going to be worth it if the rest of the series is half as charming as this one.

I spent several hours this morning just sort of messing around:

  • figuring out the best way to push a Goblin off a cliff without getting murdered by hundreds of his friends (somehow, it involved an etheral kitten. I was surprised too.)
  • figuring out the best way to avoid traps without spending a disarm kit (it looked a lot like hopscotch; I hope Astarion had fun.)
  • trying to figure out a way to kill some sleeping ogres without then getting murdered by those same hundreds of friends (I never cracked this one; the ogres remain blissfully asleep an unharmed).

Didn't make much progress with the plot, but a good time was had by all. Especially Astarion, that dexterous jumpy boy.

I spent several hours this morning completely failing to make any real headway with the plot. I did manage to clear out a low level room and make something of a safe space for myself; but then I was tasked with taking out four bosses and I just have no idea where to even start.

Everything I've tried has ended up with a a very large encounter that I just have no chance against.

I can't even casually set things up for success because cut scenes keep triggering which eventually leads to a messy death.

The game is full of opportunity and wonder, but it pulls no punches.

I found this little forum post about how to cheese the cooking system and basically print money.

So that's one problem solved. I can now buy all of the restorative items I can find and not stress about staying in inns. Which is definitely helpful.

I've so far not stumbled across anyone selling items that restore EP so even that is a little limited.

Which is a shame because I'm increasingly running across enemies that demand to be fought with Arts. So I just watch my EP meter drain fight-by-fight.

Beyond just that, the balance in this game is completely weird. Encounters are either a literal walk in the park where I defeat everything before the enemies even get a turn or I very nearly die.

There is no middle-ground where a fight is interesting enough to hold your attention without necessarily being a huge risk. It's either a white-knuckled fight to the death or a giant nothingburger.

I wonder if the entire series will be like this or if it's just because this was the first and they were getting the hang of game balance.

I'm still not sure I really understand how this game is supposed to be played.

There are scattered areas where you can recover for free, however inns are far more common.

But inns cost money. And you don't get money from encounters, even though some encounters hit hard.

But you can't afford to grind out EXP from those hard-hitting encounters because recovery costs money and you only get money from side quests.

I'm just confused about what they want me to do. Should I be selling stuff to make money so I can heal so I can fight so I can get stronger?

I might need to look up some helpful hints.

As noted, I am taking the slow path through BG3. I am still in the starting area and only really learning the ropes.


Today, I discovered a cave just chock full of spiders. You don't necessarily realize the full number of spiders until you make one mad. Then you find out about all of the other spiders that are just kind of hanging around.

Also, they're magic spiders and are able to ignore things like "distance". Pretty fierce creatures, honestly.

By save scumming like it's going out of style, I tried multiple strategies to deal with the spiders. The best strategy I I found involved using a Flaming Sphere to destroy a whole bunch of spider eggs...only to discover that there were even more spider eggs that the spiders had decided not to bother waking up in any of my previous encounters.

I eventually gave up and decided that this battle was just beyond me. It was a bummer because the spiders were guarding an item I needed for a quest.

So I left down a new path and found that I could have Astarion creep around a corner while the spider was distracted, cast Fog Cloud on top of the thing I needed so the spider watching it couldn't see anything, and fumble around until he picked up the item.

Having mostly played games where the only path forward is "Kill the things. Get the loot.", it was amazing. Combining all the different ways I was able to try to defeat the spiders in combat and culminating in the non-combat sneaky-sneaky strategy for success was really special.

I know I am late to the party, but I have finally had a transcendent Baldur's Gate 3 moment of my very own. And I know that this is the sort of thing other people have been talking about for weeks and there's no real surprise here. But this one was my own and it felt wonderful.

This is such an incredible game.

This game is such a delight. For almost every other line of dialog, I want to share it with someone because it's so funny or cute or charming.

I'm almost tempted to stream it just so I can point at it and say "This! This right here!".

But then...

Recently, I noted that the game can be randomly horny, just a for a moment. And that's all fine enough, I guess.

But today, I met Olivier. And on top of being randomly horny, the game briefly became randomly homophobic.

And that is not okay. It'd be one thing if the response to Olivier's hitting on Joshua were "He's only 16! You're 25!" That's perfectly reasonable and it is gross and it is really not okay.

But "Eww. You're a boy! You pervert!" is just wrong on so many many levels.

It was brief and I expect it to remain brief; but I also expect it to be fairly continuous from now on. Based on everything else I've seen so far, it seems likely that they're going to keep hammering this as a cheap "joke".

And that is seriously hampering the delight factor for what has been, until now, an incredible experience.

Started the first chapter by taking the road to the next city.

I am a little over-leveled so I was making short work of every encounter. Mostly I was winning the fight before the enemy even got to have a turn. It felt nice. It felt powerful.

Then I ran into a Wisdom and it proceeded to show that this game is not to be trifled with.

I did win, but I had to expend a lot of resources and it one-shotted one of my characters from full-health.

It sent me running with my tail between my legs back to the start of the area where there's a rest-point.

Clearly, some caution is warranted. It turns out that I'm not as over-leveled as I thought.

I didn't read this one quite as quickly as the first one, but I finished it today.

This is an interesting one. It's way more "military sci-fi" than the first one was, to the point that I was starting to wonder if it had been stealth-published by Baen.

It also definitely paints the Chaonians in more of a gray-light. I can't figure out if it was doing that on purpose or not since they still seem better than a lot of the alternatives.

So, not as good as Unconquerable Sun but still quite good and I wish I could keep going. Sadly, the third isn't expected for a couple of years so I guess I'll need to find something else to tide me over.

This is a very charming and cute game. From the characters to the dialog to the graphics. It's all very charming. It's all very cute.

And, every once in a while, it is very horny. Just for a minute, out of nowhere. Then it's back to being charming and cute.

Very. Very strange. And that's just in the prologue of the very first game. What is mid-game of Trails of Cold Steel II going to be like? I'm almost afraid to find out.

(Although, at the rate I'm playing through this one, I will probably not live long enough to get that far into the series. Possibly a blessing.)

My last update for this game started with "It's somehow been a couple of months since I've picked this back up."

It's somehow been a couple of months since I've picked this back up. Again.

After finishing Final Fantasy 16, I felt the need to get back to a "real" JRPG. And decided that this would be a good one.

There was some weird save-file confusion (I'm not sure if it was my fault or Steam cloud save's) so I ended up playing some of the same stuff again.

And, since I'm clearly going to have months between sessions, I've decided to use a guide so I have a chance of knowing where to go the next time I play.

Between replaying some of the same stuff and having a guide, I feel like I have a much better understanding of how to play this thing.

I've managed to actually finish the prologue (only took 5 months) so I'm excited for the game-proper to start. Although I will miss the free restore point. I guess I'll need to start saving up my mira for inns.

It took two months (with about sixty hours of playtime), but I've finished Final Fantasy 16. I have some opinions.

For the sake of politeness, these opinions will take the form of a spoiler-free review section followed by a spoiler-filled reflections section. I don't have a great way to mark them off so if you're not interested in spoilers...stop scrolling, I guess.


To a large extent, it really makes no sense for me to review this game.

This is an action game. I do not enjoy -- nor am I skilled at -- action games. I played on the "Story Focused" difficulty mode. So if I say that I found the combat boring, the obvious response would be "Well, of course you found it boring! You played it on the baby-mode for babies!" That's completely fair.

So, I'm not an action game fan. But I am an RPG fan and, more specifically, a Final Fantasy fan. To be completely transparent about where I'm coming from, I'm not the "world's biggest" fan of these things. I'm not going to win any "well, actually, a real fan would..." gatekeeper contests. But I play the games. I talk about the games. I spend time thinking about the games and what they mean to me. I watch YouTube essays and read books and follow discussion forums. I like Final Fantasy!

So I can absolutely commend the CBUIII team on their "Story Focused" mode. As a Final Fantasy fan and action game anti-fan, I was able to play this game from start to finish without getting angry or frustratedly bogged down. I played with one assistance accessory (the "Ring of Timely Focus") and felt in control for almost every combat encounter. At least in terms of the "We're moving past turn-based RPGs: get on board or get lost." sentiment that Square Enix has embraced, this game probably fulfills the "A Final Fantasy for Fans and First-Timers" promise that Final Fantasy 15 made a few years earlier.

To an extent, I imagine that this is what it feels like to be good at these kinds of games. I actually did start to learn to read enemy animations a bit and eventually started only seeing the assistance pop-up during boss fights. While I was eventually able to hold my own with the random mob groups scattered around the map (thanks, of course, to the story focused mode), the boss fights provided something of a challenge throughout the game. Although, most of that for me was really just reacting to the assistance pop-up. There were just too many particle effects and animations going on for me to ever learn to read the boss' animations. That's a skill for a different type of gamer, I guess.

Still, since I can imagine what it must be like to be good at this game...I can only assume that a skilled player would be just as bored as I was. So much of the game is just pushing through large open spaces and fighting mobs of the same 3-8 enemies over and over and over again. I've never played a FromSoftware Soulsborne game, but I've heard that every enemy encounter is interesting and requires attention. While FF16's encounters might be harder on higher difficulties, I just can't imagine that they're ever really interesting for anyone. Could be wrong, though. Don't take my word for it. I am, after all, playing on baby-mode for babies.

So I can't usefully talk about the action gameplay (not that this fact stopped me from burning 500 words on the subject...). And this is an action game. So what can I say about the gameplay?

I was excited when I heard that Yoshi-P would be producing and supervising FF16. I enjoy FF14 but, more than that, I appreciate the approach he took to saving that game thirteen years ago. He played a lot MMOs and he had his staff play a lot of MMOs and he really dug into what makes a successful and fun MMO from the perspective of a player and a fan. I don't actually like MMOs very much (I approach FF14 as more of a single-player experience whenever possible) so I can't really judge his success or failures on that part; but objectively measuring things in terms of users and subscription shows that it's been working out for him.

So I had high hopes that he would take the same approach for a single-player Final Fantasy title and really zero in on what these game means to the players and fans.

Instead, he copy-pasted the worst elements from 14 into 16.

  • How do you find a side quest? They're just question marks on your map.
  • What are the side quests? Go talk to this person then go talk to this person then go talk to this person then go kill a monster then take the drop to a person who'll tell you to take it to another person.
  • Need to gather information? Go talk to exactly 3 NPCs in the area.
  • Looking for something hidden? There'll be a green circle on the map to "explore".

In 14, there's at least an excuse that this gives you something to do in the game between sessions of playing with your friends. In 15, it's just mindless drudgery between fights without any of the social excuses.

It's all fine. There's nothing challenging or interesting about it. But you can plod through and make progress without a lot of thought. It doesn't hurt or anything. Some of the side quest stories are endearing or have payoffs later. Most of them aren't and a lot of the payoffs don't like.

It's fine as filler. But it really is just filler copied straight from the MMO and it could have just been left behind; when you're slowly walking from NPC to NPC (because heaven forfend we add a run button to this action game) to have a conversation that could have been an email (and yes: you do get letters in this game so that is a canonical option!), it's very easy to start counting all of the seconds of one's actual human life being wasted here.

So if the action gameplay is boring and the questing gameplay is boring, I guess that leaves the presentation and the story.

I have a lot to say about the story once I feel some freedom to talk about spoilers; for now, suffice it to say that it fell flat for me. It's obvious what they're trying to do and it has some potential. But it really could have used some strong editing passes. It is, like everything else above, fine.

The presentation is where you really start to see the millions of dollars that were undoubtedly spent bringing FF16 to life.

The graphics are good. They're not life-changing or anything. Some of the character models have an uncanny valley thing going on. Some of the animations are clearly ripped right out of FF14. But, overall, it's pretty! It's definitely the best looking game I've played to-date...but only marginally so.

The graphics are certainly better than, say, the graphics for Final Fantasy 7 Remake...but not a lot better. Certainly not better enough to justify the $500 I spent on a PS5 to play it. With the exception of load times, this would honestly have been fine as a PS4 game. We're clearly at a point of diminishing returns for graphical improvements and they're really just not going to be system-sellers going forward unless there's something more than an ever-increasing number of particle effects on offer.

I've noted it before but I'll reiterate here: the money spent on improving graphics would be much better spent on some radical improvements to the way that dialog is presented. The voice acting for this game is really phenomenal; but it's also really let down by the way that every individual sentence is clearly stitched together one-by-one. There's no natural cadence or flow of conversation: it's all extremely stilted and off-putting after 60 hours. And it's a real shame because the voice actors themselves have set a new bar. Really great stuff.

Finally, there's the music. The music of this game is an absolutely unqualified success. Soken is a treasure and he brought his A-game and it works from the first note to the last note. I spent $35 buying this OST on iTunes because it's not on Spotify yet and I simply do not regret that purchase. Stellar soundtrack all around.

So there you have it. The gameplay is fine. The graphics are fine. The story is fine. The music and voice acting are great.

If I were going to rate this on a "Skip/Rent/Buy" scale, it's a definite "Rent". But you can't meaningfully rent a 60 hour game (and Blockbuster isn't really a thing anymore). This'll never end up on Game Pass which is a shame because it's a perfect Game Pass game.

Should you play it? If you're a Final Fantasy fan, it's really a no-brainer. It's a mainline numbered Final Fantasy title. If you want to be part of the conversation, you have to play it.

If you just like RPGs but don't care about FF as a franchise? I think it's safe to skip it.

If you like action games? Beats me. I played on story mode.

It's a fine game and you can definitely go play it; but I think it very unlikely that it'll be on anyone's GOTY list. Heck, it's probably the only game I'm going to finish this year and it won't even be on mine.


***Note: *** this section will container major spoilers for Final Fantasy 16 but is also not afraid to spoil other games in the franchise.

I admit that I am completely unqualified to critique FF16 as an action game. But it's more than an action game: it's a mainline numbered Final Fantasy game and I'm at least as qualified as anyone else on the Internet to judge it in that context.

And I judge it...a mixed bag.

Mostly, it comes down to the story. It'd be ridiculous to criticize the story for being messy, confusing, and convoluted. That's basically table stakes for a Final Fantasy game.

But I think I can be a little sad that it's just a basic chosen-one plot.

In most of the games, there are "special" characters; but they're not really chosen by fate or destiny to save the world. They're just doing their thing and, by virtue of being noble and capable and powerful, end up in a position to save the world.

In 7, it's convenient that Cloud met up with the 7th Heaven Avalanche cell since he was best placed to fight Jenova/Sephiroth.

In 9, Zidane's ties with Terra and Garland are convenient for the quest; but he was just in the right place at the right time to end up kidnapping the princess and starting on that path.

In 10, Auron just thought it'd be neat to bring Tidus to Spira and Yuna had every intention of following in her father's path by bringing about the Calm.

In 13, the group literally was chosen at the beginning of the game; but that's just because of where they happened to be standing at the time.

In 8...look, I don't really like 8 very much. And the fact that our group of little amnesiacs just happened to all get together so they could stop their Matron and then eventually Ultimecia is...I dunno. I guess they were chosen by fate or time travel or something.

And that's sort of my point: in 8 they're just the chosen ones and it's boring. So Clive being the culmination of thousands of years of Ultima's plan and having all the special unexplainable powers just so he can be led by the nose on his journey is just boring.

The main theme of the 16 presents itself as "humans have free will and it's the relationships we choose to entangle into our lives that give us strength". But Clive doesn't really exercise that free will in any meaningful way. He executes Ultima's plan perfectly until the very end where he is finally able to use that will by...swinging a sword when he's told not to. Great.

It falls flat to me. The story is convoluted and is told largely in info dumps (the Active Time Lore system is great, btw) and that'd be fine if it weren't also boring and paint-by-numbers.

Although maybe the problem is that "humans have free will" is not the real theme of 16. I believe the actual theme of this game is "magic is bad".

And I honestly...have no idea what to do with this? Like...magic isn't real. It's as good or as bad as the writer wants it to be.

Is magic here a metaphor? Is it really supposed to be about convenience and consumerism? Despite the Blight, I don't think magic is really a stand-in for environmentalism (like mako is in 7) because most of the cost we see is in the brutal way the Bearer slaves are treated. So maybe it's a metaphor for how I can order a phone charger on Amazon and it shows up on my doorstep that afternoon thanks to a network of underpaid and mistreated factory, warehouse, and courier workers?

In the post-credits sequence, there's a vignette of a happy family living an idyllic life without magic, and it cuts to a book about the fabled days of magic called Final Fantasy. So is this really about how tired the creators are of working for Square Enix and having to make FF games over and over again?

(If so: I see FF7 Remake as largely a way for Nomura to express how sick he is of the fans. So if this interpretation holds any water for 16, it might be time for SE management to step in and find some less-jaded creators to carry on their tentpole franchise. But I digress.)

Honestly, I played 60 hours of this game and I followed the individual plot beats. But I still have no real idea what it was about. But I also didn't find it compelling enough to really care.

So that's all fairly disappointing.

Where the story falters, a Final Fantasy game can make it up with great party members and side characters. This is more of a mixed bag. The main characters that really resonated with me were Cid, Mid, and Jill.

Cid is as charming and as funny as you could ever hope for. He's exactly the sort of person who should be leading a pie-in-the-sky change-the-world fantasy crusade. You can absolutely understand why a large group of people would follow him into hell and back and why he's being so successful at running a full-fledged organization.

Mid is also charming and funny. In an M-rated game that is not a little afraid to drop an F-bomb every few minutes, Mid is the only character who actually gets creative with her swearing. She'd win me over just with that, but she combines creative swearing with inventiveness and follow-through and she eventually has her own ship.

I'm cautious including Jill in this list. She has a "girl-next-door" thing going on and I am aware that this is a cheat-code to my heart. Still, she's one of those characters who forcibly stands out despite the writing. As much as the game is trying to push her into Clive's shadow, she still has her own arc and trauma and needs and she makes sure that those needs are met. As a character, she stands out as a real person that the fiction is unable to entirely shove into the box it's carved out for her. That's always a special type of character and they tend to stand out.

Gav and Jote have honerable mentions here. These are characters of pure competence and I always find that fun to watch. Unlike Clive who is always talking about "I will do my duty!" "Come, let us do our duty!" "We must do our duty!"...Gav and Jote just go and get the job done. They don't spend any time making sure that people understand how committed they are to the cause. They just get the work done. Unfortunately, they just don't really have much to do in the game. Gav runs errands and Jote stands stoically to the side so the heroes can have their moments.

There's a different game out there that is the stories of Jill, Jote, and Mid. I think that'd be a more interesting game, but it's not the one we found.

By all rights, three characters should be enough. But the fact that none of them are the main character isn't doing the game any favors. And since the game doesn't have a customizable party system, I'm not able to choose the folks I want to hang out with. They come and go as the writers please.

I don't really care about Joshua. There's no depth to him. He's just a good guy who does the right thing. I don't really care about Otto. He just hands out quests. Isabella needs to learn to solve her own problems. Qunten has a cool backstory but that backstory is completely incongruous with the character model, character performance, and character behavior of the person we see. I don't care really care about Tomes or Vivian. They are literally menu functions given a character model.

Charon is also a menu function beneath a character model, but at least she took some guy's eyeball. I respect that.

Tarja's cool too. Add her to the Jill/Jote/Mid game and you'll really have something.

Then, of course, there's Clive. Given that he's the chosen one and the vessel of destiny and Mythos and all of that, it's hard to separate Clive from the main story writing.

Clive is notable because the first half of his story is just trauma on top of trauma on top of setbacks on top of more trauma. And that could be interesting in a grimdark Game of Thrones kind of way. But it doesn't work for me because all of it leads him to do...exactly what he was going to do anyway. Clive is all about his duty, after all.

If Clive decided that it was all too much and he decided to retreat to run a bandit group for a few years or something, that would be interesting.

But, of course, our hero isn't going to do that. Despite all the talk of free will, he's going to follow the script that was laid out for him by Ultima and Joseph Campbell. And that's fine, but it's very dull.

If the heroic characters range from "interesting enough to deserve a better game" to "largely flat", the villains give us far less to work with.

Annabella is just awful. Benedikta is awful but wants to be loved. Kupka is awful and as dumb as a bag of rocks. Barnabas is awful and brainwashed by religion. Ultima just wants to kill everyone because he hasn't killed everyone lately.

A common idea is that the best villains are ones where you can say "I mean, sure, they're evil. But they kind of have a point." None of the villains in this game have a point and I cannot see where they are coming from.

I was so angry when Kupka gave his big villain speech and admitted that he knew that Clive wasn't the Cid that killed Benedikta but hey Clive has been using the name "Cid" so he might as well chase Clive around for years to kill him. Fleeing from Kupka trap to Kupka trap took up several hours of my real human life and the best reason the writers could come up with was "Yeah, he'd probably hate that one name very specifically."

You'd think it would help that Clive really did kill Benedikta. But Kupka didn't know that! He really thought he was just pissed off at a name! And he was okay with that because he's not smart enough to realize why that's so stupid! One could imagine Kupka going after Mid or something to get revenge against Cid. But no. He just hates the name.

I can't relate to that kind of villainy. I can't care about that kind of vendetta. It's just a bunch of quests to get through.

So the characters and characterization (at least for the heroes) do a better job of making this game stand out than the story does, but even that is not really enough to paper over the large number of flat one-note characters that populate the game. The characters are then let down further by lacking a party system so I'm not even able to spend as much time as I want with the rare gems.

Even the stellar performances from the cast can't really salvage the characters from the other choices that the game makes.

The third side of the FF triangle is what I will refer to as the "brand identifiers". I'm thinking of things like chocobos and Moogles and crystals.

Things pick up pretty well here. I'm not sure if they had an official brand consultant on staff, but someone was clearly keeping an eye on things to make sure that the setting was "Final Fantasy enough".

Nektar is probably my favorite Moogle in the franchise and I loved every single one of his stories. There are crystals everywhere and they're pretty integral to the whole story. Elemental magic is a thing and also fairly integral to the whole thing. There are plenty of chocobos (though I do wish that they weren't just horses wearing bird costumes; give me an iconic chocobo knight or chocobo-based paddle boat technology or something!).

The Eikons are a big deal. I'd like to have seen more done here (maybe a Shadow of the Colossus thing?) but you can't argue that they're not present in a big way.

I can quibble that they don't really feal meaningful to me. Plot-wise, they're just MacGuffin WMDs and could have been anything that the 8 Dominants had. But in this game they had Eikons. That's fine. I could wonder what a Shadow of the Colossus take would've looked like, but I guess the big particle-effect Eikon battles are fine. (I didn't enjoy them, but that's fine. I played on baby-mode so my opinion doesn't count.). The Amano logo is pretty.

The Eikons feel a little flat to me, but I struggle to articulate why. And I think that may just be too many past games asserting themselves in my memory along with a whistful feeling of what-could-have-been without any real concrete ideas about what could have been better. So I'm going to give the Eikons a pass here.

And, in general, I think I can say that the brand identifiers are the strongest component of this Final Fantasy game. The 20th word in the opening cinematic is "Mothercrystals" and from that moment to last of the closing credits, this is unambiguously a Final Fantasy. That'll be immediately recognizable to anyone even passingly familiar with the franchise.

It's tempting to think that "gameplay" should be a part of what makes a Final Fantasy game. But how could it be? There are pure turn-based games, ATB games, paradigm-based games, gambit-based auto-battling games, tactics games, and now action games.

My opinion is that FF7 Remake did a better job of merging FF with action gameplay than either FF15 or FF16 did. But FF16 did a passable job. I wish it weren't quite so "Triple-A" (by which I think I mean "your character walks slowly and every environment is some shade of brown", but even I am not certain about what I mean here). But I did finish it and do all of the side quests and all of the hunts. So I can't dismiss the gameplay out of hand.

I've now written four thousand words about this topic and there are still thoughts in my head. And I don't think this piece will become better just by being longer. So instead, I will take the coward's path and simply present a list of other things I could opine on:

  • They didn't want to make a game; they wanted to make a movie
  • There are three different tiers of cut scenes (fully voiced, cinematic cut scenes where you cannot skip dialog; fully voiced, straight-ahead or over-the-should cut scenes where you can skip dialog, unvoiced, straight-ahead cut scenes that clearly didn't matter); an editor could probably have reduced the need for the cut scenes so they could've afforded to do them all well
  • The sheer scope of pointless scenes they weren't willing to cut so they did them unvoiced demonstrates that they should never be allowed to make a movie
  • I feel bad for the person who had to program the crafting menu. Imagine going to work each day knowing that your job was completely pointless.
  • I feel worse for the person who had to scatter crafting ingredients across the levels. I bet that person drank a lot.
  • Valisthea is empty. There were never more than a dozen people in any one environment. Cyberpunk 2077 did well here. I understand that Starfield does an even better job (though I haven't played it yet). If I'm going to spend $500 on a PS5 to play a game, I think the cities should have people in them.
  • There are going to be so many mobile gacha games starring Torgal, aren't there? He's a standout fan favorite and he's a very good boy.
  • If I ever do anything big and creative, I hope it doesn't come out the month before Baldur's Gate 3. What awful timing.

I'm in the final endgame now with only two boss fights left to go.

So wandering through this final dungeon and run into maybe 20 enemies. One of my party members (unnamed to avoid spoilers) says in a hopeless voice "There are so many..."

But I have a bunch of AoEs so I kill them all in a few seconds.

I had previously thought that the "Story Mode" setting didn't actually affect the gameplay and just controlled what assistance accessories you started off with.

But I realize now that it's still a separate setting.

So maybe that's why the combat is so unbalanced. It's hard to say. But the line readings really don't match up with the difficulty at all.

Spent most of today playing this. It's just so dull. Everything about it is dull.

I'm not even sure if I can fault the game for that, though. I recently played FF4 and found myself getting bogged down in it too.

My last update for Trails in the Sky, a game I find genuinely charming as hell is from almost three months ago because it's just a little boring to get into.

Maybe, at 40 years old, I just no longer really like the only games that I've ever really liked?

I hope that's not true. That will change my leisure-time dramatically.

Anyway, FF16. I'm continuing it if only because I spent a ton of money on it (I bought a PS5!) and I'm going to just embrace the sunk cost fallacy for a bit.

I'm a little bored, though.

It was around the time that I needed to get to the town so I needed to get through the gate so I needed to get a pass so I needed to talk to three people so I needed to chase a bunch of kids around so I needed to…

That I just stopped caring.

Finishing this might end up being a real slog.

Saturday is for gaming. Which is why it was so disappointing that this game kept crashing on my gaming PC every few minutes.

I don't really blame the game. There's long been some sort of instability with my system. But it's too sporadic for me to diagnose.

As far as I know, I bought high-end components so I would expect it to work as well as could be expected; but it just isn't so.

I'd say "I'll be more careful next time" but I honestly don't know that I can be more careful. I was already really careful the last time!

I had originally planned to build a new computer this year but decided to get a Razer laptop instead. And so I've moved my Baldur's Gate playing to that laptop. It was rock solid today, so that's something. I eventually stopped noticing the smaller screen*.

Anyway, sorting out how to actually make it run took longer than expected today so I really only got to spend around two and a half hours with it today. That' a good pace. I am still very much in the intro area (I now have an angry druid and some goblins to deal with).

That said, it's still a fantastic game. I wonder how far I'll actually be able to get into it.

It's not high literature, but what a fun ride. Fortunately, the sequel came out recently so I am already ready to start the next one.

It turns out that I really like the light interpersonal drama of royals in a space empire who also get into pew pew pew fights.

I'd have never thought that this specific thing was my jam; but between this and Scalzi's Interdependency series, I guess I need to admit it to myself.

It turns out that the secret to reading more is to pick good books that are engaging and not books that you think you need to force yourself to finish just because you started them.

This is a very engaging book.

I have very little experience with the style of games that I tend to think of as "crunchy CRPGs". I played a few hours of Neverwinter Nights back in college and then slightly more hours of Pillars of Eternity more recently. I also enjoyed the opening bits of Pathfinder: Kingmaker up until they stuck a timer on the screen.

So definitely under 15 hours total†.

I wasn't even sure I wanted to play BG3 but I couldn't escape hearing about it so I decided to jump in.

I'm not very far into the game yet; but even so, it is obviously quite good and really special.

It is, however, also extremely tiring. There's so much to keep track of and so many options to choose from that it requires quite a bit of mental effort to really do anything at all. Couple that with the way that every single button click can lead to horrific consequences (or just a straight up TPK) (including combat, traps, dialog options, or just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time) and every click is stressful.

So every moment of playing this game is simultaneously using up mental energy and replacing it with stress. Somehow, this is actually still fun.

But it's also a sometimes-food. I think I might have 1-2 hours a week available in my psychic inventory for this game. Which essentially means that I will never ever finish it.

I'm hoping to make it past Act 1, I guess.

† I am not counting anything that Bioware did starting with Knights of the Old Republic; with KOTOR, they started filing the mechanical game systems down to be far more straightforward as the juiced the cinematic narrative side of their games. It was a tradeoff that worked really well for me, but clearly leads to different kinds of games.

After abandoning Revenger, I wanted to replace it with more sci-fi and spaceships.

I am six chapters in and Unconquerable Sun is definitely more my speed. There is so far no attempt to be "gritty" or "realistic" where "realism" is somehow defined entirely as trauma.

I'm glad they're still writing books for me in these grimdark times.

It's been a while since I really sat down to read. When I opened this one back up, I remembered how dark and depressing it had turned and then realized why I probably hadn't sat down to read in a while.

I've moved this to the Did Not Finish pile with no regrets.

For various reasons, I haven't been able to play games much lately.

But I finally got a chance to pick this back up this weekend.

I still can't decide if I'm enjoying it or not. I'm not not enjoying it, but it's also kind of boring.

I was already on the fence about the action gameplay. But it's Final Fantasy! I play it for the story, right? Except...the writing is really not doing the game any favors.

There is a secondary antagonist who wants to kill you because he's a jerk but also because he thinks you did something terrible to him. Except it turns out that he knows you didn't do it; but you have the same name as someone who did! He just hates everyone with that name!

It's sort of funny (and the character is written to be as dumb as a bag of rocks); but you also spend several hours of your life dealing with the consequences of someone who just has the stupidest motivation I can think of.

I will say this, though: the final form boss fight for this guy was pretty epic. I don't normally like it when games turn into different games. But this one turned into a really fast rail shooter with a fantastic Soken-style rock music track and it was just...radical. In the 90s sense.

(The fight ended up lasting way too long because they love their quick time events, but it started off so promising that I'm going to give it an A.)

It's been just over a month since I last posted about some of the features I want to add here. There are a couple of tentpole features I want to add before I implement ActivityPub support:

  1. I want to be able to add n arbitrary images to microblog posts
  2. I want to be able to support microblog posts that are not about a specific item (unlike the microblog entry you are reading now which is tied to the Muscadine project)

For (1), there are a lot of ways to go about it but I've decided that I want to make a first class "image library" in the same way that I already have a project library and a book library and a game library.

Then, on any given microblog entry, I'd just choose an existing image from the library. I'm hopeful this will make it easier to build a library of standard reaction gifs or something.

I've finally done the work to add the image library. I can now add, edit, view, and delete images in that library. I can't use them for anything yet; but they exist.

I think the next steps on images will be:

  • Migrate the "cover images" for the existing items to be in the image library
  • Add support for images to microblogs

And that will wrap up the image library feature. Then it'll be on to feature (2) which should, probably be more straightforward.

I'm still using F#, by the way. I don't think I did a very good job building an F# foundation, but I've learned a lot. And I don't think the educational or fun value of rewriting in C# is there yet.

So progress continues.

The voice acting in this game, especially in the main cast, is just stellar. Possibly the best I've ever heard.

Susannah Fielding in particular is just killing it. As the game has progressed, I've felt her getting wearier and sadder (no spoilers here, I think; a lot of marketing interviews have stressed how inspired this is by Game of Thrones). It's an incredibly masterful performance.

Ralph Ineson is being celebrated across the Internet as well, and rightfully so. But the list continues. The main cast is just very good and well above your typical video game.

It's sad that they're clearly being let down by the technology, though. It's incredibly obvious that the dialog is recorded a sentence or two at a time and then stitched together by the engine during the cinematics. Every delivery is just a little bit uneven. Dialog isn't allowed to flow and the actors aren't able to emote via any timing choices.

My feeling is that graphics should be considered a solved problem for a few years. The studios with cinematic ambitions (notably Square Enix and Bioware, I'd think) should spend the next decade investing millions of dollars into making their audio sound conversational.

The performances these days are top-tier but the playback tech feels very dated. It's a real shame.

I've got a lot of jobs to grind and I'm starting to seriously consider some level skips.

Off work today.

Decided to spend it doing the next class quests for all of my crafting jobs.

All of my crafters are early 70s, but I'm way behind on the class quests because I've found that it's fruitful to be extremely over-leveled for them. Also, doing a complete round of class quests for all 8 jobs takes a solid half-day.

So that's why I spent about 4.5 hours today doing the level 58 crafter quests.

And I'm definitely bored of it, so it'll be another few months before I even think about the level 60 quests.

This game is so incredibly triple-A. Slowly plodding through gorgeous environments waiting to hit the trip point for some character dialog.

Occasionally having all of your buttons disabled so you have to just walk the straight path at a set speed (though it remains a mystery why they make me push the analog stick instead of just turning into a full cutscene).

Squeeze through two walls that almost, but not quite, touch. Ducking under branches. Clamoring over rocks.

Walking past NPCs who shout their day-to-day dialog at you. Walking past them again to hear the same lines. Walking past them again to hear the same lines.

The flow of every important battle interrupted by quick time events so they can really show off the camera angles and particle effects.

I wonder if I'm the only one who's sort of just bored by all of this. Is this the pinnacle of what we can do from a game design point of view? Is this just all that the technology allows? Is it going to take VR to break out of this paradigm?

None of it is really bad. It's certainly serviceable. It's fine. But it's just dull.

I've played every mainline Final Fantasy game since 7 (with the exception of 11, though I'm thoroughly enjoying 14).

So it was only natural that I plan to play the next upcoming title. As the game progressed through the news cycle from announcement to teaser to trailer to hands-on previews (etc., etc., etc.), I found myself riding a roller coaster of soaring anticipating and plunging trepidation.

It was going to be a DMC-style action game (👎) but Yoshi-P was at the helm (👍).

It was going to be "serious" like _Game of Thrones (👎) but Soken would be writing the music (👍).

It was going to be large story but it was not going to be open-world (👍👍👍).

It was going to be gorgeous (👍) but it was going to be a PS5 exclusive (👎).

The last was a serious downer because I had so far avoided buying a PS5. The thing takes up so much space that I wasn't even sure I could find a place to put one.

If FF16 had been accessible to me (on PS4 or PC), I would have pre-ordered it long ago. If it had fewer downers, I might have just bought a PS5 in anticipation of its launch.

But as it stands, I had to wait for the reviews. And the reviews were largely positive enough.

They were certainly positive enough that I didn't want to sit it out for a year or two waiting for it to come to PC where I'd end up needing to run it on low 1080p settings.

I ordered a PS5. I cleared a space for it (though I couldn't find room in our entertainment center; it lives with my desktop PC and is attached to the HDMI port on my computer monitor). I waited.

That was about a week ago. I haven't had much time to play it since then, though.

My PS5 says I've played it for 4 hours. It also says I've already played 20% of it. If that's true, it is going to be a shockingly short Final Fantasy.

I'm interested to see if that holds up.

Decided to take one more swing at it after seeing lots of people saying that playing on Merciliess is the answer.

It's definitely part of the answer: I got past the green guys.

But then I got one-shotted by the next wave.

At that point, it really seems to come down to RNG. If you have time to prepare for the big attack, you are golden. But if you were just randomly debuffed three times and have to deal with that and prepare for the big attack, you will die.

Playing the same fight over and over again hoping to get a better RNG is not fun and I will stand by that. Atlus decided to add a not-fun gate to their game where you have to beat your head against a wall for a while until they randomly let you through back into the fun.

So it's really Atlus's fault that I'm quitting and not mine at all.

I watched a video essay thing about how broken and terrible this fight is and, while I lack the SMT street-cred this YouTuber brings to the table, I completely agree. It's badly designed and should've been fixed in a patch or something.

Anyway, life is short. I'm moving on. For real this time.

Given the timer countdown to prevent grinding and the fact that I can't go back to previous palaces to pick up Personas I may have missed, I suspect that the Okumura fight is just a solid wall that I won't get past on this playthrough.

With the resources I have available, it's just not possible for me to defeat the green guys in two turns.

Perhaps one day, I will start from scratch and try to 100% everything so I stand a chance. But I think for now I'm going to move this game to the "Did Not Finish" column.

I do not think that I am the sort of person to finish an Atlus game. I thought playing on easy would be enough just wasn't.

Still, it was a fun 70 hours. So, though the moment is bittersweet at best, I abandon this game with a light heart.

Been over a couple months since I've picked up Persona 5. Decided to try to get back into it today to finish Okumura's palace.

But his boss fight is such garbage, I'm not sure if I even want to bother with trying to get past it. It's just tedious. I don't need extra tedious in my life.

Might be another couple of months before I try again.

I was off work today so I decided to try to make Sweden the furniture-making capital of the world.

But I never really got there.

Instead, I ended up in an iron-deficiency doom loop where iron was increasingly expensive so all I could do was build and upgrade iron mine after iron mine.

Eventually, I unlocked a new mining technology to make them more efficient; but then the mines stopped because they ran out of coal.

So I was stuck building coal mine after iron mine after coal mine after iron mine.

Eventually, the entire economy (and the entire royal treasury) was spent trying to dig iron out of the earth.

It's a hell of a generative-story, but I'm not sure it was necessarily fun in the classical sense.

(Looking back now, I'm not even sure where the iron was going or the best way to find out. I have a lot to learn about running a country.

I am not good at strategy games. I would like to be. I very much want to be someone who plays and understands strategy games. I love the big, beautiful, expansive maps and all of the numbers and tables and graphs telling you what's going on. I am just not good at using them effectively.

But, still. I want to play them. So I'll let Victoria 3 defeat me over and over again for a few weeks before I finally sigh and give up. Who knows? Maybe something will click this time.

So far, it hasn't.

I was playing the tutorial mission (as the recommended Belgium). Things were running smoothly: I was creating and upgrading buildings like it asked. Then suddenly it told me to dramatically increase my GDP and the only help available was "there are lots of ways to do this!".

But even then, I was managing. Slowly and steadily, I was increasing my GDP.

Then, a couple of my country's interest groups asked me to enact universal suffrrage. And I like universal suffrage. The only people against it were the wealthy landowners and there aren't that many of them, I thought.

Very quickly, I learned that the peasants and subsistence famers in Belgium are very opposed to the right to vote. Revolution festered causing productivity and standard of living to plummet. I attempted to subsidize some key industries and open up some new trade routes, but my coffers were running light.

Things eventually escalated to civil war (and no, I have absolutely no idea how to do the military in this game) and the country started to burn as wealthiest among us convinced the poorest to destroy everything they have for the sake of the 1%.

I somehow invented the modern US Republican party.

And then my computer crashed, sparing me from the agony of watching everything crumble.

I will probably not open that save file back up. There's no good there for me.

Still: what a game.

Finally taking a look at adding more features to this site. In particular, I want to add support for putting images in these blog entries (right now, I can only add cover images to the larger items).

The way I want to do that is by adding an image library feature where I can tag the images (since everything else in this data model is tagged) and use some combination of "date added", "image title text", and "tag" search to find images from the libraries to include in the blog entries.

At that point, it doesn't make sense for the cover images to be separate so I want to migrate them into the image library.

It is not at all obvious how to slot this in to the current codebase. Some of that is just because I didn't design it with foresight, but a lot of it is just that I don't really know how to lay out and design code in F#.

To some extent, doing this in F# was a vanity project. It lets me put F# in my resume and on GitHub. But it's also a learning project: I've never written anything big in F# and I don't have any mentors but I'd like to know it better.

What I am discovering is that I know a lot about what not to do but I'm not sure I've zeroed in on better patterns and practices.

So I need to weigh the vanity-aspects of F# vs having my GitHub full of (frankly) middling-quality code vs being able to execute faster if I wrote it in a technology that I'm more of an expert in.

Just as an exercise, I might re-do the frontend in C# and leave the backend in F# for now. If nothing else, it'll give me an opportunity to learn Razer which I've never actually used.

It's somehow been a couple of months since I've picked this back up.

So, naturally, I am still in the prologue.

I did play a bit this morning, just long enough to do the next mission. This is definitely going to be a "poke at it sometimes" sort of game, which means it will take literal years to finish and I will probably die before finishing the series.'s just that sort of game.

Being a few missions into the prologue, I'm not sure if I'm getting the hang of the battle system or not. The balancing is...extremely odd. Sometimes, I fight a monster and one-shot them. Other times, I fight the same monster and miss on all my attacks and (since the monsters can take about 1/3 of my HP per hit) very nearly die (or actually die) before I ever even get a hit in.

The hit percentage combined with the amount of damage even lower-level enemies do makes every battle feel like it's completely at the mercy of the RNG.

Usually, I would just grind to deal with this. But you get so little EXP for even difficult battles that grinding is an extremely unfruitful experience.

I can't even grind for better gear since you don't get money for winning fights.

So there's a world where I slowly poke at this game until I literally die (hopefully a while from now) or there's a world where I get fed up with the battle system and intentionally put it down forever.

I'm not sure what world this is yet. For now, I'm not putting it down. At least not intentionally.

Finally finished Stormblood.

Of the FF14 that I've played, this is firmly in the middle: better than ARR; not as good as Heavensward.

The pacing of this expansion is super weird. Half of the expansion is a side-quest for the first half. And the way they split the locations so you don't fully unlock the first area until the end just left me unsatisfied.

The game is full of progress bars and number-go-up mechanics so it seems weird to suddenly have a strange non-linear thing all of a sudden.

Still, the characters were great. Some of the dungeons were quite a lot of fun (I'm glad I got to play Castrum Abania before they completely changed the Number XXIV fight this week!). And the Azim Steppe is currently one of my favorite places in video games.

So definitely something of a mixed bag: lots of good, lots of meh.

In any event: onward to the post-expansion patch content and then Shadowbringers!

About 7 hours in now. Still very early, but's 7 hours in.

Still very much enjoying it. It's just so cozy and pleasant.

I don't think I care for the battle system, unfortunately. It makes a big deal out of turn order, but my characters miss so many attacks that it almost doesn't seem like it matters.

It makes the turns end up feeling random more than strategic.

Still, the dialog, characters, world, and music all continues to delight. Other than the combat, this game is just knocking it out of the park on every axis.

Still very early in the game. Did the training mission and then there was the first "real" mission.

You were supposed to go west, but I thought you were supposed to go east.

The monsters to the east hit quite a bit harder than he ones to the west, so I spent quite a bit of time grinding until I could mostly get through unscathed. You don't get money for encounters, so there's no opportunity to upgrade equipment, lots of grinding.

Finally made it to the end of the path with most of my HP and EP in tact only for the guy to not let me in (apparently, the mines are closed and the moose out front should've told me).

Figured out my mistake, went west, and discovered that the so-called boss fight was very easy.

It was the first mission of the game so I doubt it was intended to be a challenge in any event. But a couple of hours of unnecessary grinding really sealed the deal.

I'm still extremely early into the game, so maybe they front-loaded all the good stuff...but so far, this is one of the best localizations I've ever seen.

The dialog is adorable and funny and the characters all have a unique voice that's just spot on.

If this is what the Trails series has in store for me, I guess I won't be sad to be playing it for...::counts games::...the rest of my life.

For reasons, I haven't been sleeping well the past few weeks. So it's not uncommon for me to want to find something a little casual, mindless, and meditative to want to do with my non-work awake-time.

Fortunately, gathering in FF14 fits the bill. So it's not uncommon for me to just put on a podcast, do a few laps of the Diadem, and zone out for a while.

Which is why I somehow now have a level 80 Miner (with a Botanist not far behind), even though I'm still in Stormblood.

It's silly since it's just an electronic diversion and I pay a subscription fee for the privilege, but...I am grateful that this game has so many ways to play and so many varied things to do.

After enjoying Eversion so much, I decided to hop right into another Alistair Reynolds book.

I've seen his name on book store shelves ever since I graduated from the children's section, but never picked up one of his books before.

That was clearly a mistake. So far, my second is already off to a very good start.

One great thing about my website being a custom app that I built from scratch: if there's some little thing about it that's bugging me, I can just hop in and fix it in a few minutes.

One less-than-great thing: if I want a big new feature for my website, I'm the idiot who has to go implement it.

I picked this up on a lark -- mostly as a diversion from the endless podcasts that I listen to. I'm 42% in and I don't know what to make of it. It's fascinating and engrossing and I think I'm going to end up having loved it.

Much like Dredge, this is a game I've started playing to be chill and relaxed. Like Dredge, that's also an odd thing to say about a game that's explicitly horror and even has a couple mild jump scares.

But they are very mild and it's barely even a game. Also much like Dredge, I don't expect to have much to say about this game on an ongoing basis. I just want to track it since I am playing it.

I'm a little concerned that I'll get bored before finishing it; but hey, I have a tag for that too.

I don't think I'm going to have much to say about this.

I'm 4 hours in and enjoying it. I expect to finish it.

It's very chill and (surprisingly for a game tagged "Lovecraftian") relaxing and I've been playing it when I need to be chill at relaxed.

"Chill and relaxed" is not conducive to small microblog updates. So I am mostly putting this here as a record of having played it.

Started Trails in the Sky this past weekend just to see what I thought about it.

It's my first Trails game and while I know it's well-regarded, you just never know if a game will click or not.

I'm not very far into it (I've done the first mandatory training quest and am grinding a little before doing the second, mostly to get the hang of the battle system) but so far: the dialog is funny, the art is charming, and the music is absolute fire.

I'd say "Why did no one tell me the OST for this game was so good?" except I've definitely seen people raving about it before. So it's totally on me for not listening.

Fortunately, it's on Spotify. So while I may not be very far into the game, I am enjoying the music well past where I am.

I'll definitely keep playing it. There's no easy mode, so it remains to be scene if I eventually hit a wall or not. But for now, it's great.

It's much easier to hop into and out of than Persona 5, too. So far, it's been great for couch-gaming while watching TV.

Got completely stuck in Okumura’s airlock puzzle to the point that I started feeling claustrophobic and all of my muscles were tensing up like I was physically in a small box.

So I watched a video walkthrough and got to the next safe room and now I don't think I need to play this again for at least a few days.

Definitely need a break.

You (hopefully) won't be able to tell, but I spent the day completely revamping the backend UI for this site.

When I first built this site, I built the admin interface first so I would be able to put data into the database so I would be able to then build the frontend site around it.

That means that the admin backend was really just a couple pages with HTML tables thrown on them.

A single HTML table was becoming a little difficult to scroll through as I've added more content, so it was time for a change.

The admin interface is now built inside the same layout as the frontend interface. I've also broken it up into multiple sections for each type of thing that I track; conveniently, I can now use the sidebar for navigation within the admin interface as well.

At some point, I want to add a real blogging engine to this site. At that point, I'll really need some admin UI so while it's functionally identical to when I started, this really was a necessary precursor to future enhancements.

It also means that posting and updating items is more visually pleasant for me. So that's a nice change as well.

iPhones print this site completely differently depending on the orientation of the phone when you push the print button.

I have no idea how to debug this.

Fortunately, this has to be the edgiest of all edge cases and I can live with it.

But it's just so unsatisfying!

Okumura's Palace seems to just go on forever.

Look, it's a good game. A great game even.

But perhaps we should entertain the possibility that a game can just be too long.

Since my resume is now just another part of this site, it inherits most of the styling.

I wasn't really happy with the way the font worked on my resume, so I've given the site a slightly new coat of paint.

At some point, I'll find some random header with the wrong font and I will be sad. But until then, I think it's looking pretty good!

I haven't really done any work on the site proper, but I did decide to move my resume into it.

Giraffe is pretty nice for this kind of thing.

In addition to just a straightforward tech-stack port, I've done a full content revision, which is a challenge because my career has really been 18 years doing the same job (just via increasing difficulty levels).

So I added some subsections to better tell that story and ended up needing to restructure the document and completely change the generated output. Again, Giraffe works really well for that.

So it took a fair bit of agonizing revision, but I finally don't hate my resume.

It's part of this project, so it seemed worth noting here.

Last weekend, I tried playing some Persona. After just a few minutes into Okumura's Palace, I realized I wasn't really having fun and found a safe room and bailed.

This weekend, I feel like I should go play some Persona...and just don't want to.

I really hope I'm not getting burned out on this game. I've been loving it so much.

I'm gonna let it cool down for another week or two before I start to panic, but there's a bit of a concern. If I don't even finish the game, how will I ever do my New Game+ which I've been looking forward to? What about P4G?

I'm sure it'll be fine. I just need a little break.

I was inspired to go do some stuff in Final Fantasy 14 instead of Persona 5 today.

And I kind of feel bad about it?

There are all these people wanting to hang out with me and I'm off doing something else.

I'm stopping Ryuji from going to the beach! I'm being a bad friend.

I guess that's the mark of a good game.

Played a little bit today to move the story along, but the game crashed after a long sequence of not being able to save (or forgetting).

So I guess I get to do some stuff over! At least it's fun!

I didn't play all day today (I had to do taxes :( ) but still spent several hours in and around Yongen-Jaya.

I'm still in between Palaces and just working on building up my confidants. This boy has such an expansive social calendar. When I was his age, I had four friends and we all just hung out together. There were very few choices to have to make.

I've found that this game has a real Civ effect on me; but instead of "One more turn..." it's always "Just one more day and then I'll save and quit..."

But one more day can quickly turn into a week.

Spent all day today on this. I unlocked and completed Futaba's Palace.

That storyline was just incredible -- and Futaba's crowning moment of awesome at the end was just ::chefs kiss::

The boss fight at the end of the Palace was long and drawn-out and I'm very glad I'm playing on easy. The SP management was bad enough as-is. I fear what it would be like on normal.

This is a pretty good game, it turns out.

Spent all day yesterday running around in Hydaelyn. Unlocked the Namazu quests and, perhaps most importantly, finished ranking up with the Kojin. I love my fake-turtle friends and the manta ray mount I got for my troubles.

It's time to conquer Doma Castle, but it'll probably be a bit before my static is ready for it.

That's good for me: I need to level up Summoner/Scholar so I can play all the roles when we're ready for it. Right now, I'd have to tank with Paladin. But I like being flexible for the group.

That was a full day of Persona-ing.

Finished Kenshiro's Palace, did several Mementos requests, and unlocked a couple more Confidants.

It turns out that the Royal edition I bought on Steam came with some SP-restoring items I wasn't using. Between those and easy mode, it's suddenly become very easy.

Which I quite like.

Great game as long as you don't try to play it too seriously. =)

Made it fairly far (I think) into Kaneshiro's Palace today.

I increasingly realize that it's not just the dungeon maps that I don't care for but the whole dungeon experience.

I am immensely enjoying figuring out how to spend my time each day, getting to know my friends and acquaintances, and learning about the story.

But the actual dungeon crawling and combat and Persona management? It's really not my cup of tea -- even on easy mode, the resource management around SP is becoming a bit stressful.

I'll stick with it because everything else about this game is an absolute masterpiece. But I think what I really want is an expertly-crafted slice-of-life visual novel dating sim without the JRPG parts.

I'm not sure that exists. Even leaving aside the differences in taste of what "expertly-crafted" means, I'm not sure the non-combat portions would have as much impact if you weren't trying to optimize social links and things to benefit it.

It's an interesting problem and one I'll have to start hunting around for.

Some of the half-baked plans I have for this site include an even-more half-baked plan to build my own OIDC provider.

Towards that end, I updated the session cookie keys to be a little less ephemeral.

This won't affect anyone but me (since I'm the only person who needs to log in to this site) but it's nice to not have my cookie reset every time I do a deploy or the webserver restarts.

It was also a nice low-impact, low-effort change -- I decided to Just Use Azure (tm) because .NET provides a very easy path for this with Azure Key Vaults and Storage Accounts -- which I hope will provide some much-needed momentum.

I am frustratingly bad at keeping people alive in this game.

Given that the game makes such a strong emphasis on no one dying (even on Casual mode), I'm not sure I have much of a future leading any of these houses.

Even on Casual, the Internet tells me that it's important to keep everyone alive through every battle so they can get experience. But that is very tough to do when all the enemies get multiple attacks and can essentially one-shot most of my team.

It's fun but also not and it's becoming difficult to decide if I should keep going or move on to something else.

The real test will be "Can I play this while watching TV or do I need to concentrate?" and I am still not sure of the answer.

I bounced off of Three Houses pretty quickly when it came out.

But...I've been playing Persona so I think I'm more open to the social bits of it. And listening to everyone talking about Engage, I figured it's probably time to start again.

I am definitely enjoying myself more and am already further in than I made it the first time. There's still something that's a little off, though. There are so many characters and it's a little hard to keep track of everyone. The UI could really use a spreadsheet mode.

I'm worried that I'll eventually just lose track of my team entirely and that'll be the end of another playthrough.

Still, it has already proven at least 100% more successful than last time.

I completely fail to understand the fast travel rules in Mementos.

Sometimes I can go up, sometimes I can go down, sometimes I can go anywhere.

It's inscrutable to me.

I really wish 8-person trials were not a required MSQ thing.

I don't mind screwing up with my static. We just laugh and try again.

But knowing that I'm inconveniencing 4 strangers who are just trying to roulette...I hate that feeling. Which just makes me nervous and I screw up more.

It's a whole thing.

I still do not care for the dungeon maps.

I picked this back up today to finish the second palace and I had the hardest time figuring out how to get to where I needed to be after sending the calling card. It had been a little too long since I found it the first time...

The boss fight itself was fun, but it definitely made me glad to be playing on easy! The mechanics and turn economy are a little too challenging, imo.

Now that the palace is done, I feel like I have some breathing room to socialize. That'll be nice.

Five months later, I finally went back and finished the last boss rush on Easy.

True to its name, this was dramatically easier. It was still an unpleasant experience (I really hate the last fight with the bosses that keep respawning and the cinematic attacks that completely break up the flow of the fight, not to mention the difficulty of Sephiroth making you do it all over again when you die...) but I was able to cut through it on the first try.

I've finally (finally) unlocked the Yuffie DLC which was the entire reason I was replaying it on PC to begin with.

Not sure when I'll actually do that (real-life has completely ruined my headspace for the foreseeable future: it's a mess in there), but I am happy to finally (finally) have it accessible.

I'd played the based game through on PS4 when it came out but never did the DLC.

It's finally (finally) almost time.

Still slowly working through the MSQ with the static and leveling other jobs.

But at this point, my main goal is to just climb to the top of the tower in Kugane.

Though if I ever do get to the top, I might not want to leave. It might be time to create a new alt at that point.

Made it to the final boss and was just absolutely murdered.

My party is in the low-to-mid-60s so I guess I'd need to get everyone into the 70s before I'd have a chance.

I'm not going to do that. Even with the fast leveling in the Pixel Remaster, the prospect of that amount of additional grinding fills me with dread. I am no longer a child in 1991 and I need to be at least a little more careful with my leisure time than that.

I shall consider this playthrough complete and catch the ending on YouTube.

Difficulty aside, there really is something special about this game: especially if you can cast your mind back to the state-of-the-art in the early 90s. Even today, the music is outstanding and the character staging during cut scenes is expressive and delightful.

I'm not sure I could recommend this to anyone today who isn't explicitly trying to explore the history of the franchise or genre...but if you are trying to do that, it's a real treat.

It's been a minute. Started watching a video called []("The DEFINITIVE Final Fantasy IV Analysis") and decided that it would probably behoove me to actually finish the damn game instead of watching a 5+ hour video about it.

I'm almost there. Spent a few hours on it today. Did a little grinding. Progressed some more through the story.

According to the guide I'm using (and yes, I've decided that a guide is a perfectly reasonable way to experience a 31 year old game because I do not have as much free time as a child in the 90s might have), I'm at the final section of the story.

I'm playing the Pixel Remaster and it's obviously tweaked to be easy mode (both in how quickly the party levels and how easy it is to escape from encounters) but even then, some of the random encounters are just brutal. When walking through the Giant of Babil dungeon, I kept getting encounters with multiple enemies that could one-shot most of my party. There's just not much you can do to counter some of that.

It was a good grinding area but, yikes. I'm not sure I'd have managed to play the SNES or Super Famicom version of this. I need that modern easy mode! (Ask me about Persona...)

Right now, I'm planning to finish this tomorrow. I would absolutely love to put FF4 behind me as I head into the new year.

Had big plans to spend my December break adding some features to the site.

In no particular order, I want to:

  1. Add support for microblog entries that aren't tied to a particular item
  2. Expand those free microblog entries into maxiblog entries for more essay-like content with a traditional weblog frontend
  3. Implement ActivityPub support

I'm wavering a little bit on (3) since I think it's probably just as valid for Mastodon to add support for subscribing to RSS feeds. But that doesn't seem like it's going to happen and there are possible dividends from just joining the fediverse. I'm still not sure yet.

I also want to spend some time looking at BookWyrm and seeing what the overlap/divergence between that and my implementation of books is.

So (3) is a much bigger job than (1) or (2).

Not that it matters. I haven't really opened the code up at all this month. I guess I have on more week? Seems unlikely.

On top of all of that, I still need to work on the backend UI as well. That'll be especially important if I start using the site a little bit like twitter.

Things to do. Things to do.

My static was finally able to tackle the next dungeon and we moved into Kugane.

I am really loving this environment. Kugane is gorgeous, the theme song for Kugane is gorgeous, the loading screen for Kugane is's just 10/10 all around.

Now that I've arrived, I was able to spend a very cold Christmas Eve working through some more MSQ and also just leveling my Warrior a bit by grinding Sohm Al and then The Aery over and over again. (I really love the Duty Support system and need them to expand it just a little bit faster than they are. As slowly as I'm moving through this game, they're going even slower with Duty Support. My timing sucks.)

I do not care for the dungeon maps.

Individual maps aren't labeled (just the general area they're in) and there's no indication which exit leads to which map.

For someone with no real spatial reasoning skills, no real ability to visualize things mentally, and no sense of direction at makes navigating quite the chore.

I pushed myself past my block and loaded up RF4.

Reminded myself how to farm and did a bit of grinding in the woods. It's mostly coming back to me now.

I can definitely say that Ventuswill is tired of my delaying and really wishes I'd just get on with the MSQ, though.

I really need to get back to RF4.

It's just that every time I think about opening it back up, I worry about all the systems I've forgotten about.

Then I don't play it and the problem just gets worse and worse.

I need to rip the band-aid off.

I am thinking about playing it a lot, which is a good sign. Just need to get past the sticking point, somehow.

I was looking for some light and easy SF reading and Space Team was recommended.

It fit the bill perfectly; I read it in just a few hours. I didn't even have time to add it to this website first.

It's not high art, but it's definitely diverting. And sometimes, we all need a diversion.

While I remain happy with the user-facing portion of this site, the backend UI is a bit thrown together and I'm starting to add enough items to make it a pain to use.

I guess it's time to start thinking about a real approach to editing.

I guess I should make a record of having played Immortality.

Well, I say "played" but it's definitely more "watched and scrubbed".

I didn't find all of the clips but I did roll credits and I think I have a decent understanding of what happened. I would like to find the rest of the clips but the randomness of it has completely sapped my will to do any more. Maybe in a few months.

It was definitely a great experience, though I don't know if I'd necessarily recommend it. The randomness of finding new clips and the squirreliness of finding the hidden clips is frustrating beyond what the artistry can deliver to counterbalance it.

If you do decide to dive in, pay attention to the content warnings. Even with them, I was surprised at how much sex and nudity was involved. Definitely a step past Her Story in that regard, to say the least.

I think I might have to have a policy of not trying to avoid spoilers.

It's hard to say anything about progress through a narrative-heavy game like this if you don't want to give anything away (see my previous update which is a little tortured).

Gonna give that some thought.

I've been enjoying the game, mostly because of the style and music and combat and animations. The story has been so-so.

But I just got midway through the second Palace where a new character joins the team and spends some time walking through the Palace figuring some life stuff out and...

It was a really beautiful moment. The writing, the music, the pacing, the visuals...they all combined to really be something.

I think I understand the love for this game now. Looking forward to keep playing.

Did the Starlight Celebration.

Really enjoyed the extra bits of wandering around and meeting some "familiar faces".

At one point, a character from Heavensward showed up and I wondered what they did for players who haven't finished that expansion.

Through the magic of ~buying two of them~ having a low-level character on a different server I haven't thought about in a while, I discovered that they just don't give you the option to go to that location.

So I suspect there are scenes that I didn't see because I'm just starting Stormblood.

That's movie magic for you, I guess.

Had intended to log in for just a bit and do the Starlight Celebration event.

Instead, I got distracted by a bunch of unfinished hunting logs.

I finished the Marauder log (and got a level to boot) and then did all of the Archer, Pugilist and Rogue logs that I'm currently able to do. (All of the rest are finished out)

In the process, I did another job quest for Warrior (now 52) and Bard (36), and Ninja (35).

I just need 43k more XP to get Monk to 35 (and the next job quest) but I think I should call it a day for now.

Still need to come back and do the Starlight Celebration, too. I'm very much looking forward to the reindeer mount.

Made it to the second palace.

Still loving easy mode, but I think the virtual novel parts are where the game shines. If there was a mode to just do the dungeons in story mode, I'd flip it on in a heart beat.

Related: I don't really like Mementos. Procedurally-generated dungeons are really not my bag. Oh well, it's probably manageable.

Took a bit of a break but finally finished the first Palace today.

Figured I should get back to it while I still remember literally anything about it; and I am on vacation this month, so it makes sense.

But deciding to play this game just feels like such a commitment. It's a super long game, of course, but even just individual play sessions ask a lot: especially if you play a Palace and find yourself between save points.

I definitely prefer an experience where I can hop in and hop out.

Yet, nevertheless, when I do finally center myself and decide to's really good and lots of fun.

Here's hoping that continues for the next 98 hours spread over 2 years.

Played "The Vault" a few dozen times and made it to 60 with my Black Mage.

I think I'm going to like the Stormblood BLM class quests. There's a lot of mystery and intrigue here and it seems like it'll be some good fun.

Spending some time leveling my Black Mage while waiting for my static to unlock the Sirensong Sea.

Keeping track of the salient differences between Blizzard, Blizzard II, Blizzard III, Blizzard IV, and Freeze might all be beyond me.

I started playing P5R a couple weekends ago; but I've got a history of bouncing off of Persona games so I held off talking about it until I knew if it would stick or not.

For this play-through, I've got two advantages that are keeping me from quitting as I have so often before:

  1. I am playing on Easy mode
  2. The game came with a ton of DLC items and money that's really making it easy to ease in

My biggest issue with Persona games up until now has mostly been the clock: I'm not very good at games and I usually grind to make up for it, but it's hard to do that when there's a ticking clock hanging over your head.

Plus consumables and items have always been scarce so even if I make the time to grind, I don't necessarily have the resources to do so.

But Easy mode is solving the "need to grind" issue and the DLC is, so far, giving me many many many resources.

I'm still in the first Palace, so I don't know if I'll actually stick with it long-term.

But, for once, I have hopes that maybe I'll actually see the end of a Persona game.

It's been a minute, but my static has been dutifully working our way through the post-Heavensward patch content.

I finally got into Stormblood this weekend and have been having fun exploring the first two areas. The environments in this expansion are really quite pretty; the team levels up their environment design each expansion and it's fun to see the accelerated evolution as I work through them.

It's definitely getting to a point where the EXP curve is flattening and I'm starting to wonder about the sustainability of having so many jobs. But also, I like them all and don't want to choose!

At the very least, I need to pick one in each role. But the choice is tough.

6 hours in and just unlocked class switching and...I don't think this is for me.

The story seems great (so far), the graphics are good, the voice acting is fine to good, the music is a solid B+ at least but...

There are so many systems (collecting, turn-ins, arts, skills, classes, roles) and I find that I do not care about a single one.

I also don't enjoy the combat at all. It's either too boring to hold my interest or is too chaotic for me to have a chance to influence everything before a wipe.

I think I'm going to call it and move on to something else.

To some extent, I was reading this to evaluate if it would be a good book to hand to a new junior dev.

I'm not really sure. There are parts that I think are great and parts where I think that Mark gets off into some paths I don't love (notably TDD) a bit more than seems necessary.

I think I'd probably put this on a list of other recommended titles but not necessarily single it out.

As for myself, I'm not sad that I read it. It's a good refresher in a lot of ways.

I still haven't answered any questions about what I want this site to become.

But I realized that I forgot to add the X-Clacks-Overhead header to all of my responses, so I've fixed that (and added a few other novelty headers) so at least I'm not letting the site just rot.

I have started to think of Edge as "our special little boy".

As in, "He's just a weak lil' guy, he can't hurt nothin' and you don't need to go trying to beat him up. He's just our precious little boy!"

He reminds me of when I used to wear ninja masks as a little boy. I was also not actually good in a fight.

For the first time since I started this project, I suddenly find that I am not quite sure what I want this website to be.

It was originally going to be an in-the-moment, somewhat curated, snapshot of what I'm doing with my life.

But I'm not sure what that means. The original goal was going to be largely centered around microblog updates (like this one) where I could share thoughts tied to a specific item.

But what if I'm having a bad day and read a trashy space opera in an afternoon but don't have anything to say about it (or any energy to log in and say it)?

Should I add it to the site later just as a "I have read this" tracker? Should I add a star ratings feature so I can rate items? Should I add a "review" section separate from the microblogs?

Specifically for books, should I make this a Goodreads clone? But isn't Goodreads good enough? Maybe not for the non-books.

But I don't always want to put a star rating on something. I certainly don't always want to write a prose review. Would their absence be interpreted as meaningful?

But ultimately, I can't decide if that would be an evolution for this site's theme, purpose and design...or a step backwards.

It opens up some presentational challenges as well. The original site design was very purposeful and that's a fairly major expansion of purpose.

So this will be something to think about in the weeks ahead.

I've been grazing at Xenoblade Chronicles 3 a bit for several weeks now, but haven't made it very far into it.

So far, the story and presentation are phenomenal, but the gameplay is a little boring.

I'm going to give it a bit to open up (which I think, based on some podcasts I've heard, is going to be when I "free the first colony") and then decide if I keep playing it or just find some YouTube videos.

Started playing RF4 a few weeks ago but lacked the wherewithal to mention it.

I am still fairly early in (I've only done the first boss fight and rescued Amber) but I think this might have some staying power.

I am really loving the loop and how many options there are for things to do.

It's doing a lot of the same things for me that Stardew does; but because there's an actual story, I don't think I will weary of it quite as quickly.

Worth an update of its own, the cut scene leading into The Final Steps of Faith trial was one of the best I've ever seen in any game.

It made me feel things.

I have not been not playing FF14, but I have been too tired to talk about it.

Still in between Heavensward and Stormblood (still taking the slow path).

In between, I've been leveling crafters and other jobs. Red Mage is still my favorite to play, but I'm doing less and less DPS to let my static level their DPS jobs.

Still haven't finished the non-Vath tribal quests.

Finished Heavensward last night.

That was a good expansion. I might have to NewGame+ it at some point to get the story a little more coherently (and not spread out over several months).

I was extremely disappointed in the final trial, though. I'm not sure what it was like originally, but now it's been nerfed to the point that it's barely a game.

It looked pretty and was great to watch but that just goes to show: it should have been a cut scene. Indeed, a cut scene would have been better because they could have had anime moves and things!

As the final climax of the entire expansion, it really undercut the experience. That said, I'm trying not to let it spoil everything that came before because the rest of it was really quite good.

I wanted to link to that big entry down below but to do that, I needed to add permalinks for microblogs.

That exists now. See?

That last "micro"blog was a doozy. Maybe I don't need to add a "real" blog engine after all.

Since this is my site, the character counter is just a suggestion, after all. Hmm.

One issue that I've had since the beginning was "How do I represent the different item types (book, game, project) in a strongly typed way while also reducing the amount of boilerplate I need?"

In C#, I'd just make some interfaces and an object hierarchy and call it a day. And while one can do that in F#, it's against the spirit of what I'm trying to learn.

I went down a few paths (including some pretty gnarly heroic reflection code, immortalized in this "delete all the old code" commit) but nothing ever really felt right. I ultimately just ended up copy-pasting a bunch of the same code into Book.fs, Game.fs, and Project.fs and moved on.

I've slowly been solving this, starting a couple weeks ago when I added some discriminated unions to represent each type (in this commit). That ended up with a lot of similar code in pattern matching blocks, but I felt okay about it because the compiler was going to help me out by noticing missed patterns.

Then, last weekend, I watched a talk from Mads Torgersen on "The functional journey of C#". He made a point that a big difference between OO and functional programming is that OO lets you put new behaviors in one place (encapsulated in the base class, perhaps) while functional programming makes you spread it out all over the place and duplicate things in each function. But the functional approach is more extensible since all the behavior is out in the open.

He said it better. Go watch the talk.

Anyway, I've taken that to heart and done a great big refactor today.

Before, I really wanted to be able to have a list of, like, FormField<'t> to support things like FormField<string> and FormField<DateTimeOffset> and FormField<string option>.

This is fine as far as it goes but:

  1. You can't put those in the same list because they're all different types
  2. You can't pattern match over the generic type so it's hard to do things with them

This wouldn't have been so bad in C#. I'd just have a non-generic FormField interface or something. I don't know. But in F#, it's kind of a drag.

So I embraced what Mads was saying about duplicating behaviors as needed. I now have a new "FormField" concept where each FormField is a discriminated union of everything that a form field could ever be.

I wrapped up a bunch of pattern matched functions to do things with these and it's kind of annoying but really not that bad. The compiler and tooling helps a lot here.

I'm pretty pleased with it.

I know this is far from perfect and not what an F# master would write.

But I think this is a solid improvement and shows how much I'm growing into this new-to-me language and paradigm.

I can only imagine six months from now when all of this seems really gross to me and I have much better ways to accomplish all of it.

I can't wait.

The infinite boss rush combined with "we'll go into an animation any time you're doing well to make sure that you lose your ATB charges and limit breaks as often as possible" as a hell of a way to design an endgame.

"We like the end of the game to be completely different from the 40 hours that came before so the player is dramatically unprepared. It's like two games in one!" -- Nomura, probably

I might have to put this one down for a few weeks.

The end of chapter 17 and the beginning of chapter 18 is just a non-stop thrill ride with no chance to catch your breath!

Or to save and go do something else.

Which is to say, I've played this for a bit longer than I wanted to play it.

But the end is in sight. My Intergrade experience is almost here.

Finished the Vath quest line.

Still got a fair bit to do for the Vanu Vanu and Moogles. They're never satisfied.

I was very amused that the final Vath quest was "Go talk to the leader" who told me what a great guy I am. Quest complete.

Decided to play a bit on my Steam Deck while we watched TV. I forgot that my gearsets don't sync over and didn't notice when I switched jobs that I no longer had the assigned gear.

The screen is so small that I also didn't notice that I spent about 40 minutes running around naked.

It's Eorzea so I'm sure the other players didn't even notice. But it certainly explains why I was suddenly so bad at crafting!

I really applied myself and spent several hours doing all of the GC crafter turn-ins and Zhloe Aliapoh's collectable turn-ins.

This is called "productivity". At least as far as Sunday is concerned.

Made it to the Shinra HQ lobby. I'd completely forgotten about the "break into the main reception desk" subplot.

But I think I'll save that for another day.

Anyone who's looked at the GitHub for this site can see that I need a lot of help...this one comes highly recommended so I have high expectations!

Today's the day.

I've spent the week polishing all the rough edges I could find.

I've got a commit ready to go to change the index route from "Under Construction" to...well...this.

I still want to write up something to put on social media to tell people about it (I am kind of proud of how this has turned out!) and then I can push that commit.

It's time.

I decided to mark this one as “Did Not Finish”.

It’s not a bad game at all, but I find that I just don’t care about it. Given the length of the games I play, I need to get better at abandoning them when I’m not super-engaged.

Might as well start that practice here.

After a solid day of downloading, I did manage to get the game running on my Steam Deck. It's very cool, although I continue to find that the PS4 controller is really just perfectly balanced for this game.

As heavy as it is, the Steam Deck is not perfectly balanced for anything.

Still, it is a nice novelty if nothing else. Looking forward to leveling some crafters while watching TV.

Just saw this recommended by Jerry Holkins.

I was just getting out of high school when this was published and I completely missed it. But it sounds rad so onto the infinite backlog it goes.

Utter failure today. My controller keeps glitching out, the game keeps crashing, and I don't have enough internal SSD space to even try to get it running on my Steam Deck.

It is definitely not an Eorzea day for me, for whatever reason.

Not sure if the first post-launch feature will need to be a no-context microblogging feature (possibly published to twitter) or a real blogging engine. Either way: do I actually have worth saying?

I've created a colophon. The site is feature complete! I'm not happy with the copy at all, though. So I need to spend a few days thinking about the writing. But I'll probably launch next weekend! Exciting stuff.

Added visible tags and individual item pages today. v1 of the site is nearly complete (indeed, I almost thought it was done until I remembered...) except for the colophon.

One more static page and then I'll just need to look at it very hard before making any small tweaks and going live.

I can't believe it's almost finished!

I got the "list" pages working under the "What am I...?" buttons in the sidebar. I am so excited about it. It looks so good.

Things are really coming together over here and I am starting to feel pretty proud of how it's turning out.

Is it just me or is Edge absolutely worthless? Almost at level 50, he has no evasion at all, and he is easily one-shot again and again. I finally just left him KO'd in the fight against Asura.

I am sort of surprised to learn this because I thought I was a purist but...I really hate random encounters. I thought I would never make it through the Sylph Cave.

So far, chapter 9 (practices for working on a team) seems the most valuable. Chapter 9 on its own might be a good book club topic one day.

I've been watching Mark's talks and reading his blog for a bit so I decided to buy his books. This one is a bit entry-level (sort of like Code Complete) and in some ways I'm reviewing it for if I'd recommend it to junior developers. But even then, it has some valuable insights. It's good to be reminded of the basics now and then.

I did a very small amount of refactoring cleanup. The code is really disorganized and it's not at all clear to me how to improve it.

More importantly, though: I did decide to add Markdown support. It was very easy thanks to the Markdig project.

Spent a little time with FF7R today while I still mostly remember how to play (to the extent that I ever did! I am...not good).

Cleared chapter 14. Moving ever closer to climbing a whole lot of stairs. (j/k, I'll probably take the elevator this time...)

The front page now has dynamic microblogs (like this one!) on it.

I'm still debating if I'm going to support markdown in these or not. The time to make that decision one way or another is fast approaching.

The project code is also really starting to get away from me: a lot of that is to be expected since I'm learning F# as I go, but it might be time for a major cleanup refactor soon. I just need to learn more about what that should look like.

I've completed the BTN and MIN quests for Heavensward. Gathering is so much more pleasant than crafting. (Except for fishing. I am just about completely over fishing.)

Starting to think about leveling my crafters again. Started trying to do some of the GC turn-ins and ended up spending an absolute fortune on Wind Crystals.

It's probably worth it, but funding issues will keep this at a pretty slow pace.

Half of my static is on vacation for a couple of weeks, our Heavensward journey is paused.

Instead, I've got SMN and SCH to 60 so I can heal in any content we'll come across before the next expansion. With my 60 PLD and RDM, I've now got all the roles covered.

I've now got all of the static content on the main "About" page laid out in a responsive fashion. Will start working on the dynamic stuff next time.

It's looking good! I'm almost tempted to disable links to pages that don't exist yet and put this up instead of my "under construction" banner.


First-World Hack: If you have two sets of Air Pods, pair one set with your phone and one set with your gaming PC. Put one bud from each set into your different ears. Then you can have podcasts in one ear and epic Soken music in the other.

Yes, this is obviously an extravagance.

Unlocked The Aetherochemical Research Facility yesterday; just about done with Heavensward. I wasn't going to play today, but actually ended up dipping my toe into the Moogle quests. That's inspired me to start leveling my crafters again so I did the GC delivery quests for all of them. Kind of a pain, but I got a level for each of them.

I started working on the user-facing site today! I've got the main layout built out and it's responsive and everything. One day, you may even see this very message in that layout! Exciting stuff.

Sunday was also for playing this game like it was my job. Did the level 60 job quest for PLD, got to the next job quest for SMN and SCH, and spent some time just working down the hunting logs for...well, everyone. I've neglected them, but you get achievements so I might as well. Also did all the quests to unlock the Moogle Beast Tribe quests. I knew they were crafting quests, but I still ended up disappointed about it.

Saturday was for playing this game like it was my job. I unlocked the next MSQ dungeon, did the next class quests for BTN and MIN, turned in my first collectables for scrip, unlocked the Vanu Vanu dailies, started to unlock the Moogle dailies but balked at needing to do 19 side quests to get there, did do all 7 side quests to unlock the Allied status for the beast tribe quests in ARR, and even sold some maps on the market. Time to do something else now.

Got to Matoya's Cave today. OMG: The music! The brooms! I just adored everything about it. What a delightful treat.

I've put some real data into the backend so I'll actually have something to look at when I start styling the frontend. Probably next weekend. We'll see.

According to my walkthrough, I'm barely 1/12th of the way through; and I've found myself with no desire to pick it back up.

At this point, I'm waiting for this to be my first "Did Not Finish" on this website.

Looking forward to finally unlocking Idyllshire so I can progress with my gatherers. They've been 60ish for so long now.

Waiting for my static to get ready to go fight a space whale, I've been leveling alt-jobs. Just about got my Paladin to 60.

Today, I am "feature complete" for the backend: which has allowed me to write this, the inaugural microblog in the production database.

Next up, it's all about presenting the data in a pleasant frontend!