dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
What does one write about perfection?

Symphony of the Night is the game I've beaten the second-most times, just behind Chrono Trigger (which I'm sure I'll get around to writing about one of these days). I still remember the first time I beat it, in [livejournal.com profile] uriany's basement as we boggled at the choice of I Am the Wind as an ending theme. The gameplay leading up to it, I remember mostly in snatches. Farming for a Crissaegrim in the inverted library. Discovering that some weapons had special abilities you could activate using fighting-game-style button inputs. The way I was better at casting Soul Steal when it counted. Trying to do the tricks we had heard were possible--skipping Death at the beginning and keeping your equipment or dashing right at the beginning to end up outside the castle. They're both possible, but we never managed to do either of them.

Symphony of the Night is my favorite platformer ever. It doesn't have the purity of Super Metroid, and definitely not that of Super Mario Brothers, but it has plenty of madcap possibilities and it's those that make me love it. It's relatively easy to shatter the game's balance completely and end up either invincible or the next best thing, but that's the price of freedom.


man /man/ noun 1. A miserable little pile of secrets.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
I was telling someone the story of my first real experience in Japan the second day we were there, where [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had to go to a lot of panels but I had free time. I looked at the guidebooks and determined that I was going to head down to Meiji Jingu, so I dressed, loaded up my satchel with the guidebook and map, and headed out to Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world.

I watched the people at that station use the ticket machines for fifteen minutes until I finally felt confident to use them myself, and then I bought a ticket and got on the Yamanote line, and spent the whole day out wandering the city, coming back at dinner time to meet up with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd.

But

After telling the story, something was nagging at me. I remembered that my feet got torn up from the new sandals I was wearing and that I had walked one leg of the trip, but I knew I didn't walk home. I also remember walking south, past Yoyogi and through part of Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑). And in a flash, I remembered what really happened--I didn't buy a ticket. I watched people for a long time, waiting for a lull in the crush of people buying tickets so that I could go buy one myself without holding up the line or having to walk away without figuring it out, and there never was a spot in the line. I didn't have a ticket but I wasn't going to sit in the hotel room all day, so I walked. On the way back, Harajuku Station was significantly less crowded and I bought a ticket there to go back, and thereafter I was fine.

My mind rewrote the whole thing as a story of triumph over unfamiliar circumstances and persistence in the face of discouragement and, actually, it was completely the opposite. I got too worried and gave up, though at least I actually went to the shrine instead of hiding inside all day. But until I thought about the inconsistencies, I would have sworn that the first version of the story was the true one.

This is part of why I still keep a blog of mundane events when nearly everyone else I know has stopped doing so. I don't trust my memories, and writing down accounts of vacations or weekends or cultural events immediately after they happen helps preserve the first impression in my mind. Maybe no one else will read it, but I sometimes go back and read them, and it helps me remember things I've forgotten or that my mind has distorted over the years.

It's also why I'm terrible for giving advice. Sure, "Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes," but even when I do give an answer I wrap it in as many qualifications as I can based on how ignorant I am of the parties to a situation, the circumstances, whether I was there or not, whether it's ever happened to me before, etc.

I look forward to the perfect robot future, when everything we experience will be perfectly recorded for later access and we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
Like I mentioned, I've been reading 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ and I'm pretty sure that it's helped me identify one of the problems I'm having in trying to learn Japanese--I compartmentalize too much. I have a tendency to want to look every word up I don't know, so I stop when I find something, make a note on the PDF I have of the book with the word and its reading and pronunciation, then go back to the text. But it means that sometimes I'm reading whole sentences, and sometimes I'm reading it one word at a time, which makes it pretty hard to draw meaning from it.

What I really need to do is to read everything through once first, not look anything up, and see how much I understand. Then read it through and note down all the words I don't know, then read it through again with the notes in case I can't remember something.

On the plus side, I've noticed that reading actual written Japanese is helping some vocab stick in my head because I have context for it. It's like how I'll always remember that アライグマ literally means "washing bear," which means "raccoon," because of Kazu trying to explain it with "洗濯ぐま" ("laundry bear").

As for the actual book, I'm enjoying it. I started off feeling like it was being crassly manipulative, but once it moved past the opening frame of sadness and taking someone's ashes far away and went back to the meet cute, it got better. Though it's pretty heavy-handed:
にもかかわらず少女の髪からは、シャンプーというかリンスというか、ほんのり甘い匂いが漂ってきた。

Translation:
But in spite of [walking with a distance between them], from the girl's hair the sweet scent of shampoo and condition hung faintly in the air.
Later, then come around a turn in the path and find a field of hydrangeas, and Aki turns to Sakutarō with sparkles in her eyes and exclaims how much she loves hydrangeas and asks him if he wants to go to hanami together. I can almost see the sweatdrop on his face when he says yes. But it's definitely good practice!
dorchadas: (Teh sex)
Okay, I'm not sure that's an entirely accurate characterization. Even if I did consider buying this suit when I found it online. That's pretty much exactly the kind of formal dress style I want and it would look great on me. I just don't wear formal clothing nearly often enough to justify it to myself.

Anyway, suits aren't the point of this post (I'll get back to you if I buy one).

For a long while, I basically never bought any clothes for myself. My parents would occasionally make remarks about how I would only wear black, but then whenever they would buy me clothes it was usually black t-shirts with cutesy white text on them (I had something like two dozen of those at one point). Through most of high school and university, I pretty much dressed in all black unless all of my clothes were dirty[1]. When I got a more respectable real job at the newspaper, my parents would start mixing in khakis and the occasional plain color t-shirt or polo to their presents, and so the black clothing kind of fell away and turned into, well, something pretty generic, and that's basically what I wore for years. Effort button

Until a couple months ago, when out of nowhere I decided that I had my own personal style and I was time to build my wardrobe around it. The kind of clothes they sell here. Or here. Or that get reblogged here or here.

And now I'm buying a bunch of new items, and going through my closet and throwing away or donating a bunch of worn out clothes, or even just clothes that I keep to wear to work because they're solid color and thus appropriate--I have a powder-blue shirt two sizes too large for me I've inexplicably kept for several years until today, when I got rid of it--and replacing them with pieces that I think fit me a lot better.

Some photographic examples )

I think I've spent more on clothes in the past couple months than I've spent in the past...maybe the past decade, if you exclude the new coat I bought. And maybe even including that, honestly. And that's not because I spent an unreasonable amount recently--less than that suit I linked above would cost me--but just because for the longest time, I didn't buy clothes. Maybe one new shirt a year. And now the floodgates are opened.

I realize one of the reasons for this might just be that this is always the way I wanted to dress, but it wasn't until [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I both had adult jobs that I could afford to dress that way. Treasure Dragon Quest I think there's a lot of merit to that. On my meager university budget, I did buy a few pieces that I still have and that fit in with my new wardrobe (and still fit!), but that was about all I could afford. Now that our apartment is decorated, we have all the furniture and utensils we need, and I'm saving enough money to quiet that internal voice that spent most of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's years in grad school screaming in terror, I need something else to decorate. And, well...

Hmm. I guess it's also true that I've had an interest in fashion for a while, it's just that I used to use it to advise [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd on her style choices. She has a pretty good sense of what she likes now, though, and my help isn't as necessary anymore. So I guess that it's being repurposed? Maybe that's it.

Maybe it's just the latest thing I've latched on to. That happens a lot when I'm working on RPG stuff.

[1]: I had a pair of red pants that [livejournal.com profile] greyselke hated, and you could tell when it was laundry day because it was the only time I wore them. I probably shouldn't have worn them even then, but...
dorchadas: (Pile of Dice)
When I'm playing a tabletop RPG, I love character fiddly bits. Things like minor powers, or advantages and disadvantages, or D&D 3.x Feats, or WFRP Talents, or anything like that. I love Specialities on skills, or the hundreds of Charms in Exalted, or the sheer bewildering variety of spells available in D&D.

If you expect me to say that when I'm running games I don't like fiddly bits, well, that's not the point of this post. I ran Exalted for five years and it's probably my favorite game I've ever run, and I'd leap to do it again if I could, though probably with Dragon-Blooded, God-blooded, or mortals since I've done the stereotypical "Solars rise from obscurity to change the fate of Creation" story. I still love fiddly bits in games and tend to try to add them in to games that lack them, like my random thoughts about adding in an advantage/disadvantage system to Runequest.

No, the point here is that I had a lightning bolt revelation that it doesn't actually matter that much in terms of having a good game, and it was revealed to me through the players in my DELTA GREEN game. I'm using NEMESIS (pdf warning) instead of BRP, but other than the addition of advantages and disadvantages, it's pretty similar since the PCs are normal people[1]. They don't have much to distinguish them mechanically other than their skills, and yet, they've focused on different things, play their characters differently, and feel very different in-game and as far as I know, there are no complaints about stepping on each others' areas of competence.

Maybe it's a legacy of my playing a lot of stat-heavy computer games. In CRPGs, most of the fiddly bits relate to combat because that's what you have the most control over. At least, if there is a CRPG out there where there were a bunch of advantages based on dialogue or convincing people, please let me know, because I'd love to play it. Anyway, in a TTRPG where there's a lot more interaction, there's more mechanical weight that can hang on non-combat solutions even if it's just skill or stat values, but the number of CRPGs that have lots of combat but can be beaten without killing hundreds of people is incredibly low. So, I tend to prize fiddly bits as a means of character distinction even if it's not really necessary.

Maybe I'll try Runequest without ads/disads after all. The roll of combat Feats is handled with the Special Effects for good rolls, and I'm sure I could come up with random tables or steal the Quirks from Cthulhu by Gaslight for people who want distinctive bits that aren't related to their stats or skills.

[1]: Or at least they start that way. In my game, one character is a sorcerer due to perusing eldritch tomes and another is psychic because of mind-swapping Yithian shennanigans.

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