Japan reunion ^ 2

Sep. 18th, 2017 01:25 pm
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
[personal profile] dorchadas
[livejournal.com profile] melishus_b and her boyfriend came to visit us this weekend! And I've written about it in detail below.

detail, with pictures )

Next weekend we should see them again, since we'll be in Seattle for a wedding! Just like old times, at least for a brief moment.

Game Review: The Shivah

Sep. 14th, 2017 05:49 pm
dorchadas: (Not he who tells it)
[personal profile] dorchadas
Why do bad things happen to good people? What purpose does suffering serve? Is there some greater end, some trial through which G-d is putting us with the ultimate goal of tempering us, like steel hammered out on the forge? Or is it just a part of life that we have to learn to deal with, and maintain our own composure and avoid temptation while doing so? Does G-d understand the compromises that we have to make to exist in the imperfect world, or does He gaze sternly upon us and demand better?

And if you think there's a lot of questions in the preceeding paragraph, you should see some of the dialogue in this game.

The Shivah is the first commercial game by Dave Gilbert, of Wadjet Eye fame, though I wouldn't have guessed that just from playing it. That's partially because this is the "Kosher Edition," with voice acting and revamped graphics, but also because it's polished and very well designed without a lot of the pitfalls that adventure games usually fall into. I felt more like an investigator during the Shivah than I ever did during Gabriel Knight, and without any of the latter game's sleaziness. The Shivah is grounded, which is its greatest strength.

The Shivah detective rabbi
Adventure games.

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🍖 -> 🍗

Sep. 12th, 2017 02:31 pm
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
[personal profile] dorchadas
I made the first change in my lunch in five years, though it hasn't quite taken effect. Every day at work I have a steak salad with goat cheese and two vegetables chosen from tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, celery, zucchini, and mushrooms; a hard-boiled egg; and some dark chocolate. I decided to swap out the steak for roasted chicken and see if I like it, and if so, I'll switch over permanently. Enjoying the same food over and over saves me a lot of money--I've eaten the same breakfast for the last six years--but sometimes, a change is nice.

To my boundless surprise after my last post about it, the database upgrades apparently worked and it now runs as smooth as butter. Not a single crash or error yesterday or today. The real test is if it works through Friday. If so, I might be finally in the clear.

Might. I'm sure it'll be terrible in a couple months again.

I'm back to reading 世界の中心で while Aya-sensei is on vacation, and the protagonist is currently at a friend's house whose parents have a mussel farm. It means that there's a lot of animal-related terms that I have to keep stopping to look up. Sometimes I feel bad about about my animal-related Japanese vocabulary, and then I look up カワハギ and I realize I don't know what a thread-sail filefish is either. I at least know the common animals I'm likely to have to talk about in country living, like crows (烏), cranes (鶴), frogs (蛙), wild boar (猪), deer (鹿), cicadas (蝉), etc. You can just talk about fish by color, anyway, because that's all you can tell in a restaurant.

Exciting times.
dorchadas: (Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom)
[personal profile] dorchadas
Dramatis Personae:
  • Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
  • Father James, human disciple of the pidgit-folk.
  • Willow, human treesinger raised in Taira.
  • Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
  • Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Bonnie left soon after the snow fell, deciding after discussion with her father that she would return to Chai to continue her orator studies. She rode out with a caravan bound for Chai early in the Month of Frost after bidding farewell to the others, and then set her face to the east. The Green Knight also left a week later, his disciple Drifting Snow in tow, saying that it was the will of the forest spirits that called him elsewhere.

Some time later, Amos was walking through the new-fallen snow in the square outside the temple of the goddesses when he saw another human! A man dressed like a vagabond, playing a shell game for a trio of amanita who clearly did not understand the rapidly-spoken Muscalan that the human was giving his pitch in. Amos watched to see if the amanita would get swindled, but while one wandered away, the others actually won a small amount of money and the other human packed up his gear and left. Amos stood in the square for a while until he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was the human, who spoke in a British accent and introduced himself as Father James, a priest of Mark Twain, a god unfamiliar to Amos. They chatted for a short time until Shining Star stepped out of the temple and saw them, and she stopped to see who Amos was talking to. Moments later, another human stepped out of the tea house on the other side of the square and stopped in shock at the sight of two others from his own world of birth.

After an excited discussion in English between Willow, Father James, and Amos that Shining Star waited out politely, the four of them, along with a limping Elaphe, retreated into the tea house to drink rice wine and mushroom beer and swap stories. Over the next week and a half they got to know each other better and decided to go treasure-hunting. Shining Star and Amos were pushing for a strike against the Dragon Emperor, and while they knew they weren't powerful enough to do so now, they thought that finding more ancient artifacts and then performing a decapitation strike on the Dragon Empire and letting the Dragon Emperor's eight children fight a civil war in the ruins might be their best bet. With winter in effect and snow a yard high, they left on the 17th of the Month of Frost for the pipe that would take them through B'rabt to Rockfort and on to that pipe that led to the jungle.

On the way out of the city, they noticed people staring upward at the sky and turned to see that the Silent Ones were casting off the lines on the floating ship they were building over the Scarlet City. As the party watched, the propellers on one end began to turn and the ship began to move, accelerating forward and then turning in a wide arc toward the north, where it passed out of sight.

The trip to the jungle ziggurat ruins was uneventful. With Bonnie gone, there was no one who could speak B'rabti in the group, and while Shining Star could use the Royal Speech to make herself understood, they found no one who could or would speak back until they arrived at the tea house in the B'rabti town with the pipe to Rockfort. Willow attempted to use his charm and good looks to win them a better price on the room, but the mycon proprieter just glared at him and raised the price. They paid for a few extra days to stable their mounts and in the morning, went through the pipe and out of Rockfort into the wild. As they passed the farms that had been abandoned, they noticed that now they were inhabited, but the inhabitants ran inside and locked the doors at the sight of a group of heavily-armed individuals walking toward them.

The other side of the pipe was a steaming jungle, with a broken plaza leading to a ruined ziggurat mostly obscured by overgrowth, and after removing their heavy winter clothing, the group advanced across the square. While Elaphe and Father James could hear a loud buzzing audible even over the sounds of the jungle coming from somewhere in the canopy, but they didn't see anything and nothing came to attack them, so they climbed the ziggurat steps and entered the top. Amos summoned up a witchlight, revealing a small room maybe twenty-five feet square with a stone bowl in the center, anything in it long since gone, and four statues in the four cardinal directions. One was a turtle, one was some sort of bird, and the other two weren't identifiable. There were stairs leading up and down, and the party took the stairs up first. The room was empty, with a bit of light coming from windows in the crown of the dome, and an obsidian knife in the dust on the floor. Elaphe carefully picked it up and handed it over to Shining Star, who didn't sense anything actively malicious from it. She gave it to Amos, who wrapped it up and put it away. The party went down two levels to a room with four pillars, a pit in the center of the room below the basin in the room above, and no other exits, though they found a half-mask on the floor made of gold and severely tarnished silver. They considered descending through the pit until Elaphe decided to look for any secret doors, and he and Father James's ravens found separate hinged section of stone walls that opened, revealing stairways down.

They descended down a level and began to explore, finding only kong bones mixed with other bones they couldn't identify. The humans heard a low murmuring, like rock rubbing against rock, echoing through the ziggurat, and Elaphe heard a sound of something clicking on stone, but the buzzing they had heard earlier was gone. Then, as they went down a corridor toward another room, Father James heard a message from his raven spirit, Hundred Wings, asking him where he had gone. Turning, he found a rock wall behind them with a corridor curving around to the left. After a hurried discussion, they found the lower end of the pit that led from the room above, and some of the ravens flew door from above, and then flew a rope back up and secured it to a statue. Elaphe held onto one end of the rope and kept an eye on the pit while Amos, Willow, and Father James looked down the corridor. They found a room that might have been a guard room, with some rust on the walls and spearpoints carved like snakeheads on the floor, though the spear shafts had long since rotted away. Amos could see a door at the far end, made of metal and still intact, and with the others' help he forced it open. Inside was a small room with a figure seated on an ivory stool in front of a low table. It was a kong wearing elaborate robes and a headdress, somehow in good condition despite the jungle humidity and with its flesh withered as though mummified. Amos entered the room with his musket ready and saw several items of jewelry on the table just as Elaphe heard the sound of claws on stone behind him, turned, and found nothing there.

He called out to the others and they hurried back to the rope. Father James told Hundred Wings to fetch the treasure, and the ravens brought back two rings, a kong-sized half-mask made of silver and gold like the one they found above, and a gold pendant with a banana tree surrounded by kong glyphs. As the rumble came again, they began to climb the rope back toward the top. They had almost made it when Amos felt the rope shiver, and then it snapped.


This is two sessions together because session twenty-eight was mostly character creation and getting the new characters together.

Elaphe pushed for leaving because while if it bleeds, he can kill it, he's much less confident about spirits or ghosts. And that is a weak spot of this party. Shining Star can fight demonic spirits with her sorcery, but if the spirit is just annoyed that its home has been disturbed, there's not much she can do, and they don't have any other way to affect the immaterial. Shining Star and Amos are pretty keen to keep exploring, though, since they haven't looked around the entire complex and there are still the insects that were making that buzzing sound. Elaphe was pretty excited about the idea of poisoning his weapons.

Next time is in three weeks, when we'll see what happens as the party falls down and the deal with whatever is trying to keep them in the ziggurat!
dorchadas: (Darker than Black)
[personal profile] dorchadas
​Originally I was going to skip this week, because it's been a long day and I didn't think we had any chocolate in the queue other than Raaka, which I try not to do too much of in a row. But then I remembered that we'll be gone the next two weekends and found one extra chocolate bar buried under the others, so I changed my mind and here we are!

Nothing else to say this week. Let's talk about chocolate
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The database, it is gefuckt

Sep. 8th, 2017 08:54 am
dorchadas: (Office Space)
[personal profile] dorchadas
I've gotten a lot of use of that icon since March.

Yesterday, for the first time since the new database switchover, I got a time-sensitive project. With the old software, these were easy--everything came together in a single file and it was loaded in, I went through it one by one, and signed off in our project-tracking software when it was done. Now, because there's no way to put records in sets since they all get mixed into a giant slurry and pulled out at random, I'm using an Excel spreadsheet, going down the list and manually searching for each record so I can check it. Click search. Click the search box. Tab over to the spreadsheet. Click the cell with the ID. Tab back to the browser. Paste the ID. Click the result. Click the appropriate tab. Click the button to investigate further. Click click click click. Keyboard shortcuts? Why would anyone want those?

Behold the glorious march of technology. Emoji rain

My annoyance does not entirely come from how it now takes 15 clicks to do something that I used to be able to do entirely on the keyboard in one-tenth the time, though. We've been having database problems the whole week, with me constantly emailing back and forth with support and them having to restart services over and over. Eventually the constant problems got escalated, and they're planning to completely rebuild the database over the weekend. But not soon enough, because not half an hour after I got a time-sensitive project, it completely broke and it was impossible for me to do anything. I just kept getting proxy errors over and over again and support said they'd have to do several hours' work reorganizing before I would be able to use it again. Since it was close to the end of the day, there wasn't much to do other than say okay, let them put the magic smoke back into the database, and go home myself. But we spent two years' time and millions of dollars and this is the result?

It seems to work now, though I get a 404 error on a good portion of resolutions. But I think they're taking, so I guess it works out?

Edit: Yaaay, now it's broken again!
dorchadas: (Toon Link happy)
[personal profile] dorchadas
This is the game with the hat.

There's a Capcom logo that comes up every time I loaded up the game, but without that, there would have been nothing to tell me that this wasn't developed internally by Nintendo. The internet tells me that it's the same Capcom team who handled both Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, so they had practice at squeezing Legend of Zelda down into a portable format. And that practice paid off, because they shaved off much of the weirdness and clunkiness from their earlier attempts and made a great Zelda game that's simple enough to not overstay its welcome but has plenty to do for people who want it. I mostly did not want it, and that's okay! I enjoyed what parts of the game I played a lot.

The Japanese title is straight and to the point: fushigi no bōshi, "the mysterious hat."

Legend of Zelda Minish Cap oversleeping
Yep, he's the hero alright.

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