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Friday Fun Thread for October 7, 2022

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

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plant machete

This installation enables a live plant to control a machete. , with video

I like his other works too, such as telepresent wind and, of course, fly revolver

I got the current CRPG humble bundle

and I am wondering what my playthrough priority will be (if I manage to not pile of shame the majority of games :/ )

Included games:

  • Pathfinder WOTR

  • Neverwintern Nights Complete

  • BG 2 enhanced Complete (also Dragonspear)

  • BG 1 enhanced

  • Planescape Torment enhanced

  • Icewind Dale enhanced

I think my favourite of those is the old planescape, but I also played this the most times already in my lifetime. Any fellow CRPG-enjoyers here? Whats your favourite? Any moderately unknown CRPGs you can recommend?

Tyranny tyranny tyranny tyranny tyranny. And another great crpg not enough people have played is Tyranny. Which bills itself as 'the rpg where you're the villain' but is better described imo as planescape with better combat. Your choices dramatically shift the course of the story, and because you are 'evil' from the get go, it spends a lot of time exploring concepts like morality and justice.

Another surprisingly deep (but way jankier, which is saying something) and not well known crpg is inquisitor, which is sort of to Torment what Gothic was to Morrowind - riddled with bugs, brutally difficult and incredibly confusing at times, but even more interesting if you can get past all that.

BG 1+2, not just for the scope and the story but also for the proper co-op support.

Wildermyth is quite fun for a short+casual introduction to CRPGs (and also proper co-op support!), but if you've played through BG1+2 then you may be disappointed with the shortness+casualness; there are a number of campaigns so the game as a whole isn't too short, but you're also not going to be playing for tens of hours building up a single story throughline.

Planescape is my favourite of the bunch as well.

BG2 is always going to be my favorite (Irenicus is just so damn good as a villain), but I've been enjoying the modern Pillars of Eternity games. Gilded Vale in the first is one of the finest CRPG setpieces I've encountered, but the rest of the game doesn't quite maintain that high point (understandably).

I also enjoyed Torment: Numenera, but I have a soft spot for the setting, and the game is not consistently good in play or writing. Some of the companions have fantastic ways for their stories to end, though.

Play Underrail. It's so damn good once you get in the hang of the wonky character system

I second that. Most fun I've had since Fallout: New Vegas. It's tough, very good at scratching the exploration itch and the environment feels mostly alive, not like the fake worlds of most RPGs which seems just like a prop for a game.

It's also getting a second game soon-ish, well, if we use Valve timelines, which should be good judging on the increase in quality between Underrail and the DLC.

The second game is in development and dev diaries are being posted on the formus.

It's going to have a system where the stats of the characters are reflected in how they look in game, which should prove entertaining, I think if dev breaks the unwritten rule of 'sex is only cosmetic' and introduces RL sexual dimorphism into the game. But hey, no publicity like free publicity and paradoxically injecting a small dose of reality into a Sf/fantasy game should cause a lot of uproar.

The worldbuilding in Underrail is incredibly unique. At first glance it just seems like another 'slavs in a metro' STALKER clone, but it's so much weirder than that. I can't wait for the sequel to expand on the realms and cultures outside of lower Underrail that we barely got to see in the first game.

There was a fair bit of west underrail lore added in the DLC.. Or have you never visited the West Underrail military base ?

I'll recommend the OG Boomer's Gate. What many people enjoy about it is the companion characters you recruit and experiencing their stories while balancing their personalities to keep them happy. I'll admit I've never experienced that; I always make 6 custom characters and play the game with them. For me the enjoyment is purely in the well-written story and the amazing combat system.

It runs off of 2nd Edition AD&D, which is a really cool system and will have some interesting differences for players of modern D&D/CRPGs. Most of the differences are in how spellcasters work. For example, spellcasters use Vancian magic, which means they prepare spells in advance and can only use each spell as many times per day as they prepared that spell. For example, if your wizard knows 5 1st-level spells and 4 2nd-level spells but can only prepare 4 slots of 1st level spells and 2 slots of 2nd level spells, you must allocate a spell to each specific slot. Want to cast sleep more than once per day? Better prepare it multiple times. This is really cool and will satisfy that Batman fantasy. It's a lot for a new RPG player to learn, but an experienced player will really enjoy the system.

The other big difference is how casters scale. They're incredibly weak and fragile early. Most of the time they're slinging terrible darts terribly since they can only cast 2 spells at 1st level. They scale incredibly though - if you play the same wizard from Baldur's Gate 1 to the end of Throne of Bhaal in BG2 you'll watch them go from a weakling who will die to a stiff breeze to a reality-warping demigod. Newer editions try to balance casters to martials at all stages of the game, so playing a game where this is very much not the case is a nice change.

I'd recommend playing Baldur's Gate 1 then importing/remaking your squad in Baldur's Gate 2. Throne of Bhaal is an excellent finale to the series. Play Icewind Dale if you really love the combat system of Baldur's Gate, because there's very little story in that game, just lots of encounters. Ironically I liked the encounters in BG much better, but it's still good content.

I'm strongly recommending against using all custom characters - the pre-written ones are amazing and interact in many ways, so far IMO unsurpassed and are really not that bad stat wise for you munchkins, with some like e.g. Edwin actively cheating - he has a unremovable amulet that gives him extra spells per level.

but an experienced player will really enjoy the system

It's really noteworthy how much more complex the casting system is compared to later games. There's something like a hundred spells, with majority being useful.

It runs off of 2nd Edition AD&D, which is a really cool system and will have some interesting differences for players of modern D&D/CRPGs. Most of the differences are in how spellcasters work. For example, spellcasters use Vancian magic, which means they prepare spells in advance and can only use each spell as many times per day as they prepared that spell. For example, if your wizard knows 5 1st-level spells and 4 2nd-level spells but can only prepare 4 slots of 1st level spells and 2 slots of 2nd level spells, you must allocate a spell to each specific slot. Want to cast sleep more than once per day? Better prepare it multiple times. This is really cool and will satisfy that Batman fantasy. It's a lot for a new RPG player to learn, but an experienced player will really enjoy the system.

I want to second this. I adore the unique power scaling of different classes in AD&D. I'm horribly annoyed that every other class had mage envy, and tabletop designers gave in and basically turned every class into a mage. With feats or talents or dailies or whatever the fuck they call the special abilities that warp reality every fucking character has now.

Also, that unique feeling of seeing your magic users balls finally drop when they learn fireball. It's so cute watching them grow up, learn to walk, talk... mass murder...

I think that Wizards had the right of it. In a video game, it's fun to have the mage member of your party get so strong that the other party members are an afterthought. In a pen and paper game, not so much. Also, early levels as a mage in 3e (my earliest pen and paper D&D experience) are pretty much the worst gaming experience I've ever had. It's a complete buzzkill to have one or two spells per day, and after that you're useless.

Imho if you had that problem you were playing wrong. I was in a pnp ad&d 2e game a few years ago. Played a fighter with very middling stats. But those extra weapon proficiencies really let me take advantage of more of the equipment the rng gods bestowed on us. I also made ample use of my loot to purchase potions, especially fire breathing potions, to keep up.

There are plenty of extra curricular ways to punch above the confines of your class. I think this is hardest for munchkins and crpg addicts to grok.

They're incredibly weak and fragile early.

Let's be real, here. The Baldur's Gate experience involves a lot of saving and loading early on, no matter what you are. Whoops, basilisk. Whoops, random encounter, six bandit archers killed you in round one. Whoops, bear. Whoops..

Game's atrocious until you have a few levels' worth of HP gains.

You have to play it safe. Have to stay on the road, run away from scary things. You're not the Lord of Murder at level 1. Unlike a lot of other games, there is no handholding here.

Eh, it's really not that hard starting out.

I'm having so much fun with NovelAI. It's basically StableDiffusion but trained on danbooru, which is an anime art booru. The AI has some limitations - you can only really do one character at a time, it has some issues with anatomy, and my god does it struggle with the hands. That said, if you work the prompts and iterate on the generations you like, it generates some really good stuff. It's also remarkably consistent at depicting the same character once you have the prompts figured out, at which point it's a matter of generating until you get something that looks good and doesn't have the typical AI shortcomings. I've shown some of the fanart of characters I've generated to friends and then dropped that an AI made it to near-universal shock.

I'm also using StableDiffusion to generate assets like scenery and enemies for my online 5e campaign, which it has done very well. I'm on the browser model for that since my graphics card is AMD and I haven't had the time to jump through the hoops to get everything working yet.

I'm sympathetic to the issues this will cause for artists, but at the same time these tools are incredible. I dislike the "soulless" description I've seen thrown at the tech. My main creative strength has been with words and fiction. I've tried my hand at digital art and made stuff I'm proud of before, but I've always considered it a massive bottleneck in terms of time, talent, and resources. What I can't depict by hand vastly outstrips what I can depict, so being able to convert words into illustrations is both delightful and mindblowing to me. This isn't soulless AI vomiting images to drown out human intent, this is AI allowing human intent to manifest more easily for many more people.

In short, AI art is very cool, try out StableDiffusion, or NovelAI if you're a weeb.

Are you using the NAI leak that came out yesterday? I can't believe that happened so quickly. Haven't had any time to play with this yet, but have been checking in on friends and the threads every so often.

As for soulless, it sure beats Sakimichan clone #7735.

Damn, I hadn't heard of that. I feel bad for them, their prices are pretty high but they were the only company besides Stable Diffusion that seemed to actually want to give people what they wanted and not grandstand about keeping the tech away from the plebs or combating social bias.

Yeah, on one hand it sucks for them, but on the other wow it's karmic pottery for what they did to artists. ("Oh no, we put so much time and studying into this, and someone came along and copied it!")

Are you following any communities experimenting with stuff? I've only been able to glance at every third /h/ or /g/ thread, but there must be other groups out there.

I follow some ai artists on Twitter but I’m actually not into hardcore/hentai stuff so I don’t frequent those boards.

Inspired by the CW talk about Rings of Power and Wheel of Time. Imagine you were an executive at Amazon Studios. Bezos just handed you two sets of One Billion Dollars, and the mission to make him two flagship, media empire founding fantasy shows. One is to be sexy and adult, the other is to be fun for the whole family.

Which two IPs would you want to go with?

I think you could make an amazing adult series out of Malazan or the Black company, but the writing wouldn't be easy. The former is crazy complicated. The Lies of Lock Lamore could work too.

For kids ... I like someone else's idea of an animated series in the Harry Potter world. I haven't read them for a long time, but Dragonriders of Pern, Xanth, and the Riftwar saga seem good. A more modern source would be The Ranger's Apprentice series.

Apparently Percy Jackson was good, but very poorly done as a movie, so that would be an option too.

For Adult, I'm gonna go in a different direction and say Tolkien's "The Tale of Turin Turambar." Tolkien had a lot more range than he gets credit for, and Turin Turambar would let you use the Tolkien name to tell a story that's a lot closer in tone to his Germanic inspiration than LOTR proper. Turin is a grim-and-gritty antihero who lives and dies by the sword; perfectly in keeping with modern prestige drama norms.

For family friendly: Lord of Light. Obscure sci-fantasy novel from the 60s, loved it when I read it in my early twenties.

Blood and tits: The Last Sovereign. It's an obscure RPG Maker game with surprisingly great writing and worldbuilding.

Family fun: The Aristocrats. Fairy tales of the world. Local settings, local directors, local actors. Super diverse by definition, no appropriation.

Adults: You know what? I go mythological. Maybe Greek, maybe Norse, maybe Gilgamesh, maybe the Ramayana. Or perhaps Journey to the West, to appeal to the Chinese market. Is there a good myth cross-over IP? And don't say Fate/Stay Night.

Family: It's got to be Pern. That or Redwall. Broad appeal across demographics, plenty of action and memorable characters... yeah.

For adults i would honestly just go with the Wheel of time. It has all the components such a show needs, with a well realised and visually varied world, politics, magic system, girl power, diversity (except in the very initial main vast), violence and sex (even if this mostly occurs off screen in the books). One concern is the length of the series but I think things can be substantially condensed and all the problems with the current show seems like unforced errors to me.

For children i would do a very high quality animated version of Harry potter. Regardless of what some Twitter people think this is still the world's largest single property for children's entertainment and it is honestly better suited for animation in the first place. One could of course argue that so is the wheel of time but I feel like that might impede broad appeal to an an adult audience.

Does it have to be strictly fantasy? A perverse part of me would want to call up an anime studio and have them partner up to make a BattleTech anime. That could be a legit anime phenom, and Amazon would likely have the power to push through legal challenges (or at least pay Harmony Gold to fuck off, should they sniff blood in the water).

For the kid-friendly one...well, some of those Scholastic-type book series are probably not yet snapped up, right? Maybe that one with the "Dracula Doesn't Drink Lemonade" book, or whatever it was.

For the kid-friendly one, anime has some history of kid-friendly but not braindead anime like Dennou Coil. Surely something of that sort is replicable in the west?

It's not easy to think of an IP that's buyable that has nearly as much pull as lord of the rings. Almost everything famous is owned by someone that doesn't want to sell it. Amazon already acquired MGM for 8.5 billion dollars (the James Bond owners), so there's that.

And Netflix is in the same boat as Amazon with regards to "Oh shit we don't own enough IP, what can we buy/license" so they're going to be bidding against each other.

The only big one I can think of that isn't already outright owned by someone who is making full use of it and therefore probably won't license it is Godzilla.

Smaller ones:


Starship Troopers (the novel)

Robocop (which Amazon now owns through the MGM deal)

I think an adaptation of Stand Still Stay Silent or Bad Machinery would be cool. Two webcomics.

I try to care about artistic merit and not intellectual property/license/brand. But I do think some Nintendo movies would be cool. Nintendo's probably already got their course plotted out with Illumination though. There's probably some other videogames from other corporations that might be worth licensing.

I don't care that it's not fantasy, I've always believed that Animorphs would be a hit if they played it completely straight as a R rated war story aimed at the YA/tumblr audience. Maybe age everyone up to college if the child soldier thing is too violent for TV.

Also, Dark Tower needs to be done right.

Conan for the adult show.

For the family show, I'd do a different folk or fantasy story each episode. Have Jeff Bezos come out and introduce the story and culture and then take the effort to get the cultural details right in the episode. Make it both a heartwarming, high quality series and an image burnishing vehicle for Bezos.

Every people has stories, tell them well, and feature the people whose stories you are telling in those episodes, and you'll have a diverse show without forcing diversity.

So kinda like that old series about mythology with the puppet co-host? I don't remember the name of it, I wanna say it was a Jim Henson show, but I'm not 100% sure.

Yeah combined withWalts intros to the Disney's Sunday night movie.

Adult: I would love to see the Prince of Nothing series brought to a live screen GoT style. I'd also take Conan the Barbarian, as pulp fiction, swords-and-sandals, and that old gritty action aesthetic are some of my favorite things.

Kids: I'd adapt the old Diadem teen fiction series into something like Sliders. Take our trio of world-hopping, magic-leaning teenagers and show them bouncing between new worlds and universes as they battle the forces of evil. Sliders was one of the best premises for episodic content ever, and it should reappear in some form. But I don't want to just bring back Sliders, so I'm sneaking it in as a new thing.

Sliders always strikes me as a great premise that was largely wasted in execution. Seriously, reboot that instead of the 18th Batman movie.

Wow, and here I thought we had nothing in common! The Second Apocalypse is one of my favorite series. Kellhus on the silver screen would be a sight to behold if done well.

A well-done Kellhus would be truly wonderful, yes. He's a very difficult character, and a very strange point-of-view 'protagonist', but it'd be incredibly engrossing.

Sexy and adult: Conan the Barbarian. Show the climb from reaver to king, in a picturesque, episodic tale. The 1982 movie is great, but making it a TV series lets you add a sense of progression, call-backs and brick jokes.

Family fun: Might be done to death but I would just do King Arthur again. Keep the basic structure of random boy turns out to be good king, add all kinds of fantasy adventure. Or maybe make your own live action, western Isekai, bringing the genre to a mainstream western audience.

Sexy and adult: John Ringo's "Ghost" series. Full over the top 80's action movie stylings. Yes, this isn't exactly "fantasy", but it sure as hell is a fantasy.

Family Fun: Hand-animated adaptation of Brian Jacques' "Redwall" series.

How are everyone’s stocks doing? Market was obviously overvalued, but I thought the fed would be even more anemic than it has been, so inflation would devalue it, not straight-up losses. I tried to crash-proof my portfolio with gold miners, but they’re the worst of a bad bunch. You’d think with the inflation and gold’s historical reputation, it wouldn’t move 1-to-1 with the stock market (or the printer, same thing). But it’s not a loss until you sell, so in for a penny, in for a doubloon.

Fortunately, the oil stocks I bought during covid have been keeping my head above water. Now I’m just waiting for spy to go lower to I can lever it to hell, either through leaps or 3x etfs .

And thanks to the guy on here who recommended tobacco based on historical overperformance, that’s been good. I’ll crash-proof it to the (black) gills with cancer next time (it’s okay, I used to smoke).

I've taken a beating, down 20-25% or so I'd say, mainly due to being seriously overweight in the tech sector (company stock), compounded by generally being tech bullish. I have some diversification, including some energy funds, so that's helped a bit, but not a lot. Still I'd gone up a lot over the last N years, so I can't really complain.

I have bought in a bit more occasionally on the way down, and considering doing more, but it will be slowly and carefully, no 3x ETFs you madman! For various tax reasons, it generally makes much more sense for me to buy single stocks now, which sucks (broad ETFs is the way to go!) so I'm looking at things like INTC, GOOG, APPL, MSFT, AMD, MRNA, BTI, BRK.B (those last two as counterweights to the tech heaviness).

I am 100% Twitter at the moment, so I'm doing great. I just wish I'd bought more calls. Then again, I thought I had at least a couple more weeks to buy them.

I’m down 10% for the year although I don’t really have the time to actively manage it. I hold a little energy (VDE) which is the only reason my NASDAQ heavy portfolio isn’t substantial worse. Will need to look into tobacco… that sounds like a good idea potentially.

Here's the blog post about industry returns (table at the end) :

I think some industries are a terrible investment. It's always the same sectors: You hear about airlines never having made money, a steel company is always going bankrupt, and even buffett had a lot of trouble with his textile company. Boom-bust cycle in capital intensive sectors kills the return. You end up selling product at a loss half the time because you're stuck with all this unmovable machinery. For the winners otoh it looks like a 'sin stocks' effect.

I've written off my stocks as a loss. Doubt I'll be able to do anything with them any time soon.

You still have access, right? Just -50% loss. Do you own western stocks too? Can you buy and sell those? Would you get them if you left the country?

I own only western stocks, and I am unable to sell them, since my broker is sanctioned.

I do a combo of Roth IRA + the lazy portfolio 3-way split. I'm avoiding looking at the numbers as of late so as not to stress out since they're investments for the very long term. I don't really do individual stocks or options since I don't value my financial predictive ability that highly. I recently broke that rule and tried crypto trading and wound up with universal losses, though fortunately I only used a relatively small amount of play money to buy in. This has only reinforced my personal rule to stick to long-term stuff and not try to beat the market.

Buy and hold is comfortable and has good expected returns, I recommend it to friends and family. For me though, even though I know it’s a tall order, I attempt to beat the market, because I enjoy the time I spend thinking about it. Even if I fail, as long as I keep transaction costs low, the expected return should be the same, minus my time, which is worth zero.

My go-to example for how beating the market can be done, and after which I decided to become more active, is covid: rats saw it coming, we had a discussion where people suggested puts on cruise companies, which would have 15xed a few weeks later. The main opposition to buying those puts wasn’t because we didn’t believe covid would be bad, but an ill-placed faith in the all-knowing market.

Down with Zelda! Yes, this was an official ad.

Also, Zeldaaaa!

Coincidentally, I listened to some Zelda soundtracks recently. Zelda is nice. Sometimes vidya are nice.

When I use YouTube at work I get constantly shown ads, but when I use YouTube at home I'm almost never shown ads. Why the difference? I'm logged into the same account on both.

Do you have an adblocker at home but not at work?

Yes, that's probably it. Thanks. I feel silly for not realizing this.

Youtube without adblock is atrocious. Half the time if an ad starts my phone will just... stop loading the video indefinitely. Fucking ads.

I use uBlock Origins, which is very good for websites, I think, but doesn't seem to do anything for YouTube. Any recommendations?

I use Origins, too. It keeps ads off Youtube for me. Did you white list it or something?

Well, I mostly wrapped up my EGA sprite editor in assembly. There are a few more things I may change for my own convenience as I proceed to actually use it to make a game. But I think it was a good enough exploration of doing most game related tasks in assembly. I processed a bunch of mouse and keyboard input, save and load files, did a bunch of EGA graphics, allocated a bunch of memory, even did some fun things with the different pages in mode 0Dh.

It was probably totally unnecessary but I wanted some practice, so I split the program into two assembly files, operating in two different memory segments. Made juggling the current data segment a little annoying, so I'll need to think carefully about how I go about that more in the future.

Possibly the only thing I might add to it is a preview mode where I paint the sprites over the screen and see how they look against each other. And maybe a few other UI niceties.

With that more or less in the bag, I've moved onto starting an adlib tracker. Turns out there is more or less only a single extant document about how to program the registers on an adlib compatible card. A short, 9 page document called "Programming the AdLib/Sound Blaster FM Music Chips Version 2.0". It's dated Feb 24 1992 by Jeffrey S. Lee. It begins like this

Two of the most popular sound cards for the IBM-PC, the AdLib and the Sound Blaster, suffer from a real dearth of clear documentation for programmers. AdLib Inc. and Creative Labs, Inc. both sell developers' kits for their sound cards, but these are expensive, and (in the case of the Sound Blaster developers' kit) can be extremely cryptic.

This document is intended to provide programmers with a FREE source of information about the programming of these sound cards.

The information contained in this document is a combination of information found in the Sound Blaster Software Developer's Kit, and that learned by painful experience. Some of the information may not be valid for AdLib cards; if this is so, I apologize in advance.

So I'll be bit banging against 244 registers or so. Only so many are useful, but I'm curious what many of them sound like. Yeah, yeah, I know. There are so, so many adlib trackers already. But where is the fun in that?

This is probably old news to most of you better-rounded individuals, but read this the other day about the Roman Senate and was tickled. Transcribed from 'A Day in Old Rome':

Opening the session: Taking the Auspices

Gravely this official company seats itself in the curule chairs; gravely Varus casts a handful of incense upon the altar before the Victory, and a cloud of fragrance fills the hall. Then Varus, a tall and very majestic figure, signs to the senators; "Bring forth the chickens!"

Not a lip twitches in all that sedate audience as two attendants appear upon the platform setting down a small coop containing a few barnyard fowls. The consul rises and stands beside them next to him takes station an elderly senator also wearing the praetexta and holding a staff with a peculiarly shaped spiral head, a lituus -- the badge of office of an augur, lawfully entitled to proclaim the will of the gods. In a dead hush the servitors pass a small dish of grain to the consul who carefully scatters the grain within easy reach of the chickens. The latter, carefully starved since yesterday, snap up the grains eagerly. The even devour so fast that the wheat drops from their bills, a most excellent sign. The augur bends forward intently, watching their action, the motions with his staff: "There is no evil sight nor sound!" he announces in solemn formula.

A mutter of relaxation passes around the Senate. The servitors carry out the chicken coop. The consul shakes his great draperies around him with studied dignity and turns to the waiting assembly. "Affairs divine have been attended to; affairs human can now begin."

So, say I were a chariot mogul being coerced by the courts into buying a carrier pigeon business. Could I hire a catspaw to sneak in and feed the senatorial augur-chickens the morning of the trial such that they aren't interested in the grain, or even poison them to delay my trial?

Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus attempted that a bunch of times. It generally didn't go so well:

Immediately before the vote Bibulus ordered it suspended for religious reasons. Caesar, who was also pontifex maximus, the most significant religious official in Rome, ignored this and continued with the vote. Bibulus and two of his tribunes mounted the steps of the Temple of Castor and Pollux and attempted to denounce the bill. The crowd turned on him and his entourage, breaking his fasces (the symbols of his consulship), pushing him to the ground and pouring feces on him. Getting up, Bibulus uncovered his neck and shouted to the crowd to kill him to end his embarrassment. His fellow senators persuaded him to leave and regroup at a nearby temple, as the assembly proceeded to pass the bill.

In theory Roman law is very "hackable". In practice people are going to throw you out, dunk you in shit, and pretend you never said anything.