Redfall flops, Party-based RPGs, Baldur’s Gate videos, Kubernetes, and the news. A relatively uneventful time slice of life.

The Cliff - May 2023

1,861 words.

The Cliff - May 2023

Redfall flops, Party-based RPGs, Baldur’s Gate videos, Kubernetes, and the news. A relatively uneventful time slice of life.

The Cliff

Many of us live our lives on the edge of a cliff, and sometimes you feel like you’re standing on firm ground, facing the challenges ahead, ready and eager to tackle anything that approaches, and sometimes you feel like you’re overwhelmed and barely clinging to the edge of that cliff above the yawning chasm of doom, and there’s only a couple of steps of difference between the two and it only takes an ill-timed wind gust to get from one place to the other.

Anyway, it’s been more of the latter than the former in the last month or so, and creativity is one of the first things to go when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life, so it becomes a major chore to think of anything interesting to write in, say, regular blog posts, even when you have over two weeks to do it.

Gaming Context

Redfall, from the makers of Dishonered, made a big spectacle of flopping hard on launch for some reason, although I didn’t think it was that bad. Then again, I only played it for a half hour. To me, that puts it in the category of “average,” not “a massive failure.”

I saw a handful of mentions of the launch of Darkest Dungeon II, although at a casual glance, I don’t see a single thing to distinguish it from the first one, which I already have for free.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom launched on the Switch to much fanfare, reminding me once again that I’ve never played any Zelda games or really any Nintendo games, ever.

Party-based CRPGs

I have a long string of party-based RPGs from the last five years that I like but haven’t yet finished, roughly in the order that I began them:

  • Divinity: Original Sin (2020)
  • Wasteland 2 (2020)
  • Tyranny (2020)
  • Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition (2021)
  • Pillars of Eternity (White March DLC) (2021)
  • Pillars of Eternity 2 Deadfire (2021)
  • Solasta: Crown of the Magister (2021)
  • Pathfinder: Kingmaker (2021)
  • Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition (2021)

The only one that I’ve “finished” is the main story of Pillars of Eternity, but I use the term “finished” loosely, in that I left many, many things unfinished and simply went and did the final quest in order to put a concluding video on my series so I could upload it. And so I could start Pillars of Eternity 2, which is better because it has turn-based combat.

Anyway, starting in May, I got it into my head to resume some of these games. I resumed Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition, which I had previously only barely started (never having played it before), and I got through the Penninsula District, the first of four areas you have to search to find the missing Waterdavian Creatures (Water-DAY-vian Creatures, as Aribeth pronounces it) needed to end the plague or whatever. I found it to be a tedious slog of dying and re-loading to get through the Prison levels, so I lost some enthusiasm for the game and sought my fortunes elsewhere.

I resumed my game of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, where I had previously left off in Chapter 3, after the Nashkel Mines. I explored a few wilderness maps, then cleared out the Bandit Camp, triggering the start of Chapter 4.

One thing led to another (meaning I rediscovered that Baldur’s Gate is a terribly dull game because 90% of it is wandering empty maps and fiddly inventory management), and I resumed my game of Pillars of Eternity, picking up in the White March Part 1 DLC right where I left off in February of 2021.

I successfully finished the White March DLC Part 1, although at the end I had to turn the difficulty down from Normal to Story Time. Pillars of Eternity is a great game, but the encounter difficulty varies wildly from place to place, and there’s never any rhyme or reason to it. I don’t mind retrying an encounter after one or maybe two TPKs, but after that, I’m over it and I’m ready to move on. The game doesn’t really give you in-game tools to debug why your party is dying, so you have to go out to study poorly-written SEO-first wiki guides or badly-made SEO-first video guides for hours on end, and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Also, with these realtime-with-pause games, I find that I don’t have the patience to pause the combat every half second to micro-manage every single move, so I frequently just leave it running and let the suboptimal AI handle most things. I find that the “Infinity Engine” combat style wrecks the flow and immersion of the game when you have to keep pausing constantly, and the sound effects are constantly cutting in and out (or even worse, the music!), and it grinds everything to a standstill. Turn-based games are vastly superior for micromanaging combat.

I went on to see if I could knock out all the side quests I hadn’t done yet, and I started with what I now know to be one of the most difficult quests in the game, The Siege of Cr√§gholdt, where one Drunken Orlan Monk nearly wiped out my entire level 11 party. I ended up turning the difficult down from Normal to Easy and then finally to Story Time, because screw it. Then I stopped playing because my party still died in the final fight on Story Time difficulty. The combat encounters just went on and on and on, where I thought it was just going to be a simple little thing of going to talk to a guy.

Instead, I resumed my game of Pathfinder: Kingmaker, picking up in the Sycamore Caves with the mites and kobolds, trying to find Tartuccio. It took me a long time to find him, because I somehow managed to overlook the one part of the map that contained the Mite Queen and the Sacred Hall for hours, but I eventually defeated him and the Stag Lord and won back the Stolen Lands, then the game turned into a governance simulator for some reason.

This is why I haven’t finished any of them, because I keep switching from one to another. As games, they all have different strengths and weaknesses. These are among my favorite games to record (sometimes), because they have a lot of text to read, which is usually my favorite part of making a video.

Video Production

Speaking of videos, Unlisted Resident Evil videos (recorded in January) continue to upload to the channel. I have Resident Evil 0, 2, and 3 videos to potentially upload later.

A half-hearted project I’m working on from time to time is editing some Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition videos to cut out all the down time from inventory management and traveling, leaving just the crucial elements of the story. Baldur’s Gate, like most older RPGs, is somewhere between 50-75% inventory simulator with a terrible UI, which is incredibly annoying to play and boring to watch. Unfortunately it’s also very time-consuming to edit videos. Editing videos, at least the way I do it, requires dedicated time to sit in front of a computer and focus 100% on what you’re doing, with no distractions. No music playing in the background, no shows playing on a second screen, no podcasts or audiobooks, nothing. Just listening to yourself and waiting for the right moments to cut in order to preserve a narrative flow.

Don’t have any other YouTube plans, really. It feels like the blogger-pivoting-to-video trend is already over (although I see a handful of other bloggers trying it from time to time). Now it feels like new trendy trends await to be explored, like making fun of AI, or perhaps pivoting to TikTok. 60-second vertical videos filled with jump cuts and subtitles. It’s kind of a pain to make those videos too, actually.

Day Job

Still a bit directionless, but getting better. I had forgotten that I’d signed up for an Intermediate Kubernetes class at work (we’re all required to take some amount of training every year), so I had three 8-hour days of sitting in a Zoom meeting.

I haven’t had to do that for a couple of years, since I was new to the company, so I’d forgotten how thoroughly exhausting it is to be anchored to one computer screen for eight full, continuous hours, three days in a row. Normally I’m able to set my own schedule, only having maybe one or two short meetings a day anchoring me to one place and time. It reminded me that my body is physically incapable of working a standard 40-hour office week anymore, and if I had to, I wouldn’t be able to.

Anyway, Kubernetes is very cool. I’m pretty much all-in on the whole concept of cloud-native development, at least at this moment in time, when I work in an environment where we are encouraged to deploy our applications to a cloud-like environment instead of bare metal hosts. It’s quite cool to start up and shut down entire clusters of complex interacting application services with a single button press. I can see why it caught on.

Media Consumption

Taskmaster Series 15. Critical Role Campaign 3. Finished Dimension 20’s Neverafter, and Ravening War just started.

White House Plumbers on HBO, which is not as good as I might have hoped.

While I was there, I noticed Rick and Morty season 6 so I started that, which is … well, it’s Rick and Morty; you just let the madness wash over you and laugh when they occasionally step outside their self-referential feedback loop to tell an actual joke.

World Context

  • I haven’t mentioned it, since it’s in the background all the time and easily forgettable, but the U.S. has been going through yet another so-called “debt ceiling crisis,” which seems to happen at least once a year now, where Republicans and Democrats each try to force the other into making ideologically-driven budget cuts without the hassle of passing legislation.
  • The Writer’s Guild of America went on strike again, this time over residuals from streaming. Producers are hoping audiences won’t notice that their 12-year-old neice or ChatGPT is now writing their favorite shows.
  • The coronoation of King Charles II occurred in England, and nobody had an opinion about that, or changed the Wikipedia page to say “Pigeon” instead of “Camilla.”
  • Paramount is closing MTV News, which sparked intense bouts of nostalgia from Gen-Xers on social media.
  • Trump 2024 Circus Watch: Trump appeared on a CNN Town Hall, and it was completely normal and nobody had any opinions about it.
  • The U.S. Federal government ended the COVID-19 public health emergency. At the same time, the so-called “Title 42” expired, ending the pandemic-related expulsion of migrants. You guessed it, nobody had an opinion about either of those things.
  • Elon Musk named Linda Yaccarino the new CEO of Twitter, to start in six weeks. Everyone immediately stopped complaining about Twitter for the rest of their lives.
  • And finally, Sweden won Eurovision. I only saw two people talking about it on Twitter.

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