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Update re: Moving

Since Tumblr was a bust, I looked at Dreamwidth. It has the advantage of running on the same platform as LJ and having many of the same features. So I created an account: ebenbrooks.dreamwidth.org

If you have an account there, let me know. I'll follow it.

I'm not quite abandoning LJ yet, but it might be coming soon.

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I'm moving

No, I'm not moving out of my house. Rather, I'm moving this blog to Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ebenbrooks

So if you have a Tumblr blog, feel free to follow me, and also let me know to follow you. Thanks.


EDIT: Scratch that. Seems Tumblr is a lot more limited than I thought it was. I'll continue looking for a decent blog platform.

New song

I Am Groot

I am Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot, I am Groot

I am Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot!

(repeat first verse and chorus)

I am Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot, I am Groot
I am Groot!

(repeat first verse twice)

NOTE: Although I have done my very best to avoid all spoilers, I cannot guarantee that there aren't things in this article that some would consider minor spoilers for the story of Horizon: Zero Dawn. So consider this a MINOR SPOILER WARNING.

My sweetie got me a copy of Horizon: Zero Dawn a couple of weeks ago, and I have been enthralled with it from the moment I put it in my PS4 and started playing. The writing is top-notch, the graphics are incredibly beautiful, and the game play is challenging without being brutal. But the thing that both impresses and entrances me the most is the protagonist, Aloy.

When most people think of action RPG main characters, what usually comes to mind is either the bland but still masculine dude (like Adam Jensen of Deus Ex: Human Revolution or Nathan Drake of the Uncharted series) or the hypercompetent, hypersexualized woman (like Lara Croft of Tomb Raider* or the eponymous PC in Bayonetta). Certainly there are exceptions—for instance, Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher series is certainly masculine, but no one would call him bland; and Samus Aran of Metroid is almost always completely covered in battle armor—but the stereotypes are strong enough that it's often hard to see past them.

Aloy, however, is a particularly noteworthy exception, for many reasons. Here are five of them:Collapse )

David Morgan-Mar hits it on the head

Today's Irregular Webcomic has a long discussion of tabletop role-playing games, their rules, and the different approaches to creating them that Morgan-Mar has encountered throughout the years. One part of this essay goes into the differences between computer "role-playing games" and their tabletop namesakes. In my opinion, Mr. Morgan-Mar's analysis is spot-on:

The essential component of [tabletop roleplaying games] that distinguishes them from board games, and even from modern computer "roleplaying games" (which have borrowed the terminology), is that in a roleplaying game you take on the role of a character and you can choose to do anything that character could do in their world. A computer roleplaying game, even one styled as a "wide open" sandbox is still a very tightly restricted sandbox. You might be able to travel anywhere on the game map and talk with or fight any creature you come across, but you can't climb a tree, hack off a branch, and carve it into a set of dominoes. You can't sit in a pub nursing a beer and pondering wistfully over a lost love while flicking peanuts at the bard attempting to perform in the corner. In a traditional tabletop roleplaying game, you can.

It's the flexibility of having a human game moderator that allows your character to do, or at least try to do, anything you can imagine that gives roleplaying games their intense fascination, at least for me. I love the freedom of roleplaying games, played face to face with other people. But I've played a few computer "roleplaying games" and very quickly gave them up because of how uninteresting and uninteractive I found them, though I recognise that many other people enjoy them immensely for other good qualities that they possess. It's a totally different experience, and I think that co-opting the name "roleplaying games" for computer games does a disservice both to them and to the traditional face-to-face games.

This is pretty much exactly how I feel about tabletop role-playing games versus their computer analogues. I've long been of the opinion that "role-playing game" when applied to a computer game is a major misnomer, especially when referring to the earlier attempts at such, like Wizardry, Ultima, Dragon Warrior, or Final Fantasy. Even more recent incarnations of the computer "role-playing game"—such as the Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age, or Fallout series—are really just storytelling games that give you some options as to a) how your character looks, b) what your character does, and c) how your character responds to dialogue or situations. In the best of these, the story can be told in several ways that are sufficiently different from each other that it continues to be fun (just look at how long I've been playing Skyrim for an example), but it's still fundamentally the same story. Even a game that can be heavily modded, like Skyrim, can only be pushed so far before the technical limitations of the engine are reached.

But a tabletop role-playing game is truly limitless. No two games, even played by the same people with the same characters using the same rules and the same setting, are ever the same. The story arbiter (usually called a Game Master) is in control of the setting—which includes the game world, the people and creatures in it, and the situations that the player characters find themselves in. But the players themselves are in control of their characters, and characters can (and often do) completely derail the intended story and take the game in a completely unexpected direction. And this is what I love about them. As a player in a tabletop role-playing game, I am a co-author of the story along with the GM and the other players, whereas in Skyrim or Dragon Age, I'm always playing someone else's story. It may be a good story, a fun story, a very engaging story—but it's never mine.

So thank you, David Morgan-Mar, for putting into words something I've felt for a very long time but hadn't been able to adequately express.


Sick and tired

I am sick and tired.

And I'm also sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Darn it...

Love Boat Sushi in RB has transmogrified into Love Boat Express, and in the process of doing so it eliminated two thirds of what I liked from its menu. I walked there, saw nothing I wanted, and walked back. Ended up going to Poké Go instead.

Quack cures

I keep seeing emails with this subject line:

"MAYO TINNITUS CURE"

Seriously, if I could cure my tinnitus with mayo, I'd have done it a long time ago...

Guess I'm tired today...

I opened my workspace in the knowledge base I'm working on and read one of the article titles as "How to Ruin Reports".

It was, of course, Run, not Ruin...

Working out what's going on

First, an update: I'm okay. Not completely recovered (not even close), but no longer unable to swallow. I never did get the hang of the lidocaine syrup, but the amoxicillin seems to have knocked whatever is infecting me back on its heels. I feel like I'm on the mend.

That being said, I was very confused most of yesterday. I definitely had symptoms that were flu-like, including fever, which pointed at the influenza virus. But the antibiotic was working, which indicated some kind of bacterial infection. When I woke up this morning, though, I realized that the answer was obvious: I had both! The flu must have weakened my immune system enough that the sinus infection I'd had three weeks ago could re-establish itself. This then likely weakened my immune system even more, which made both infections worse than they would have been separately—thus, from Monday to Thursday morning, I was getting worse rather than better. When the antibiotic started to work on the sinus infection, however, that gave my immune system some breathing room to start fighting the virus off.*

I still feel like hell. But I no longer feel like I'm dying.

-------

* All of this is pure conjecture. Although it's based on a fairly sound understanding of basic human pathology, I'd have to have multiple tests and cultures done to verify any of it. The train of reasoning I used to arrive at the referenced conclusion should be considered a result of my somewhat obsessive need to feel like I understand things rather than any kind of true diagnosis.**

** I'm actually a bit proud of myself for being able to admit this. There was a time when I would have defended such an armchair, back-of-the-envelope diagnosis as if it were fact. I'm very glad that I've been able to make progress in my ability to recognize when I might be bullshitting myself. I guess the next step is getting to the point where I don't feel the need to bullshit myself...

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