In which I had shit to do today

I have discovered, at my son’s suggestion, a game called Archvale, which I played for nine fucking hours today, and it is only 5:07 PM. I had to tear myself away from the Xbox, an act requiring much more willpower than I was expecting, in order to make sure that my minor son, who I am both legally and morally responsible for, ate lunch. And also to make sure that he was, like, in the house.

My fingers are numb. It has been a very fucking long time since I played a video game until it caused injury. And here’s the real bullshit– I still have to play more video games tonight (“have to,” he said) if I want there to be content for my stupid little YouTube channel tomorrow, since I recorded none of that nine hours.

(It’s not that kind of game, I think. I coulda live-streamed the whole mess, I suppose, but it’s not good for episodes.)

Anyway. I have lesson planning to do now, I suppose. Graaaaaaah.

Well that was certainly a day

I’m not going to go into a lot of details, but one of our teachers was assaulted last night at a soccer game, and holy shit did that make for a busy day for Union Guy today. I spent all day Handling Business and then got home and sent approximately four thousand words worth of emails and now I am very much ready for a few days where I do not speak to anyone under 35 whose genetic material I was not personally responsible for.

(I get to pet giraffes on Sunday. It’s going to be a good weekend.)

The thing is, I haven’t had a bad day yet. That’s the truth. I’ve had some long ones, but we’ll hit a solid month of school next week and I haven’t written a single office referral that was actually for me. There was one issue that happened in the girls’ bathroom that I happened to be the staffer on hand for and I made it clear that I hadn’t witnessed it, and a handful of uniform violations that I don’t really give a shit about and nobody is going to pay attention to anyway. It’s September 9th and I’ve barely raised my voice. I don’t know what the hell is going on. It’s been so long since I enjoyed teaching that I don’t even trust the idea anymore.

Complete change of subject here: The current series on the channel is the supremely interesting Raji: An Ancient Epic, but that’s going to be ending on Saturday, and as of right now I’m not 100% sure what the next Let’s Play is going to be. I’m not convinced that there’s a lot of overlap between my YouTube people and my blog people, but I was considering lifting an idea from Penny Arcade and finding a super-cheap game that I didn’t know anything about every couple of weeks or so and playing it for half an hour just to see what I think of it. Some of them might turn into Let’s Plays sooner or later but the idea would be just to find something completely random and see if I could turn it into an entertaining video. If it blew up somehow I might let people suggest games. Does that sound interesting at all?

Pretty colors and bullshit

I am almost certain I have written this post before, but fuck it; when you’ve been blogging as long as I have you get issued an actual certificate that allows you to repeat yourself as much as you want to. So I will say it again: Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and all of its ilk, are not games. They are pretty color simulators. If this was a game, I would be able to play it, and the fact is that I am still completely unable to achieve even basic competency in this nonsense despite multiple attempts over multiple iterations of the game and I’m pretty sure more than one console. I remain resolutely unable to even vaguely comprehend what the fuck is going on whenever my son decides we need a “family Smash night.”

Which he did tonight.

I don’t know how to describe my level of confusion here, guys. I eat difficult games for lunch. Hearing that a game is amazingly difficult, especially games with one difficulty level, where you git gud or you just quit, is like catnip to me. SSBU isn’t difficult so much as incomprehensible, where even the minor skill of keeping track where the fuck my character is on the screen is borderline impossible half the time. The control inputs make no fucking sense at all and no attempt to learn them has ever stuck. About half the time I’m shooting in the wrong direction if I’ve figured out how to shoot at all, and I think midway through most matches the game scrambles what buttons do what just to fuck with you. I am at the point where I’m entertaining the idea that the entire franchise, which, to be clear, involves actual “professional” competitions, is an elaborate hoax directed at me personally. I’m not sure I was even playing. You could tell me that the game was just playing a video and my controller wasn’t even connected and honestly I would probably take it as a relief.

I have watched so-called high level players playing this game, in front of large crowds. Every so often the crowd reacts as if something amazing has happened. Never not once while watching these videos did I have even the slightest idea what the hell had just happened that was more worthy of applause than any other pixelsplosion at any other moment in the game.

(Autocorrect just rejected “pixelsplosion,” which, okay, that’s fair, but it replaced it with “pixels-lotion,” which is even less of a word than “pixelsplosion” is.)

Also, despite having been a Gaming Person for most of my life, I don’t have the slightest idea who about 2/3 of the characters in the game are, and I don’t even know what giant swath of culture they live in that I’m missing out on.

Anyway, I’m so far behind at school that it’s made me functionally immortal, so I’m going to go try and get some work done. The final episode of Horizon: Forbidden West finally, finally, finally airs on the YouTube channel tonight, so we’re gonna take a couple of days off and be back with something else on Friday.

What day is it again?

This has been keeping me busy for the last couple of days:

I don’t know how familiar you are with Stray, but I’ve been jonesing to play it literally since the first moment I heard of it, before the PS5 even launched– it was originally talked about as, if not a launch title, something really close to it, and it just came out yesterday. I’ve got two livestreams up at the channel and I’m expecting a third Friday night; the game is short so I might finish it then or it might require one more (and then maybe another to try and snag the trophies) but I’ve been having an absolute blast with it. Even if you don’t normally follow my channel or video game YouTube in general, give this five minutes if you’re a cat person. It’s really cool.

A couple of reviews

Return of the Obra Dinn (PS4, played on PS5) was recommended to me on Twitter as a neat little mystery game that might be up my alley. I am fond of indie games that have unique looks to them, and I certainly haven’t played anything that looks like this in quite a while. For about the first half-hour or so, I hated it. The game is very obscure at first about exactly what is going on at any given moment and what you’re supposed to be doing, and the initial learning curve is steep. I beat it today after just over nine hours. The reason I didn’t post yesterday is because I sat down after dinner intending to just play a little bit and the next thing I knew it was 10:30 and my wife was asking me if I had any plans to come to bed.

The premise: It is 1807. You are … well, you’re an insurance agent, as ridiculous as that might sound, and the Obra Dinn, which had gone missing, has shown up at port in England, with all hands dead or missing. Your job is to find out what happened to them, using a weird little magic pocket watch to jump into specific moments in the past. There are 60 people to identify, between the crew and a small handful of passengers, and you must identify everyone on board and determine how they died. You have access, eventually, to all of the moments where anyone died, and you have to piece together clues using their jobs, ethnicities, associations on the ship, and dress to figure out who everyone is, and sometimes you need to trace someone back through moments of other people’s lives to figure out what happened to them.

It’s fucking fascinating. I’m going to play through it again to record a guide over the next few days. The game is four years old, so no one really needs a guide right now, there are plenty out there, but I’m going to enjoy explaining how clever I am.

Tom Sweterlitsch’s The Gone World was also a Twitter recommend, and I started reading it the same night I started playing Obra Dinn, and so the night before I was up too late playing a video game, I was up reading the first half of a book and didn’t get to bed properly until past midnight. This is the cover to my edition but the quotes are different; mine describes the book as a cross between True Crime and Inception, and that’s about as accurate a description for the book as I could possibly imagine. It starts off as a rather gruesome police procedural/murder mystery and then before you know it Sweterlitsch has worked in time travel and the literal end of the world and “thin places” between universes and holy shit it’s a mindfuck.

This book is currently on my shortlist for the best books of 2022; I’m not a hundred percent certain it’s going to stay there, as it’ll depend on how well the book sticks with me. The first 2/3 or so are amazing and, again, I was up too late reading and blew through half of it the first time I picked it up, but one of two things happens toward the end and I’m genuinely not sure which: either Sweterlitsch sort of loses control of his narrative a bit, which has gotten quite complicated by the end, or my tendency to not be the universe’s most careful reader got the better of me and hurt the rush to the end a little bit. Or, entirely possible, both happened, but one way or another the worst thing I can say about this book is that 2/3 of it is phenomenal and it doesn’t quite stick the ending, which I figure is still worth a recommendation.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of days. I no longer celebrate the Fourth of July, so we haven’t done anything America-related today, although my birthday is tomorrow so we had my birthday dinner tonight. I am full of pork chops and mashed potatoes and sheet cake. ‘Twas a good day.