In which I may have made a slight mistake

I still haven’t really decided if I’m going to return to an hour of new videos a day once the Elden Ring series ends tomorrow over on YouTube; you would think that my use of the word tomorrow in that sentence would imply some urgency, and you might also think that the existence of a Let’s Play thumbnail right there on the screen might imply that I had, in fact, already started another series! I have. Sorta. I’m two episodes in, and then I got distracted by Infernax, which is more fun than it has any right to be, only that game is only like six hours long and I’m already most of the way through it and I haven’t been recording any of my playthrough because I’m currently kind of tired of that. So I need to finish up this game before I pick up that game and I already don’t remember where the hell I was or what the hell I was doing and did you know that the way the Xbox handles family accounts is bullshit? Because it kind of is.

There will probably be a whole post on that, once I figure out how they think this bullshit works.

Oh, and also Cuphead, which I’ve settled into a nice little boss-a-day schedule on, although I think my video game skills are going to top out before the game does. I don’t remember the last time I played a game and thought “I can’t beat this,” but this might be the one.

This is all to say that I have been playing Infernax pretty much nonstop since dinnertime and I have to write an assignment for my shitheads students tomorrow (I used the phrase “rude-ass child” to refer to one of my kids today, and when she threatened to tell her mom I told her to go for it and that the conversation wasn’t going to go the way she thought, and I don’t feel the slightest bit of remorse over it) and I probably ought to do that at some point. Then again, I get to work 40 minutes early most days. That’s plenty of time, right?

… right?

Sure.

Just confirming

I still hate Cuphead, but I’m going to go play for another couple of hours to make sure.

In which I need to be clear

Fuck, and I cannot express this any more sincerely, Cuphead.

I’m just kind of screwing around with my various video game systems while I’m waiting out the Elden Ring series, and after five years of sitting on the fence about it I finally downloaded Cuphead.

Two reasons for the delay: one, the game’s visual aesthetic borrows extensively from 1930’s era Fleischer cartoons, with all the racist history that that era and that style of animation brings with it. And if I’m being 100% honest I feel kind of dirty about it. I dropped $20 on the game; I may make an equal or larger charitable donation somewhere appropriate and see if that eases my conscience at all. (To be clear, I haven’t noted anything directly problematic with the game itself, and you should read the articles I linked to, both of which make a nicely nuanced case about the game, but … it’s squicky. That’s a scientific term.)

Also, not for nothin’, it’s hard as hell, and that’s coming from me, a certified Fromsoft Guy. Worse, it’s hard as hell with short chapters, so there’s tons of swearing and immediately jumping back in going on, all the while insisting that I’m going to quit after this fucking stage kills me one more time. I mean, you win a stage in like a minute and a half if you’re playing well, probably faster once I get better at it. But I’m not going to get better at it if I end up throwing the Series X out a window, now, am I?

(Subject for a later post: I hate the Xbox Series X’s UI, a whole fucking lot.)

I devoured John Scalzi’s new novel, The Kaiju Preservation Society, over the last couple of days, and it was exactly what I wanted from it. Kaiju might be the John Scalziest book that John Scalzi could possibly write, and given his description of how the book happened (he spent 2020 beating his head around a novel that was decidedly out of his comfort zone and ended up bailing on it, and then this novel jumped into his head more or less in its final form and he wrote it in barely two months) it’s not hard to see how it ended up that way. Now, I love Scalzi’s style– my writing at its very best approaches Scalzi’s command of his tone, and I think I’m flattering myself by saying that, to be clear, but this is someone I look up to– but it’s turned up to 12 here, to the point where he almost feels like he’s parodying himself a little bit. Like, not every single conversation needs to be quippy. Sometimes people can just talk. If you’re not already a fan this isn’t going to be the book that convinces you (I’ll hand you Redshirts for that) and if you’re a fan you’re going to enjoy it. The rest of y’all? Smart, sarcastic, accessible science fiction and giant monsters. The word Kaiju is right there in the title; you know what you’re going to get. Go grab it up.

A Genuinely Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: I finally beat ELDEN RING

I finally– FINALLY managed to put Elden Ring to bed just now, after a completely ridiculous 122 hours of gameplay over roughly a month and a half (the game came out on February 25) of my actual life. I’m not doing the math to figure out how many hours a day that represents; I can tell you I did actually take a couple of days off here and there, but not many.

Here’s the review: this is easily one of the best games I’ve ever played, and I’m probably never touching it again. Now, there are plenty of other games I’ve put more than 120 hours into– there are other Fromsoft games I’ve put more than 122 hours into (Sekiro and Dark Souls III, definitely, and while they aren’t Fromsoft, Nioh and Nioh 2 as well) but those have all been on multiple playthroughs. Even something like Skyrim, which is legendary for the amount of content it contains, wasn’t close to 122 hours on my first playthrough. 122 hours is twice the length of a really big game, and I am one hundred percent certain that there is a ton of stuff left to do in this game that I left on the table– even if it’s just as simple as the fact that I was playing a strength build and so I went basically the entire game without casting a spell. I’m sure I missed dungeons. I probably missed entire quest lines scattered here and there, and who knows what other little landmarks or interesting bits of content I just never noticed.

It’s difficult to explain to people who don’t play video games just how big this game is, and how– much as I predicted, about 90 hours ago– that kind of scope ends up actually being detrimental to the game. Because, okay, this was my first playthrough, and subsequent playthroughs won’t need to be nearly as long, because 1) I really won’t feel the need to do every single thing that I can possibly do on a second playthrough and 2) Since I know the general layout of the world and the basic path for exploration I won’t need to do as much fiddlefarting around as I did on the first playthrough, where there were big stretches where I didn’t really know what to do next so I just sort of wandered around until I stumbled over something. So I’m not in for another 120 hours, but even 50-60 for a second playthrough of something I’ve done before is just a big investment of time. That’s literally multiple days of playtime. Like, I loved it, it’s delicious, but if I eat any more I’m gonna throw up, and that’s not what I want.

I am uploading the final batch of episodes now; episodes 88 and 89 will go live today, so that’s 22 more episodes, meaning that the last episode will air on the 21st, since I don’t intend to bump up the release speed at all. I need to decide what I’m doing with the channel now; I’m closing in on a year that I’ve been doing this (I started in June of 2021) and I was really hoping that this series would goose my follower count a bit. I started the series with 116 followers on YouTube. I currently have, after 88 episodes of what at least to me seems like quality content about the hottest game on the market, have … 116 followers. I think a year of an hour of content every single day— I didn’t miss a single deadline once I started– is probably enough to determine whether I’m 1) going to blow up or 2) want to blow up on YouTube as a platform. I think the first answer is no; I had heard all kinds of stories about how follower counts pick up a lot once you get your 100th follower and your first video with 500 views; I’ve done both and they haven’t. The second … I’m tired, y’all. Video games and reading are my two big leisure activities and I effectively converted one of them into a job over the last year and I’m really not sure I want to keep doing it. I’m going to take those eleven days and play a game or two and not record at all, just to see if I feel differently about it, and we’ll see if I pick things back up in a couple of weeks (I could always just finish that year out and make it official) or if I decide to walk away from the channel for a while. I mean, I could always just record stuff when I want to, or cut down on the recorded episodes and do more livestreams or something. There are avenues in between “keep doing exactly what I’m doing” and “completely shut down.”

OK, God, that’s not funny

I’m literally on the last boss in Elden Ring and my PS5 suddenly won’t send a signal to my TV.

BRB, Googling how to make a nuclear weapon.