Saturday, February 26, 2022

Dread

(I started writing this a month or so ago, then decided it was a silly and unnecessary thing to put on the internet.  That may still be true, but here it goes anyway.)

 

The Metroid series has been a favorite of mine, right from the start.  Zelda is more grand, Mario more playful, but no other games get me quite so enthralled.   It doesn't look like much now, but young-me's heart pounded guiding action such as this:

https://images.nintendolife.com/screenshots/13031/large.jpg https://www.mobygames.com/images/shots/l/312627-metroid-nes-screenshot-metroids-can-only-be-killed-if-you.png

The games are light on story, not especially large or long, but the series always provided plenty of exploration and experimentation, mixed with challenging fights against crazy space monsters.  What's not to love?

There have been some droughts between mainline Metroid games.  Not counting spinoffs (including the also-great Prime games) they were released in 1987, 1991, 1994... then 2002... And that was it, apparently.  Around 2005, there were rumors of another one, named "Metroid Dread", but it never materialized. Generations of gaming hardware came and went.  Then, just months ago, 19 years after the previous Metroid entry, it was finally real.

 https://twinfinite.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Metroid-Dread-Screenshots-10.jpg https://nintendoeverything.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/1/nggallery/metroid-dread/Switch_MetroidDread_screen_01.jpg

This world of ours is full of stuff that's not what it used to be.  Everything changes, time moves on, but in some primal way, this new game got its hooks in me just as the originals did.  The exploration and experimentation were more detailed and smoother than ever.  The boss fights were challenging, occasionally bordering on cruel for a now middle-aged fan with middle-aged reflexes.  I enjoyed every moment, including the moments I hated.  (I doubt any single game has shown me its "Game Over" screen nearly as many times.)

After my initial adventure, and then diving back in to collect everything, I still wasn't ready to stop playing.  "Hard mode" became available after finishing once.  That just about made me laugh out loud; the last thing any sane person would do is subject themselves to a harder version of the battles I'd just scraped through.  Switching gears, the series has always provided little extra bonuses for finishing the entire game quickly, which I never cared about, because I just like to soak everything in.  But this time, I felt like yes, I could probably get through in under 8 hours.  Just to say I'd done it, and gotten that little bonus.  So, I started another playthrough, aiming for efficiency instead of completeness.  By the late game, I realized I might just be able to come in under the 4-hour mark, let alone 8. If I managed that, I'd get two little bonuses.  ...And so I did.  Another full run completed, in well under 4 hours.  (The game mercifully did not count all the failed and retried battles.)

And again, somehow, Metroid Dread wasn't done with me.  I'd collected every item in the game, several times, and finished it as quickly as it would reward me for.  The only rewards left (truly little things, which anybody can find on the internet) were for finishing hard mode at all, finishing it in under 8 hours, and under 4.  So, I started the adventure again.  On hard mode.  Never mind the boss battles, I got killed just walking around.  I knew where I had to go and what I had to do, but getting it done was right up against the boundaries of what skill and patience I could muster.  As I got closer and closer to the ending sequence, no video game has made me sweat and shake like that since ... Well, since the original Metroid.

 https://www.mobygames.com/images/shots/l/312628-metroid-nes-screenshot-the-battle-against-the-mother-brain.png  https://cdn.statically.io/img/attackofthefanboy.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Metroid-Dread-Central-Unit-Fight.jpg

I did finish hard mode. In just over 3 hours by in-game reckoning. I'm not sure I even want to know how long it would have been including all the retries.  It's been over a week since then, and at last it seems Metroid Dread is a game I could go back to at any time, but I don't feel compelled to revisit again right this minute.

 

(I decided not to post after writing this far.  The internet has plenty of nerds talking about video games.  Since then, a couple more things have happened and I've changed my mind again.)

 

Well, now it's a little bit later still.  An update has been released for Metroid Dread, something none of the previous games on their cartridges could have done.  Two new difficulty options were added added, "Rookie Mode" for those who find difficult games to be difficult, and also "Dread Mode".  There, getting hit by anything - a fast boss attack or a tiny little gnat, means game over.  My initial reaction was the same as to Hard mode.  Nope!  Who would ever do that to themselves?

You know where this is going.  Me.  I did that to myself.  And now, the game does keep track of how long the failed attempts took, and how many times I got killed.  (A few minutes shy of twelve hours, and three hundred thirty-eight times, respectively.)  There are parts of the game where you are hunted by indestructible robots, and if they catch you, even on the easiest settings, you're done for.  That's where the "Dread" in the title comes from.  Those sequences were now the most soothing, relaxing areas of the game.

I will say this.  The bits where I got stuck dying and trying over again and again for the longest, were also some of my favorite moments in the game.  There's a section where everything's catching fire and falling apart.  Touch any mere lick of flame and you're dead.  (Naturally, your prize for surviving this sequence is the Varia armor, which protects you against heat for the rest of the game.)  Soon after that is Kraid, who launches torrents of projectiles at you (just as he did in 1987!).  A few late-game bosses are also very enjoyable, even if they did grind my patience into a fine powder, and the final boss fight is one of my favorite video game encounters full-stop.  At some point during my 338 game-overs, I learned just enough from my mistakes to not repeat them ... at least not quite as often.

https://cdn.statically.io/img/gameranx.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/2021100814242200-9A9B6E0371D34263D6B6577F9CBA54D5-1024x576.jpg  https://www.mobygames.com/images/shots/l/312621-metroid-nes-screenshot-this-monster-is-called-kraid-and-is.png

So why post now?  The world is still full of nerds talking about stuff that doesn't matter.  But the world is also full of scary, awful things.  Russia invaded Ukraine the day I completed Dread mode.  That final boss who killed me over and over for an hour before I finally prevailed ... was a stand-in for Vlad, and 45, and all the other villains this world has on offer.  The sadly-real evil, those who value power or wealth above basic humanity.

There are many, many challenges before each person on this smallish planet.  Some of us have the luxury of accepting entirely optional ones, essentially-trivial challenges of muscle memory and minor problem-solving.  But!  Anything I can do, anybody can do.  For every reckless halfwit whose power eclipses his responsibility, there are millions of us regular people.  Some of us get to choose our battles, and some don't.  But we can all take on much more than seems plausible at first.  Everybody can learn from our mistakes, even the embarrassing or crushing or repeated ones.  Anybody can get themselves in over their head, and yet prevail.  Not for a reward or a prize, but because we feel a connection.  Because something inside us says we should try.

I encourage everybody to take on something that feels impossible.  Something that draws you in despite seeming insurmountable.  Don't worry about where it falls on some ladder of the most important or urgent problems facing the world.  There are billions of us.  We can tackle many challenges at once.  And once you do tackle one, whether you surprise yourself by succeeding or learn why you couldn't, find another challenge, and another.  Don't wait 19 years in between.



Thursday, February 03, 2022

NopeCoin

Cryptocurrency has been off the deep end since its inception. NFTs are cancer on cancer, and as in most situations, two wrongs don't make a right.

I therefore hereby propose my own implementation of fake money, and offer up all my digital assets on its own exchange!

My development codename for this currency is "nopecoin', but one of its groundbreaking features is that you don't need to name it at all! Unlike other cryptocurrencies, which use expensive hardware, consume massive amounts of energy and poison the planet, you can mine nopecoin by putting your computer or other fancy internet-connected device to sleep. You will begin to profit immediately. Enrich your life at increased pace by shutting down multiple devices; nopecoin mining is compatible with all computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and overpriced wristwatches.

As for NFTs, you may be pleased to know that you already own all the images, movies, games and other digital junk which I have created over the years and will continue to create. These NFTs are special in that you can sell them over and over as often as you please, simply by giving the files or links to others. No special accounts or apps required. Rather than a search for the next trendseeking sucker, you need only find someone to share a chuckle or smirk or moment of confused frustration with.

This is all coming from someone who fell in love with computers and technology at a very young age. I could barely speak English when I learned Basic. Maybe it was inevitable that the capitalists and scammers would take over computing, but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it, or that I won't speak out when I see conmen and their marks hailing the blockchain. This particular emperor is all kinds of naked, and it's an ugly sight.

(If this was all gibberish to you, then keep it that way! You are living life correctly.) 

(If you want to understand crypto and NFT, set aside a couple hours and watch this.)

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween!

Well that's just pitiful. In the last year I made a Halloween post and one about Revensils, and now I'm doing sort of a combination of the two.
It has not been that slow of a year, but I am that poor at sharing. Anyway, have a happy Halloween! May you find and share some joy, whether it's in the form of tricks, treats, quirky humor, vengeful cutlery, or any other bit of fun!

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

REVENSILS!

Chunky Milk Productions presents our 2021 48 Hour Film project: REVENSILS!


We weren't nominated for any awards with this movie, but I couldn't be more proud of it or more happy remembering the weekend we dedicated to its creation.

Copious amounts of laughter and joy were poured into its making, and we've gotten to hear additional laughs and joy as we've begun to share it with friends and family.  Enjoy, share, and as usual you can pick up some related files and read some of my long-winded production notes by visiting:

https://chunkymilkproductions.com

and

https://penduin.net/48hfp

Friday, October 30, 2020

Happy, Hopeful Halloween 2020


MMXX, a quaint old-fashioned way to write 2020.  We had a fourth pumpkin ready to participate, but it was literally too rotten from within.  So, basically perfect.

 


Here at home, Kim's decorations are cute and fun, but in the big picture it's been an ugly, rotten four years.  The silver lining is we all finally have a chance to throw ourselves a competent lifeline.  Please do your part to make the future less awful.

And, truly, have a happy Halloween.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Pets with Pets

 Book has his own pet now.  He hasn't told us the frog's name yet, but we see them play together most nights.


Granted Book is an indoor cat and this is an outdoor frog, so their interactions are about like everyone else's in this socially-distant world.



Sunday, April 19, 2020

Stuck At Home 48

While everybody is stuck at home, the 48 Hour Film Project has hosted an online-only, no-physical-collaboration series of filmmaking weekends!

You can see everybody's entries here:
https://48hourfilmproject.online/

...and Chunky Milk's entries (as well as our other movies) here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLkCUWFYoTe8R5dBdcX-zx12vXFuxdIVo

Enjoy!