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Flummoxed, Per Usual

This evening marks another $13.59 on Sins Of A Solar Empire: Rebellion, a game which I may play sooner or later, but at 66% off it was bargain enough to risk.  Yet, I passed up a great many more enticing Steam offers, because I'm very painfully and acutely reminded at just how poor I have been at getting myself to play any of the mountain of games I just finished getting.

That said, I have managed to spend a few hours doing something more than aimlessly nothing:

Dishonored -  Considering what I've heard about this first person shooter in the vein of Deus Ex and Bioshock, Dishonored is every bit as good as I thought it'd be.  Compellingly rich world and characterization.  Lots of freedom to explore levels and execute them as you see fit.  Lots of neat toys to play with.  Yep, it covers all the bases of the genre while being well-executed by people who know what they're doing.

As is often the case for these kinds of games, I've went for the "non-lethal" path, as I don't begrudge henchmen for simply doing their job and the ultra-powerful protagonists in these kinds of games rarely ever need to kill anyone to complete their mission.  However, this decision lead to my main critique of the game: it seems about 7/8th of the toys you're given to play with are lethal in nature, and going non-lethal just means I don't get to have the full range of fun with everything the developers gave me:
  • No shooting people with pistols or 2/3rds of my types of crossbow bolts.
  • No using those clockwork razor wire mines whose very concept makes my skin crawl.
  • No hacking the nasty people-sized bug zapper and tricking guards into running through it.
  • No daring swordplay with my nifty clockwork retracto-sword.
  • No sneaky, fall-breaking, several-story, "death from above" sword strikes.
  • No summoning ravenous rat swarms to nibble my enemies to death.
  • And so on.
It's a game designer's job to incentivize the players to play the game in the most enjoyable manner, and so it's a bad design decision when the incentive of "the good ending" forces the player to be hampered to a few boring choices in defeating their enemies.   Oh well, there's four difficulty levels, and if I get around to finishing Dishonored I suppose I can come back and beat it on a higher difficulty while using the full range of tools available.

Despite that complaint, Dishonored is a remarkably solid game, and I'm actually a bit hesitant to play it knowing that the game is rather short, to the point where I already completed about a fourth of it in just six hours while lollygagging and doing all the side missions I could find.


Minecraft -  Continuing the trend of my indy-minded strangeness, Minecraft remains the game of default that I'm willing to play when I'm not able to motivate myself to get to play anything else.  Trouble in paradise, however: I'm not particularly happy with the current game of Minecraft I have going on.

Part of the trouble is that Thaumcraft 3 is relatively newly released and has yet to really iron itself out much.

In order to get Thaumcraft3 research done, I have to go awkwardly hunting through several chests for various blocks or items, throw them on the research table, and mash the research button hoping to make progress... this is usually a disappointment where progress is not made after running through several items and I find myself frustrated for lacking who-knows-what aspect.  In the event I've exhausted all the items with the necessary aspects I have on-hand, I have to either craft or harvest more items with those aspects.  In this way, while I can appreciate that research in Thaumcraft 3 is a lot more involving and fair than in Thaumcraft 2, unfortunately the current implementation is a boring chore compared to the automated methods of its predecessor.

I was hoping that the golems would make things exciting, but it's difficult to cobble together everything I need to assemble them.  In further investigation at what they're capable of doing, I'm not sure they'll really do what I want them to.  They seem mostly built for simple chores: grab loose things and put them in a chest, knock down plants ready for harvesting, reload furnaces, reload crucibles, and so on.  I could automate a farm with them, but I don't see a whole lot of need.  The seals in Thaumcraft 2 were both a bit more flexible and more challenging to utilize.

The problem I'm having is not entirely Thaumcraft 3's fault, however: I just have a pretty boring map generated.

I modified a randomly generated bayou shack to be my base of operations.  The Hindu settlements are
just barely out of building range in the desert behind me while, in front of me, is the same watery mess I have
to go out into whenever I try to get anything done.  For some reason, when it rains, it feels miserable here.
I started next to a couple of Millenaire Hindu settlements and, what with all my Thaumcraft3 experimentation, have not really have any reason or motivation to have anything to do with them, so they're just a rather useless set of neighbors right now.   I tried evening out the desert a bit, making my neighbors' habitat look a little more presentable for future city expansion building but, every time I get a little too close to a creeper, they explode and make a mess out of my impromptu Zen garden.

Following the spirit of trying to create bases where there already is one, I discovered a randomly generated shack and have been building from there.  This base of operation is just 100m out from the Hindi, on the very edge of the map of the nearest settlement, where the desert meets a swamp and jungle biome.  Deciding I needed more space to put my storage, but not wanting to relocate completely, I eventually filled in and dug under the bayou.  The resulting spacious, but simple, square chamber underground turned out to be rather boring, but now I don't have the motivation to come up with something better.

Apparently being in a swamp biome means I'm perpetually assaulted by slimes, who spend a lot of time waterlogged and making annoying wet flopping noises.   They're mostly big slimes, which break down into 2-4 smaller slimes, which break down again into tiny slimes.  By the time I've dealt with them all, they have worn down my weapon quite a bit, and that's yet another way they annoy me.  A pity I'm not in dire need of making sticky pistons, as I'm certainly not lacking for slimeballs.

To a great extent, tekkit was overkill, but I do really miss Redpower2's pneumatic tube system.  Having some means to sort items from chest to chest, or a machine that does things players normally would have to do by hand, is something that core Minecraft sorely misses.

It seems I'm without a grand project I'm interested in making in Minecraft right now.   Thaumcraft 3 has turned out to be a bit of a waste of time, as it does not really do anything useful for me.  I'm not sure Millenaire has anything I particularly need to get involved in either: I might as well stick with stock Minecraft villagers now that trading is in.  Without a grand project in Minecraft, there's really no reason to play.  I suppose I can blame not wanting to exert my creativity here, because it's really not that difficult to come up with a project in Minecraft, even if it's as simple as building a statue.


Mass Effect and Game Maker - In line with my previous blog entry saying I should deliberately go out of my way to schedule time to procrastinate, I'm thinking perhaps I aught to force myself to finish Mass Effect 2 again (thereby justifying the DLC I bought) so I can then go finish Mass Effect 3 (for the first time), and simultaneously schedule time to develop something in Game Maker.

However, it's often the case that something we reason we should be doing is being opposed by some unreasonable part of us that expresses that would be a very bad idea.  And so Mass Effect 2-3 goes unplayed and Game Maker goes unused.  I'm absolutely flummoxed as to what, exactly, is going on.

After some meditation on the matter, one answer I hit upon is that I'm so steadfastly failing to commit to these actions because I'm bothered by how much of a failure I have been.  Assuming this is not just a stab in the dark in the wrong direction, why, dear foot-dragger living in my subconscious, is the solution not to simply stop failing and start doing?  "Because I've got the wrong idea of what to do," is what my gut seems to tell me.  Then what's the right idea, oh gut?  Unfortunately, my guts are unable to explain anything in detail, and this is probably why I don't bother to listen to mine very often.

Should I trust my brain or my gut?  I'm not the first to try to figure this out.  In this case, I'd say the answer is neither.  The brain can't be trusted because it's already over-thought this matter to death and failed to come up with a satisfactory solution, probably because there's simply not enough data in terms of making a decision here.  The gut can't be trusted because human instincts are often in conflict with the complexities of the modern world, and how to spend my free time on my computer is surely not something ancient cavemen needed to know.

Something needs to be done, a first step has to be taken, and the only thing that's stopping me from getting out of this cycle of wasting my time is a worry that what I will commit to doing will be a waste of my time.  Maybe this is the real problem all along: an irrational fear that commitment will waste my time is causing me to waste my time by committing to nothing.  Well, I'm getting tired of doing nothing.  Lets do something already!
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