Tiring of Baldur’s Gate 3, Wheel of Time, and more.

Stupid Title - September 2023

1,866 words.

Stupid Title - September 2023

More and more leaves are falling, and it’s hurricane season again. Also, I’ve had a crushing headache for many days in a row now, my eye sockets feel like they’re on fire, and I can’t be bothered to edit this post any further. Except I still have to think of a stupid title.


I’m finally getting weary of Baldur’s Gate 3 as I stumble through Act 3. Act 3 is a very different experience from Act 1 and 2; so much so that it feels like a sequel to a previous game, rather than a continuation. It’s a bit of a tedious slog to comb through the thousands and thousands of city-dwelling NPCs to find quest breadcrumbs, and I find myself just wishing to get to the end already. In other words, the pacing has ground to a halt in the place where it was supposed to be accelerating toward a conclusion.

An allegedly Souls-like game called Lies of P from NEOWIZ launched. All the pre-launch signs pointed to yet another style-over-substance also-ran game, but I tried it out using Steam’s return policy, which basically allows trying every new game for free for up to 2 hours. Spoiler alert: I returned it after 20 minutes. I might get it in a sale someday.

The controls were the same as every other action game made out of a generic game engine: Not responsive. There’s a subjective feeling–that feeling like the controls are a direct extension of your mind–that most games cannot replicate, and it’s one of the main things that distinguishes a good action game from a “just okay” one. Most modern game developers have just given up trying and resort to the out-of-the-box game engine systems, and you can always tell.

Somehow a free demo of Lies of P ended up on my PS5 (I don’t remember downloading it), and I looked at it a bit more, and I can see why everyone compares it to Bloodborne, but it’s no Bloodborne. For copyright infringement reasons, at least. Because yeah, they tried to make an exact copy of the look and feel of Bloodborne without getting sued. Except they forgot the controls.

Also, I noticed that the Lies of P UI looks almost identical to the New World UI (pencil sketched), and that’s when I learned that Round 8 Studios developed both games. New World also has pretty terrible, default-game-engine controls. (The fact that Lies of P uses the Unreal engine instead of the Lumberyard engine might say something for the future of Amazon’s game engine business.)

Apparently there was an announcement that Lord of the Rings Online will never get a remaster, to which I thought, “It took them years to be able to change the font size… of course there’s never going to be a remaster.” The best remaster we can ever hope to see from that garbage pile of obsolete technical debt (it started as Turbine’s Asheron’s Call code base!) is an export of all the quest text into an ebook. (The quest text is by far the best part of LOTRO.)

Unity apparently reversed course and apologized for their runtime charge announcement, and, not surprisingly, everybody still hates them, so they may as well have stuck to their guns. I expect it won’t be long before we start seeing boycotts and naming-and-shaming anyone who plays a Unity game.

SAG-AFTRA voted to strike against video game companies, although no actual striking has occurred yet. It’s mostly against big-name game publishers like Warner Bros. and Activision-Blizzard. The littler folk probably aren’t hiring SAG-AFTRA actors.

Video Production

I’ve officially started uploading Baldur’s Gate 3 videos, for what it’s worth. And that worth is that I’ll have online backups of those videos in case I have another hard drive crash. Even at two a day it will be quite some time before it catches up to where I actually am.

I’ve made some updates to my upload scripts so that I can include a thumbnail with a nifty automatically-generated episode number from now on.

Day Job

This sprint is all about pivoting from one direction to another direction, and there’s a lot of busy work going on.

Media Consumption

I heard Fallout Boy’s cover/continuation of We Didn’t Start The Fire. I love the idea of every generation doing their own version of that song, but very few of the references seemed like memorable generational touchstones and it seemed like it was all in the wrong order.

Season 16 of Taskmaster has begun.

The “play something in the background so there’s something playing” show du jour is now Family Guy from Hulu, and also old seasons of Taskmaster on YouTube.

The last episode of the new season of Futurama was the only good episode. It reminded us that Futurama episodes used to have interesting stories. The other episodes were just Futurama voice actors saying things that might have been jokes (that usually sounded like tweets copied from Twitter).

Season 2 of Wheel of Time is on Amazon Prime. It’s still pretty good, but less so than the first season. I think they have the tone of it right, and focus on the right things (I mean if they insist on keeping Rand in the show, that is, who I still think of as an homage to Hayden Christianson’s Anakin Skywalker). But I also think there’s a noticable drop in budget from the first season, and a rush to get to the Last Battle quickly before the show’s cancelled.

The Great Hunt Tangent

I started listening to The Great Hunt again, the second book in Wheel of Time, because I recognized very little from the first 5 episodes of the show, and that’s because, so far, there isn’t very much from the second book in the show. I only recognized a few scenes taken directly from the books:

  • The Darkfriend prologue.
  • The family and the flies on the table in the village (which was Rand in the book, not Perrin).
  • The Aes Sedai schooling Nynaeve (which was the Amyrlin herself in the book, not some rando Aes Sedai in the show).
  • The Testing of Nynaeve (which wasn’t as intense in the book, and she didn’t get stuck in there).

Otherwise the second season of the show is a mishmash of lines and characters and events plucked from all over the second and probably third books (e.g. Avhendia wasn’t in the second book, certainly not at Falme), smooshed up and stirred around with a lot of artistic license. Actually I don’t remember any interactions with dreamland or Logain for 4 or 5 or 6 books. And I don’t remember Moiraine ever being stilled in the books… maybe it happened later? But certainly not in the first two. Moiraine, in fact, was barely even in the second book, and honestly I don’t remember her playing much of a part in the entire rest of the book series after the first.

Anyway, if it had been me adapting the books, I would have erased Perrin and Mat from the show. I genuinely can’t think of any reason those two were essential to the plot at any point in the whole series. The entire time I was reading the books, I thought they were extraneous, unnecessary characters that Robert Jordan constantly struggled to find meaningful ways to utilize. Particularly Mat. Whatever might be needed from them could have been added into Rand’s character or added as special guest stars.

I might have considered combining Egwene and Elayne, too. (I thought for sure that’s what they were going to do when Elayne didn’t appear in the first season. Those two are together a lot during the books, from my vague memories.) The point is, with a cast of characters that multiplies by the hundreds every book, there isn’t much need to have the nuances of all five of the Two Rivers kids in there muddying things up for a show.

My biggest note on the audiobook is that the name Hurin sounds exactly like Urine, which is sort of funny.

Otherwise, I’m finding the writing fairly juvenile on the second re-read. I remember liking the second book the first time around, but I think I just plowed through it on the way to the third book, and significant portions of it are quite dull on a re-read. Epic high fantasy is so goody-goody with it’s Good Is Better Than Evil themes, which I outgrew decades ago. And there’s chapter after chapter after chapter of standing around Carhein whinging about the Great Game, while never once actually showing anyone playing the Great Game. Classic storytelling: Tell, don’t show.

In the end, I was a bit surprised at how little there was to recommend in the The Great Hunt. I don’t remember becoming fully disillusioned with the books until somewhere in the fourth one, and the fifth one especially turned into a brutal slog of tens of thousands of words at a time of desperate avoidance of any plot movement, a tone maintained until I think the last one Jordan completed (book 9? 10?). But even as soon as the second book, it had already started. (“But I’m not playing your Great Game!” says Rand, for fifty chapters in a row.)

Additionally, I remember Egwene’s captivity as a major part of the second book, but it was considerably briefer in the book than it was in the show. I don’t even think there was a POV chapter of her in captivity. She was in and out of there in like a chapter or two. Maybe there were more extensive flashbacks in another book?

World Context

I haven’t been on Twitter since whatever day it was that they made Tweetdeck unusable, so my ability to keep up with daily news has been severely compromised. I have to remember to say “play the news” into my phone in the morning, which I frequently don’t.

  • United Auto Workers strike, reminding us all that the Big Three aren’t the same three as when we were kids.
  • A diplomatic dispute broke out between Canada and India over the death of a Sikh activist.
  • I found it mildly interesting that Toshiba was sold to a consortium and deslisted as a public company.
  • Democratic Senator Bob Menendez is being investigated for corruption and there are calls for him to resign, which is mainly of interest because the Democratic majority in the Senate is so slight.
  • In hyper local news, Tropical Storm Ophelia passed almost directly over my house. It rained a lot on a Saturday, but otherwise it was the least eventful tropical storm I’ve ever experienced.
  • The Hollywood writer’s strike is ending, but the actors strike continues.
  • A government shutdown is expected to begin on October 1, barring the usual last-minute back room negotiations that postpone these things. UPDATE: The shutdown was averted the night before.
  • Ongoing Trainwrecks of the Year: 2024 Presidential Election, War in Ukraine, Hollywood Strikes, Nigerian Coup, Sudanese Civil War.
  • Celebrity Deaths: Dianne Feinstein (U.S. Senator).


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