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Dang It

It's been a weird weekend, the kind of which you just look back and try to pick up the pieces of where all the time went.
This blog entry is really about this asshole.
It started when I returned from work, exhausted.  Before turning in, I decided to eat half a Dove Easter bunny (and that's not a euphemism).  Next thing I know, I am up until 4am posting in a political thread.  I had to cop out at the end because, take it from me: hardly anyone is ever convinced of anything on the Internet.  Anyway, there's six to eight hours of my life I am never getting back

The rest of the weekend was a rather unsatisfying whirlwind tour of the games I've been playing lately.

In FortressCraft Evolved, while my friend worked on routing more power into the research machine, I embarked upon a project to automate transforming ore into its derivatives.  Once I was done, I had machines to assure that there was always going to be 10 research pods, 10 PCB circuit boards, 10 coiled wires, 10 wires, 100 plates, and 100 bars of every type of smelted ore. 
My factory to create derivative ore products works, but looks hideous that it's a bit demoralizing.
Unfortunately, there's really not much left to the game, I think I need to wait until the developer patches in some more content.

In Stardew Valley, I braved a virtual day of the usual activities: harvesting, planting, watering, caring for the farm animals, mining, trading, gifting, and sorting crap into my various chests.  Alright, I'm honestly getting a bit sick of this game, particularly the constant inventory management.
A less burned out player would be excited to see all that produce, but I dread the inventory bloat it created.
Having to run back and forth from field to storage chest is a pain in the ass, particularly when those chests are full.  Admittedly, this might just reveal a weakness in the way I've laid out my fields.  For example, I could put produce storage next to the fields instead of all the way inside the house.

Even Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is beginning to wear a bit thin because the challenge has largely evaporated.  The problem is that the RPG progression mechanic makes sure all of your statistic scores go up over time, while all the enemies in the game stay just as weak as ever.
A high level Arisen wearing butt floss essentially one-shots a griffin.

Consequently, the first time you fight a giant monster you might feel a bit challenged and have doubts you will succeed.  Come back a few levels later, and you can just button mash to success.  As a player, I am bored when mere numbers can remove me as the middleman.  (It's a mistake Dark Souls did not make, where even the humblest mob in the game can quickly kill a sloppily-played character.)

Now, I find myself most interested in watching somebody else play a game.  That game is Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, a visual novel with many twists to it.
What a flavorful cast of characters... that are going to die.
Danganronpa takes place in Hope Academy, an elite high school for ultimate talents, where it is said if you graduate you are essentially set for life.  You play as Makoto Naegi, an utterly average high school boy who receives a letter informing him that he's won a lottery to go to Hope Academy, therefore he must be the Ultimate Lucky Person.  He arrives before the entrance ceremony only to be knocked out and made a prisoner in the apparently abandoned and sealed off academy!

Makoto immediately learns he is not alone, as there are apparently 14 students trapped inside of the academy with him, each of them an Ultimate at something.  Soon, an evil mastermind shows up (through a robotic bear proxy) and drops a deadly ultimatum: You are trapped here forever unless you kill another student and not get caught.  (Periodically, he provides other motives.)  Once a murder is committed, the students are invited to investigate before engaging in a mock trial with very real consequences: if they fail to catch the killer, everyone else is executed instead, and the killer graduates!

However, it's not like they have to kill each other... they could choose to simply live there, with their general necessities well taken care of... forever, not knowing what's going on outside, how their families are doing, ect.  Periodically, more motives are deliberately introduced by the mastermind.  Yes, it's a very dark story premise, as these kids are essentially being manipulated to betray their own values and become killers. 
Despite the dark premise, it's not a straight up angst fest for many reasons, for example:
  • Because the characters, settings, and special effects are all exaggerated anime tropes, the game is quite fun in spirit, despite itslf.
  • You get to know each of the students as the story progresses, with ample developer attention paid to crafting anime personalities, and so there is a bit of an underlying story of building friendship going on.  
  • As you progress through the game, you uncover many secrets and twists about the other characters and the academy.   
The darkest thing about this game is simply Mokoto finding his friends dead, hot pink blood spattered liberally, before being tasked to hunt down the killer (another one of his friends) and then watching them get executed by the mastermind in a deliberately over-the-top manner.

Overall, Danganronpa is a murder mystery and a thought experiment wrapped up in one.  However, the reason why I would rather watch somebody else play it is because it's rather linear, and in many places it's not all that interactive.  Phoenix Wright gave the player more freedom to make the wrong choices.  I just can't see myself dropping $30 on a game that hardly lets me play it... but I am hooked enough that I think I will be buying Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair to play it firsthand after I finish watching the first.


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