All posts by brian

Where do I go?

I’ve been playing way too much Fallout 76 lately. It’s really weird coming into it the way I did. I started it a couple years ago, stopped playing without making much progress, and now I’ve come back in. The game has received several large scale updates, including an update that put human NPCs into it.

Yes, in the before times of Fallout 76, there were no humans. Just robots, mutants, and monsters. Putting humans into the game is a big deal. There are friendly people and non-friendly people. Settlements and raider camps. None of this stuff existed before.

The problem is that these additions put in more quests and stuff to do. But I’m neither coming in brand new, nor coming in having played this to the end. I hit a bit of a wall with the main original storyline by walking into a boss fight that I was way too low level to finish. But now what? Side quests? I stumbled around a lot to find out that the Wastelanders update brought in a different low level quest storyline. So now I’m following those quests.

I’m not mad really, because I did a lot of side stuff in the mean time, but I wish a game like this would do a better job of communicating what I should do next. The Division 2 had that figured out. There’s a page that tells you what to do next. Fallout 76 has something like that for daily and weekly challenges, which seem largely directed at people who have done everything. But it needs that for people like me who get a wild idea to play a bunch of Fallout 76 after putting it down shortly after launch.

“I have to kill Evan”

Spoilers for Fallout 76.

“I’ll make dinner as soon as I finish this. I have to kill Evan.”

“Evan?”

“Yeah, Evan. Evan is the Overseer’s high school sweetheart. When they finished high school, she went to the Overseer school and he went to the mines. When it came time to enter the vault, she could have brought Evan with her but she didn’t. There were many more qualified people to save, so she waived her spousal exception. When the vault opened, she came to the mine to find him. Turns out he’s a mole man, or some kind of mutant.”

“Okay.”

I enter the area marked “Kill Evan”. I unbar a door and open it. Behind the door is a feral ghoul, whom I shoot right in the face with a shotgun. Evan dies immediately. An achievement pops. I absolutely lose my mind laughing.

“Wait, was that it? It took you longer to explain who Evan was than it did for you to kill him.”

“Yep. I killed Evan.”

Rebellion

Star Wars: Rogue One might be the best Star Wars movie. It’s only a maybe because it hits harder when you have something to compare it to, like the original trilogy. It’s showing an entirely different side of the rebellion, and it’s a side that’s sorely missed from those movies. Spoilers below.

Rogue One has rebels who are rebels. Saw Gerrera is a rebel that makes the rebellion uncomfortable. His fight on Jedha isn’t just moving pieces on a board. They’re getting their hands dirty and it looks so much different from the rebels in the rest of the movies. Sometimes rebellion is ugly.

When the rebellion learns about the Death Star, a lot of leadership doesn’t believe in it and won’t commit to stopping its construction. Imagine how differently A New Hope plays out if the rebels don’t have a plan to stop the Death Star because they don’t believe it exists until it’s built and blowing up Alderaan. The rebellion commits to stealing the Death Star plans because a handful of rebels believe in the Death Star’s threat and go off to try to stop it.

It also shows different sides of the force, and conflict within the empire. It’s just so compelling to see what this universe looks like from the side of people who aren’t The Chosen.

The Wasteland

Something about having a crappy time playing Fallout 76 in XCloud made me want to play it on Xbox One X.

I’ve actually owned an original disc copy of this game for quite a while. I got it for less than free. Amazon was doing a special where you could get the game for something like $5 and get a $10 gift card with it. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to turn $5 into $10.

When I first started playing it, a couple months after launch and fully aware of its issues, it didn’t grab me. The wasteland is empty. There’s nothing out there but bots and ghouls. I don’t even think raiders were in the original release. I didn’t play it much because there wasn’t a lot to it. Base building, survival, exploration, and listening to audio logs.

A couple years later and I’m still not super into it, but there are people out there now. I’ve got something like three or four main quests to follow. Some side quests that are pretty long. I don’t think I’ve run into a human player yet, but they exist somewhere.

In a lot of ways, Fallout 76 reminds me of Elder Scrolls Online. Big microtransaction store. Time killer. Too big.

The Downsides

I’ve spent more time playing with XCloud on PC. I’ve hit some snags.

The first is that the picture is good, not great. It’s like 1080 when I’m used to 4K. Way less noticeable on a phone, but it’s noticeable on a PC at a 4K resolution. Not a dealbreaker.

What is a deal breaker was the network performance in Fallout 76. Eugh. In the big shared open world, it was really rough. The disconnect between controller and actions on screen was pretty terrible. Sometimes I’d try to turn a little left and end up spinning in a full circle. I’d take a couple steps forward, and my character would go for a full on walk. Just really not good.

Indoors, it was fine, because indoors are instanced. I’m only there with whoever is in my party. Since I loaded into an area right outside of one of my objectives, I went straight inside. It was perfectly fine. Not perfect, but fine.

I booted up my Xbox One X to try out FO76 on the console to see if it was maybe a server problem. This is what I got:

Er, uh. This game is 82GB installed.

So I guess I’m waiting.

edit: okay yeah, it’s the XCloud. Played a bit direct from the Xbox One X and it ran just fine. No control issues. There’s a chance I got a bad server on XCloud twice, but I don’t quite think that’s it. I’m streaming a game from some Microsoft server farm that’s connecting to some Bethesda server. That’s probably the actual issue.

Xcloud Streaming on PC is cool

I got let into the closed beta for Xbox’s XCloud streaming on PC. I’ve used XCloud streaming quite a few times to play Xbox games on a phone paired to an Xbox controller and it worked rather well. I’m even more impressed by this though.

It’s dead simple. My PC has an Xbox controller attached. I log into xbox.com/play. I pick one of the games available and run it. It runs in the browser window. It plays just like it does on Xbox.

Since it’s pulling from the Xbox Game Pass selection, there’s a pretty big number of games playable. Also, since it’s pulling from the Xbox selection, all of my save games sync. I can go from phone stream to Xbox to PC stream and never lose progress.

I’ve had a few problems with the stream coming to my phone, which is sort of understandable. It’s a phone on wifi. I suspect I won’t run into many stream problems on my PC. And I’ve never had problems with unresponsive controls, neither on a phone nor on PC.

For the price of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, I get to play brand new games on my two major platforms, the Xbox and my PC, and now I can stream the Xbox games to the PC so I don’t have to install anything or question whether my progress will go with me. I’m really rather pleased about all of this.

Trust

One of the many problems with UMN’s research is that it experimented on trust. UMN’s previous contributions to the kernel built some trust in their institution. Then they ran a fully UMN-sanctioned experiment on the trust-based patching process without disclosing they were UMN researchers. After the experiment was complete, they revealed their nature. Later, UMN researchers submitted another buggy kernel patch.

There’s no way for the kernel maintainers to know whether or not this buggy patch was submitted in good faith or if it’s part of the same experiment or if it’s some new line of research. There’s no way of telling if UMN’s responses to being banned from kernel contributions are in good faith or if the responses are more experiments. They didn’t disclose the research in the first place, so there’s no reason to assume they would say if this is a good faith response, nor should they be trusted if they did.

Remember, this wasn’t some wildcat research project. UMN knew what was being done. They risked their institution’s reputation on it, not just the reputations of the individual researchers.

By experimenting on trust in a process that relies heavily on trust, UMN have put themselves further back than a neutral no-trust reputation. UMN is in anti-trust. It should take a lot more than just submitting new patches in presumed good faith to rebuild that. This is the problem with purposefully deceiving people. When you get a reputation as a liar, you can’t just tell people that you’re telling the truth this time and expect them to believe you.

Background: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2021/04/linux-kernel-team-rejects-university-of-minnesota-researchers-apology/

https://cse.umn.edu/cs/linux-incident

I don’t understand what makes the next drag superstar

RPDR S13 recently, finally, ended. It’s a wholly unique season for being the longest season and taking three episodes before eliminating anyone. Before anyone goes home, we’re introduced to them all twice. The top 4 weren’t much of a surprise, but the winner was. At least to me, it was.

It seems I don’t understand what makes the next drag superstar. Spoilers for RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13 below.

Continue reading I don’t understand what makes the next drag superstar

Another dose

I got my second COVID vaccine today. I’m two weeks away from licking everyone’s face.

Maybe it’s morbid to think about but I’m fairly certain this blog is going to outlive me. I don’t intend on cutting the minuscule hosting costs out of my budget, and I’m damn sure not letting this sweet .com URL go. I guess I should setup some long term plan for it.

To that end, I started writing my own epitaph.