Did You Know: Ryan is a Lazybones

Here’s an interesting tidbit: I have 18 posts listed as drafts. Not that I think anyone cares, just a weird little thing I figured I’d take note of. Now let’s break them down!

There are a whopping nine articles that I have left incomplete to some degree. Some are so very close to done, and others are like two paragraphs in. A couple I’ve been working on slowly because they are massive. One I took all the pictures for but never started writing. These may or may not ever be completed.

Three articles have been fully written, and are ready to post. Except that I need to get screenshots/pictures for them before they can go live. One even has all the pictures and I just need to make a fancy banner for it. Another has been constantly put off because I can’t post screenshots from the Switch directly to WordPress like I could with the WiiU.

One blog post was half-written out and then I realized how completely incoherent it was, so I decided to burn it down and start over. I have not followed through on the starting over part.

There is one blog post there that seems to be complete, and I think maybe that I just accidentally left it as a draft instead of hitting the Publish button.

Three articles/blog posts are there, half written, but have been sitting incomplete so long that they have become irrelevant it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to post them now. I might finish and post them anyway, but I may also just let them languish as half-finished drafts forever.

Finally, there is one post, fully written and complete, which will remain a draft forever. Because it’s a piece of writing that means a lot to me and I want to keep, but I don’t feel like I should be sharing it with anyone. It’s not anything interesting or embarrassing, either, so don’t waste your time hacking your way in to get at it.

And that’s that. Personally, I thought there would be more finished articles that just need pictures. I know I’m really bad about procrastinating on those pictures.

Faded but not gone

Remember a couple years ago when Pokémon GO came out and the world went absolutely bonkers over it for like two months and then you never heard about it again?

Would you believe me if I told you that there are still tons of people playing it?

Yeah, maybe it’s not in the news any more, but Pokémon GO has definitely still got a very respectable player base. I’ve been back into it over the last couple months, and have even participated in the two most recent Community Day events, which is where I learned that people are still playing this weird little phone game.

Community Day is a bit of a misnomer. It’s really Community Three Hours, and the event is always based around a different Pokémon. During the event period, this Pokémon appears very frequently, has a higher chance of being shiny (a very rare palette swap), and probably gets a special move for battles. Going out on Community Days was an eye-opener, as while visiting popular spots around the city, I was shocked to see droves of people walking around poking at their phones like crazy. Some were wearing team colours, many had cords attached their phones that disappeared into their jackets or pants, and some just looked like normal people (like me). But they were all there to get their Pokémon on.

The greatest thing about these Community Days and all the people they bring is that I’ve finally been able to play in a few legendary raids. I mean, you can do them on your own, but you will never win, so it’s really a waste to even try. I’m not going to start associating with these people online through Discord groups or anything, but if they show up for four minutes and help me catch a rare thing, then sure, I’ll play nice for a bit.

Anyhow, that’s my two cents for the day. If I were more social, I’d be even more excited about all this, but that’s not me. It’s just fun to see other people enjoying a dumb thing that I also like.

Over the Horizon

After several months of picking away at it in tiny bits, I resolved over the last couple weeks to finally finish up with Horizon: Zero Dawn. And to clarify the term “finish,” I mean that I got to the end of the story and did all the more meaningful extra activities. I got almost all of the trophies, but I couldn’t be bothered to perfect (or even try) all the hunting ground challenges, and I have no intentions of playing New Game+ or buying the DLC campaign. In fact I deleted the game as soon as the post-credits scene ended (because I needed the hard drive space).

Having played Horizon for almost exactly 70 hours (!!!), I think it’s safe to say that I liked it. Or, I guess I should say that I enjoyed the first fifty-five hours, which were devoted to wandering around the world and finding as many baubles and pretty vistas as I could. Once I began completing the story missions, it all kind of fell apart.

Let’s note right now that the story “dungeons” aren’t very fun. They’re basically exposition tubes that throw in a combat scenario every third room. It’s so cookie-cutter AAA that it hurts. Sometimes there is a locked door, and the key is always a “puzzle” that requires you to line up four dials in the configuration shown on a screen right next to them. What really bugged me is that these places are crammed to the gills with audio logs and journal entries that you’re expected to stop and listen to/read. It really slams on the brakes in regards to the game’s pacing, and I started ignoring them after I noticed that I was losing a ton of time to having to stop and listen to sixteen 2-minute long audio logs every other room.

I’d like to say for the record that if all of these audio logs and journals were spaced out more evenly, I would have had less of a problem with them. Or probably even no problem at all. But they aren’t, and they couldn’t be, because they’re all adding supplemental information to story bits that need to be told at specific times. Horizon’s backstory is the most compelling mystery in the game, so dropping these logs in too soon would really kill all the big reveals. And so, they all have to be jam-packed into the correct dungeons, placed before and after all the corresponding forced story sequences. I would have loved it if there wasn’t so much blatant exposition, and you just had to piece it all together for yourself by finding these logs throughout your travels.

But that could never happen in a AAA game, because Joe Average is much too stupid to comprehend non-linear storytelling and needs it all spoon-fed to him as plainly as possible.

On top of that, there are a ton of other datalogs that you can find strewn about the world, but they’re all… completely boring. The ones I’ve found have had nothing to do with anything and are just information about the world that used to be. They have no impact whatsoever, and that’s even somewhat confirmed in-game by the fact that they’re the only things that don’t get marked on your map for easy finding. They’re also tiny little things and are ridiculously easy to miss, so they’d actually be the most important to mark on the map for people who actually want to collect them. So it goes.

Other things that you can find around the world are metal flowers, coffee mugs, and little wooden horsies. When you collect complete sets of these, you can trade them in for… garbage. You will be granted a prize box full of other prize boxes, all of which contain a weapon or outfit modification piece. And all of them were terrible. Most of the ones I got were green, which is the weakest variation. Fortunately, I’m more of an “it’s about the journey, not the destination” kind of guy, so the crappy prizes didn’t diminish the enjoyment I got from hunting them all down.

The one collectible that I thought was the most important were the Vantage points. These are twelve spots hidden around the world, where not only do you get a nice view of the landscape and/or a ruined landmark, but you also get to see a holographic display of what the area looked like pre-apocalypse, which is cool. Each one also has a piece of a very personal little story about the man who placed them all. These still just barely relate to the main plot, but I did like how they told a complete tale, which ended up being the most interesting side-plot in the game, despite the fact that you’re not a part of it at all.

Anyway, enough about collectibles. This isn’t a Rare game, after all. The other thing I want to complain about is the final boss. It’s a big robot. The same type of big robot that you’ve fought as the last three bosses in the story missions. The same big robot that you just exploded at least half a dozen of in the penultimate mission. So after defeating so many of these robots already, how do they make the last one feel special? By making it nearly impervious to all damage until it (very rarely) exposes a weak spot. And also it spawns in a bunch of lesser robots at certain intervals. It’s such a lazy finale in every regard. Oh well.

But I guess it mostly matches up with everything that’s happened in the story. It’s not like a single unique robot would show up at the very end for no reason. It could have happened, but it didn’t. I guess that’s what the DLC campaign was for.

At the end of the day, I think Horizon: Zero Dawn is a good game. It didn’t draw me in quite the way I was hoping, and honestly I just want someone to make a prequel movie about Elizabet Sobeck and Ted Faro and the end of the world. I’m not actually sure how interested I would be in playing a sequel, considering how I don’t plan on buying or playing The Frozen Wilds. But it was a mostly fun ride, and I don’t regret having spent all those hours on it. Plus all the extra time I spent reading all the Wikia entries on the various robots and other, more spoilery things. So yeah, I’d say that it was worth the $25 I got it on sale for, and would definitely recommend it at that price. I think I’d be a bit more put out if I’d spent the full $90 or whatever they charge for new PS4 games. But then again, it kept me busy for almost three full days, which is nothing to sneeze at!

A tale of two clocks

Every night before I go to bed, I set not one, but two alarms for the next morning. One is my phone, and the other is a more traditional analog alarm clock (but with beeps instead of bells). I do this because on more than one occasion, my phone’s alarm has gone off in the morning, but mysteriously didn’t make any sound, which renders it completely useless. So I like to have a backup juuuuust in case.

The reason I’m telling this story is because this morning, having that second alarm totally saved my bacon.

See, on Sunday morning we had a power outage for a few hours. And by “we” I mean “my building” because I looked it up and there was no news report, so it couldn’t have been too widespread. Anyway, this outage turned off my PC, which I normally leave on all the time. I didn’t bother to turn it back on, because I didn’t use it at all yesterday.

This was almost my undoing, as I always plug my phone into said PC to charge overnight. However, when the PC is powered down… That’s right: the phone won’t charge. And I should have realized it too, because I specifically noticed that my phone did not make the plugged-in chime when I plugged it in. Being that it had only 1% battery life when I went to bed, it died overnight and did not sound my alarm in the morning.

And that’s the story of how I was saved from the embarrassment of sleeping in by having a backup alarm clock.

(But it’s really the story of how boring I am, as this is the most exciting thing happening in my life.)

Tangentially about music

It’s funny how some things are so hard to let go of, but when you do, you realize they never really mattered that much.

For example, my audioscrobbler app stopped working several iOS updates ago, and on the rare occasion where I listen to music on my PC, I use Media Player Classic, which I don’t have a scrobbler plugin for. So I haven’t had any music I’ve played tracked on Last.fm since September of last year.

And it’s not really bothering me as much as I thought it would. In fact, I’m only writing about it because I randomly thought about it last night and said to myself “Welp,” shrugged, and continued on with life.

It kind of saddens me that I’ll no longer have a “big picture” to look at of my listening habits, and because I just love pointless data like that. But on the other hand, I love never feeling that pressure to listen to a certain band/album/song more or less to influence the numbers in one direction or another. Yeah. Rest assured that I absolutely went to lengths to fudge all that useless data that I once held so dear. This is what happens when I don’t have to be held accountable for anything.

Anyway, this has been another one of those completely pointless posts. Future Ryan will appreciate it and then think about Last.fm for a bit and say to himself, “Welp,” shrug, and continue on with life.

Last Month in Movies – April 2018

Bad Moms -This happened because my mom and I were bored of waiting for a hockey game to end before people would come play board games with us. In my defense, I was playing Switch the whole time and was in the room mostly to keep mom company.

Bad Moms was terrible. It’s the story of how Mila Kunis is tired of being an overworked and underappreciated mom, and also her husband left her. So she starts spending more time trying to get boned and hanging out with other moms who feel the same way. Then there’s some kind of subplot about how she wants to be head of the PTA so she can control the soccer team or whatever, and runs on a platform of “I am going to half-ass this job” and “we’re all terrible parents so vote for me” which made no political sense at all.

I think the movie exists just to see if they could make a movie that used every known euphemism for vagina. Its only saving grace was Kristen Bell, because Kristen Bell is always a treat.

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The briefest follow-up

Hey, I bought a box of Oreo O’s.

Turn out I was right, they’re not good. But they’re not really the worst, either. Like, they have an off-fake-chocolate taste. Not unlike an actual Oreo cookie, but even milder.

So in conclusion, you can definitely eat Oreo O’s, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend it. There are better ways to spend your six dollars. Honeycomb, Golden Grahams, Reese’s Puffs. You know, cereals that actually taste good.

I also forgot to take a picture. I don’t really mind.

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up – April 2018

Apparently I played all the video games in April. Despite going back to school. I think that should be a wake-up call that my study habits are not quite where they should be.

~ Game Over ~

Yoshi’s Island (SNES) – Man, that final battle is cool. Aiming’s a little finicky, but still really cool.

Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero: Pirate Queen’s Quest (WiiU) – I am bowled away at how much I enjoyed this remixed DLC mode. It’s almost as good as Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse!

The Count Lucanor (Switch) – The great thing about my Switch is that my backlog of unplayed games was sitting at just one, and now I’ve played and finished it. And wrote about it at length.

Into the Breach (PC) – Failed right at the end, so I knocked it down to easy mode for the next run and completely steamrolled the game because easy mode removes nearly all of the challenge.

Part-Time UFO (iOS) – I guess I shouldn’t have been, but I was caught off guard when this cute physics game about stacking objects trotted out a giant boss fight and a crazy-hard final level.

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Easter 2018: The Quest for Peeps!

The month of April is coming to a close, and that means that Easter is already a month ago. Easter happened to land on April 1st this year. Kind of falls in a weird place this year, doubling up with April Fool’s Day. It’s a little weird to think about which one may be bigger at this point. IRL, Easter is the clear winner, but if you go online, you’ll find many more April Fool’s pranksters than pastel bunnies and eggs. And since more and more people basically live online all the time…

Anyway, Easter really gets me thinking. Thinking about nostalgia. Because it always brings me back to that time I wrote an article about Easter goodies. Reading that article, in turn, makes me nostalgic for and want to play Pokémon Colosseum. Or, at least moreso than usual. You can safely assume that at any given moment, I am probably thinking about Pokémon Colosseum.

But those things are mostly irrelevant. There’s one other thing that Easter always gets me all riled up about, and that thing is Peeps. Yep, good ol’ Marshmallow Peeps. The chick-shaped marshmallows that you will gleefully stuff into your mouth even as they wordlessly plead with their little sugar eyes for you to spare them. Truth is, in my advanced age, I don’t even really like Peeps all that much anymore. Used to love ’em. Used to hold the record for most Peeps eaten in a sitting (among certain circles). Actually I still like Party Cake Peeps, but I’ll eat anything with that fake birthday cake flavouring. Like, I can’t stand most seafood, but if you somehow masked the flavor with fake birthday cake, I’d be gobblin’ up all dem fishies like nobody’s bidness.

The point I’m trying to make, is that even though I’m not crazy about Peeps anymore, they are still an integral part of Easter for me. Significantly moreso than any other Easter-themed candy. Maybe not quite as important to me as getting together with the extended family for brunch or dinner or whatever, but an Easter is not an Easter without Peeps. And so, as a grown man with no romantic prospects to buy me sweets, each year I must set off on my own personal journey in search of Marshmallow Peeps.

Little did I know the trials and tribulations that 2018 had in store for me.

My quest technically began all the way back in late February, when you could begin to see the reds and pinks of the Valentine’s day goods transition to the pastel blues and yellows of Easter. I could hear the siren song of the sugary sweets. On many of my weekly grocery trips to Wal-Mart, I was tempted by those attractively soothing colours to peruse the holiday candy, but declined the call because it was just a little too early still. On the first weekend of March, I finally broke and dove headfirst into the Easter section. I came out empty-handed, as there wasn’t anything weird or new enough to grab my attention. I did note, however, that they had not yet put out any Peeps. How unusual…

Week after week I looked, shocked ever more at the concerning lack of Peeps on the shelves. What was happening? Did Wal-Mart and Just Born have a falling-out? No, that can’t be it; they still sell Mike & Ike’s. A Peeps conspiracy? Had the Canadian Junk Food Police finally cracked down on the cutest confection? Perhaps I was looking in the wrong place. While the seasonal corner seemed like the best spot, I began to check islands, end caps, and the candy section, but it was all to no avail. Wal-Mart had failed me. [Insert shocked gasp]

Much to my chagrin, I was going to have to… shop around. I am an old man in heart and soul, and as such I value tradition and routine more than anything. So I hate having to look at other places for things I should be able to get in the place I normally go to. But Easter was quickly approaching and desperation was setting in. I had to find Peeps, and it had to be soon.

My next destination was Dollarama. There was no way they could fail me, right? It’s my go-to for cheap holiday decorations and such, it would surely come though for my Easter candy needs. Alas, even Dollarama lacked the Peeps that I needed. Notably, Dollarama did have something that no other store had: fake Peeps. Or, I mean, close enough, right? Marshmallow bunnies sprinkled with (more) sugar an lined up neatly in racks. I haven’t seen a Peep in the shape of a bunny for years, but I know they’re a thing. So I cut my losses here and went home with Fake Peeps Bunnies in hand, two dollars and fifty cents poorer. They may have been fakes, but at least they would (ostensibly) sate my hunger for Peeps and save me the trouble of shopping around to other stores looking for the real deal.

Let me tell you, friends, don’t ever buy Dollarama’s Fake Peeps Bunnies. These are, by a wide margin, the most terrible marshmallow candies that I have ever had the displeasure of ingesting. And it’s not really so much that they taste bad, because they’re really bland but True Peeps are pretty bland as well. What puts these over the edge is that they are solid. It’s like trying to chew through a really thick taffy, more than a marshmallow. ‘Mallows should be soft and fluffy. These are decidedly not. I could feel my teeth and jaw straining while trying to masticate these awful, awful bunnies. And they just wad up into one big, solid mess, too. It’s a candy disaster.

You know what? Yeah, I’ve changed my mind and decided that they do taste especially bad, too. Just out of spite. Because I’m not a real writer or journalist or whatever and I can do that. At first it’s not too bad, but then you really get in there and suddenly the taste of dust overpowers anything else that might have been. It’s all bleccch up in there. Do not want. Do. Not. Want.

In retrospect, it may also be that these Fake Peeps Bunnies were just a decade old and nobody cared enough to notice (myself included). I don’t know. There’s no way to know. It’s a mystery that will persist until the end of time. Or until I go back to Dollarama and see if there’s any sort of expiry/best before date printed on the box. But we all know that’s not happening.

The other really big mystery here is that if they were so bad, why in the heck did I eat them all?

Moving past the insult and injury to my mouthparts in general, this story does have a happy ending! And incredibly happy ending! The weekend before Easter, my parents went on an impromptu day trip down to the good ol’ US of A. Also known as the Junk Food Capital of the World. Of course I didn’t think to put in a request at the time, but surely they would have been able to find scores of Peeps down there. And Peeps they did find! Not only Peeps, but Weird Peeps! And Cookie Peeps!

Possibly my favourite thing of all, is the package of Peeps Oreos that has been immortalized above. Just look at its splendor as you revel in the fact that there are Oreo cookies out there that are filled with the melted and mashed-up bodies of marshmallow chicks. Looking back, I probably should have done a more thorough examination of this package, but it was late and I was much too interested in shoving as many of these Oreos into my face as possible. I am obviously a sucker for junk foods, and even regular Oreos will drive me into a frenzy. When you present me with some kind of wacky gimmick Oreos? I lose even that last shred of control.

Peeps-themed Oreos are… I want to say terrific, because that’s what they should be. But they aren’t really terrific. In reality, they taste almost exactly like plain ol’ Oreos, but with just a smattering of marshmallowy flavour. I’m sure if you ate them blind, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. But you’re (probably) not blind! So you can see that beautiful purple goo in the middle, and that’s what makes these really special to me. I know it’s shallow, but I am shallow, and I really just love that look. If you could swap out the standard brown Oreo cookie bits with Golden Oreo cookie, these would be the ultimate snack. Not only would the visual appeal be increased beyond the threshold of comprehension, but Golden Oreos already taste a million times better than the regular ones. You throw in that little wisp or marshmallow flavour? Fuggetaboutit.

Joining the Peeps Oreos are not one, but three boxes of Mystery Peeps. I am only hyperbolizing slightly when I say that I was bouncing off the walls from excitement when I laid my eyes on these sweet babies. OH, the packaging, SO LOUD. OH, the Peeps, SO WHITE. Traditionally I roll my eyes and scoff at junk food with this stupid “guess the flavour” gimmick, but… Wait, no. That’s someone else. I always jump in headfirst when I see junk food with this stupid “guess the flavour” gimmick. Usually the flavour ends up sucking, but there are three different kinds here! One of them was bound to be good! Law of averages!

I quickly tore into the first box and gave it a big ol’ whiff, instantly recognizing the sweet smell of root beer. But I passed the box to my brother and dad, and my dad immediately disagreed with my assessment and said they smelled of toothpaste. I cocked my head to the said and took the box for another sniff. Weirdly enough, I could absolutely get the smell of minty toothpaste coming off of them. But I could still smell the root beer as well. What’s the deal? Do these two things have similar scents and I just never noticed? How could this be? I could have pondered this mystery longer, but instead I mashed a Peep in my face. Weirdly enough, the toothpaste/root beer Peeps had no flavour. Other than “regular marshmallow” I mean. Not even a bit. I want to say it was a big let-down, but I honestly didn’t really even care.

We had a quick consensus on the second package: Lemon. Though my dad went the extra mile and said they smelled like floor cleaner. So, artificial lemon. Yeah, that’s a fair assessment. These Peeps actually did have flavour, which should have been disappointing again because I’m not big on lemon. But it was a very light taste, and was really just the perfect amount of lemony to make it tasty, while not so strong as to turn me off.

The final box was by a wide margin the strongest in both scent and flavour. We waffled a bit between strawberry, raspberry, and wildberry, but eventually agreed that the best descriptor would be blue raspberry. That said… there’s not much else to say about them. These were the most delicious by far. But, obviously. I’m a big sucker for most berry flavours. It’s worth noting that since this is the Social Media era, the packaging of these Mystery Peeps encourages folks to go on Twitter and make guesses as to what the flavours are. We checked it out briefly, and it’s exactly what you’d expect; a fine mélange of guesses the same as ours, guesses that are astoundingly off, and responses that are obviously people just trollin’.

I wish I had some way to end this on a bit of a stronger note. It sort of just fizzled out there. I mean, obviously, I would say that the Berry Peeps and Peeps Oreos are absolutely worth buying if you were to stumble across them. If nothing else, buy them to give to me as a gift. A “Happy Monday” gift, because I really don’t want to have to wait for next Easter.

On video game development, or the lack thereof

I’ve obviously not posted any further entries on that “learn to make video games” project that we all knew I would flake on before long. And, I mean, its status is “on hiatus” for now, mostly because of school significantly limiting my time for fun things. I also didn’t work on it at all for a while there because a power outage killed my computer and it was nearly two weeks before I was told how to fix it and then actually implemented that fix. I could provide more excuses if you really need me to.

So, the end of the story is that I fully intend to go back to it once my class is over. Mid-June.

But we’ll see.