UI improvements

Oct. 19th, 2017 12:02 pm
dorchadas: (Default)
[personal profile] dorchadas
What do you know, they actually listened.

I had a brief meeting yesterday where reps from the database software company told us about upcoming changes. Most importantly, there will be an option to filter by state instead of everything going into a giant slush pile and getting served up to me. No longer will I need to use Excel sheets to keep track of all the states with problematic records. That alone will save me something like 6-8 clicks per record, or thousands of clicks per day. They're also going to add persistent UI settings so that I don't have to change a couple settings for every single record I look at, saving me another few hundred clicks. You'd think that saving UI preferences would be standard, but I'm familiar with large enterprise projects. I'm amazed they're including it at all when it wasn't in the initial build.

Maybe I'll eventually even come to like the new system. Emoji kawaii flower

[WotMK: Hexcrawl] Session Thirty-One

Oct. 17th, 2017 08:52 am
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
[personal profile] dorchadas
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • Father James, human disciple of the pidgit-folk.
    • Hundred Wings, Father James' familiar spirit bound into a bodies of dozens of ravens.
  • Willow, human treesinger raised in Taira.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
The party rode down the ramp around the pipe and spoke to the tower town guard, who waved them through after making they bound their weapons in their sheaths. Elaphe tied an elaborate knot shaped like a rose, causing one guard to take a step back, but then they were allowed to enter. They were in a crowded square, with a tea house on one side under the sign of a roaring lion next to a large public notice board, which Amos immediately went to look at. In Floral, Muskalan, Sarasan, and other languages the party didn't speak among them, there were calls for companions to go into Etemenanki and find treasure, advertisements for businesses, and a call to find a missing child. There was a notice for mercenaries to come to Fontina, and a note half-pasted over it warning mercenaries away and saying that something suspicious was happening there. They took note of a bounty on some gigases that were lairing west of tower town as well as the standing bounty on putting the dead to rest in the ruined parts of the city, and then entered the tea house.

It was quickly obvious that they'd fit right in. The ceilings were high and there was a roaring fire in the center of the room. In the back was a blonde human woman, drinking by herself, and to the left of the entrance were two kremlings and a heavily-muscled frog person playing some sort of dice game. Two starfolk were drinking next to the fire, while a couple tables over a man dressed in a toga with feathered white wings and shockingly purple hair sat with his head in his hands. And behind the bar, wiping down the surface, was a lynel.

Willow ducked out to invoke a quick ritual and returned, his skin shining and flower petals falling from the air around him, and bargained for their stay. The lynel was unmoved by his beauty, however, and they handed over the money for a week's room and board as well as stabling for their mounts. After a quick dinner and ice-cold mushroom beer chilled by the lynel's touch, Elaphe went up to their room to rest, Father James went outside to earn some cash through palmistry, and Willow went over to talk to the winged man. He blearily looked up when Willow approached and gladly told his story: his name was Hemah, and he said he had been cursed by a "vegetable wizard" during in invasion of the "kingdom of the sky," and in response he had been exiled. He hadn't found anything that could break the curse and eagerly seized on Willow's suggestion that he could help, and he called Shining Star over. She quickly determined that the curse on him was not demonic in nature and couldn't easily be broken with her sorcery, but thought that it might be worth asking the starfolk.

As Hemah slumped back onto the table, Shining Star bought drinks for the starfolk and introduced herself as a priestess of Nyahré. One of them spoke Muskalan, and excitedly--and slightly drunkenly--greeted her. In response to her questions, he said he was just a farmer, but that Kimé, the other starfolk, was a guardian-in-training and may be able to help. They gathered around Hemah, but Kimé's efforts were also in vain, for now. Shining Star asked the lynel about libraries, and he said there were various private libraries in tower town and their best bet would be to ask a sorcerer, so Shining Star made a note to do that in the morning. She bought another round of drinks, and as thanks, Kimé cast a spell that cleansed her of all the dust and grime of travel.

As Hemah continued his melancholy and Shining Star talked with the starfolk, Amos slipped out to walk the streets. He saw mostly shops and residences, though he took note of the building with a blazing sun and sand as well as the faerie, the universal symbol for a healer, on the shingle. The neighborhood had the feel of a boom town, all excitement and hope, and it wasn't as run-down and fearful as Rockfort or Gyere had been. He nodded at Father James as he passed him, and eventually made his way back to the tea house.

While he was gone, Willow took a seat at the back of the bar with the woman. After he introduced himself, the woman questioned him, asking him something in Latin, and then asking if he was from Egypt or Libya, and who had been the tribunes when he left. After some back and forth, Willow established that he was from far in her future, from a land beyond "The Pillars of Hercules," and she said that she had been born to freed slaves and made a life for herself in Egypt until the conflict between Marcus Antonius and Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus forced her to flee. She lost her way in a sandstorm and wound up in Agarica. She said her name was Valeria, and Willow suggested that Amos had an interest in her. She took it in stride, and Willow took his leave. She also briefly talked to the lynel and learned that, while lynel do not give their names to those outside their tribe, people called him Old Lion and he thought it was fitting.

After meeting up at the tea house, the party went to sleep. The next morning, Father James's wounds burned with a dull ache and red lines were extending from under the bandage up his side, so he knew he needed immediate medical attention. Amos told him about the healer he had found, and after breakfast, the party left the tea house to attend to their missions. Shining Star and the two starfolk went to find a library; and Elaphe, Willow, and Amos went to a market to get appraisals on the Imperium coins from the ziggurat and the crystals they had found in the vampire's lair. Elaphe also bought some potions from an alchemist that promised to increase the senses.

Father James went to the healer after borrowing some money from Elaphe. He attempted to ingratiate himself, but the healer, a white-furred chuzan with shining golden eyes, was incredibly brusque, poking him in the wound, shutting down all his attempts at conversation, and demanding full payment up front. When Father James paid, the healer ordered him onto cot and began chanting. His hands glowed, stronger and stronger, until it filled the room and Father James could see the veins in his eyelids, and the the pain in his wound suddenly vanished. A few more incantations and flashes of light, and the wounds were almost entirely healed. Father James thanked him, but the healer hurried him out and, with a quick "Tell your friends!" closed the door behind him.


Next time, Etemenanki! Or maybe hunting gigases, since Elaphe's player is keen on that. Anything that's corporeal, without a lot of supernatural might, and will bleed when he stabs it.

I like the games that take place in larger cities because they let me show off more of the cosmopolitan nature of WotMK. I deliberately tried to avoid the D&D approach where everyone lives in their isolated kingdoms and there's no cultural exchange or immigration. Tower town especially is an adventurer's dream with a giant megadungeon right next door, so people from all over come there. Like fallen starfolk--Shining Star's player has made it a mission to get them back to the Star Road--or frog people.

I've got a map of part of the tower I've been waiting to use for over a year, so I expect the party will go hunt gigases. We'll see!

Damp Sunday night

Oct. 15th, 2017 08:26 pm
dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
[personal profile] dorchadas
No Darker than Black today, since we did our shopping today instead of yesterday. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was busy most of yesterday, and also there were torrential rains almost all day. Not good weather for being out at all.

I did go out into it briefly, though. There's no Call of Cthulhu Replay even though game was scheduled because there were two cancellations at the last moment. Since we were all already on the way, [livejournal.com profile] mutantur, [tumblr.com profile] goodbyeomelas, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, and I played Eldritch Horror. We fought the King in Yellow and won, barely--he awakened, but we managed to enter the gates and defeat him at the last moment. One more turn and we all would have gone insane and doomed the world. It's like the advice I heard about the perfect RPG experience being that the heroes should win, but barely. It produced that, though we didn't have the time to really get into it and read out all the cards.

No rain today, but we still stayed indoors for most of the day listening to podcasts and I played Stardew Valley. I was planning to play more Trails in the Sky SC, but instead I got almost all the way through summer, year two. I finally picked someone to marry as well. More on that when I finish the game I write my review. Maybe before the end of the year since I want to beat it in single-player before the multiplayer patch comes out. Then [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I will have a farm together. Emoji glomp

Speaking of podcasts, I found a new one to listen to. A genre I really like is in-world history lessons or lore explorations, like the Neo-Anarchist Podcast for Shadowrun or The Signal for Numenera. The one I found is called The Dark Archive, about the World of Darkness. It literally just started, so I don't know how far it's going to go, but since I'm rereading all my old Vampire books it came at the perfect time.

Also because this week was Parashat Bereshit and we had people over for Shabbat dinner. I had a very hard time while I was reading out the parasha before the discussion not thinking of The Book of Nod. Genesis 4:17-22 is basically "That's a vampire, that's a vampire, that's a vampire..."

Alright, let's see if I can get further in Trails in the Sky.

Autumn has finally come

Oct. 13th, 2017 09:35 am
dorchadas: (Autumn Leaves Tunnel)
[personal profile] dorchadas
Spare me from management's idiotic initiatives.

The temperature has finally dropped. There's a chill in the air when I leave for work in the morning, and the leaves are starting to change. The week before last it was still up to 30°C, so I'm really glad fall has arrived. And I found a relevant fall icon that combines the colors of leaves with the spookiness that everyone associates with October. All I can think of when looking that are the warnings not to come on the fair folk in their revels. It's the perfect mix.

I found an autumn poem by Ueda Chōshū too in an article about haiku linked by a friend:
砕けても
砕けてもあり
水の月
-上田聴秋
And my translation:
Though broken
And broken again by water still
The moon is there
The moon is an autumn seasonal reference (季語, kigo) for haiku. Maybe the waxing and waning symbolizes the dying of the year?

Stardew Valley is out on Switch, and while I'm not getting it there because I don't care that much about portability--usually when I'm out somewhere, I'm reading Twitter on my phone or checking my various RSS feeds rather than using that time to play games--but it has gotten me back into it on PC. I have the forest farm layout, so most of it is given over to grass for animals and fruit trees. I turn fruit into wine and jam, milk cows and make cheese, pick up eggs and make mayonnaise, and sell all the products. It's the perfect small-batch artisanal craftsmanship simulator with none of the actual hard work of craftsmanship. And living in the countryside with none of the backbiting cliquery or viciousness. Emoji Smiling sweatdrop

There was a post in that Japanese woman's blog I found about the countryside, since her German in-laws live in a small town where they grow grapes in the backyard. It ends with:
田舎って退屈で不便と思う人もいるかもしれませんが、私は充実した時間がゆったり流れている気がして好きなんです

"There might be people who think the countryside is boring or inconvenient, but the time is fulfilling and I like how it seems to flows in a relaxed way."
When I was in high school I just wanted to move to the big city, which is part of why I wanted to go to Penn. And now I live in Chicago, and really like it. But living in Chiyoda taught me the good parts about small towns in the country, and sometimes I miss the songs of the frogs and long walks through the fields.

Gaming Made Me: Three Anniversaries

Oct. 10th, 2017 02:48 pm
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
[personal profile] dorchadas
I was thinking of posting this a few days ago, but I'm glad I waited because something else came up.

The Saturday before last was the 20th anniversary of Fallout, as I was reminded of by this RPS article. I heard of it the way I heard of most new computer games, through PC Gamer and its demo discs. After playing the demo, set in a town called Scrapheap and dealing with conflict between warring gangs, I was hooked. I got the game not long after it came out and played it three or four times before the sequel came out, which I played another half-dozen times. Both of these would foreshadow the thousand hours I spent in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.

I remember poring over the character creation screen, picking the Gifted perk because of the bonus to stats, and tagging Speech, Science, and Energy Weapons, thus setting the template of being playing a cerebral sniper/wizard in basically every RPG I ever played. The early part of the game was brutal, but I persevered, found a laser gun, talked my way into people's good graces, and eventually made my way into the cathedral where I engaged the final boss in a duel of wits, demonstrated to him the impossibility of his plan, and in his despair, he set off the self-destruct sequence. I beat a boss without firing a shot.

That stuck with me, though mostly nowadays in how rarely games allow it.

I have a half-finished Fallout game on my PC now, where I tried to go through with an unarmed build but gave up because I couldn't find any unarmed weapons. Maybe I should go back to it and try to finish it off. I still remember everything.


Last week Monday was the American release of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which I was reminded about by this Retronauts article. When it came out I had no idea it existed--the most recent Castlevania game I had played in 1997 was Dracula's Curse--but [livejournal.com profile] uriany bought it and we played it together. He already knew how to access the inverted castle, and where everything was, so he guided me through the game.

Symphony of the Night is my favorite platformer ever because of the sheer degree of options and the chaos they unleash. It's not hard, but who cares? There are boots that "discretely increases height" that make Alucard's sprite one pixel taller. There's "Alucart" knock-off gear that increases his luck. There's armor that turns Alucard into an Axelord. There's an accessory that shoots lightning. And we killed Dracula with all of them. Balance is worthwhile, but it's not always the most important part of a game and it's possible to have fun without it. The fun in Symphony of the Night is in the variety of possibilities and the sense of discovery.

There's a dodo that drops a sword that spells out VERBOTEN when Alucard swings it. What more do you want? Emoji La


And yesterday was the original release of The Orange Box (RPS link), quite possibly the most dollar value I've ever gotten from a gaming product since Master of Magic. 2007 was when I was heavily into World of Warcraft and my gaming was mostly $15 a month plus the occasional other game--from summer 2007 to summer 2008 is the year I played Xenogears and Ōkami for the first time too--and then the Orange Box came out with Half-Life 2 plus Episodes 1+2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal.

It's funny to think that Half-Life 2 is probably the least consequential of those games, because at the time it felt monumental. That's before Valve stopped making games and before we understood how amazing Portal was. Team Fortress 2 may have since descended into a military-themed haberdashery, but as someone who played a ton of original HL Team Fortress at university, I got hundreds of hours out of it. It was especially fun playing while I was living in Japan. There were two servers I would habitually join. One downloaded roughly 200 sound clips when I first joined and the game was a aural assault of anime quotes spammed by people typing in text commands. The other was silent, organized, and everyone typed "otu" (otu -> お疲れ -> "thanks for your hard work") at the end of every match. It's Japan in microcosm, right in those two servers.

Portal memes were annoying, but the game deserved every bit of mind-share it got in popular culture. It was a complete experience in three hours, funny and charming and a little poignant all at once. I still have the companion cube plushy that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd snagged during one of its rare periods of availability. I remember friends being envious of it.

Portal II was too long, but Portal is nearly a perfect game.


("Gaming Made Me" comes from a similar feature that RPS does. Links here)
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
[personal profile] dorchadas
This has been sitting in our fridge for a while after we bought it when [livejournal.com profile] melishus_b was in town. There's a candy store where people can make their own "candy bento," by which they mean taking several pre-packaged boxes of candy and putting them in a box together. Without rice, of course. They didn't even try to make some kind of sweetened coconut rice.

I was wearing my usual clothing, which is to say that I looked like a refugee from some kind of post-apocalyptic enclave that has finally fallen to the raiders and whose inhabitants had been forced to flee into the wastes, and standing near a display while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd bought these caramels. A woman walked up to the table and picked up a box, and then said to me that the candy looked lemon-flavored. I smiled, and then she asked, "Are these lemon-flavored?" I informed her that I did not work there and she apologized and went to find someone who did. This isn't the first time I've been confused for an employee, but usually it's at a particular kind of clothing store, not a brightly-lit candy store in the same building as Nordstrom.
Read more... )

The end of a digital era

Oct. 6th, 2017 09:35 am
dorchadas: (Majora A Terrible Fate)
[personal profile] dorchadas
AIM is shutting down December 15th.

I'm not one of the people who still use AIM. For a while I kept it running through Pidgin for the last couple of people that I used to talk to on it, but they either drifted away or moved to other services. After a few months without a single message, I stopped loading it up, and never bothered installing it when I replaced my computer. Whatever chat logs I had are long since gone.

But so much of my life has been conducted through AIM. All the social planning when I was at university, talking to friends on weekday nights before text messages were free, people I met online or through my pre-MMO gaming days, like the first online freedom RP I ever participated in (check the character page and guess who I was!) or the Neverwinter Nights persistent server I joined for a while.

AIM was how I met [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd, and most of how we kept in contact when we weren't playing World of Warcraft.

I haven't even thought of it in months. I do all my chatting now through Facebook messenger, Gchat, or just iMessage because my phone is always with me. It's more convenient and I'm not tied to my computer. But this, added with Photobucket's self-inflicted demise or Livejournal's transformation, it's a reminder that even though people say the Internet is forever, that's not true. Especially when so much of the internet is corporate territory that they can shut down or change beyond recognition at any time, without any warning. The Internet already is the cyberpunk dystopia that we were promised, corporate fiefdoms and all. Emoji Scrooge Capitalism

I should get the AIM log-on and log-off sounds and put them on my phone.
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