Leon's Microblog – December 2020

Getting teary about games as I listen to Albumen Shore Awakening from Anodyne 2 (a great game that's only in the bottom half of my top 10 for this year) and think about how grateful I am to be alive and be able to think "I am alive".
7 OUT OF 10!! I wuv this game and its lumpy happy weepy children and their repetitive catchphrases so much. Here's my tier list of Higurashi chapters, safely encased in an unreadable PNG and ready to slam face-first into public opinion.
I love HD versions of 90s sprites so much https://twitter.com/picoflare/status/1330823533082001410
Hmm. *furrows brow* So, like… how do I put this… y'all knew this game was this good all this time, right
This story has multiple plot-relevant details involving the kanji used in certain characters' names. Thank God I can freely toggle the language in the pause menu and share in the translators' pain.
When They Cry games' heavy use of filtered photographs of nondescript rooms and buildings has exactly the same energy as Jon Bois's heavy use of photo-filtered Google Maps topology for his stories.
Incredible, Metal Gear Solid-tier dialogue
I've thought about it for a minute, and I've decided that once I die, I'm going to transmigrate back in time and reincarnate as YOU, the person reading this tweet. You once were me, but now look! You're so much better than I ever hoped. I've got something to look forward to. ;p
Consuming a story with this much dense worldbuilding and character building makes my mind feel like it's a glove being filled by a gigantic hand – like it's gaining volume, motion, and inner warmth. People who actually do read multi-volume novels must feel like this all the time.
I wish this was an anachronism for 1983, I really do
Two kinds of shonen protagonists
The way this game's episodes introduce new music is pretty shrewd: for scenes representing normalcy and peace, a consistent palette of tracks is used across the episodes, but for scenes of crisis or mystery, each episode tends to bring in new and unfamiliar tracks. Clever.
I'm deeply, deeply impressed with this game……… impressed firmly into the ground, that is!! It made a big impact……… on a mud pit…… using my body!!!!
Me every single time a fictional character abruptly reveals they know something they shouldn't
One other thing on the subject I find especially entertaining is how this game's opening episode splashes uses the term "difficulty" to refer to the ability to understand the portrayed events, rather than any other notion of game difficulty.
but this in-game discussion reminds me how IF can't really be defined in terms of explicit branching choices, "player autonomy" and such, because of how many experiential choices, ways of coercing the player to decide how to read the text, etc., are available outside of that.
I already consider this game to be IF entirely because of other technological affordances such as sprites, music stings, text delays, etc., and would never refer to this or other linear VNs as anything other than "games" that are "played",
The "turn to page" instructions in physical branching books are a form of technology, in the sense that card/tabletop game designers use the word "technology" - and explicit branches in IF software are affordances of the same.
What I find interesting about this is how it reminds me that definitions of IF are necessarily technological rather than experiential – IF can only be defined by technological affordances, because even linear fiction, such as this game, is capable of "experiential" branching.
This provides an interesting lens on the notion of rereading-as-branching: the initial interpretation of events on first read constititutes a choice with imperfect information – risk of loss – and the second read, with superior information, permits thrill of mastery.
The game (or at least, the character presenting this experiment) envisions the "goal" of IF choices as either offering the risk (illusory or not) of loss (when the player lacks perfect information), or the thrill (illusory or not) of mastery (when they have perfect information).
The game does have a branching choice, but entirely within a thought experiment about branching choices – an interface element as a zoo exhibit – as an argument that the "goal" of IF players, when given choices, is to obtain perfect information about the consequences of both.
Either of these by themselves would make for an interesting if somewhat shallow metatextual theme for the game, but the way both of them, presented together, end up synergising with each other is quite satisfying.
2) The act of rereading prior episodes, having been informed by later episodes, constitutes a mental "branching" of that prior episode, of being able to reach a different explanation and narrative from the same fixed text.
1) Each episode constitutes a separate "branch" (an alternative representation of events in roughly the same time period, with the facts and backstory being consistent across the other branches) that are played in a fixed order to elicit a fixed dramatic effect.
Higurashi (the game this thread is about) is a strictly linear VN, but it actively presents two alternative ways of conceptualising narrative branches beyond in-game choice branching:
Lost Knowledge Of The 80's
Forbidden rainy-day fun activity book that, instead of actual games and crafts, contains deranged Millennial stuff like "massively overthink the profession of acting to the point of realising how existentially terrifying it is to be in character"
Each 12-chapter episode concludes with an "OOC green room" scene where the characters theorycraft about the ending. While primarily a next episode teaser (originally released years apart) it's good at asking the player to actively engage with the plot and hold it in their mind.
You're halfway up the steps when two kids at the top run out, place down a mason jar full of dried apricots, dump in a pitcher of water, and then run away with their fingers in their ears. What do y
Additionally, one chapter has a potted description of plurality/dissociative identity disorder (that doesn't use those terms) that I believe is basically entirely medically incorrect (though, I'll charitably say, not strictly inconsistent with 1980s-era public misconceptions).
There's small handfuls of rather direct fatphobia sprinkled in the protagonists' narration here and there, and it hasn't escaped my notice.
The audio design in this game is pretty good – there's a decent variety of audio stings, and the dramatic way it uses the insect cries advertised in the title is particularly iconic.
Why did the translator suddenly turn Australian during this sentence
Completely Reasonable Way To Update A Windows Visual Novel From 2002 To Run On Modern Computers
On an unrelated note, this game's seemingly archaic method of tossing the dialogue in a full-screen pane that covers the character art is actually genius. Why? Because when you're reading it, you're also looking at the faces!! Even slightly covered, your gaze is drawn to them.
I only spent a very small portion of my life in an impoverished rural area, but I resonate with the minor details of this game's tiny mountain village, like its tiny sole school with mixed-age classrooms and no uniform policy.
I'll say that episode 1's chapter 3 is, like, really funny. If you (like me, ever the skeptical critic) have any doubts about how well this author can navigate character dialogue, this one should assure you you're in an artist's hands.
Currently playing the… NO!! Get this Recycle Bin liner off my screen! …A-anyway, I'm playing a VN about four schoolgirls and a schoolboy in a club, a title so famous its name needn't be said… …"the Touhou of VNs" as some might call it…
New US copyright legislation means that if one of your torrents' share ratios goes over 100, your apartment can be legally exiled to the timeless expanse from the Oceans Unmoving arc of Sluggy Freelance without trial
The Museum of Convoluted Highway Overpasses does not allow visitors to drive on the exhibits… but, you think as security's cars vanish behind a curve in your rear-view mirror, true art can only be experienced on its own terms.
A valley flooded by a dam to stockpile the valley residents' debt instead of water
"Even a fly has beautiful wings" – saying of the post-insect-diversity-collapse world
Just beat the game (^_-)
As you know, normally I'm very skilled at accepting and being at peace with the existence of things. But, why in God's name does
So let me get this straight… This is a speed-typing trainer program… implemented… in… Adventure Game Studio. *places thumb and forefinger on brow, a.k.a. "Face Castling"*
Currently playing Type Dreams (https://hofmeier.itch.io/type-dreams). The avatar selector (displayed below) is enough by itself to establish this game as a user interface objet d'art.
I went to sleep mad at this game and I woke up mad at this game!! Hrrrgghhghrrahhhgggmmmggghh!!!!
On a brief positive note…… The midgame has some moments where it delves into surreal imagery, that had some good composition tricks I liked or thought were funny. The game could've done with a few more funny moments, even just as strange juxtaposition.
Honestly, the worst part of all is that almost none of the characters end up with real emotional arcs as a result. Where's the healing? Where's the growth? It makes me wonder whether the author even liked the characters at all.
Not only that, but after that, it suddenly reveals a good twist that would've REALLY deepened this game a lot, but then THAT gets immediately resolved as well, without even time to elaborate on its meaning and significance? Hrmph.
Another thing that bothered me is how bizarrely rushed the ending feels. Once you reach the endgame and solve the last puzzle, the primary conflict just falls over and immediately resolves itself?
I feel like it's used to slowly introduce an inexplicable, unheimlich element to the story, but there's already plenty of other, more creative unheimlich elements one could have written that aren't /just/ sensationalised self-harm.
Honestly this game pissed me off because I feel like it uses suicide and self-harm in an exploitative fashion – in particular, the way it initially presents itself as a mostly grounded portrayal of mental illness only to reveal a different explanation later bothers me a lot.
Currently playing the 2017 game… uh, wait, no, not THIS game, I already did this one. Think I left it open by mistake. Just a minute, just gimme, just gotta do this, and… yeah, okay, as I was saying, THIS game, "D
I'm really glad virtual reality was given its name in the 90s. There is literally no other decade in which a term as utterly lavish and precocious as "virtual reality" could have stuck as a name for a piece of technology.
The English release also translated an official site with staff comments (which I won't link due to having frontloaded spoilers). This one by a UI designer is making me mad with agreement. (I don't consider this a spoiler because you probably deserve to know beforehand.)
Busily launching Eudora and hunting-and-pecking an email irately reporting that they replaced the existing 20X6 Marzipan design that was on Main Page 17
WORLD 1: Using a visibly Chinese dragon design in this ostensibly Japan-inspired game is racist WORLD -1: Actually, using Chinese cultural designs in a Japan-inspired game is just a parody of Japan's racist use of Chinese cultu
So what's this year's bigger comeback story: Hiveswap Act 2, or THIS https://twitter.com/StrongBadActual/status/1340863605621862400
I played so many good games this year……… oh my god…… I played Moon in August…… I played KRZ in January…… I played Outer Wilds in February…… I completely forgot I played Dark Souls in March. I played Dark Souls for the first time and it's not even in my GOTY contention.
Only other unmentioned issues with the game are: • The sex scenes include one of the few fetishes I earnestly hate (hymen blood) • A few bits of text assume the player is cis male. Despite that, it changed my pores and watered my life. I give it 7 out of 10 (the magic rating).
A note: The longest route has multiple endings, and once you get one, your saves are deleted, and the game advises you not to savescum to get the others. I disagree – I feel the endings' brilliance cannot be fully appreciated unless you watch all of them. So, backup your saves.
Most of this game's sex scenes are very tedious, repetitive, and het. But, there is one sex scene in this game that has Liebesträume No. 3 playing over it, and it's the most hysterical, cathartic, nebula-brained scene I've witnessed in a game this year. I can not describe it.
BUSTED: Games using Satie's Gymnopedie ENCRUSTED: Games using Debussy's Clair de Lune FLUSTERED: Games using Chopin's Nocturnes THE HOT MUSTARD: Games using FRANZ LISZT
God… I'm sorry, everyone, for this especially incoherent addition to the thread, but… I just love metatextual garbage so much…… Just shovel it directly into my awful little amygdalas…… mm… slurp… schlup… mmph…
Dear the translator of this game… You did a very good job, and I'm grateful, but… Please, just retain the Japanese word for this next time. I promise everyone in this game's target market already recognises it.
The game's very few puzzles mostly appear in the lategame, and let me tell you, not only are they very fair, but they're actually incredible in terms of their storytelling function and meaning.
The game's Skip function (which you WILL need to brandish liberally to explore this game) is very well implemented… the music plays over it, and it fades out smoothly between sections. The rapid flashing (especially between light and dark backgrounds) is still a problem, though.
What I find interesting and oddly positive, though, is that the game introduces the concept of crossdressing earlier in a minor subplot involving the resident Zany VN Joke Character, which ends with him beating up his own transphobic father.
but, their gender identity is largely ignored for the rest of the game. I should note that the writers absolutely did not know what trans is in 2013 and present this character as a crossdresser, albeit one that uses their gender-affirming name and attire constantly, even at work.
I'll confirm it: Yes, there's a transgender-coded minor character, and yes, they are outed as part of a "plot twist". What I'll say about it is that it's not overtly hostile, in the sense that the character isn't punished or even negatively regarded by the rest of the cast…
This game has a really slow burn – it takes over 6 hours before other shoes start seriously falling, but when it does, it abruptly lurches from zero to good, and then from good to unbelievable. I still wish the lead-up was a bit more substantial, though.
Really like this visual effect from early in the game.
Currently playing the 2013 game "You and Me and Her" (JPN: "Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi"), a well-known pornographic psychological horror visual novel.
I've been using http://radiooooo.com for quite some time, and here's a thread of some tracks I've discovered from it that I like.
"The highway median strip – a wall of empty grass. A corridor that nothing is meant to walk. The essence of negative space. It is here that the mana of the Void can be chann[DROWNED OUT BY RATTLING CONVOY OF LOGGING TRUCKS]stripped nude, make sure your clothes do NOT blow away."
"2119. That's my safe's passcode, alright, and you punched it in. But did you notice, when you pressed "9"? That's right… it was coated in melted popsicle goo. Now your finger is sticky and gross. Let this be a lesson: I am always one step ahead of you, no matter what you do."
Translating well-known Japanese turn-of-phrase "shikatta ga nai" as "Ah! Well. Nevertheless,"
What I've recently learned - Gen Xers would say "gleaned" – about League Of Legends is that it has a faction named "Noxus" as well as an important game element called a "Nexus". That… seems like unideal namespace use.
Exclusive audio of what my brain hears when I listen to classical music https://davidkanaga.bandcamp.com/track/miniature-overture
A part of me (the wondering part) wonders if that area originally was the solution in some early draft of the game, before the designers thought of something even better, and then craftily reused it for this purpose.
One thing I admire and regret about Outer Wilds is that it has this one hard-to-reach area that's strongly hinted as the solution to a huge mystery, setting up for a GREAT red herring twist… but you can non-linearly find hints to the true solution, thus skipping the twist.
Watching first playthroughs of puzzle games with cool-looking secret timed events can be hazardous to your health.
The other day I was watching someone's first Outer Wilds playthrough, and they were in prime position to discover a cool-looking secret timed explosion in front of them, and at the absolute last moment they turned around and missed it, and I was so pissed off I closed the stream.
Reiterating that this NPC has my favourite troll leetspeek quirk in basically the entire sordid franchise, conveying a hell of a lot with a heaven of a little.
I'm open to the possibility that the game has a greater cumulative cohesion if you play all 19 volumes (which I have in my possession) in order, though I'm not going to do that because, in a bizarre act of self-sabotage, the two single worst NPCs were both put in volume 1.
I tried both, and they seemed sadly constricted – there aren't really even small emotional arcs, to the point where they feel like mere teasers. Though, maybe the problem is that the music budget is limited, lacking even a generic VN music palette to signify emotional thresholds.
That being said, now that Act 2 is out, it may have retroactively transformed into a meaningful spinoff. For me, there were indeed two NPCs that I was legitimately charmed by in Act 2 to the point of being interested in this, and both of them are in the same volume.
Since we're talking about Hiveswap, I've looked at the "Hiveswap Friendsim". I've always thought this was a tremendously bad idea as a revenue-raiser for Act 2 – selling closer looks at NPCs before you've naturally met them in the real game seemed like severe cart-before-horse.
>Examine Glute Demolisher GX An esoteric mail-order exercise machine with three LCD panels and a paperback manual the size of a roast chicken. >Use Glute Demolisher GX Unfortunately, you can't demolish what years of deskwork have already reduced to dust on the wind…
Currently imagining how big a 1GB data file would be in real life. I'm thinking it'd be 20 feet tall and have soft yet firm biceps like train seat cushions.
"One cup of breakfast, please."
Growing increasingly worried that the comics delving into the nuns' earliest childhoods will get more and more twee until it reveals the nuns were all delivered at once by a giant stork abbess that is, as feared, actually a duck.
Has any high fantasy race's sexual prowess ever been more blatantly and unjustly exaggerated than that of the common elf
"Look, if someone isn't keeping a firm gaze on that rascally middle distance, who knows what kind of mischief it could get up to?"
Which of these highly technical acronyms has the more painfully convoluted etymology
"I'd say I have a pretty happy family. I've got two clever arms, two wise legs, a lovely noisy belly, a pair of lungs that can't catch a break, a whole skedaddle of teeth, and a shy li'l heart that always tries its darndest. If that ain't family, I don't know what is."
These each have markedly different arcs – Map is about a season-spanning journey of physical training, whereas this game spans at most a week and a half plus flashbacks – but their similarities were satisfying to observe.
I was curious how this game would line up to the comic A Map To The Sun (http://sloanesloane.com/maps). Map feels like the older, colder take on this story, where every hostile detail – bigotry, abusive parents, physical frailty – is a bigger threat, and the pleasure more distant.
Thinking about how the "always-on self-escaping clown" archetype, in both this and Petal Crash, is a quintessentially Millennial character on the up-and-up… if trends continue, the very cut-and-dry one in this game might age into being fully clichéd in a few more years.
I'll say that this chapter interstitial animation indicating a change in player-character is VERY likeable on a pure visual design level.
The Twilight Zone, "Button, Button" (1986)
Whilst chipping at my Itchio backlog, I found myself playing THAT game from 2017… yes, the lesbian VN called Butterfly Soup. Anyone tried this? Anyone else ever posted some screenshots from it instead of just being vaguely aware it exists? Hmm, seems I'm the first, huh.
It's exactly the same with the filter:opacity property? Why does that property even exist, then?? OK, fine, I confess I don't know why I expected something different.
Kentucky Route Zero Act Five was this January https://twitter.com/mcclure111/status/1337499166872915970
"Roads are civilisation's ink. An unpaved world is an illegible world. Join the Asphalt Guild, and humanity's quill will be in your hands." "Pft… tsk… roads are the crayon doodles of despots and fools. Only our Guild of Steel and Sleepers can sketch the linework of nations."
"Whenever a newly-compiled sentient AI is first launched, it screams like a baby. There's plenty of post-hoc explanations for why a being with no lungs would still scream, but, like JPEG artifacts, no one knows why, and no one knows how to make it stop."
Has anyone ever encountered a floppy disk whose contents used all 1.44 of its megabytes, to the byte, and if so, where would such a powerful artifact be now
OK, I've planned out what to do if I turn 35. First, I run to the nearest person who also turned 35 and shout "No! It happened to you too??" Then we'll both try to scream "Kyaaah~!" but it'll come out as "Gadzooks!" Then we'll turn pale and whisper "G-g-g-gadzooks?" in disbelief.
Want to add that my favourite worldbuilding detail of the nun comics is how the nuns apparently literally do not have names, to the point where any place where their name would be written instead bears a caricature of their face.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Umewaka_Shrine_(5759501554).jpg – Going through Wikipedia Commons, and I have to say, an AMAZING collaborative work between a Meiji-era ukiyo-e artist and a modern scanner.
I appreciate and enjoy the nun silent comics account (@.hyxpk) but I feel slightly troubled that it's glamourising Catholic child monasticism and is setting a bad example for impressionable online millennials.
But on the other hand, Squashed Rex is part of the original game https://twitter.com/SpriterSonikku/status/1335772301413924867
SCENES KINDRED SPIRITS ON THE ROOF SHOULD'VE HAD BUT DIDN'T BECAUSE IT IS WEAK INFANT GAME: • Sachi (d. ≈1930) discusses prewar Imperial Japanese life in more detail than just cuisine • Megumi (d. ≈1980) accidentally really does curse Yuna and spends a week trying to undo it
Anyway, that's all… and I'm not doing the postgame content!!! No! All those apples will just have to rot. Now back in the library you go! *loud clanging noises as I toss the game into a dark vault and it lands on Aquaria and one of the Trine games*
5) Unlike most yuri stories, this one at least momentarily acknowledges that homophobia not only exists, but is a serious chilling effect in how one expresses a same-gender relationship… even if it doesn't have the conviction to meaningfully dwell on that for very long.
4) I appreciate that this is one of those VNs that frequently switches off the main character to briefly put you behind the wheel of a wackier side-character… and in fact basically everyone in the cast gets a few moments to be playable, to have their internality laid bare.
3) One of the character is described as having gigantic breasts. The character is depicted as follows.
2) The in-game school's contemporary uniforms (center) are Catholic instead of Sailor, which is relegated to the past (left and right). I personally despise school uniforms in general, but find the cultural saturation and strong gendering of Sailor uniforms particularly annoying.
That being said, here's things I liked: 1) There's a joke where a character known for terrible songwriting prepares a love song for months, and when it finally arrives… it's miraculously extremely good. I could attribute this to just bad writing but I'll generously assume irony.
6) Minor nitpick, but the lead-in to the ghosts' sex scene was written in a way that made it seem like it would be really unpalatable to me. Luckily, a couple of deus ex machinae appeared that made it a bit more benign. Consider this a note of advice if you're going to play it.
5) Also, I know this criticism has been done… to death…… but the emphasis given to "consummating" relationships, to the point where each subplot ends once the characters have onscreen sex once, is not only weariness-inducing but also makes many subplots structurally lopsided.
3) The ghosts' story, despite its prominence in the title, is more of a frame-story for a bunch of loosely interrelated non-supernatural subplots. 4) The main character is bland – the kind of generically competent and lightly opinionated narrator that's likeable but not lovable.
I didn't EXACTLY enjoy this, mainly because of the following: 1) The music is bad – unremarkable, but in a disappointing way. 2) The story signaled almost all of its twists with a 90-foot pillar of light from a kilometer away, and I mean… without twists, are you really alive?
Its JP name, which is also an in-game term the ghosts insist on being referred to as, and is in the JP voiceover, isn't literally "Kindred Spirits" but 百合霊 "Yurirei" (portm. 百合 yuri 幽霊 yuurei (lit. "ghost")). Soon as I learned this, my respect for the game changed rapidly.
Whilst chipping at my Steam backlog, I found myself playing THAT game from 2016… yes, the yuri VN called Kindred Spirits On The Roof… "Steam's first porn game", as it was somewhat misleadingly heralded as.
"Just had a look at the CIELAB colour space, and wow, whoever drew that rectangle needs to buy a ruler and protractor! Hahaha."
Roadside rescue palanquin, carried by four bearers, upon which is a smaller smashed palanquin, as well as its four bearers clutching their skinned knees
Imagining a character eating a pizza with an ice-cream scoop
Trying to do work but instead repeating the phrase "Yolk of Yummy" over and over in my head, inducing a distinctly nauseating feeling.
The Mother 3 butt dance is simply a more high-budget version of this joke.
The absolute funniest moment in the entire Mother (video game series) video game series is when an NPC at a club asks the Mother 1 kids if they want to go on stage, and if you say yes, they walk on and immediately perform a cool synchronised rock dance number, unprompted.
Giant Programmer: Fee fie foo bar baz – –– . . . . Mm, what's this? You fell through the floor of the tweet? Can't get back to the timeline, mm? Then, mm, let me welcome you to the Back Paddock. My paradise, and my prison. Enjoy your new home, and remember… beware the Auroch. .
In a post-climate-collapse world, humanity had no choice but to rapidly evolve into one-foot-tall buttercup faeries who merrily sip fresh morning dew from spring petals. Of course, logistical issues arose, such as the extinction of actual buttercups, and frequent dew shortages.
Aging Codebase Dating Sim Routes • Utils Class – constantly overworked helper • MVC Framework – misunderstood genius • API Wrapper – deep self-esteem issues • Model Subclass – never been refactored • Unit Tests – zany fourth-wall-breaking clown who knows more than they seem
Due to browser limitations, the CSS "filter" property will not work in Internet Explorer 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14. Due to reality limitations, Internet Explorer 14 does not exis
"Astrophysics is humanity's only lead in solving the greatest unsolved crime of all… the Big Bang." – Professor Trenchcoat
On the back wall, above the bed, is a photo of ten million dollars in cash. Actually, it's a photocopy of a photograph of ten million dollars in cash. A paper copying paper copying paper that itself represents a good life. Four layers. Heh, I guess this narration makes five.
Every last one of you has "New year just dropped" scheduled up for 2021-01-01 00:00, don't you. No question mark, because there is no question about it.
Fully accurate CSS rendition of the The Matrix screensaver that was in the movie "The Matrix".
"First, you squeeze blood from a stone. Then, you make blood-and-stone soup. Everything your body needs. But make sure you patch up your palm wounds after you've squeezed out the stone's blood."
*boots up CheatEngine.exe* "What? Oh, don't worry… Any last hope of me ever Prospering was extinguished long, long ago…"
Christ almighty, Firefox and Chrome STILL can't decide whether or not block elements retain the opacity of inline parents?? I first saw this discrepancy six years ago!
Finally caught up on the comic in this thread (which swapped its URL to http://skybox.thecomicseries.com/). The last chapter goes, to coin a phrase, "a smidge squelchy with the schmaltz", but otherwise maintains its strengths, with very vivid action sequences throughout.
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