The "State of the Vidya" Address.

Friday, 07 June, Year 11 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

As you're perhaps aware, I was recently the only guy with a girlfriendi to ever sit down in the (very relatively) upscale vidya corner of the second saddestii mall in The Cultural Capital Of The European Unioniii. What a mouthful!

The context was very heavily competitive-sexual, if I recall, chiefly because a whole pile of pretender nonsense. So then... let's try and stick to these broad themes, why not.iv

This therefore will be a lengthyv article describing -- in no particular order but writ large and thickly underscored (in glitter) -- all about how my vidya comes alive at night and fucks your

To begin where we left offvii :

mircea_popescu all joking aside : the best answer i could produce for the question stands as "choose between steamos and ubuntu", which in plain terms is "do you wish to make your computer a supernintendo and buy virtual cartridges for it ? or would you rather make your computer a mobile phone ?"
a111: Logged on 2019-06-01 11:34 mircea_popescu hmm, so since i'm building a gaming station... what's the republican notions for gfx-heavy os ?

mircea_popescu i chose the later, because... here's the problem : there's no because, properly speaking. "oh, hurr durr i want to own my games" wtf does this mean in a net context ? yes, i still have and still play homm2 / mm6 / gothicviii / whatever. but how the fuck are you going to meaningfully save a multiplayer game ? should they send me the server too ?
mircea_popescu there's no fucking difference. i expect to pay ~something~ because i don't expect anybody can just photosynthesize games into existence. i would like, of course, to have a say in how that money is spent, so that i don't end up paying 99% of my money on ever-greater-pixelcount textures, support for 4k px wide monitors and other such joys. but... wide franchise amirite, you know from the get-go that idiocy's gonna rule all things and you can't expect game makers to solve problems fucking "our democracy" altogether hasn't managed to even verbalize or conceptualize, let alone even take the first steps towards solving. so as a factual matter, i expect ima pay something, and i expect it'll be entirely meaninglessix. in which case, da fuck do i care whether it's a mobile phone and you "own the games" or a nintendo and you "own the cartridges" except... well, you know, you virtually own them.

mircea_popescu anyways, so having unsubstantiably chosen to make the box a phone, now we gotta pick a ubuntu. leaving aside the "manuals" and "with luck everything will just work" lulzies ("Achieve your AI ambitions quickly, reliably and cost-effectively. Multi-cloud operations for the full enterprise AI stack "), the choice comes between Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (LTS stands for long-term support -- which means five years, until April 2023, of free security and maintenance updates, guaranteed.) and Ubuntu 19.04 (comes with nine months, until January 2020, of security and maintenance updates.)
mircea_popescu what the fuck sense does this make is anyone's fucking guess. why the fuck would you ever review the os on a box ?! this is the fucking definition of the os in the first place -- that part of software that DOESN'T need to change. it hugs the hardware and is changed with the fucking hardware. the name for software that changes with the user's pubic hairdo fashions is USERLAND. why the fuck am i... o look at that, there's 1.9 GB to download! the OS!!!! is two gigs. and of fucking course it's coming down a trickle pipe, so it was a 10 hour download when it started, half hour ago, then moved to 15 hours as i started ranting, and by now it's claiming to be done in 35 hours.
mircea_popescu who the fuck ever heard of such nonsense ?!

In the end I picked Ubuntu whichever, one of the two, and upon booting the box I quicklyx discovered that... well... you can just download the Steam client, there's really no point, no benefit, nor much thought put into the whole OS thing. Merge si asa.

And after discovering that I further discovered in even shorter order that... no seriously, there's nothing the fuck there. Looksy :


valve-1 valve-2 valve-3

Leaving aside how Valve's contribution to worldxi affairs seems to be the production of a deeply fucked in the head browserxii : I looked through all of those, and yes I do mean all of those. Not like it takes much to examine a coupla hundred items, you realise ?

There's nothing the fuck worth the mention, besides Dead Maze (which is a browser game anyway, you need Steam for it like you need Steam to get laid), a shitton of DOTAs (which are the hunchback demiurge's gift to gaming, they principally exist to keep insufferable junior-high age morons off everyone's lawns) and, I guess, Albionxiii there's literally nothing there.

But let's leave this open, why not. If anyone ever hears of an actually good game on Steam, such as to justify having a whole fucking "platform" on account of it, please, let me know. So far the best description I can think of for that bondogle is "Windows 3.1 returned from beyond the grave".

Moving on to greener pastures : Nutaku actually has a few interesting titlesxiv (among oodlebunches of "idle" gamesxv and assorted glorified dreck). List time :

I. Cosmic Shock League, easily the best game I've seen so far during this adventure, takes the familiar tile swap mechanic (Candy Crush, possibly world's most successful video game to date, yes > Tetris) to a whole new level. Here, let's start with an image and I can then explain :


So : on the bottom, your stone well ; on top the enemy's. The object is the same old "to form as many combinations as possible", and yet :

  1. Whenever you match some stones on your board, they shoot at the enemy's board, potentially destroying some of his stones. If this happens, the remnants will hurt his HP a little.
  2. Your stone well flows upwards, the enemy's downwards. Because better combos tend to accumulate towards the bottom of a well, your most valuable creations have a better-than-average chance to be destroyed by the enemy before you can use them. This adds a first layer of strategic depth to competitive play.
  3. There's a (lengthy) list of heroes ("mostly" girls... ya know) whom you can "seduce" into joining your ranksxvi. They're all color-associated, they all have specific skillsxvii they can unleash once their bar gets filled (through the matching of color-appropriate stones). The usual mechanics of upgrading, tiers of quality etcetera are all involved.
  4. Once their bar is filled the first time, heroes must be deployed on the field. This means you can no longer match the stones under them ; it further means that they soak up a significant amount of damage (the hitpoint figure under their icons) protecting stones behind them. However, should they get killed not only will you not be able to use their services again that game (which is quite crippling) but they'll also pass on to you the damage they had soaked up. So... do you want them in front where they can protect stones or in the back where stones protect them ?

I must say I'm quite fucking impressed.

II. Cunt Wars is doing more towards cunt integration, here, have some samplers :

cunt-wars-1 cunt-wars-2 cunt-wars-3

It's a quick and angry card trading game typexviii. Honestly I prefer this quickness, even if it comes with simplicity -- or rather, because it does. This field tends to be overrun by the sort of broken thinker who will "fix" fundamental problems by adding complexity, so that the problems have somewhere to hide. I remain unpersuaded ; for all the pretense of afficionados, the genre does not benefit from the extremely wankish intricacy they tend to favour for transparently obvious psychological reasons. To put it more formally, strategic depth comes from mathematical analysis, not from careful fitting of constants and parameters. It's a matter of limits, not a matter of values.

Be that as it may, there's not much better on all of Steam than Cunt Wars. This is evidently saying a lot ; I'm just not terribly sure what exactly.

III. Sabers Edge is also good. The core mechanic is chainingxix rather than stone swap, but the game itself is quite well made. Here's a screenshot :


I would propose the (entirely spurious, by the way) chicks painted on either side of the tablet emulator are remarkably representative of the game altogether. They're not the worst examples of their kind, are they ? Overstylisized to all hell, and not necessarily in the best of ways, this is Saber's Edge exactly : overdone to a remarkable degree in places, yet with shocking stumps and strangely neglected sharp corners leftover (really, that arm is that thin ?!).

As far as the chaining mechanic is concerned, however, I would say this is one of the better implementations. For instance : the stone that needs to pee (leftmost column, 2nd from bottom) is a linker, permitting you to get the other players in on your turn ; the stone immediately under it is a skill activator. The coin purse looking stone's a loot item, you want to clear under it so you get the 500 gold pieces. The saber and the pistol are direct damage stones, the octopus and the shards thing do whole team damage, there's enough strategic interest here to keep one occupied a few pleasant hours.

IV. Honey Crush is a rather frank Candy Crush rip-off, with some arguably interesting bells-and-whistles added in a stiff sauce of unpleasant graphics.

And that'd be pretty much... it.

Here I sat, and for a whole day dug back and forth through the accreted pile of the bestestmost on offer in virtual promiscuity and online playful sexuality. For a good chunk of that day my slaves sat behind me, and watched, and we made merry. The only conclusion available, sad as it may be, is that by and large the virtual, the simulated, the imaginary, the unchained-from-constraints-of-reality fails to keep up!

The problem of the simulacrum is none other than, simply, modestly, "nobody could have predicted"-lyxx its ultimate failure to cope with reality. Howsoever super-duper, however advanced, however technological, however introduced, reduced, maintained, insinuated, adjusted, it ultimately fails to interest.

In a word, I would say the strategic mistake of game makers was to eschew ludens for simulans sometime with the turn of the millenium. This choice has produced no payoff. This choice is an utter and complete dead end.xxi

The remaining question would be, "if people do not play anymore, in what sense can they be called people anymore ?". From one perspectivexxii the answer's a very round and resounding "no". Let's hear it then for the "other", supposedly, perspective -- because it seems to me even the crickets are fading out.

The current State of the Vidya would be that as the hardware became cheaper than ever, the unpleasant observation that "the people themselves" have actually nothing whatsoever to say became ever more difficult to eschew. And it's not just the state of the vidya, either.

  1. Hey, my slaves have girlfriends (as in, girls they fuck) -- which thereby are my girlfriends. That's just how slavery works, deal with it. []
  2. The saddest mall en titre would be this sad atrocity leftover from the 2000s (Iulius Mall).

    It is a sort of "the mall that Jack built", incomprehensibly constructed upon itself (unhelpfully if very typically bereft of the most basic navigational aids, such as a Roman floorplan, or even a fucking map, anywhere) that's regularly encountered with the air pumps turned off (such that spending a half hour inside the suffocating perimeter delineated by glass doors very much approximates living in the United States -- the mostly Miami-bound locals eminently don't seem to care at all) and otherwise consists of nothing but wrong planes that completely defy further description, shitty shops specializing in selling Boggle through the offices of exceptionally slow if unremarkably (in context) opinionated old women and so forth.

    Oh, and there's construction work incessantly ongoing.

    Oh, and the access path, well hidden as it is, requires you to traverse multiple workyards, carefully single file past, around and in between heavy machinery... I can't imagine anyone whose culture these orcs are so very ineptly appropriating could even recognize the item for what the locals pompously label it as.

    It's a potato picturetaker/scryingstone, what can I tell you. []

  3. No joke. []
  4. Certainly pissing off the multitudes comes with no appreciable drawback, as experience has amply shown over the decades. []
  5. I should hope by now nobody is about to take such warnings lightly ? []
  6. I mean, I could simply write an article about how "hey, happened to try a console game for half hour while killing time at the mall, and it made me feel like trying on gaming again", all simple and modest and normal-like, but... seriously, what'd be the fun in twat ?

    O hait... []

  7. For the very curious : the system in question's an AMD FX-8370 mounted on a Gigabyte 970A (also known as a motorcycle). The video card's a Palit GeForce GTX 1070 that weighs significantly more than the whole CPU-motherboard assemblage (and, I suspect, draws more wattage). This goes via HDMI to a Samsung CF391 32" monitor. That'd be ~all, besides 4x8 GB ram sticks and some Seagate whatever.

    It is remarkable to me that the a top of the line gaming station can be had for significantly less money in nominal terms than twenty or so years ago, which is the last time I did this. Inflation easily ate another factor of two (more like five) in the interval, meaning that the hardware support for vidya has reduced in price a degree of magnitude while I wasn't even looking! Fucking unbelievable, what can I say.

    And yes, I'm aware the interweb's full of stories about how "the CPU is 200-odd Watts while the motherboard's about half that" and so this isn't a possible config -- and hey, maybe that's even true, in some other cases (perhaps older motherboard ?). Nevertheless, it is not my experience with my particular board. I had the item laying around, I figured "what the hell, let's see" on the very strong basis of "who even cares, it's like a hundy, if it falls down I can just get a 990 or whatever". Yet so far I've seen the CPU taking on 7.5 7.4 7.1 load averages without either catching fire or shutting down, and as far as anyone can tell it is operating at its intended 4.4GHz clock frequency. What can I say, to avoid saying "the internets lie" ? You go ahead and say it for me. []

  8. Ever killed Garond, btw ? []
  9. Have you noticed this difference, between meaningful payment, that nourishes and grows an ecosystem and meaningless payment that just supports the idiocy empire ? []
  10. Not so quickly. First it had to download a further half-GB junk ; then it downloaded Steam, then Steam itself wanted a quarter GB of junk. If I weren't sitting on a fat pipe this'd have come to tears in short order.

    And by the way, why the fuck is a crank the visual representation for something called "steam" ? Is this by reason of the nutrients that plants need or something ? []

  11. This "world" thing might very well be an overstatement -- the twelve million they claim (and I have little inclination to take any USG agency's claims of this nature at face value) is an understatement of the gaming population any year after 1980. There were more than twelve million kids playing games off deck tapes back in 1989 by a damn sight, yo! []
  12. Picking among a rich list of shit : their implementation of an url bar is... uneditable, so that inept stuff like sits there unpunished, and if you want to go to page 12 you gotta click and click and click, nevermind "url hacking", god forbid. %20for%20the%20win!

    If I didn't dislike Joel so very much I'd quote here his story on how Mozilla died the first time around. []

  13. Which... whatever, it's a remake of ye olde Everquest 2, up to date. The graphics are pretty and the immediate interactions reasonably polished, but the economy's ever as fucking broken every way to China as always. It's like looking at live trilobites. []
  14. Note that the titties are mostly bolted-on, tittilation's not usually a plot device. The usual process through which these folk seem to make "an adult game" is by taking some innocent game on its own devices eminently fit for 12yos and adding some (often crudely drawn) cutscenes, splash screens and backgrounds more in the vein of their interest. []
  15. Some of the most offensive stupid shit ever! This was a novelty parody item in the 90s, "self-playing RPG", mostly intending to satirize the low effort products of inept developers piling fedex quests meaninglessly atop each other -- but, as is the fate of all parody, the god damned leeches stuck to it and now they're turning them out by the bushel. Cuz whatever, "it's easy" holy hell...

    There's no teaching by satire when confronted with committed lowest-possible-effort players, because they'll just take the failures satirized as a new upper bound in life. []

  16. This comes with the mandatory if spurious "gallery" mechanic, whereby as you level them up they "unlock" hentai drawings, as fucking if one can't just peruse a collection if so inclined. But whatever. []
  17. Let's review my set (seen on the left). From top to bottom : first one freezes 7 random enemy tiles (so they can't be used at all for one turn) whenever her bar fills ; she further freezes a random enemy hero on deployment, and on death also. Yeah, she's epic. Second one spawns hp-giving overlays on a 2x8 set of stones in the middle of the board. Because yes, stones can get overlays, what, problem ? Third one throws two grenades, each doing a hefty chunk of damage on a 4x4 set of squares. This is absolutely invaluable in PvE situations because she throws over any barricares, has won more campaign games for me than any other. Finally, the fourth sprays a sorta bazooka everywhere, hitting lots and lots of stones for significant damage.

    Both the top ones are blue, and both the bottom ones are red, meaning I'm wasting my time breaking yellow or green stones ; but also correspondingly that I get twice the benefits from breaking blue and red. This then adds yet another layer of strategic depth, because are these trade-offs worth it ? []

  18. You know the kind, where there's 3 to 5 lanes, and you plop down cards that have an attack value, a resistence value, and some special effects -- whoever dominates a lane gets to attack the opponent directly and drain his HP to eventual death. It's supposed to be all creative and fascinating and whatnot, but in practice it turns out there's just not that many things one can do -- give bonus attack to cards on either side, maybe some add-on conditional damage, DOT, whatever. []
  19. Also played with stones in a well, but usually the geometry's hexagonal rather than the universally square swappable tiles. The idea is that you form the longest chains you can (and, obviously, try to leave the board in such a shape as to make your task at forming long chains next time around as easy as possible). []
  20. Nobody excepting, of course, absolutely everyone -- starting with the Latins. []
  21. A dead end, but not merely a dead end. A very familiar dead end, a most comfortable dead end, entirely reminiscent of the mental structure producing and justifying Obama's losing bets on "alternative green energy" or more broadly's all-in bets on "Artificial Intelligence", pedestrianly redefined from its early Minsky-Chomsky roots into a trite "systems of really really many linear equations with really really numerous variables hidden behind very small parameters". There's a certain something uniting all these "excel spreadsheets in space" attempts at eschewing the actual problems of interest today.

    Undeniably there's something more there than mere coincidence, merely taking the wrong turn as any traveler on any road is wont to sooner or later do, merely having chosen a strategy at random that never paid off. Rather, it seems to me, this was the stuff that they wanted to work. The stuff they needed to work. Turning this matter on all its facets, I can't escape the -- barely intuited yet omnipresent -- impression that what's actually hiding under the phenomenological detritus is the very scary grin of the fundamental failure of the Empire.

    The simulacrum simply doesn't fucking work, yet again. Wut do ?! []

  22. "One perspective" is one possible way of referring to the only possible, and therefore universally obligatory perspective, why not. []
Category: Trolloludens
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9 Responses

  1. > Not like it takes much to examine a coupla hundred items, you realise ?

    I did a similar experiment back in '15 or so, with more or less the same results, i.e. le numeri pe degetele de la o mana. Since I'm here, I'll list a couple of titles that I found interesting out of the circa 100 that I played:

    TIS-100: puzzler where you get to program a grid of digital signal processors. Speaking of simulacrums, it's really amusing how they're able to teach basic programming skills, e.g. time-space trade-offs, in games, but somehow they're incapable of applying them to reality.

    Faster Than Light: tactical strategy "in space", where the player needs to keep his crew alive under hostile conditions. Not bad at all IMHO.

    FEZ: neat little puzzler/platformer, a sort of Commander Keen reloaded.

    Hotline Miami: fast-paced "kill or get killed" top-down action. I didn't get this on Steam, but whatever, I found the arcade-like atmosphere quite nice.

    And that's all. No wonder that after all this time I keep returning to Monkey Island.

  2. Fap Fap`s avatar
    Fap Fap 
    Friday, 7 June 2019

    Not bad RPG Captured by dark elves. Genuine psychological retraining femdom and very visceral feeling like when they take you to your cage cell for the first time you really feel you maybe want to go in there or when they whip you the first time and you look up from below. And that time when Mistress guesses you have a secret and asks you and the game lets you try and keep it from her at first with Skinner sex payoff but then tells you it can not be done and actually forces you to submit if you want to or not. Good stuff.

  3. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 7 June 2019

    @spyked Huh what do you know, look at that, I had an italics header improperly closed. Fixed now!

    > it's really amusing how they're able to teach * in games,
    > but somehow they're incapable of applying them to reality.

    No, actually that's 100% what the whole charade is all about : anything, anything whatsoever, just as long as "it didn't matter anyways". As long as backed by that "anyways" escape, and only for as long as so backed, they can function.

    @Fap Fap Actually that's not even terrible, BDSM kinda-roguelike.

    Pro tip : ESC is how you get your inventory.

  4. Fabulous, seemingly-light-topic-becomes-world-description-through-correct-analysis & elegant discussion piece.

  5. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Friday, 7 June 2019

    There's a million tiny stamps.

  6. @spyked et al: I also liked "TIS-100". (Never finished it, though, stopped about mid-way through when my actual life began to resemble a more interesting version of that game...)

  7. Christian`s avatar
    Friday, 7 June 2019

    Just look at the numbers: 2014 57 titles, 2015 42 titles, 2016 44 titles, 2017 24 titles, 2018 24 titles, 2019 15 titles (including announced).

  8. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Saturday, 8 June 2019

    You know, I don't think I ever played that TIS thing. OTOH not really that much of a[n explicit] puzzle fan.

    @Christian That may just as well be the story of the evolution of the relevancy of the site in question I guess.

  9. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    Mircea Popescu 
    Wednesday, 19 June 2019

    In other "things one might find indispensably useful", I'ma leave this here :

    > kill $(ps aux | grep wine | cut -f2 -d" "| awk '{print $1}')

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