Sable

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Developer: Shedworks | Released: 2021 | Genre: 3PS, Adventure

This relatively fresh third person adventure game had a really stylish drawn style that reminded me a lot of European graphic novels, particularly those by Moebius.

In fact, that was the reason I got interested in it.

I controlled a teenager coming of age as she achieved the ability the float slowly downwards, which came in handy when climbing things and jumping across long distances. I was given a hover bike to navigate the big desert, looking for points of interest to explore. There was no combat of any kind, but RPG-style quests.

And it wasn’t just quests about obtaining a specific object or finishing some kind of collection quest. Some of the later quests involved the trope investigation chain and even breaking someone out of jail.

Eastshade

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Developer: Eastshade Studios | Released: 2019 | Genre: Adventure, Paint

In my backlog at GameDeed.com, I described this game as a peaceful open world exploration-adventure. It was pretty apt. As a mute protagonist I was washed ashore in a landscape with a town and a city, populated by affable humanoids with animal heads. Apes, owls, bears, deer.

The protagonist was a skilled painter and thus the overall goal was to get quests and commissions for naturalistic painting. There were also a lot of side quests of almost any kind, crafting, fishing, and even a little touch of survival thrown in for good measure. The open world was big enough to warrant many hours of exploration, yet it was also small enough that I could run from one end to another in a few minutes.

To put is shortly, it felt a lot like a lighthearted first person Elder Scrolls game without the combat.

The first town Lyndow was just a few houses. Most quests earned glowstones which was the currency in the game. A nice deviation was when a completed quest taught me how to craft something new. The user interface for crafting and keeping track of quests was logical and easy to use. By far the most used crafting option was of course combining boards and fabric to create a canvas for painting.

Walking around, meeting people in the world and doing various quests for them, felt good and relaxing, and the game was certainly commendable in that regard. If anything, it was a little too lighthearted a times, particularly in the beginning where it felt like a game for kids. This does ease off later, but sometimes I was also missing a bit of combat to spice things up.

I never thought I would ever see myself type that sentence.

Maybe that yearning for combat was because of how much the game looked like an open world RPG with all combat stripped out, rather than casual exploration closely related to pure adventure games.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

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Developer: Eidos Montreal | Released: 2016 | Genre: FPS+, Stealth

I absolutely loved the original Deus Ex. In fact, I loved it so much that I completed it twice, and I virtually never do that. It was a 10 to me. I also completed the sequel, as well as Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I really liked this reboot too when I completed it back in 2012. I gave that one a 9.

Yet, I almost abandoned Mankind Divided.

I started it one morning where I probably was in a sour mood. It felt overwhelming with its many wheels, panels and windows. I decided I couldn’t muster this level of complexity anymore and dumped it. But after lunch (and in a better mood) I gave it a second chance. And this time it grabbed me.

Did I just repeat the same rebound as with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare?

I’m really glad I gave it one more go – it was really fun to explore Prague. It was wonderfully detailed and it was teeming with opportunities for exploring, sneaking, shopping and side quests.

Occam’s Blunt Razor

There’s a principle in philosophy called Occam’s razor. The definition of it varies depending on the source, but the one I like the most is that the simplest explanation is usually the right one.

It’s a principle that is useful to explain many conundrums and can eliminate unnecessary details. The more complicated the setup of an explanation is, the less likely it is to be true.

Have a headache? It could be a tumor, or you could just be dehydrated. Is the tire flat? Maybe you have a nasty enemy who slashed the tire, or it could just be a nail. There was a flash of light outside the windows. A meteor crashing down? No, that was probably a flash of lightning.

In the past few years, I’ve toyed with a variation of this principle that I like to use in place of the original one. It has a more pessimistic tone – as if it proclaims that, yes, the simplest explanation is indeed the right one, but also with a hint of disappointment.

Occam’s Blunt Razor

If there are several competing ideas to explain a phenomenon or predict the outcome of an upcoming situation, the most boring one is usually the right one.

It’s a great principle for predicting the future. This makes it especially useful for scientific predictions. It successfully predicted that the traces of a chemical in the clouds of Venus was not a sign of microbial life.

As you may already have noticed, it’s really close to the original principle. In probably more than 90% of all situations, the original Occam’s razor will be just as viable to explain a situation as Occam’s blunt razor is. Take for example the murder of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Originally, the murderer was Lee Harvey Oswald acting on his own accord, but there are a lot of conspiracy theories floating around involving various other parties. Those would be significantly more interesting, so Occam’s blunt razor predicts that Oswald did indeed do it on his own accord because that’s the most boring explanation. However, the normal Occam’s razor comes to the same conclusion. Oswald did it because that’s just the simplest explanation.

In most cases, Occam’s blunt razor is thus not really different than using Occam’s razor when it comes to the conclusion of the principle, but sometimes I use it anyway because of the hint of disappointment. Yes, it turned out there was no life in the clouds of Venus after all, but what a damn shame!

However, there are situations where the explanation might not be clear cut with just Occam’s razor. Take Betelgeuse going supernova, for example. It could happen today, it could happen in a thousand years. I’m not sure I would want Occam’s razor predicting this one. It seems to be down to pure luck. Occam’s blunt razor, however, predicts that it will not happen in your lifetime, because that would be interesting.

Grumpy Owl: Things I Don’t Understand

Most of us like lists, so here’s a list of things I don’t understand. Some I honestly don’t understand, like that spy movie, while others I might fundamentally understand, I just don’t understand why it’s a thing.

  • Taylor Swift
  • NFT
  • Consciousness
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Roguelikes and Soulslikes
  • Git
  • 8-bit music on vinyl
  • The thread feature in Slack
  • “Wrong answers only” 😑
  • Keyboards with no Caps Lock light
  • Joe & The Juice
  • Sunbathing
  • Sideways TV guides
  • Doctor Who
  • GIF animations where only the snow is animated

SID: Pony Exterminator

An experimental tune with an FM snare drum, a trumpet instrument with delay effects, and a coarse “Pony Exterminator” speech effect. Also features my first real solo since my comeback.

Later contributed in the music competition at Transmission64 2023.

Here’s the DeepSID entry if you want to listen to the SID file itself.

Here’s a YouTube video recorded on real C64 hardware:

Posted retroactively in December 2023.