February 03, 2023

Return to Monkey island

My next session (as seen from yesterday) with Return to Monkey island turned out to be the last one I needed. That one puzzle took some semi-wild clicking about and travel back and forth, but then the dam broke and everything pretty much flowed until the end credits.

So, what do I think, as a series fan of 33 (yikes!) years?

I loved it, but it interestingly took all the way past the credits until that feeling really clicked.

Emotional spoilers ahead

I will explain how it clicked, and write about my feelings along the way. In the wider uses of the word that could be considered spoilers, so do not read if you have not finished the game and want to do so without knowing anything more.

This place has changed

To start, let me be very clear: I had a good time all the way thorugh. How could I not, with a classic point-and-click adventure game made by legendary creators and all the resources in place to do the ideas justice.

Importantly, I think everything came out just the way Ron Gilbert and team wanted it, or as close as is ever possible when ideas collide with reality. Everything feels so … solid, such a whole thing. Polished to just the right level of shine.

At some point, it dawned on me that I had spent many, many years as a gamer without trusting game creators. Always expecting the rug to be pulled from underneath me, saving and reloading all the time to conserve resources and abilities to backtrack in case the game got stuck in some hopeless state. This is never an issue with Ron Gilbert games, my trust is complete on all levels, from lack of showstopper bugs to rug-pulling, to not needing to memorize outrageous things. I am always free to explore and enjoy, and it even feels as if I can develop a sense of how the game wants me to solve puzzles. I get to feel smart, as if I have seen the matrix, and if that is not excellent game design then I do not know what is.

With all that in mind, I often found myself wishing for a slightly different game. (This is the part which will be thrown by the plot twist at the end!) One that was not quite so steeped in references to the previous games. One which went more in its own new directions. I was wondering if that would have resulted in a even more interesting adventure with even broader appeal.

Then, I finished the game and got a perfect mixed bag of feelings from it. I anticipated some parts, and was annoyed that things turned out exactly like that, while another part of me was smiling at my reaction, knowing that it could not and should not end any other way, feeling that Ron Gilbert had led me perfectly down the path he wanted.

The credits finished rolling, and I do not recall if the scrap book came up automatically or if I clicked over to it myself. In any case, I paged through it and found the last addition.

That wrapped it all up in a perfect bow.

Yes, this game is exactly what it should be. I love it.

Sooo … any chance for more games? Pretty please?

(Yes, I am going to try Justin Wack and the big time hack.)

February 02, 2023

Waiting for the package manager

Ah, delivery windows.

I am sitting in the sunny living room, waiting for a package delivery. Few things tether me to the house like the risk of missing a delivery. No dog walks or other excursions before that happens! Fortunately, it is hard to mind when you have a sunny spot like this and a stomach full of lunch. It is more like the delivery freed me from a few other options I could otherwise have spent my lunch time on.

The delivery finally arrived, in the last half-hour of the assigned window. The dog was happier than usual to go for a brisk walk.

Power overwhelming

Niclas continues writing great blog posts, this time about making the venerable Griffin powermate useful on modern Macs thanks to Bettertouchtool. I am almost certain that I still have my Powermate in a box in the office, so this brings me closer than ever to purchasing Bettertouchtool, an investment so small and so right up my alley that I could have made it years ago.

Adventure gaming

Last night I made sudden and quick progress in Return to Monkey island. When I last left the game, I had a bunch of puzzles going at once, and little idea about how to proceed in any of them. That burst of solutions left me with one or at most two open threads, but unfortunately no new ideas about how to proceed on either of them.

I would think that there is a adventure game design term for this: a situation where solving one puzzle does not actually move anything forward with regard to solving any other puzzles.

I wonder if inspiration will strike, or if there will be a lot of random travel back and forth, trying random combinations of actions until I stumble on something. Right now I am at the familiar stage where I wonder if there is something major I have completely missed, or if something is even broken. That hopefully, usually, means the solution is staring me right in the face, just one correct click away. I will find out during my next play session!

February 01, 2023

Clear skies

As I keep on mentioning before anyone even has time to ask, running is probably my very best tool for clearing my mind. I will go for a run, and on the way whatever is truly bothering me will bubble up and have a chance to be grappled with. It will usually be something I had not quite realized the importance of beforehand, and I will usually make some concrete progress before I get back. Huge benefits, five stars, and so on.

Today, I went for a lunch run. A little hungry, a little sped up by perhaps a bit more coffee than was strictly necessary. The skies were becoming cloudier, my breath felt a bit more wheezy than usual, and there was no real feeling of flow.

And there was nothing on my mind. Nothing of any importance came bubbling up. As I think is the case for most people, my brain will usually only take a very, very short break once the latest rock (no matter the size of it) has been dealt with before generating the next. Either I managed to go for my run in that exact moment, or something else was going on.

My current theory is that because a few recent rocks have been about planning, my brain has been tricked into giving me an extended break because those planned events have not actually occurred yet.

How long will that last?

Who knows!

I would not be surprised if a new rock popped into being any second now, possibly related to more short-term preparations needed for the events. But I am perfectly happy floating in this little between space right now.

I wonder if I can make it happen more often?

January 31, 2023

VR, six years later

As sometimes happens, I found myself with a little bit of bus and foot commuting to do.

As sometimes happens, the list of new podcast episodes was empty. This is good, I do not want to have so many subscriptions that the list never emtpies.

As sometimes happens in such situations, I decided to re-listen to an episode or two of En podd om teknik.

In the extremely uncommon twist to the whole thing: one of them was episode 105, where I had the honour and pleasure of being a guest.

First, a side note: The episode was apparently far enough in the past that it does not really feel like I am listening to myself any more. Sure, it sounds a lot like me, and I recognize many thoughts and opinions, but the person talking seems to say somewhat better things than I recalled myself producing at the time.

Second, one of the topics we discussed was VR. It was July of 2017, I had just purchased my Playstation VR headset, and felt excited about the future of VR.

That has not changed. I still feel excited about the future of VR.

Unfortunately, listening back to the episode in early 2023, it feels like nearly nothing else has changed about VR, either. We had a nice jump in power with the Quest 2, and we have certainly had some more nice games. Nice, gradual improvements. But nothing else. I am willing to call it three years of evolution, tops, not nearly six.

Perhaps if Meta had not gone completely overboard with all the … meta … metaness, they would have had the time and focus to build something exciting? I feel like they were on the right path for a while there, but now? Why do I not know about any exciting new experiences? Why, oh why, can I not experience something like Mario kart's wildest visions of Rainbow road in VR?

By all means, figure out ways of letting me do more work in VR, too, if I want to. But focus on something, and make that incredible.

Writing this was good, now I at least got myself excited about some of the VR games I do have that I have not picked up in quite a while. I wonder if there is more good stuff for me to find out there …

January 30, 2023

Morning routines

Maja - our miniature dachshund - has very firm opinions on the way things should be.

This morning, she bounced out of bed as soon as I started making breakfast, had some water, then went over to the door to show that it was time to go out. That over with (and dark shadows in various corners thoroughly barked at), I went on with my breakfast expecting her to go back to bed. But no, instead she came rushing over, jumped at me to get my attention, backed off a bit and barked. Walking toward her to see what it was all about, she backed off, barked again, and ran over to the door to the living room.

Of course.

🐶: It took some work to get the stupid human to the right position, but now it is on the couch where it should be, so that I can curl up in its lap and sleep some more. Tea drinking and light computing is allowed, but do not rush to be anywhere else, okay?