Loving The Backlog 2020

According to Later Levels, this week is Love Your Backlog week. And I so do love my backlog. I love it so much, I just keep making it bigger and bigger!

But just how big is big? Well, I just don’t know! Or rather, I didn’t know up through last night. As I mentioned I was going to do, yesterday, I went through Steam and organized what I had – this being the first time that I’ve organized anything in my Steam library. Then I went through GOG Galaxy and did it all again, because it doesn’t import your organization when it imports the Steam titles. And it doesn’t have collections at all, as far as I could tell, so I had to tag them, one at a time. And then that all doesn’t come out pretty like Steam does it, so let’s just ignore that for now.

Here’s what I’ve got on Steam, which is most of it (only have 39 total titles on GOG anyways). Most of that is pretty self-explanatory, so I’ll just go over what I count as my “backlog”:

  • Never Started – what it says
  • Significant Time Played – this is stuff I haven’t beaten, but still intend to finish (unlike “Dropped”), and that I’ve put time enough in that I figure I get the feel of the game.
  • Started – stuff I’ve started, but don’t yet feel like I’ve put time enough into to determine if I actually want to finish it or not (some of those are longer RPG’s that I’ve put a few hours into, but don’t yet feel I’ve gotten significant progress).

Adding in my GOG games, we can add another 31 to the Never Played and 3 to Started. Then, to add the console games, we can add another to Never Played, and one more to Significant Time Played. Considering all this as my backlog, I’ve got about 150 games on my backlog. Honestly, thought it would be a lot more.

Now for the interview:

A game you’re eager to play, but haven’t yet started:

Probably Kingdom Come: Deliverance. I’ve wanted to play this for a while, but just haven’t had the time, what with my other games.

I mean, just look at my last-played list.
A game you’ve started several times but haven’t yet finished:

I don’t really do this: I generally just drop games, or finish them after picking them back up the first time. The only one that really comes to mind is Radiata Stories. I’ve started this a couple of times, only to chase after a new game. My console set-up right now isn’t the most inviting (at least, not compared to my PC setup), so playing those games isn’t my top priority. But I absolutely mean to get to it some day!

The most recent addition to your library:

Looks like it’s Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists, aka Atelier Nelke, on Jan 14. I got the Dusk and Arland Atelier trilogies at the same time; this was just the last one I added to my cart.

The game which has spent the most time on your backlog:

This has got to be either Radiata Stories or Shadow Hearts: From the New World. I’m not exactly sure when I bought them – I was buying any JRPG on the PS2 I could find, between 2007 and 2012 – but I just never finished the former, and never started that latter. But I have them, and do intend on getting to them…eventually.

The person responsible for adding the most entries to your backlog:

Anon from /v/. Not only do I look to /v/ for vetting, but also just entertainment. Sometimes I’ll see things that look interesting, and get them. Sometimes they don’t add to my backlog (as I’m excited to see what this thing is all about), but it certainly doesn’t diminish it either.

#maybeinmarch

Well, looks like I might be playing one of those PS2 games. We’ll see. Might even get started tonight.

t. my backlog

A Quick Update

Just a quick update, since I’m not dead. January gaming was just basically ESO, with dailies in Dragalia Lost and playing the events in STO and Granblue Fantasy. Made a new character in ESO (2H/S+B Nightblade Tank), kinda on a whim (since some bloggers I knew were talking about how ESO’s combat was kinda not satisfying, which wasn’t my experience – but I’ve only played ranged until now, which has a completely different feel than melee; so I wanted to see what was up with that). So yah, that’s what’s up there.

In terms of “posts I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t because REASONS,” I have watched the last two episodes of Picard. The second episode was somewhat better than the first, but the third was the worst so far. Long story short, I just don’t care about the characters or the world that’s been set up. I’ll keep watching for now, since this is the end of the pilot, so to speak; or the first area of an RPG. But it’s been almost 1/3 of the season (3/10 episodes). This wasn’t necessary, and everything could have been done in one episode, maybe 1.5. And it would have made me happier, since a lot of the stuff that annoyed me could have been cut without any repercussions to the overall story. Not all the annoying stuff, but most of it.

I’ll have another post tomorrow about Love Your Backlog Week – but I need to get my backlog organized! (Hopefully GOG’s unification of my stuff will help.)

Star Trek Picard: Ep 1 Review

To put it right at the front: I didn’t like it. I’m going to put a short version of my review that I’ve placed elsewhere (I believe in recycling!), then go into more detail:

In short, if you’re looking for a generic sci-fi show, this isn’t too bad. Not good either, but not terrible. 4/10, mostly brought down from the apparent need to have absolutely minimalist dialog to get to the next scene (like a second-year writing student heard for the first time “brevity is the soul of wit,” and applied that to almost every single scene). Most of the sjw propaganda isn’t too much on display at this point. The apparent Mary Sue co-protagonist at least has a reason for being a sooper-speshal butt-kicking waif. I’m thinking most of the stuff from the trailer is going to be in the next episode. 

As a Trek show, it’s pretty bad. Not STD bad, but still bad. Even the worst episodes of proper Trek gave you time to think about whatever thing was on offer. Even if what they were describing was dumb, they at least gave time to try to give an explanation, not just expecting the audience to hear some thing and just accept it, before instantly moving on. And, continuing the JarJarTrek pattern that’s been going on the last decade, it’s like the people that wrote this only knew about Trek from memes and scanning Memory Alpha articles – and I include Patrick Stewart in this (apparently, he’d never even watched his own show until a couple years ago). There’s a whole memberberry vault too (though, fortunately it’s kept mainly to the one scene). I never got the feeling that Data was Picard’s BFF (I’d say that he was closest to Worf, of anyone besides Crusher), but apparently that’s the case, and it’s the thrust of the plot, even though that was 20+ years before the events of the show.

But, at least it completely invalidates the idiots that thought a comic was canon. That’s nice. 

Yes, I know this is about the haters, but I filled it in about the episode itself.
  • Data doesn’t look too bad, but still weird. It’s obviously a dream, so that’s fine.
  • Weird editing all around. Like, bad enough that even a know-nothing non-kinophile like me can notice.
  • Credits are dumb and boring.
  • Holy crap, could the scene with the boyfriend be any more [Current Year]? This would literally fit in any CW drama. The only thing that makes it sci-fi at all is the fact that the guy is an ayy lmao. (And I guess he mentions the replicator.) A cringeworthy CW drama to boot. So awkward.
  • Ah, and Dadge/Dajh/whatever (it’s Doge now) is now a fellow at Daystrom in TWO fields! So smart and STEM! Slay queen! I like science!
  • No Russian Speak English! I guess it makes sense that not everyone on Earth would necessarily have universal translators. And the alien who might have had one is dead, so his probably turned off, if he had one.
  • Let’s not knock her out, or beam her up, or whatever, now that we know that she’s safe to handle. No, let’s put her in more conscious danger by putting a bag over her head (wouldn’t want her to know the transporter path back to our hidden base/ship)!
  • Are the Romulan couple refugees themselves? I think that’s supposed to be the implication. Are they random people that Picard invited to live with him? Are they specifically hired as caretakers (doing job no Earthman would do)?
  • “They said they wouldn’t ask about [thing].” They’re definitely going to ask about [thing].
  • The interview is the exposition dump. This is literally the only thing that explains what happened between Nemesis and this show. Very awkward and jarring.
  • Why did they have that light and camera setup? Even in Enterprise they had cameras and lights that the reporter could just wear on their face.
  • “Romulan lives.” “No, LIVES.” Wow, so powerful!
  • I’m not going to hate on the 900M people thing. I figure that the Romulans were using their own ships (and maybe the other powers helping out) in the lead-up to all that. I mean, if Picard thought he had time to build 10,000 ships, there was obviously a lot of warning. Enough time to evacuate billions, probably. Just the unlucky plebs that got left behind.
  • Why is this a huge (potential) refugee crisis, for the Federation? It’s the Romulan STAR EMPIRE. They have other planets.
  • The whole “Synths did it, so we’ll outlaw synths and also turn insular and not help out” was really forced. Not only is it not TNG-era Federation/Starfleet AT ALL, but it just doesn’t make sense. At least with the Augment thing there’s reason, however dubious. This is just for setting up a fake moral dilemma to set up the plot the creators wanted (particularly Stewart).
  • At least they got one thing right: Picard wouldn’t shoo away some crazy girl that shows up at his house uninvited, at least not without listening to her story. Even considering her story, he’s seen much weirder stuff.
  • PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THE NECKLACE. I mean, talking about it would be a good way to calm someone down in a crisis (and Picard is good at that), but it’s so bloody obvious that this pretty boring and normal necklace is going to come up later for some reason.
  • OK, the first dream sequence was fine. But now Picard is having prophetic dreams.
  • I like how it’s morning in France, and late-night in Boston. At least someone writing this had a brain.
  • For some reason Picard uses the Starfleet Archives as his safety deposit vault. And for some reason he keeps his ship models and sword there. It’s obviously supposed to be some kind of display area, but for some other reason only Picard is allowed in it. And why does the computer take more than an instant to search out his very simple queries?
  • It says Quantum, so you know it’s advanced! I like science!
  • So she’s a synth, and she’s tied to Data somehow (and now has superpowers), so naturally that must mean she’s Data’s daughter. Which he always wanted.
  • Why not just carry the old man, since you have super powers?
  • Why are you running to the roof, where it would be very hard to escape from?
  • How does she know “they” are coming? It seems like she can hear them, but then they beam in, which means they were on a ship.
  • So is she a proper robutt, just human on the outside (like the Borg were doing to Data in First Contact)? Because then her superpowers would make sense. But the Daystrom lady and Picard make it seem like she is basically in effect an augment; while they are strong and smart and whatever, they weren’t Avengers.
  • A 91-year-old man (who could barely get up the stairs, so he isn’t some future-science fit dude) was thrown 40 feet by an explosion, and all he got was a bump on the head. Lucky!
  • The entire Daystrom scene was bad. Dialog and pacing were terrible, the worst example of what I was talking about up at top.
  • Why do they come in pairs? This isn’t a mystery box thing. Real Trek would have at least given a cursory explanation (and Voyager a long-winded, terrible, technobabble explanation) for all of this mess.
  • Good thing she has a twin, so we don’t lose our Mary Sue protagonist.
  • Oh look, ROMANCE!
  • Also, Borg Cube. If I hadn’t played STO for years, this would have been a negative; but Romulans playing with Borg stuff is a plot point in the game, so I’m used to it.

Not a promising start. It could get worse or better from here, but signs point to worse.

My Perfect Video Games

Way back a month ago, Kim over at Later Levels made a post about their perfect video game. I’ve been thinking about this post a lot (I was thinking about posting what you see today since that day), but here it is now. This is obviously a complicated question, and I didn’t really think a comment would do it justice. I’m not going to go into that much detail (because I haven’t thought about it that much)…and I’m not going to limit myself to one game.

Now, it’d be easy to just pick my favorite games that already exist, and merely say “make X better” or “fix that little problem”. But that would be pretty boring, I think. So I’ll go with games that don’t exist yet, as far as I know.

First up, I want an Atelier game. Sure, there are a lot of them, and they come out pretty much yearly. But they’ve never made the perfect Atelier game, for me. Instead of a regular turn-based RPG, I’d want something more akin to a shop simulator. Kind of like Recettear, but with the Atelier feel. It’s always bugged me how the eponymous atelier would often be portrayed as a shop of sorts, but the player never actually ran it (Atelier Annie sorta did it, but in a clunky and terrible way, like it did everything); if there was every any money to be made in alchemy, it was selling stuff to the stock npc vendors who for some reason buy all your crap, but never put it up. The narrative link would be that the heroine would notice that these vendors would buy her stuff, then resell it at a 10-100x markup – and she wants to get that action.

As a busy shopkeep and crafter, it doesn’t make sense that the alchemist would go out and slay monsters herself. Like Recettear’s protagonist, our heroine would get other people to risk their necks for her ingredients. Most would do it for free or a small fee (there’s always fighters and friends for Atelier girls), but you could hire some experts to get the rare stuff that even the alchemist wouldn’t know about (or know how to get it): an herbalist, a miner, etc. The combat would be there, but (mostly) optional: it’d be like sending out the Homs or pet slimes, except they’re characters. I would make combat action-based rather than turn-based, since the alchemist heroine wouldn’t be doing the fighting: either like the Tales of… series, or the various hunter-type games. There would be times when the alchemist would have to go on journeys with her lackeys, if only to identify the ingredients the first time (basically training the assistants).

I would also modify the traditional friendship system. Since the traditional Atelier friendship systems depends a lot on taking the friends out in combat, that obviously has to change. It’d probably be better to have a more request-based. Something like how the Persona series handles that system would really work. Maybe there could even be romance options, which are not unknown even in the Atelier series (Mana Khemia comes to mind, even though that game had a male protagonist).

Since the game would be about keeping a shop, the overall story would have to stay pretty grounded. No existential threats to the kingdom/humanity/the world here. Maybe something threatening the shop at the beginning, but it would mostly be character-driven. Of course there would need to be multiple endings.

My second perfect game would be a grand strategy game…IN SPACE. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What about Stellaris?” The trouble is, Stellaris is an awkward mix of 4X and grand strategy, and doesn’t do either particularly well. I also want the character/dynasty stuff from CKII. I want some of the empire management options from Victoria II. Stellaris is a good start, but I want better. Something more than a map painter in space (though still with the option of painting the map). Also, I would make it single-player first, not multi-player-first-even-though-very-few-people-play-it-like-that like Stellaris and the other Paradox grand strategy games.

Basically, I want a Star Trek gsg (doesn’t need to be actual Star Trek; just have the feel (unlike any Trek made after 2008…)). The Federation doesn’t go out conquering. It doesn’t map-paint. It uses diplomacy and stuff to convince others to join them. Being a one-planet minor is perfectly possible in Trek. Or you could go the Klingon route and CONQUER EVERYTHING. Or you could go the Cardassian route and only conquer to get resources. Or the Ferengi route and stay a small empire, but be extremely influential economically. Or none of the above. Managing the empire would also be different, depending on which faction you’re dealing with. A Federation would settle colonization rights between member states, but a Klingon Empire would have to deal with the Great (and not-so-Great) Houses, with all their jockeying. A monarchy or artistocratic government might need to play games with their nobles, a la CKII. And so on. The possibilities are there.

And of course combat would be needed. I don’t much like the fleet action of Stellaris, and would much rather have individual ship combat, again more like Trek. (Trek had fleets, but fleet combat was relatively rare.) I don’t know if combat would be its own mini-game or not. Might be fun, but might get tiresome. Probably would have it be an option, like in Total War: you could do it yourself, which could potentially lead to better outcomes; or you could just let the computer work it all out statistically.

Oh, and as far as map painting goes, only systems would be owned, not space. That is something that has long annoyed me about space 4X games, and particularly ones that relied on hyperspace lanes between systems: space has borders that can’t be crossed. That’s really unrealistic: space is BIG. It’d be impossible to patrol interstellar space…so I wouldn’t have that as a mechanic. Sure, it might be possible to block expansion or travel, if the game requires hyperspace lanes or whatever that always begin and end in systems. But blocking travel (especially between parts of your own territory) just because a travel path happens to have a borderline that wasn’t there before, in interstellar space, is annoying as hell (had that happen pretty much every game in Endless Space and old Stellaris).

There you have it. My rambles on what I want to play. (There’s a reason I’m not a game designer.) I don’t know if anyone else would want to play those games, but I don’t care; that’s not the point of this blog post. I would play the hell out of these games.

Atelier Ayesha: Initial Impressions

Yesterday the Dusk trilogy of the Atelier series came out. While I’m not the type that generally gets games day 1, especially if I have any question about the quality, or how much I’d like a game, I figured by this point I know what I’m getting into. Plus, they’d have a discount, being new (but not really new – they’re PS3 games), and Koei games, especially those by Gust, don’t often go on sale, let alone get deep discounts. And, the whole Atelier series was on sale, so I picked up the Arland series (at over 50% off, which is about as good as it gets), and Nelke as well, because at this point why not? So now I have all the Atelier games that are on PC, on PC.

And I’ve been in a bit of a gaming funk recently. The mobage I play I’ve all but burned out on from all the free rolls at Christmas/New Year. I’ve finished Elsewyr and Dragonguard for ESO (right in time for the announcement tomorrow). I don’t want to get into Crusader Kings II without more of the DLC. And Cities Skylines is fun and all, but it really doesn’t provide a narrative I want. I started Blue Reflection a few weeks ago, and got to the first boss; I liked what I played, but I’m not really in the mood for that sort of story right now.

Good thing Atelier Ayesha came out. I got to play it a bit last night, and have…a few impressions. Only a few, though, since even the 90 minutes or so I was playing barely got me out of the tutorial. I guess that’s not so bad – a lot of jrpgs have longer tutorials than that. But regardless of how long said tutorial/intro was…it wasn’t quite thorough enough. If I wasn’t quite familiar with the conventions of the series, I’d probably be lost. You get the barest tutorial of the systems, while going through the intro (most of the time is actually just story intro), and then you’re on your own. I do appreciate not being babied, but it does seem a bit lacking, if I didn’t already know what was going on.

As far as that story goes, I think it does all right. There’s clearly something going wrong in the world, at least locally. Water is drying up, the ground is getting increasingly infertile, and resources are becoming scarce. Even the simple, not-that-great medicine that our protagonist makes (before even learning what alchemy is) is a money-maker for the merchants she sells to. There are ruins all over the place of a past, more advanced, civilization, that modern people don’t even understand. Monsters run rampant in the less civilized areas. Oh, and sometimes people just randomly disappear.

Which is what happened to Ayesha’s younger sister. But, at the beginning of the game, Ayesha sees her sister, who seems like a ghost or something. Luckily, an actual alchemist just happened to be around, and seems to know what’s going on. But he’s a huge jerk, and won’t tell Ayesha anything – his philosophy is that knowledge given is knowledge unearned. But, he tells Ayesha that she has about three years to get her sister back (this is your ultimate time limit, obviously).

And that’s the call to adventure. Unfortunately, Ayesha is a complete airhead, so just goes off with no idea where she’s going. Fortunately, she has a friend who’s willing to take care of her. Off they both go, to the big city (which I presume is the main hub), and from there you actually start the game.

So far so good. But it’s not really enough to know if I’ll like it much. It has the main time limit, but I’m not sure if any incremental ones will show up, like they do in the other pre-Shalie games that I’ve played. I don’t really like the time limits, but I think it’ll be fine. The main thing I don’t like (which is just part of the series at this point) is that various actions take such a long time, in relation to the time limit. Even the most basic crafting takes at least a day (and remember, there are only three years’ worth of days), and gathering ingredients from even a single node takes a significant portion of a day. (And I’m sure battles do, too.) That, in addition to the travel times (which seem excessive), makes things not quite as fun, for me. But, as I said, so far, so good.

Yes, Lore Does Excuse Design Decisions

Over at Massively OP, an article popped up today about using lore to excuse design decisions, and how that’s not OK. Going in, I thought this was going to be about actual game design – combat flow, ui flow, and the like. Basically using lore to justify bad QOL elements. I can certainly get behind that stance. I can’t really think of any examples off the top of my head (most devs use the excuse of “QOL is hard”), but I’m certainly against the concept, and was hoping that the article would explain things.

But no, what the article was actually about was mostly character customization, or the lack thereof, in certain ways. (There was also a bit about no cross-faction teaming in WoW, which I think is also a valid complaint – I have the same complaints about STO. But that wasn’t the thrust of the article.) Really, mostly complaining about gender-class locking, or not being able to make female characters.

To be clear, I don’t actually like those things. Those sorts of things will definitely diminish my desire to play the game. But they are OK. If that’s what the devs want, they can use lore to justify it. If you want to say “no female knights, because lore,” that’s your choice. Or “no male witches”. Whatever, that’s fine. Even if your game is a knight game, or a witch game.

Getting mad about the gender locking, for this particular reason, is silly. Obviously the devs had a certain sort of character in mind. It’s a really ancient way of designing a RPG, especially for a MMO, but it’s still valid. In the very, very early days of PnP RPG’s, the characters were pretty static. The Wizard, The Knight, The Thief, etc. Even the first modules for DnD were designed with this in mind. Obviously, this design went away pretty quick (because both character and story customization are more fun, and are quite viable in pnp format), but, again, it’s still a valid design choice. Those RPG’s that do this (they seem to be mostly Asian, and particularly Korean in my experience) are fine. You (and I) might not like it, but it’s fine, for them.

Of course, the devs also have to face the consequences of their design decisions. If they whine about criticism, they get to come off as babbys. But said criticism should be about the choice made, and how it makes the game worse, not that the choice itself isn’t ok, or the lore isn’t valid. It’s perfectly fine for the Red Team and Blue Team to not be able to team together for lore reasons. Maybe annoying to players, but not necessary.

Of course, using lore as an excuse, when it’s not the real reason, is pretty low. If the game is coded in such a way that allowing, for example, cross-faction team, is nearly impossible without going in and blowing up half your game, then just admit that. I get the feeling sometimes that devs don’t want to admit those sort of things, for whatever reason. As if it’d be admitting a huge mistake, and that’d be dishonorable somehow. I get the feeling that’s the reason in WoW’s case (and probably STO’s case), but for some reason they just fall back on lore (which is extremely silly for STO).

NOT an End-of-the-Year Retrospective

Just a check-in (not even going to post this to Twitter). I’m not dead. Not yet, at any rate. Just haven’t felt like actually writing. Sure, I’ve had ideas for posts, and time to post them; but I”ve lacked the will to actually type them out. Not that anybody’s missing anything by me not writing them, but when has that ever not been the case? So, expect something in the nebulous future. Or not. It’s up to you.

Looking Forward To the Next Year

It’s almost the end of the year, so it’s time to look forward to the next. And by that I mean video games, new ones.

Recently I was seriously thinking about getting a Switch and PS4. But of course, a game console needs games. So I was looking at what was out there, as far as exclusives goes. But it’s not just extant games that matter, but future ones as well. Since trying to predict which games won’t come to PC (especially for PS4) is pretty tricky, I decided I’d just make a list of games I’m actually looking forward to. The following list came from stuff I picked off whatever was the first hit from Google that looked reasonably complete, so I might be missing some; and of course there’s the caveat that any or all of these can be delayed or even cancelled, but at any rate, here is a list of games for next year, which I’m looking forward to coming out:

Greatly Anticipating:

  • Cyberpunk 2077 – I’ve been looking forward to this ever since the reveal. I’m very interested in cyberpunk stuff in general, and CD Projekt Red is a company I’ve come to expect good things from.
  • Rune Factory 5 – RF4 is one of my favorite games, ever. I’ve been waiting for the continuation of the series ever since that game came out.
  • Granblue Fantasy ReLink – OK, this probably won’t come out in 2020, but it might! I of course love the original game, and everything I’ve seen from the console version looks great.

Highly Anticipating

  • Granblue Fantasy VS – Another Granblue Fantasy spinoff, but this time a fighting game. Only kept out of the above list because I’m not to big into that genre. However, there is basically a single-player/coop RPG beat-em-up that’s also part of the game, which looks quite fun.
  • Trials of Mana – I loooved Secret of Mana, and this looks like a proper sequel. Only kept from the above category because I’ve played some of the later Mana games, and they weren’t that good.
  • Sakura Wars – A VN, but with gameplay? And it’s gameplay I might actually like? Sign me up!

Anticipating

  • Final Fantasy VII remake – This looks like it could be a lot of fun. Not a fan of breaking up a single, older game into two-plus games, and I never really played FFVII in the first place, though.
  • Destroy All Humans remake – Another game that I loved. But I want to see just what’s being remade, and how, before I fully jump on the hype train.
  • Persona 5 Royal – Persona 4 is another of my favorite games, and I also quite liked Persona 3. Never got P5 proper because I never got a PS4. So I’m looking forward to playing the “definitive” version.
  • Tales of Arise – back in the PS2/GC days, I really liked the Tales of series. But when gaming moved on past that, I lost contact with the series, for the most part. I played the Vita version of Tales of Hearts, which was fun enough, but nothing special. But Arise looks different, somehow. We’ll see.
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles remaster – This was a game I really wanted to get back when it came out, but I couldn’t. This is mostly just a fake nostalgia pick, to be honest.
  • The Settlers – the city-building genre is one I’m a fan of. I’ve heard a lot of good about the original Settlers series, but they’re all so old and funky. Maybe this game will settle that itch, in a way that games like Patrican and Tropico haven’t quite gotten yet.
Sometimes you just need to dig a deep hole to put all the extra water into.

Mildly Anticipating

  • Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines 2 – The original is another of my favorite games, so any sequel is going to get my interest. But what I’ve seen isn’t too promising. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot of time to fix things, and we’ll see how it goes when it comes out.
  • System Shock – I liked SS2 well enough, but never could get into the original. This is my chance, but I’m not really a fan of those old-school shooters.
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – I wanted to try this game, but I didn’t have the system, and the censorship issues didn’t drive me to rectify that situation. I still want to play it, though it looks like this version will still have the censorship, even in the Japanese. I’m going to keep an eye on this one, to see if anything comes of it.
After building a time gun, they can only afford one lamp.

Granblue Fantasy Episode 10 and Other Things

This episode is much improved: certainly the best episode since we left Albion and Vira. The pacing is much better than it’s been in a while as well. This was one of those episodes where look at the clock and think “how did so little time pass? so much has happened!”. Still, the arc isn’t over yet, and the episode isn’t without flaws.

We start out with the rest of the crew discovering what had happened at the end of the last episode. Rackam is of course shellshocked, but he is quickly roused back to fighting trim. Also, who else but Rosetta swoops in to help save the day! I actually like how the anime has portrayed her: she is a primal beast, after all, so it makes little sense that the crew would have been in so much trouble, so often, if she was there. (Also, she was with Gran’s dad’s crew, and thus knows all about Lyra and Vyrn; the fact that it all stays so mysterious in the game for so long is a major plot hole; here, she herself is much more mysterious, and much less involved, though always present if needed…much like Sierokarte…) So, Rackam and Rosetta team up to save Noa, while the rest go with Siero to save Gran and Lyria.

Meanwhile, Gran and Lyria get an audience with the PM herself, Freesia. She basically tells them everything is going according to her plan, which is to rewrite history so the Astrals never had any influence. I’m not sure if this is a change from the game, or if this is just a front she’s putting up. I mean, “I hate Astrals because they’re invaders” is a lot more impressive than “I hate Astrals because my girlfriend married one”. And I don’t really like the whole “just as planned” thing they have going on here. “Oh yes, I certainly assigned a new officer with a savior complex to watch over a cute girl (who had reached her limits in the lab), because I certainly expected said knight to abscond with said girl, and for them to go on wild adventures that lead to personal powerlevel growth, instead of just getting the hell out of Dodge, or going into hiding.” Yah, not really buying it.

Of course, the various rescues go off without a hitch. Though this scene really shows how incompetent, or weak, Gran is: he got beat right quick when the Imperials showed up earlier; but Io and Katalina just bash right though several mooks (it’s nice to see that Katalina is actually the combatant she was hyped up to be, even if it’s not portrayed very well (because anime can’t into effective armor); I don’t expect this to ever happen again). Noa is saved too (there’s a lot more exposition there), and apparently everyone gets away and the Grancypher is fixed, because that last scene seems to indicate that the crew is completely out of the Empire’s grasp at present…OR ARE THEY?

I don’t really know how they’re going to wrap this one up. I think next episode is the last “proper” episode of the season, with one more special episode (like the beach episode last season). But there might be one more afterwards. Sticking the Halloween not-rerun in there really threw things off. But as for this arc, I guess they have to do something with Mithra. I wonder if they’ll bring Orchis in for this like in the game, or just do it without her; either way works.

In other, BREAKING NEWS, the Mouse/Rat Zodiac character is NOT a Harvin. I feel robbed. Mouse would have been perfect for a Harvin (because they’re small, get it?), and there isn’t any real opportunity for a while. I mean, Erunes are easy for this, because they already have so many animal ears, and Draphs work for the zodiac animals with horns and tusks (so the next is Ox, obviously Draph for that). Then Tiger, another Erune, and Rabbit pretty much has to be another Erune. Not until 2024 is there an ambiguous one, with Dragon. Oh, and by pattern, it’s Harvin’s turn. Not only was I robbed a cute Harvin, but the Harvins themselves were robbed! This is a sad day, for sure.

And, it seems, Dragalia…Lost… Doomposters going to doompost, but things seem serious over this game. Even Reddit, the bootlickers of the century, not only let a series of doomposts through, but actually gave them upvotes. Of course, the big tell is that the new Christmas Dragonyule Malora is unvoiced. In a game where a large draw for the unit (at least for Japanese audiences) is the fully-voiced units and character stories (at least for the high rarities), having an unvoiced unit is terribly alarming. Having two unvoiced units, one of which has SEIBAH (Ayako Kawasumi) voice, who is BIG NEWS for the voice actor lovers, is pretty much a death flag. I’m going to reserve judgement until we at least see the next main story chapter and banner, but this is severely troubling. I’ve already curtailed my (admittedly limited) spending, just to see if it’s worth spending any more in this game. It might seem like a little thing, but this, combined with the garbage Megaman event (collaborations are usually huge deals), and the constant stream of rerun events, even for holidays, are deeply concerning.

And I’m going to predict an announcement of STO 2, perhaps as soon as the anniversary (at the beginning of February). Probably not that soon, but the dev team has definitely been working hard on something, and it’s not the game in its current state, that’s for sure. I figure that STO 2 is going to be the next major Cryptic project, after Magic: Legends. (For which I’ve already signed up for the beta.) I just feel it in the air: player counts are down, spending is down, player retention is down, vets are getting upset (who knew that going All STD All the Time would hurt player counts for a game primarily made of fans of the older shows, to which STD bears very little resemblance besides in a couple of spaceships?). And yet it persists. I guess we’ll see.

And then they kissed and lived happily ever after. Oh, wait. Not that. But it would have been convenient later.

Granblue Fantasy Episode 9 Mini-Review

This episode is…not so boring! An improvement! After all the garbage and adventures this crew has had to go through, it’s time for the Grancypher to get some repairs. So they go to Golonzo, where all the best facilities are. This is a Grancypher episode, so it’s a Rackam episode.

We finally get some backstory on Rackam, and a tiny bit more for Eugen. Both were on Golonzo in the past; it seems Eugen was a regular, but Rackam was there when he was a little kid. So of course we get all that “I remember when you were a crybaby milkdrinker” stuff, all the time. I don’t know how everyone remembers that, since it had to be about twenty years ago, and this is a big island with lots of visitors, but whatever. (In the game, Golonzo is a tiny backwater, only notable for the shipyard, and even then only by those in the know, so it made a bit more sense that everyone would remember this one kid.)

We get to meet the mysterious fellow from Rackam’s dreams, Noa, who turns out to be the primal beast…of building skyships. That isn’t much of a combat power, unfortunately, so of course he’s been captured by the Empire for their nefarious experiments. And all he can do, even with a dark essence boost, is make a bit of wind and apply a photoshop filter to the Grancypher (right when she was about done with repairs, too! the nerve!). Oh, and Gran and Lyria get captured too. Turns out all you had to do was hit them on the head!

I really hope this only stays two episodes. If it’s three, like the last over-extended arc, then that will take us to the end of the show. And leave with a cliffhanger, since the end of this is where Lecia and Monica show up, to take us to the first actually good bits of the main story, where things at last finally start to get explained (though it will be another hundred or so chapters before that beginning is over and we finally know a bit about what’s going on!). I don’t want to wait another two years for the first potentially good season to start.

Game Pommern would never be stupid enough to mess with Siero like that.