Steam Next. Toxic bosses in Lies of P and Nioh. Hellpoint. Dimension 20. New computer glasses.

Toxic Bosses - February 2024 Part 1

1,808 words.

Toxic Bosses - February 2024 Part 1


There was another Steam Next demo festival thing, the first of what is expected to be about five hundred this year, making these things as exciting as a Wednesday. I played two demos for about fifteen minutes each. I can report that they appeared to be earnest attempts to make a game and not just a cynical asset flip to dupe consumers. I hope it was a fun project for the developers because they’re probably not going to make any money for their time, and they’ll probably end up still having to get real jobs to pay the rent.

Lies of P

Against all odds, the game that I hated at first has grown on me. Then I hated it again. Then it grew on me again. Then I hated it again. Then, toward the end, where I am now, I really hate it, starting with the exact moment I realized that I was actually going to have to beat the Walker of Illusions to continue the game. That’s the point where every boss fight in Lies of P turns into straight-up trolling the player.

The thing that drives me crazy in these boss fight designs is how much they make it so that random chance is such a huge factor in the outcome. It’s one thing to have a moment or two in a fight that throws you a random curve ball that you have to react to, but it’s quite another to have an unrelenting firehose of random attacks sprayed in your face that kills you before you even have time to learn anything for the next attempt.

A good boss fight design should be beatable 100% of the time on the first try… once you learn and internalize all the boss mechanics. I seriously doubt that’s the case in Lies of P. At least not for normal gamers who have lives.

Anyway I finally absorbed the basic combat strategy in Lies of P, which is to always equip the biggest weapon you can carry and use your strong attack button every single time, preferably holding it down as long as possible, to induce breaks and expose critical hit opportunities. And if you’re not attacking, don’t bother dodging, tank the hits and try for perfect blocks. You can use a wide variety of combat styles and weapons (I’m partial to the Salamander Dagger, personally, which makes short work of many zombie-type enemies), but knowing that there’s one optimal way to dispatch tougher enemies, which usually works, sort of railroads you into fighting that one specific way every time. The only problem is that enemies usually attack faster than you can swing the heavier weapons (my favorite is the Big Pipe Wrench). I end up using a Seven Coil Spring Sword +5 a lot. It’s the heaviest weapon with a fast-enough swing animation in my arsenal.


Well, well, we meet again, my old toxic relationship game.

When my NAS crashed, I lost a bunch of videos I recorded in the 2020-2021 timeframe, among them the videos of Nioh that I recorded up to the point that I rage quit in the middle of the ice lady boss fight. So I got it into my head that I should record videos of the early parts of Nioh again, just so I can remember why I had such a love-hate relationship with the game.

In this replay so far I’ve gotten through the Isle of Demons and the first boss Onryoki. The boss reminded me why I hated Nioh boss fights so much. You make one mistake in a boss fight and you find out your character is made of tissue and you die instantly. (Another tenant of a good boss fight design, to add to the one above, is that the player should be allowed to make a mistake or two or maybe even three and still be able to win the fight. Nioh is like, nah, screw that.)

The other big problem with Nioh boss fights is the Guardian Living Weapon attack. If you use it, and fail to beat the boss, it will be like 10 boss fights later before it’s recharged enough to use it again. Those 10 fights are probably going to be pointless, wasted time. Which means you never want to trigger that Living Weapon until you’re sure it will finish off the boss, so maybe you never even use it at all.

Anyway Nioh is part of a series of Team Ninja Souls-like games that I’ve generally avoided because of what I’ll describe as toxic bosses: Nioh, Nioh 2, Wo Long, and there’s apparently even a Final Fantasy Origin Souls-like game out there.


I also lost the first eleven videos of my Hellpoint videos, which is a game that I’ve played off-and-on in short bursts since 2021. I thought Hellpoint was among the best Souls-like games, at least in the early parts of the game, so I wanted to replay what I lost in the NAS crash. So far I’ve gotten to the Consumer boss. (As yet, I still haven’t finished the game, because, while it’s a great Souls-like, it’s nowhere near as good as playing real Souls-likes or the real Souls games.)

Media Production

I’ve only had to edit and render a few boss fight videos for Lies of P so far. It’s harder than you might think to make 25-50 boss fight deaths in a row entertaining. I use Davinci Resolve for all my rendering needs these days, having given up on Sony Movie Studio Platinum (which is now a MAGIX abomination).

My video-uploading pipeline continues to upload two videos a day. One is the remainder of my Baldur’s Gate 3 videos, which is nearing the end of the series. The other slot is a rotating schedule of 3 different games; Lies of P, Warhammer Rogue Trader, and all those Resident Evil games I played last year that I never uploaded because nobody wanted to see them. Well, the joke’s on you because I’m uploading them all as unlisted. The point is, they’ll be backed up somewhere in case my hard drives crash again.

I really wish YouTube allowed me to use multiple audio tracks. Every video I upload has two audio tracks: One with a mix of commentary and game, and the other is just the game. But YouTube always just plays the first audio track, and viewers are never able to select the game-only track. If there was a reasonably-price (free?) video hosting service that supported multiple audio tracks, with an API for automated uploading, I would switch to it in a heartbeat. Honestly I might even pay for that hosting service because backing up video files is a lot of work.


Continuing to watch Dimension 20 Fantasy High Junior Year on Dropout. It’s so, so funny. Up there with the Starstruck season as the best they’ve ever done, imo. “It’s too much butter!”

Also finished watching Dimension 20 The Unsleeping City seasons 1 and 2, which I hadn’t seen before. It slowly grew on me, but New York isn’t exactly my favorite setting.

Then I started re-watching Starstruck Odyssey because I needed something to play while grinding mindlessly on annoying Lies of P bosses.

After the Superbowl, I realized that sports viewers are the same people as D&D actual play viewers, and people who “don’t get” sportsball are the same people who “don’t get” D&D actual play shows. You won’t find keen social observations like that anywhere else, folks.


I listen to NADDPOD Campaign 3 episodes from time to time. I have to listen to it at 0.8 speed sometimes because yeesh younger people talk fast these days.

Also I’ve been watching The Rest is Entertainment episodes on YouTube. I’d give anything to know what kind of microphones they use on that podcast, because I’ve never seen the like before. There must be different microphones in the UK.

Health and Wellness

I got new computer glasses! This is amazing! I can actually read computer screens again, without using reading glasses and leaning way forward and hurting my back. This is somewhat important since I work with computers pretty much all day every day.

The bad news is that the growing cataract in my left eye is starting to get annoying, and as soon as I get cataract surgery on my left eye, this new prescription will immediately become obsolete and I’ll need to get another new prescription. But that’s a problem for another day.

While I was waiting to pick up the glasses, they were playing an episode of Happy Days on one of the televisions. I haven’t seen that show since I was a kid. It was hilarious in that it was a perfect parody of sitcoms like Happy Days. But, you know, you can’t laugh hysterically in a waiting room, so it was a struggle. (It was the one where Richie goes on a date with one of those exotic unicorns known as “a divorcee” (S2E18 “Get a Job”). I thought it must have been from late in the run when they were out of ideas, but it was actually season 2.)

Day Job

More enterprisey Java coding. Not very exciting. With new computer glasses, it’s a lot easier to see the screen, though. Unfortunately I can see the growing cataract in my left eye now, and there’s a blurry/dim spot in the middle of my field of vision that grimly fortells of a future when I won’t be able to read a computer screen during the time it takes my post-cataract-surgery eye to adjust.

World Context

I have a Twitter tab open now. It sucks. The Twitter web page just sucks. I used to be able to see some 50 tweets at a glance. Now I see one or maybe two on the screen at a time.

  • Taylor Swift won a bunch of stuff at the Grammys, prompting me to think again that I should listen to some of her songs someday. It’s not that I’m avoiding them, it’s just that I still don’t really know where I can click one button to casually listen to new music, since the death of linear radio.
  • Fyi there’s no point in mentioning the Republican nomination anymore. Trump won the delegates in the weird Nevada split primary/caucus/whatever. Trump will be the nominee unless an asteroid hits the planet.
  • After failing once, House Republicans successfully voted to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas because border crisis/white whale/SEO/fundraising. (It doesn’t matter, because the Senate won’t impeach, and impeachment doesn’t mean anything anymore anyway.)
  • Ongoing Trainwrecks of the Year: 2024 Presidential Election, War in Israel (since 10/2023), Nigerian Coup (since 7/2023), Sudanese Civil War (since 4/2023), War in Ukraine (since 2/2022), Myanmar Civil War (since 2021).
  • Celebrity Deaths: Carl Weathers (actor), Toby Keith (musician).


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