Elden Ring DLC, Lords of the Fallen, Nioh, Sons of the Forest. YouTube wrecking my videos. Keeping up with the Actual Plays.

Spring? - March 2024 Part 1

1,786 words.

Spring? - March 2024 Part 1

Whoops, 15 days have passed already, and Daylight Savings Time started. It’s over 80 degrees outside as I’m typing this, which is a pretty early Spring. I don’t have a problem with this, because it means I can end my winter hibernation period. For the second winter in a row, it didn’t snow very much and rarely got below 20 degrees outside.

I’m remembering that there’s a total solar eclipse happening in the U.S. in about a month, and I swore to myself back in 2017 that I was going to go experience the spectacle of it within the path of totality, because it would probably be the last time I would have a chance to do so in my lifetime, and I haven’t made any plans for that. I’d have to drive a few states away to see it, which is a pretty daunting prospect to do by myself.


DLC for Elden Ring has been announced. I’m not going to pre-order it, to send a powerful message to our corporate overlords that they went way too far with some of the later boss fights in Elden Ring. DLC boss fights in From Software games are usually harder than the base game, too.

Lords of the Fallen

Lords of the Fallen is still my main every-day game. I had a realization one day that completing a Souls-like game is like completing a digital obstacle course. It’s less about consuming a story and more about meeting and overcoming the obstacles that are trying to stop you from getting to the end. I was really into the idea of obstacle courses as a kid (although I don’t think I’ve ever actually done one in my entire life), so maybe that’s one reason why I keep playing Souls-like games.

I still like Lords of the Fallen a lot better than Lies of P. Don’t get me wrong, it’s less polished and kind of early access-ish, especially toward the end, but it feels like more of an earnest attempt at a Souls-like. Lies of P felt like a well-polished attempt to almost literally copy-and-paste a Souls game, but they misguidedly leaned hard into the bits that piss people off, thinking that’s what people like about Souls games.

Lords of the Fallen has plenty of annoying parts, too. Almost every minor boss you encounter will become a regular enemy later on. And they hang out in groups (hey look, it’s a series of Gentle Gavaruses and Scourge Sisters all together, AND an Abbess shooting laser beams at you the entire time - good luck exploring that area). If former-bosses weren’t bad enough, your pathways will be littered with groups of dogs and archers to harrass you with random damage and stuns every step of the way, to say nothing of the continuously-spawning stuff that appears if you enter Umbral space by accident or on purpose. There isn’t much opportunity for exploration or finding secrets, when you’re fighting or running for your life 24/7. Toward the end of the game, I pretty much just run past everything to get to the next checkpoint. Hope I didn’t miss anything good, because every NPC side quest is being ignored by me.

These are problems that I chalk up to inexperience or miscalculations, though. From the patch notes, you can tell they are fixing these things. There’s a lot of “tuned enemy placement” and “optimized that area” notes. (There was an area near the Memorial Vestige that was frickin’ ridiculous that I went back to later and found it perfectly reasonable.) Compare and contrast with Lies of P, where the problems are deliberately calculated to be exactly as annoying as they are, and they aren’t changing it.

Anyway, I’m trying to finish the game before Dragon’s Dogma 2 launches in the 22nd, which is expected to be my next everyday game.

Nioh Replay

I haven’t (re-)played much of Nioh lately, but I sailed to the second zone and killed the big Centipede thingy, which was a boss that didn’t stick in my memory from the original playthrough as complete garbage, but it was sort of a long, loud gimmick fight.

I think next is the mission with the Big Watery Blog Thing which is supposed to be a terrifying monster in Japenese mythology, but I immediately identified as a comical Shmoo. And no, I don’t know why I know what a Li’l Abner comic invention from 1948 is. I can only guess that it’s something my parents mentioned at some point in my childhood. It was apparently referenced in a Simpsons episode, so maybe that’s how it entered my brain.

Sons of The Forest

With all the talk of survival-ish games, I loaded up Sons of the Forest again, which has spent a year in early access. Like The Forest before it, it’s biggest claim to fame is that it’s absolutely gorgeous and thoroughly immersive. The survival components are a bit opaque (I had to Google how to build a fire), and the story, if there is one, is rather difficult to find, but it’s very relaxing to just stand by a river watching the trees sway back and forth. I mean, until the cannibals get you, of course.

Minecraft on PS5

I got Minecraft on the PS5. I don’t know how to play Minecraft and I don’t understand where to find the fun in it. There are 50 bazillion mods and addons available in the Marketplace. I wondered if there was a documentary out there somewhere about the life of someone who makes and sells mods for Minecraft, and what that world is like.

Media Production

I noticed that YouTube is absolutely destroying the quality of all the videos I upload, after I’ve painstakingly spent years fine-tuning encoding settings for the best possible visual quality. I’ve been uploading the highest quality renders to YouTube, which are roughly twice the size of the videos that I retain and archive for myself. All to no avail. When the videos leave my computer, they’re beautifully rendered. When you see them on YouTube, they’re a blocky distorted mess. Thanks YouTube.

At some point I’ll be switching to 1440p videos. That’s the resolution I play in, but I usually record at 1080p. Well, no more. I read somewhere that YouTube uses a higher bitrate when it re-encodes 1440p videos, and I did some tests that seem to confirm that.

Lately I’ve been editing a bunch of raw, repetitive boss fight videos in Davinci Resolve to condense them down into something watchable. You can only provide scintillating commentary for the first two or three attempts. After that you have to leave a lot on the cutting room floor, or find creative ways to splice things together. Anyway, I made a playlist of just my boss fight videos, because they’re the ones I spend the most time on.


Continuing Dimension 20 Fantasy High Junior Year. I re-watched Dimension 20 Escape from the Bloodkeep, which is one of the best of their campaigns.

I still keep up with Critical Role Campaign 3, but I skip ahead a lot. They absolutely wallow in the lore and role-playing now, and most of the players are so risk-averse that they spend most of their time doing nothing. The plot barely advances at all in any given episode. Matt just kind of lets the players drive the action so they spend four hours practicing acting skills and talking about what to do next and what all the lore means and how to spell and pronounce every new name six times so they can all write it down. Meanwhile I as the viewer have literally no idea who or what they’re talking about most of the time, have no idea what their goals are, or why they’re doing anything.

I found the Viva La Dirt League NPC D&D shows. I generally like VLDL videos (the older ones are better though). But there has never been a D&D Actual Play series that is more of a “jumping on the bandwagon” type of video series than this. The first arc has a huge “we’re doing this because this is popular content on YouTube and not because we like playing D&D or anything” vibe to it. It’s got a dudes in a college frat house vibe to it. Tons of talking over each other. Lots of hyper awareness that they’re recording it so they’re performing for the cameras. A big disconnect between how serious the DM is taking it versus how serious the players are taking it. If I were in the same room with those dudes, I’d have a headache and be out of daily energy in like 5 minutes. Maybe it gets better later on.

Watched a bit of the new Critical Role Daggerheart stuff. I have no opinion about the rule system. On the surface, it sounded kind of gimmicky. “Narrative-forward” sounds like “this is for making entertainment content, not for playing games.” It’s difficult not to think of it as a cynical business ploy to avoid having to use (and tacitly endorse) licensed material in their content, which is exactly what I’d do, too, if I were a media empire that had grown far bigger than their origins.

Day Job

I did what turned out to be very simple Python work. It went a lot faster than expected, so I didn’t have a lot to do this sprint. With the extra down time, I did some experiments with different Java unit tests. Unit testing ORM code is kind of a slog, and it would be nice to find a way to make it easier.

World Context

  • The Supreme Court overruled Colorodo’s decision to remove Trump from its state primary ballot, prompting all sides to claim victory.
  • Super Tuesday happened, and the outcome was exactly as expected, and it didn’t matter, because everyone knows who’s going to win the nominations, and most people already know how they’re going to vote in November, which is terrible news for the news industry.
  • Nikki Haley, the last remaining Republican alternate, suspended her candidacy. When asked about her future plans, she said she was considering applying for Taylor Swift’s job.
  • The House of Representatives voted to force ByteDance to sell TikTok or be “banned.” How the Senate will vote, or what a “ban” actually looks like has yet to be determined. In my day, the thought of a government banning a web site was laughable. Now, thanks to all you kids being addicted to your locked-in phone ecosystems, it’s more feasible.
  • 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).


Hey look, I added comments again, because it was easy and free. I don't recommend writing anything that you don't want to lose, because I don't know anything about the stability of this platform.