ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
2017-09-04 09:22 pm

Horizon Zero Dawn - the non-spoiler post

TL;DR: possibly the best open-world action-RPG I have played. If you have a PS4 and like open-world action-RPGs, buy this. If you don't have a PS4 and like open-world action-RPGs, you may want to get one; it's that good. I finished the game and immediately started a New Game+ so that I could re-run the early game dialogue with the full story in mind. (Spoiler post coming later, because I really want to talk about the worldbuilding and story.)


The open world design is great

The various zones open up in a natural progression, starting with your tribe's inner lands, then you leave into the wilder hunting lands, and eventually progress into other tribes' areas. The map is huge and varied, with beautiful terrain that ranges from woodlands to snowfields to desert.

It has the Ubisoft-style "climb towers to reveal the map" mechanic that's been around forever (I first encountered it in AC2), but instead of tall buildings or radio towers (which in Far Cry 3 always frustrated me by being platformer puzzles, so in FC4 I got good at landing the minicopter at the top instead of climbing the stupid things) they're giant robo-dino-giraffe things and the tricky part is figuring out how to get to the jumping-off point safely and then timing your jump onto it. Once you're on its back, it's a simple climb.

The visuals are amazing

Even on a PS4 non-Pro. the graphics are absolutely stunning. Mountain vistas, creature design, weather, flowing water, grass blowing in the's all there, and there's a photo mode so you can tweak a still shot if you want stunning desktop wallpaper....

Combat is good (ranged great, melee meh)

There are a wide range (heh) of ranged weapons; several bows (with specialty arrows for each and tradeoffs between range/rate of fire/damage), two slings (one for bombs and one for elemental damage), a tripwire-launcher (possibly my favorite), and a rope-launcher for tying down enemies so you can bash on them.

There's basically one melee weapon with a "light" and "heavy" attack, though the light attack can do extra damage under the right circumstances (stealth, downed enemy, attack from above, etc) if you have the skills to go with it. Mostly it's "go in, swing, dodge, swing, oh shit oh shit run".

Mission design is really well done

The main missions do have placeholder tasks throughout (find your gear, go here, go there, talk to Bob, exit the gate) but in those cases there was generally useful and interesting background dialogue to build the world/progress the story. The main tasks are a nice mix of combat, puzzle, exploration, etc.

Few of the side missions (usually a short chain) include fetch quests, and they're mostly "bring me the heart of the giant beast over there" rather than "bring me 20 bear asses" (TVTropes warning). (One of the earliest ones is a "bring me some rabbit meat" one, but that's practically a tutorial mission anyway....) Some of the sidequest givers are also really well done minor characters who I wish I could see more of; it's worth going back to cycle through their random responses, in many cases.

In almost all cases, it's possible to tackle any given mission/monster/etc in different ways. Combat types might just rush in; sneaky snakes can hide in tall grass and use stealth takedowns; trapmasters will set bombs and watch the fireworks; snipers will sit back and headshot. Or one might use a mix of those.

The writing and story is absolutely amazing

To the level of "this is getting one of my Hugo nomination slots next year" (as a Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)). The dialogue is great. The datapoints scattered throughout the world are great. Characters. Plot. Everything. The latest patch adds a "Story" difficulty to make combat no longer a major issue.
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
2017-01-02 05:16 pm

Overnights, 2016

I started the year visiting friends, and ended it visiting my parents.

In between, there was much wandering. )
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
2017-01-01 06:40 pm

Dusting off the DW account

It's at (I sense a great lack of surprise).

Since I have a Permanent Account here, this one won't go away completely but I'm seriously considering shifting new posts (what few I make) there since LJ's server move to Russia may be the tipping point for my social circles.

If you're also on DW, please comment here with your DW username and any other info you think would be useful (whether you're likely to crosspost back here, if there's an opt-in post for your filter groups, that sort of thing) and I'll set up the reading/access lists over there appropriately.

Comments screened; I'm using comments instead of a poll because I don't think ljdump grabs poll results and I want the info where I can easily sync it to something I control.
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
2016-10-08 02:09 pm

A scenario and some possible responses

Let's say I work for a company that does much of its work by email, and therefore has a number of mailing lists. In addition to work-related lists (team lists, project-related lists, etc), it has some general social lists.

One of those is, because someone really liked [ profile] naomikritzer's story. It's a fairly active list, and has become the center of the company's internal social network: everyone from new employees to the CEO reads it.

I post a cat picture. A perfectly reasonable cat picture just like all the rest; there's no harm being done to the cat, not even embarrassment.

Someone objects to my post. Maybe they don't like pictures of cats in front of windows because the latter reminds them of when their cat fell out of a window. Maybe they just hate my username because they lost a parent to chronic kidney disease. Maybe they roll a d20 every time they see a post, and if they roll a 1 they complain.

HR sends me an email saying "hey, can you stop posting to cat-pictures@? we got a complaint about your last post."

I find this completely unacceptable; all I did was post an innocent cat picture.

Some options:
  1. Agree to stop posting even though I don't like the precedent, because I decide that cat-pictures@ isn't as important to me as keeping my job.
  2. Stop posting temporarily while I appeal the decision. (Maybe I feel that promo committee members are all heavy readers of cat-pictures@ and disappearing from their view will hurt my career.)
  3. Quit, because this company is obviously run by people who don't believe in cat pictures.
  4. Keep posting.
If I choose #4, and HR says "we said don't do that and you kept doing that; you can choose to leave or be fired" and I say "I'm not quitting, you'll have to fire me"...then I get fired. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

So, the question at hand: if I chose #4, have I chosen to escalate the situation instead of addressing it in a professional manner? I think so; even if the situation was caused by a badly-thought-out and unprofessional process (or a biased d20), and even if I fully intend to use all my personal social network accounts to say "Company X is terrible and has absolutely idiotic rules about their internal social email lists" it is inappropriate to continue posting to a specific forum when the forum's owners have asked you not to.

"But why didn't they block your posts from cat-pictures@ themselves?" A good question, and one that I'd say indicates a failure on their part in that they failed to allow for the possibility that I would respond unprofessionally by continuing to post there. Still, just because they didn't lock the car doesn't mean I should have driven away in it.

It is possible for both (or all) sides of a debate to be wrong at the same time.

(And yes, comments are closed. My forum.)
ckd: (music)
2016-01-14 05:13 pm

"Where are you going?" "To see if there's a pub!"

This week sucks.

However, especially for those who aren't fans of the band Texas and therefore may not have seen this before, I give to you: Alan Rickman dancing in a gas station.

ckd: (music)
2016-01-11 08:45 pm

David Bowie's gone, but remember....

He wrote "Heroes", and outlived the Berlin Wall.

He was Jareth, and outlived Jim Henson.

He asked us to give ourselves one more chance, and outlived Freddie Mercury.

He sang about life on Mars, and lived to see the Spirit and Opportunity rovers roll (and roll, and roll...).

Any amount of time with him would be too short, but there's still so much of him we got that we might not have had.
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
2016-01-02 09:22 pm

Nights Away, 2015 (full list)

Previously: 2013, 2014, 2015 (1st half)

As usual, listed by chronological order of first visit; * indicates multiple separate visits.
where in the world was Carmen Sharkdiego? )
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
2015-12-19 10:44 pm

Splendor for iOS is on sale. Crazy, crazy sale.

This is one of my current favorite boardgames, in a very nice iOS implementation, for $0.99.

If you like boardgames and have an iOS device, it's a must buy.
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
2015-07-01 01:15 am

Nights Away, 2015 (first half)

I thought it'd be interesting to look back at the first half of 2015 in travel rather than waiting for a year-end post like 2014's.

As usual, listed by chronological order of first visit; * indicates multiple separate visits.

Montréal, QC
Boston, MA*
Santa Clara, CA
Walnut Creek, CA
Millbrae, CA
Bloomington, MN
Southfield, MI
Pittsburgh, PA
Kahuku, HI
Pryor Creek, OK
St. Louis Park, MN

Airports: (* connection only, @ landside visit only, % new to me in 2015)

12 unique overnight locations and 12 airports, up from 9 of each in the first half of 2014.
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
2015-02-27 02:47 pm

Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015

"What is Kiri-kin-tha's First Law of Metaphysics?"

"Nothing unreal exists."

"How do you feel?"


"How do you feel?"
"How do you feel?"

Unlike Spock at the beginning of ST4:TVH, I understand the question; I just don't have the right words for the answer.

(I also still fondly remember his intro for the Mugar Omni Theater shows at the Museum of Science, especially in the early days when they would light up the speakers behind the screen as part of it. Boston kid makes good.)
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
2015-02-01 11:31 pm
Entry tags:

Finally some representation in the media!

YES! Among all the other Super Bowl moments (tough break there, Seahawks fans) I have to thank Katy Perry and the NFL for finally giving Selachian-Americans representation on television.

They even got one that dances about as well as I do!
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
2015-01-03 11:34 pm
Entry tags:

The Nights Away List, 2014

So, the 2013 post of "places I spent a night that weren't Cambridge" started in Montreal and ended in Portland (the Maine one).

The 2014 list follows, as usual by chronological order of first visit. * indicates multiple separate visits.
this was a busy travel year.... )
ckd: small blue foam shark (sharky classic)
2014-01-01 08:54 pm

The Nights Away List, 2013

I started 2013 in Montréal and ended it in Portland (ME).

In chronological order by first visit in 2013, the places I spent at least one night (even if that night wasn't entirely in 2013 :-) that weren't Cambridge:
Montréal, QC
Boston, MA
Bloomington, MN
Ann Arbor, MI
Pontiac, MI
Madison, WI
St. Louis Park, MN
Burlington, MA
Orlando, FL
San Antonio, TX
Minneapolis, MN
Washington, DC
Las Vegas, NV
Toronto, ON
New York, NY
Portland, ME
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
2013-04-19 09:58 am

I'd really like to have had a more positive post to make here

I'm home, as safe as can be expected and physically OK. My office is closed, my city has advised everyone to stay indoors and shelter in place, an MIT police officer was shot and killed a few blocks away less than an hour after I walked through that area last night on my way home....

I think "physically OK" will have to do for now.
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
2012-07-28 03:09 pm


There's a lot I want to say about the Readercon failure, but other people have said most of what I wanted to say already -- and my RSI is acting up, so typing is a bad idea.

Two things I think need saying, though:
1. The Board is not the Concom, and the Board is not Readercon. The Board can be replaced without the convention ending...and it is my opinion that it should be replaced due to its failure to respect its own declared policies. Perhaps the members that supported this decision can "retroactively retire".

2. I haven't yet asked for my money back for next year's preregistration. I will if I have to (see #1 for why I might not have to), and if so I will then turn around and donate it to BARCC. (Sure, the policy says "non-refundable but transferable" -- but hey, Readercon's policies are made to be broken.)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
2012-04-13 04:42 pm

Be a part of Google's user experience research

Google's looking for more people to take part in user experience surveys. This could be your chance to improve current products or even ones that haven't been released yet.

From the FAQ: "You certainly don’t need to be a computer expert or Internet enthusiast to sign up. The range of people we’re hoping will sign up actually includes anyone that has ever used the Internet in any way."

Sign-up link:
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
2011-12-31 03:22 pm

(no subject)

For those who have had a rough 2011 (and for those who have been luckier and had a smooth year), may 2012 bring you joy and peace and wonderful things.
ckd: (gaming)
2011-03-14 01:11 pm

Codito's iPhone/iPad board games on sale

Codito has put Medici and Ra on sale (through April 4th). These are good iOS ports; not quite up to the level of the masterful Carcassone port (which is definitely worth the $10), but solid nonetheless.

Ra (universal) $2.99 USD
Medici HD (iPad) $1.99 USD
Medici (iPhone) $0.99 USD
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)
2010-11-11 12:46 pm

The 11th day of the 11th month

(I can't come up with a better way to say it than I did last year, so here it is again.)

Whether you call it Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day doesn't matter; the day itself does.

Thank you to all who have served and are serving today: family, friends, and others.

May the results of your service be worthy of your sacrifices.

(2010 addition: Earlier this week I (and several co-workers) spent some time volunteering at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, and I've also donated some money in honor of all the veterans I know.)
ckd: small blue foam shark (Default)
2010-07-07 11:34 am

Oh, why not?

After reading "Because I'm being 14 years old today", which was itself a reaction to "Wherein we are back in seventh grade, but with better hair", I was mildly amused.

When I thought some more about it, though, I looked back to this past weekend when I went home to see family and get a full-blown Small Town 4th of July Experience™; as part of the latter, I ran into a couple of familiar faces working the town's historical society table.

They belonged to people who I'd known back in the sort of timeframe both [ profile] shadesong and [ profile] jasra mention, who were just in town for the day to help out because it's "home" for them too even though they both now live elsewhere.

Neither of them was the subject of my hopeless crush at that age, but one of them was my crush object's best friend at the time. That person has since sent me a "good to see you and I'm sorry I didn't think to get a picture" message, which sends my thoughts back to middle school...which means I may as well join in on this micro-meme.

[Poll #1589066]