Yeah, the calendar says Sunday, but I haven’t gone to bed yet. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just writing this very late on Saturday night. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
I’m about a hundred pages from the end of the third book in Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series, a set of seven fantasy doorstops that were recommended in one of the many “ugh Game of Thrones” threads that inhabit the modern Internet. It’s fine. Nothing mind-blowing, but its take on a fantasy version of France in the Middle Ages is plenty enjoyable. Most importantly, the series is completely written and books four through seven sit right next to my chair, ready for me to pick them up.
I finished up Chernobyl, which was excellent. I can’t recommend the official podcast strongly enough; it’s kind of amazing to hear the writer/producer of the whole thing point out the (intentional) factual flaws that make the show a better watch, not as some kind of back-pedaling “well I had to” sort of thing but as a frank admission that the story is fundamentally too complex in some aspects to be filmed coherently.
A bit over halfway through the second season of Deadwood, I am constantly reminded of just how good a show it was, and how angry I’m going to be when I get to the end of the third season. I still think The Wire is better, but not by much, and together they’re the two best television shows that have ever been made. So, uh, modern HBO: what the hell happened?
As last week, what little time I’ve spent with videogames has almost exclusively been with Everett Kaser’s puzzle titles. I created sixty-four maps/designs for his upcoming final game, partly because I wanted to put a small stamp on his last title and partly because there was a decided lack of bite-sized puzzle designs from the other folks cranking them out. I stopped there because 64 is a nice, round number, and I don’t have it in me to do another 64 to get to the next one.
I did put about six hours into Dragon Quest IX for the DS today, though. It’s only because some intrepid Internet hacker set it up so that you can download all of the exclusive online-only quests again if you set your DS’ Wi-Fi up in a particular way, and I wanted to take advantage of that before it inevitably goes away. The game’s fine? It’s very much Dragon Quest, for good or ill.
Yesterday marked my nine hundredth logged game of Dominion. I plan on writing a long-form expansion-by-expansion review once I hit a thousand. I suppose I like it somewhat. I also participated in an impromptu game night at Fercott on Tuesday, which was nice. Roll to the Top has become my favorite roll-and-write game, and I wish it were more easily available. It seems like the sort of game that should be in every Target and Barnes & Noble in America.
Given that it’s almost 4am, I, uh, should probably get some sleep… if only to let it become Sunday for real.
Yeah, lots of reading. After tearing through the Eternal Sky series, I read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It was fantastic, one of the best books I’ve read in quite a while. It’s a… re-telling, I guess, although without the modernization that usually implies, of Achilles’ rise and eventual fall, told from Patroclus’ point of view. A quick read-through of Wikipedia’s synopsis on the Iliad is helpful but not required. The book’s a romance, a tragedy, occasionally even a bit of a farce, but most of all just a damn fine read. Strong recommendation.
I also read Light of Other Stars by Erika Swyler and String City by Graham Edwards. The former feels like a mashup of a modern literary novel and sf, not quite great as either, but I enjoyed it well enough. String City is one of those books that seems like I should have loved the heck out of it–multiple dimensions, weird sf/fantasy, noir mystery–but it felt like considerably less than the sum of its parts. I was thinking last night as to why it felt that way, and the answer I came up with is that the plot felt weightless; gods and major figures die in large numbers around the main characters, but no harm ever seems to really come their way, in manners which honestly beggar belief. That’s impressive for a book with a Greek Titan in a major supporting role.
I’m still watching Deadwood an episode at a time; season one is nearly done. I’ve also been watching Chernobyl and listening to the official HBO podcast after each episode, with just the least one remaining now. Both are excellent, and I fully expect Chernobyl to do well in awards season this year.
My videogaming has been very light over the past week, with the little time I’ve spent devoted to Everett Kaser’s puzzle games. After doing a stream a couple of weeks ago where I played a puzzle or two of each of his “Sherlock series” games, I decided to explore one of the two titles in that series I don’t particularly like, Baker Street. It’s still not my favorite, but I enjoy it quite a bit more than I did just a month ago. I’ve also been doing some beta-testing of the next game Mr. Kaser is working on, which also happens to be the last one, as he plans to retire after it’s released. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a solid culmination of his work, and while it’s not my favorite I look forward to giving him money one last time.
Quite a bit of dominion.games, along with some actual in-person boardgaming on Tuesday. We played Transatlantic, which I now feel I can comfortably place in the “very good but not great” bucket, worth playing at most once or twice a year. I like the aggressive economic system, and it feels very different from Concordia (which is my favorite Eurogame of all time) despite sharing a non-trivial amount of that game’s DNA, but it has some design and production issues that make it harder to teach and harder to enjoy than its ancient-Rome counterpart. Still, I’m glad I played it again.
I have a seven-volume door-stopper fantasy series to read now. Wish me luck!
Even quieter than last week. Maybe next week I’ll just sleep for seven days.
I’m most of the way through Origin, which continues to be a perfectly fine version of The Thing in space, but not a lot more. The only other television-y thing I’ve watched since last time was the series finale of Game of Thrones, which, uh, yeah. It prompted me to write a thing, at least?
I finished Starhawk, which was dire, and made the mistake of continuing to another McDevitt novel, The Long Sunset. It’s not as bad but it’s still not great, and having it as my on-the-queue book has sapped my reading speed pretty dramatically. Ugh. On the plus side, a random suggestion in an AVClub thread about GoT led me to a (completed, thank goodness!) seven-book fantasy series. I put all of ’em on hold at the library–thanks, Cardinal system!–and they’re winging their way to the local branch as I type.
Borderlands at night, Portal Knights on Thursday evenings. I also put a lot of time into Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone, which is both the best rhythm game I’ve played in many years and one of the most uncomfortably Japanese games I’ve ever played in my life. What a combo. I’ve beaten every song on Easy and Normal and am alternating between songs on Hard and boosting my completion percentages and perfects on the lower difficulties. One thing you can’t criticize the game for is lack of content; it has well over 200 tracks, which I’m pretty sure is the most I’ve ever seen in any single rhythm game ever.
I’ve played quite a bit of Dominion on dominion.games this week after a bit of a hiatus. The person I play the most with is starting to get pretty good; it’s a hard row to hoe against me, with my nearly 900 plays, but they’ve gone from usually losing big to usually just losing, or even winning. In fact, they had their first “big win” night Wednesday, beating me in three of the four games we played.
I did a bit of streaming this week. My biggest stream was playing through one or two puzzles each of Everett Kaser’s “Sherlock” series of logic puzzle games. It forced me to revisit some titles I hadn’t touched in a while, and two of them I’m not very fond of, Baker Street and Mrs. Hudson. I still don’t like the latter very much at all, but I’ve found myself doing quite a few Baker Street puzzles after grousing about them on stream. I still don’t love them, but I do like them quite a bit more than I did. See, people can change. (Also, Mycroft’s Map is still ridiculously overwhelming. I don’t see how people play that game.)
In some ways, this week felt like more of a recovery period than last week, which makes no sense, but there you have it.
Speaking of which, I’m basically completely recovered from the surgery, other than my sweet sweet new scars. (I’m only being slightly facetious; the scar in my belly button is actually kinda cool, and the others are small enough that, once they’re no longer raised due to being so recent, they’ll be pretty much unnoticeable.) I’ve been taking a lot of naps and otherwise feeling pretty lethargic, which could partly be due to the surgery… or just because I’ve been eating like crap.
Also speaking of which, I’ve been eating like crap. I went back on keto for a couple of days and then pretty much immediately jumped back off of it. I’m giving myself until this Sunday to once again enjoy the delights of fatty starchy foods before trying to climb back on the wagon.
Most of my spare time has been playing videogames, and for that matter co-op stuff with friends. I played a bit of Monster Hunter World over a year ago, but the group I’ve been playing EDF with has pivoted to it and we’ve been playing it a ton. So much so that I didn’t go to bed until after 5am this morning, putting in something like ten hours last night. I also played Portal Knights for the first time on Thursday with my other co-op group, which was a fine, inoffensive take on “Minecraft with classes and levels.” And there’s still Borderlands several nights a week. It’s been really nice, actually, playing games as a socialization thing on top of the joy of just, y’know, playing.
There was a bit of Dominion Online this week as well, although not nearly as much as last week. That was the only boardgaming I managed to fit in.
Along with poking at several Everett Kaser logic puzzle games off and on throughout the week, I continued chipping away at Picross 3D Round 2. One day…
…and I finally made some headway in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. My plan is to read a bunch more of it today, after posting this, in hopes that I can mostly get through it and move onto the more interesting science fiction that’s hiding underneath it in my stack. If I find myself still stymied by the end of the day, I may move on anyhow, which feels a bit like defeat but more like acceptance that I’m just not that into the book.
My car threw a Check Engine light up last weekend. That obviously scared me, but a quick visit to Auto Zone and its OBD reader informed me that there’s something up with the gas cap. I bought a replacement; no dice. Apparently the gas cap sensor is broken. Eh. As issues go, I can live with it.
My new friend LisaLiisa just hit affiliate on Twitch. She was my one non-personal-friend subscriber, and she plays more regularly (and more interesting stuff) than I ever did. Check her out.
I could say that I spent most of the week recovering from my surgery, and I suppose that’s technically true, but honestly it simply hasn’t been a very big deal. I went from downing ~6 ibuprofen a day to 2-3 on Monday and stopped taking it entirely on Wednesday, and I’m not completely convinced that it was ever actually doing… well… anything in the first place. There’s still a bit of a twinge of pain when I sit down and stand up, but it’s extremely minor. I have a pretty sweet enormous bruise under my belly button now too that didn’t show up until Monday. But I also ran the roads, ate what I wanted, and otherwise lived a pretty dang normal life for me. Recovering? Ehh.
Speaking of which, I immediately proceeded to eat a bunch of things you’re not really supposed to eat whilst recovering from having your gall bladder removed, because I wanted to know sooner rather than later if diet was going to be an issue. Given that I’ve now had fried chicken, spicy tortilla chips, deep-dish pizza, and tons of ramen, I think I can conclusively state that there’s been no meaningful change to what my body can handle. Except, of course, I don’t have gall bladder attacks any more. Woo!
I’m pretty sure my Twitch experiment is done for, at least the more-serious daytime streaming I did that led me to finishing Final Fantasy III and Destiny of an Emperor. The combination of low viewership (which, I know I know, grows over time) and my desire to be “engaging” made it feel much more like work than like something I was enjoying. I’ll probably still do evening PS4 streams, because those are decidedly low-effort on my part, but otherwise I suspect I’m done. A shame, too, because my emotes are pretty sweet. We’ll see how long Twitch keeps me as an affiliate despite not actually doing anything worth, y’know, being one…
We had a board game night at Fercott on Tuesday, which surprised the woman who runs the place, given how close it was to my procedure. It was a chance to introduce someone new to more complex games, and I used Dominion for that introduction, as I think it’s in a sweet spot of “simple core, complex strategy” that can act as a killer gateway to bigger-box games. I wrote about my trepidation regarding teaching games earlier this week; given that I was teaching a game I’ve taught something like a hundred times, though, it went just fine.
I also played a ton of Dominion online via the official site yesterday, an even dozen of games over several hours with quite a few different people. (All friends, though; I don’t play with random folk.) All of the games involved Renaissance, which I continue to enjoy a great deal.
I watched two movies on Monday: Aquaman, which was Just Fine, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which may be the best superhero movie ever made. I don’t know that I can say anything about it that hasn’t already been said online, but: if you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s fantastic.
I may finally be reaching the end of Picross 3D Round 2; the last couple of book completions (sets of puzzles in the game) haven’t made new ones appear yet. It’s been a long haul and, as much as I’ve enjoyed the game, I’m pleased that it will actually be ending. Maybe not soon–there are still a lot of puzzles to solve–but having an end in sight may motivate me to play it faster.
Play of both Borderlands and Earth Defense Force 5 continues apace. I also started playing Live a Live, a SNES-era JRPG that was never brought to the States (but has a fan translation), as a follow-up to Destiny of an Emperor. I’m not streaming any more but will probably finish the game; it’s been quite interesting so far.
I sure should be reading this stack of books I checked out from the library when I thought I was going to be a bit more convalescent than I actually am. Hm.
So far, a strong recommendation for removing failing organs from your body. A+ would remove gall bladder again.
I had surgery to remove my gall bladder Thursday morning. One of my old coworkers was kind enough to wake up before 6am (thanks, Jon!) and take me to the hospital; I was back home before noon, and now sport four sweet incisions on my belly that look like they were sealed with Krazy Glue. (I assume it’s super expensive medical-grade Krazy Glue, but Krazy Glue nonetheless.) Apparently the doctor was quite impressed with the size of the gallstone that had started to cause me problems, so I was quite lucky that the attacks had only started very recently. Anyhow, I drove myself to Walmart Friday morning and have been up and about (barring the occasional nap) ever since I got home, using heavy duty painkillers like, uh, the over-the-counter ibuprofen I used to take every night anyway. Sure, my lower stomach hurts quite a bit every time I stand up, sit down, or otherwise flex those muscles, but, y’know, it’s just pissed that there’s bits that have gone missing. Barring some catastrophic setback, as recoveries from surgeries go, this one is gonna be easy-peasy. Thanks to everyone for the well-wishes and checking-ups, both friends and family.
In other news, the long darkness of NickCapricorn’s Twitch channel is over, by which I mean he finally beat the hot mess that is Final Fantasy II late last night (or early this morning, depending on how you count it). I was co-pilot for almost all of the 37+ hours he played the game, and it acted as a constant reminder of why I should never, ever touch that miserable mess ever again in my life. (It’s the worst game I’ve ever beaten, I think, and I’ve beaten it three times: the Famicom fan translation that Nick was playing, the PlayStation Origins release, and the Gameboy Advance Dawn of Souls version.) He’s moving on to Shantae next at LisaLiisa‘s request, which is a game with its own problems… but nothing like FFII.
As I wrote about earlier this week, I also finished up a long game of my own on my stream, one that was much better than Final Fantasy II for about ninety percent of its length and then almost as bad right there at the end. You can read about that experience (and my thoughts on a particular brand of late-’80s game design) here.
We had an extended board game night on Tuesday where we played Concordia, which is still my favorite board game of all time. This was the first time we played with what I’d consider significant alternate rules; we used the “wine and cloth” Senator purchase row, along with the “Ægyptus” map board, which has several special rules on top of its quirky sail-down-the-Nile layout. One of the players was new to the game but had established that he picked up this sort of thing quite easily, and everyone had a great time. (Yes, I won, but that’s not why I enjoyed it so much.)
Despite still being under mild anesthetic effects, I managed to play a game of Dominion Thursday night online with friends thanks to the magic of dominion.games. I… kinda crushed them? It was nice having a computer arbitrate all the cards rather than having to fiddle with Tabletop Simulator, that’s for sure.
I continue to poke at Picross 3D Round 2‘s post game slowly but surely. It’s gotten brutally hard for some puzzles; I know I could dial the difficulty down, but… no. I simply can’t.
Dave Eggers’ The Parade was a fine, if unexceptional, short read. I have a stack of other books I checked out from the library, expecting a longer convalescence period than I’m likely to actually have, so I’m not sure how many of them I’m going to really get to.
Now it’s mostly just a matter of recovering further. The oddest result from my anesthesia, by the way, was that I got way worse at typing for about twenty-four hours. My best explanation is that Colemak is nowhere near as “deep” in my brain as QWERTY was for most of my life, and so I kept forgetting just where the damn letters were. Seriously, though, I was typing at something like half-speed until yesterday afternoon. It was weird.
Ugh. I’m pretty sure I’m having a (mild) gall bladder attack right now, one that woke me up after only getting four or so hours of sleep. It’s not so bad that I can’t function, which is a nice change from the previous ones, but: can this damned thing be out of me already?
My streaming adventures continue apace. I’m still playing Destiny of an Emperor, which sadly decided for its last hour or so to become way, way too hard. A total party kill after a long, grueling path through a series of caves set me off on stream Friday afternoon, with a non-trivial amount of cursing. It’s all the more painful because, up until this point, the game has been a lot more fair than other titles from its time period. You were so close, game designers. So close.
Speaking of which, I got my first subscriber who is not someone I know personally, a major milestone for any Twitch affiliate. That prompted me to take the time to finally make subscriber badges (for those unfamiliar, they appear next to your name on my stream’s chat, based on how long you’ve subscribed) and the first emote assigned to the channel as well. I actually did the first draft of the pixel art on-screen, although I spent much of the rest of the day tweaking the badges bit by bit until I was happier with them. Behold:
An online friend of mine has been interviewing at various big tech companies over the last couple of weeks, and that includes the one that once paid me moderate-to-substantial sums of money. Her experience was… negative, in several very stupid ways, which is deeply frustrating. This is not the first time that I’ve sent someone that company’s way to have said company stumble, and stumble hard, on the whole process. Ugh. Fortunately for her she already has one competing offer and is likely to get another in the next few days, so it’s not all bad, but still: get your shit together, former place of employment.
After not really touching them for a bit, I’ve swung back to puzzling some more. It’s been mostly digital; I’m still working my way through Picross 3D Round 2‘s post-game puzzles, which continue to be really hard, so much so that I generally can only tolerate one or two of them a day at most. I’ve also been poking at Mario no Picross 2, a Japan-only picross game that I’ve been playing off and on for over a decade now. It overcomes the limitations of the Game Boy’s screen size by making the full images out of four 15×15 quadrants which are solved individually. It’s a great game, but strictly for Picross Maniacs Only, as it starts harder than anything in the original Mario’s Picross–a game I’ve 100%ed at least twice–and escalates from there.
We finished up our Normal difficulty run-through of Earth Defense Force 5 and pretty much immediately started playing it through again on Hard. One of the regulars reminded me just yesterday that we actually also have the paid DLC missions to play through, which are always way harder than the core story missions, so hopefully we’ll be able to play again soon; we’ve had scheduling issues the last several days.
The usual Thursday evening digital tabletoppery occurred, this time with the son of one of the regulars joining us. We played Fine Sand, which is still a perfectly okay game, then switched over to dominion.games for a game of, well, Dominion. I screwed up in that game thanks to not noticing it was a Colony/Platinum joint but still came in a strong second after lagging hard most of the game.
Current attack aside, my apprehension for my upcoming surgery continues to grow. I wish it were already done so that I could be recovering rather than waiting for it to happen.
Chocolate Toast Crunch is amazing. It’s like a cereal version of Chuao’s stellar Spicy Maya chocolate bars, but without the cayenne pepper. Easily a top-ten cereal of all time. If you at all like chocolate-y sugar cereals, give it a try; I guarantee you’ll love it. (Guarantee not valid within one parsec of Sol. Limited time offer; some restrictions may apply.)
I feel a bit better after taking the time to write this up; that’s nice, at least. Chances of an early afternoon nap today: 95% and rising.
As discussed before, I’ve met several people who have been scared away from Sudoku due to the numbers. “I’m bad at math,” they say. “I just don’t have a head for it.” And I usually explain to them that, no, Sudoku doesn’t really use math, at least not in the sense that they mean, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking: don’t touch any kakuro, then.
Kakuro are sometimes referred to as “math crosswords.” That’s a name that better fits Figure Logics, a puzzle type I’ve never quite wrapped my head around, but it’s a reasonable stab at describing these gridded challenges as well. The rules of kakuro are very simple, if (almost necessarily) more complex than sudoku:
Each row and column sums up to the number on its top or left edge1,
Cells contain only the digits one through nine, and
A digit cannot repeat in a given row or column.
It’s that last rule that makes kakuro such an interesting design. For example, a clue of 4, which in a well-formed kakuro is always clued by two boxes rather than just one–they almost universally follow “American-style” crossword construction rather than Japanese- or British-style, with their looser cross-hatching–is always a 1 and a 3, because two 2s make for an invalid puzzle. If a 3 and a 4 cross each other, the only shared digit is 1, which gives you an easy “break in” to the puzzle.
And let me not sell this short: while all you have to do is a bunch of addition, you do a lot of addition when solving a kakuro. The math is relentless. The smallest number that fits in a four-cell row is 10 (1 2 3 4) and the largest is 30 (6 7 8 9), and there are sums other than the obvious ones that have hard-set requirements; 7-in-3 is always 1 2 4, for example, which is something you’ll have drilled into your head after you’ve solved a half-dozen of these whether you like it or not. I still count on my fingers sometimes to double-check my math, and I count on my fingers a lot while solving kakuro.
Like sudoku, kakuro originated in the pages of Dell’s puzzle magazines here in the US, and like sudoku it blew up in Japan well before it became anything like a phenomenon in the rest of the world. That said, while kakuro are reasonably popular here and elsewhere, they’ve never reached anything like the same level of popularity as sudoku, and honestly they never will. Their fundamental reliance on math will always make them a little too scary for a large segment of the population, which is definitely a shame.
Kakuro’s format doesn’t lend itself to quite as much in the way of variation as sudoku, although there are definitely several tweaked versions available. I’ve seen ones that use multiplication rather than addition as the core operation–lots of big numbers!–and some that have rectangles drawn over portions of the puzzle that act like the rows and columns, their contents summing to a particular value with no repeated digits. But I suspect the format inherently lends itself to fewer wacky alternate takes than sudoku, never mind the fact that it’s a less-popular type and so inherently has less incentive to come up with interesting tweaks to the formula.
As for me? I’ve been seeing kakuro for decades, thanks to my early fascination with puzzles–they were called Cross Sums back then, although nowadays Dell fully embraces the kakuro name–and they always intimidated the heck out of me, even though I’m actually pretty good at math. Hey, look, I was part of the problem! I admit it. But about a year ago I finally buckled down and decided to Git Gud2 at them, and now I actually quite enjoy the type. It’s not my favorite, to be sure; I’m not always in the mood to show the world (or at least the ants in my living room) that I still have to count on my fingers whilst verging into middle age, and they can feel a little same-y, so even when I am in the mood I often intersperse them with other puzzle types. But there’s a good reason they’re one of the most popular puzzle types in Japan, and they’re definitely worth trying out.
Even if you don’t like math.
Getting started with kakuro
The most important part about getting going with kakuro is understanding some simple, but vital, solving techniques. The puzzle type simply isn’t as intuitive as sudoku, and so it’s a bit harder to break into. Fortunately there are plenty of excellent tutorials and guides online. I’ll point you to Krazydad’s superb step-by-step solving guide, which covers both basic and advanced techniques, but a quick Google search will turn up many, many options, including interactive formats if that’s your style.
One of the things you’ll want to have a copy of, at least until you internalize most of its contents, is the “forced number” chart that you’ll see in Krazydad’s guide (and most of the others as well). You’ll quickly remember off the top of your head that 29-in-4 has to be 5 7 8 9, but getting to that point takes some practice, and having that chart will make it easier in the early going.
Krazydad’s site also has a bunch of kakuro of all sizes to try. Here’s a link to a nice web-based implementation he wrote, starting with the smallest puzzles. You can of course find a whole bunch of other sites full of computer-generated puzzles online, at pretty much any size and difficulty you like.
Getting good kakuro
As is the case with sudoku, the best hand-made kakuro come from Japan. Nikoli has a long history of publishing the puzzle type, and they have tons of volumes of Kakuro that you can pick up off of their website or from amazon.co.jp. I’m also partial to 頭脳全開足し算クロス, a magazine you can snag from Amazon Japan that contains nothing but kakuro. It recently started including several of the “rectangle restriction” variation puzzles that I mentioned earlier, and in the back has a pair of puzzles on an enormous sheet of newsprint that will keep you busy for weeks, but the opening puzzles are easy enough for even a beginning kakuro solver to tackle.
That said, I definitely get less of a “feel” in terms of difference between hand-made and computer-generated kakuro than I do with sudoku. Maybe it’s because I’ve solved less, or maybe it’s inherent to the format, but in any event there are plenty of books and websites chock-full with more kakuro. Amazon has the “Martial Arts” series of books, Djape puts out a whole bunch, I’ve already linked Krazydad’s site… you should be able to find something that suits your timeframe and level of competence without too much effort. (Sadly, Simon Tatham’s Portable Puzzle Collection doesn’t have kakuro in it.)
As Tom Petty once sang in that distinctly Tom Petty-y way: the wai~i~ting is the hard~est part.
The biggest thing I did this week was stepping up my streaming. I streamed almost every day, including last Saturday. Most mid-day streams have been old NES games; I finished up Final Fantasy III over the weekend and then moved onto Destiny of an Emperor, which so far is a quite excellent (if surprisingly hard) retelling of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms as an RPG. I’ve also done a couple of late-night streams where I did computerized logic puzzles on stream… and, surprisingly, at least a few people were willing to watch that. It’s kind of awesome building a small but non-zero set of regulars. I’m still not sure just how serious I am about this whole streaming thing, but for the time being I’m digging it.
Besides the on-stream stuff, I played a bit of Earth Defense Force 5 with the crew, some Borderlands cooperatively online with a friend, and also some Path of Exile with an online friend who is a big fan of the game. It’s basically Diablo II turned up to 11 (or maybe even 12), with roughly a million different knobs to tweak and builds to try. I’m not sure it’s really for me; I don’t know if I have the patience nowadays for its brand of maximal design. But I can appreciate it for what it is, and while some of its free-to-play systems are pretty scummy–paying for inventory tabs so you can actually hold a reasonable number of the various currencies in the game? Really?–you can get more than enough of “the experience” without ever dropping a penny on the title.
Having finished my big stack of books, I went to the library to check out some more, and… promptly haven’t touched them. I suspect I’m on a swing out away from reading, at least for the time being. (An exception: I’ve done some review/critiquing of someone’s writing, at their request. That engages a whole different part of my brain, though.)
Started to pay for the upcoming surgery, which brought to sharp understanding some of the differences between haves and have-nots in modern America. This is going to be expensive, totally blowing my planned budget for the year out of the water. Thankfully I have the ability to pay for it… but not everyone does. What a crappy, crappy system. Single-payer healthcare can’t come soon enough.
Something something time slipping into the future something.
My ultrasound on Thursday was an uneventful way to spend a bunch of money. I was hoping to hear back today from the doctor, but haven’t; hopefully I’ll have more news on Monday.
My continued “the opposite of keto” diet became a quest to eat a whole bunch of different instant noodles, for… no good reason other than that I’m fond of instant noodles, I suppose. My favorites have been the various Maruchan yakisobas (particularly their teriyaki chicken) and Nongshim’s Shin raymun, although I’ve discovered a bunch of different ones that are worth putting into a rotation of a carb-driven diet. The weather’s been cold here, perfect for slurping the noodles down at lunch…. and perhaps other times too.
I finished Guns, Germs, and Steel and moved on to John M. Ford’s The Dragon Waiting, which I just knocked out a minute or two before starting to write this blog entry. Both were excellent. The former has had more than enough written about it, so I’ll talk a bit more about the latter; it’s a retelling of events around the accession of Richard III of England, in a world where magic is real and Christianity never took over as the primary religion of Europe. It’s one of the rare books where you know the author did a tremendous amount of work in terms of research but you don’t feel like they’re showing off or trying to teach you something; the story is perfectly compelling even if you don’t know all the historical or literary allusions. I was also able to read it all in a day and a half of effort, rather than the three million hours that Ash: A Secret History took me, so it had that going for it as well.
My casual streaming on Twitch became rather less casual. I finally got streaming from my computer working; it was an enormous hassle because , and still doesn’t work perfectly because , but it suffices. And the first day I actually streamed seriously from my computer I got raided by catsonurhead, going from two viewers to over a hundred. That was… exciting. That, plus a bit of nudging of friends, got me over the requisite fifty follower mark, which means that I’m now a Twitch affiliate. What does that mean? Well, it means I can actually make a little dosh from the whole Twitch ecosystem. I don’t expect to make much at all, but I figure: why the hell not? I like streaming anyhow, and if I can get something out of it, it seems silly not to. Feel free to follow me at http://twitch.tv/SunfallToEnnien, and I’ll happily take anyone’s free Twitch Prime subscriptions if they’re not already using them.
Speaking of videogames, the title I was streaming when I got raided is the original Famicom version of Final Fantasy III. I had started a game of it something like six years ago, back when Twitch was still a fledgling website, and decided to keep playing it for some reason. It’s a fun, if sometimes very rough, game. Other games played this past week for more than a few minutes include Earth Defense Force 5 and Overcooked! 2, although I think we’re mostly done with the latter; the DLC missions have gotten ridiculously hard, and I’m honestly pretty burnt out on it at the moment. Maybe we’ll come back to it in a couple of months.
I’m slowly getting better at kakuro, and should probably write a Puzzle Primer on them next week.
I’m assuming that, if I’m going to have surgery, it’ll be scheduled for this coming week or the one after. I’ll post here with the details, of course.