On Trying to Not Be Spoiled

I’m trying not to be spoiled by blockbusters until I finally read/watch/play them. It’s harder than it seems, but I’ve managed it on more than one occasion. I got most of the way through Undertale without being spoiled, and my experience was all the better for it.

Though I have to admit there’s little middle ground with games for me. It’s either a bumbling blind playthrough or a robotic walkthrough.

Another one where I wasn’t spoiled before experiencing it was the name of the traitor in Payday 2′ Hoxton Revenge. Then again, I only had a <30 minute mission to sit through, not a long, detailed game.

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Sequel to Player Two Start

The sequel time line to the Player Two Start TL on alternatehistory.com has begun. Called Massively Multiplayer, it can be seen here.

Spoiler Warning

My favorite Let’s Play series of all time would have to be Shamus Young’s Spoiler Warning. You can see the videos here.

Combining knowledge of gaming with lots of fun, the cast has been skewering many games for quite some time. My favorite set is the Hitman Absolution one.

 

The hardest boss fight in history

The term “hardest boss fight” is used far too commonly. However, I have found one that takes the cake.

It started when I was watching Saltybet, and noticed (repeatedly), a character called “General”. Looking up the origins of the general, I found that he was from a game called Kaiser Knuckle (known as Global Champion in a small US release), an unsuccessful and otherwise unspectacular Street Fighter knockoff.

Stylistically, the General is nothing but a cheap imitation of the legendary M. Bison, but in gameplay terms is so hard that it took twenty years for proof of a legitimate victory to be posted.

This is the proof of the victory over the General.

The boss got so hard that the developers nerfed him in a subsequent (and never actually released) update to the game.

 

The General is a relic of an era of less-strict game design-only stronger to his cheap-boss compatriots in relative terms, but overwhelmingly stronger nonetheless. Whether due to rushing the game or just horrible quality control, what should have been dialed back in testing ended up as this footnote in history.

Sometimes a limit can be reached, and the General was apparently that limit.

One final note: It’s a sign of MUGEN munchkin arms races that the General is not on the absolute highest tier in Saltybet.

 

 

The visual novel gameplay paradox

There is a massive paradox I face with playing a lot of visual novels or text adventures. In theory, they should be less stressful, as there’s no gameplay beyond choose-your-own adventure choices. In practice, while I’ve played and enjoyed many of them, I find it often isn’t the case.

I think the paradox is this. The two default choices I have are either blunder my way through blindly and get the default bad ending, or robotically follow a guide. One you know won’t be as fulfilling, and the other has little sense of mystery.

Bad Fiction Spotlight: World War III 1946

There exists a particularly egregious timeline that in terms of its actual content is mediocre, but in terms of internet arguments is something else.

Something much like the previous Bad Fiction Spotlight subject, The Big One, but with far less technical knowledge on the part of the author.

That timeline is “World War III 1946“. The plot goes as follows.

-In 1943, a Mary Sue named “Sergo” starts work on super-tech projects for the USSR.

-In 1946, Stalin attacks west.

This started off as a scenario set/way to use the advanced planes in Il-2 Sturmovik. Then it became something worse. Rather than just being a narrative whose contents wouldn’t have been examined closely, Hairog [the author’s screen name] viciously defended it. There’s a reason I suspect he was so tough in the defense, but here’s the “what”.

Hairog based the land war off of contemporary worst-case plans by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Justifiably worried about the Eastern Front-winning Red Army but in many ways ignorant of the logistical and political problems said military would face, these plans involved retreating all the way to the Pyrenees and Sicily while conducting a heavy air attack.

(One genuine way to give the Soviets a free boost would be to have the Western Allies spook and retreat far more than they needed to, but Hairog didn’t portray it like that).

With hindsight, in 1946, central Europe was too shattered to support a substantial advance, and the Soviets needed to demobilize to save their economy and secure their new vassal states. Even many of the harshest critics said “give them a few years to catch their breath, and it’s more plausible”. Nope. Gotta be 1946.

The air war was ahistorical and crazy. With the aid of their omniscient spies (that can destroy the US nuclear program and provide essentially real-time updates on air raids), the Soviets foil everything with SAMs and launch a Second Battle of Britain (yes, with an entirely tactical air force). They have German wonder planes-see the inspiration in Il-2, as reenacted by the author:

The prose isn’t good, but it would sit in the forgettable middle of the bad fiction pack-

-if Hairog hadn’t spent hundreds and hundreds of pages across multiple boards defending every last bit of its plausibility. Countless ones, that consisted of him doing everything from simply shoving sources at people without understanding them to declaring that they were simple racist fools that couldn’t bear the thought of the Soviets actually winning.

I found the likely answer when I saw him referring to Sergo as “Hairogski” in an early post. It’s not about criticizing the Soviet plans, it’s about criticizing his plans. Plans that range from using B.F. Skinner’s pigeons as SAM guidance systems to making German midget subs into long-range raiders via mothership submarines.

My struggles and joy with a new PC

I now have a new gaming PC. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s been a mixed blessing.

See, I’ve had nothing but econo-computers (by the standards of the Moore’s Law cycle at the time) for literally my entire life. Getting a luxury computer is new to me, and I have to admit that going from undemanding plodders to a finicky high-performance beast is something that, in hindsight, got me in deeper than I expected.

But, from what has worked, the SSD-fueled tower is displaying great performance. It’s helping me learn about how to handle computers, and I still do not regret the purchase at all. (The musicians in my family have had issues with new electronic instruments that are very similar).

 

The SaltyBet Resort

Watching a considerable variety of matches on the infamous Saltybet, the natural fanfic concept is to imagine a resort where the hundreds and hundreds of men, women, monsters, memes, cars, contraptions, and whatever else the MUGEN designers have made rest between their matches. Saltybet is too varied to provide any coherent concept, but the thought is still amusing.

The Smash Bros. fandom has set a precedent with the so-called “Smash Mansion”, where instead of turning back into trophies, the characters stay there between matches and interact in fics that tend to be bad even by the standards of Sturgeon’s Law.

Of course, since the long, official name is “Salty’s Dream Cast Casino”, my headcanon imagines another resort, where the interdimensional elite view and bet on such matches for their entertainment.

So maybe I’m just too bored when I see a Saltybet match and think “Hmm, what about ____ relaxing after the battle”.

Or maybe it’s just my sense of craziness that leads me to make fanfic ideas merging a cutesy RPG and a technothriller.

Saltybet

Not only is there Video Game Championship Wrestling, there is also Saltybet. Saltybet is a long-running psuedo-betting service where members watch and bet (fake) currency on AI vs. AI matches in the classic MUGEN fighting game engine.

There is no attempt at a plot, just watching as a character that has no business being in a fighting game launches projectile after projectile over their tiny opponent.

So, the clock is ticking down, only a short time to place your virtual bet. The opponents are there-one fairly conventional fighting game character (or at least looking that way), against a tiny pixelated figure.

You take your chance on the small-hitbox. After all, the AI could just punch over their head.

So, then the fight starts. The small competitor jumps right into their opponent’s attacks. Looks like it can go both ways. The winner of that round’s betting was not you.
That is a typical Saltybet experience. I’m a ridiculously cautious bettor, unlike many users. In many cases it’s fun to just watch the silliness without even the tiny stress the betting provides.

Captain N revisited

There was a show starting in 1989, at the height of the NES boom. This show was sloppy and nonsensical even by the standards of toy commercial tie-in cartoons, and featured “adaptations” of numerous NES characters alongside a wish-fulfillment protagonist.

The show was called Captain N: The Game Master.

Naturally, the question was asked on Spacebattles as to what a modern Captain N would be like. Some answered, not unjustifiably, “Wreck-it Ralph”. I disagree.

Wreck-it Ralph actually avoided the pitfalls it might have encountered. The references are used as references before going to a story taking place almost entirely in an original game, making it a fun movie rather than the mix of brainless slapstick and references it could have been.

The context has changed, thanks to Nintendo’s iron-fisted approach to adaptations following the Super Mario Bros. film debacle and an increasingly aware internet. Everything is so different that including modern gamers (who are far more diverse than the stereotypical Kevin Keene), would just be anthetical to the show’s original character.

So, my reboot idea would be an 80s NES hero-gamer-in a set of more modern games, from deep-plot ones to sports games to grey dark to quirky. The poor hero would find out just how everything has grown and changed.

I would take care to keep the references in check, and not have it be “silly for its own sake”.