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About Parrhesia

  • Birthday 03/28/1995


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    ... and I'm not livin' life in monochrome

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    Parrhesia's optimism is daunting. They wield their joy like a hammer.
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  1. TLDR version. I have many thoughts about Simp, and I'll say them for topicality even though I still need to go out and acquire ...How??? at some point. But Ike covered all the like, actual facts, so I'll instead focus on my feelings. I'm hugely indebted to Simp of War. I adore OB64 but hate playing it. OB64 is a fantastic game with a lot of clunk, an absolutely horrific interface, bad translation, and completely broken core alignment system that requires wrestling with aforementioned horrific interface to tame. A playthrough takes about 80 hours and about 2.5 of those will be item-duping and then using Urns of Chaos, or else you will simply not be able to engage with the class system and will get the bad ending. Simp of War is like if OB64 had a merely poor interface. It arrived at a time when I needed it to. I played it basically on release. I was abroad in a foreign country, struggling to assimilate, in a very dysfunctional environment, sleeping either 2-3 or 12 hours a night and let me tell you that I fucking inhaled Symphony. I needed something to just sink my teeth into, and Symph was that something. And I played its like 20-hour campaign, then shelved it, content with the world. I will always be grateful for that time. And I do think, fundamentally, The Game Is Good. However. I can't pretend the replay was that great. It's still a pretty easy game, even on Warlord (which used to come with permadeath; which might work in theory, but the Preps screen is like pulling teeth, so it would get old fast). But the existence of the cruft they threw in... it just softens the gameplay loop. The peak time to play Simp was probably about three months ago. Pre-DLC and, pivotally, pre-enemy canto. Also probably on a challenge run where you simply do not use the Nephilim spells, but I'm not going to pretend I didn't abuse them. There almost isn't a midway ground between abusing them and using them normally, it's like fucking FE11 Warp. Post-DLC, hurling 10 maps into what had been a markedly tighter gameplay loop, Simp's campaign is just kind of flabby now. I know that, as above, my judgement is compromised by liking OB64 and by getting the game at a rough time, and also by it just being ages back, but I swear to God that Simp's campaign held firm for a lot longer in week 1, before the Monty haul of 10 DLC maps (in a 35-map campaign!) crashed in. The story-writing felt a lot more forgivable on day 1, even going down to the portraits. Before they were improved, they were just... pretty bad. Diana didn't look so much like a kinky muscle-woman as someone who had been burn-dodged into the Twitter idea of a Strong Female Character. But now they're actually competent, and... eugh, she's actually meant to look that way? And the story seemed bad, the writing poor, but in a way that seemed phoned-in, not completely incompetent. Then Legends came out, and put the lie to that. Yes, it seemed that Legends' maps really were trying to expand on... pff, these iconic characters? We can finally find out the deal with, with the fuckin' love story of general whatsherface and the Russian dude? Wow, finally! Oh, maps where we get the backstory of Captain fucking Antilles, my God! And they're a car-crash in gameplay as Ike said, and they completely fuck the experience curve. Also, man, there's some... there's a couple of telling moments. Abigayle/Zelos was not written by a well mind. So without Legends, it mostly just came across like they didn't care much and just wanted a couple of Big Moments (well, the metaphorical kind of big, their least favourite). Controlling red units for a map as you shitstomp through good guys, fuck yeah! Evil cults setting up child hunts, yeah, I played FE4 too, baby! And this reading of the game was also improved by the Bad Ending, which they very quickly patched out. Basically at the end of the game Arthas is like 'hey let me grab the sword' and if you haven't really been paying attention you could go 'sure, take the big power' and he ushers in the apocalypse and an eternal empire of darkness and everyone gets horrific endings fighting a losing battle in the hell war. I think it's telling that this came across as hilarious to me in the moment, and that I never went back to go get the good ending, until the replay a year or so on. But no, they actually cared, and this is what they came up with. And that's depressing, frankly! I still love Fell Seal, though I never did quite push through to the end of that second campaign. I wish I still loved Symphony of War.
  2. I'm not watching the 45-minute video. Sorry. I will risk some of this being brought up or expanded upon there, but that is too great a tax to engage with the point. I'm coming at this from the perspective of having lurked through a lot of efficiency discussion in the early 2010s, and sporadically looking through FEtubers and current meta discussions since. I know vanishingly little about the meta discussions surrounding the games that care more about unit customisation (13/14/16). It is fine and good, actually, that we have metrics used to measure units' quality. It is not an indictment on people who like Wil enough to use him (like me! This is not a hypothetical!) to say that Wil is fucking terrible, nor on people who don't care for using Jagens to say that, measurably, Jagens make the game go faster and easier. For everyone. When discussing units, 'efficiency' isn't about 'good gameplay', and it isn't just a synonym for LTC. It's just a principle of FE that units who are strong on the face of it will make things easier for anyone. Marcus is fantastic if you're rushing for objectives to clear them in 4-12 turns, but a weaker and less confident player will still benefit from using him over, like, Bartre. If someone really likes Bartre and wants to use him, fine! True champions win with their favourite Pokemon, etc. There's a reason that all units found their way onto the old tier lists (granted, FE12's tier list lumped about half the cast into Free Silvers, but have you seen FE12's cast?), not just the optimal ones. And it's worth discussing how these units will perform in normal patterns of play, not just how many shiny green numbers they have at the end. If you're going to use Bartre, then here, these are the things he can do. There was an era where people would assume, if someone was not using Marcus much and did use Nino, that they were just idiots who didn't know how to play the game properly. But we're talking, like, 2011. It was obviously stupid then, but it did stem from pushback against the GameFAQs of the late 00s that handed out a lot of terrible advice for actually beating the game. Someone who uses Nino is going to have a harder time clearing maps than someone who doesn't; use Nino all you like, but for fuck's sake, telling people you should? I remember thinking I must be a terrible player for leaning on a shit unit like Duessel, way back in the day. I was a terrible player, but Duessel's the reason I managed to clear FE8 anyway. Efficiency is a pretty fuzzy metric, and it can be improved upon. And yeah, evaluating unit choice within the context of a playthrough... gets complicated by the fact that they all have faces and, ideally, personalities; still, it's not like the skill of finding the right tool for the job completely goes out the window once units become anything but stat-blocks. I know that Rutger is a great boss-killer, but there is no chance in hell I'm deploying Rutger under any circumstances, so I need to figure out who else can do the job he does. And again, it's a universal issue, because no matter what you're doing, no matter how fast, no matter how completionist, ironman or not, everyone is looking to beat the same chapters. Frankly, I'd say this is a solution in search of a problem, but there isn't really an alternative solution proposed. Nobody is stopping anyone from talking about the teams they use after a game. I have made a complete campaign hack, and a constant throughout is people talking about the units they used and how they performed throughout. As for the unit performance chart, that literally doesn't work for most of the series. How many different ways to 'build' Dorothy are there? But if we're talking about what resources a unit needs to become strong, that's... that's literally the crux of efficiency discussions! Marcus needs 0 investment to murder everything at a time where your other units are weak, Nino needs multiple chapters of babying to get to that point at a time where your other units are strong, and most units fall somewhere in between. This is not some incompatible concept to efficiency. And circling back to the hack, discussions on unit viability in what is essentially an efficiency framework have helped inform unit balancing, making sure every unit can effectively perform their niche. Obviously that isn't something IS has ever particularly cared about, but I like the idea that all of my units have genuine strengths and reasons to exist, and that none of them are just complete liabilities. Some are obviously going to be better than others, sometimes significantly so. But if people are willing to put into words, 'Hesterine's movement advantage doesn't outweigh her terrible combat', then I can buff her combat and put her in a place where people actually want to use her as a unit, and those that would always want to use her because of her personality or her fancy new portrait or because they just like all cavaliers don't feel like they're being held back for doing so. An actual alternative framework I've seen a couple of times is framing units along the lines of 'strong without investment / strong with investment / fine without investment / requires investment to be fine'. Honestly, this does feel like it might be the best of all worlds.
  3. Yeah the two Queen's Wish games - soon to be joined by a third - is great, so if you're an RPG fan I'd go for them. Mathematically it looks like you can get the full sweep in a full playthrough (20-25 hours), if you reloaded right after making key decisions to make the opposite key decision... but given you'd need to play on the highest difficulty, and need to do some stretch goals that aren't necessarily on the highest difficulty, two is probably more realistic. Play them anyway tbh.
  4. Yeah I... spent a lot of my time with Q2 really wanting to like Q2 more than I did, and it just eroded that gradually over the course of the vanilla campaign before Reckoning calcified my negative feelings. I didn't like Quake 1 as much as Ike, though I broadly agree with his feelings (and certainly with its place in the historical record), and a constant low-level annoyance was the lack of a second proper Reliable, Workhorse weapon. The icing on the cake for Quake 1 would have been if it had invented the shock rifle. It didn't - because Unreal is the superior series - but Q2 figured it out! And before long there was the super shotgun back, and now the SMG, fine and good, the hyperblaster, the railgun, uh, more added in later... but nothing actually spectacular. There was a rocket launcher, and it was a good rocket launcher. But - especially in the expansions - enemies frequently jumped you from blind angles at close range, and encounters happened more and more frequently either in tight corridors or against erratic flying/jumping enemies, not the mid-range, mid-mobility settings at which the launcher excels. The thing I clung to throughout was that at least there was a sense you were nickelling and diming away at an enemy stronghold, running about the place activating various triggers to unlock the way forward in a way that felt more organic than just FIND THE RED / BLUE / YELLOW SKULL KEYS (though did sometimes involve that). And the flavour was fun; they had a great time inventing various bullshit Rube Goldberg machines to murder your fellow marines. Almost enough to make me go back in time to when I was playing single-player Enemy Territory and main the Stroggs over the Steve Blums. Almost. But Q2 Vanilla is just... progression at the start is slow and painful, and you're left with the shitty basic weapons for far too long. And then at the end there are nothing but swarms of needlessly bulky but not actually threatening enemies. Time to die is just huge on both sides (except on the handful of threat enemies that Fucking Vapourise the player). My thoughts soured as it became clear this running around was really just busy work, Gauntlet asking for more quarters as my life ticks down by a point every second. And then all the fun gets sapped out of the Reckoning. The gun progression is slower. Enemies are tankier. The fun Strogg flavour evaporates, and I was confronted, head-on, with the mush that is the Q2 Core Gameplay Loop. It's evidently salvagable - play Call of the Machine and Ground Zero and get the good parts without the bad. But Quake 2's makers did not understand what made Quake 1 good, and the Reckoning's makers did not understand any aspect of the human condition. Didn't help that the first fucking level crashed like four times, dumpstering our progress every time; and wiped my inventory twice, knocking me back to the fucking blaster and whatever weapon it deigned to hand out a second time. All this to say that Dark Souls 2 improves on the original in every regard worth tracking, and no, you don't sincerely enjoy Blight Town. But I have 100%ed a Q-game now and now I don't need to play Queen's Wish 2 on Torment for the alphabet, an experience I fear would have made me stop loving Queen's Wish. The Great Work continues.
  5. Honestly, minor bosses aren't even so much characters in themselves as they are invaluable in helping to set up the character of the nations they come from. You learn a lot just from the type of guy such and such a nation would promote. Pascal's existence makes the Black Fang clearly hypocritical in having ever claimed to be an 'honourable' murder-cult (the Fang, in general, feel like a writer's room divided hopelessly on what they're actually meant to be), Grado have a lot of professional military men in over their heads (Aias, Beran), while probably the ultimate example is Ridale. I fucking love Ridale FE4. He's the last of the Zyne recolours, with the most garish cloak. He shows up in like Chapter 10, fresh off a child hunt, raring to go. He's murdered so many children, thrown so many non-combatants into the gulag, he's so ready to go fight the Crusaders. Okay, no. More child hunts. "You've got to be kidding me." What a fucking legend. FE4's wildly hit and miss with its writing, but Ridale's like seven lines sell the sheer banality of the late-stage evil Empire better than anything else in the game. Obviously most don't really do a lot. There's a lot more... fuckin', uh... Zagans than Ridales, four or five Weissmans (Weissmen?) for every Schaefer. But they're still nice to have around, even the mediocre ones. If we're shilling hacks, I hurled in about three or four a chapter in Drums, for the most part. One of my favourite parts of putting it all together, honestly. I hope the series isn't moving away from them, and that Engage's fascination with recurring bosses is just a one-off aberration. I do think, 98% of the time, if you put someone down on the map they should be dead in the narrative; every other idiot teleporting away on 'death' was one of the greatest of FFT's many flaws, and was maybe even more grating in the Tactics Ogres.
  6. So far everyone's default class, with Protagonist as Life Cleric. Karlach and Gale are locks; usually Wyll has fylled, but Astarion was the locks guy, but then I brought in Shadowheart for the tail end of Act 2 (plot reasons) and gave her Sleight of Hand. Lae'vel even got a turn in alongside Karlach for a bit. Wishing you could access companion inventory without swapping them into the party. Also wish swapping was a little more seamless, though maybe it encourages it being okay to miss things more, which is fair. Also, glamour shots!
  7. Given that BG2 was absolutely, at the time of release, the best RPG ever made, and Larian's D2:OS was absolutely the incumbent best RPG ever made, it's perhaps unsurprising that BG3 is, yes, the best RPG ever made. I went for a half-dark elf cleric of Selune, because of misplaced nostalgia for NWN1 Hordes of the Underdark and for, of all things, the late-80s AD&D comics (going back through them is kind of funny because the first arc of four is melodramatic self-serious dogshit and they immediately fire the writer and kick on into an arc which is literally centred on jesters). This, hilariously, made me the anti-Shadowheart. I, uh, did not see any option for a non-Dark Urge custom character, so I'm the Dark Urge, and discovered this only after asking people what they thought about, um. A The Incident it turned out nobody else had experienced! Dark Urge is fun. I'm in the tail end of Act 2, pretty sure. The game's hit every note. It's got a fair few mild bugs, sure, but like, DA2 is my favourite RPG of all time, so that isn't a deal-breaker. None have been so severe that a quicksave-quickload doesn't fix.
  8. This isn't a complete fix-everything solution. It might be part of a solution, but only a small part. Take FE5: if Asbel is dead, you can't replace what he brings with an autolevelled Hicks. Hicks can't kill bosses through terrain like Asbel; he can't use staves like Safiya; he can't even replace someone like Finn, who is theoretically a peer competitor but having the brave lance is more significant than anything 'Hicks but with +1 HP/Str/Spd/Def' can bring to the table. FE works with this with new recruits because having a flow of new recruits is a better iteration of this idea. A lack of redundancy is the main factor getting in the way of small-squad games being ironmannable, and it's not just a numbers game. That's not to say that you should never feel loss when a unit dies, obviously. But it shouldn't be enough to make you consider resetting and losing progress. With a well-crafted roster, you aren't losing as much time from taking the next-best guy than you would from replaying the chapter, and this strikes me as desirable. After writing the first paragraph, you should have taken a long look at it, deleted it and started over. You're not spending those lives. You're losing units to misplays, and then judging, correctly, that you can push through and win anyway without them. It isn't to tactical gain, it isn't to strategic benefit, except in rare situations to salvage an already-fucked situation. Ironmanning Vision Quest, I realised I'd fucked up and Stina was going to die, and decided to throw Surya in the way instead, knowing he would die, because I preferred Stina. But I wasn't intelligently spending a life, using a bishop to take a rook. All my units are queens. All their units are pawns. Surya's death was bad for me in short-term tempo and long-term strategy. I just saved the queen whose design I liked more. So, no, I didn't spend his life, I just lost it. Correct play would not have overextended Stina in the first place.
  9. Retrying a map is the nightmare scenario. Resets are terrible failstates that force you to retread a bunch of content. Every FE should have mechanisms in place to disincentivise resetting and push through units dying; whether that's Casual Mode, turnwheel, autosaves, or my preferred method of a game just being ironmannable, where taking some losses won't cripple your prospects going forward. I agree with all Florete's points on why FE10 would have been a great start for Casual Mode, and would also like to add that the cast of each party is very thin, and a single loss could be crippling to a party's long-term prospects of progress. I haven't tried to ironman 10, but I imagine it isn't particularly conducive to it - same with other games with thin casts and characters that aren't easily replaced. And it's that replacement that permadeath is really about. There aren't really interactions with character death throughout the series - outside of story moments, anyway (try getting Matthew killed before the Dread Isle sometime!) - it's just an attritional cost to misplays. You're never in a position where you're spending units, like throwing a dozen zerglings into a handful of marines knowing you'll lose a couple but come out ahead, or trading a bishop for a rook in chess; outside of super niche instances (like warp-hurling dragons to make suicide runs into Medeus in 0%-growth FE11), a guy going down is never a sacrifice for gain. Things become immediately harder short-term (less action economy) and long-term (you now need a replacement), and depending on game you just lost everything that guy was carrying, too. That can be rewarding, if the game is built in such a way that you can sustain those losses; I managed to blind ironman Vision Quest, and that was deliberately built in such a way that a few losses don't snowball into a failstate. But let's not pretend that cold-blooded unit sacrifices are part of FE's gameplay loop. Ultimately I didn't put Casual Mode in DoW, but only because the patch was incompatible with anti-frustration QoL features that I prioritised (it was either the 'dead units dump their inventory in the convoy' or the option to have an autosave at the start of turns). Ultimately, if you don't want to play with Casual Mode, just don't play with Casual Mode. You could argue that the existence of Casual Mode disincentivises IS from making their games playable through cast death... but you wouldn't get far, since FEs have sporadically had paper-thin casts going back all the way to FE2. I'd welcome future FEs adding some middle ground, as well; an option for units to only die on the third defeat or something, perhaps.
  10. Ace Attorney's pun names and protracted breakdown animations are stupid indulgences that actively hold the series back, and it's deeply cringeworthy that they've only been ramped up and up over the years. Weirdly, the AAI2 fanslation got the balance right.
  11. As someone who also played Diablo 2 back in like 2005, and later revisited it before playing Diablo 3... yeah, entirely true. D3's launch was awful, D2's impact is undeniable, but in 2023, D3 is easily the better game; I'd recommend it to anyone who doesn't hate the genre, and I wouldn't recommend D2 to anyone as anything but a curiosity. Probably my most controversial gaming opinions centre around RPGs. Specifically: Baldur's Gate 1 is genuinely atrocious, but Baldur's Gate 2 is genuinely fantastic (and Siege of Dragonspear is pretty good! Gamers are just mad because nostalgia and one minor NPC vaguely implies she's transgender.) Anyone with an interest in RPGs should play BG2, and then go on to play SoD if they really liked BG2. Also, Obsidian get a pass that they really shouldn't for releasing unfinished, non-functioning games which papers over the fact that they are often genuinely just bad. Exceptions: Mask of the Betrayer (do not play vanilla NWN2.), New Vegas (this is not an unpopular opinion lol) and the genuinely fantastic Pentiment, which everyone should play, and the existence of which has really tamped down my anti-Obsidian trutherism.
  12. I can't believe that I'm looking at the TV Tropes Characters page because that's unironically the best nexus for full-body character arts, but here goes... In isolation, no real problems here. Sexy valkyrie, in kind of a GW2 Vigil way, it's fine. In isolation. Our second woman in heavy armour. It's not even just a titty-plate, it's two little hats. It genuinely looks like the tits were bare and have been clumsily censored out, it has no coherency with the rest of the design. 'Armour but a bit feminised' was already accomplished by the lace. Just a confused design, top to bottom. Like with the second compared to the first, it's honestly more compromised by just having the single random patch of flesh, and it's surrounded by low armour in, uh, kind of an important place to be armoured. Looks like a level 43 Warrior in vanilla WoW, still wearing a couple of holdover Mail pieces and with engineering goggles for some reason. What's with the furry shin-cuffs? There have to have been better ways to break up the steel. This design just doesn't work. Four for four, compromised by a very shallow and oddly sexless idea of horniness. It's not the only time it comes up, either; Sloane, one of the magi, has an honestly good design that's solely but cripplingly let down by an extremely poor attempt to have her robe stretch to contain the sheer magnitude of her bosom.
  13. Most encouraging is that the guy generally dislikes the writing in JRPGs. Regardless of one's thoughts on JRPGs, a disdain for them is the kind of energy DD's writing needs. Along with some developer notes I've seen about how they'll address feedback and generally tighten the game, I'm honestly pretty encouraged. Bit of egg on my face given I've freely talked shit about the game based largely on reputation, screencaps and word-of-mouth, but hey
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