The Exigent Duality
Strange Times - 13:58 CST, 9/06/23 (Sniper)
While I was working yesterday, I happened to see it mentioned that "Starfield" was "unlocked" for everyone. Cool!

As soon as I was done working, I walked over to my PC, booted Windows 11, and launched the game from the "Xbox" app. A game window appeared, and said it was installing a ~117 GB update. "Holy Moses", I thought, "I already had the game installed, and it even had a ~13 GB update a day or two ago!" As the progress meter started moving, it said it was updating at ~477 MB per second. "Whew, it's just doing a one-time copy of some files already on disk, I guess."

Strange and annoying, but it is 2023 after all.

Maybe ten minutes later, the "update" was complete and the game launched. That's when the second odd thing occurred: the trademark Windows 11 "We've enabled Auto HDR for you" notification appeared. "Um, presumably 'Starfield' has a native HDR implementation, right? ... Right?!" Regardless, the menu system loaded, the backgrounds were pitch black, and the text was vibrant white. Naturally, I was greeted with an enormous "EULA"-- yes, in a single-player game-- but I'm desensitized to it by now, I suppose. It is 2023.

After signing away my 401k, I poked around the game's various settings briefly, and finally selected "New Game".

The opening scene rendered, and within three seconds I started laughing.

First, the very initial character I saw, two inches away, was a woman with a lesbian haircut. Once again, it's 2023-- so why not? You can never have enough dykes. I love strong empowered womyn with absolutely not abrasive personalities. I hope all the women in the game are lesbians with mental illness haircuts, that's my favorite kind of character design. Besides, lots of women typically work in mines, right? Totally not immersion destroying. But second, why the heck was the image so washed out? I walked back over to my laptop, and ran across videos like this one.

Imagine watching a movie with a night time scene on a CRT TV, with the brightness and contrast set to 100%: the whole scene would turn into a glowing, weird, gray, artifactey-looking mess. Or imagine buying "Sonic the Hedgehog" in 1991, plugging the cartridge into your Mega Drive, flipping the power switch, and realizing that the game was black and white due to a bug. That's how broken the graphics are in "Starfield".

They've been working on this game for how many years, and no one in their entire hundreds-of-people "studio" realized that the graphics were absolutely busted? How is that even possible? The odd part is, it's not apparent whether this is even a bug, or if it's intended behavior? Why do the menus display with great contrast? Do I really need to use mods to fix multi-billion dollar Bethesda's game, or can I count on them to release a patch to "fix" what they may not even see as an issue?

But it goes beyond that: over the past few days I'd skimmed through a good six or seven reviews of this game, plus watched the "Digital Foundry" coverage-- and no one deigned to mention that, oh I don't know, the game's graphics are absolutely broken out of the box and require mods to even be partially salvaged? How much money is Microsoft paying these people, and do they have any integrity whatsoever? Rhetorical question. So tonight, I'll dutifully install "ReShade" and see what I can do.

On an unrelated note, there is this to recover my mood.