Category Archives: Me and Mine

Anything about me and anyone I care about. Personal garbage.

Streaming Schedule – Week of August 6th

Ooookay I’m back from Gen Con and almost ready to play video games again! I spent some of my free time playing the excellent Salt & Sanctuary on Switch, and I’ve taken the last couple days to chillax and unpack, but I’m ready to jump into some games! Dead Cells just came out of early access, and I need to spend more time in space and remember what I did before I left for Gen Con. On Saturday, I’ll return to the farm!

Wednesday, August 8th, 7pm CST – Whatever (Dead Cells, No Man’s Sky)

Saturday, August 11th, 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

Streaming Schedule – Week of July 30th

Er, uh. None! Okay that’s not entirely true. I won’t be able to stream Whatever on Wednesday or Saturday Night Stardew on Saturday because I’m heading off to Gen Con on Wednesday and won’t be back until next Monday. HOWEVER, I will run some Tuesday night quiet time stream. It’ll be quiet time because Katie will be sleeping early since she has to take me to the airport and back super early in the morning. It will almost certainly be me (quietly) playing more No Man’s Sky and (quietly) talking about what I’m going to do at Gen Con.

Tuesday, July 31st, 7pm CST – Sleepy Time Quiet Sky (No Man’s Sky)

Also, maybe keep up with me at Gen Con by following me on Instagram!

Catch up last week’s streams below!

Whatever 18JUL18 (Enter the Gungeon, No Man’s Sky) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGP_kIC20oc

Saturday Night Stardew – Part 4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIEYjDfsuxE

Streaming Schedule – Week of July 23rd

Last week, I had my first streaming human snafu! About 45 minutes into Saturday Night Stardew, I felt really bad! So I took a short break and had to make a decision; do I keep streaming and risk having to take another break or do I put my health first and just end the stream? I ended the stream. My health comes first. I’m sorry that I had to cut the stream short, and it wasn’t an easy decision, but I’m glad I got to enjoy the Egg Festival and earn my straw hat!

This week, I’ll be checking out Enter the Gungeon because it just got a huge Advanced Gungeon & Draguns update! I will also be checking out No Man’s Sky again since it’s also getting a huge update. And I am bumping my Wednesday stream to 7pm CST to be a little more consistent!

Wednesday, July 25, 7pm CST – Whatever (Enter the Gungeon, No Man’s Sky)

Saturday, July 29, 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

Catch up last week’s streams below!

Whatever 18JUL18 (Batman: Arkham Knight) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmRspgNedco

Saturday Night Stardew – Part 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqXFOi8Q3AQ

Streaming Schedule – Week of July 16th

If you thought Middle-Earth: Shadow of War was boring, good news! I’m playing something different. I’ll probably play a couple of Arkham Stories from Batman: Arkham Knight. At worst, I’ll chase Riddler trophies. ALSO corn facts will return on Saturday’s Saturday Night Stardew stream!

Wednesday, July 18, 8pm CST – Whatever (Batman: Arkham Knight?)

Saturday, July 21, 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

Also, see me over at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together for my review of The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts on Wednesday!

Catch up last week’s streams below!

Whatever 11JUL18 (Middle-Earth: Shadow of War) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8QUodBSRIU

Saturday Night Stardew – Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezCnpENmraY

Streaming Schedule – Week of July 9th

Thanks to everyone who joined my Saturday Night Stardew stream! I enjoyed myself so much that I’m doing it again this week. I’ll also be running a stream on Wednesday, where I play uhhh whatever. Probably Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, but maybe Quake Champions? Here’s this week’s schedule!

Wednesday, July 11, 8pm CST – Whatever (Shadow of War, Quake Champions)

Saturday, July 14, 7pm CST – Saturday Night Stardew

If you missed my last Stardew stream, you can watch the recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICR09Q4mxzA

Streaming!

For fun I decided to run a three hour video game stream on my Youtube channel today. My computer overheated and my webcam stopped working about an hour in, but it was a lot of fun! You can watch the recordings here!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO_5vyJeKyk – Part 1, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (sorry, very little sound because I don’t talk much and I didn’t realize that the game audio isn’t coming through)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmYVfrDrEMc – Part 2, Injustice 2, Dead Cells, Quake Champions, Stardew Valley

And I’m going to do this again! Saturday, July 7th, at 7pm CST I will start streaming Stardew Valley for reals this time! Come watch me figure out how to farm. https://www.youtube.com/user/emnii/live

Announcing the Summer of Good Anime Movies!

The Summer of Harry Potter was a huge success in that I read all of the Harry Potter books in succession. It was also a huge failure because it took me three seasons, not one, to do so. This year, I’m setting my goals a little more realistically.

This is officially the Summer of Good Anime Movies. This largely came about because I get some internal shame when I remember that I’ve seen zero Hayao Miyazaki movies. I’m going to correct that, and then I’m going to watch some other critically acclaimed and popular anime movies that I also haven’t seen. I’ve picked 10, but the actual selections could change if I can’t rent some of these from digital streaming services, or if something really hot comes out over the summer. The good news here is that I could feasibly watch all of these over a long weekend, but I’ll try to spread them out. This list isn’t in any particular order.

Grave of the Fireflies

My Neighbor Totoro

Princess Mononoke

Paprika

Your Name

Spirited Away

Royal Space Force: The Wings of HonnĂȘamise

Perfect Blue

Ninja Scroll

Patlabor

How RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 Turned the Competition Into a Game

I’m a huge fan of reality competition TV shows, particularly RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s a creative, funny competition between some wild personalities that never fails to entertain. But the All Stars seasons have broken the competition in ways that turn the results from the best of the best to the winner of a game, and there’s a big distinction between the two.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, here it is. A (flexible) dozen drag queens start. Through a series of challenges playing to the strengths of a well-rounded drag queen, they’re eliminated one by one until three (sometimes four) remain. Each episode, after a challenge, a panel of judges helps Ru select the top queen (who gets a prize) and the bottom two, with the rest being safe from elimination. The bottom two perform a lip sync and Ru picks who stays and who goes home. In each stage of the competition, the panel of judges and RuPaul select the winners and the losers. This is standard RuPaul’s Drag Race.

All Stars has been messed with from the start. The first season put every queen into a pair with a competitor. They both had to perform well to win challenges and it wasn’t until late in the game when competitors were judged on their performance alone. All Stars season two course corrected by starting everyone out on their own, but it still changed the competition. Instead of Ru picking the winner and loser each week, Ru picked the two winners and three losers. The winners would lip sync for the right to choose who went home. The losers pleaded their case. In the end, Ru still picked the top all star, but it was from a selection whittled down by the competitors and not the judges.

Throughout this competition, Roxxxy Andrews was consistently, repeatedly in the bottom. She was almost always up for elimination. She was consistently saved by her friends in the top. None of them would send Roxxxy home. They, arguably, sent home more talented drag queens, because of their personal biases. When Alaska won All Stars season 2, it could be said that she won it with an asterisk because she didn’t have to compete against the best; she just had to make sure none of the competitors sent her home.

But factors in season 3 of All Stars broke the competition in ways that fundamentally changed it from a competition to a game; no more a matter of being the best but playing better than the others. What follows will contain spoilers for All Stars season 3, which very recently ended! Do not keep reading if you are avoiding spoilers!

All Stars season 3 followed the same formula as season 2; winners pick who goes home. But it broke in three different ways. The first is that it offered an eliminated queen a way back into the competition. Every show does this, but it’s a bigger mess when they were eliminated by someone else possibly still in the competition. There was a big segment where all of the (currently) eliminated queens met with the competitors still in it and they argued about who eliminated whom and why. In the end, they brought back Morgan McMichaels, the first eliminated queen.

This is a problem. Morgan didn’t compete for most of the show. She had to sit out because she was eliminated. Being brought back when most of her competitors were already gone means she stood a greater chance of convincing the rest to keep her. Also, Morgan said from the start that she was going to eliminate her biggest competitors. Not the worst queens, the best. She’s not alone in this, as everyone is free to choose who they want to eliminate for any reason, but it puts a huge spotlight on the problem with letting competitors eliminate each other. Sometimes the best go home in a moment of vulnerability because they’re the best.

The second way in which the competition broke was that BenDelaCreme was allowed to eliminate herself. She was the obvious front runner, she won a lip sync late in the competition, and she sent herself home. Her reasons are inconsequential, but the result is that she was shaping the competition by having a strong presence at the start, and then she cut herself out, leaving everyone else to know that their victories are only viable in her absence. Ru consistently put Dela in the top two because she’s the best. When she dropped out, it let everyone know, including Ru, that she had no competition. Anyone who wins season 3 All Stars has to know that if Dela hadn’t quit, they probably wouldn’t have won.

Finally, and the worst way in which the competition broke, is that the final two queens were chosen by the eliminated queens. Bebe, Kennedy, Shangela, and Trixie all had claims to victory, but the decision on which of those two would lip sync for the finale was put in the hands of the people they eliminated. Shockingly, they chose Kennedy and Trixie. This is shocking because, while a strong competitor and a great drag queen, Kennedy won the least number of challenges of all of the top four. Shangela, who won the most, was eliminated by the queens who were no longer a part of the competition. For whatever reason, they chose Kennedy. The finale was between someone who was top 2 twice but won no lip syncs, against someone who was top 2 once, won that lip sync, but spent most of the competition in the bottom.

Trixie Mattel is an all star. She deserves to be recognized as such. But her win was cheapened by the changes to the competition that turned it from a best-of-the-best to a best player of the game finale. In the end, this was not the Olympics of drag. It was the Catan of drag. It was a game that could be lost by the best player for simply not having the personal connections to assure victory. While Trixie was crowned, no one achieved a victory because the best player could’ve been in the competition but they were recognized too soon and eliminated by those who could see it, and the best player walked out. While I expect twists and surprises in these kinds of shows, I hope that the next season of All Stars sets out the rules fairly from the start and reduces the amount of input by the eliminated queens so that they have less influence in the finale. It’s just not fair to anyone to call someone an all star if they’re not competing on an even playing field.

#content

Wow, it’s been a while. Not because I’ve done nothing, but because I’ve been stuck. I’m in a post-game slump after Assassin’s Creed Origins. After I finish a good game, it’s hard to pick up something else. I spent a lot of time trying out some games that weren’t up to Origins quality. I went back to Origins and did more leftover side quests. I played more less than great games. I “finished” Tom Clancy’s The Division, and tried to get into Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Now I’ve got something good, Bayonetta 2 on Switch, and it’s going to take some time to get through it. It’s great, and I’m glad I’m out of the rut.

But while I work through Bayonetta 2, I’m chewing on ways to talk about some of this stuff I played without reviewing it. I’ve touched about a dozen games that either didn’t do anything for me, or just didn’t hold my interest long enough to get to the end. It’s rare that I review a bad game because life’s short and the supply of video games that are worth playing is huge. But there might some value in constructively criticizing these games that I didn’t find great. And then there are games like The Division, where I’m far past prime review time, but I still feel like I have something to say about it. Is that a review? Probably not.

All this is to say I’m still alive even if I don’t have much to say now.

 

Night in the Woods

There’s an audience for Night in the Woods that this game will hit harder than the rest. Here are just a few touch points this audience will identify: instant messenger, away messages, sleeping until 4pm, dropping out of college, being in a band that never plays a show, working in a low paying, low skill job for too long, bailing on said job as often as possible, living in a dying town but coming back because it’s home. All of these things come together to form a picture of Night in the Woods, and it’s not going to connect with everyone.

You play as Mae, who’s recently dropped out of college and returned home. You pick things up with your old friends, learn what they’ve been up to since you’ve left, but there’s something else going on in Possum Springs. Mae has nightmares or visions and strange things around town that cannot be easily explained seem to follow her.

To Night in the Woods‘ credit, the characters are well-defined, and it’s a pretty big cast. Each has a unique voice and the often more to them than their initial presentation. This clarity of character definition extends to the beautiful art of the game. Night in the Woods has a distinct, clean art style that never looks bad or dull.

Where it didn’t quite come together for me was in the narrative and gameplay. It took a long time for the story to build to a point where it had to hooked. It is a slow starter. This may be purposeful, as a lot of the draw of the game is the connection you should feel to the characters, but it felt tedious at times. Adding to this tedium is the gameplay loop.

Here’s the loop: wake up and check your computer for messages from your friends. Talk to mom in the kitchen. Walk all over town, talking to everyone. They’re always in the same places, but they always have something new to say. After you’ve talked to everyone, go back to the one friend you want to hang out with that night and tell them so. Then go to a character specific scene that nudges the story forward a little bit. These end at home where you talk to dad, check your computer for more messages, and go to sleep.

Again, this may be purposeful. They’re replicating some of the tedium of living in a small town, where you know everyone and they’re all going through a similar routine. But it’s not particularly thrilling and I wish there were a way to move a bit faster. Mae’s not a quick walker and I got a bit tired of walking all over town at her slow pace. It plays like Super Mario Bros. at half speed and, instead of squishing dangerous mushrooms, you’re chatting up your friends and neighbors. If it moved a bit faster, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me nine hours to complete a story that could’ve fit within maybe a quarter of that time.

I picked up Night in the Woods because so many people whose opinions I respect loved it. I get why they loved it, because the writing is good and the characters are great. But I found it pedestrian to the point of being just okay. It’s got its moments but they’re deep in there, surrounded by a lot of slow walking and repetitive gameplay. I was honestly quite surprised to find this game has an Overwhelmingly Positive user rating on Steam. It is very much not going to please everyone.


Reference: Infinite Fall. Night in the Woods [Finji, 2017]

Source: Purchased from Steam store.