Bethesda #BE3

Rage 2 has the guns & blood of the idiotic rail-shooters I normally condemn, but it's open-world and goofy. I openly laughed at the skeet-shooting carnival cannon. The rock show singing "Better get ready to kill better get ready to die" is a perfect tone setter for this. It looks like how Doom 1 played, fun and stupid. The environments look great, very cartoony and colorful. Down side, you apparently have to play some doofus "Ranger Walker" and endure bad dialogue on some mystical quest. I prefer games where you make your own character and do whatever you want. So… pass, but maybe if it's discounted.

The Elder Scrolls: Legends card game is… not great. I love TES, I like card games and board games, but it's very slow-paced, trick-card-based, and the story mode is often excruciatingly dull and dumb. Maybe now that it has a new studio Sparkypants, it'll move into my casual-gaming slot. Bethesda didn't talk about this change at all.

The Elder Scrolls Online, "MMO of the year" for the last 3 years, is my home world. Earth I tolerate, but Tamriel is beautiful and terrifying. Summerset is gorgeous and I'm just wandering around to solve problems, or kill world bosses, nowhere near done with main quest, and really far from finishing my jewelry crafting skill or Psiijic Order. I loved Morrowind and Clockwork City last year. The announcements for this year of a Werewolf-based dungeon DLC, and then Murkmire, eh. I don't do the group dungeons much, and Shadowfen's the worst zone in the game. More silly lizards in mud are not really what I wanted, but it's free for me on ESO+.

I feel sorry for the shambling corpse of iD software, ever since Carmack fucked off to build rockets, Romero had a rough time for a while but he's made a cool original Doom level, and Gunman Taco Truck with his kid, and has a new studio.

Doom Eternal? Couple bros in suits. "You want even more badass demons? We got twice as many!" Fucking punch it into a spreadsheet why don't you? Goddamn how Doom has fallen, into a rail-shooter. Guy calls the character "The Doomslayer", not "space trooper Henry Rollins".

"Let's hear it for Quakecon!" (very muted pity applause from like 3 guys who still care about Quake)

Prey, rail-shooter, couldn't care less.

Wolfenstein reboots, ha ha BJ has two daughters so now you can be girls shooting guns in a grim Nazi world. Original Wolfenstein was fun, remember? Dumbass Nazis shouting "Mein leben!" as you shot them in a bright 16-color world.

So enough of that.

Todd Howard's oral history of E3, and the new Skyrim platforms, are amazing. Watch the stream. Skyrim Alexa is just D&D, man. That's what we do when we play any role-playing game.

Fallout 76? I haven't played Fallout in a long time, since Fallout 1 on classic Mac, a bit of Fallout 3 on PS3, and some of the iOS Fallout Shelter. But Fallout 76 being an online might be fun. Looks like they're doing a megaserver like ESO. A bit of survival murder, a bit of building game. It's kind of Unturned but more hostile? Might be worth trying the BETA.

"I read on the Internet that sometimes our games have bugs?" —Todd Howard

Release on 14 Nov 2018? I'm surprised they've got this far without everything leaking everywhere.

The Elder Scrolls Blades: A mobile TES game? Procedural dungeons?! Town-building? YEEEK! Put me in a coma until it comes out! playblades once their servers come back up, it seems they've been E3-balled into failure so bad it can't even return an error page.

A few seconds previews of Starfield, and TES 6. Zero details.

Gacha Nose

There's 6 games I've played recently with gachapon or free-to-play mechanics. I have no complaint about these mechanics when made optional, I'm fine with paying some money to a game company if they keep me amused. Not everyone is capable of that.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp: The "fortune cookies" cost 50 Leaf Tickets ($2 or so), with posted chances (3% for the best items), and rarely drop in-game for free. Given that any rare item costs 100-350 LT, cookies are a "deal" but still excessive.

I have more complaint with the goddamned pelican added last month, that wants 10 furniture per trip for apparently a 5% chance at a new animal friend. HATE. HATE. HATE that fucking pelican. 2 animals got, 1 to go. I'd pay real money to make pelican soup of him & get the last animal, but this is not what Nintendo monetized.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery: As of year one, this is barely even a game, but there are game-like elements. I initially started in Ravenclaw, but instantly got bored of goody-goody shit and blue's not my color; by fucking around with the Facebook login (to a defunct account used for developer shit 10 years ago) and a second game on my old phone, I was able to reset and join Slytherin. I'm a bad man, but I look good in black & green. The NPC dialog doesn't change much, and the stupid witch antagonist doesn't realize I'm now the real monster.

The energy economy in this is shitty, but not as shitty as it first looks. There are 1-2 items (paintings, statues, house Elf…) on each floor you can tap to get some energy. Doing a class takes 10-50 energy? So take the 8 hour classes, only tap on the lower-cost action bars (0/1 is better than 0/5), go out and refresh energy, wait a while, it's easy to pass without paying.

Grossly inferior to the LEGO Harry Potter games, but I'll at least finish year one, I think. I have been informed that all these games are for children, but I have the heart of a young boy… in a jar on my shelves.

Elder Scrolls Online: Crown Crates cost ~$12 for 4, each of which has 4-5 items, 1 costume/mount skin/trinket, the rest mostly consumables you can trade for "crown gems" and save 100 of those for a good item. I routinely use the "free" crowns from my ESO+ subscription to buy the crates, and like the results; my Flame Atronach Camel is ridiculous but awesome. Some ESO players are insane with envy (the shittiest of Human emotions) about other players having better luck.

Fate/Grand Order: I liked the anime, so tried playing this and while card/turn battles are a thing I like, the endless VN dialogues with useless parasite "Director" killed me. The gacha? Cruelly unfair, but playable without any money I could see. So when I see articles like Man spends $70,000 on Gacha, I dunno what he was doing it for.

Fire Emblem Heroes: Take all the stock elements of a daily clicker gachapon game. Add very pretty anime girls with swords & spears. Add the blandest tactical pseudo-RPG ever made. So dull and formulaic it makes me wonder how anyone plays this without falling into a coma. Gacha rates seem generous, but who'd care enough to spend money? "FEH" is the sound I make at this game.

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius: Before I kicked the habit, a daily struggle… Not really, it's very generous with free "lapis" and summons, and getting a good party was just a matter of time. I'm sure junkies spent money on it but that's not needed. Story drives you thru the map and fighting quests, but it's a real FF game with exploration, crafting, NPCs. Loved it but I'm done and not going back.

New Phone Who Dis?

Dealing with my aging iPhone 6 and iOS 10, and even older iPad 3, was getting on my nerves, so I got a new "space gray" iPhone 8+, 256GB.

I considered the iPhone X, but after doing some maintenance on my apps, I loathe coding around the notch, and I loathe the way it looks. Chris Pirillo had some thoughts and followup that echo mine. Chris has since gone to Android, which to me is like eating only Soylent Green because you once got an undercooked meatloaf; overreaction isn't always wrong, though.

I would prefer the SE form factor, but I don't like a years-old hardware platform. And if this is going to be my only iOS device, I should get the biggest one possible so I can use it as a phablet. It's not like I ever hold a phone up to my ear anyway, it's either on speaker or headphones (dual speakers in the iPhone 8+! But USB-C headphone dongles 😡).

The device arrives, and I go to set up, and immediately hit a roadblock: I can't access my iTunes backups. I've used them to recover before, but now I have no idea what the password is, and it's not any of my previous device passwords. Well, now I'm boned. Had to upgrade iCloud and backup to iCloud, which doesn't preserve on-device logins or the actual apps. Many hours later (slow asymmetric bandwidth), it's done.

Restoring the phone from that backup wasn't bad, but now I have a blank phone with placeholders for every single app, which I have to tap on, wait for it to spin and decide "keep/delete" if it's not 64-bit, or paradoxically tell me to buy the app if the app is no longer for sale. And then for every app, go in and restore purchases if it has any, login if necessary, etc. I didn't set Downcast to archive all podcasts, so it had to sit there for hours downloading the last 2 eps of dozens of podcasts.

At this point, let me say: Going 64-bit only is the most user-hostile, art-destroying thing Apple has ever done, and it SUCKS. All of Llamasoft's and CAVE's games are gone from the App Store, and were 32-bit. So I can still play them on old dying devices, but that's it. I miss Gridrunner and Deathsmiles. Atari Greatest Hits is still updated, and works perfectly; Activision Anthology is not, so no Pitfall! Midway Arcade is gone. Lost Treasures of Infocom is lost.

Apple's actually fucked up in 3 ways here, by not supporting 32-bit with an optional API download, by not providing legacy download of apps, and by making the App Store a toxic race for the bottom by EA and other literal motherfucking mega-studios, so no independent developer can make money except the 1 in a billion jackpots. I'm not advocating leaving for Google Play, because that's even less profitable, it's just open theft. I'm advocating burning down the entire system and starting over. But for now I'll take my Big Brother-issued gruel and pretend to enjoy it.

That was most of day 1 before I could do anything with the phone at all.

iBooks is a special level of Hell. It's the shittiest-written app Apple's ever released, syncing barely works at all, downloading is flaky and eats the main UI thread. So I'd go Purchased > Books > Not on this iPhone > All Books, which actually shows maybe 20 books and then stops listing them, then click the download arrow for the 5-6 items visible, then the UI would lock up and I'd have to wait for 5-15 minutes for it to finish. Then once I had all my books, they weren't organized correctly anymore, which is I guess my fault for having slightly different setups on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. So I went full-on librarian. Protip: Disable 3D touch in Settings, because the 3D touch in iBooks is useless and makes it impossible to move books. I spent a good 15 minutes struggling with this before I learned. So here goes most of day 2.

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Taking those screenshots reveals a new screenshot UI, which PISSES ME OFF: iPhone demands that I triage or edit every screenshot immediately, sitting in the corner of the screen like a Jony Ive dog turd. I don't see any way to turn this bullshit feature off.

Additional stress comes from my entertainments: The ESO Jester's Festival was all weekend, which I grind for items worth a lot of gold, but had to spend most of a day tapping thru my phone and then looking back to the game.

And at the same time, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has two events running, a Mario anniversary crafting thing, and a gardening event. Happily I can still clear these in bed, in the bathroom, or while out, but having my phone be busy downloading books interferes with that.

I know, "do something useful, Mark", but really, games are supposed to be what recharge me, not extra stress.

I still haven't loaded my music onto the phone. I have enough space now for a good portion of my music library, instead of only the highest-rated curated lists. Yes, I still have a music library, so when I'm away from wifi, I can listen to music without burning thru my data cap. Ha ha suck it streaming-only kiddies. But I could also just take my iPod classic out, which has everything, but Apple doesn't want you to have nice things like that anymore.

As for the hardware:

The size is preposterous. 158.4mm x 78.1mm x 7.5mm, 202g. The old Palm III was 119mm x 81mm x 18mm, 160g, and the LifeDrive aka iPod touch 5 years before the iPod touch, was 121mm x 73mm x 19mm, 190g. I thought the Palm devices were almost too big for a pocket, but this is a big goddamned thing.

The screen's nice, bright, and rectangular. No fucking around with maybe-unusable areas at the bottom and top, just a big canvas for software to draw on. I can see the time, battery, AND phone signal at once. I can't really use it one-handed all the time. If I cradle it at the base of my fingers in my left hand, I can barely reach the other side of the screen with my thumb. I treat it more like the iPad already, set it down on a table or my leg and work on it.

The glossy case is irresponsible vanity. It should have a matte, grippable back, not be a perfectly-smooth, sliding-onto-concrete frictionless surface. FUCK Jony Ive and his obsession with things that look like nothing, and suck to actually use. I guess I need to find a new sticker-backing or very thin case for this. I don't want to add bulk.

Home button has a VERY satisfying haptic click, it really feels like the entire front of the device is pivoting down about 1mm, even tho it's solid glass. I do use TouchID when I'm somewhere safe, tho I'd disable that if I was travelling; I don't want the pigs to force me to unlock my device.

I haven't done any real photography with this phone yet, but the giant 2-camera hunchback is supposed to be quite nice.

Current setup, which will probably change again soon. Elric covers were just convenient, but the text under the icons doesn't look good, so I have to change that soon. You know what I want? Custom wallpaper per desktop, like we have on Mac OS X.

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