The Exigent Duality
PSVR2 and Sega CD - 10:22 CST, 5/19/24 (Sniper)
Sad to say, so far the PSVR2 has reminded me a bit of when my uncle got a Sega CD back in 1992-- really cool pieces of hardware, but the software lets them both down. So far I've tried:

  • Horizon Call of the Mountain: This is the closest I've had to a game which really grabs me. It has a very high gameplay-to-cutscene ratio, uses bleeding edge graphics by VR standards, and the core mechanics are simple yet have nuance. The problem is that it suffers from Sweet Baby Syndrome: the female characters are the typical over-the-top butch lesbian types with the most obnoxiously sarcastic and caustic personalities-- I thought the goal of game companions was to make them appealing to look at and fun to be around? After I beat this game, I lost all desire to play through it again due to the characters, and I uninstalled it.

  • Gran Turismo 7: The VR mode is really cool. Unfortunately, it's still the same mediocre Gran Turismo 7 in every other way. I wasn't a big fan of the "cafe" system, and besides that the post-credits content is not very much fun: you need to spend hours in front of spreadsheets to make your car even remotely competitive for each race. That's a little too hardcore for me.

  • Resident Evil VIII: Along with shmups, "survival horror" is probably my least-favorite genre-- but this was on sale for six bucks. It's amazing how they fully-implemented totally realistic gun operation, but the game isn't balanced to support it. Even with the simplified gun handling, this is a really tough game in VR because of spatial awareness. At least for a first playthrough, it seems like it would be a lot more fun on a flat TV.

  • Akka Arrh: This is a fun arcade game with plenty of depth and appealing graphics plus sound. But it's a lot easier on a normal TV, because things "fly into your face" in the VR mode, causing crucial milliseconds of "blindness".

  • C-Smash VRS: In theory this one should really fit the ticket, but I don't have the space to play it! You can't really play it kneeling because you can't hit the low balls then-- and I literally destroyed my ceiling fan operation when playing it standing, to the point where I need to replace that unit.

  • Cities: VR: This is an ancient game, and the graphics in the VR mode are significantly downgraded from that. It's still a competent city-building game, but not necessarily one I was just hankering to revisit almost a decade after it initially came out, especially with all of the graphics settings turned down so low.

  • Kayak VR: Mirage: Flat-out boring. A new "Wave Race" on this engine would be incredible, because the graphics in this title are incredible! But trying to row one of these finicky kayaks at a snail's pace is not my idea of fun.

Like the Sega CD, it's something you want to play, but then you reach for the shelf: "Sewer Shark"? "Prize Fighter"? "Gran Turismo 7"? Both platforms have the same issue. I kind of recognized the issue going in, but you don't really know for sure until you try a variety of games for yourself.

Thankfully, there are a few games which look like they will be up my alley: there is this Minecraft-aesthetic first-person dungeon crawler; there is a "Metro" game coming out, and I really enjoy that series; and there is this "Ruinsmagus" JRPG-looking thing, which seems like it'd be enjoyable. I've run out of self-granted allowance money, but I will keep an eye out for sales on those games nonetheless.
Taking Aim - 16:11 CST, 5/18/24 (Sniper)
We bought my daughter a used compound bow yesterday! Here she was just a bit ago, lining up her very first shot:



We set up a bag target in the lawn, on top of a make-shift stand. While she missed the bag a few times, she also wound up with a super tight cluster right dead in the middle, to the point where she almost fired through the same hole multiple times. She kept backing up and backing up with each shot, and her accuracy was barely suffering! She's trying to build up her arm strength-- I told her if she keeps up practice all summer, it'll be much easier for her to pull the string back.

I held it with the intention of attempting a shot, but she is left eye dominant-- when I would line up the peep sight with my left eye, everything would shift multiple inches; through my right eye, the sights were off by like three inches! No way I could hit the broad side of a barn firing left-handed like that! So I abandoned the attempt.

My kids also got their new tablets last week. My daughter got the M4 iPad Pro, with the new Pencil Pro, and the new Magic Keyboard. The intention is that it will be her exclusive computing device, replacing her PC altogether. She loves it! The dual-OLED screen setup is so vibrant and large, it feels like you're falling into it. For my son, we upgraded an ancient entry-level Amazon Kindle for the new, smaller M2 iPad Air-- that is also a phenomenal device.

Meanwhile, I've been wearing an Apple Watch Series 9 for the past several days. I bought it for wifey for Mother's Day, not realizing it literally required an iPhone. I decided to evaluate it myself-- if it turned out to be a gimmick, I'd return it to the Apple Store; conversely, if it would up being cool, I'd keep it and switch the wife over to an iPhone.

Turns out it's a wonderful device. It's gotten me to exercise much more each day, because I'm hooked on closing up the little colored rings. I've also been tracking my sleep with it, it's fascinating to see how much deep and REM sleep I get, along with my average respiration numbers. In fact, it's confirmed to me that my sleep issues are purely psychological: I have totally normal breathing, my oxygen levels are just fine-- but I think anxiousness is causing me to not get quite enough deep sleep past the first hour or so; that pattern shows up consistently on my charts. Maybe for my Birthday in October I'll buy myself my own Apple Watch.

In gaming news, I've been playing a lot of the original "Baldur's Gate" on Switch. I completely get why that game is so iconic. Today I swapped out "Crazy Eyes" and his nutty companion for Minsc and Branwen. I was kind of sad to see "your voice is ambrosia!" go, but this party configuration will carry me through the whole game:

  • Leader: Jaheira (Fighter / Druid)
  • Tank: Khalid (Fighter)
  • Fighter: Minsc (Ranger)
  • Medic: Branwen (Cleric)
  • Magic: Sniper (Sorcerer)
  • Ranged: Imoen (Thief / Mage)

I'm hoping just my player character is enough magic use for the party for awhile-- it's recommended that Imoen be dual-classed at thief level 6, but she's only at level 2 right now: long way to go. I just got to the Nashkel Mines, I've been taking my time doing all side quests to the maximum of my party's level so far. We'll see how things go. If I can build up more cash I can buy some of the "+1" weapons-- or even better, maybe I can get some cool loot in the mines.

I've also been playing "Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth" on PlayStation 5. As much as I like the characters, the older and older I get the less I can tolerate games with lots of cut-scenes-- I just want to play. And this side of Hideo Kojima, "Infinite Wealth" is probably the slowest paced game I've ever played-- it's almost unbearable.
Bigger Part - 11:05 CST, 5/11/24 (Sniper)
The Pastoral Council situation I've mentioned a couple of times here was resolved this past week: we had a tie-breaker vote, and I won! I'm super excited to get started, and have already sent some preliminary ideas. I'd been praying to God to make my career a smaller portion of my life, and how He answered that prayer was by making the Church a bigger part. My wife has also been getting really involved: she has totally "busted out" of her social shell, has joined the "Saint Anne Sodality" group, and is exploring Montessori techniques for Catholic teaching.

In other news, I enjoyed reading this interview with Patric. He talks about how he would have panic attacks, one time he was so ill he "couldn't see the ball", so-to-speak-- but, he just put his foot on it, passed it to the nearest teammate, and got over it. I also remember a picture of him in a gun range when he visited the United States-- he seems like a really cool guy, and it's helpful to hear that even someone at the world class level of what they're doing, suffers from intense nervousness.

Unrelated: we're in this weird position where everything corporate is simultaneously growing, yet on the verge of collapse. As Steinbeck observed, corporations always need to grow; they can't just say, "Ok, we're serving ten million customers, let's just keep doing that." The reason is because investors, especially the institutional kind, are always trying to get the highest rate of return for their clients-- which includes you and your 401k of course, so none of this "shareholders are evil" talk.

It's not that any of this is "good" or "evil"-- it's just mechanically the way things work. And because they work that way, there are certain ramifications. One of them is that corporations often chew off their own arm as a weight loss program, to meet tomorrow's fitness exam. Take the Xbox division's ongoing implosion-- something I discussed and predicted less than six months ago. They closed "Tango Gameworks", then the very next day talked about how they need more creative, smaller-budget games. Gee, if only they had a studio which made those... oh well.

The real issue is that back in the 80s, the world shifted full-fledged into a debt-based model, where instead of adding real value, financialization and shell games became the "growth". That kind of phony "growth" can only go on for so long. It's like a football club which is barely winning matches. Once they start to lose matches, any underlying cracks and fissures become really noticeable, because the club has an incessant need to win matches-- winning is the whole point of playing the game!

To corporations, "growth" is "winning". Standing still is "losing". But because the lemon just can't be squeezed anymore, corporations are and have been doing ridiculous things, like selling productive, talented, profitable game studios. Or throwing their own countrymen under the bus to save a few bucks hiring foreigners. Otherwise, investors will sell the stock and buy some other one which has a five percent rate of return versus four percent, or whatever it may be. The end result is that the ordinary people suffer big time: because we're in End Game Financialization, the banking cartel is inflating "growth", which means prices are rapidly rising, at a time people are simultaneously becoming unemployed due to layoffs.

Thank the Lord I have not been impacted by this. I've recently been fortunate enough to be able to purchase two new vehicles, and I just ordered my kids new iPads-- totally awesome, mid-90s esque commercial, by the way. Specifically, my daughter "saved up" basically two Christmases and a Birthday to get the brand new iPad Pro, complete with the new keyboard and stylus. But back to the topic-at-hand, I'm always prepared for the notion that one day I may lose my job, if the economy continues going the way it's going.
Esoteric - 18:14 CST, 5/04/24 (Sniper)
It's interesting to listen to someone who was hardcore into the "Fallout" game series, and who then watched the TV show. I guess it'd be like them making a show based on "Star Control 2"-- I'm not much of a television series guy, but I wouldn't be able to resist checking it out.

Unfortunately, this "Fallout" series looks like it's filled with Satanic and Freemason imagery-- yuck. Beyond that, I bought a DVD collection of the first two games right before "Oblivion with Guns" hit on Windows, and I couldn't get into them at all. I have that problem with pre-2000 Western RPGs-- and some older Western adventure games too-- in general: they are almost impenetrable, and even once you wrap your mind around the mechanics, they just aren't paced or designed very well.

I remember when I was maybe seven or eight years old, and I was at my friend's house-- one of his cousins kept going on and on about everything he memorized in "Shadowgate": "Then you do this, but don't do that or you'll die, but then do this other thing, and then, and then..." It's like when I tried so hard to love "Might & Magic III" on the PC Engine-- what a mess. So that's where I disagree with "VG Esoterica"-- I would not recommend Western PC games of that era to just about anyone, and that even includes my beloved "Star Control 2": I think they are "you had to be there" experiences.

All of that said, I did start the enhanced version of "Baldur's Gate" on Switch yesterday, and I'm faring a little better in that one due to the over hour-long tutorial these newer versions ship with-- I would be totally lost without that. It seems like a so-so title thus far, from a design perspective. I kind of dig the aesthetic, which reminds me of the original "Diablo". But overall, I am much more of a fan of older stuff from Japan: games like "Shining in the Darkness" or "Snatcher" take the best mechanics from their Western inspirations, marry them to amazing aesthetics, and streamline them into something easier to chew.

On a non-games front, tomorrow I give my church speech for the second time. The bummer part is that I'm sick-- dizzy and a sore throat-- and I also pulled a muscle in my lower back pretty badly, just a couple of days ago.
New Reviews - 09:39 CST, 4/29/24 (Sniper)
I've been having a lot of fun reviewing games lately, make sure to check out the most recent reviews here.

The most interesting one has probably been "F-Zero" on the Super NES. I had literally never even played the game myself until a handful of days ago, but I got hooked on replaying the "GP Mode" over and over, continuously improving the lap times I'm storing in my save state. Anyone who has a good emulator or a "Switch Online" membership-- which is where I've been playing-- should definitely check it out.

Next up on the docket is-- finally!-- "Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth" on PlayStation 5, along with the enhanced version of the original "Baldur's Gate" on Switch. My sister-in-law got "Baldur's Gate 3" on the Series X and loves it, so that has nudged playing at least a little of the first two titles up on my list.

Other than that, the guy who won the "Pastoral Council" position declined, so I have to re-deliver my speech this upcoming Sunday for a "run-off election", so-to-speak. I'm also working on getting my marriage blessed within the church. I've really been working hard on "only worry about things today, not several days down the road." I think it's helping, but nonetheless my anxiety levels have been quite high.
Back in the Saddle - 05:57 CST, 4/22/24 (Sniper)
I survived! My speech went brilliantly, although I did miss out on the council position by one vote. Maybe I'll try again for the next open spot.

In other news, wifey sent me this yesterday:



It's so true! Want to see some footballers and their fathers? Try here, and here, and here, and here, and here. How about this Eli Kroupi guy, and his son? Or flipping to American football, how about Mike Shanahan versus Kyle Shanahan? Here is an example I gave regarding professional inline skaters. Or how about Formula One drivers, a post which includes a pic of yours truly? Or just walk down the street? I could go on and on and on.

It's startling watching TV shows and movies from the 1960s and 70s-- the men look like... men! And it's constantly distracting to me watching modern football. I don't mean any disrespect to them, but how many kids would have watched Hulk Hogan in the 1980s if he looked like contemporary athletes?

Something is up, this stuff isn't just my imagination-- but no one talks about it, even though it's right in front of us! And this has a real-world impact.
New PSVR2 Reviews - 06:40 CST, 4/16/24 (Sniper)
I have now reviewed three PSVR2 games:

  • Horizon Call of the Mountain (Link)
  • C-Smash VRS (Link)
  • Kayak VR: Mirage (Link)

These are fun to go through because they are each trying to do something unique, and I never know quite what to expect. Next up will be the VR version of "Cities: Skylines", plus "Akka Arrh". Other than gaming, I've just been in full-on anxiety maintenance mode until I get a short introductory speech I need to make at church, at this upcoming Sunday's council election, over with.
Quake II and Serie B - 14:07 CST, 4/06/24 (Sniper)
Here is a montage I made of my "Quake II" playthrough on PlayStation 5. You can read my review of the game here.

In other news, I've been playing a ton of "EA Sports FC 24", in the Master League-equivalent "Career Manager" mode. As is my usual wont, I picked a tiny Serie B team-- in this case, the "only existed since 2009" Feralpisalò-- and have built them up from an aging squad worth less than ten million Euro, to essentially an all-star U-23 team worth over forty million Euro.

The game has an avatar builder for your manager, this is as close as I could get to myself-- it's not bad, he's even wearing a collared shirt and a sweater beneath a black pea coat, almost identical to me in reality! I'm just a lot more bald in real life, and my glasses aren't of the hipster "Clark Kent" variety. As usual, click on any of the images for the larger originals:



One of the games took place in the snow, I thought the artwork was really good:





Too bad Lazio isn't licensed in the game-- the players are real, but the team name and kits are imitations. I faced them in the Coppa at the Olimpico in this screenshot:



Here is how the initial season finished. I won the league and the Coppa Italia, playing on the middle "Professional" difficulty. I've gotten a lot better at the game with practice, it was really a struggle coming from "Pro Evo", which plays a lot differently. Look at Jebbison's goal contributions, and Yildiz's assists. In real life, I wouldn't be surprised if Yildiz is the next Cristiano Ronaldo; similar physique, similar abilities as teenagers:





Here is what the team looks like now, as I'm just beginning my maiden Serie A season. I have some of the most promising young players in the game according to "SoFIFA":



These last few are just of my avatar. When you negotiate, a pseudo-random model is picked as your sparring partner by the game logic, from a preselected bunch. Sometimes you get the real coach of a team, but other times not. One of those preselected models looks exactly like a friend of mine from work-- I just had to take a couple of screenshots, for laughs.







If I get bored with the "Manager Career" mode, the tradeable card game "FIFA Ultimate Team" is pretty fun too-- it's like squad building-lite: a bit more low-key and relaxed than the full-fledged franchise mode-style experience I'm accustomed to.
Busy Times - 03:53 CST, 3/30/24 (Sniper)
Happy Easter weekend everyone, and belated happy Holy Week! I've been super busy with church commitments: on Thursday night I lectored at "the big church" in town in front of roughly a thousand people; yesterday I was sacristan at the Good Friday afternoon Mass; tomorrow morning I am sacristan again, for the big Easter Sunday Mass. Incidentally, Ellyn is having Confirmation and First Communion at that Mass as well! As a couple, we've also volunteered to help organize an upcoming event, and I will be up for election into the council in an odd-month.

It's been difficult to manage my anxiety lately, even with the Abilify and Lunesta. I actually called sick into work yesterday, I had only gotten two-or-so hours of sleep and had a migraine headache all day. But, I'm hanging in there-- not every week is Holy Week! Last night I went to bed at 18:00, was asleep by 18:30, and slept straight to 2:00-- so I feel great today! I'm up, shaved, showered, and into my morning.

I've been playing a ton of the PlayStation VR2, what a great product! I'm most of the way through the "Horizon" title, I can't stand the soundtrack plus how woke the character designs are-- but the gameplay is enjoyable, and if the game "unlocks itself" after the credits roll, I'll take the time to go back and find collectibles and what not.

My son, who turns eleven today by the by, bought the VR edition of "Cities: Skylines", we are going to work on a joint city today, taking turns. Additionally, I've gotten really good at the demo version of "C-Smash VRS", my daughter enjoys that game too and bought the full version for us on sale for twelve bucks-- I haven't fired it up yet. I also have "Gran Turismo 7" and "Resident Evil Village" to try.

I've also got a few new non-VR reviews to share. I'll also have one up in the coming weeks for the "Final Fantasy VII Remake", once I finish the game.


The only other real news I have is that I hit a turkey yesterday in the WRX! Every single day when I drive around here, I see dead game and viscera all over the roads-- now I know how it happens. This bird came out of the ditch to my left not twenty yards ahead of my car and sprinted across the road like a freaking ostrich-- I reacted quickly and stood on the brake, veering to the right to buy myself stopping time, leaving a trail of rubber behind me: but the giant turkey ran into me, demolishing the driver-side headlight assembly and part of the bumper cover! Nothing I could have done to avoid it, and I've no clue where the bird even went from there-- no blood, no body!
Turn-Around - 05:40 CST, 3/20/24 (Sniper)
I'm not a fan of this "Matt Walsh" guy even remotely-- the definition of "controlled opposition", to put it mildly-- but it's still pleasant to see the "woke" issues in video games brought to a wider, Right-wing audience. It's also interesting hearing outsider "normie" opinions about the medium: yes, the stories are generally that bad, with some exceptions, mostly out of Japan and China.

The good part is that we're winning! Slowly, the "wokeness" is retreating not just from games, but from all aspects of life. I'm sure we'll be stuck with a subset of Cultural Marxist values for this upcoming eighty-odd year cycle-- but that subset is going to make up a smaller portion of the new values regime than I'd been thinking. Here are some links illustrating just a small number of victories:

  • Hertz bought a bunch of "EeeVees" and it was such a disaster that the CEO resigned. The "EeeVee" thing is the "canary in the coal mine" for all of the WEF, Blackrock initiatives: they literally can't work in the real world, so they are falling like decks of cards.

  • Porche has reversed on its prior decision to go all-in on "EeeVees". I was happy about this because of how iconic their cars are traditionally-- I would not like to lose that.

  • Philadelphia is undoing a lot of their "abolish the police!" Fentanyl Floyd-era garbage. I've been seeing this movement in a lot of articles around the country lately.

  • Diversity hires are the first ones being let go in video game layoffs.

  • Japanese developers are pushing back against Western political activist localizers. "ESG" has started to creep into Japan, but it's looking like the phase will be extremely short-lived.

In AI news, for the life of me I can't understand this: to this engineer I would ask, why would you write your own replacement? One of the first posts is a quote from "Jurassic Park": "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

In gaming news, I bought a brand new, sealed PSVR2 "Horizon" bundle off of eBay for over a hundred bucks off retail-- the unit came in yesterday and it's wonderful so far! Yes, this "Horizon" game has those greasy "Sweet Baby" fingerprints on its character designs, but it's still a really cool game from what I can tell in the early going. My son bought the VR "Cities: Skylines" game, which we haven't tried yet, and I also purchased the kayak title, which I'll fire up in the coming days

I also bought the latest "FIFA"-- the nonsensically-named "EA Sports FC 24"-- for ten bucks on sale. The gameplay is kind of rubbish-- expect a full review from me soon-- but with "Pro Evo" having been killed off by Konami a couple of years ago, I was really hankering for a football game, and this has been scratching the itch.

Overall, I'm all-in on Sony at this point. The "PS5 Pro" specs came out, and I am absolutely buying that on launch day, if I can get one-- it's going to be almost as fast as my PC in terms of final output frames, I reckon!

Finally, the wife is having her RCIA-related rites of Confirmation and First Communion on Easter Sunday-- a Mass during which I am also Sacristan. What a great blessing to have wifey entering the Church! I've gone back on Abilify, and I've found that it gets rid of my cyclical rumination about everything-- so despite not sleeping much, I've had such a positive attitude lately. I was also nominated to be on the council for our local three-parish "ACC", so I'll be giving a brief speech in April to see if I get elected.

God is great!
Emerging Light - 06:05 CST, 3/12/24 (Sniper)
The Gospel reading this past Sunday made me think of many things. In the words of Jesus:

"And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God."

John 3:14-21

For example, one would think "Sweet Baby" and their advocates would rejoice at the Steam curation list showing all of the projects in which they've been involved: after all, it's free advertising! Instead, they are doing everything in their limited power to not only get the list removed, but to punish the Steam user who created it.

Another instance involves the "Libs of TikTok" account: all she does is re-post videos other people have made-- one would think those content creators would be thrilled at having all of the added clicks! Instead, they have tried to destroy her life because, counter-intuitively, she's made their videos more visible.


The Sarri Scoop

Things have gone from surreal-to-even-moreso since I wrote this post a month ago. Yesterday against Udinese, a team which had only won three games all season, the Lazio players spent the entire second half running around with no discernible formation: they were going wherever they felt like, oftentimes dribbling with the ball for no apparent reason until it was stolen.

What was surreal wasn't the second half though-- it was the first. In the first half, the players decided to actually utilize "Sarriball", and they created chance after chance after chance, moving the ball quickly and looking like a totally transformed team. In other words, it's a light switch: they can turn it on when they please, and they can turn it off when they please. This was hugely informative to me, which I will discuss momentarily.

In the meantime, we have now lost five of the last six games, with four losses in a row. Even under Davide Ballardini we never outright lost four games on the trot. In fact, in nineteen seasons of watching the club I have never seen them play this poorly. In the aforementioned month since my lengthy earlier remarks, I've been able to better piece together what's happening. I will present each party's perspective in turn:

  • The Mercenary Players: There is a contingent of players which can't stand Maurizio Sarri, and who hate the 4-3-3 system. These senior players have taken over the dressing room completely, and think they run the show. Among them I'm almost certain: the neurotic Luis Alberto, who is "king"; Felipe Anderson; Ciro Immobile; Mattia Zaccagni; Matias Vecino; Alessio Romagnoli; Manuel Lazzari; and Adam Marusic. Then you've got the highly paid disaster that is Daichi Kamada, most probably moping around, which isn't helping things. These players despise Sarri so much, that they are actively sabotaging him on the pitch, basically throwing matches at this point.

  • The Lost Maurizio Sarri: Morose and candid, scrubby and guttural, Sarri is not personable to put it mildly. Simultaneously though, he's a bit of a push-over and brings to mind a Helenio Hererra quote: "As a coach, the instant the players stop fearing you, it's all over." He tries but has completely lost the battle of wills with the players, who run around and do whatever they want, whenever they want. This explains why he told them "no" when they asked if the team could change shape: "Just do as I say!!" It was his deficient attempt at stamping authority. At present, the players are essentially throwing matches trying to get him fired-- and he's powerless to stop them.

  • The Furious Claudio Lotito: He understands exactly what is happening, and that is why he's been so adamant to stand by the coach. Lotito has an enormous ego: he is boss, not the players! Their behavior is an afront not just to him, but to the coach who he perceives to be a top-drawer manager. There is no chance, come hell or high water, he is going to let the mercenary players run roughshod over the project! Lotito is a man of settled opinions, and he has chosen "his side" in this battle. Presently, he has ordered the players into a punitive "ritiro" until further notice.

In light of this new information, I'd be more apt to send the players packing instead of the coach. Ciro is one of my top three favorite athletes ever, but it's time for him to go to Arabia. He can take Marusic with him. Alberto can go to Spain, and Zaccagni can go to Juventus along with Felipe Anderson. Lazzari can go to Inter, and Kamada can take a train back to Germany. Castellanos can go back to the rubbish Globohomo rainbow flag American league. Bye bye everyone!

The trouble would then be, how to rebuild the squad with our Mickey Mouse-style management? It may sound ridiculous, but I'd be tempted to give Igli Tare a phone call: I was a critic of his, but at least he was feast and famine, versus the hopelessly vanilla first mercato without him. It would essentially mean buying a whole new team, as the only players even worth retaining are few-and-far between:

  • Goal Keepers: Provedel, Mandas
  • Central Defenders: Patric, Romagnoli, Casale, Gila
  • Fullbacks: Pellegrini, [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER]
  • Registas: Rovella, Cataldi, [NEW PLAYER]
  • Mezzalas: Guendouzi, [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER]
  • Wingers: Isaksen, [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER]
  • Center Forwards: [NEW PLAYER], [NEW PLAYER]

We know that one of the new fullbacks is Valeri-- but even then, we would need to acquire eleven new players. A savvy management might be able to pull this off by fully leveraging loans and other flexible financing-- I have seen newly-promoted sides successfully accomplish it before. But with our current management, it seems like too tall an order. One thing is for sure: Tare or Fabbiani or someone else, Lotito needs to delegate the responsibility to someone else this time.


Embarrassed

Maybe a couple of years ago, I downloaded an ISO of "Sonic CD" and found it to be the worst level design I had ever encountered in a video game. Fast forward to a few days ago, when I decided to give the game another shot via "Sonic Origins Plus": it turns out, I had accidentally downloaded one of many unfinished betas of the game! To my complete astonishment, outside of maybe the first three levels, the stages were one hundred percent different than the ones in the ISO I'd grabbed!

I've since played all the way through the game twice in three days, and will promptly overwrite my previous review. It's now perhaps my favorite Sonic game, as the almost "Knuckles Chaotix"-esque slower, exploration-focused approach is right up my alley.
Fourth Era Upon Us? - 10:33 CST, 3/09/24 (Sniper)
I was really sad to hear about Akira Toriyama's death, I just mentioned him in a post too! He's probably my favorite artist, along with Rieko Kodama-- and now both of them have moved on. God bless their souls! Now they are up in heaven, making beautiful art.

Speaking of artistic legends, here is Nobuo Uematsu-- a top-five-of-all-time video game composer, easily-- echoing exactly what I've been saying for years. I'll let his words speak for themselves, bold emphasis is mine:

"Uematsu goes on to muse as to why recent game music has become less interesting in his opinion. He suggests that the problem might be that directors and producers are 'satisfied with movie soundtrack-like music in games,' adding, 'I think people need to have more freedom when creating (game music).' Uematsu thinks that if games keep using Hollywood movie-style scores, then the genre of 'game music cannot develop further.' On the other hand, he comments that 'game music will become more interesting if composers consider 'what is something only I can do?' and use their own knowledge and experience to be truly creative.'"


Back in the 80s and 90s, game composers were precocious, classically-trained pianists from young ages. Today when I look up contemporary video game musicians, they "make music for television commercials", which says a lot about the precipitous drop in talent-- and which thus explains a lot about why the music isn't that interesting anymore: these new people simply don't have the music theory "chops" that the old guard did.

But, I'm feeling increasingly silly complaining about modern games. To elaborate: I've been writing about the concept of multiple "eras" in the industry since at least 2007, however my thoughts have evolved since then. Here is my current take:

  • Era 1: 1960s to late 1980s. Single-screen arcade games; example, "Pac-Man". Technological limitations enforced a reliance on minimalism and evocatism.

  • Era 2: Late 1980s to late 1990s. Point-A-to-point-B games; example, "Super Mario Bros". Sweet spot between gameplay-centric focus and added complexity. Best visual art and music in history of the medium.

  • Era 3: Late 1990s to present day. Corporatized cinematic games; example, "Uncharted". Shift from gameplay and towards Hollywood-style story telling. Eventually, shift towards Cultural Marxist establishment messaging as well.

I liked "Era 1", loved "Era 2", and more-or-less loathed "Era 3". But in 2024, we are finally progressing to what might be a new era.

  • Era 4: Mid 2020s to present. Democratized experimentation; example, "Palword". Games assembled by smaller teams making full use of off-the-shelf software such as "Unreal Engine 5", combined with cool custom programming. Implicit, reactionary, anti-establishment-driven experimentation.

The Cultural Marxist values seem to, finally, be on their way out: like how the makers of videos re-posted by "Libs of TikTok" don't want people to see their nuttiness; corporations are now trying to hide their "wokeness"; one would think activist organizations such as "Sweet Baby" would want publicity, alas they are trying to shut down anyone who publishes lists of projects in which they are involved. This is a far cry from just a year ago, much less in 2020, when the multi-billion dollar corporations were tripping over themselves competing to see who could donate more Molotov cocktails to domestic terrorists during the Fentenyl Floyd riots.

In addition to the aforementioned "Palworld", take a look at the preview video for an incoming game called "Kingmakers". I suspect the latter is going to be yet another phenomenon, which will surely lead to more and more such releases.

There is such a deluge of interesting-to-me games coming out over the next nine-odd years, that my thinking regarding the state of the medium is rapidly evolving after almost two decades of creative stagnation, with my static musings reflecting the dormant creativity on display.
Steam Army Knife - 15:25 CST, 3/02/24 (Sniper)
I got my PlayStation 5 "Remote Play" streaming to my Steam Deck OLED via "chiaki4deck", with HDR support! I didn't test extensively, but superficially compression artifacts are negligible-to-non-existent, as is latency.



I followed the instructions here and had it working in no time-- absolutely painless. I did notice the camera swinging when I was walking around the house, undoubtedly because the 802.11 signal was going bonkers-- but as long as I sat in one place, things seemed totally solid.
Affliction and Appeasement - 09:10 CST, 3/02/24 (Sniper)
I recently had a Catholic priest say to a group of people I was among, "The church should discuss the issue of 'LGBT' people!" I didn't feel comfortable challenging him in front of the others, but thought to myself "There is nothing to discuss! Scripture is already one hundred percent clear, as is the Church's perfectly clear teaching on the subject: it's a settled matter, for all time."

Satan is constantly tempting each of us according to our own weakness: he tempts some of us to lying and cheating, others to robbery or assault, others to murder. For some, he tempts them to sexual sin-- to highly disordered sexual thinking. It is not a sin to be tempted: indeed, Satan approached Jesus Himself, and tempted Christ to sin! We know directly from God that Jesus never sinned, ergo it is not a sin to be tempted. Besides, it stands to reason: we have no agency over Satan's doings.

What is a sin is to indulge the disordered fantasies, or-- heaven forbid-- to act on them.

There is no such thing as an "LGBT person", just like there is no such thing as a "bank robber": we are all just people in God's eyes-- equally imperfect, yet equally loved by the Lord. "For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest." Just as the person tempted to rob banks needs to abstain from robbery; just as the person tempted to lie needs to abstain from lying; so too does the person tempted to disordered sexual temptation need to abstain from succumbing to those temptations, both in thought and in act.

I'm hardly an expert in theology, but even for a "noob" such as myself this is not a difficult concept to comprehend-- it's so basic that even a three year-old could grasp it. It's so crystalline that it's common sense-- a "well, duh!" kind of notion. Trying to argue against it is impossible! So it's to my absolute bewilderment that actual Catholic priests, even in Conservative rural America, can become so confused by what is so clear, decided, and obvious!

I don't think these priests are bad people-- I am assuming positive intent, for sure. This particular priest, I greatly respect. But, speaking of Satan, I think he is weakening these people by giving them "the feelies" that they need to appease evil, rather than combat it. This is causing those afflicted to lose sight of the Word.
Sensations of the Unprecedented - 08:49 CST, 3/02/24 (Sniper)
The more that time progresses, the more it's starting to feel like the End Times. Each of these things in isolation are small, even trivial matters-- but they are coming so-frequently-as-to-be-daily, that when added together the cumulative effect paints a certain picture.


Gab Self-Immolation

I've been a big fan of Gab essentially since that site went live-- it's the only web site which feels like the internet pre-2016, where you can say what you want without a busy body HR lady or government propaganda minister standing over you, saying "tsk tsk tsk", and taking away your keyboard. Things seemed to be going great over there: I could tell more and more people were joining, as my feed was becoming increasingly full of interesting news links.

Then out of nowhere just a few days ago, Andrew Torba not only posted that in two days he was going to prohibit non-paid accounts from posting images, but he started calling people with free accounts "Communists" and "freeloaders". Now my feed on that site is nothing but Andrew Torba talking to himself-- everyone has jumped ship. Did someone threaten him? Is he just that neurotic and unstable? It's technological hara-kiri, and it was so sudden! Total, inconceivable madness.


Serie A Unraveling

This Lazio season is turning out to be even worse than the Ballardini year-- not only are the performances as bad, but there is an added dimension of unprecedented surreality about the proceedings.

I am not someone who blames referees for his team's issues-- I always turn inward: "What could we have done differently tactically or strategically? Were there fitness issues? Is the mentality correct?" But this season, there is a clear vendetta from several of the referees towards Lazio. I am not Italian, I don't understand the language, I don't know about the politics-- but the league's officials appear to be retaliating against the players, to get at Lotito.

Yesterday's refereeing in the Milan match was so extraordinary that I could scarcely believe what I was seeing. The episodes in particular involving the absolutely shameful Christian Pulisic, who is a total thug of a player as I discovered, were so bizarre I could scarcely believe my eyes.

The first instance was particularly shocking: Castellanos had just gotten fouled, and was visibly bleeding from his mouth. The referee was standing right there, and had put his whistle in his mouth. Meanwhile, all of the players had stopped: Pellegrini was shepherding the ball out of play, signaling with his hand to the nearby Pulisic that he was letting the ball go out so Castellanos could get treatment. Instead, Pulisic dinked the ball around Pellegrini-- totally baffled, Pellegrini pulled the former to the ground.

Rather than just smile and whistle the play back like a normal human being, the referee sent off Pellegrini with a second yellow!

The match turned into pure bedlam after that, with multiple fights breaking out, our team eventually going down to eight men, and so forth. For the record, going down to seven means the match gets suspended due to a lack of players: I have never seen a team go down to eight until yesterday, in twenty-five years of watching professional football. After the match, the referee was suspended for a month by his boss. This is similar to the Juventus match earlier this year, where the referee was so shambolic that he was sent down to Serie B. That was the match where the ball went all the way out of play, Juventus scored, and the decision stood.

Lotito described after the game that the players felt like violence was done against them over the course of the match-- and that's how I felt as a fan, watching it. I've never felt this way watching sports before. What's more, he gave an interview with lots of thinly-veiled allusions that Lazio could leave the FIGC altogether. Again, unprecedented.


Towards the Light

I could keep going, but one more example to support the thesis of his post: there is a widely-circulating clip of Joe Rogan of all people asking for Jesus to return. It's incredible to me that he would embrace Jesus as his Lord and Savior, I find that incredible in the best way. Initially I thought it was a "deep fake", but in fact the recording is authentic. It shows how even ordinarily-secular people are sensing that this period is unprecedented.
Actions - 14:50 CST, 2/23/24 (Sniper)
Very rarely do I read a games-related article and think it insightful and well-written-- yet here is an example. The author nails it: dedicated game boxes need to offer something unique to their nature for the console market to grow-- just being an OEM PC won't cut it. His optimism is appreciated, in that he recognizes the current lull in innovation as just being part of a cycle, and he cautiously suspects that the dedicated game box makers will find ways to bring the world new ideas in the future.

On a less optimistic note, there is this thread in which it's recognized that "Super Mario Bros." and "Super Mario 64" are only separated by eleven years. Others point out even more incredible examples: "Super Metroid" and "Metroid Prime" were only released eight years apart, while "Wind Waker" was only four years removed from "Ocarina of Time"! On a related theme, here is the NFL itself advertising eight NFL games in a single year!

My, how the industry has fallen. The fact it's even referred to as an "industry" in the first place is emblematic of the problem. The more giant megacorporations dominate world affairs, the less creativity the goy are going to get for their entertainment.

Changing subjects a bit, here is a fascinating video. Before I arrive at the main point: the developer is apparently black-- or mulatto?-- and at age twenty-seven, speaks in the same sort of vernacular as my thirteen year-old. Just observations from a man who observes.

In any event, remember when Microsoft had "BLM" garbage all over their tech documentation when Fentany Floyd overdosed? Remember their "I'm a woman wearing a red dress and black shoes and go by 'she' and 'her'", with the now-obligatory rapid-gesticulating sign language person nearby for the probably non-existent deaf people watching? You know how Microsoft's website is filled with ESG nonsense, all of their ads have disproportionate amounts of black people in them? Indeed, Microsoft is perhaps the world's greatest virtue-signaling corporation of all time, or at least close.

When rubber meets the road though, they treat their employees like slave labor, cutting them loose the day before the company is required to provide them benefits. Whatever happened to "healthcare is a right" anyway?

Finally, there is this video which clearly illustrates how our atheist liberal Jew technocrat overlords are trying to erase European white people-- i.e., most likely the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel-- from history. This might seem like laughs now, but wait until they start using these "AI" systems for hiring practices, or for sentencing within the court system.
Bravo Mister - 16:51 CST, 2/15/24 (Sniper)
I was justifiably critical of Maurizio Sarri in this post-- but maybe, just maybe, he will be able to, or already has, won back the dressing room? It's more tempting to write when things go poorly, because it's a way to vent frustration-- but this time, I'm going to write because things went well.

Yesterday, Lazio looked like a phenomenally well-coached team. For all of Sarri's reputation as being the ultimate "drill master" and an expert in match-day preparations, one of my issues with him is that his players seldom look like that's the case: every game, we play the same ineffective tactics, which are stale and predictable, and never do we look like we have a "custom gameplan" for the opponent-at-hand.

But against Bayern Munich yesterday, the team looked every bit a side that validates Sarri's reputation, whether earned or not. I know Bayern are not at their best right now, and I couldn't get over that their coach had his face in his hands in the sixtieth minute, in the first leg of a two-legged tie, with the score at 0-0-- but even with that said, it was obvious that Sarri had his team drilled: every single man knew his job, was one hundred percent committed to performing it, and for the first time this entire season the squad played to its full potential.

Outside of our best-in-the-Lotito-era crop of defenders, the rest of the squad-- especially with Zaccagni injured-- very much has a patchwork feel to it, exacerbated by having two of our four top-value players in Alberto plus Kamada being played out of position due to the formation. But it's still a squad with over two hundred million Euro worth of players: I would expect that minimally we should look organized, well-drilled, be playing with a clear plan.

Bologna have a significantly worse team than us, but look at what Thiago Motta is doing with them at the moment! That's the caliber of performance I expect from a Maurizio Sarri team, and I'm cautiously optimistic that this Bayern Munich result is where the wheels went back on the Lazio car. I'd like nothing more than for Sarri to be "Lazio's Gasperini", where he sticks around and gives us a fighting chance each season. Crossing fingers...

I'd also like to remark that I don't think Ciro is "done", as I'd previously thought: I think his lack of productivity isn't as much down to his age as it's been down to the team moving the ball way too slowly. Harry Kane has scored something like twenty eight goals in thirty one appearances for Bayern-- but yesterday, one would scarcely have know he was on the pitch.

When a center forward is starved of service, he looks pedestrian. Over the past handful of appearances, Ciro has looked more or less like his prior self: running the channels, getting really good shots on goal, and opportunistically poaching. Barring some insane offer like thirty million Euro for a thirty four year-old player, if I were Lotito I would be very much trying to talk Ciro into signing a new multi-year deal, so he can end his career with us.


Non-Lazio Related Musings

I saw a comment on an article today, reflecting on the state of contemporary music and written by someone who grew up during the 60s and 70s, "As a youth I never imagined I would have to listen to the same old music for my entire life." Boy can I relate to that, when it comes to video games!

Here is a superb reflection on Tucker's interview with Putin, a topic I wrote about here. Putin told the West, "If you want, instead of living in a world which no longer exists, you can join the rest of in cooperation and mutual trade." The author of the article takes a similar approach: "It doesn't matter if you think Putin's analysis of history is correct-- the point is he thinks it's correct, and if you want to negotiate with him, you need to acknowledge that this is where he stands on the issue."

Switching gears, remember when I wrote here that Sony appeared to be following the same path as Microsoft, who went an entire year and didn't release a single first-party game? Sure enough, Sony says that it is not going to release any major games before March 2025. They've also said in recent days that the PlayStation 5 is already on the winding down period of its life. It's mind boggling what a terrible console it has been: I think it has surpassed the Nintendo 64 as the worst video game system I've ever owned.

It also sounds like Sony is inevitably going to move toward the "game releases on Windows, on day one" approach just like Microsoft did a handful of years ago. As much that would be convenient for me, as I have a cutting-edge gaming PC, I miss the Sony of a few years ago: what happened to "we believe in generations", and wanting to continue serving conventional gamers with custom hardware and single player games? Alas, they are a corporation, and corporations always need to "grow"-- there is no such thing as "enough."
Null Motion Vector - 18:28 CST, 2/13/24 (Sniper)
I really enjoyed this interview with Vladimir Putin-- I found myself nodding along through essentially the entire thing, it's difficult to disagree with much of anything he said: he seems like the level-headed, rational, intellectual kind of thinker I enjoy. Not too many people can recite hundreds of years' worth of history off the top of their head, then use those patterns to inform strategic decisions today-- but he's certainly one of them.

And I think that's part of why the Globohomos are so upset by the interview. Of course, he's pulling back the curtain on their shenanigans-- but just as big of an issue is that the contrast he paints with them is not very flattering. The only two pieces of history Western "leaders" know are American slavery and Hitler. So it was to no one's surprise that after the interview went live, during which Putin confirmed that blithering moron Boris Johnson was indeed the one who killed the peace deal, the latter called Putin-- who else-- Hitler! Haha.

Some other assorted notes I took while listening to the interview:

  • Around the ten minute mark, an aide hands Tucker copies of hundreds-of-years-old documents corroborating Putin's historical claims, after which the latter says, "You can translate them into English later"-- as if Tucker is going to sit down at his writing table, fresh candle and quill-in-hand, and translate some Cyrillic for fun. Putin is anachronistic-- like a figure from centuries ago, long before world leaders became buffoonish caricatures.

  • Putin doesn't mention my likely ancestor-- Severyn Nalyvaiko-- by name, but he does discuss the context of the broader conflict with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. I found this part of the discussion interesting.

  • Right around the 1:02:40 mark, Tucker asked why Putin hasn't called Biden. "What would we talk about? It's very simple, stop sending Ukraine weapons." To build on that, I'm not even sure who he would call: Biden wanders around naked at night not knowing where he is. He doesn't even change his own diaper. The US Federal apparatus is some kind of headless monster-- it's not clear who is even making the decisions.

  • Around the 1:17:00 mark, Putin makes a wonderful analogy involving the brain: if its two hemispheres were split apart, it would be a serious disease-- it's the same thing with the Earth's hemispheres. This, by the by, came in response to Tucker being caught-- not for the first time in the interview-- coming at things from a "bi-polar", "us versus them" kind of "US centric" way of thinking. Putin gently called him out with this metaphor.

  • At somewhere near the 1:20:00 mark, Putin discusses the US government weaponizing its own currency and printing a gazillion dollars, and how they cut off their own noses: it totally backfired, as anyone with half a brain knew it would.

  • He spends a lot of time talking about how you can either live in denial, or get with the program: what about when Indonesia is one of the world's biggest economies, they have 270 million people-- is the US going to use violence and antagonism against them too, like they do with China? Or will they engage in mutually-lucrative trade, like Russia is doing?

  • He echoes my opinion that AI should be subjected to the same kind of rules, the same way nuclear weapons are viewed, needs international agreements.

  • Finally, the big daddy quote of the entire interview: he thinks the West wants to divide up Russia into quasi-states, which can then be subdued individually for a future conflict with China. This was very depressing for me to hear, because I knew it was true as soon as he said it: I had to pause the video to reflect and digest the concept. Can you imagine the human suffering such a path would cause? And the Western leaders are dumb enough to try it.

In summary, Putin's intellectualism was almost jarring given what I hear from the Globohomo braintrust every day.


Random Tidbits

I thought the video in this post was eye-opening. In skimming the comments, it sounds like what-wound-up-being the final king was a Western plant who was so intentionally awful, that it opened the door for the theocrats to take over. Incidentally, the song is really cool: it's a very complex composition with lots of different parts, key changes, has some fun with tempo, and so forth. I've always thought Iranian women are very pretty, and the men are extremely masculine looking-- just to look at their football team.

There seems to be this window, where pluralistic-style societies produce beautiful freedom and culture. But then, because they are tolerant and pluralistic, they rapidly get consumed and exploited, then turned into autocratic hellscapes.

On a totally unrelated note, check out the video interview with Daichi Kamada embedded in this article-- his answer when asked about Mauricio Sarri is hilarious! "Oh, uh... my opinion? *buying time, long pause, puffs out cheeks...* It's, uh, difficult to find something to say..." It makes me wonder how many Lazio players would give a similar response-- at least half, I wager.

Finally, I wonder if the game "Helldivers 2" is a Western psy-op-- an Operation Mockingbird-esque creation? The advertising asks the player if they are willing to "die for democracy". Then observe the term here: "Managed Democracy"? "Managed"... sort of like the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea"?


To Nowhere

This is such a strange time to be alive. Throughout my life up until a few years ago, it felt like there was movement-- that there was a motion vector: a velocity, and a direction.

In 2024? I have no idea where anything is going. In fact, it feels like it's going nowhere-- or perhaps better described, everywhere at once. Like an asteroid which got blasted into five zillion little parts, one zipping that way, another one zooming the other way, some colliding... entropy.

It's like there is no future: only chaos, and then oblivion.

I don't know where I'm going, personally: I'm totally miserable, just whiling away the days pointlessly until Jesus comes to claim me, I get vaporized by a nuke, or both; everything I do feels trite and silly-- because it's not part of any larger picture or motivation.

I don't know where my family is going-- we moved into the boonies just to keep our kids safe, not because it was some exciting "next step" in our lives-- it feels more regressive than anything, having to share a house with my in-laws; I don't know where Minnesota is going, except off a cliff; I don't know where the United States is going, except also off a cliff; I don't know where the world is going.

Everywhere I look, I see cascading systemic failures. Institutions are falling apart at the seams after having been strip-mined for decades, the whole world sold down the river so the borderline-trillionaires could make more billions. Everything is depressing, made out of plastic, cheap and artificial.

I see an absolutely dead culture, bereft of any semblance of creativity or authenticity, dominated by giant corporations, where "Hey, excited for that new video game? It's a re-make of a game from forty years ago!" is the high mark of entertainment. "Vacuous" doesn't even begin to describe it. I miss those days when cool new movies were coming out, when my favorite TV show would air every Wednesday evening or whenever.

Yes, I'm depressed-- but it's not "chemical" or random: there's nothing objectively to look forward to on this Earth! I'm thankful the suffering isn't overt-- people aren't starving to death, generally. And of course I'm looking forward to joining our Heavenly Father some day-- but in the meanwhile, the world today is tortuously surreal, almost impossible to feel a part of, it's so inauthentic and hollow.

It's like the whole planet is caught in a snow globe-- a giant stasis field, or stuck in amber. Without a direction, there is no hope-- that's an axiom. Hope for what, if there is no direction? And that is a huge struggle for me today.

I daren't leave my career, with all of the uncertainty in the world; I can't move, because I made an agreement with my in-laws; there's nothing to do, so I just pray, talk to Jesus, pointlessly fire up an emulator once in awhile to play a game from my childhood simply to waste time and to not be left alone with my thoughts, read scripture a little.

Right now, I'm waiting for something to happen-- some kind of motive force, which will propel life in some new direction. And I think it's coming soon-- although no one is probably going to like the outcome.
Phantasy Star Hint Guide - 09:03 CST, 2/09/24 (Sniper)
The Retro Gamer on Gab recommended me to this fellow, Popixel, who made his own hand-crafted hint guide for "Phantasy Star", and who sells professionally-grade printed versions of it. Check this out!

















I've owned dozens of hint guides in my life, and this is the nicest one I've ever had, by a mile: it's filled with wonderful, hand-drawn illustrations; the paper quality is glossy and shiny, making the colors pop; it has not just a full walkthrough with maps, but a section detailing the history of the series, a full bestiary, and even an index; the attention to detail is incredible, such as the "flip-book"-style sprite animations on the page corners.

"Phantasy Star II" is in my top ten games of all time-- yet somehow I'd gone over forty years of living without ever having played the original! I bought the "Sega Ages" version of the title for Switch, and this guide has been the perfect companion to getting me through the game's more esoteric moments.

As I do with everything I play, I'll post a full review of the game to the 'Wharf once I'm done with it. In the meanwhile, anyone who wants their own copy of this guide can reach out to "The Retro Gamer" for contact information.
End of Sarrismo - 08:39 CST, 2/07/24 (Sniper)
Too often in my life, I am in a car careening eighty-five miles-per-hour toward a guardrail: "Guys, we're about to go off the cliff." "Nope, we're fine!", they reply. "Uh, no, I really don't think we are, we only have thirty feet left to stop, and I don't mathematically think we can do it." "Well, let's just wait and see", they respond. Finally, the car makes impact with the metal of the guard rail, and I hear screams all around me as everyone else finally comes to grips with the inevitable.

I point this out from a position of love, not ego: I can't take any "credit" for it, it's just the way God made me. And it's frustrating when something I care about is very obviously headed for ruin, but I need to wait for the ostriches to "catch up" with their emotions, so they can eventually join me in acknowledging the obvious-- hopefully, before it's too late.

Before I jump into the actual subject, let me expand this preface with one more point. When a football team plays a match, there are four categories of performance:

  1. The team plays superbly, perhaps even "out of this world", or "champagne football" if you will.
  2. The team plays well enough to win, and probably does: good performance.
  3. The team plays poorly; probably loses the match, but could eek out a win if the opponent is also poor.
  4. The team is very poor indeed; maybe there are injuries, or fatigue, team looks "out of it."

Then there is a very, very rare fifth class... it is so uncommon in fact, that in decades of watching the sport, I have almost never been led to this diagnosis. In thousands of matches, I have only seen it a handful of times. In this mode, the team has given up the will to play football. It's not that they are despondent even-- it goes beyond. They are emotionally and psychologically shattered.

Normally when a team does not play well-- think categories three and four above-- it's disappointing to watch, and maybe even frustrating. This is the normal state of a team having a bad game: everyone wants their team to win, and when that doesn't occur, it's natural to wish things otherwise. But in this rarified fifth state, it's a different spectacle: rather than disappointment or frustration, it is profound sadness which sets in. A kind of sadness which transcends the match result even-- a sadness that even fans of the opposing team, or otherwise neutral stadium announcers, feels.

You see, in this state, the players' wills are broken. They aren't even trying to play football anymore: they have thrown down their arms, and are running for the hills, every man for himself. Nothing can be felt in the human heart but empathy, almost like watching the victim of a car accident in the immediate aftermath of the impact. It transcends sport: no non-sociopathic human being wants to see another human being be utterly, emotionally devestated.

The first time I ever saw this sorry state was when Davide Ballardini was in charge of Lazio in 2009. The team were like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back: literally on the ropes, getting punched in the face over and over, massive welts forming, blood gushing from the nose. Then the bell, then the next round: on the ropes again, unable to punch, smashed in the face over and over.

It became a drinking game for me, counting the number of times we got the ball out of our own half. We would go matches-on-end, and create zero chances on goal. Ballardini became so terrified of losing, that he started playing defensemen in midfield, such as Radu, just so he could pack as many defenders onto the pitch as possible.

We were headed for relegation. It took a long, long time, but eventually Claudio Lotito replaced the coach-- with Edy Reja. I remember one of Reja's first press conferences like it was yesterday, after he had time to survey the squad: "This team is totally broken psychologically; my job is to restore their confidence". And he did: even by the end of his first match in charge, slowly it became evident to the players: "Wait, my hands are untied, I can defend myself now?"

It was a beautiful thing to see: I think a film could have been made out of it.

In all of the many, many seasons which have passed since then, I have seen some very poor Lazio performances. But this season, to my total and absolute horror, I have seen-- for only the second patch in decades of supporting the club-- the fifth stage once again: in multiple games this season, I have seen a broken team. The downward trajectory came to an absolute, rock-bottom state against Atalanta on Sunday.

The players looked resigned from the second the match started. At one point, Atalanta had created twelve shots versus one for Lazio-- a shot I couldn't even remember. To re-iterate: it wasn't simply a "bad performance" from Lazio, or an "off day"-- it was so ugly that it became obvious the match announcers were lacking for words to describe it. While they praised Atalanta's solid performance, they sounded melancholy and sad when reflecting on the overall proceedings-- in the same way one might feel sad seeing me in a boxing ring trying to fight Mike Tyson.

And it wasn't just Sunday: this season, Lazio have the second lowest shots in the entire division. Their expected goals is seventeenth. They are playing several halves in a row without creating even a single shot on target. Even in the ten games they've won this year, the performances were almost all in the third tier: no rhythm, discombobulated ball movement. It's difficult to recall the last time the squad played well.

Let's also not forget that the team looked very, very poor in large chunks of last season too. But Sergej Milinkovic-Savic-- who by-the-by had said openly he did not like Sarri's 4-3-3-- got a huge burst of motivation at the end of the season, in his final matches with us, to drag the team to a deceptively strong finish in the table. Let's also not forget that had Ivan Provedel not scored a last-touch header, we would have crashed out of the Champions League group too.

So what has been the substance of the coach's response to all of this?

  • He always describes the team in the third person. After a match, he will say "It looked like the team didn't play well"-- as if he's an outside, ESPN reporter and not the coach! I have never, in any sport in my entire life, heard a coach use third-person and passive voice when describing his own players.

  • When asked about the poor performances, he replies sarcastically: "Well, it's not mathematical!", or "If I knew I'd have fixed it already!", or "If there was a guaranteed way to win, everyone would be doing it!"

  • The coach has been totally and utterly unwilling to change systems. To everyone with eyes, a 4-2-3-1 would allow the team's two most creative players-- Luis Alberto and Daichi Kamada-- to play in their natural positions, while freeing up Rovella-- who would be paired with Guendouzi-- to do more forward-playmaking. Even when point-blank pleaded to by his players-- "Can we please try a 4-2-3-1?", the coach flatly replied: "No."

Just like with Davide Ballardini in 2009, Maurizio Sarri has totally and absolutely destroyed the psyches of his players. There is no restitution which can repair that damage: only sacking the squad or the coach will work. Since the squad can't be sacked, it's the coach who must go.

From the day he got here, the players did not fit his tactical system and did not enjoy playing that way. But riding the crest of the superb man-manager Simone Inzaghi, their spirits were high: "We'll try our best!" But over time, having to put in two hundred percent "stretch" effort every game took its emotional toll. The final straw came when Sarri requested players which were literally impossible to acquire-- was Lotito supposed to bound and gag Zielinski, and throw him into the trunk of a car?-- and now has spent a season pouting in the dugout about it.

With no Milinkovic-Savic to wallpaper over the deficiencies, the Lazio environment cascaded into total system failure.

But instead of replacing the coach, the language out of the Lazio camp is "Well, let's see if the team responds against Cagliari." This is probably the tenth time they have said that this year: "Things are terrible, but let's see how the team does in match XYZ." Meanwhile, we're thirty feet from the guardrail, and there is no foot yet over the brake pedal. Thankfully there is no threat of relegation this time-- but this is the "last chance saloon" at achieving our season's goals.

A couple of years ago, I was as excited as anyone that we landed Maurizio Sarri. In the "Venn diagram" of coaches who could win us a Scudetto, and who we could afford, there are very few names. But Sarri is perhaps the most eccentric coach in world football: he doesn't last more than a season or two, in most places he goes. Now I understand why.

He has a 240 million EUR squad to work with. It's not the players, numerous of which are internationally recognized. Lots of teams throughout Europe would love any of our quartet of superb central defenders; they would love Alberto or Zaccagni, or Guendouzi, or a big physical fullback like Pellegrini-- I could go on and on. Daichi Kamada is tied for the team's most expensive player at twenty million EUR, and Sarri doesn't even attempt to find a way to leverage his skills.

A change is needed, and there appears to be only one way out.
Microsoft and Palworld - 15:13 CST, 1/26/24 (Sniper)
Someone today asked me what I thought of all of the layoffs at Microsoft, which you can read below. I didn't do any editing, so it's conversational in tone-- yet it gets my point across. The conversation shifted then to "Palworld", and I've included my response regarding that topic as well. Enjoy!


The State of Xbox

First off and on a more general note, the entire neo-liberal / technocratic neo-serfdom model is essentially in collapse mode: the top-down push for electric cars is imploding; the co-opted "news" outlets like "Sports Illustrated", "Buzzfeed", the "LA Times", and so forth are shuttering much / most / all of their operations; the establishment games "journalists" are being laid off by the thousands.

Woke Disney is in total collapse; huge corporations like Embracer are laying off huge parts of their people; "We need more people with green hair in wheelchairs engineering planes" Boeing has the doors and landing gear flying off of their aircraft; the military can't recruit white dudes to save their lives now for totally obvious reasons-- the trust is gone, so their army is at the lowest total count in over 80 years.

I could go on and on and on, but you get the picture.

Microsoft fits right into this: they make-- quite frankly-- super woke, politically-charged games pushing "The Message", which can't even run properly or which have major performance problems; and that's when they can make games at all-- they went the entire year of 2022 and didn't release a single game, hahaha. Then in 2023 they had Redfall, Starfield-- now running seriously into negative territory on Steam reviews-- then "Redfall with cars" in the new Forza Motorsport, which is so bad I can scarcely believe it even exists.

Their stuff is boring, bland, painfully ideological, creatively bankrupt, as dull and milquetoast as you can get. They can't even produce functional software. Am I surprised that they laid off 1900 people? Not even remotely.

Then you get to Phil Spencer who is, bluntly, a total dufus. He seems like a friendly guy, sort of, but is not an assertive leader with a clear strategy. What's more, he's a total "old boys club" kind of guy, who promotes his friends and gets rid of his enemies, regardless of results. One of the original Xbox members from 1999/2000, I can't recall her name, just left Microsoft, and she said as much: it's this tiny group of friends running the show, all semblance of meritocracy is gone.

She was super successful, yet got the axe because she stood up to people she wouldn't name (Phil, obviously).

In this latest cut, Mike Ybarra was one of the casualties. My understanding is that he's one of the few competent people who was still there-- but he wasn't playing ball, so he's gone. Meanwhile, the guy who was the "VP of Forza and Fable" (??? Why do they have VPs of certain games??) was promoted to a head role. In the last five years he released zero Fable games (hahaha), and was in charge for six years of the new Forza Motorsport debacle (not even a strong enough term).

On top of all of that, clearly the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing over there. Phil Spencer comes out and says, "No matter how many good games we release no one will buy an Xbox over a PlayStation". Yet, one half of the Xbox division is all-in on new hardware, even though no one buys it, no one wants it, market share in some European countries such as France is literally 96/4 percent for Sony (haha). Then the other part of the division is like, "Screw hardware, we're all in on cloud, Play Anywhere! Any screen, even Switch and PlayStation 5, why not?!"

Again, Phil Spencer is the boss over there: it's up to him to set the strategic direction. Instead, he's all-in on nepotism and his house is in total chaos, unable to deliver basic functioning un-political software, and is wasting billions engineering hardware no one wants. It's like the inmates running the asylum over there! Satya Nadella doesn't care because Azure revenue has taken his company to a three trillion dollar market cap-- he can throw monopoly money over to Xbox right now, sure, who cares.

So that's where we are right now with Microsoft, in my humble opinion. I could write a diatribe about Sony and their ill-fated and imploding "live service games" push, but that can be for another day. For now, I'm all-in on "AA" PC and Steam Deck games, you know?


Palworld

Ok, so here is my take: Palworld is the absolute antithesis of everything the "establishment" game industry currently stands for.

It was a handful of dudes in a small office randomly tossing together assets they bought from the "Unreal Engine Store" until they'd made a fun game.

They didn't have an HR ladies with $250k salaries telling them not to have characters with boobs, or not to "offend" this that or the other group, they didn't have play tested "focus groups" telling them to make another walking simulator with Hollywood music, they didn't have "diversity and equity initiatives", and on and on and on.

They just made a fun game, and put it on Steam. The game is heart-felt, feels very authentic, down-to-Earth, like it was a game made just for the heck of it, because it was a game they wanted to make, not the marketers, not the HR ladies. It's kind of janky and weird, and that gives it loads of personality.

And people have responded to that! Meanwhile, the "establishment" AAA "developers" with the mental illness haircuts are like "But gaming development is hard!! They must have cheated somehow!!" The "journalists" are like, "We didn't gatekeep or bless this game!"

Then, the CEO turns out to be totally based, "You know people are criticizing the game", and he replies with "Yeah I know, we don't care".

So I think the message here is, just make games from the heart. Obviously Palworld is also cashing in on Game Freak still using their engine from the original DS days and thus being unable to deliver a competent modern-day Pokemon game-- I'm not saying you can just make a heart-felt game and get rich on Steam. There were like 140,000 games published over there in 2023 alone, and 99% of them didn't make any money at all.

But what I am saying is, the industry is currently controlled and dominated by one group, which has one world view and one "right" way of doing things-- and I think Palworld has exposed a massive chink in their armor, to the point where they feel very threatened by it, and are doing everything in their power to get the game "canceled".
Gaming's Final Form - 06:43 CST, 1/24/24 (Sniper)
I just canceled my PlayStation 5 pre-order for "Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth"-- I'm going to buy it on Steam instead.

As horrible as Microsoft is, and as buggy as their software has always been, right now Windows 11 with Ryzen CPUs and Nvidia GPUs, plus the latter's drivers, have really settled into a stable equilibrium: every time I boot my PC and play a game, with that cool Lazio "Series" controller I custom-ordered a year or two ago, everything "just works": the game runs, whatever game that may be, no crashes, perfect HDR, and hitting between eighty and one hundred and twenty frames per second, on my LG C3 OLED TV with G-Sync.

Almost unbelievably, even the dreaded "Xbox Game Bar" has been one hundred percent working. The subsequent workflow of copying the captured screenshots and videos to my M2 MacBook Air for publishing or editing in the fabulous "iMovie" has been working seamlessly.

The final element which brings the ecosystem full circle is the OLED Steam Deck: it's a better version of the Nintendo Switch, for the PC environment; it has surprisingly impressive performance-- dialed down graphics settings aren't very noticeable on the device's display, and the ability to lock the screen to a given refresh rate is almost as good as VRR; and on top of that, it's an HDR-capable "Wii U Gamepad" for the PC, thanks to Steam's "Remote Play".

Of course, online play is gratis, and the whole ecosystem is so wide open that one can edit files anywhere on disk down to the binary level with hex editors if they so choose. Want to make games? No expensive dev kit or licensing required. Want to run emulators? Wide open. Want to connect to a CRT TV with a custom overscan-circumventing resolution? Works flawlessly.
Hot Cakes - 09:42 CST, 1/22/24 (Sniper)
There is a very good footballer named Anwar El Ghazi who had his contract flat-out terminated by Mainz because he said that Israel should stop carpet bombing children. Lazio might be able to pick this "canceled" guy up on a free transfer as a result.

Remember: Mainz is a German club-- that country is up there with luminaries such as England and New Zealand in the "most dystopian" category. I guess you can't have an opinion and a job at the same time in Germany. In any event, one club's loss is another club's treasure.

In other Lazio-related news, there were reports that Sergej drove all the way to the airport in Saudi Arabia, hugged his former teammates, and talked to both Lotito and Sarri: "Get me out of here, I want to come back!" Now today I'm reading that the reports were sensationalized.


Cool Car

Lots of interesting stuff from this article. It brings to mind how far backwards cars have gone in terms of gas mileage: the model discussed in the article got fifty miles per gallon on the highway. Not only that, but it was a manual transmission, didn't have any annoying computerized nonsense, cost only three grand-- twelve grand in today's Monopoly money-- and it looked awesome too!

Even the commercial embedded in the article is hilarious: why can't they make advertising like that anymore? I guess the blue-haired mob on The Twatter would say the guy suffers from the Toxico Masculinitos or some such nonsense. Blackrock would pull the advertising agency's funding, Wells Fargo would debank them, and Creepy Joe would call them "white supremacists" at his next press conference, as written right there on the notecard handed to him by his staffer.

It's also worth noting that the article mentions the average cost of a new home in the USSA: over four hundred grand. "Average" anything can be misleading because it's including one hundred square foot million dollar WEF crates in New York City or California-nia-- but even in my rural area practically in the middle of nowhere, the houses are pretty much all over three hundred grand.


Upcoming Games

My son and I each re-subscribed to Game Pass on PC for one month to "rent" Palworld so we could try it out. I made a quick video showing off how your Pokemon Pals automatically help out around your base. Minecraft aside I'm not generally a big fan of these janky "survival" games-- it's not really "my genre", frankly-- but I'm having a lot of fun with this one. The "technology"-oriented progression system is well paced.

I'm not sure what kinds of legs this game will have though: right now it's basically one hundred percent banking on the aforementioned progression system-- it's not like a voxel title such as Minecraft, where you have digital Legos and can build anything: the construction and exploration aspects of Palworld don't seem particularly interesting.

All of that said, this game is the equivalent of Minecraft in alpha, way back in 2009, when that title had like four block types. I can't even imagine what Palworld will be like in a year, two years, three years, and so forth. I did some quick napkin math: at twenty seven dollars per pop, five million sales, thirty percent cut to Gabe, forty percent to the extortion racket called the "government", that still leaves them with a cool fifty seven million bucks to pour into the game's further development.

Setting aside Palworld, I have "Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth" coming in the mail for PlayStation 5 on Friday. I'm also still trying to wrap up "Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising" on Steam Deck. And I bought a really awesome custom hint guide for the original "Phantasy Star" along with the apparently amazing Switch port of that title -- I am going to play through that game for the first time ever.

Shifting away from Western triple-A games and towards double-A titles-- particularly those made in Japan-- has given me renewed interest in the hobby.
Aerial Mission to Burma - 20:39 CST, 1/20/24 (Sniper)
My son and I recently finished a historical biography of the famous Christian missionary Adoniram Judson. The book really brought the country of Burma to life-- so much so that we thought it would be fun to hop into Flight Simulator 2020 and take the exact route which Adoniram and his wife, Ann, had taken to get to Rangoon and, later, Ava.

The flight plan thus followed their path: we started in Calcutta, went South via the river and over the sea-- then headed East all the way to Chittagong. We then followed the Western coast line of Burma-- which is called "Myanmar" today-- South, and rounded the very Southern-most tip. We entered the Rangoon river, went North to Rangoon itself-- which is called "Yangon" these days-- then continued all the way North, following the Irrawaddy river straight to the ruins of Ava, just South of modern-day Mandalay.

In other words, this is the exact route Adoniram and Ann sailed on that fateful first voyage. With that said, let's start the pictures with Calcutta: here we are, right after take-off. As we traveled out of India, we flew well beneath some cool-looking airliners. As always, click on any of the pictures for larger versions.









After traveling East all the way across the sea, we arrived in Chittagong. Here is what the place looks like today. We landed and re-fueled our plane.









We took off and proceeded South, mountains on our left, the sea on our right. We flew over a lot of little farms and the like. The Southern-most tip of Myanmar is filled with tons of rivers. Eventually we came to the mouth of the Rangoon river-- it's amazing that this is exactly what Adoniram and Ann would have seen, except down at sea level of course.

We followed the river North a short way and reached Rangoon-proper. It's a huge city today-- in large part I'm sure because of the Christian values they helped to bring there!













I was really hoping against all odds that they would have modeled the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is mentioned numerous times in the book. Alas, the game tried its best with the satellite imagery, hah. Nevertheless, we landed and re-fueled the plane again. We saw some cool parked planes as well.











We took off and went North. We flew over what looked like infinite jungle in all directions! What's very strange though is that at about the mid-point between Rangoon and Ava, the terrain changes from dense jungle to dry, rocky-looking land. We forged ahead, following the Irawaddy river just as Adoniram and Ann once did.







And then, the big moment... we had reached Ava! Of course, none of the ruins were modeled in-game-- but you can see from the satellite imagery where the remains of the walls are, and where there are surviving buildings! You can also get a really good perspective of the exact scale of Ava. It must have been super impressive by the standards of those days-- but it's tiny compared to modern cities, stretching really only several city blocks. The last screenshot is the view from above Mandalay, looking back at the ancient ruins.













In Mandalay, a city which was apparently only built in 2002--? I saw a strange looking set of red-roofed buildings, as well as a large, exactly square-shaped area. Bizarre, and worth further research. The city looks very centrally-planned, sort of like what was the case in the old Soviet Union. In any event, we landed and thus ended our long adventure.









A couple of final thoughts: the distances between all of these places was vast: now I understand why it took them weeks and even months to get from place-to-place, with all sorts of death and other misadventures occurring along the way. Even flying in a modern twin-engine plane straight from point-to-point, the longest of these legs too hours to fly.

On a technical note, this was the first time I'd run Flight Simulator 2020 on my Ryzen 7700x / RTX 4070 Ti PC, and it was astonishing: I enabled DLSS 3 Frame Generation support, and via G-Sync on my LG C3 OLED the game was running anywhere from 85 to 115 fps! To say it was butter-smooth is an understatement.
Crazy World - 10:14 CST, 1/13/24 (Sniper)
Eric Peters has been on an absolute tear lately, to the point where-- even setting cars aside-- he's the most interesting person I read online these days.

Here he reviews the latest Subaru Outback, and explains that if you so much as glance into your side mirrors, the car starts beeping at you to "keep your eyes on the road"! When I was taught how to drive in the 90s, I was told "always scan your mirrors", and to "never glue your eyes straight ahead permanently and lose track of everything happening spatially around you." So much for that, I guess. This car would quite literally be undriveable for me-- I would need to return it to the dealership.

The most notable thing is that he's the only car reviewer who points this stuff out! My GR86 is almost totally nag-free, but the GR Corolla has a few irritating things about it-- I read and listened to probably thirty reviews of the car, and not one of them brought up the annoyances. It just goes to show how car pundits, just like video game pundits, and especially just like political pundits, are all in for the Beast System.

Meanwhile, here he is correctly equating New York City's "Eric Adams's" idea to coerce illegal aliens into people's homes with the character "Dr. Zhivago". A really sad thing came to me yesterday on this very topic: I brought this story up to a close friend of mine, and said "How would you like Mohammed Akbar from Syria bunking in your thirteen year-old daughter's room?" Then later in the day not two hours later, I found out from another friend that in December a Muslim man from Egypt got into the house of his-- get this, thirteen year-old niece-- and sexually assaulted her, brandishing a knife.

I hate being right-- I wish I were wrong about everything. Needless to say, her and her entire family will be in my prayers. Please pray for them all also.

Finally, here is Eric Peters describing modern cars as "mobile panopticons", because the new models will have "AI" integrated in them, and will be listening to absolutely everything you say. I'm not even sure I trust the wife's GR Corolla: I was talking to her in the car the other day while driving, and the car kept thinking I was addressing it-- so I knew it was listening. I had said something disparaging about the FBI, and said to her "Countdown until agents show up at our house after having eavesdropped through my own vehicle." These new "AI"-based cars are going to take things to the next level!


Woke Usurpation

Out of all the things I never thought the Woketards would take over, it would be institutions like "SETI". Yet here we are! Better be careful to not say anything "offensive" around trans bacteria or anything. This wokeness, Cultural Marxist, Frankfurt School thing is a disease-- it is a mind virus, and the people who get infected by it become sick and nutty: it's like this thick pair of tinted glasses gets glued to their retinas, and they view every single moment of everything through the lens of "The Current Thing".

Every single time they open their mouths, every single sentence has something to do with: "oppressed" something-or-another; women; "climate change"; praise of extreme sexual sinning and deviancy; or idolatry of "brown people". It's impossible to even have a conversation with them-- they are so boring and so predictable and so narrow-focused, that it feels like talking to some kind of primitive "AI" system. That's where the NPC meme comes from.

I am so sick of "The Message" that when I see something which is pushing it on me, I essentially chuck that thing right into the trash. Recently I was handed a "Synodal Letter" from my Diocesan Bishop, and even right in the Catholic Church there are people getting infected by the woke mind virus-- it's very disturbing. His whole letter is "bing, bing, bing", one stupid woke talking point after another. Here is an example:



It's hard to know where to even begin with this. These people aren't even worshipping Christ at this point: they are worshipping Karl Marx, or Herbert Marcuse, or Klaus Schwab. Remember: Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple-- Jesus was in favor of borders! He was in favor of rules! He wasn't some kind of "anything goes" anarchist hippy.

God gave us the Ten Commandments through Moses: "Thou shalt not steal", "Thou shalt not kill", and so forth. What are those about? Borders! Borders enforcing individual autonomy. Borders protecting property. There are lines which are there, and which shouldn't be crossed.

They hold hands through the fence and cry. Are they saying that nations of peoples shouldn't have the right to self-determination-- that they should be enslaved? And if not, then why are they crying? It'd be like me standing out in the yard holding hands with someone, saying "Oh my, I wish there weren't clouds, I feel such solidarity dreaming about a world without clouds!" Well, how would it rain without clouds? We'd all die!

God gave us free will, i.e. freedom of association. He gave us this gift so we would have to choose to associate with Him. But He also gave us the gift knowing it would allow us to freely associate-- or not!-- with other people. While we should love our neighbor, we should also condemn their sins. I don't think it is God's will or Jesus's teachings that we shouldn't have boundaries to protect ourselves-- it's right in the Ten Commandments, as I mention above.

It feels weird having to point this out to a bishop. Has he forgotten scripture?

But it's not just about borders. Take anthropogenic climate change: it's B.S. first of all, and second, the Catholic Church seems to be proposing a global government to deal with the "threat". Have they not read the Book of Revelation? Or how about this one: I heard a Catholic recently say, "I was at a Hispanic festival and felt a thrill go up my leg because I was surrounded by all brown people with brown hair."

Which religion do these things sound like: Christianity, or Cultural Marxism? You tell me, because I have my opinions about it.

And that leads me to my final observation: this woke mind virus disease is dangerous! The people infected by it can't think clearly, or use their brains! And like a blind man holding a lit torch tripping and fumbling around inside a wooden obstacle course, they are going to destroy nations, destroy religions, and ultimately destroy the world.


VAR

I've written many times about so-called "VAR" over the past several years, such as here and here. In the pre-VAR days, referees hardly ever made mistakes-- and when they did, the crowd would get mad, but the action would resume in seconds and everyone would move on. But with VAR, the whole game stops; the crowd has what feels like an eternity to just stew, seeing the replay over and over; then the referee goes over, watches the screen, still gets the decision wrong; then he's got sixty thousand people shouting at him, and the whole thing turns into a three ring circus.

Check this out-- and this is just in one league! Major match-defining decisions are routinely being messed up, with the game stoppages in place! Further, the referees are clearly being told, "If you see an obvious penalty or offside or violent foul, just let it go and VAR will clean it up", which makes the officials look like buffoons. And the reason? Then VAR proponents can say, "Ahhh, good thing we have this system! Look, it caught that penalty which was missed!"

In the same way that all of the nanny assists in cars are making people worse drivers-- "I don't need to pay attention because the car will just ding at me"-- VAR is making referees worse: they aren't as focused because they have this perceived "safety net" beneath them. But because they are less focused, they go over to the screen and still monkey things up. If I were in charge, I'd axe VAR instantly, and just go back to the way refereeing used to be.

New doesn't mean better. I recently had my priest friend say, "Oftentimes things are in place for a good reason; traditions are like the 'democracy of the dead'." Most of the time these days, new actively means worse.


Balance

As I wrote here, I was close to finally achieving some modicum of peace. Five freaking days being back in my career? All of that peace has evaporated, and all of the worst aspects of my character have resurfaced. My career brings out the absolute worst in me, and my next struggle is to figure out how to reconcile it with who God wants me to be as a person.

The best case scenario would be for me to get laid off: I would get nine months of full severance pay, and I could spend hours praying for the calling on what to do with the next phase of my life. Maybe I would become a school computer teacher? Perhaps I would move to some other city or state and become a full-time Sacristan? Maybe I would become a Christian missionary, and move to another country? Or, maybe I would keep working from home and get a job at a place like Gab, where I could do God's work within software engineering?

I do pray every night, but I feel so constantly harried and stressed and busy, that it's tough to keep my heart open and receptive to what God is potentially saying to me. In any event, I will continue to post about this journey I am on, in the event that it helps others out there.
The Future? - 15:59 CST, 1/08/24 (Sniper)
Back before the official Nintendo "NX" unveiling, I put all of the rumors together and explained to a friend: "It might be a handheld which connects to the TV... maybe via a dock? Then when it's in the dock, the controllers... will be wireless... will... come off the system somehow? I'm not sure." My friend was vehement: "Nope, they won't do that, nope, absolutely not." Hah, it's fun to reflect.

Doing that same operation now, all of these years later, the Switch successor might:

  • Be based on the Ampere-generation "Orin" Tegra chipset. It will have Tensor Cores and will support hardware ray-tracing. It will support what people are teasingly calling "DLSS 3.2": frame generation, but not ray generation.

  • Be backwards compatible with the current Switch; a high-up at Nintendo said the whole key to transitioning consumers to the new hardware will be "the account system". I don't know any way to interpret that other than people will be able to continue to use the massive expenditures they made in the existing Switch software ecosystem.

  • Have a Game Card slot which will be wider than the original Switch's, but be able to accept cards of both widths-- the old and the new.

  • Use at least one new gimmick. It would be surprising if its primary parlor trick wasn't AR. Maybe it will be like the AR cards from the 3DS, but greatly fleshed out and expanded upon?

  • Have a form factor a bit different than the current Switch. The present hardware is a handheld which can optionally be put into a dock to get TV-out. Language around the new hardware suggests, verbatim, that "the screen comes off of the console for portable play." I suspect everyone will be in for a huge surprise once the physical appearance of the new system is unveiled.


The Beast System

Read this article and tell me that the development of "AI" shouldn't be internationally banned, the same way in which chemical weapons are. For every possible "benefit" of "AI" I can imagine, I can see ten horrific disasters it will almost certainly cause. It is absolutely part of The Beast System which is being put in place.


Demographics of the Left

It's fun hearing a non-American take a shot at describing the demographics of American Leftists. He's sort of close, but not quite right. There is only one group which supports modern-day Leftism: white women and their cucked white husbands. What's more, it's a vertical slice both in terms of age and income.

Robbinsdale, the crime-infested city I moved from had a lot of low-income, ugly SJWs with nose rings and purple hair move in. Every single one of them was white, and every single one of them immediately put fifty million signs in their yards: "In this household we believe...", "No justice, no peace!", and so forth.

In suburbia, the supporting white women are older professionals, many of them executives at corporations. They sip wine and take ski vacations to Aspen. They have Keith Ellison signs in their yards and "worry" about "climate change" as they drive their massive SUVs everywhere.

Finally, there are the elderly boomers. They were the moronic young-- at the time-- white women who bought into hippy movement.

I once saw a voting demographic map, where if you remove white women votes the entire country turns red.

This is partially off-topic, but I thought it was an insightful comment:

"The only thing more boring than the left's clinical psychopathy is watching right wingers try to understand it as a system.

Cluster B personality disorders. The 'left' doesn't have politics, they have individual personality disorders that make them want to take or break your stuff because you have it and they don't and that manifests collectively as 'politics.'

Truth is almost all of them don't understand the symbols they march under to take or break your stuff, but they don't care."


This analysis has truth in it. Women are much more prone to neuroticism and mental disorders than men. As Leftist men have lower testosterone on average, they veer towards the same kinds of mental issues from which women suffer.


Top-Down Pushing Not Working

There are some really encouraging signs that the "EeeVee" push to ultimately get rid of personal transportation altogether is going to fail. I read that less than half of Ford dealerships are even bothering to carry phones-on-wheels this year; numerous companies have cut back or eliminated external combustion engine "car" manufacturing; China has huge parking lots of abandoned "EeeVees" just sitting there, rusting out; now I'm reading that in the UK, where the pushing has been the strongest, sales have gone backwards year-on-year. Excellent!

One other interesting thing is that Chrysler is selling a "classic" version of their pickup trucks, without all of the garbage. I wonder if this will become "a thing"? It would be cool if companies did this to sports cars: sell then "bare bones" for as cheap as possible.


Eye of the Beholder

Look at how beautiful England was as recently as the 1960s. As is obvious now in retrospect, forces were in place all the way back then and beyond to utterly destroy that way of life-- and everything we see today is a manifestation of that plan, now almost complete. To think there were malcontents back then who looked around at the lovely society and thought, "I hate this and want to tear it down."
What Can’t Go On Forever Won't - 09:47 CST, 1/06/24 (Sniper)
Someone recently asked me, "What do yall think is next [for video games]? more woke? woke indies? ruined remasters? industry collapse?"

I used to think that I had very different views from most people. But over time I started to notice that the general public would usually follow my lead, just a handful of years after I'd taken the posture. During the Scamdemic, I realized immediately how silly the face diapering thing was. Now, almost everyone agrees with me-- it just took them a few years to come around to it, after the fear of the Kung Flu lessened a bit. Another example is external combustion-engined cars: I was against them when everyone was saying "they are the future", in lock-step-- now I'm seeing editorials on places like Zero Hedge, which don't normally cover cars, echoing what I was saying a few years ago.

I have given up on Western-made games. They are ideological, they are preachy, they are smarmy, they are unoriginal, they lack any kind of personality, and they don't even hold up technically. When "Rift Apart" made seventy million dollars but was unprofitable, that indicated to me that they are also financially unsustainable. Even a year ago, I was buying and forcing myself to play these games, mostly out of habit. But from here-on-out, they won't see another red cent from me.

It's going to take a few years, but eventually I suspect almost everyone will see it my way: they will grow out of the angsty wokeness phase and start to laugh at it; they will stop buying the games; and the triple-A part of the industry will phase out. These developers will shift focus to what we might call "double-A" budgets-- smaller, more limited-in-scope titles-- and will ditch the ideological stuff. Maybe this will reach critical momentum in, let's say, 2026.

The Japanese are already there: the list is huge, and observe how almost every game mentioned is a lower-budget title. It's not all roses there either, as most of their output is stuff like this: very cookie-cutter and somewhat generic. All the same, it's not actively offensive in any way, and the anime aesthetic and melody-focused music is always pleasing.
Salvation - 17:03 CST, 1/05/24 (Sniper)
Regular readers will know that for the past twelve-or-so years I've been struggling with this crippling anxiety-related issue known as "derealization". For new readers, it's like living in a fog or a haze; like you're watching a movie instead of living a real life; like there is a pane of glass between you and others, to the point where you can't emotionally connect with anything-- you're just going through the motions.

I've been in therapy twice, and it was not particularly helpful either time. However, for the first time in that entire period, I've achieved a sort of breakthrough.

The breakthrough really started perhaps fifteen years ago, even before I was derealized, as God was in this long, patient process of bringing me back to Him. He kept dropping me things-- little articles, or blog posts, or books my dad would send me-- that operated on my intellectual side. Then, He brought me and my family to the rural area, and the drive to the house involves passing this beautiful, very old Catholic Church-- my wife got sick me saying, "If I ever go back, it's going to be at that church". And indeed it came to pass.

When I came back to Jesus, my wife went with me, to the point where not only is she super close to The Father now, but she is going through the RCIA process to become Catholic! My kids were also baptized, and had first communion. But back to RCIA, I go to class with my wife every Thursday, both to support her and to continue my own faith journey via education. Through the RCIA class, I have come into contact with numerous people, all of whom have played some kind of role in bringing me closer to God.

One of the people there has provided me with half of what may be the final key I need to bust out of my derealization bubble. I've mentioned her on this site a few times already, in passing: she is a ninety-two year-old Sister who has been a nun for seventy years. She is very clearly at peace: if I want to be at peace, it makes sense to ask someone else who has already achieved it!

I kept praying for the courage, and an opportunity, to confide in her one-on-one about my anxiety issues. Sure enough, at class a few weeks ago, she approached me after class to give me a beautiful Pastoral Letter from our bishop: "I thought you might enjoy this!"

I took a huge "gulp!" and, fighting back tears the whole time, explained to her what's going on with me. After listening she said, to my total astonishment, "Yes, some decades ago I was seeing a psychiatrist for the same thing! One day the psychiatrist asked me to describe God. I started listing off adjectives. After several, I became stunned as I realized: I was describing me! Then I re-read through some of my journal entries. In one I said, 'God and I are partners-- but I am the senior partner.' The solution was for me to drop my ego, to stop trying to control everything, and to just let go of all of that."

Over the ensuing several nights, I prayerfully took her words to Jesus, and on one of those nights He hit me like a ton of bricks: it's my ego! I'm an arrogant asshole! I'm constantly trying to show off to others how smart I am! I tell myself I'm trying to help people with my knowledge-- but if I'm really honest with myself, I'm showing off: it's not real empathy I'm experiencing. It's like that concept of "Illumination of Conscience": God revealed to me how I truly am.

That was the first part of the puzzle. God bless this Sister, and thank Jesus for bringing her and I together! It's an incredible blessing.

But that was just the first half of the key. The second half came just a few days ago from this fellow, KJ Ozborne. I listened to his New Year's show, and all of these wonderful callers he had. It was the most at peace I'd been in many years. I felt very humbled by the Testimonies of these people, and I realized as I listened that KJ and his amazing guests are the kind of people I want to mold myself after.

I still haven't popped out of the bubble, but now I have the two pieces of the needle, and have put them together. I've dropped my pretensions, and my trying to prove to everyone how smart I am. I've stopped feeding my ego, which is a genetic curse I got from my father and his father, who are and were-- respectively-- very prone to arrogance. For the first time, I can really feel Jesus's presence with me, hanging out with me, sitting beside me even as I type this.

Maybe by sharing this story I can help others feel more confident that if they truly turn to Christ-- to truth, to love, to light-- that no matter how bad or hopeless they may feel, that salvation is there for them too.
Game Development Pipeline - 18:17 CST, 1/01/24 (Sniper)
I've almost poured a full-time job's worth of effort this past week into getting an end-to-end workflow going for modern game development. It involves:

  • Writing Haxe code against the HaxeFlixel Framework in Visual Studio Code on an M2 MacBook Air.

  • Drawing pixel art in the Mac version of the incredible "Aseprite", then using those tile sets and sprites within the Mac version of the "Ogmo Editor 3" level editor.

  • Composing and outputting music within and from GarageBand, also on the Mac, by using the "Magical 8bit Plug 2" plugin.

  • Performing native macOS, GNU/Linux, and Windows builds via a series of CI/CD shell scripts, which automate the build work and the shuffling of the files around my network.

  • Seamlessly testing the builds on the MacBook, Windows, and Steam Deck, hooked up to my CRT television.

After looking over all of the old game platforms, I've settled on the Sega Master System. I think 8-bit graphics are the most evocative, and the Master System is the best 8-bit platform of the bunch in my opinion. Once I decided on the system to imitate, I set about making a proof-of-concept game-- here it is running on my TV via the Steam Deck:



You can view all of my code and assets here. The song I composed for it is within that repo, if you want to give it a listen.

The game is a "Hi-Bit" take on the Master System: the music uses waveforms which are more similar to the NES than the PSG in Sega's system; I am using the exact tile sizes which real Master System games use, 16x16 with 16x32 "double height" sprites, with the authentic Master System palette-- but of course, I have "unlimited" memory and CPU performance, leading to a sort of "Sonic Mania" situation.

I'm absolutely thrilled to have this entire pipeline and framework in place. Now I can set about making actual games, versus this tutorial-based proof-of-concept. The parlor trick of every game I make is that each one is going to have a "CRT TV mode"-- everything will be designed to look beautiful on a 4:3 CRT with scanlines, with overscan compensated for in terms of HUD layouts and the like.

On modern 16:9 displays, I am going to have some cool border art, perhaps with optional information which is not critical to playing the game, and I will apply some kind of CRT filter to the output to give it as authentic of a look as possible.

Interestingly, the native GNU/Linux build does not run on the Steam Deck, due to that operating system having too old of a version of GLIBC. However, the Windows build works perfect with Proton! Once I finish an actual game and sell it on Steam, I will make sure it's advertised as being Steam Deck verified.
Kids in the Matrix - 09:30 CST, 12/27/23 (Sniper)
I really enjoyed this video from John Linneman, painstakingly retracing the history of the "Road Rash" series. I do feel compelled to make an addendum of sorts to his 3DO section however, with some clarifications and corrections.

The 3DO was only expensive in 1993; in 1994 the price dropped to $400, and by the time the PSX and Saturn came out, it was $250-- more than a hundred dollars less than those two machines after you factored in a game plus a memory card for the former. The 3DO did not fail because it was expensive.

I don't know how the roads are drawn in "Road Rash" on 3DO, but the scenery is not "polygonal" with "texture maps applied"-- the 3DO does not have any kind of 3D geometry hardware at all! Every single thing in a 3DO game is a "sprite"-- a quad. Dave Needle's custom graphics co-processors-- the "CEL Engine"-- allow you to provide Z coordinates for "sprite" corners, and the hardware knows how to draw the "sprite" in a perspective-correct manner. You can "glue" these angled "sprites" together, positioning them so they are touching, to make "3D" environments.

For each frame in the game's loop, the quads, or "sprites", are fed into the provided API in the form of a linked list, with flags for each one to activate various built-in hardware effects, such as brightness, color tint, alpha transparency, or rotation.

Linneman discusses the ports to other platforms, but those aren't apples-to-apples with the 3DO original: the PSX and PC renderers were re-created from the ground up to use actual polygons, which undoubtedly required a lot of asset re-work to convert the quads into viable textures which artistically looked faithful to the 3DO's quad renderer. You can see this when John turns on geometry rendering in his PSX emulator: triangles! As for the Saturn port, like the 3DO Sega's hardware was also quad-based-- so I'm assuming they could lift the assets straight over, and just re-write the "CEL Engine" calls to do whatever the Saturn needed to draw the frame.

As for the music, I wouldn't say that the 3DO's custom DSP is "sequenced music" per se, although it does fundamentally operate with samples I suppose. He is correct about why licensed music isn't used during gameplay: the 3DO has a pretty big bottleneck with the disc I/O, so the music would start skipping during races had they opted that route. It doesn't skip during the menu transitions, but that's because they buffer an absurd amount of song time, since they have memory to burn when the race engine is being used.

The 3DO DSP soundtrack is by Don Veca, the same guy who did the "Road Rash 3" music on the Mega Drive. Personally, I like his "Road Rash" music better than Rob Hubbard's, all due respect.

As for why the PSX port uses a lower color-depth and dithering: the 3DO's hardware supports totally arbitrary color depths for its assets; you can load a 5-bit quad, for example, and the hardware can draw it. This allowed 3DO developers at the time to maximize VRAM usage. The PSX, by contrast, can only use powers-of-two for texture and sprite color depths. In the case of my hypothetical 5-bit color usage, a PSX port would need to jump all the way up to 8-bit color-- impossible, due to a lack of VRAM-- or drop down to 4-bit color, and introduce dithering. Most 3DO-to-PSX ports look worse on the PSX for this reason, "Road Rash" included.


Everything Within the Ideology

The opening premise in this video is positively hilarious-- it's Vee at his best. Joking aside, here is an article where the Left's ideology takes a dark turn. Combine it with some of the things mentioned in this thread, and it paints a bleak picture of the realities of young kids today.

People often say to me, "But Sniper, every generation thinks kids are going to turn out poorly!", or, "But events very often seem bad to people at the time!" All of that is undoubtedly true-- but I counter with the observation that what we're experiencing today is unprecedented: never in human history have we had a small cabal of borderline-trillionaires with the technology and will to institute global serfdom-- and never before have we had hundreds of millions of small children essentially living in the matrix, while being "educated" by groomers.


Legitimacy

I think the answer to Vee's question here boils down to, "Is Hamas the 'legitimate' elected state apparatus for Palestine?" If the majority of the people there really do support Hamas, then like it or not they are Israel's negotiating partner. Conversely, if the people there vote for Hamas under extreme duress, ala North Korea or the old Soviet Union, then the case could be made, as the speaker states, that the path towards a "two-state" solution is unclear.

The reason this answer's Vee's question is because, if the people there are simply voting for Hamas under pressure, but don't authentically support Hamas, the European politicians could them claim-- perhaps with some truth, although we do know what their true motives are, and it's not to increase the quality of life in Europe-- that Palestinian refugees are A-OK for Europe, because they don't actually support Hamas.

Vee goes on to blame "the current thing" phenomenon on pragmatism-- "'the current thing' brings in more ad revenue...". I think that's part if the story-- but the larger concern for these people is ideological; they ride the wave of and propagate "the current thing" to "strike when the iron is hot", and so either spread or react on behalf of-- depending on how self-aware they are-- their worldview in those moments.

Of course, none of this justifies Israel dropping massive bombs and thus flattening an entire city's worth of children.


Insomniac Leak

I don't get all of the hand-wringing in the opening discourse of this Digital Foundry video.

I skimmed through much of the leaked material, and it's unclear to me why companies aren't this transparent as a matter of course. Why does our current culture so value corporate secrecy? For instance, Sony could have just dropped this slide deck onto their website for everyone to see, voluntarily. Ditto for the "Wolverine" demo and presentation videos; isn't there value, "Agile Manifesto"-style, in getting things in front of the end customer early ("fail early"), versus big banging it all at once later and then getting the negative feedback? The popularity of Steam's "Early Access" program attests that value.

Tellingly and some way into the conversation, Richard Leadbetter puts forth this principle: that there is a "statute of limitations", so-to-speak, and after that time passes, then it's ok to discuss the leaks because by then the leak is simply a "fact of life". But isn't the leak a "fact of life" the instant it occurs? What Leadbetter is admitting is that the hand-wringing is all about the feels-- because the facts won't have changed: we already knew-- materially-- immediately that the leak was the outcome of a ransomware attack.

To summarize, I think Digital Foundry and their ilk are wildly overstating the "harm" done by leaks such as this-- indeed, the only "harm" put forth in the entire discourse is that Linneman thinks people are too stupid to know that a game with no textures isn't finished; and that the pearl-clutching reactions are emotions-based virtue signaling, because it was stated that after some magical, arbitrary amount of time it's "ok" to discuss the leaked material.

One thought which crossed my mind: on some level, games "journalists" like the Digital Foundry people may feel threatened by leaks such as this, which could cause them to overestimate "the damage" in their minds-- after all, the normal route via which private corporate information gets unveiled to the public is either through direct advertising by the corporation itself, or just as commonly it is handed to outlets such as Digital Foundry, for carefully-curated and selective drip-feeding. But in the case of a leak, the media loses its gatekeeper status and thus its reason for existing.

All of that said, I'm not condoning the cracking into people's servers, as those servers are private property. I can understand that, if the home addresses of people were part of this leak (I haven't seen that, but maybe it was in there), then that becomes very uncomfortable or theoretically dangerous; and I do understand that Sony's share price is impacted by this uncontrolled release of information. But everything I have seen from the data exposed has been the kind of information I wish companies would simply make public anyway.