We still haven’t seen Rise of Skywalker. First, we were out of town visiting my parents, who would rather record 87 Hallmark Christmas movies and watch 6 of them (plus reality shows about gold miners and whatever) than go to a cinema. I love my parents, but their media habits are pretty much the opposite of mine.
And then we were both sick, and have remained so. I think maybe at this point I could sit in a theater for a couple of hours, so we might go soon. So far I’ve been able to avoid spoilers, other than the general impression that a lot of people didn’t like it and some people found it really satisfying. That’s pretty much what people said about episodes 7 and 8 and Solo, so… whatever. At this point I think Star Wars is too big a cultural thing with so many personal interpretations that no possible movie could please everyone.
I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, a now 8 year old MMO (11 years old if you count the official announcement of its development). Since I was one of the major developers on HeroEngine, the platform that runs the game, I have mixed feelings here. HeroEngine was frankly a year or two away from being ready for prime time when they insisted on licensing it, and they forked the code with their own patches and modifications to the core technology that we thought unwise. We were half afraid they’d release a broken game and give people a poor impression of the engine. (That was far from being our company’s main problem, but I’m not here to be bitter about history right now.) And here it is 2020 and I encountered a bug that I fixed myself back in about 2009…
But the game does mostly work, and is… okay? It feels like an older MMO, not as fluid as something like Guild Wars 2 which was only released 1 year later. I see a lot in it that’s how our ill-fated Hero’s Journey behaved, except that it’s an actual playable game, where HJ was 27 false starts at something that the management couldn’t decide if it was a game or a tech demo. Anyway. A lot of what you can do in the game, in terms of customization and even basic item storage, is restricted to subscribers. I kind of enjoyed the beginning of the Imperial Agent story, but then my interest kind of fizzled when I got to the second chapter. I also kind of enjoyed the beginning of the smuggler’s story, but the overall gameplay is not really very engaging to me, and I expect I’ll just uninstall it tonight.
I kind of want an MMO experience, but a better one.
I played Warframe a bit, but the story really takes a while to wind up. The gameplay is pretty much just a mildly decent shooter, but I am really not sure I want to play shooters any more. (This one is generally more science fictionish than gun culturish, but still.) Character customization is extremely limited without plunking down surprising amounts of money or playing for quite a long time to accumulate resources (though some of the robot/suit designs I see on other players are very elaborate and cool). But the worst bit is, despite apparently huge amounts of content out there, I got stuck at a point where I can’t successfully complete available missions unless, perhaps, I grind ones I’ve already done. Bleh to that.
I also tried Dragon’s Dogma very, very briefly. It’s a console port, with poor support for my screen resolution, awful unexplained controls, and NPCs that chatter repetitively at you multiple times per minute. I asked for a refund from Steam in record time.
Other ones I’ve considered are Final Fantasy XIV, and Elder Scrolls Online. Since they’re not free, I read over lots of reviews and I’m not sure I would really dig either one. So perhaps I should just drop it and do other things (like making music). When you’ve got a cold it just feels easier to play games than to do something creative, though.
Given 45’s unprovoked, inappropriate, illegal, foolhardy, shortsighted, selfish, heartless, etc. action against Iran, and their nearly inevitable, understandable but saddening reaction, and the propaganda and warmongering noises coming out of the mouths of politicians and pundits, I think my personal balance point between staying informed and staying sane is tilting more toward the side of blissful ignorance. Reading about the missile attack on US military bases, the conflicting versions of casualties coming from various completely unreliable sources, and the threats of further violence in both directions, before going to bed last night, really did not help me sleep or feel generally better about humanity.
Nothing at this point is going to change my opinion: war is stupid and cruel and primitive and we don’t need it. For the past 70 years or so, the US has been sticking its ham fists into the Middle East and every single time, our actions have come back to bite us while causing unneeded suffering. It’s long past time we just stopped. We need to transition away from fossil fuels pretty damn fast anyway.
Wars belong a long time ago, in a galaxy far away, and solely in the imagination. (For that matter, maybe we can even have some stories in that setting that don’t even involve war, but other conflicts and dramas. Just not Hutt: A Love Story please.)