Games: FF Crystal

Final Fantasy 15: Bro-hood

So there was some kind of FF15 event and now there's more info out, and a new trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C05PC_dGjsw

So, um, yeah. Still not really interested in a very actiony looking Final Fantasy game featuring a bunch of bros going on a bro-trip in a bro-car. And no, turning Cid into bro-bait isn't really helping. (Female Cid, awesome! Female Cid in bikini and short-shorts... not so much.) The story also seems really bland. I'm not sure if they're not revealing the details that actually make it interesting right now or if those details just don't exist.

Also, the music switch at the halfway mark is... very not what i want out of a Final Fantasy game.

So this will be the very first "mainline" Final Fantasy game that i will not be eagerly anticipating on launch day since i got Final Fantasy 1.

Maybe reviews and commentary from friends will change my mind after release (_is_ anyone else planning on getting it?) or maybe this will be the first mainline Final Fantasy game that i just don't buy period.
happy

Superman vs Batman vs Copyright thoughts

This was originally a response to Scalzi's review of Superman vs Batman:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2016/03/29/my-review-of-batman-v-superman-and-its-reviews

However it got long enough that i decided to repost it here.

I've seen a couple responses saying things along the lines of "You know what Zack Snyder does, so why are you surprised that he modeled Superman and Batman in that style" and the closely related "if you don't like that style then just don't watch it, why do you care so much?"

I think the problem is that Superman and Batman are very old characters with a lot of history behind them that a lot of people have known for a long time, many of them having grown up with the characters.

And those characters are completely under the control of DC. And because the movies are such a big investment DC is not going to muddy the waters by having two different Superman or Batman franchises in film at the same time. You get (very approximately) one interpretation of a superhero in film per decade. If it does well you get a couple movies in that series before a reboot. If it does poorly they _may_ reboot it early, or they may just forget about it for awhile.

Which means that if you don't like the interpretation of your favorite superhero in their latest movie you have to give up on that entire "generation". If you don't like Snyder's style then not only has he made a movie that you happen not to like, he actually has "ruined" your chances to see a Superman movie you do like for at least 5-10 years. And the more successful the movie is the more likely there will be sequels and the longer until it gets rebooted into something you might possibly like.

So not only are you unhappy with Snyder for "ruining" it, you're unhappy with the people who do like it for validating that stylistic choice, and you're unhappy with the financial success. Because all of that means that there won't be an early reboot. There will be more Snyder-esque DC movies that you don't like instead of possibly DC movies in some other style that you might like.

On the other hand no one really cares if the latest movie to reinterpret Snow White does so in a way they don't really appreciate. They may not like the movie, but they don't accuse the studio of having ruined Snow White. Because in another year or two (and in some years in just another month or two!) there will be another Snow White movie with a different interpretation.

Under any kind of sane copyright system Superman and Batman would be in the public domain by now. In such a world DC would still be making tentpole "official franchise" Superman movies, because why wouldn't they? But if you didn't like what DC was doing then some other studio would be doing their own interpretation of Superman that you might like better.

I think there might be a lot less acrimony about the whole thing in such a world.
movies

Batman vs Superman - Non Spoilery

We went to see Batman vs Superman over the weekend.

It's not good, it's not bad, it's just meh.

There are some individually good bits, there are some individually bad bits, but my overall impression was just that it was kind of dull. Also dark. Dark and dull.

If you want to see spoilery and very snarky text review, Rob Bricken has come to the rescue as usual with a Spoiler FAQ:
http://io9.gizmodo.com/batman-v-superman-spoiler-faq-of-justice-1767720335

If you want to see a spoilery but less snarky video review, there's this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE4YgpkRGtI

If you want to see a much longer spoilery review (an hour long, and i haven't actually finished it yet myself) you could check this out:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOupZ8luUwc

Here are my non-spoilery thoughts:

Good bit: The movie practically opens with Superman getting some comeuppance for inadvertently murdering thousands of people in Man of Steel.

Bad bit: It doesn't do a great job of making that comeuppance feel meaningful. After processing Rob's Spoiler FAQ, i suspect that Snyder still doesn't understand that Superman killing lots of people is bad, and therefore was unable (or possibly just unwilling) to invest it with as much emotional weight as it deserved.

Good bit: Batman was a kinda okay character.

Bad bit: But the movie _actually_ opens with yet another goddamn retelling of Batman's origin story.

Bad bit: And Batman also murders a lot of people.

Bad bit: Also, Batman either doesn't seem insane enough or seems too sane, depending on which way you want to approach things.

Good bit: Wonder Woman was awesome.

Bad bit: Except for the part where she sits down to watch a trailer for the next movie in the series.

Bad bit: Also, there are way too many dream/vision sequences in this movie.

Bad bit: There are more jump scares than i want in a movie. (Correct number for me: 0)

Bad bit: The trailers are very intentionally misleading about the nature of the movie. (Big surprise, i know.)

TL;DR: Too many plot threads that weren't explained well enough and weren't integrated well enough, too many people doing weird things for insufficiently explained reasons, and too many weird things happening with no good explanation whatsoever. And some good action bits mixed in with all the other strange, dull, confusing stuff.

I think that's about as much as i can get into without spoilers, which i will save for the next (or technically, previous) post.

Edit: Oh yes, i also think it made a bit too much use of quick cuts during action scenes and a bit too much shakey cam during non-action scenes. My tolerance for that kind of thing is pretty low though, so it may not bother most people. (Such things don't make me feel sick like some people, they just annoy me.)
Anime: Ukyo

VCA Contest Results

The VCA contest wrapped up last week. If you've got an account you can see the results here. As expected, two well done videos that i personally did not appreciate from an artistic viewpoint managed to sweep up 7 awards between them. but a couple of videos i liked managed to sneak through. So how good a job did i do at influencing the outcome?

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I think it's worth reiterating, especially in this context, that just because a video wasn't my favourtie doesn't mean it was bad. The two the cleaned up at the awards were _very_ well done, i was just personally annoyed by some of the themes and source material.

But in any case, the videos i really liked went on to the finalist round in 53/120 cases, or about 44%. The videos i _voted_ for went on to the finalist round in 44/120 cases, or about 37%. The reason for the disparity is that in many categories there were more videos that i liked than slots i could nominate for. So in many cases what would have been my #6 choice or #7 choice or etc made it in.

As far as actually winning goes, videos that i really liked made it in 9/24 cases, or about 37%, and the ones i voted for won in 4/24 cases, or about 17%.

But wait! There's more! There were also the editor categories!

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So for some reason i rocked in the editor section! I voted for 10 of the 20 nominees and 3 of the 4 winners! So 50% and 75% success rate!

Interestingly, if you eliminate the categories in which the two stellar videos won, then my "favorites got nominated" rate stays steady at about 45%, while the "voted for nominees" rate actually _drops_ to 32%. However as expected the "one of my favorites won" and "voted for the winner" values skyrocket to 53% and 23% respectively. But obviously if i had the magical power to dictate the categories and/or results then very quickly my success rate would shoot to 100% :)
Games: Stardew Valley

First Stardew Valley World Problems

My brain seems to run into the same difficulties with Stardew Valley that i do with boardgames.

I will come up with elaborate long range plans. And sometimes those plans will come off perfectly and everything will be great! Especially early on in the game when my resources were limited and therefore the range of possibilities were limited.

But other times, especially now that i have plenty of resources to work with, i will have a plan to do tasks W, X, Y, and Z during a day. And then i'll discover that there are some prerequisites for W that i forgot about and i need to do tasks Q and R first. And then i'll realize that you can't do both X and Y at the same time. And then i'll realize that in doing X i've used up some of the resources i needed for Z. And then just to make things complicated a mini-quest will pop up that adds in task G. And finally at the end of the day i'll realize that i entirely forgot about task D which i really ought to have been doing instead.

So aside from that i just made it through the first year of the game and things are going pretty well.

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Anime: Ukyo

Favorite AMVs From 2016 VCAs

I've finished watching all 196 AMVs in the AnimeMusicVideos.org VCAs. Or rather, all that are available, there were one or two that weren't downloadable.

So this year i'm going to mix things up a bit by just listing a bunch of my favorites without waiting to see which make it to the finals.

Starting with one of my favorite kinds of AMVs from this year by one of my favorite editors,

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And finally, the food porn!

For some reason there were _three_ food porn videos this year. Actually i suspect the reason is that the anime featured in two of them is probably newish.

But in any case they all ended up in the "Fun" category (although some of them had noms in other categories as well) and because of a coincidence in the editors names they showed up in and order where each one was more food porny than the one before it.

And, uh, i'm using the term "food porn" very literally in this case. The first video is just fine, but after that, i would probably not watch them at work if i were you.

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And that's it for my favorites! Well, probably. Given there were 195ish videos to sort through it's entirely possible i managed to miss one or more, even with my giant spreadsheet of doom, so there might or might not be an addendum later.
Games: Stardew Valley

On a lighter note: Stardew Valley

So i _was_ playing the new Master of Orion early access for awhile. (After 3/4ths of a game plus watching some Let's Plays, my impression is exactly what i expected. It's a well done Master of Orion 2 reboot that's vaguely disappointing to me as a Master of Orion 1 fan.)

But then i got distracted by Stardew Valley, which i'm blaming entirely on stormfeather ;)

Okay, to be fair i'm sure i'd have heard about it pretty soon anyways, given that it's up to almost half a million sales in the first two weeks (http://www.pcgamer.com/stardew-valley-sales/) which is pretty damn good for an indie title!

Anyways, i haven't played a _lot_ of it yet since as previously mentioned i've also been chugging through the AMV.org VCAs. I'm currently at about 7 hours of playtime and only 3/4ths of the way through the first month/season. (At least some of that playtime was the game being paused while i dug around in wiki pages and such =)

However at a $15 price tag i think i would say i've already gotten my money's worth out of it, even if it inexplicably tanks when i get to the next season :)

Obviously it's very much like Harvest Moon. It's also giving me a bit of a Recettear vibe, probably because of the dungeon delving in the Mine and having to juggle time between maintaining your base of operations vs doing more of that dungeon delving. However i admittedly haven't played a lot of the Harvest Moon games so maybe some of them had a dungeon element as well and i'm just not aware of it.

I definitely haven't been playing in a very optimal manner. I almost certainly should be keeping more crops in rotation. I definitely should have opened up the extra section of the beach earlier. Instead of buying the backpack expansion first i probably should have saved the money for strawberry seeds at the Egg Hunt Festival. On the plus side though i did encounter the warning that the chicken coop is an unnecessary money sink early in the game before buying it.

I also wish i'd checked ahead of time and found out that same-sex marriages are allowed in the game. If so i'd probably have made a female avatar. (I also kind of wish there was a dateable girl who was gothy _and_ geeky, but i've already got Avalyn in real life so i guess i can't complain too much ;)

In any case i'm sure i'll be playing more of this, especially after the VCA semifinals round wraps up. I'll probably get back to Master of Orion 4 at some point too, but who knows when that will be.
YouKnewThisWasComing (HAL)

Alternative Voting

For some strange reason i've been thinking about politics lately =P Which has gotten me thinking about election systems again. (Have i posted about this before? If so, too bad for you!)

If you're not already familiar with the problems with "First Past the Post" voting systems (aka what we do in the US all the time) i strongly suggest checking out CGP Grey's video series on voting systems, starting with the aptly named "The Problems with First Past the Post Voting Explained": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

I think anyone who really cares about the issue agrees that anything would be better than first past the post, but past that the merits of the different systems vary. So here's a system that seems pretty good to me. It would only be applicable to the House of Representatives, but would do an excellent job in that arena.

This method would really only work for the House of Representatives, but i think it would work admirably for that purpose.

(And i suppose i should insert a disclaimer here, none of this is particularly original. It's just me piecing together bits of ideas that others have come up with into the structure that seems most appealing to me.)

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Realistically speaking though, i'd be pretty darn happy if we could just get STV implemented for our current election system. (Not that that's likely to happen either =P)
OmgPonies!

Friday "Fun" Stuff

So this came out last friday, just barely too late to make it into last week's post about Final Fantasy stuff

Top 10 Video Game Theme Covers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogX8Ygecxuc

Speaking of video game covers though, have i mentioned before that Extra Credits, one of my favorite educational YouTube channels, has a series on remix artists? Sadly there are only about a dozen episodes and they haven't made any more in awhile, but the ones they do have are good.

Extra Remix: All Episodes
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhyKYa0YJ_5DXcFVYYJLcNuNQ0ISa7rPQ

And speaking of educational channels, both "Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell" CGP Grey came out with new videos recently.

Kurzgesagt did "Why The War on Drugs Is a Huge Failure"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJUXLqNHCaI

And CGP Grey has "Zebra vs Horses (Americapox Part 2)"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOmjnioNulo

Which is obviously a follow-up to "Americapox: The Missing Plague"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEYh5WACqEk

Hmm, we're gone from video game music, to the drug war and mass incarceration, to genocide. Very "fun" stuff =P

Maybe we should see what i've linked to on twitter recently instead?

"Chris Christie’s wordless screaming"
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2016/03/02/chris-christies-wordless-screaming/

Well that's funny, though still kind of depressing, what else?

"The rise of American authoritarianism"
http://www.vox.com/2016/3/1/11127424/trump-authoritarianism

...not helping!

Well as long as we're talking about Trump anyways, i'm sure most people have seen this already, but:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Donald Trump (HBO)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnpO_RTSNmQ

I'm not sure how i feel about trying to defuse Trump by referring to him by a name that sounds a bit silly, but the video is certainly funny at least. (And contained a couple tidbits about Trump's suckitude that i didn't know before.)

Ok, to try and end things an an upbeat note, and get back to the theme of music, how about a new Doubleclicks song about Star Wars?

PROTOCOL (C-3Po's Lament) - The Doubleclicks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5xSvXJdt9k

...well okay, it is a Lament, but compared to some of the previous stuff it's positively cheery!