Diving Into the Cracks: Trill Symbiont

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done one of these posts, but it came up, I thought about it, and I want to make a post about it. By ‘it,’ I mean the Trill, and the Symbionts, as suggested by the title. This will be shorter than some of my past posts, as there’s only really one main point I want to make.

As usual, I make these posts because I think the general impression about them is wrong; or, at least, I have an alternate interpretation, that I think fits the fiction better than the general consensus. In this case, that consensus is that the Trill symbiont (the worm) merges its personality with the host (the humanoid Trill), which then makes a new person, so to speak. I don’t think that’s right.

I think that it’s more the symbiont is a repository of memory of the previous hosts. I question that the worm even has a personality, as we would recognise one. They are assumed to be sentient – the worms can communicate with each other in their natural habit, and it seems with hosts, and even caretakers of that natural habitat, to a limited extent. But, as I said, I don’t know if that means they actually have a “mind” as we would understand. And it seems that, even if it does, that doesn’t matter.

While the host’s personality – or at least, their external expression of that personality – does seem to change a bit, I wouldn’t put that down to a “merging” of sorts. Part of your personality, if not a large part, is shaped by your experiences – your memories – after all. If you suddenly, as a young person, gained the experiences of at least one entire lifetime, that’d change you. Just that would be incredibly valuable – and we (the viewers) can see that, with how the access to symbionts is controlled.

It also seems that the choice of hosts is not just based on intelligence and lack of metal illness, but on personality. As in, not much of one, at least by the time Jadzia was made a host. As we can see (and as we’d expect), Jadzia without the worm is far different from Jadzia Dax. But also, as we see from those times where we get to “meet” the past Daxes, each one is very different from each other. Jadzia just seems like a quiet, nervous nerd, but Jadzia Dax is pretty much the exact opposite. Presumably the future hosts are psychologically prepared on some way

And then there’s Ezri. She wasn’t chosen to be a host, she just happened to be there when a new one was urgently needed. We get to see, real time, what suddenly getting hundreds of years of memories does to someone who isn’t prepared at all. And it isn’t a sudden re-write of personality. It’s just an addition to what they already are.

(As an aside, I wonder if the conjoined Trill has eidetic memory. I don’t think the worm would work very well without it, but does the pair experience their memory like that? Especially if the Trill in general don’t, that’d be really weird to experience.)

Ezri a cute.

WordPress Weirdness

I haven’t been able to blog for the past few days, up to maybe two weeks. Why not? Because WordPress wouldn’t let me log in. In the past, my login would be kinda funky, where I wouldn’t be able to make comments sometimes, and could only get into the blog dashboard from the “create new blog” button on the top floaty banner that WordPress puts up to get new people to make blogs (hopefully paying money for the privilege).

If you’re constantly logged in to your WordPress account, you don’t see this, you see the links to your own dashboard, login, etc. But they changed it. Now, pressing that new blog button takes you straight to the new blog setup process, without having you create a new account first. (In the past, that would first prompt one to make a new WordPress account, as you’d expect, since pretty much every other website in existence does this – I’d use this opportunity to get into my site.)

To get around this, I tried to log in, as one does. You can log in via the menu next to the Follow button, which seems to default to the lower-right part of the page. (You can also do other things, like Report a site.) But, as soon as I logged in, I was logged back out again. So that was frustrating.

In a profound amount of stupidity, I didn’t try the next obvious thing, until just now: don’t just click that Log In button, but say “that’s not me,” which then takes you to a normal login screen, to manually input username and password. Once I did that (well, reset my password, as I forgot), I was finally able to get in. And my last post wasn’t approved apparently. But it got a like, so I guess it posted anyways? And I had a trackback that also wasn’t approved, but apparently existed still? What would have happened if I had denied my approval in either situation? I don’t know. Very weird, WordPress.

Poppin’ Party: The Music

I realized, far too late, that in my post about Poppin’ Party (from BangDream!) I mentioned the musical style, but didn’t give any examples! I mean, “it’s basically K-On” doesn’t exactly say a whole lot to people that haven’t watched that show. So I’m going to give several examples, because this band in particular has such a varied style (within the bounds of pop rock, at least).

I also should mention that the vocals are as varied as the style. With every other band, you pretty much know who’s singing – the vocals match the character. But Kasumi is apparently extremely skilled, for a girl that just decided on a whim to form a band. Of course, this is a consequence of the voice actor being a singer first, actor second. But it’s still confusing, all the same – I’ll often be playing a song, wondering which band it belongs to, and being surprised its a PP song.

Anyways, on to it. We’ll start with the “original” songs, since that’s obviously what the story’s about (and they also tend to be the ones where Kasumi sounds the most Kasumi). I’ll try to find the full-length songs, where possible (the in-game songs generally are only a single verse or two):

This is the first BangDream song, as you’d imagine. The K-On influences are most apparent here as well.

This is one of the more poppy songs. Indeed, every time I get this confused with a Pastel Pallets song, though at this point I really shouldn’t.

Even more poppy, but it’s about choco cornets, which can only be Rimi, and thus Poppin Party.

And then there’s this, which is a lot harder. Also, it’s the S3 OP for the anime, so that’s something I suppose.

And now a few covers. I guess writing original songs for five (seven soon) bands is a little much for the devs, so there are a bunch of covers too. Oddly, none of the K-On songs are covered by Poppin’ Party.

But Haruhi Suzumiya is pretty close to K-On, right?

I just like the original, and this is a pretty decent version. Hard to do it justice while pretending to just have a five-piece band, but they mostly manage.

Just to finish this off, we have a vidya song. I like this better than the original, and the original’s pretty great. Too bad there’s no full version.

Crusader Kings III: A First Look

As mentioned yesterday, Crusader Kings III came out. I had seen a few previews for it, and it looked fun enough, so I decided to pre-order whatever the deluxe version was. I normally wouldn’t do this, but I found a good discount, which made the whole thing the price of a single new game – fair, as I figured the base game game plus the first expansion would be about the level of a proper new game. So last night after work I booted this up.

I figured I’d start with the tutorial. I am experienced with CKII, but I wanted to see what was different, and if the tutorial would be any good. (CKII’s tutorial was the best that company had done to that point, but it still wasn’t that great.) Plus, I had a bit of nostalgia for good ol’ Tutorial Island (aka Ireland).

As a tutorial, I don’t know how good this would be for people who hadn’t played CKII. It seems like it’s holding your hand, as is proper, but it leaves a lot out. It works quite well for CKII players, though, effectively illustrating the early-game differences between the two. However, it leaves some later-game (not late-game) differences off.

I won’t talk too much about the aesthetic differences between the two games. I’m not sure how I feel about the 3d models, but they do have a charm of their own I suppose. I must admit they make the clothing pack dlc’s more enticing – well, more enticing than zero, with CKII’s 2d portraits where clothes really don’t matter in the slightest. The map is fine, too.

Surprisingly easy and quick to unify Ireland

I was going into this trying to find what was going to be left out from the previous game. These sort of games always seem to take away things from previous games, to sell them back to you as dlc. I can’t see too much of that here. The plague system seems to be gone, and the council system seems more bare-bones than CKII with all expansions, but those were expansions I didn’t personally apply anyways, so not much difference to me. Seems most of what’s missing in the base game are a bunch of flavor-type events.

There are a couple of important differences between this game and its predecessor.

  • You can, right from the start, raise up a proper army. Levies work, but they aren’t that good.
  • You don’t need to have transports to move your armies across water. This is convenient, though also takes away from idea of oceans as obstacles (not that they made that much of a difference for ai anyways).
  • Marriages of children automatically form alliances (if both spouses are landholders), instead of just making them more likely, so doom stacks are a lot bigger of an issue earlier in the game (ask me how I know this); so it pays to have alliances closer in, rather than spread all over the world.
  • The perk system that is rather important here, and can give additional options. There’s one perk in particular, which allows you to extort money from people you’re blackmailing (after you’ve found out a secret sin of theirs), that really can bring in the money.
  • Factions seem to be a lot easier, or perhaps simpler, and thus are much more important to pay attention to (ask me who I know this).

There are other differences, but I didn’t get too much into them in the short time I played.

All in all, this isn’t a game I need to play RIGHT NOW. Which isn’t a slight against it: it’s a game I can come back to and play whenever I feel like it. Which is good, because a lot of games aren’t like that. Like Assassins Creed: Odyssey, which I will go back to before I lose the plot. But CKIII, for the first time in modern Paradox history, seems to be a complete, good, game right out the box, vanilla, and not bugged to hell or anything.

August and September

I got a lot done this month. Or at least it seems so. Not everything I thought I might do, but still a bunch.

First off, I did accomplish my goal of having a proper Blaugust, writing a new post every day. Some of them weren’t the best posts, but there was only one that was completely no-effort, so good on me. Having the prompts really helped some days. I didn’t write about everything I wanted to, but I did get to most of it. Like, I didn’t get to reviewing the Princess Connect anime, but at least I watched the first three episodes (and almost wrote about them, but then I remembered something else more timely).

I actually started two new games. First, Harspace: Shipbreakers, which I wrote about the other day; and then Assassins Creed: Odyssey, which I haven’t yet. Both are good, fun games. Both took me away from the other games I’m playing, and made me wish I had more hours in the day to play.

I also kept up with the dailies, and more, in my other games. Just dailies in ESO and STO, and significantly more in the mobile games I’ve been playing. Pokemon Masters really has revamped things with its latest major update, and it’s more fun to play; plus, it has its anniversary celebration going on right now.

I actually got back into Granblue Fantasy in a real way, for some reason. I guess it was the extra quests with the summer celebration. But I put actual effort into Rise of Beasts, and actually participated in guild wars (I think I broke my (admittedly pathetic) record for honors). I was planning on 40-boxing Sarasa up to 5*, but decided to just use the classic method after looking at all the materials I didn’t have that I still needed.

As for next month, there are definitely some thing’s I’m looking forward to. Crusader Kings 3 just came out today, and I’m itching to get into it. Genshin Impact should come out this month, I think, and that’s something else worth investigating, if I don’t think it will infest my computer with CCP funny business (it’s not Tencent, but it’s still mainlander Chinese I’m pretty sure). Craftopia is coming to early access soon, and that looks like it might be my jam.

Relaxation

Today is the last Blaugust prompt, and it’s from the B-Man himself, Belghast:

What is your favorite thing to do in order to relax?

The first, most obvious thing to come to mind is: video games. That’s basically the first thing that comes to mind in most situations, really, but that’s how I like to spend my “relaxing” time. But then I thought, is the answer really that simple? Is that how I actually relax? After all, video games tend to get the juices flowing, not the opposite. Probably the times I’m most frustrated on average are video games.

But then the question becomes, what else is there to do to relax? Watch videos? I suppose that’s one thing, but I mostly do that when I’m bored and can’t play video games. Read a book? When was the last time I did that, especially in place of doing much of anything else. Writing? Hah! Just browsing the internet? Again, that’s more of a thing I do when I”m not playing games.

So I guess the answer is actually video games. But I think the “relax” part is more of an emotional relaxation than a physical or mental relaxation. (Though I suppose sitting there playing vidya is pretty physically relaxing…) If I just want to forget my problems (or anyone else’s) for a bit, video games keeps my mind off of it like nothing else. It’s like keeping busy to keep your mind off of something, but actually fun. Even if I get frustrated with a game, that’s far different from being frustrated with the state of the world, or my bank account. Even just thinking about different lore or headcanon or whatever is relaxing, even if it does literally keep me up at night.

Hardspace: Shipbreakers – A Review

Here we’ve got an early-access game that actually seems pretty good. The early-access part seems to be mainly just lack of content – the polish is pretty good, even at this stage. If you’re looking for a work simulator, but IN SPACE, this might be the game for you.

So far, I’ve done 21 hours in the game. I have ADD, and this is a work sim, so that should tell you something. If I didn’t have other exciting games to play, I’d be playing this every night. Sure, it doesn’t have any fighting, but there are layzors and splosions, so it’s still fun and exciting and manly and such.

As suggested on the cover, you play the role of a ship breaker – the person that takes apart ships for salvage. This is a real-life job, but naturally it’s not a space job, yet. In the normal game mode, you have 15-minute blocks of time to take a ship apart. As long as you do it in one sitting, you can pick at the same ship for multiple time blocks (logging out for some reason doesn’t save the ship). There is also another mode where you have an unlimited amount of time per block to work on a ship.

Regardless of the time taken, each block represents one day of work. After each shift you have to pay interest on your loans, as well as rent on your room and equipment, and any fees incurred during your last play session (if you die, you get charged for the cloning). Oh, yes, you have loans. You start the game with a billion-space-bucks debt, presumably the money the company spent to ship you up to space. It’s very much a company store situation. ‘Fortunately,’ you get a big chunk of money for each part you salvage, so your goal is to get more money from salvage than the costs you incur each day.

As can be seen from above, each item you salvage is itemized. There are three broad categories of salvage, based on where you put them. There’s stuff you put into the barge, which are things like chairs, computers, fuel, and reactors, that can be reused as-is. There are things that go to the processor, and then things that go to the furnace; I don’t know the logic of which goes where, here, but there apparently is a difference. The game helpfully tells you what item goes where as you hold it, so you don’t have to guess or memorize, though you get used to it pretty quick. If you put something in the wrong place, it is rejected and destroyed, and you don’t get any money from it (I don’t know if that gets taken out of your profits as well, or not).

Lucky for you, you don’t just have your hands and mass to move entire ship parts. You have a space magic tool to help you move those heavy objects contrary to Newton’s laws. You have a sort of tractor beam, which lets you directly manipulate objects. You can then push objects to…give them a push to where you want them to go. And then there are tethers, which basically pull two objects together like a rope that contracts on its own.

Conveniently, the ships you take apart are very modular. Parts are mostly just held together by some sort of space magic glue field, with a few structural joints that are easily cut with your laser (those yellow striped bars in the picture above). It’s only the rare part that you actually need to cut metal for (like the airlocks for some reason, or glass windows). After that, you just need to put the right parts in the right place, starting from the outside, then moving in.

I mentioned death earlier. Because you sure can die, in many terrible ways. You can fly into the furnace. You can get hit by any of the various parts your moving around. You can exploded by the reactor or fuel or coolant. You can run out of oxygen. You can get electrocuted. You can even somehow catch on fire. The main difference in the harder difficulties is how many lives you have – infinite on normal, 30 on hard, and one on the hardest.

There is some management and improvement possible. Every individual ship has certain items that you are assigned to salvage, via the Work Order system. Each work order you accomplish gets you xp (they call it LT in this game, but it’s xp). You can also recover lore bits (Logs), which give xp as well. You use this xp to upgrade your various gear, and you can even use it to buy it outright from the company (so you don’t have to rent it – your equipment rental is the main daily cost that eats into your profits). Your upgrades are limited by a level system, which is task-based, and thus independent of xp (though things that give xp often also accomplish those tasks as well).

That’s about it. Pretty simple game. The fun is in the execution. It does get repetitive, though. At this point there are only two classes of ships, with two basic variations each. As I said, I got 21 hours before I wanted to play different games. If you like work sims, or other games where fine-tuning the process is what you like, this is for you. I only have a certain amount of patience for that. But still, 21 hours is a good amount of time, and I didn’t even come close to completing everything (didn’t even get to trying the last major ship variation). If the devs just abandoned it right now, as-is, I’d say it’s worth the $25 price tag. But they haven’t, and are continually improving it (there was one major issue I had, but it was resolved in the last patch!).

Double Cartoon Review: Lower Decks ep 4 and Granblue Fantasy ep 14

Since two episodes of different stuff came out this week, I’m going to review both at once. Good thing, because I don’t have much to say about either, but two is good for one blog post.

Lower Decks was, once again, OK. Not as good as the last episode, but still OK. It was, however, the most consistently funny episode yet: there weren’t some of the highs of the last episode, but there weren’t as many luls between the lols either.

The trouble remains, once again, the character of Mariner. She increases her Mary Sue levels once again. One might object, saying that she’s clearly a jerk. But this show comes from a school of thought that being a jerk is fine, if not good, if one is correct and/or funny. Mariner is right in every instance in this episode. It was nice to see her get a bit of character suffering, but it didn’t last. (Also, why do they just skip Lt.jg? They even have one of those this very episode.)

I’m also getting a bit weary of the “major crisis takes over the ship” gag. It’s like they think there must be a major action sequence every episode. I think this is where a lot of the not-Trek feeling comes from.

There was a serious misstep with the latest (and last) episode of Granblue Fantasy: there were two separate stories, one of which featured Gran. It seems almost like that section was an afterthought, even though it wasn’t: the animation and art is the worst in the series, almost constantly off-model and simple. It was mildly amusing seeing Lucha Gran, but it would have been better with Djeeta.

Much like the second part was. It’s clear that’s where the budget went to: most of the art is at the level of the best in the series, even the random mob shots. It’s also much more entertaining, a send-up of the shoujo-yuri genre. (Once again, Vira steals the show in her scenes.) I’m of course biased, but it was much better. And even funnier, with that ending. I wish the whole episode was this part, fleshed out.

Things To Look Forward To

Today’s Blaugust prompt is from Utlrviolet at Engame Viable:

What are you looking forward to the most over the course of the next year?

While I’m not as pessimistic as he is, I’ve got to say I’m not looking forward to much in the next year myself. I mean, this past year has been much the same for me as last year, despite all the craziness. The details might be a bit different, but the big picture is very much unchanged. The main thing is that I’m now on a diet. Even missing my gall bladder (having it removed 11 months ago) isn’t a big deal. I can aniticipate the same sort of anxieties over money, the same boredom at work, the same getting mad at twitter and Hollywood idiots, the same existential loneliness, the same disappointment in myself for not blogging consistently.

Even so, there are still a few things I do look forward to. As fitting this blog, most of them have to do with video games (seeing as how that’s a big part of my life). And conveniently, this goes well in list form:

  • Looks like some good games are on the horizon. We’ve got Cyberpunk and Atelier Ryza 2 coming out for sure in the next year. I hope BotW 2 comes out in that time frame as well. Hell, technically Crusader Kings 3 comes out in the next year, even if that is in the next four days.
  • I think, even considering those, I will still have time for more games. Like my whole backlog. Decreasing that is something to look forward to.
  • I look forward to work going back to normal. Not that I mind the incredibly slow pace – quite the contrary, I love it – but I would like to see this place boppin’ again. And, more importantly, I want to go back to my normal schedule. Moving from Tue-Sat to Mon-Fri doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it’s pretty much the worst thing that’s happened to me since I started working here – and that’s for my whole life, not just workaday stuff. It shouldn’t matter this much, but it does. No one understands why, least of all me.
  • I look forward to hitting my target weight. I wanted to hit it by the end of the year, and I’m sooooo close. I won’t be able to go back to the way things were after – that’s what made me fat in the first place – but I can ease up a little bit. Maybe allow a snack or dessert once in a while. Might even be able to start baking, once I can actually eat the stuff I make.

Granblue Fantasy: Collaborations in Canon

Collaborations are a popular thing with long-running games, at least in Japan. They’re often used as a means of cross promotion with existing properties, or just plain promotion of new properties. They tend to be promotions of both sides: the players of the game the collab might check out the other thing, and fans of that other thing might come play this game. I say “thing” because they could be other games, or a movie, anime, or whatever (Final Fantasy Brave Exvious famously had a collaboration with…Adriana Grande).

That’s all well and good, but in an RPG of some sort, those collabs often come with a some sort of story. Since these collabs might not even be in the same genre, they might try to justify their inclusion into the RPG. The lazy way is just to use a dimensional portal, or some other use of Multiverse; for example, this is what is used in Dragalia Lost, though at least this is justified already from the game’s story (and Fire Emblem Heroes as well, which was actually used to some good effect in the last collab). But not all games use this, at least not exclusively.

Today we’re going to look at Granblue Fantasy’s inclusion of collabs into its story (or rather, have already looked at, because that’s what the image at top is). This game uses pretty much every way you might think to include characters from other franchises in a way that isn’t too crazy:

  • First, those franchises are considered already a part of its world. Some of these aren’t too jarring, since they are already medieval fantasies, like Princess Connect or Slayers. But Street Fighter (modern) or Attack on Titan (industrial fantasy)? At least GBF can justify this by saying it’s just another isolated island in the sky.
  • We do have one isolated example of merely being a different timeline. This is easy to do, since Gachapin and Mukku are just characters, rather than using an entire fictional work. Also, it’s from a comedy event, so things don’t need to make sense.
  • The next is same universe, but different worlds. As in, the characters could hop on a space ship and travel normally. This makes sense for Pretty Cure, since that’s a thing that happens in that show (though teleportation works faster, and is what is used here). For Persona, the GBF world is connected to the same collective unconscious as the Persona series. (This also has the implication that PreCure and Persona are the same world.)
  • This next one – same multiverse – is what I described previously. In GBF all of these examples use the same effect for how the characters get to the GBF world, so that implies that it’s the same mechanism. (I don’t know why the Shadowverse collab used this, but it did.)
  • The last one is a little more off. I used “different multiverse” just because it’s a different mechanism (in story). In those, the various characters don’t get physically transported to the GBF world. It’s basically a “it was just a dream” plot device. This is my least-favorite method – it just seems so cheap.