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What I'm Up To - Week 52, 2019

Howdy! This is my weekly post where I talk about what I did over the past week. In actuality, I haven't posted for nearly 10 weeks, so this is kind of a catch up post.

I don't really have a lot to say. I expected that I would be back to programming in my free time by now, but I'm not. I've been enjoying the gaming PC I've built quite a bit and have played a number of video games. I might as well give a little rundown of what I've played so far here, since that's what I've been up to...


PC Games

DOOM: This is one of the games that I've been itching to play for years now, and successfully resisted getting the ugly Switch port. Does it live up to the hype? Yeah! I suppose so. It's a fast paced somewhat old school inspired successor to DOOM. Graphically beautiful, and pretty challenging. Best game of all time? No, and by the end I really just wanted it to be over. But it was great fun!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: This game for free with my graphics card, which is a good thing because if I had paid money for it, I would be pissed. That's not to insult it gravely: it's an incredibly beautiful, immersive FPS game--an absolute tour-de-force of modern PC graphics--marred by a cookie cutter boring story and cookie cutter boring gameplay. Again, by the last hour or two I just desperately wanted it to be over. I'm not a fan of the multiplayer, either, mostly because I'm too old to think constantly dying instantly is a challenge I care to surmount.

What Remains of Edith Finch: This game goes into my list of "games as art" that everyone should play. It's not perfect--I'm not entirely sure it sticks the landing--but so much of the experience is near perfect and really exemplifies what I think "interactive experiences" are capable of.

Outer Worlds: I got to play this for $1 thanks to Xbox Game Pass PC and that's about how much I think it's worth. There was a lot of hype leading up to the release of this game and it was mostly just a bunch of bullshit. Yes, it's a spiritual successor to the days when the Fallout games were good, but it does nothing to move the formula forward, and in some ways it actually moves backward. A really great art style is wasted on desolate, empty environments, and the quests are generic, poorly written RPG fodder repeated ad infinitum. Blah!

Apex Legends: I've been itching to play this since it came out, and I'd spent countless hours watching Shroud, and others, slay people on Twitch prior to getting a taste for myself. It's awesome! Looks great, feels great, sounds great, plays great. I played a lot of Fortnite on my Switch, but with Apex on my PC there's been no reason to try to wrestle with building controls... Apex is the pure FPS battle royale experience I want at the moment.

Titanfall 2: I'd heard repeatedly that Titanfall 2 is the modern equivalent of a Half-Life 2 or Portal 2, and that rings very true to my ears. Truly a magnificent FPS game, with a fun story, awesome environments, and best of all: fantastic gun play. If I didn't have so many other games to play, I would have immediately started a second playthrough. This definitely goes on my list of best games of all time.

Wreckfest: Some of my fondest PC gaming memories are playing the derby races in the original GRID online. Wreckfest is basically those races, but even better because the destruction is amped up to proper levels. If you like racing games, and you like watching your car and others get smashed to pieces, there's no reason you wouldn't enjoy this.

Everything: I was really hyped to play this ever since I saw this YouTube video that pairs gameplay footage with Alan Watts. Sad to say, this isn't really a game, but a tech demo in search of a game (and that game ended up being one big Pokemon-style collection quest, blah). I think people who write reviews like this one are just sniffing their own farts.

Red Dead Redemption 2: Another graphical marvel, that's for sure. This game is incredibly beautiful, alternating between two states: artistic and realistic. Sometimes it looks like a painting, sometimes it looks startlingly real. It's paired with a fantastic story (which I have not beaten yet), and unfortunately marred by fairly stale gameplay. It's like they created this fantastic cowboy simulation, then decided they had to shoehorn in a bunch of Grand Theft Auto-style hijinxs. Shooting galleries wouldn't be so bad if they were fun, but they're not really fun at all and I find myself resorting to the "Dead Eye" mode (aka "cheater mode for console gamers") just to get them over with.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice: I was excited to play this because it's an "arty game" as well as having some next-level graphics. It's too bad that it, too, is marred by gameplay bolted onto it that just isn't fun at all. The gimmick, that Senua is suffering from psychosis, gets pretty old too, because all Senua does is either stare in wide-eyed terror at things, or open her mouth really wide to show us all her perfect teeth (which seems historically inaccurate if you ask me). The sequel video showed during the "Xbox Series X" reveal looked like more of the same... who cares how crazy that chick can look? She'd be good in a production of CATS where all the cats are feral.

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt: Holy shit! I set RDR2 aside so I could start to play this before the show on Netflix. To prepare myself, I also read the first two books (the short story collections, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny), which were absolute fantastic and have cemented me as a "witcher fan". (Is there a name for them? "Witcherinos" perhaps?) The game is fantastic, though I am only 23 hours into an alleged 150+ hour experience. The main thing that makes Witcher 3 a better game than Skyrim is just that the story is way better, though I suppose Witcher is cheating because it has such an interesting lore to harvest from.


Books

I'm trying to stay away from social media and the news media. It all makes me too depressed. The internet, to me, has become a place where people go to be insultingly negative about things. If you manage to stumble across someone being positive about something, there's a reply or a comment from someone else tearing that thing down. It's demoralizing, because it makes me wonder why I write anything on the internet at all, and furthermore it makes me wonder why I would want to achieve any level of notoriety these days because it seems everyone ends up being the target for some other group to disparage and attack them.

When you make someone feel insulted on the internet, whether you meant to or not, you have no idea what they're capable of. Are they going to find your name and home address on the internet, and send you pizzas or a swat team? Are they going to try to shame you publicly, or just contact your employer privately to try to get you fired? It just seems like a big gamble to say anything on the internet these days. Even if you state a completely reasonable opinion that no one in person would disagree with, there's always someone online who'll wag their finger and try to point out how wrong you are. What's the point? The internet is now a place where people go to commune with like-minded individuals and attack anyone who differs in the slightest.

So... yeah... kind of ranted a bit. But in short, when I pick up my phone and feel the urge to load up a website or forum, I try to open up iBooks instead and read a bit of a book. It's working out well so far. December alone I've read Becoming Steve Jobs, plus the aforementioned Witcher books, The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny. I'm working on the first main Witcher novel, Blood of Elves, now.

But, is it making a difference in my mood? For sure. I am much more consistently happy than I was before. Sure, sometimes I will stumble across something on the internet that sours my mood still (like this wanker bemoaning how difficult it is to open up his Mac Pro) but overall life is better over here without the internet pointing out how disagreeable, grumpy, unhappy, entitled and arrogant much of humanity seem to be when given a platform and audience on which to spew their bullshit.

Clearly, there is still healing to be done.


Return to Programming?

When will I return to programming in my free time? I don't know. I will, eventually. But I don't know when. Life is good over here, being able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I was grinding for years, and now I can afford to just chill out. I've "made it", according to the standards set by my younger self. What do I have to gain by further exposing myself on the internet? I admit, the audiences for my personal apps so far have been polite, appreciative, kind, and sometimes generous with their compliments, so I have no complaints there. Unlike some creators, my audience has not ever turned against me (ignoring the few 1 and 2 star reviews left behind, which are often feature requests).

Next year I really need to focus on Numu Tracker 2.0, just to save myself some coin. But... we'll see. Based on my list of 2019 goals, I accomplished... hmm... none of them. But I did plenty this year, and feel pretty accomplished and happy about it. It's just that I follow my whims, not my lists, and I'm learning to be okay with that and accept that.

In a way, 2019 for me was learning to accept who I am, what I want, and how I want to go about getting it. I'm learning how to relax, how to not expect too much of myself, and how to be satisified with what I have.

And... it's working!

Here's to 2020. See you next year!


Well hello there!

My name is Brad Root and I'm a software engineer, music aficionado, and occasional unicyclist.

In my spare time, I build open source software, and write about my experiences as a programmer here on this blog.

You can also find me on Twitter, GitHub, and LinkedIn.

If you enjoy the apps I build or articles I write, please consider supporting me by becoming a patron.

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Numu Tracker

Numu Tracker can keep you up to date on music by the artists you love the most. Part to-do list, part reminders and alerts, Numu gives you the tools to ensure you never miss out on new albums.

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Life Saver

Life Saver is an implementation of Conway's Game of Life as an abstract, colorful, highly configurable Apple TV app and macOS screensaver that should please designers and nerds alike.

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Gamebook Engine

Gamebook Engine is an iOS app for creating and playing gamebooks, a type of interactive fiction where the player gets to make decisions that influence the story.

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Aeon Garden

Aeon Garden is an abstract artificial life toy for iOS, tvOS, and macOS. A virtual fish tank for all your screens, watch creatures evolve to generative ambient soundscapes.

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