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Zagorath

@Zagorath@aussie.zone

Formerly /u/Zagorath on the alien site.

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Zagorath,
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The Extended Edition was like the HD Edition of Age of Empires 2 (now called “Age of Empires II (2013)” on Steam). This is more like the Definitive Edition. Significant graphics improvements (as opposed to just taking the existing graphics and upscaling them), as well as new content and probably QoL improvements.

Zagorath,
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AoM: Retold is using the AoE3: DE engine, according to comments made back around the time it was first announced.

Which is amusing, since AoE3: DE’s engine is based on the original AoE3 engine, which in turn was based on the original engine of AoM.

Zagorath,
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I know this is a controversial take, but I really intensely do not like Half Life.

I have issues with it from a narrative perspective. I have no idea who it is I’m fighting or why. It feels like an incredibly forced “oh, we need an excuse to throw some baddies at the player” premise.

But the main problem I had was mechanical. It’s just not a fun game to play. The gunplay was fine, but then it forces itself to throw a bunch of puzzle and platforming mechanics at you, and just…why? It’s so, so terrible at them. Running up to the edge and jumping will more often than not really in you falling because of a misalignment in perceived location and where the game’s engine says you are. Boxes, which you have to move around to solve the puzzling, fly around at a million miles per minute, making the fine control needed to successfully solve the puzzles very, very difficult. And ladders…don’t even get me started about ladders.

I couldn’t bring myself to finish the first Half Life, let alone start on the sequel.

Zagorath,
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I’m not a big shooter player. I had played a fair bit of Battlefield 2 multiplayer, the CoD4 campaign multiple times, as well as games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 (the first game with that title…) and Mass Effect (I think at the time I had played only 1 and 2).

I actually thought I had played the Source version of it, but my Steam history says otherwise. I was playing the OG version, in 2014.

Zagorath,
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Sure, and I am in no way suggesting that it was a bad game in its day (especially now that I know at least one of the issues I had with it was a bug introduced long after the fact). But I am suggesting that it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as some people like to insist it does. It’s the “Seinfeld is unfunny” trope, except that that relies on the idea that people today don’t find Seinfeld very funny; the difference is that I regularly see people saying that yes, Half Life is still an excellent game if you play it today.

And for what it’s worth, the game I have put the most hours into on Steam (and by 2x the 2nd place game—which is a more recent entry in the same franchise) was released just 10 months after the original Half Life. Granted, I’m playing on a 2019 remaster with upgraded graphics and some new QoL features, but it’s the same basic game, and had a vibrant community still playing on the 1999 version all the way up until the '19 remaster. It’s a game that I think really does hold up very well today, albeit in an entirely different genre.

Zagorath,
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Thtat’s the one! (And my #2 is AoE4. AoM is #3, and AoE3 is #5. All these considering only Steam play time.)

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Haha yeah, when I was young I played a fair amount of Age games, but never playing them in their normal intended fashion. A lot of using the cheats, playing the campaigns on easy mode, and some custom scenarios that largely don’t use actual economy management that’s at the core of the game.

Only got into the more competitive side of the game after the DE release in 2019.

Zagorath,
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Note: this is copy/pasted from my comment on the Nebula version. Time codes might be slightly off.

The stock clip used at 3:20 involving a driver unabashedly on their phone is brilliant.

The 5:45 clip of a dude in a bigfoot costume cycling through Tokyo was unexpected.

6:00 the self-shout-out had me laugh out loud.

The idea of lowering local street speed limits not actually making your trip take much longer is so true. Brisbane-based cycling safety advocate Chris Cox has a video where he gives a demonstration. He drives the same route twice, once sticking to 30 km/h on the local streets, and once trying his best to get up to the speed limit of 50 km/h on those streets. (Driving to the predominantly 60 km/h speed limit on arterial roads.) The video on the whole is actually incredibly similar to this one, down to the safety/speed curve, the FOV comparisons, and the dismissal of the ridiculous arguments against 30 km/h. Because yeah, Jason’s words in the conclusion to this video are so right: the data is really, really, really clear here; at some point we have to realise that anybody fighting against lower speed limits within cities is either wilfully ignorant or they’re a selfish arsehole who values their convenience more than other people’s safety. But here’s a timestamped link to the bit of Chris’s video where he starts his experiment. It took a whopping 9 extra seconds. 9 seconds, on a 10 minute journey.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Ek=1/2 mv^2

fwiw, Lemmy actually supports both subscript and superscript, though the syntax is a little weird if you’re used to Reddit. ~text~ is subscript, ^text^ is superscript. (Unfortunately support on mobile clients—even Jerboa, made by the official Lemmy devs—is rather lacking.)

Ek=1/2mv^2^

But yeah, that’s a really good point. I wonder how long you’d have to be travelling at 60 km/h to make that extra acceleration worth it in terms of fuel efficiency.

As a separate question: people would probably often be willing to sacrifice their fuel efficiency if it meant substantially shorter travel times. I wonder how much this would actually work. On highways it’s definitely going to be a huge factor, but on the sorts of inner-city stroads that are usually posted at 60 km/h, I suspect you’ll probably arrive at most of the same red lights accelerating up to 40 km/h as someone getting all the way up to 60 would. Would be an interesting experiment to conduct.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

I don’t think he tossed it out completely without comment. He simply pointed to the graph and said (or at least implied) “yeah you can keep decreasing it if you drop speed further, but this is the point at which it seems the return on investment starts significantly decreasing”.

I get the impression from your comment that this is the first NJB video you’ve come across. It might seem strange in that context. But this is one piece in a large history of discussing what makes good road safety, urban infrastructure, and city planning. For example, one thing that he didn’t really discuss in this video but has mentioned many times before is how the most effective way to slow down drivers is actually not just lowering the speed limit, but changing the design of the road to make drivers feel unsafe driving at higher speeds. Things like objects near the side of the road, narrowing the road, making it less straight, making corners at intersections sharp right angles rather than smooth curves, etc. And this video doesn’t talk at all about the importance of infrastructure that encourages cycling outside of merely lower speed cars.

The “goal” is…complicated. Because there are a whole bunch of different factors that reinforce each other in a virtuous way. Safety, happiness, health, economics. Good urban design is good for all of them and more. Even just lowering the speed limit increases the safety for cyclists, which increases the rate of cycling, which is good for health, environment, government budget, and small businesses’ bottom lines.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

The stock clip used at 3:20 involving a driver unabashedly on their phone is brilliant.

The 5:45 clip of a dude in a bigfoot costume cycling through Tokyo was unexpected.

6:00 the self-shout-out had me laugh out loud.

The idea of lowering local street speed limits not actually making your trip take much longer is so true. Brisbane-based cycling safety advocate Chris Cox has a video where he gives a demonstration. He drives the same route twice, once sticking to 30 km/h on the local streets, and once trying his best to get up to the speed limit of 50 km/h on those streets. (Driving to the predominantly 60 km/h speed limit on arterial roads.) The video on the whole is actually incredibly similar to this one, down to the safety/speed curve, the FOV comparisons, and the dismissal of the ridiculous arguments against 30 km/h. Because yeah, Jason’s words in the conclusion to this video are so right: the data is really, really, really clear here; at some point we have to realise that anybody fighting against lower speed limits within cities is either wilfully ignorant or they’re a selfish arsehole who values their convenience more than other people’s safety. But here’s a timestamped link to the bit of Chris’s video where he starts his experiment. It took a whopping 9 extra seconds. 9 seconds, on a 10 minute journey.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

For anyone who see the preview back in February, this is not exactly surprising, but it certainly brings home the reality of the situation—that the preview did not unfairly represent the actual game.

This deeply upsets me, because the Age of Empires franchise is one I really care about. 1, 2, 3, 4, and Age of Mythology are all excellent games, and every one of them belongs in the top 20 RTS games of all time. Microsoft might not be developing this game (that’s getting outsourced to Chinese company TiMi with a history of producing trash mobile games), but they are tarnishing their brand by allowing it to be associated with this game.

But it gets worse. They are apparently also silencing critics of it. Back when February’s announcement came out, some select few creators were allowed to put out videos about the game using exclusive footage of the game, and were told they’d be paid for their role in promoting the game. But they retained editorial control over the videos. YouTube channel Age of Noob put out one such video, and while tempered in its tone, it was largely negative.

Yesterday, the YouTube channel Age of Noob put out a video saying he never got paid, as well as more specifically saying how bad the game was. Today, he put out another one saying he was forced to take down that one (in vague terms—it would not even be clear he was talking about AoE Mobile, if you hadn’t seen the first video). In a pinned comment he also said that after making the second video, he found out he had been removed from the Age Franchise Partners programme.

If this is how Microsoft is willing to treat their biggest game franchise (well, biggest one that they didn’t buy after it was already huge), and the creators that help promote it, that is incredibly disappointing.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

It’s honestly shocking. They went for a decade with heaps of trashy mobile games advertising using stolen AoE art assets. When they finally announced a mobile game, I assumed it was because they thought they had cracked how to do a good mobile game that would do justice to their franchise. I guess the reality was more “oh, look how many companies are making lots of money ripping off our IP. We could rip off our own IP and make all that money!”

Zagorath,
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I think the answer there would be “capitalism”.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

I started playing the original game ages ago but got distracted by life, and finally picked it up again a couple of months ago. The game is honestly very janky and unpolished, much more than I remember it being the first time I was playing, but it’s still so much fun. It was refreshing to see in their announcement video that they acknowledge that the first game didn’t live up to their hopes, and that with a bigger budget and more experience, the sequel should get them closer to their dream.

Some thoughts:

  • Holy shit the voice actor for Henry is Henry. I had no idea he was modelled off of him that closely.
  • Hand cannons!!!
  • Wonder what year this’ll be set in. The original was 1403. Are we skipping forward a few years or picking up right where we left off?
  • Will we get to see further development of the tiny amount of Hussite stuff we got in the last game? I found the vast majority of times the game touched on religion last game to be tedious and preachy, except for the hints of the upcoming theological conflicts.
  • Where will the expanded map take us? I was doubting it’d extend to Prague, until they mentioned that it would be dealing with kings. And honestly I’d love to go to Prague.
Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Not sure the ADL is really a reputable organisation worth looking to as and authority on what is and is not hate. They’re an explicitly zionist organisation with a history of defending genocide.

That said, this particular article seems completely fair. They don’t say the ok gesture is a symbol of hate, only that it is sometimes used that way. Which is accurate.

But also:

Since the early 1800s, the gesture increasingly became associated with the word “okay” and its abbreviation “ok.”

Whoops guys, got that one wrong. OK is the , and okay is a lengthened form of that.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

I’d like to know what source that page is using. What does it count as “gaming”? Because too often, these stats include both intentional and incidental gaming. Those are my terms because I don’t know what the official terminology is, but it’s a distinction that I know gets talked about in serious circles and it’s worth making here. When people talk about who is a “gamer”, they instinctively always mean people who have made a deliberate decision to sit down and play a game now. They don’t mean “oh I’m bored, let me pull out the phone and play a round of Candy Crush”.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Me too…mostly.

Only it’s over 20 years old. And it’s still getting expansions, all except for the latest of which I have bought.

And it’s not “just as good”, it’s way better than it was back in 1999.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Haha, yup.

I was a bit misleading though, because I also play a lot of the 2.5-year-old AoE4, and a tiny amount of AoM and AoE3 (and expect the amount of AoM to go way up later this year when Retold comes out).

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Yeah it’s pretty incredible. I don’t know if I ever played without at least resource cheats as a kid.

I do remember knowing the triangle infantry beats cavalry beats archers, but also thinking “more expensive units must be better”. So I would build m@a-line to counter scouts or knights, rather than spear-line. I probably never built more than 20 vills, either.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

and I can’t get myself to come back to that save

Honestly this happens to me in every grand RPG. If I go more than a month without playing, I’m starting over. Too difficult to pick up where I left off what with understanding my character, my skills, the quests I was doing, etc.

I’ve done it multiple times with Elder Scrolls games, with Mount & Blade, and most recently with Kingdom Come: Deliverance.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

New platform?

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Under normal circumstances, I’d never recommend a remake/remaster of a game, but the Reignited Trilogy is the only acception so far.

I don’t have a strong memory of the original, and I haven’t actually played the remaster, but was the Crash remaster not also good?

I would definitely add the Age of Empires Definitive Editions to that list, too. 2 and 3, at least. And fingers crossed for Age of Mythology Retold.

Zagorath,
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Gateway to Glimmer was the one I owned as a kid, playing a bunch of 1 at a friend’s house and renting 3 a few times from the video rental store. I had really fond memories of the unique mechanics in 3 and was very excited to see the game remastered so I could finally sit down and play through the whole thing in one relatively short amount of time.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

I don’t wanna know who, I wanna know how

Like, these things don’t have any exposed ports to plug in a USB, do they?

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

At one point Jason talks about how tragic it is that it takes a death for the council to do something about making a road safer.

Which is definitely true, but gods even that makes me wish I had a council as good as the ones in Montreal. Brisbane City Council doesn’t even give a fuck when there is a death. There can be a cyclist die on a road where safety advocates have been saying for years there’s a dire need for safety upgrades, and they still won’t even countenance improving the safety. They’d rather spend council resources repeatedly removing the ghost bikes set up at the location memorialising the killed cyclist.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

First of all, if you don’t wanna watch it, you could just…not watch it? No need to vice signal by announcing it to the whole world.

But second, you don’t pay for Nebula to watch this one video. You pay for Nebula as a way to support the dozens of creators on the platform, including many of the best urbanist channels including the one whose community you are currently visiting. And to get this and all the other Nebula-exclusive videos on the platform, most of which are merely addendums to public YouTube videos, but some of which are full exclusives. And to get all the videos ad-free.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

but he is also one of the most entry-level urbanism YTers

Is he? He’s certainly very common entry-point into urbanism, but I don’t think that’s the same as being entry-level. I actually think he’s the best of the big urbanists.

Oh the Urbanity often seems to excuse some poor urbanism, and even when they aren’t doing that I find them far too neoliberal for my tastes.

CityNerd is brilliant, and he has a bunch of excellent videos. I particularly like the ones where he shows his gravity model for high speed rail. But he also does a hell of a lot of listicles which I can’t say are the greatest of high-quality content.

RMTransit does some good videos on fundamental topics, but his scope is very narrow—almost exclusively public transport, rather than other urbanist topics like cycling, walkability, different kinds of density & zoning, etc. I find them to be frequently very dry and not really focused as much on urbanism as it is on technical considerations. Interesting, but often more for the same reason I watch Wendover, rather than the same reason I watch NJB.

City Beautiful is probably my second-favourite of the urbanists. He covers a great diversity of topics in great quality. There’s just something that for me at least means I less often feel the calling to rewatch his videos to double-check a point then I do with Jason Slaughter’s videos.

Zagorath,
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If it’s at all of interest to you, there are a bunch of good novels set in the Forgotten Realms, too.

There’s a pretty great thread from just a few years ago on the Candlekeep forums where someone read through every single book and gave a brief review of them. I can’t remember their opinion in great detail, but the biggest authors (Ed Greenwood and Bob Salvatore) were relatively lowly rated, while Elaine Cunningham and Erin M. Evans consistently rated much more highly.

I’ve never read Cunningham myself, but I’ve read all of Evans’ FR novels and am a huge fan. Plan to read her non-FR novels once I’m finished with what I’m currently working through, if I can find a copy that’s not from the rainforest company.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Was trickier to find than I thought because of the unorthodox title. But here it is.

It’s a 35 page thread with others chiming in with their thoughts as the original author makes his way through the list, and some summing up on pages 33 & 34. And technically still ongoing as new books slowly trickle out, though most of it was finished in 2020.

Unfortunately it looks like the author never fully finished his wrap-up either. He said he was gonna do favourite series, fav individual books, fav authors, and misc comments, but only ended up doing the first two of those as far as I could see.

Personally I mostly read through the reviews of Evans’ books back when I first saw the thread, and my vague recollection was that he/others liked them and mentioned also liking Cunningham, but I could be misremembering.

Happy to provide my own review of Evans’ work if interested.

Zagorath,
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I’ve really struggled with the first of Evans’ Brimstone Angels series for a long time, too. The rest of the series was easy to come by, but the first one goes for over $100 second hand.

My local library had it for a while, but seems to have gotten rid of it. Thankfully, all Evans’ books are excellently narrated in audiobook, and are also available in ebook (including easily pirated, which I don’t feel too bad about considering I’ve bought the physical copy of all but the first, as well as the audiobooks of all of them).

I would guess the same should be true of Cunningham’s works, though I haven’t looked. (And the quality of the audio narration may not be as excellent. I know the narrator of the small number of Greenwood books I read was less than stellar.)

Zagorath,
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Evans only has one standalone novel and one 6-book series.

The standalone: The God Catcher is set in Waterdeep, and is about the daughter of a minor noble who flunks out of wizard school and becomes a rogue, getting caught up in the scheme of some dragons who have found a way to bypass Waterdeep’s mythal and get into the city. It’s a fun ride.

The series is the Brimstone Angels series, about two twin tieflings abandoned at birth and adopted by a curmudgeonly single dad dragonborn. The prologue shows one of the twins accidentally forming a warlock pact with a devil. The biggest ongoing appeals of this series are:

  • the nature of an infernal warlock pact and the relation between the warlock and patron
  • the experience of a race that internally is absolutely no different to humans (unlike, say, half-orcs, which are canonically actually more likely to be aggressive) but which are perceived as evil
  • the politics of the Nine Hells (her patron becomes, especially as the series goes on, a sort of deuteragonist of the series, and we see a lot of internal political dealings, schemes, etc. between different devils of different ranks)

If you’ve read the 5e Player’s Handbook, the quotes that are at the start of the tiefling and dragonborn racial entries both come from this series. The tiefling one is part of the prologue of book 1 (Brimstone Angels) and the dragonborn one is—from memory—from book 5 (Ashes of the Tyrant). The last two books are especially good if you’re interested in dragonborn, or if you like creative fantasy world building in general, because Evans’ background before she got into writing was in anthropology, and the dragonborn culture was not very heavily fleshed out previously, so she had a lot of leeway to do some really cool unique work with them. She’s got a number of articles on her blog about draconic language and dragonborn culture as sort of fun supplemental material. Here’s part 1 of “playing a Dragonborn in the Forgotten Realms”. There are also parts 2 and 3 of that series, plus 2 posts of the draconic language.

Book 4 is set in Cormyr, and deals a lot with Cormyrian politics. The closest parallel to which in more popular fantasy that I can think of is Wheel of Time’s Andoran succession crisis

Book 3 was explicitly part of WotC’s The Sundering, a series of books set around the time of the Second Sundering, the in-world explanation for the rule and setting changes between 4th and 5th edition. But Evans was allowed to set all of her remaining books 3–6 during the intermediary period, so book 6 climaxes basically right as the Sundering itself is hitting the world, which plays into her story threads in a major way.

There’s stuff about how Asmodeus came to be a god, how tieflings came to look like they do in 4th and 5th edition, how Azuth returned to life after being presumed dead, and a brief excursion to Toril’s twin plane of Abeir, the magic-less land ruled by dragon tyrants from which the dragonborn escaped.

There’s one other of her blog posts that I’d like to recommend, but I’m putting it down here because it’s a little different. It’s less a lore thing and more something interesting in the writing. Good if you want interesting ideas for narrating at a table, maybe, but mostly interesting if you’re interested in hearing about the writing process. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys seeing the “behind-the-scenes” of movies and the like. It’s this one where she’s talking about how she weaves in a game mechanic into the narrative in a seamless but necessary way. Specifically, how she used a 4e “healing surge” in the first book, a mechanic that was often derided by people who didn’t like 4e because of how unrealistic it was, but which she utilised in a way that was both flawless and entirely necessary (because the character doing it had used an ability that required they be below half health, and then later in the same scene used one that required they be above half health, to be faithful to the game rules).

But yeah, it’s safe to say that I’m a huge fan, and highly recommend her. Unfortunately if audiobook is not an option, book is the only way to get the first Brimstone Angels book, unless you’re lucky enough to have a library with it. But at least when I was buying 6 or so years ago, all the other books in the series were easy to get a hold of.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Oh, I’ll just also add that she’s got two other books set in her own world that I know of. I think at least a third is planned. And next year the classic MMORPG RuneScape is releasing a book set in its world’s past written by her. I’ve not read any of these, but plan to.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

No worries! If you didn’t already see it, I wrote a fairly lengthy review of the Evans novels in response to another user a few comments down in this thread.

Regarding Drizzt, my understanding is that “mixed things” is basically right. Some of the books are very well-liked, and others are not so much. My own personal experience is only that I’ve tried listening to the audiobook of The Companions, the Drizzt novel which is the first of The Sundering series. But I’ve ended up bouncing off of it twice, just not really caring about the characters.

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

your passwords are still as safe as your master password is

They’re as safe as your master password is…and as the encryption is. LastPass famously got hacked recently, and in the aftermath of that many users noticed that their vault was encrypted using very small numbers of rounds of PBKDF2. The recommended number of rounds had increased, but LastPass left the number actually used too low for some users, rather than automatically increasing it. Users of Bitwarden and any other password vault should ensure that their vault is using the strongest encryption available.

Self hosting wouldn’t really be a huge help there

Well, self-hosting makes you a smaller target. The most determined attackers are likely going to go after the biggest target, which is going to be a centralised service with thousands of users’ vaults. If you host it yourself they probably won’t even know it exists, so unless there’s reason for someone to be specifically targeting you (e.g. you’re a public figure), or you get hacked by some broad untargeted attack, you might be better off self-hosted from a purely security standpoint.

(That said, I still use centrally-hosted Bitwarden. The convenience is worth it to me.)

Zagorath,
@Zagorath@aussie.zone avatar

Yeah at this point it’s considered likely that LastPass vaults are being cracked, based on LP being the common link between various other accounts that are being breeched.

A small number of rounds of encryption being the default for users with old enough accounts is believed to be a significant part of the issue. It means even if their password was a good one, the vault can be brute forced comparatively quickly.

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