alternate title for this one could be It Came From Steam Winter Sale.

i came across this title a long time ago while clicking, bored, through the steam discovery queue. it seemed really interesting, but i wasn’t prepared to spend time or money with it then, so i wishlisted it. here’s the summary from its steam store page. i’ll talk about the game’s story, which is extremely cool and also spoils the whole experience, at the very end. read it if you aren’t going to play this game.

A single player exploration driven adventure with survival elements, set on a mysterious and seemingly uninhabited alien planet. Survive through exploration, and unlock the mysteries of Gliese-6143-C. From the creators of “Unmechanical” and successor to “The Ball”.

Earth has been destroyed and mankind lingers on in a small fleet of ships near Pluto. As humanity’s last hope, you are sent to scout a distant planet as a potential location for a colony. After years of space travel disaster strikes however, and your ship is destroyed when approaching the planet…

With your team members dead and your equipment gone you have no way of communicating or receiving help from anyone… you are completely and utterly alone…

Desperately you look for a way of phoning home, but as you explore the seemingly desolate planet, you uncover the dark secrets buried within the depths. In this otherworldly odyssey you uncover mystery upon mystery as you try to survive the harsh climate.

the solus project is also designed for VR. my computer is definitely VR capable (shoutout to the new pascal-architecture GTX1070 humming away next to me) but i don’t have a headset, so i played in 2D. i’ve seen VR as a gimmick all along, but you know? i’d be interested in experiencing this game from the inside. it’s pretty cool.

it isn’t an open world, but there is definitely a fair amount of real estate to explore here. you crash-land on an archipelago with a helpful voice warning you to find a heat source and not to stay wet. there’s some classic exposition/world building laying around a page at a time, and then night falls and brings a tornado with it, forcing you into a cave. well, it forced me into a cave. i’ll get into the tornadoes in a minute. the opening sequences orient you to the minimal survival elements, teach you how to craft (a torch) and get you moving toward a sound. what sound? that’s a great question because the game didn’t actually make a sound. pretty dumb.

so why do i say this is pretty cool? let’s check out the good shit to bad shit ratio.

GS/BS: good

gliese-6143c is an ugly place, but this is a pretty game. the color palette involves a hell of a lot of grays. there’s several stunning moments though. i don’t often “whoa” out loud at visuals… unless i’m looking for a new home in minecraft and find a pine forest on extreme hills bordering the ocean with snow nearby and overhangs… but this game got me a few times.

the terrain is often rough and unforgiving, but almost never do you find yourself stuck if you leave the main paths. part of that is thanks to the head-scratching inclusion of a teleportation device. you shoot a disc and then you can teleport to that disc. it shoots… i dont know, 50 feet? tops? it has two purposes in the game: some puzzles and getting unstuck from the jaggy geology if you tried to jumping-puzzle your way around and fell.

i really don’t like a lot of survival elements in games. speaking of minecraft, the inclusion of hunger in beta 1.8 was the beginning of the end of me playing that game regularly .it’s just irritating. i don’t vidya to worry about feeding myself. but it’s not bad here, really. you can regain health by sleeping or consuming medkits, but you need to sleep someplace safe or you’ll get interrupted by the elements. (or killed. more later.) i didn’t play on the hard difficulty specifically because the difficulty only changes how much you get out of resources, but generally, i didnt starve or die of thirst. (i did freeze to death once, but that was my own fault.) there’s camps frequently with bowls of soup and troughs of clean water, and the caves are filled with trickles of water to fill up bottles with. the surface is scattered with debris from your ships, including food and medkits. there’s even plants you can eat, or set on fire, depending on your needs, and one of them dries you instantly when you eat it so you don’t die of hypothermia. the survival elements never seem to get in the way, just make you think about what you’re doing. i only found sleep annoying. and btw, when you get the cold device, keep it forever. you’ll thank me.

the experience, story wise, is a very good one. i will talk openly with spoilers at the end about it, but generally, this is a very chill, survival-ish walking game, until you see the dolls that cannot be unseen a couple hours in and everything takes a hella dark turn. the environment is littered with backstory and lore. some of the stuff from your fallen comrades bored me, but i soaked up everything i could find on the planet itself. by endgame i was done being distracted. i wanted answers just as badly as the protagonist did.

the puzzles are reasonable, once you understand what’s going on, and the traps are generally something visible that don’t kill you immediately if you don’t know its a trap yet. there was only one puzzle i had to google a solution for, and that was just because i’d somehow made it about 70% of the way through the game without noticing one of the puzzle mechanics. the solus project doesn’t really hold your hand at all, apart from the ubiquitous Forward Vector pointing the general direction of the way, so you’re left to discover mechanics on your own, and generally you do. there was only one puzzle i couldn’t beat, googled, spent a while until i finally settled on skipping through a long youtube walkthrough, and then said “oh good fuck you can just push it? wow i’m an idiot.” an earlier puzzle that should have required this mechanic, i was able to solve anyway by sprinting, jumping, and throwing a teleport disc as i fell far enough to go to half-health, then teleporting to where i was meant to go. lol.

finally the length feels about right to me. i played the way i usually play: very thoroughly at the beginning, and sprinting to the end of the main plotline by the end, and that took me about 11 hours. not too short, not too long, and obviously longer if you go find all the secrets and discover everything.

GS/BS: bad

this is minor, but with my rig, everything set to ultra, and excellent performance, there was noticeable pop-in all the time.

i don’t think the developers of this game understand a tornado. the game starts and night falls and it rains and a tornado comes. i ran like hell for a cave and waited for the noise to pass. that… wasn’t necessary. much later you’re in an environment that’s all cliffs and bridges, and it storms there frequently. you cannot hide from the tornadoes there. and… it doesn’t really matter. i stayed in the most protected corners possible as they went by, but they were often like right down my back as i ran from them, with no adverse affects to me except getting wet. i should have been dead by tornado lots of times. tornadoes in the solus project do not pass the oklahoma test.

the teleport device felt extremely underwhelming and underutilized. it’s a nice idea, but it’s often forgotten, and when you do use it, you often jump like, ten feet or less.

okay, let’s talk instagibs. instagibs are not fun. the worst was when i was climbing in perfectly fine weather during the day and was one-shot in the back by a meteor. are you serious? what the hell is that? there’s meteor showers infrequently but not rarely, and when you see them coming you can scramble for cover, but i got hosed by one from behind with no chance for warning. fortunately it was like 30 seconds past a save, and i reloaded and climbed right back up without incident. those showers are random and unscripted apparently, lol. some caves are also toxic, with your PDA’s warning being the only warning you get, and you die SO FAST. you can survive in 90-degree Celsius environments orders of magnitude longer than a toxic cave. oh, and i hid in a hole from a lightning storm once and got hit anyway while in a person-sized shaft about 7 feet down. mostly the game doesn’t bullshit you. but sometimes it does. so it goes.

but that’s pretty much it for the bad shit half of the ratio, causing the good shit to overwhelm it and win the day. i liked the game and recommend it. was quite a cool experience. stop reading now if you think you might play it.

spoilers

let me back out if you’re a “this sounds interesting but i’m not into that genre” person and tell some story.

you crash on the planet, you’re alone, you start thinking about two things: finding survivors and communicating with your fleet. you find no survivors, but the first person you encounter (dead) was trying to build a comms tower to send a message home. the game becomes about finding more parts to build the tower and power it. weirdly enough, after finding signs of past civilization on this planet, you run into basically the remains of a town on a hill, and there’s a giant cable in it. at least half the game is spent following that cable looking for a power source, and in the process, you encounter some kind of living death smoke, dolls that follow you when you don’t look at them (#dontblink), and tales of the Sky Ones, who seem to have brought a more primitive civilization with them. and they look extremely human, just with longer skulls. longer even than cro-magnons but otherwise, just, humans. you know this because their skeletons are everywhere. sometimes hanging from the ceiling. so it goes. i didn’t expect the game to get creepy as SHIT but it does.

we eventually learn that the Sky Ones are a very old, far-flung but still Type 1, kinda reptilian race. they themselves researched someone called the Ancients and found a device they left behind, which contained some kind of infinite energy source, or seemingly so. it put off a waveform which they later decoded, strangely, into a recessive DNA strand. the Sky Ones then began searching the galaxy for life forms that this matched to study and experiment on. the theory is, the primitive people you run into on this planet are early humans that the Sky Ones moved from earth to this place in order to run experiments on them. the humans saw them as gods until they learned some dark secret of theirs, which seems to be that the energy source involved harvesting them. they revolted, stole one of the energy orbs, and eventually were wiped out. so it goes. the Sky Ones are still around on this planet and as you move about, activating their machinery, they start to check you out in person. well, through orbs and cameras and stuff like that. finally they begin transmitting messages to you through your PDA and even arrange debris to spell out COME TO US.

if you’re able to survive environments of extreme cold and then extreme heat, you are rewarded with the last tower piece you need – an energy source. after you find a star map that lets you identify a safer planet to colonize than this one, everything comes to a head. one of their orbs is in front of you and they go TAKE IT and you do, and a smoke monster pops out to chase you, you run, follow the vectors back to the comms tower, call home, and wow! the lady you talk to cannot BELIEVE you’re alive because the humans up there are fucked, and you saved the species. they’re relieved to hear this planet supports life, and… that’s when the Sky Ones start to approach you from all directions. before you can finish explaining it’s very dangerous here and give her the coordinates for the safer planet, they cut off the transmission, put you on a flying saucer, and that’s it, gg. the species they had been testing on before is coming back to their planet again without them having to expend any energy or time themselves to move them here*. all this has happened before. all this will happen again.

i found that ending a little bit disappointing. obviously you’re just a lucky happenstance for the Sky Ones. they shot down your ship because they shoot down everything. (logs you can find prove this.) it must have taken millions of years for their race to transfer humans from earth to gliese-6143c before, but now they will bring themselves here in just 15. all they have to do is help you send a message home and suddenly how convenient everything you’ve found has been, the camps between the ancient traps, the orbs and cairns leading the way, all makes sense. they take advantage of an opportunity. ultimately, you fail. humanity will die if you don’t call them. humanity will die here as experiments if you do. so it goes. if you’d just transmitted your data before having a conversation with the motherfleet, it would be fine and you’d sacrifice yourself saving humanity. :/

that’s ultimately not enough to put me off recommending the game of course. it’s pretty clever and a great experience. i dug it a lot. just imperfect in its ending, that’s all.

*earth was destroyed when this planetary system moved directly through the solar system, so it’s super super close to the human fleet.

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2016 has been one brutal semi-truck wreck after another. and the universe is the semi. some of us have had some ok personal things happen (we’re homebuyers now for example) but it’s hard to argue the world at large hasn’t been put through the ringer. but that doesn’t mean it’s been all bad. so for funs i decided to compile a list of some things i liked about 2016.

overwatch

i don’t play enough different games to have a game of the year. i go hard in the paint with one release at a time, sometimes two. this summer, the #onlywatch curse was lifted, we were allowed open beta, and idk how many hours of this thing i’ve played now, since it’s on battle.net, not steam. it’s a very competitive team game that even when i’m losing, i generally am having fun with. that’s not ever been true before for me. losing in rocket league is pretty demoralizing after a while, losing in battlefield is super irritating, and losing in dota 2 generally gets you flamed by 15 year olds who don’t understand the cast ranges on your hero’s spell. (shoutout to that invoker player wednesday night.) overwatch is pretty, deeper than it looks, and fun. it feels great to play. the development team is, on the grand scheme, very upfront about changes made and even sometimes not made. also it’s cover character is in a same sex relationship in the outside-the-game canon. representation in a way that isn’t the character’s defining feature is amazing.

so ❤ u overwatch, ❤ u tigole, can’t wait to play doomfist on oasis. man i hope he’s what we think he will be and terry crews voices him.

my high school music is back

new albums from thrice and an anthony-green fronted saosin? are you kidding? in 2007 i would have been backflippin in history class when i found out. now it’s a shame what has happened to dustin’s voice since the artist in the ambulance days, but it’s still cool music, and i really really enjoyed saosin’s offering a lot. it feels like the saosin album we always deserved. also beyonce has absolutely killed 2016 even if i would never have admitted to liking her back in the day.

also there’s been some actual real hiphop

within like a month, a tribe called quest and run the jewels both drop new albums and both are brilliant. we can’t be far from jon connor finally dropping #vehiclecity on us, but he’s got about 22 hours if he wants to make it for 2016. people with more mainstream tastes got offerings from kanye, kendrick, childish gambino, and j cole. most rap is in a horrible place right now but if you know where to look for the goods? good year.

a lot of people thought bernie sanders was a good idea

2008 convinced me i was a political loon because the candidate for president i aligned best with was an absolute fringer. this year a really noisy large number of us thought democratic socialism was a pretty good idea. thumbs way the hell up, man. stay noisy. maybe don’t harass regular people, of course, but stay noisy.

plus there’s a lot more.

it’s been a really good year for gaming (except the NMS thing >_>) and pro-gaming in general. 2017 should only keep it going as we all drool over mass effect. at this point i’m out of stuff off the top of my head though and just want to jump back into overwatch.

this feels too long to fit into a tweetstorm, so here we go.

everyone needs to stop being so fucking offended russia tried to influence the 2016 election. they need to stop being so shocked when the US government responds by cutting off some diplomatic relations, and they also need to stop being so shocked that putin was advised to respond exactly in kind. its not even that surprising that he would say “nyet, let’s wait until new president to make the decisions.”

so if you, hypothetically, had a country with global influence, and there was this other country with an election that would impact your agenda directly, would you rather the winner be a) random or b) a better chance of your favorite candidate winning? because that’s this country’s foreign policy. the US actively rouses up regime change in states like libya and syria. if they didn’t, if they weren’t using all possible options available to them to meet their ends, we’d be up in arms about it. we’d be flaming weak leadership every day. our CIA has done this shit forever. ask tech, who’ll tell you “i’m from where the only place democracy’s acceptable is if america’s candidate is electable.” we go even farther in smaller countries. we even foment revolts and civil wars. we actively arm al-qaeda affiliated rebels because they oppose the leaders we do. but how the fuck dare vladdy-P steal some emails and give them to wikileaks, right?

does it suck that russia may have had influence on our election? hell yeah it does. it bites when the shoe’s on the other foot. be mad at your own folks for not stopping it. be mad at the DNC for falling for goddamn spearphishing because a dude said “legitimate” instead of “illegitimate.” be mad at morons who think because their nazi boards use “cheese pizza” as code, emailed lunch plans are secret messages about child sex slavery. shit.

so you’ve been pwned. you think you know who did it. that sucks and is embarrassing.  there must naturally be consequences. not too severe, because you do the same stuff yourself, just don’t get caught. the response is to deliver a non-threatening slap because obviously it is. send diplomats home. we aren’t going to do anything real over it because there’s no evidence (afaik) that they actually like broke into voting servers or anything that direct. OMG I AM SHOCKED ITS THE COLD WAR. and putin’s advisers tell him “give barry o’bummer the i know you are but what am i treatment.” OH NO WHO CAN BELIEVE IT. FOREIGN DIPLOMACY IS NEVER LIKE THAT. yes it is. and it’s always been putin’s propaganda that obama is a weak leader. russia is a very right-wing place that would see obama as a giant wuss because he’s a neoliberal, just like republicans do. so he’s waiting for trump, who has been publically pro-putin and would tell you that himself. (i think. you never know what he’s gonna cop to.)

basically i would like the shrieking left to calm their chestboobs about all this. the DNC and the US intelligence community got caught with their pants down. they respond because they have to, and lightly because it isn’t a big deal. you know what’s an actual big deal? that the state department waited 8 years to come out against israeli settlement. john kerry’s speech the other day, while it is the direction i wish we could go, was the foreign policy equivalent of all-chatting “gg, teammate is ass” and immediately leaving the game. if that’s been this administration’s policy all along why has the US supported israel through E VER Y THING until the UN vote this week? and if it changed, what changed, when, why? naw. we gotta scream about how skeptics of the government story on russia are kremlin agents. i hate everything.

well not everything. i hate everything about world events right now.

this will be filled with major plot spoilers. if you’re here trying to decide whether to go see the movie, go see the stupid movie. it’s good. you’ll love it.

*hillary shimmy* hoo! okay.

rogue one is in the upper tier of star wars films. 7 was better, but it’s better than 6. i am open to placing it equal to or even above 7 upon more viewingses.that makes the tier order 1. New Hope/Empire per your own personal preference, 2. Force Awakens, 3. Rogue One, 4. Jedi, 5. monday morning meetings, 6. revenge of the sith, 7. getting a root canal, 8. groan wars/phantom grimace.

i struggled with the first act or so a little bit, which might have been the movie and might have been that i wasn’t properly caffeinated yet. we’ll see when i see it again. which, i’m totally seeing it again at least once.

the best part is, rogue one is here to help fix star wars in general. every time i’ve watched the original movie, i’ve been bugged a little bit more by a nagging plot hole: how can such a gargantuan and well-engineered thing as the death star have a dumb little flaw like that? i’d always assumed the rebels could only have gotten the death star plans from a defector, but how there’s such a gaping flaw just boggled the mind.

enter this movie. an unwilling engineer to the project built the death star to be vulnerable to attack on its exhaust port and then was himself the defector who told the rebellion where the flaw was (through giving them the plans and hinting at it in his hologram). pow. plot hole closed. rogue one is a top-flight star wars movie simply on the basis of making the OG star wars even better.

so anyway, i think part of what made this movie a little tough for me to get into was the bewildering array of names and locations it throws at you in about ten minutes of screen. (imdb for spelling) enter Galen and Jyn Erso, Cassian, Saw Gerrera, K2, Jedha and three other planets, you’re just tossed in here. i’m down to just be tossed in to a universe, don’t get me wrong, but it was a little confusing and the barrage of locations made me barely remember any of them.

the movie really comes into its own for me when jyn, on jedha, encounters the hologram of her dad. i dont understand what made saw gerrera decide “nah you go i’ll just chill here and die” but other than that it’s tough to have much complaints about the rest of the story. hell, the good guys don’t even live to tell the tale. that was outright arresting. there’s no ex machina to swoop in and save jyn and cassian on the beach? they just… they win, but are left in an impossible situation, and just… the movie lets them die?

do you guys understand how bold that is? hollywood heroes always live to the end credits. no matter how positive you are they’re toast. killing off characters not only prevents $equel$, it’s emotionally risky. you’re either going to make the viewer sad, or you’re not, and the latter means they didn’t connect to your characters. it means you failed. when the stormtroopers shred k2 i figured that was the token Good Guy Death since he was after all a robot, even if he was robot alan tudyk. then the movie immediately shows me they died for something, when stunning young carrie fisher lookalike ingvild deila (with some post-effects help of course) gets the plans, says something nice about hope, and we know what’s going to happen from there. to kill the main characters like that, the movie has to first a) make you understand them, b) make you like them, c) make you attach to them, and then d) take them from you, but show it wasn’t in vain. it’s a bold move, a confident move, and it worked brilliantly.

the only thing i would change is probably the rest of the ending. i’d find a way for the battle at the end to blend seamlessly into the beginning of episode 4. i really thought that’s what was happening when vader said to assemble a boarding party, and when it wasn’t, felt let down (and then remembered that the planet they were around was totally not tatooine). maybe leia’s ship immediately blasts to anywhere in hyperspace, any rim system to try to avoid detection, but somehow the star destroyer follows them, leia tells r2d2 she needs to record a message, and roll credits. idk it needs work but i am also not getting paid trillions of dollars to write movies either.

oh and let’s not forget that c3po found a way to worm his stupid ass into the movie for exactly 10 seconds, which he spent WHINING, BECAUSE HE IS GOOD FOR NOTHING ELSE. i’d delete that too.

sitting here trying to think of what else to say, it strikes me how powerful rogue one really was. it feels like SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED when really there’s just a prologue and 3 distinct acts.

P. galen gets taken
1. jyn comes to the rebellion
2. galen gets killed
3. the assault on the archives

that’s it. that’s the movie. it’s so simple. just a couple of really big events move jyn erso from Fuck Everyone And Your Cause, to dying for it. it only really takes one big event for cassian to go from I’m Just Following Orders to disobeying outright for his conscience. these are effective and make sense, not giant leaps like jyn discovering cassian’s dad was also called galen or something. (i will seriously never forgive bvs.) character arcs move more in two hours than they do in many movies that stretch on for ages. and that’s why rogue one is the prequel we all deserved, man. imagine character work like this around anakin and obi-wan, instead of… trade routes… and monologues about sand. i can’t wait to see this thing again and pick up on all the little things i didn’t catch the first time around. and i hope we get more little side-stories like this in the intervening time  between real star wars movies, and maybe even after as long as they stay good. the universe has a TON of untapped stories to tell. if KOTOR taught us anything it’s that.

attached trailer reviews: all garbo except hidden figures, and even that i don’t have any need to see in theaters. give to netflix pls.

i haven’t written about any movies in a while so i figured the best time to do that again was at 1am on a saturday/sunday. (and publish at 2:30 bc why not i can’t sleep anyway.) about a week ago i saw the new benedict cumberbatch vehicle. actually, i love everyone in this cast. sherlock, and the operative from firefly, and i’ve had an embarrassingly big crush on rachel mcadams since red eye and etc. you should expect minor spoilers here but nothing game breaking.

it’s impossible to remember any of the names in this movie, so i will refer to the following characters:

  • doctor strange
  • the ancient one
  • rachel mcadams’s character
  • chiwetel’s ejiofor’s character
  • the bad guy
  • the evil god-thing
  • wong

Short, spoiler free review: I liked this movie. I didn’t love it. tilda swinton was great. chiwetel was great. benedict wong, as “wong,” was outstanding. his beyonce gag made me almost choke laughing. rachel was good but didn’t get the screen time i expect SMART DIRECTORS to GIVE HER. cumberbatch was very good but his accent came and went a little. it was very very not boring and i had fun. the visuals were overdone at times, and the entire plot is only possible because of two extremely stupid decisions.

Longer, spoiler-light review:

i didn’t know anything about this comic universe at all going into the movie. that’s not uncommon but i’ve at least heard of most marvel properties. doctor strange is a new one to me. it starts by asking a deep, dark, and heavy question as top-of-his-game neurosurgeon Strange murders his own hands by driving like an arrogant moron: what do you do now?

instead of answering that question in any sane way, instead the movie explores different themes, like making an everlasting (positive) impact on the world. strange can’t keep working on his new surgical techniques now, but he can become some magical mystic warrior. just because one thing was taken away, the movie says, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep on in other ways. strange himself just never really addresses that. after about halfway through the film his hands are just never mentioned again. do they get better? that was his plan – learn to heal them like the paralyzed dude did – but when he accepts his new…role?… we forget that plotline completely.

mentioning the paralyzed dude brings me to the first extremely stupid decision.

strange can’t save earth from This Marvel Movie’s Version Of Alt-Hell without using the pendant thing. he can’t use the pendant thing without studying under the ancient one, who he first has to find. he can’t find her if the formerly-paralyzed dude doesn’t decide for some reason to give him the time of day, even though they have a history (very small world here). and he can’t find paralyzed dude if his rehab tech doesn’t seriously and egregiously violate HIPAA. i’m not kidding. this made me actually angry in the theater.  you can’t just go tell your patient about another patient just because he’s also in the medical field and a right prick and you want to make a middle finger of a point. there’s no medical reason for him to reveal that patient’s case to strange, who does not have permission to see that file, which means if someone found out he could face, i shit you not, $50,000 in each civil and criminal fines and up to a year in jail, let alone getting fired from more than just your job. no matter how frustrating a patient is, no rehab therapist is going to commit career suicide and risk prison to make a point. get all the way out of here.

also, This Marvel Movie’s Version Of Alt-Hell is getting annoying. please god let there not be a portal to another galaxy/plane/universe/dimension/whateverthehell in black panther. this goes back to the avengers at least and has to stop.

anyway. this movie was cool and different in a lot of ways. when the ancient one says “it doesn’t have to make sense” that explains exactly the way you need to look at this movie. people wave their arms around and MAGIC BULLSHIT HAPPENS and it doesn’t make any sense, with the sole exception that you need a sling-ring to make a portal. given how much appears to happen without those, that’s a strange and arbitrary rule in a universe that otherwise has none. but i had a lot of fun trying to figure out what was going on, and watching crazy fight sequences that defy Euclidean three-dimensional space, and correctly predicting what the cape was going to do when i saw it move the first time.

the trouble is sometimes the visuals get all of the way out of hand. strange’s first encounter with the ancient one is the worst offender here. he flies around and sees shit. what shit? whatever tilda swinton wants him to see, and how does he see it, like is he there, or is he astral projecting, or is she bringing it here, and how come she can throw him across time and space and back again with a shove but it takes a sling ring to make a teleport? that scene was overwhelmingly visually confusing to the point of being almost unwatchable. it was weird for the sake of weirdness.

i understand what it was trying to do, but something can be bewildering without being toss-you-out-of-the-movie visually confusing. the dark zone or whatever the evil god-thing’s house was called was kind of the same way, but not because it looked confusing, more like the texturing and lighting budget all went into Earth scenes and then it came time to add this and only one artist was left for the whole thing. like, it didn’t look bad exactly, just, like CGI, while the whole rest of the movie has wrapped entire buildings around dimensions you and i don’t exist in and looked amazing.

sounds like i’m whining a lot but i really did enjoy this movie. i told my coworkers it was “okay” and then had to quickly remind them of how i generally feel about movies for them to realize that was an actual endorsement. (these are people who don’t think thor 2 is boring because he fine. like, yeah, would without thinking twice, but google is for that.) kinda feels the same here as i am about to yell a lot at the bad guy in my lewis blackest voice.

hey asshole. and all other assholes in movies about magic spells and stuff.

and listen close, this is important.

if you need.
a spell.
from a book.
break in to the library.
and kill people.
to steal a spell.
in a book.
a physical book.
if you have to do that.
take the fucking book! not a page! don’t rip out a page and leave the book behind, you world-class moron. how can doctor strange stop your plan if he can’t learn the spells to do it in the book you took the spell from? why take the extra time to find the spell you want and tear it out – carefully, don’t destroy it – when you can just take
the whole
book

so yeah that was extremely stupid decision number two. bad guy takes a page out of a book instead of the whole book is an ugly movie cliche that makes no sense at all. happens right off the hop and made me think “oh god here we go.” but like i’ve said repeatedly the movie redeemed itself pretty fast. it’s really good when it gets out of its own way. wong is a treat, everyone else is awesome, try not to think about physics at all, and enjoy the trip.

there’s a new blair witch movie coming and that makes me sad. found footage so often sucks. but there’s a found footage movie that doesn’t suck. it’s one of my personal favorite films, and i cannot even remember how i found it, but it’s a delightfully hilarious, dark norwegian movie called Trollhunter. unfortunately, as a norwegian movie, it is in norsk, so if you can’t handle subtitles, this movie isn’t for you. but if reading dialogue isn’t too hard for you… man i love this movie. i watched it again last night and wanted to gush so much i decided to write this and delay thoughts on how i kinda liked suicide squad. i would like a trailer here but the official trailer has a couple of spoilers i’d rather avoid in it. sad day.

trollhunter features thomas, kalle, and johanna, film students who track down and film “bear poacher” hans. of course this movie is called “troll” hunter, not “bear” hunter, so it’s not much of a reveal when he’s actually out hunting and tracking trolls for the norwegian government, and using bear carcasses to cover up the trolls’ damage. yes, this is a fiercely low budget affair, so the troll visuals are poor, but it’s usually hidden through distance, night-vision camera effects, low lighting, and in one instance, a rear view mirror. the director was well aware of this movie’s limitations and planned accordingly.

trollhunter masquerades as a blair witch style found footage suspense horror thriller. if it attempts this in earnest, it fails miserably but becomes a goodbad movie. to me the ideas in this thing are so absurd that it really seems to be a parody of the genre that also pays homage to norse folklore. (not that i know any norse folklore, the internet told me that it’s full of references to it.) there is a scene with a literal troll under a literal bridge. in this scene, hans, who has trucked these students around in his jeep with a camper trailer behind it, mysteriously comes up with not one, not two, but three sheep to use as bait. he also produces a bucket of a christian man’s blood–trolls despise the smell of a christian according to this movie, and hans isn’t sure how this applies to other religions–seemingly from nowhere. after hunting trolls for the first hour of the film in standard outdoorsman gear, he appears suddenly wearing a suit of armor made of sheets of scrap metal, because he needs armor to get a blood sample from this particular troll. with a perfect marvin the paranoid android intonation, he moans, “god, i hate this crap.” later he lures an extra-deadly troll by blasting over a loudspeaker, in norsk of course, the hymn “what a friend we have in jesus.” you cannot convince me this is a serious movie.

thomas is your on-camera talent of the trio. he bumbles somewhat and is a little too bold, both in how he bluntly follows hans around at first, and how he casually leads his team into what should be certain danger. he shoots an intro to a scene using a toothbrush like it’s his mic, and even after he notices and puts it down, forgets and raises it back up again. he’s reasonably naive until the stakes are raised somewhere around the 4th act.

johanna does audio, and as such spends almost the entire movie waving a boom mic around and wearing headphones. others will say “did you hear that?” but her line becomes “i’m picking up some strange noises.” she’s the most cynical that they’re actually going to go hunt trolls with this hans, but when they catch one on camera she’s the most excited and i think its her (hard to tell because everyone is shouting over each other and subtitles) who says “i told you!”

kalle spends most of the movie off screen because he operates the camera. he’s also the most nervous of the bunch, which does at least keep the camera out of danger the vast majority of the time, and also leads him to use the night vision to find out where danger is. that lets us see the trolls without also seeing how bad they look, haha.

finally we come to hans. after initially being paranoid about the film crew and brushing them off, once they actually follow him one night, he decides to let them tag along with him because he’s sick of his job. (maybe. spoilers at the end of this will speculate about that.) he talks matter of factly about troll species, their territory, their number of heads, and the disgusting way everything smells. “so i can approach with out them noticing,” he explains. as the film progresses he goes from protecting what he knows to trying to help thomas find scientific troll information, explaining his job, even showing off his forms and stuff.

so yeah. it starts a little bit rough, but after about 10-15 minutes i become a tremendous fan of this movie. i’m not sure why they set out to film a documentary about a poacher, and judging by their reaction to the first troll that was actually their real target, but the movie doesn’t really make that clear at all. they never film an introduction or anything. but once they follow hans into the night it starts running and never stops. if you’re a fan of goofy darkish farce, or if you want a parody of found footage, troll hunter is just outstanding and you should watch it. my favorite scenes are the bridge troll (which is longer than that clip) and the polish painters, which i can’t find a clip of except him saying (in english) “why problem make when you no problem have you don’t want to make?”

this is the spoiler bit. the blog is over if you haven’t seen it.

if you’ve seen this movie: does anyone else think hans is kind of entertaining the film crew for fun, and once they’ve videotaped evidence, planned to hand them over to finn the whole time? he points them to the road as he takes off on foot to finish off the giant, and the first cars to show up just so happen to be finn? how did finn find out? he only told the vet about what he was doing up there in the plateau. i think he never really expected any of the kids to actually get hurt, so when kalle dies in the mine he immediately starts talking about them going home, and sends them away from the very next troll (the giant) and straight to finn? that’s kind of my working theory. hans played along to see where this would go, and when it got real he decided to lose them and their evidence while he was at it. it also would explain why finn only kind of makes any attempt to get the tapes from them before the end.

overwatch is unplayable tonight because of ddos affecting people from certain service providers so i thought i’d play no man’s sky instead, then remembered last time i played i got stuck an hour from any planet because i beat a pirate raid and the game refused to let me boost or warp anyplace because of pirate influence that now shouldn’t exist and fukkadat. so, let’s write about overwatch since i can’t play it.

symmetra is a horribly underutilized, situationally powerful denier of areas and returner of teammates to the fight. she’s misunderstood and looked down on, and totally absent from the pro scene because pro flankers will kill your teleporter in a hurry. but in our scrubby pub games, symmetra can get your team that point A defense that almost guarantees your team delicious MMR.

in season 1 I pulled 61% winrate on this hero, and so far in season 2 on PTR i’m 5-1 on her. on PC her season 1 winrate was 63.87% per Overbuff, which is easily the highest. yet her pick rate is only higher than hapless widow, brainless bastion, worthless until late in the season zenyatta, and brand new ana.

her pick rate is so low because her utility is limited to the first point of capture and hybrid maps. but her winrate is so high because she’s SO GOOD in that situation. i’ma talk a bit about how i utilize her because i can’t play her right now because of that ddos i mentioned.

its all about the teep

part of why teams lose hard on the capture and hybrid maps is the first point drops as soon as you lose a single fight. all the capture maps are designed so the attackers have a spawn distance advantage for point A. this reverses for point B of course, but once you die at point A, it takes the defenders a much longer time to get back and fight than it does the attackers. that’s why her teleporter is such a game breaker. you can cut a full 10-15 seconds from that return trip and suddenly there isn’t an advantage anymore. what was going to be 6v4 after your teams traded evenly and theirs  got back faster, is 6v6 now.

other parts of symmetra’s kit are nice. the aim-free weapon is great for killing slippery targets like lucio and genji, and the alt-fire makes the safe area behind reinhardt actually deadly, but that teleporter is why you want the hero instead of some other damage dealer or a second healer. so your goal is and HAS to be charging and placing the teleporter as quickly as possible.

more than once i’ve been told as a game started not to put my turrets there, because they were gonna be destroyed quickly. um i can make more guys. it’s not like the sentry is in front of the choke, just in the open behind it. i have more places i want to put them soon anyway. all i care about is that they do damage quickly. preferably loads of it, but as long as you get some it’s fine because the warp charges really quickly. ideally you want 2 or 3 covering the initial choke point and at least one on each flanking route around it for vision purposes. (tell your team when someone runs through a flank sentry, or destroys it.) you’ll want another 2-3 in a common route teams take after running through the choke. that’s your kill room. poke from in there and spam your alt fire at reinhardt, plus MELT anyone who walks in. feeding the zarya is going to happen here but it’s pretty worth it to have the teleporter.

on volskaya and anubis i can often get a TP up within 45 seconds. hanamura takes a few seconds longer. (usually i don’t play her on hybrid maps, but she’s strong on king’s row. it’s harder to find the right sentry spots on numbani and the teleport is always dealt with on hollywood because there is always a genji. eichenwalde i haven’t tried yet.)

don’t place the teleporter THAT close to the point, because it will be easily found and killed. if it’s a few seconds’ walk away you’re still cutting a ton of the advantage the attackers had, and the TP doesn’t get murdered immediately. as soon as you place it drop at least two sentries on it. it won’t kill an enemy before they kill the teleporter, but it might buy you time to get there and kill them before they can do the deed. you should always know the flank route to your teleporter and keep an eye on it for incoming buzzkills.

when a teleporter gets destroyed or runs out of charges, for the love of jeff DO NOT PLACE THE NEXT ONE IN THE SAME SPOT. they KNOW WHERE IT IS BECAUSE THEY KILLED IT or THEY SAW YOUR TEAM RUN IN FROM IT.

and that’s pretty much it. now TP is up you can use your sentries more conservatively, to deny health packs around the point and the point itself, use your primary fire to melt lucios and naked dvas and genjis, and hope you don’t have to farm up another porter without having ten seconds to reset your setup.

helping symmetra

if your team has a symmetra (and it makes sense) you can help her in a few important ways.

  • make damn sure there’s a primary healer. that means lucio or mercy, preferably lucio since resurrect isn’t as powerful when a teleporter is up. a solo zen or ana isn’t going to output enough healing unless you have seagull on ana.
  • hold enemies in the sentries. this means mei and roadhog specifically should play around the sentries, and to a lesser extent dva. the longer they get zapped, the faster your team has a teleporter.
  • sentry turrets slow the enemies they’re zapping. mccree, soldier, irritating hanzo main, this means easy headshots SO USE THEM.
  • if you get picked off and a fight doesn’t break out, especially if you have movement abilities, just run back. you can tell by watching the kill feed and the tab screen. if nobody else dies (on either side, but especially on yours) and the point isn’t under attack, just run back. we might need that teleporter charge soon.
  • when you do teleport in, run in front of symmetra at your earliest convenience. the shield key will prompt her to shield you. this also applies to dva every time she gets in or out of meka.
  • know where the TP is and help protect it, if not physically, by calling out flankers headed in its direction so symmetra can meet them there.

switch off

  • if you lose point A. no one needs a teleporter at point B or the payload section worse than they need a second healer, tank, or DPS, and unless you dominate you will get allchat flamed for not switching.
  • if they have a winston that decimates you and your kill room instantly. you don’t have time to reset and he hard counters you. bring more heals when you respawn.
  • if teleporter is down and you don’t have time to farm a new one. bring heals for the last defense or two, and if the point falls you don’t have to start over on ultimate charge for B.

finally, do NOT FIGHT REINHARDT OR MEI. winston, use judgement. the other tanks you can often hold your own against (roadhog needs to be distracted), but REINHARDT = NO unless he’s super low and mei will either freeze you before you kill her or just hide in an ice block and then freeze you before you kill her. your priority targets are genji, lucio, naked dva, distracted reapers, and tracer while you can reach her, basically in that order, and all can be easily soloed. symmetra, like winston, can secure kills easily on hard targets to shoot, and the deathlaser goes through reflect.

this took much longer than i expected to write up but i am proud of the words here and if you think i can improve these advices in any way you know where i live on twitter. please learn to play this hero, we need more of them, and happy teeping 🙂