all at once

Sunday morning I did our taxes — I have to recommend, it’s a legit site and lets you file a federal return online for free, plus a state return for $15. And in the evening I watched Everything Everywhere All At Once, which was a coincidence — I didn’t know a tax audit was part of the plot. All I knew going in was “Michelle Yeoh” and “sort of a superhero film” and “people having to do absurd chaotic stuff to break through reality” (which, in general, is a concept I like a lot for a magic system). And it just happened that Netflix had it.

I don’t want to spoil anything for those like me who haven’t seen it, but WOW what a film. What a crazy, stupid, brilliant, absurd, hilarious, touching, multi-layered, fun film. I didn’t even realize that it had a long running time (having a pause button really helps with the bathroom problem).

I would summarize it as: “what if The Matrix, but instead of 90s edginess and lots of guns it had the absurdity and heart and fashion sense of The Fifth Element dialed up to 11, and manic creative energy? And not in the least for kids partly because it’s actually mature (without losing playfulness), and partly because a few moments of immature humor don’t pull any punches. An action/SF movie not about defeating some horrible evil but coping with life’s everyday difficulties.” Someone on Metafilter FanFare said of it “If Charlie Jane Anders and Chuck Tingle had a baby, and the baby was a movie, this would be it.” And yeah, that also fits!

I think I’m going to want to watch it again, probably more than once.

And after that, I was still feeling pretty decent Sunday night, and woke this morning feeling well enough to physically come to the office, and even to a break to walk around a bit. I’m not at 100%, there’s the occasional annoying cough, but SO MUCH BETTER overall. My spouse seems to be doing much better too.

The appendices in Return of the King clarified a few lore questions we’d thought of. Then I launched into The Silmarillion, that combination of beautiful prose (at the very start, with the Music of the Ainur) and quickly decaying into utter slogfest (once it gets into “the begats”, trying to remember which group of Elves followed/rejected which movements, which people are 4000 years old and which ones merely a couple hundred, and keeping track of which placenames are the west, the West, The West, THE WEST or not-actually-on-the-planet). I’ve started reading it several times, and I think I finished a complete serial reading exactly once (retaining very little). Will I finish this time? I dunno.

I mentioned the upcoming Soulstone Survivors update in my last post. It landed, and then it bounced. Apparently enough players complained that they reverted the update within hours (but made that version accessible through beta options).

To keep the story short, there were a TON of changes and the balance was completely redone. It very successfully fixed issues with the difficulty curve (cruising on easy, getting faster and easier, then either WHAMMO into a wall of impossibility or devolving to a tedious slogfest). But it changed the pace of the game, and I think that’s where people have a bit of a legitimate gripe. (Complaining that “Light Beam got nerfed” or “my crit rate is less than 100%” isn’t meaningful if you consider just how much else changed…)

Personally I like a lot of the changes quite a bit, and I think pulling the update was a mistake… but such radical changes could have used more playtesting. I think it could be rescued simply by reducing the XP required to level up, resulting in faster accumulation of buffs. Maybe a very slight base run speed boost, so the slowest characters don’t feel quite so physically slow. And maybe some tweaking of a few of the level-up bonuses to bring them into line with each other.