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Friday Fun Thread for November 4, 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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Every winter I have to painfully relearn that it's better to work outside when it's raining and warm than when it's windy and cold. How can one man be so retarded.

Also when the first AI candidate wins an election and people start complaining about being turned into paperclips, at least he'll be able to say "look, I tried to explain the party platform, it's not my fault everyone hangs up on robocalls."

In fairness, lower humidity/moisture is more comfortable than being cold. At least you can bundle up and stay dry.

Hello? Can anybody read this?

No, I can't read this.

We filter new users so a mod can take a look at their posts - we regularly eliminate spam and trolls that way - but it looks like this weekend was busy for our mods and I'm just now getting to it. Your post is approved :)

Thank you. It would be helpful to state that to new users in the welcome message. I was told to "feel free to comment or post".

Yeah, I'm holding off on it because I think most people never notice, and I think it's a bigger barrier to be told that your posts will be held for comment.

But it kinda sucks for people who do notice.

Does anyone here fiddle with AI art in their spare time? I need to make some fliers in a concert I'm playing, and I want to generate some AI art for them. I'm very limited on time this next week and don't have time to learn and generate images for it so I'm looking to outsource some of the work.

I've dabbled with it a fair amount, and am not a furry lol

What sort of stuff you thinking of? Stable Diffusion is a lot better at some subject matter than others.

I'm thinking of a cubist styled picture of a clarinet, oboe, and bassoon. If people are playing the instruments, they should be pretty undefined. It fits with the style of music we're playing along with the time period a lot of the pieces we're playing were composed.

Interesting challenge, this! The difficulty with SD right now is coherency; it's best at humans and landscapes bc these are the most common subjects in the training data. Even then it often gives people too many limbs, fingers, joints in the wrong spot, etc. So something as intricate as a locomotive, a gun, or a woodwind instrument it has little prayer of being rendered with full accuracy. It can make tubular things with lots of valves and circles and the occasional trumpeted end, but not anything a musician would mistake for a real-world instrument.

So I've had to try going pretty abstract, getting it to *suggest *the instruments in cubism chaos. Even then it's not easily applying cubist logic to the instruments themselves -- instead simply depicting them realistically atop a cubist background, or having the instruments simply devolve into abstraction. Quite interesting! This was the struggle the cubist masters themselves struggled with - the fight between abstraction and meaning!

Anyways I have a few ideas about how I might get something better with prompt modelling - where you have the AI change what it's trying to generate partway through making an image - but for now here's some gens I made. Most are pretty rough, but I erred on the side of inclusion as I don't understand cubism very well. If you like something and need it higher-res or something, let me know.

https://imgur.com/a/P1gPPdu

I really appreciate it! I think a few of these will work well - This is a small enough concert with a short enough timeframe that I'm not too concerned about quality or artistic accuracy. I like the surrealist nature of a lot of the generations thought I can see your point that it seems a lot of images have the instruments interposed over the cubism instead of being integrated into the image. I'm not an art (or at least this type of art) aficionado myself so my understanding of cubism is probably as pedestrian as yours. I'll message you for higher res in a bit.

All good on this? Haven't seen any messages but I've never gotten any on this site so I could be missing it, so just making sure lol

Depending on the handout could have easily been enough resolution to start with

Yes the innate resolution was fine, im just putting on standard paper.

Thank you so much, some of those are exactly what I was looking for!

The easiest way to get the results you want is to get a photograph of your musicians and run it through a free online style transfer app with keywords like cubism and picasso.

Judging by the comments on our ai art threads, I wouldn't commission anyone here unless you want that flyer to get you arrested or, worse, invited to fursuit orgies.

I’ve recently become quite enamoured with the idea of offshore nuclear power, as laid out in this presentation.

The benefits seem quite numerous:

  • the possibility of mass producing standardised power stations at significantly reduced cost

  • export business model

  • reducing the risks posed by tsunamis and earthquakes

  • sidestepping the NIMBY problems that normally emerge with these kind of projects

Anyone here able to point out why this is likely to be a terribly stupid idea in practice?

If you're interested in doing more research on this, there's a company called Karpowerships doing it with marine diesel barges (now with the option of running off delivered LNG).

One big difference is that they moor in port and don't have to pay crews to live on ships. Paying the oil rig wage premium to nuclear techs would be expensive, especially since the ones who enjoy living on boats probably stayed in the navy lol.

It's also much cheaper to build stuff that sits in a sheltered port: the substations on karpower's barges look like regular land ones with some anti-rust paint.

"Built in a shipyard and transported to the site: reduced construction cost and time"

"Quick and cost-effective decommissioning in a centralized shipyard"

That has to be someone who has never in their career dealt with a US shipyard. I mean, an argument could be made that the US would have to develop a better industrial base and new shipyards for this, as an added perk, which I am 100% on board with (I unironically stan NS Savannah), but as-is? Yeah, those two statements aren't happening.

They don't specifically say "US shipyard." In theory you could quite easily order Westinghouse ap1000s from China; they're already building half a dozen of them, so all the nuclear paperwork bullshit has been taken care of.

Makes you think: maybe the question isn't "is a floating power plant more cost-effective than a land-based one," it's actually "could a floating power plant from a place that can actually build things be more cost-effective than a land-based powerplant that can't be built at all"?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akademik_Lomonosov exists, and it's a vanity project. 70 megawatts of electricity is a pittance. A fossil fuel power plant in Kostroma produces 3600 megawatts. And caviar.

What is we tried to scale it up? The main building of Smolensk NPP (3000 MW) is about 650 metres long and 150 metres wide. Prelude FLNG is 488 by 74, three times smaller. So a 1000 MW plant is probably the biggest floating NPP we can build right now, even if we somehow ignore the whole problem of squeezing in a substation, which needs a lot of open space and won't like ocean spray at all.

Smolensk NPP size is irrelevant, it's a RBMK-type reactor which is large compared to any other type of nuclear reactor. Water-water reactors are a lot smaller.

That's an important correction. I checked Rostov NPP instead (since it uses VVER), every one of its units is 205 by 136m for 1 megawatt of power. Again, one Prelude FLNG-sized barge.

I wouldn't necessarily say that it's a vanity project. The mobility is huge. Being able to float it to where it's needed and not have to ship in fossil fuels?

Shipping fossil fuels is a solved problem, especially if you need just 70MW. That's 90 thousand tonnes of coal, or 900 hoppers, or 18 smallish freight trains.

One advantage kinda minimizes the other, sadly; it's cheapest to ship fossil fuels to the same places a power barge can go. A combined cycle gas power barge that could refuel directly from an LNG carrier would have much higher power-to-displacement, be massively cheaper, and give more load-following capacity to 3rd world grids in brownout-prone places like South Africa and California. Nukes aren't great at that. (Edit: Karpowerships is doing exactly this in Dakar(?) now, but with natgas diesel conversions instead of turbines)

There's already some of those on the market by Siemens, iirc. Older power barges used big multi-fuel diesels.

On the other other hand, the low cost of gas turbines makes putting them ashore absolutely trivial. It takes a place as dysfunctional as Lebanon or Dominica to make a long term power barge lease a more viable alternative. And serving those places is risky, as Karpowership discovered with their Lebanon contract going unpaid.

Offshore geothermal ocean thermal power is interesting as well.

They're seriously glossing over the difficulty and expense of making compact steam turbines for use at sea. For one thing turbine halls are, what, twice the size of the reactor building itself? They've squeezed them into a much smaller space in the diagrams. I'll post it on Navalgazing to see what they think.

It's pretty common for nuclear concepts from the Good Idea Fairy to ignore the non-nuclear stuff.

Luckily there are still naval steam turbines made, but buying gear designed for the US navy isn't going to be easy or cheap (forget buying them on Alibaba lol), and I'm not sure what modifications would be needed for running them off commercial boilers using low-enrichment fuel rather than the 94% bomb-grade stuff military reactors use. The pressures are going to be different, I imagine.

And rather than transmission, I'd be worried about the costs of designing and maintaining very compact transformer equipment rated for use at sea. Nobody makes that afaik. (Edit: I was wrong about this, as there are power barges in use, but I don't know how wrong. Looking up what they cost would tell you a lot about how practical a nuclear one is.)

At least there's precedent: back in the 30s the US moored some of its turbo-electric carriers off California to provide power. This is literally just changing the heat source.

One thing I didn't see anything about in that presentation was transmission, i.e. how they plan on getting the power from the station to the onshore grid. While the station itself can float transmission towers would have to be fixed in place, and the cost of doing this for however many miles out these would be could possible undo any savings from the construction of the plant itself. Another concern is that using the ocean as a heatsink could cause heat pollution in the area around the plant. This wouldn't be so bad for one plant but several plants scattered at regular intervals could potentially cause problems. I'm generally pro-nuclear but I tend to be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true proposals.

Maybe don't move the power, move aluminium, ammonia , cryptocurrency, and other high energy manufactured products onshore.

I know very little about electrical transmission, but my understanding is that it isn’t likely to be a huge problem. There appears to be a number of existing subsea interconnectors that transmit large amounts of power over long distances.

Heating of the local area is a really interesting point that I’m not sure of the implications!

I'd love to see nuclear implemented at all, so if we have to put them out at sea then so be it. I'm a layman when it comes to this, but I guess there's the risk of contamination going directly into the sea if things go wrong. That said, we've detonated nuclear bombs over the oceans in testing before so it's probably not an existential problem, and we still run the risk of ocean contamination with traditional power sources via oil spills.

I don't think this will change the minds of many who aren't on board with nuclear already. Most of them oppose it on concerns of safety or the supposed permanence of the waste. I suspect there is a large group against nuclear because it can address power sustainability without fundamentally restructuring our economic and social system, but this is getting close to CW thread territory so I don't want to get into that.

That said, we've detonated nuclear bombs over the oceans in testing before so it's probably not an existential problem

There's also two US nuclear subs (Scorpion and Thresher) at the bottom of the sea, with no contamination.

We... dont talk about the Russian subs down there.

I've been counting every mosquito I see in the UK, which would have been a Sisyphean effort back in India.

So far, it's up to 4 confirmed sightings in 9 days, of which 3 were KIA. I genuinely thought that there weren't any at all, but I did spot the first one 3 or 4 days into my stay, a bloody big blighter, which certainly provoked some nostalgia haha.

Turns out that they're no match for my keenly honed reflexes, the mosquitoes here are slow and sluggish, probably better adapted to feasting on the local cattle and drunks at the pub than the feisty fuckers I'm used to. Perhaps it's the cold temperatures, but they just can't juke and jump to my heart's content.

Back home, we have 3 or 4 noticeably different subtypes, the most annoying are the absolutely minuscule, nigh invisible ones, which have a very annoying bite. Then there are the fuck huge ones, which hurt like crazy, but are thankfully slow and sluggish. I believe they're better adapted to livestock or wild animals, and not urban environs with prey that fights back.

I'll continue cataloging the ones I encounter, with an aim for a 80% kill rate.

You should visit Siberia if you ever miss mosquitoes.

Mosquitos are (objectively) bad and all, but bedbugs would be my pick for extinction. I'd take a few bites here and there and just install screen on windows over months of sleepness nights.

And yes I know how bad mosquitos are in India

Apparently there are some that live solely in the Tube tunnels, as it stays nice and warm there, year round....

Also, I commend you in your killing of mosquitoes. They and ticks deserve nothing but a swift death!

I think it is mostly a seasonal thing. Living on the continent in similarish climatological conditions to London, I can't count the mosquitoes here in summer and I think Europe has mostly had an extremely mild autumn so far, otherwise you might not have seen any at all this time of year. Also, even before they freeze to death, insects don't thrive too well in colder temperatures, so they will be more sluggish in autumn if they're still around. It might not ever get as bad as India, but in summer there will be way more mosquitoes and they will be way more active.

Also, in my experience folks coming from closer to the equator mostly start getting miserable this time of year as the days grow shorter and the weather gets mostly cold, wet and windy all the time. So it's nice to hear you've found something positive about the colder seasons!

I feel like I have seen far less insects recently than in the past. Not even fruit flies, mosquitos, spiders. I live in a urban area but insects used to be an every day thing. I wonder if it has something to do with the global decline in insect biomass.

Come to think of it, I don't think I've been bitten by a mosquito in years, and I live in Houston.

Living up North in the United States, we have massive seasonality to our mosquitos. I never give a thought to them from about October through April, but they're big, active, and absolutely vicious on hot summer nights.

Never had a problem with mosquitos in California, but moving more to the North... Until the summer, I didn't even think about them. But then I went out in shorts on a hot summer night... and these bastard are evil! For a couple of weeks, my legs looked horrible and itched terribly. I learned my lesson to not go out at night with exposed skin. The worst thing if these vampires make any sound, it's now out of my audial range, and by the time you feel them it's too late... But, half of the year no sign of them at all.

They're omnipresent back in India, probably one of the things I dislike the most in fact.

Can't wait till they're made extinct, the sheer loss of human life they inflict alone makes it worth it

Does anyone know the the vitamin c content of boiled vegetable water? All the studies I find are focusing on the content of the vegetables post-boil, as opposed to the content in the boiled water.

Vitamin C denatures at well below the boiling point of water (about 70 degrees Celsius). I'm no chemist, but I would fully expect that vitamin C that leached out of the partial protection of the structure of the vegetable being boiled would be denatured more or less immediately.

So, infusion/pickling is better than boiling?

Infinitely better.

https://healthinasecond.com/wp-content/mediauploads/2016/07/vitamin-table.jpg

My interpretation of what I could find is that vitamin C breaks down in water pretty fast.

Staring at orange juice in confusion...

Googling to try to fix confusion...

Looks like the rate of decay depends very highly on temperature and pH? So in cool acid in a citrus fruit, it's fine; in warm (or boiling!) neutral water in a veggie pot, it's gone?

Just going off memory, but I think non freshly-squeezed orange juice actually doesn't really have much vitamin C left. The big producers have to add it back in, along with orange flavoring, before packing and shipping, but they're usually mostly gone again by the time it hits your glass. The reported levels of C are at packing, not at drinking.

Decay seems to depend on everything, heat, pH, sunlight, oxygen, etc. Seems almost amazing that vitamin C exists at all.

Skyforger's summary is correct; if you're curious about how the cure for scurvy got "undiscovered," this blogpost from some years back is fascinating reading.

arctic explorers kept getting scurvy, and the traditional citrus and so on didn't help as they pre-squeezed the juice before embarkment to preserve it, destroying the vitamin C over the next few weeks. So they concluded the whole 'citrus cures scurvy' thing was an old wives' tale and the disease must be due to some contamination of their food supplies, so they scrubbed and sanitized everything to no effect.

Fresh seal/dolphin/whale skin has some C in in though, so when they finally hunted fresh meat in desperation and the scurvy went away, they concluded it must just be a really damn stubborn contamination in their meat supply making them sick. Interesting example of a clearly-effective discovery being 'undiscovered.'

Yeah, a lot of organic material depends on how its twisted up (conformation), and the shape is governed by a bit from over here being attracted to a bit from over there due to ionic charge, hydrogen bonding, etc.--things that are not standard atom-atom covalent bonds. Those secondary types of linkage either form more easily or get disrupted more easily depending on pH, temperature, and solvent type. Something is "denatured" when its useful twisty conformation is untwisted, which makes it not useful. Depending on the organic material you're talking about, sometimes restoring it to a friendly environment will cause it to re-twist back into its useful conformation, but other times the sticky pieces just glom onto matching sticky bits elsewhere and you just get a mess. (A lot of cooking is based on this process; intentionally denaturing some components of ingredients using acid/heat/water, and then cooling the result into a different state.)

Wasteland 3 Review/Critique

I guess this is becoming somewhat of a series now, my previous reviews on the Motte are:

Cyberpunk 2077

Terra Invicta

I finally got around to finishing Wasteland 3 after playing it off-and-on for months, some of you may have remembered that it inspired me to make this post when I first started playing it.

Overview

Wasteland 3 is a tactical (think modern XCOM) RPG set in the post-post-apocalyptic Colorado, where you control a group of Arizona Rangers, a kinda-military organization who arrive in Colorado from Arizona after making a deal with the 'Patriarch', the leader of Colorado Springs, the only really civilized and stable polity in Colorado to aid him in exchange for supplies. The Rangers are ambushed and nearly wiped out en route, which kickstarts the game.

Disclosure - I have never played either the ancient original Wasteland, or its modern prequel Wasteland 2, though I never felt I really needed to, the game is a bit of a fresh start.

Overall, I found Wasteland 3 to be solid, fairly competent game. It does have some notable issues, is surprisingly short and feels rushed at the end, but is enjoyable enough. The gameplay is decent, the writing and RPG-elements are passable. It's nothing remarkable. I would only recommend the game if you are a fan of tactical style, turn-based RPG.

Gameplay

The gameplay of Wasteland 3 is nothing revolutionary. The gameplay is most directly similar to the Shadowrun series. Like many CRPGs, you have a party of customized Rangers and/or companions who you run around the world with, completing missions, have skills to interact with the world (lockpicking, 'nerd stuff' (hacking) etc), or use for dialogue choices (speech checks). You find new weapons and armour as you progress. There is also an overworld map to travel between city/combat hubs. The combat is basically extremely similar to the Shadowrun games, or to XCOM:EU/XCOM2 if you haven't played it. Now to focus on the actual criticism:

I didn't like the progression system in this game. You get perk points every few level ups, but there are so little perk choices available that never used most of them because it never felt worth it, entered the endgame with most of my perk points unspent before finally just using most of them on minor perks I didn't care about. Similarly, I rarely used any special abilities (not counting the Strike Meter) outside of a couple that were pretty broken. It never really a reason to use anything than basic attack 90% of the time. But that might just be laziness on my part. I think I might have screwed myself over too, because I played the game without any melee characters which I think the game really wants you to have, as melee damage and health are tied to the same stat. I tried to make my heavy gunner my tank and it didn't quite work. The time to kill on my characters even with moderate health investment was extremely low. Enemies would often have anywhere from 4x-20x my characters HP, and my characters would die in one or two hits. As such, fights were usually feast or famine, as if more than one of your characters go down at once it's highly likely you will lose. I think they had to have this low time to kill on player characters because healing items are functionally unlimited. I wished they would have balanced it better, limit healing, lower damage have have slower, more deliberate and methodical fights.

One of the more fun parts of the combat/gameplay is amassing a large group of NPC followers (animals, robots and others) who will proceed to maul and absolutely destroy the enemy (they also usually have 3x-10x amount the HP of your characters). But this is pretty blatantly overpowered and gets boring pretty quickly. It also reduces the amount of actions you can take, because it becomes hard to use any kind of AoE weapon.

Choosing skills seem really superficial and isn't really a meaningful choice. Realistically, you want and can easily have at least one member of your team max out every skill, combat and non-combat. While the game has some pretense of the being able to play anyway you want, with any skill combination, it quickly becomes apparent that maxing out skills like lockpicking, explosives (defusing) etc becomes pretty much mandatory. There are a couple of exceptions like Toaster Repair and Survival, which just add additional funny content and reducing tedium respectively. The worst part of the skills is the armor modding and weapon modding (crafting) skills - you can just have a separate Ranger not in the main party who you just swap in and out whenever you want to craft something, making the whole crafting skill check redundant. Wasteland 3 suffers the extremely common issue in RPGs where speech checks are almost always strictly better than other options, meaning picking them is a no-brainer.

Equipment is also an issue. You find new equipment fairly quickly, and higher level gear quickly outclasses old gear. This means whenever you find a piece of equipment you really like, you might be tossing it away after a couple of levels, no way to upgrade its level. Wasteland 3 isn't the worst game in this regard, but it is annoying.

The game is deceptively short. The game honestly feels like it's missing the last quarter of the game, and was rushed to completion (I have no idea if this was actually the case). The game builds up to the final confrontation, finally a meeting of all the major characters... and it goes nowhere. It all resolves itself incredibly quickly, game ends. More on this later.

Story, Writing and Themes

MAJOR SPOILERS

I have a lot to say about the story, but I first have to briefly summarize the story to provide context to those who haven't played (but don't mind being spoiled!).

The Arizona Rangers are in desperate need of supplies after they had to blow up their own base to destroy the Cochise AI, the antagonist of Wasteland 2. The Patriarch of Colorado contacts the Rangers and promises them long-term supplies if they send a contingent to Colorado to help him find his wayward children who are destabilizing Colorado in various ways. Along the way the Rangers are ambushed and nearly wiped out by the Dorseys, one of the various wasteland raider gangs destabilizing Colorado. Despite this, the remaining Rangers establish themselves and proceed with their mission foil the Patriarch's kids and return them to him. The Patriarch's youngest son Valor is a snivelling insecure genius who is aiding a Ronald Reagan cult who want to overthrow the Patriarch, the oldest son Victory is a crazy, brutal psychopath who enjoy torturing and brutalizing his victims and is holding members of Colorado Spring's elite hostage in a skiing retreat. The whereabouts of the middle daughter Liberty, ostensibly the primary antagonist of the game, is unknown but you eventually find out she's uniting all the various raider tribes into one war party to overthrow her father, destroy Colorado Springs and theoretically set up a despotic raider empire in Colorado and beyond. Along the way you come across Angela Deth, one of the original Rangers (she was companion in WL1 and WL2), who was part of a forward part towards Colorado, who went AWOL after she learnt that the Patriarch isn't the exactly heroic saviour of Colorado he portrays himself as, refused to help him and is now trying to overthrow him. At the end of the game, the main endings are either to side with the Patriarch and fight Deth and some of your fellow Rangers, or to side with Deth and overthrow the Patriarch (either violently or peacefully if you got the support of some factions) and rule Colorado yourself. There's also an ending where you side with one of the raider gangs and help them raid and destroy/rule Colorado but I don't really consider it a 'real' ending, because it's so inconsistent with the whole ethos of the Rangers. It's the comically evil for evil's sake ending. Okay, now to the actual critique about the story:

Continued in below comment

Story Continued

The major theme in Wasteland 3 is about compromising on values to achieve your goals. It is true of the Patriarch, ruling Colorado with an iron fist despite false promises of elections and appeals to pre-War America, signing a secret deal with raider gangs to leave Colorado Springs alone in exchange for giving them supplies and slaves. Angela Deth does this, she goes AWOL and commits treason against to the Rangers to bring down an unjust tyrant, to the point she is even willing to free and work with a leader of a slaver gang (betraying the Ranger good guy ethos), if indirectly, to bring down the Patriarch. You as the Player Rangers, have to make plenty of compromises which leaves no one happy to get (in my opinion) is the 'best' outcome.

The theme and the story WL3 is trying to tell doesn't work is because the Patriarch is unambiguously the good guy. Here I don't mean unambiguously to mean there's nothing to criticize him for, but rather he is obviously the correct choice, at least morally. The Patriarch basically built/formed Colorado Springs from scratch, the only beacon of real civilisation for anywhere in Colorado. He did defeat many of the raider gangs, but eventually he reached a stalemate and struggled to beat them. So eventually he reached an agreement with the gangs to pay them off to protect Colorado. As presented by the game, this was pretty much the only way to keep Colorado safe. Angela Deth doesn't seem to appreciate that that the Patriarch might actually be a just tyrant rather than an unjust tyrant and he had good reasons to do what he did. This is a (post-)post-apocalyptic world! The Patriarch actually seems like a decent guy otherwise and seems to genuinely care for the people of Colorado. While he obviously doesn't tell you the whole truth, he never actually lies to you and completely upholds honours his deal with you. Ironically, his biggest flaw is probably the fact he allowed his dangerous, crazy children to run free and didn't punish them earlier like he should have when he had the chance, the most human of the flaws, not wanting to punish his children out of fatherly love.

I'm really not sure what the developer intentions were here. I've seen some people try to explain Angela Deth's stupidity by saying that's the point, she's being a Ranger forever, she's become disillusioned and radicalized. I really don't think that was the intent, and I think the intent was really genuine attempt to portray some deep tale of grey morality that just falls flat. I think Angela Deth wasn't meant to be an disillusioned idiot is further evidenced by the "best" ending of the game, where you overthrow the Patriarch peacefully (rather than violently), which you do pretty unapologetically to the Patriarch (you get no choice), which seems to completely vindicate Deth. I think this is just a case of bad writing.

This is really compounded by the fact you are offered virtually zero opportunity to interrogate the Patriarch or Deth or any other major character about their beliefs and philosophy, you really have to try and just piece it together and justify it in your head. Even at the end of the game, where you meet Death and/or the Patriarch at the end of the game before you clash, there is no real examination of the characters and their beliefs. The conversation lasts five seconds and you even just pass a shitty speech check for them to stand down just because to skip the fight. To make a direct comparison with Fallout: NV, which Wasteland shares DNA with, you get multiple opportunities to talk in quite some detail with each of the major factions and their representatives and their justification. Even at the end of the game, where you can use a speech check to 'defeat' your enemies (e.g. Lanius), FNV doesn't just have some generic 'surrender please' dialogue, but puts serious effort into actually justifying how you convince the factions and it relates to their circumstance. The last section of WL3 does seem rushed and incomplete, and I wonder if it was their intention to flesh it out more.

I know it's perhaps unfair to WL3 to compare it to FNV, but WL3 is emblematic of what as I see as a growing negative trend in video game stories. The writers will raise some complex themes or ideas in their story, fail to or only superficially engage with those ideas, and then conclude like they've said something meaningful. It seems like they think that merely raising these ideas is good enough on its own. It's like the writers think they have to deconstruct their own story and characters (because they're overeducated hacks who were taught to do that in writing school), but don't actually have the writing chops or philosophical depth to anything interesting with it. The writers routinely fail to imagine living in post-apocalyptic society like Wasteland's would actually like. They're stuck in a presentist mindset where I think they just take things like 'Patriarch = despot, despot = bad' for granted because it appeals to modern sensibilities, even if such a moral judgement doesn't make sense in context of the world. I would rather they just stick to simple good vs evil stories rather that have the pretence of moral complexity without actually doing the work.

Another thing that I found really annoying was the portrayal of (true) AI/'synths' in Wasteland 3. As far as I know (mostly reading the wiki), prior to Wasteland 3, AI and synths were unambiguously evil, and the primary antagonists of the game. All the synths were created by the Cochise AI, an evil genocidal AI. Wasteland 3 I guess tried to change this I guess because there's numerous friendly AI/synth you come across in Wasteland 3. It feels incredibly jarring, because synths are meant to be the mortal enemy of the Rangers, and some dialogue reflects this, but they also seem to be going really hard on trying to get you to empathize with the synths. I've seen it suggested that this is deliberately done to try and create some moral ambiguity, or complexity. Maybe the synths are just pretending to be good to get the human's trust! Again, I don't buy it. In the endings where you help the synths/AI it's portrayed as unambiguously positive. It's just so jarring.

Other characters aren't really developed either, Liberty, who is presented as interesting character and antagonist, you only have two very brief conversations with which don't say much. All the companions are uninteresting or one-note except for Lucia Wesson, a daughter of an elite family who matures through the game (and her presentation is basically identical that of Mattie Ross in Coens' remake of True Grit), and Ironclad Cordite, the former leader of one of the gangs who has a grudge against the Patriarch and believes his destiny is to become the next Genghis Khan.

Other than that, the writing is just generally wacky, Fallout style dark comedy style of writing which can be pretty good in some parts and in the side quests.

Music

One of the best parts about the games is the music, it's utilized really effectively. During major boss fights or set battles, a really interesting and unusual song will usually play that relates to the circumstances of the battle. Usually this will different-genre cover of a song. For example, the final song of the final DLC plays a country western cover of a old sitcom theme song. The songs are surprising enjoyable, even if I don't really like all the genres that play. I wish more games tried something a bit unorthodox with their soundtrack.

DLC

Quick comment on the two DLC:

Battle for Steeltown - Help the leader of a super advanced factory that supplies all the advanced goods to Colorado resolve issues in her factory. Superficial anti-capitalist commentary with striking workers, and more synth-love. Some new gameplay mechanics. Alright, worth buying on sale.

The Holy Detonation - Help restore an experimental nuclear power plant to power Colorado, the power plant is being worshipped by two warring cults who deliberately radiate and mutate themselves. I guess this is meant to be some 'biting' satire of religious belief 20 years out of date? Has some interesting gameplay ideas, atrocious execution. Not worth buying.

Conclusion

I have criticised Wasteland 3 a lot, especially it's writing, but mostly because it's more enjoyable to criticise than it is to praise. I mostly enjoyed my experience with Wasteland 3, even if it was frustrating at times. It's a competent game that gets the basics right, but is otherwise pretty unremarkable. I would recommend it to anyone who likes tactical RPGs and is looking for some time to kill.

I think the idea they might have been going for is that Patriarch's rule was beneficial at first but he's been losing his touch, as evinced by the fact that his children are running loose and you now have all these new gangs / barbarian tribes staking their claims on Colorado. Ie. sure, Colorado might have needed a tough-as-nails despot at one time, but one of the problems with despots is that if they don't know when to give up, well, who's going to make them do so? And one thing that him not giving up and making sure that he's properly grooming a successor is that his children are out of control, which just adds to his reasoning to not give up etc.

Also, if you do the RPG info sleuthing thing where you make sure to lockpick everything, find a lot of additional info etc., you get more data on bad stuff done by the Patriarch - selling his people as slaves to be murdered by the crazy kite people, killing his wives etc.

In the end, I think that one of the main problems is just there's also a tension with Fallout/Wasteland games how much grim apocalypse stuff and how much "leavening" goofy stuff you add in, and while FO3, for instance, went too much in the grim and joyless direction, WL3 goes far too much in the goofy direction. I didn't like the clown gang or the monster gang, hated the stupid robots, the splatter-style bloodiness of Aspen was just unpleasant, in general Colorado Springs and the fortress were full of good and interesting stuff but once you got out there was just too risk of things getting a bit too silly.

Also, I guess it's pretty much mandatory that you have to put some cannibals in your post-apocalypse game, but I think this had at least four or five different groups of cannibals or individual cannibals, what the hell?

I think the idea they might have been going for is that Patriarch's rule was beneficial at first but he's been losing his touch

This is mentioned a couple of times offhand by a few auxiliary characters (Gideon Reyes being the main one iirc), but that is definitely not the reason Angela Deth is overthrowing him, and seeming not why you the Player Rangers are overthrowing him (the available dialogue options against the Patriarch imply you're doing it because you think he's an unjust tyrant). In fact, the Patriarch's age and deteriorating health are completely irrelevant. The fact you can learn and comment on his condition leads nowhere, and it's not even a necessary condition to get the peaceful transition ending. The overthrowing of Patriarch is pretty much exclusively based on the belief he's an unjust tyrant.

find a lot of additional info etc., you get more data on bad stuff done by the Patriarch - selling his people as slaves to be murdered by the crazy kite people, killing his wives etc.

Yeah I'm aware, I briefly mentioned it but I didn't go into in my original post. Although iirc he only actually killed one of his wives, who tried to assassinate/overthrow him, at least it's implied from visiting all the graves after seeing the map after confronting Victory. Patriarch was giving prisoners to the gangs as slaves as part of his deal for them to leave Colorado Springs. Which yeah, is pretty shitty, but relative to all the shit going around him is understandable. If we were to judge the Patriarch against leaders throughout history, not just contemporary society (which the writers implicitly want you do to) Patriarch is actually really quite tame. If that's the price to keep Colorado Springs safe, the only island of stability in a world of post-apocalyptic chaos, it's probably justified. Specially in contrast to Deth's plan of overthrowing him (violently) and just hoping everything doesn't collapse on itself. Deth's own plan also involves freeing a slaver leader (Ironclad Cordite) to use him against the Patriarch, and when he eventually leaves to go to Kansas to go conquer and kill there, you can actually question Deth about her hypocrisy and the atrocities Cordite will certainly commit and she just handwaves it away as 'yeah he probably won't make it that far and will be betrayed by his own gang eventually, don't worry about it'. Yeah, real confidence inducing.

In the end, I think that one of the main problems is just there's also a tension with Fallout/Wasteland games how much grim apocalypse stuff and how much "leavening" goofy stuff you add in.

Somehow Fallout NV handled it perfectly fine, and yes, even I will begrudgingly admit the Bethesda Fallouts did a decent job of balancing this. I honestly just think it comes down to the Wasteland 3 writers just not being very good.

I also enjoyed it quite a bit, I think I got about 3/4 through the story but ended up dropping off. Played probably around 40 hours.

I had a more balanced team and I actually thought that the game was pretty easy on the harder difficulty. I’ve also played a ton of tactical games, and I am an obsessive scavenger though.

Overall I agree that the music and the dark humor were the best parts about the game, I think the world building was pretty good too there were a lot of tiny details in different areas that helped flesh out the world. Overall though the story failed to compel me at all.

I didn't finish W3, but I certainly put about 20 hours into it, until the annoyance of leveled combat made me cheese functionally infinite money, at which point I was even more aggravated by how the game was still stupidly hard in combat even with an infinite number of sentry turrets.

I did genuinely like the story, there are some absolutely memorable moments, both as setpieces, and those developed organically. You'll remember when Blood of the Lamb and Valley of Death kick in, I assure you.

Perhaps I just viscerally dislike gamey mechanics that have become RPG tropes, like leveled lists, health inflation as a difficulty mechanic etc. Or when bullets barely do damage against enemies without visible body armor, because reasons.

I acknowledge that fight was probably lost before I even started gaming, but I do my best to rebalance RPGs with mods .

Perhaps I just viscerally dislike gamey mechanics that have become RPG tropes, like leveled lists, health inflation as a difficulty mechanic etc. Or when bullets barely do damage against enemies without visible body armor, because reasons.

Health inflation particularly pisses me off, because nobody likes it and it's just so lazy. At least mix up the attacks or something! A lot of those mechanics were adopted from jrpgs, and I have to assume it's laziness motivating the devs, because there's no way they don't know the difference between Japanese and Western rpgs as genres - in a jrpg you navigate menus and mash A to get to the next story beat, so spongy enemies kind of fit (although it is still lazy on anything more powerful than a nes) but when you are actually physically moving the character everywhere and dictating the flow of their attacks it's just stupid.

But how do we get devs to cut it out? I understand increasing strategy is difficult for anyone not strategically minded, but surely there is a middle ground between teaching developers to wargame and adding a zero to the end of enemy health or dumbing down end game bosses so you can onebro them with ease. I guess all we can do is make sure we give our support to the devs who do it right. But are there any triple a or even double a devs who consistently do so? All I can think of is From Software.

Beats me! Given that I'm not a fan of the gameplay in Dark Souls, my go to strategy is to simply mod more conventional RPGs to my preferences.

For example, I absolutely despised the leveling in The Witcher 3, when a random townguard could take half an hour to kill, and installed a mod called The Witcher 3 Enhanced Edition, which makes gameplay and combat significantly more immersive and skill based, after which I had a great time and could actually appreciate the story.

For Fallout 4, I use mods that rebalance bullet damage, which largely helps with not making things bullet spongy.

But a single dev that consistently avoids those bad tropes? I can't name one either haha

I know I'm being an annoying from software fan here, but forget the souls games, you really should give elden ring a decent chance. elden ring gives you both the defensive gameplay style of the souls games, the offensive gameplay style of bloodborne plus ranged and magic combat options (plus a hundred different options for outs if you aren't in the mood for a challenge at the time.) I wouldn't bring it up except you are modding decent combat into games, and tw3ee in particular - which I'm pretty sure (based on interviews I can't find sorry) drew inspiration from from software.

I don't know what you like about the Witcher 3, but elden ring scratched so many of the same itches for me. It does lack meaningful arguments, which is admittedly a big minus, but your choices do have major impacts on the world, there are mysteries all over the place for you to solve (and if you can refrain from using the internet they usually require actual thought and investigation), and you are constantly forced to decide between marveling at the beauty or being stopped short by the horror of something new you have discovered.

And yeah, with all the items and spells and ashes you get, you aren't just beating your head against a wall until the loop clicks for you, which is what gave me the most pause before I became a from fan. Instead you can just focus on seeing new and gorgeous nightmares, like a dragon so big it exceeds the bounds of your draw distance, or a giant flaming eye in the sky that drives you mad if you are in its line of sight, or a land being consumed by a cancerous blight that traps everything it touches in a parody of life and death. And from what I've seen playing the game with my friends (most of whom also refused to play a from software game prior to elden ring) eventually the loop does click, and then you go and play bloodborne and we have a proper circlejerk.

What was I talking about? Oh right, my point is it seems a bit crazy to me that you are modding decently built combat against non damage sink enemies into games and not playing a game with it already built in - plus one of the most breathtaking and original fantasy worlds I've ever seen and a strong focus on player agency and diegetic delivery and discovery.

If you change your mind though and have a ps5, hmu in pms and I will be happy to help you get started - I remember how daunting the first hour was and how skeptical I was that I wasn't going to be dying a thousand times on every enemy.

Hopefully the links work for you all. Sometimes automatic redirect to international sites can break things.

I've always been interested in maps that show how government policies affect development.

Northern Ontario has some interesting cases because of the "little clay belt" or more ambitiously "the great clay belt", a strip of fertile land that departs from the thin acidic soil that is found in most of Northern Ontario.

Circled here: https://imgur.com/a/Du5LqQi

Apologies for the low quality, the image also seems to be a failure case for chroma subsampling. original map link

The clay belt crosses over the Ontario / Quebec border. The Ontario side used traditional farm lot shapes from the UK. The Quebec side used French farm lot shapes. The French style uses thinner strips.

It's highly visible on this map.

https://goo.gl/maps/Bd6UYrYgoAT5VZQJ7

Looking a bit farther north, here's lake Abitibi. The farm development stops hard on the provincial border.

https://goo.gl/maps/qKvt1XKn7irr8zw89

That's the direct result of federal policy. Just to the east, Timmins had extensive gold mines. The Quebec side did not. So the government suppressed farming on the Ontario side.

As a little bonus, a folk singer visited the area (actually little lake Abitibi, a bit to the northwest of lake Abitibi) and was inspired to write a song about it.

About the rustic beauty? About the unspoiled nature? No. About the biting insects.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=f389hIxZAOc

That's the direct result of federal policy. Just to the east, Timmins had extensive gold mines. The Quebec side did not. So the government suppressed farming on the Ontario side.

I don't understand. You mean just to the west right? Why did that lead to the government suppressing farming on the Ontario side and how did they do that?

Sorry, yes to the West.

I don't have detailed information about the reasons... these decisions were made over 50 years ago.

But my understanding is it's a few different things. There were more trade barriers between provinces at the time. Even now trade between provinces in Canada ends up messier than trade between states in the US.

I think that Quebec farmers output would have needed to have been double inspected -- once by Ontario authorities, once by Quebec authorities. This would have put them at a disadvantage relative to Ontario farmers for Timmins which would have been the primary market in the region. That would have led to Quebec side farmers being poorer and resenting Quebec provincial authorities. Which would have been politically problematic.

The Quebec side used French farm lot shapes. The French style uses thinner strips.

It's highly visible on this map.

I remember learning about this in grade 5, it's called the seigneural system.

My adlib tracker is in a pretty good state. Wrapping it up. However...

This week I was trying to play Might & Magic 1 on that NuXT board I ordered. And god damnit, I just couldn't seem to add characters to my party correctly.

If you've played Might & Magic, you might know how cumbersome it is. You press CTRL-A through CTRL-Z to add characters to your party, but just A-Z to view them. CTRL A through CTRL-Z mostly worked fine, but CTRL-B refused to work! Kept acting like CTRL-F. This isn't going to be very workable if I can never add the second character in a list to my party.

Now, this is just the copy of Might & Magic off GOG. I've played it in DOSBOX, on a K6-2 system, on a P233, never had this problem before. So I start investigating. I bust out a keychecker program, and discover that the ASCII codes returned by CTRL-A through CTRL-Z are generally 1-26 for the letter. Except for V and B, which are both stuck at 0x06, which is the code for CTRL-F. Well that's odd.

Luckily the source code for the NuXT BIOS is open source. Combing through it's keyboard functions, then the scancode translation table, I see some erroneous entries. So I fixed them. Reflashed the BIOS and everything is peachy. Computers are fun!

I uh... still haven't gotten around to actually playing Might & Magic though. I was made aware that someone else discovered a way to modify the memory bus wait states of the chipset on the NuXT. So I had to write a small assembly program to let me do that too. Yielded some marginal VGA and HDD speed improvements. Also if I cranked it too far it totally corrupted the video display. But backing off a little game me some good gains.

Then I got horribly side tracked with another combination of bugs. The VGA chip is so old, it has trouble with modern monitors. Sometimes the data coming down the ID pins makes it think the monitor is monochrome. I found some utilities which fix it, but this chains into a second problem. The NuXT BIOS kirks out kind of badly when the VGA card is in monochrome mode. So now I'm deeply curious about why this might be. I may or may not try to fix it, if I feel like I've developed a strong understanding of the mechanisms at play.

Any great thrillers or mystery movies of late?

I enjoyed The Night House. More of a horror/thriller though.

The Australian English words "rort" and "wowser" have no simple direct translation into British or American English and are sufficiently useful that I have started using them. I have heard American English speakers reacting the same way to the British English word "wanker".

Can we think of other words which one national variety of English has and others need?

I do enjoy a good "bloody," as in "bloody hell!" It's not perhaps a word merely of "one national variety of English," but it is certainly something I think is missing from American English. I enjoy it's mild expletive nature and its ability to be put in front of both bad and good things. Rather like the f-word, but less obscene.

I was surprised to learn the word 'keener' (meaning someone who is overly keen) is not used outside of Canada.

Is "wanker" different in any meaningful way from "douchebag"?

I am not a fluent AmE speaker, but my understanding is that "douchebag" refers to a generally obnoxious person with a side order of toxic masculinity, whereas "wanker" refers to a generally obnoxious person with a side order of pretentious self-centredness. I would say that Elon Musk is a wanker but not a douchebag, and that Donald Trump is a douchebag but not much of a wanker.

The examples weirdly do capture it. That said, a lot of British insults kind of subtly imply the target isn’t just [bad thing] but also full of themself. The difference between ‘Twat’ and ‘Idiot’ is a classic example.

I am a fluent AmE speaker, and would say that "douchebag" is also an obnoxious person who is kind of pretentious and/or self-centered. It doesn't really connote toxic masculinity, imo.

Maybe "prick" is the AmE equivalent?

Anyone read House of Leaves? I'm about halfway through and it's definitely an interesting ride.

I read it several times, most recently in January of last year. What I noticed in that reading is that the first ~half maintains a good pace, but after that it comes to a screeching halt and is a chore to get through. I found it interesting more than actually scary, and don't really know what the intent behind it was.

A lot of people see it as a postmodernist piece. Kind of playing with elements of how to tell a story etc.

I've read it and I think it's a great book, though I think it would be more unremarkable if you stripped the experimental elements from it. But it is cool to see the author play around with the form of a book, and how that can draw you into the story. I enjoyed it a lot for that stuff.

I got bored a third of the way through. It felt rather pretentious and full of itself, and I didn't find the horror particularly scary.

Combine it with the generally unlikeable characters who seem devoid of common sense, and I put it firmly in the meh, wouldn't recommend category myself.

I am a sucker for postmodernist naval gazing so I stuck around for that, otherwise I can agree with most of your critiques.

You know, it was just put on my radar recently. Probably going to grab a paperback of it next week.

I definitely recommend the physical book it's a big part of the experience.

I've read it, and enjoyed it immensely. I'm a sucker for art that couldn't be replicated in other mediums, and a House of Leaves that tried to be told in another format like video games or movies would have to change so much to keep the feel of the various levels of the narrative going that it would be unrecognizable.

The tone is very different, but the Thursday Next series is another one that plays with formatting and the fourth wall in order to tell its story.

I also recommend the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde for those who like what House of Leaves does, whether they enjoyed that story or not. It is high geekery of the keenest fashion.

I read it about a dozen years ago. It's hard for me to say where it fits within the pantheon of literature because the unique format overshadows everything else about it. The story of the tunnel exploration is interesting but I don't know that it stands on its own without all the window dressing. That being said, I don't read much horror and it's certainly better than anything Stephen King ever wrote, so there's that.