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Messages - ironmage

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1
Brush and Quill / Re: Book Thread Continued
« on: Today at 11:25:40 AM »
Leviathan Wakes:  This was entertaining, and a quick read, but I couldn't help but be somewhat disappointed.  Although this is in the science-fiction / space opera genre, there wasn't anything original happening here; although well-executed, it was largely a rehash of old ideas.

The characters were well written...but I didn't like any of them very much. One of the characters was a police detective, which you would think would imply a twisty story, but none of the plot twists surprised me, and frankly, for anyone who has seen Farscape, the title alone makes the ending pretty obvious.

The style of the book is very visual and dialog driven, making it suitable for adaptation to TV (which has apparently already happened:  The Expanse).  I think I might enjoy that series more than this book, but I haven't subscribed to the Space channel in years.

But beyond all that, Leviathan commits a cardinal sin.  There's a scene where a major space battle occurs, and the main characters are stuck in a room in a battleship.  We don't get to see what happens outside.  I get what the author was trying to do here:  being stuck in a room with Big Things happening outside that you have no direct knowledge about, no control over, and could kill you in a blink would be an incredibly dramatic experience.  But you know what would be even more dramatic?  GETTING TO WATCH THE DAMN SPACE BATTLE.

2
Also minor thing, but is it possible to change the way streams are announced? Even if I mute the channel it will still give me notifications because the function ignores anything that mentions you specifically, and apparently that includes the @Everyone.
Right-click on RPGFan server icon -> click "Notification Settings"
Turn on "Suppress @everyone and @here".

Does this do what you want?

3
Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« on: January 16, 2018, 08:07:48 PM »
I replayed Ni no Kuni, partly to refresh my memory before the release of the sequel, partly because "platinum cleanup".

I love the artwork, world design, and the music (even if the battle theme doesn't loop properly).

The story and characters are charming, if not particularly inspired.  However, although the localization has high production quality, I have "artistic issues" with the mismatch between the English text and Japanese audio.  The pointless renaming of several characters is bad enough (e.g., Mark->Phillip, Sherry->Myrtle).  But I really get irritated when a translator introduces their own sense of humour.  If the source material has puns?  Sure, go nuts.  You're haven't got a chance of anything near a literal translation at that point, so pretty much anything goes.  But if the source material has a serious tone, and you drop in an unnecessary pun?  I'll hate you forever.  I'm hardly a zealot about exact translations (sometimes a translation even improves on the original), but don't screw with the tone of the material.

The gameplay was passable right up to the third stage of the final boss.  Then its weaknesses became obvious.  Issuing commands to a character only to have them cancelled a few seconds later by an enemy attack, getting stuck waiting to regain control before I can switch to another character...I spent more time fighting the battle system than the boss.  As far as real-time/turn-based hybrid systems go, this isn't a very good one.  I'd rather play FF12 without gambits.

It's not like I actively dislike the game, but I'm not exactly brimming with adulation, either.  I'm not going to pick up the sequel at release.  I'll wait for the reviews.

And now back to farming for the platinum.  (It won't be worth it).

Resonance of Fate - Still in Chapter 2. I think I'm getting a good hang on the battle system, and have managed to fight well without using the action point-draining run-and-gun mechanic.

Resonance of Fate dumps all the game mechanics in your lap right at the start, but it isn't until you're a bit further along that you really need to start exploiting them (or have enough bezels to do so).

4
Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: Anime/Manga Journal
« on: January 04, 2018, 05:21:04 PM »
Kiddy Grade (7-episode drop):  A duo of female protagonists perform problem-solving missions for a government agency, in a science fiction setting.  Sound familiar?  Yup, this is the same basic formula as Dirty Pair, but without the light comedy and gratuitous collateral damage.

I feel like you should've stuck this one out as it goes to somewhat weird and interesting places later on...
Well, it's not like I hated it, it just wasn't doing anything particularly original (Eclair's lipstick notwithstanding).  If this season turns out to be as weak as the last, I might give it a few more episodes.

You may want to look up "Yakitate Japan".
"Along with his friend Kawachi, he’ll go up against koala karate masters, Harvard bread scientists, samurai with rolling-pin swords and more as he bakes his way to glory!"

Sounds like my kind of show.

5
Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: Anime/Manga Journal
« on: January 02, 2018, 10:35:51 PM »
Net-juu no Susume (finished):  Cuuuuuuuuuuuute.

March Comes in Like a Lion (season finished):  This series has a way of punching its fist through my ribcage, wrapping its fingers around my heart, and squeezing.  The artwork is good, too.

Food Wars! (season finished):  I've enjoyed the series up to this point;  I think the idea of translating the shounen formula into a cooking anime works well.  However, the "arch-antagonist who wants to take over the world" trope isn't one they should have attempted.  It doesn't fit naturally into a cooking show, unless you're willing to crank it up to Kill-la-Kill or JoJo levels of absurdity.   This series has picked a bad time to start taking itself seriously.

Juuni Taisen (finished):  I was surprised to see Nisioisin's name in the credits, since the dialogue wasn't up to the level of Monogatari, nor was the combat at the level of Medaka Box.  The last episode, at least, had interesting writing, but I'm not sure if it was worth the trip.

Dragonball Super (continuing):  Good pacing in a long running fighting anime?  In a tournament arc, no less?  Doesn't this violate some sort of physical law?

Baka & Test (finished):  This series contains elements of military strategy, slice-of-life, harem, monster summoning, and even (briefly) serious drama; but mostly, it's just funny.

Kiddy Grade (7-episode drop):  A duo of female protagonists perform problem-solving missions for a government agency, in a science fiction setting.  Sound familiar?  Yup, this is the same basic formula as Dirty Pair, but without the light comedy and gratuitous collateral damage.

6
Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« on: December 28, 2017, 03:43:19 PM »
ME1 is, by a sizeable margin, the most inferior Mass Effect title. go play 2

Thanks.  I was wondering if it was typical of the series; if it had been, I'd have stopped there, and written the whole thing off as overrated.

Mass Effect
... the characters and the plot don't really do it for me.
Not even Tali??

My primary reaction to Tali was "her voice actress has a cute accent".  None of the characters were well developed enough for me to feel much of anything for them.  Maybe that changes in ME2/3?  Or maybe I missed some conversations somewhere.  Maybe on my third playthrough (hooray for trophy hunting!) I'll make a point of talking to everyone between story missions.

7
Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« on: December 28, 2017, 02:09:09 PM »
I've been playing Mass Effect (the original).  I've finished one playthrough, and I'm partway into my second.  I'm enjoying it, I suppose...but I'm a bit underwhelmed.

I like the setting (spaaace), but the characters and the plot don't really do it for me.  I had some difficulty with the gameplay at first (shooters aren't really my thing), but it was okay once I was sufficiently overlevelled got used to it.  I like some of the artwork (the skies on alien planets can be quite extraordinary).  The music is mostly forgettable.

Some of the sidequests are just silly.  People are just walking up to Shepard and asking him to spy on their competitors...for money.  This sort of thing might work in a fantasy setting, but Shepard is a military officer.  Why would you ask him to do such a thing?  Why would he accept?  Spectre or not, he's got a job to do, and it's not like he isn't drawing a salary.  My disbelief was not suspended.  If they had made Shepard a mercenary (instead of a marine), this might have worked a whole lot better.

In my opinion, this production doesn't qualify as science fiction, or even space opera.  It's a boilerplate fantasy plot in space.

And I think the plot has a hole.
Spoiler: show
Most of this game is centered around Shepard and Saren seeking The Conduit.  The Conduit is, as I understand it, basically a one-way stargate into the Citadel; the Protheans used it to hop over, and reprogram the keepers so that the reapers couldn't issue the signal to open the door to dark space.

Which, considered from the context of the beginning of the game, makes The Conduit completely unnecessary.  At the beginning of the game, Saren is still a respected Spectre, and has access to the Citadel.  He doesn't need The Conduit at all.  All he has to do is walk in the front door, reprogram the keepers, and it's done.  Why is he risking his reputation by messing around with Prothean beacons, which don't do anything but show people funny pictures and give them a headache?

So, no, I'm not impressed with the writing here.

However, I did make it with a hot alien babe. And in the end, is that not what man has dreamt of since first he looked up at the stars? Don't answer that.

8
I was clearing up some space on my PVR.

Annie Hall (1977):  This critically acclaimed romantic comedy won four Academy Awards (including beating Star Wars for Best Picture).  I think these accolades undeserved.  The characters were unlikeable, the relationship uninteresting, and the plot practically nonexistent.
The overall effect was that of a badly-paced, overlength Seinfeld episode, with most of the comedy edited out.  Allen's one-liners consistently failed to amuse; although he tries to present himself as an intellectual, he comes across as more pretentious than anything else.  (There's more insight into the human condition in the opening narration of a certain Monogatari episode than in this whole movie).
Perhaps if I stretch it, I could try to appreciate this as some sort of self-parody (a movie that mocks pretentiousness).  But given how tedious it was as a whole, I think that would be giving it too much credit.
The breaking of the fourth wall was an interesting device, and admittedly done effectively here...and perhaps if I wasn't so horribly bored I might have appreciated it better.

The H-Man (1958): This is a Japanese monster film by the same production team as Godzilla.  H-bomb testing creates a liquid monster which consumes people, leaving nothing behind but their clothes  (it occasionally assumes vaguely humanoid form, hence the "-Man").  Although there are some creepy moments, this isn't at the same level as Godzilla, and doesn't offer enough to make it recommendable.  However, it easily outclasses Annie Hall for entertainment value.

9
The Soundroom / Re: Random VGM
« on: December 03, 2017, 07:10:25 PM »
Some favorites from VC3.  (Composer: Sakimoto).

With Pride in the Heart
Are the Customers Simply Money?  This plays in the equipment shop.  I like the violin around 0:42.
Calamity Raven
A Momentary Rest.  The use of flutes and woodwinds here reminds me of the Cerobi Steppe.
OPEN FIRE!  This music plays while Imca blows everything up ^_^.
Signs of Unrest.  The FFT vibe is strong with this one.

Or maybe you could just listen to the whole playlist.

10
Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« on: December 03, 2017, 06:24:49 PM »
Valkyria Chronicles 3:  And I'm done.

This was a satisfactory sequel to VC1; slightly anime-tropey, but dark enough to take seriously, and twisty enough to be interesting.  This is the game I wanted instead of VC2.

The squad members were distinctive enough to be memorable, and I liked enough of them to have a fairly large roster of elites by the end.  Some favorites were Annika (cheerful, reckless), and Carisa (pragmatic, mercenary).  But for pure destructive capacity, Imca was the clear winner, with over 250 kills by the end.  (I basically ignored the guy with "Darcsen Hater" in his potential list).

The difficulty level (although inconsistent) was high enough to force me to experiment with some classes I had largely ignored in VC2 (the armored tech and the fencer).  However, I don't think I want to see these classes reappear in VC4.  The short-range assaults the fencer excels at seem to be tuned for the small, interconnected maps on the PSP, and I don't care for the idea of armored infantry in general.  I'd rather have another tank.  Or three.

The fan translation....well, there were technical problems, but at least they didn't try to introduce a Working Designs-style localization.

Sakimoto wrote the soundtrack.  I think I like his VC music better than his FF12 work...but maybe not as much as FFT.  I guess I'll post a couple favorites over in the VGM thread in a bit.

TL,DR: I officially endorse this product, and am provisionally hyped for VC4.

11
General Discussions / Re: Whats the haps?
« on: December 03, 2017, 03:57:50 PM »
I have squirrels in my attic, too, but they're metaphorical.  Sometimes they tell me to do things.  Like buy chocolate covered almonds.

12
Anime, TV, and Movies / Re: Anime/Manga Journal
« on: November 30, 2017, 07:39:19 PM »
Coyote Ragtime Show (finished):  Jailbreaks, bank heists, and combat androids in maid uniforms?  What's not to like?  This was a lot of fun to watch, although it sometimes pushed the limits of credibility a bit (I don't really think the space mafia would be able to hold their own against the military).  This is easy to recommend if you're looking for light entertainment; if you want some serious space opera, not so much.

Tatami Galaxy (finished):  I liked the style and setting of this.  It centers on a college student who joins a club at the beginning of his enrollment;  in each episode, he resets to the beginning, and joins a different club (with little or no memory of previous iterations).  Although this is an interesting idea, the characterization and individual storylines fell a bit flat.  This was a 9/10 trapped in the body of a 7/10.

Sunday without God (finished):  God has given up on the world, and the afterlife is now closed to new arrivals.  Even after death, people continue to inhabit the world (fatal wounds and all), like still-sentient zombies.  Despite being one cour long, this is actually four semi-separable short stories.  The first two were fairly good, although somewhat marred by a cliche main character.  However, the last two largely ignored the main premise, and felt tacked on.

Blend-S (6-episode drop):  I got through an episode without laughing.

...if you ever had an inkling of love for Dragon Ball, you really should check Super.
I approve of this statement.

13
Meditate on this idea, for a moment:  "Starcraft RPG final boss battle".
Now, click on the link.

Infected Mushroom - Herbert the Pervert.

14
Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« on: November 26, 2017, 12:41:56 PM »
The font is definitely bigger for me.  I mostly use Chromium, but the size change is present on Firefox too.  Zooming out to 80% restores readability.

15
Game Journals / Re: A Game Journal Reborn
« on: November 25, 2017, 08:41:17 AM »
Valkyria Chronicles 3:  I'm up to chapter 17.

The end of chapter 15 was frustrating.  I didn't mind the supertank that sprays everything in range with bullets, attacks my tank with multiple shells per round, or kills all infantry not under cover every other turn.  What I hated was that armored infantry reinforcements kept teleporting behind my lines.  (They're the mook version of VC1's Ghirlandaio Selveria, but with slightly less attack, slightly less defense, lots of mobility, and no boobs).  If they showed up at the edge of the map, or were hiding in grass, it would be different, but appearing out of nowhere?  That's cheap.  And painful.

Tried looking up hints, but found nothing useful; one wiki implied a sniper could kill those mooks in one hit, and a youtube video showed a Kurt with a lot of HP somehow surviving a short range attack from said mooks.  I can only guess that there was a large level gap between me and them, and a brief dalliance with grinding showed I wasn't going to close that gap quickly...and I prefer to avoid grinding anyway.

Eventually I threw out my usual methodical approach, and just blitzed it.  Forget about conserving that precious SP point; Imca's SP attack turned out to be enough to almost wipe out the supertank's main guns, even from halfway across the map, which left just the teleporting mooks.

Although I lost Imca and Clarissa (my engineer) in the process, I managed to get Kurt (with anti-armor rifle) and Carisa tank girl in flanking positions, and then it was just blasting at the tank's radiators, abusing the Resupply command, and hoping that mook that just teleported in doesn't one-shot Kurt.

"Frustrating" battles are pretty rewarding when you finally beat them.

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