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Everything posted by Werthead

  1. Great thread. Interesting note that the USS Pioneer was swapped out for the Akira-class USS Wersching, named after the late actress who played the Borg Queen last season. The Miranda-class is the USS Saratoga NCC-1887, the one that got zapped by the whale probe. However, it's been mocked up to resemble its successor, the NCC-31911, which was destroyed at Wolf 359 (taking Jennifer Sisko with it).
  2. Yeah, that Bad Batch finale went very hard into Empire Strikes Back mode, but even more depressing. I was not expecting that. The Mandalorian was okay, although it did make me want Uncle Iroh: X-Wing Pilot as the next spinoff project.
  3. HBO Max's environment is far too volatile at the moment. Core HBO would be better, but they're not interested.
  4. It depends. I think Valve sometimes just smoke a ton of bad reviews if they are based on tech issues that have been solved (since it impacts Valve's bottom line as well). As for recovering, sure. New Vegas recovered from a catastrophic launch to become the best-regarded Fallout game. Horizon Zero Dawn and even Cyberpunk 2077 launched with very poor launches to become well-regarded.
  5. I never played it, but apparently it launched in a horrendous state as well. The difference appears to be that a Day One patch actually took care of the some of the worst problems and a bunch more issues were addressed very quickly. By the end of the first week it was in a reasonable state. If they can repeat that here, that'd be good.
  6. I remember the reactions to Fallout: New Vegas, where there was a hardcore fanbase who loved the way the game organically reacted to you finishing quests any way you like (including killing the quest-giver, automatically negating however many other quests they could give out), and a lot of other people who got kinda freaked out by it and didn't appreciate being forced to make choices - some of them quite early in the game - that locked them out of other possibilities. Fallout 4 tried to address that by making quest-givers indestructible and also pushing the moments of final decision-making (thus blocking off other quests) as late in the game as possible. Unfortunately, they also made things quite confusing anyway, with 4 distinct factions who interact with one another in unpredictable ways, rather than the 2 factions in New Vegas which were easier to keep track of (with the rogue element being only yourself, and the ability to tell both factions to fuck off and you're the new king in town). I'll be interested to see how Starfield falls on the axis of freedom versus being locked into linear pathways with only a moderate choice on how things unfold.
  7. The PC port of The Last of Us is fucked up, from the sound of it. Bad show from Sony, who own Nixxes, the best PC porting team in the business. Unfortunately they were booked, so they chose instead Iron Galaxy, best-known for screwing up the PC port of Batman: Arkham Knight so royally a few years ago. I'm hoping Nixxes were working on Horizon Forbidden West instead. Guess I'll be holding fire on that until it's been saved in patches.
  8. If you know that, there may be arguments for it. For example, if Ukraine believed it could benefit from a ceasefire more than Russia would, it might agree to a ceasefire it 100% believes Russia plans to violate because it thinks it can benefit from it more. For negotiations to have value there has to be some trust, which is incredibly hard to engender with Russia in the current moment. Where we have seen negotiations be hugely successful, it's because you had people on both sides who were willing to compromise, the trick was them usually convincing the other of that. It's the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement coming up, and that was a hell of a tough sell on both the Unionist and Republican sides, because they did not believe the other side was being sincere. One issue is that with these long-standing disputes, it often requires the people most invested in them having died and people growing up in the paradigm saying, "this is horseshit, let's sort it out," which you are much less likely to do when you've invested your name and legacy in the situation. Lenin and Stalin could have never overseen the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but someone who grew up in the system and realising it needed to be reformed (or burned down) could, and did. That means that Putin is not the right person to negotiate an end to the conflict since he started it and he has invested his political capital in it to an overwhelming degree, and any reasonable peace even vaguely acceptable to Ukraine would require a massive backslide from Putin which does not seem compatible with his character. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that Putin will not keep going for at least several more years.
  9. I don't even think Russia needed to do that to achieve an endpoint favourable to their ends. If they had limited operations to Donetsk and Luhansk alone, as a much milder evolution of the conflict that started in 2014 (so no massed invasion along a thousand miles of front, but a tripling of manpower on the DPR/LPR side and then steady escalations in attacks) I think you would be seeing at least some countries supporting Ukraine being much more hesitant about that support. I suspect, even now, if Russia suddenly withdrew its claims to Zaporizhzhia and Kherson and withdrew its military forces to Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk, that would create a real political rift in at least some of the countries supporting Ukraine (particularly the United States). However, the land-bridge to Crimea is a crucial strategic aim of the conflict. Putin will only surrender it if he thinks the alternative is losing Crimea itself. Those moronic soldiers who heavily damaged the canal to Crimea may have inadvertently helped make that less of an issue.
  10. The war is bleeding American and European military stocks as well, which might well be a reason why China intervened in the way it did. It took a very reasonable approach when it could have leveraged its influence over Russia more forcefully to end the war, or it could have sided with Russia more forcefully and sent them tons of equipment, thus continuing the war for many years to come. Taking the path it did projects (particularly to third countries) that of a reasonable middle ground and shows that they are not pouring petrol on the flames by sending weapons (but insinuating the US is doing exactly that). They also continue to see American military stocks being depleted by being sent to Ukraine, removing their utility in any future confrontation with China in the near or medium term. It also incidentally leaves Russia increasingly reliant on China and very much a junior partner to China, a useful stalking horse in future geopolitics (Russia is fast becoming a Belarus to China). This is one reason why some American politicians now want to bring a conclusion to the war even if it leaves Russia with something they can sell as a victory (which is in itself dangerous for future escalation), not because of anything to do with Russia or Ukraine but because the United States' own global position is starting to look a bit leaky and needs urgent shoring up. As regards to Putin, I don't think he's a madman, although he clearly wants people to think that as it makes them fear him more, but his judgement has clearly been poor, either due to advancing age or believing his own propaganda or a mixture of both (or he's a poker player who's just been blindingly lucky up until now and has suddenly hit his losing streak). That he is not to be trusted is self-evident. He can be negotiated with, but only if the desirable outcome is something that he wants. If it is not, then negotiations are a waste of time. Putin has been in intelligent in prior confrontations by always giving himself an out that his adversaries would be prepared to go for. He could have done that in Ukraine very easily, but he overreached and established his desired end-state (the annexation of four full oblasts, none of which he controls in full) is something that is incompatible with anything Ukraine would be prepared to accept, which even some pro-Putin commentators has said was a mistake. Annex Luhansk and Donetsk and try to gain recognition for Crimea as Russia, sure, that's doable. But anything beyond that was always going to fail.
  11. Reached the wizarding college on Two Point Campus, known as "Spiffinmore" where you have to train students in the way of magic in a completely and totally non-copyright infringing manner.
  12. The Chinese have said they have made massive hay on crushing corruption in the last ten years. Corruption was reportedly a huge problem in the 2000s, but since the early 2010s they have gone to town on stamping it out. How successful they've been is the real question. Certainly an enormous amount of the money they've spent on defence does seem to be materialising in the real world - new ships (their fleet is already bigger than the US Navy in raw numbers, and is getting there in terms of quality), new missiles, new aircraft etc - but my colleagues who live and work in China have indicated that low-level, everyday corruption is reasonably rife, if unpredictable. It certainly does not seem to be on the same level as Russia, and the quality of life for Chinese people is, certainly in the big cities, superior to that of Russians. The freedom of speech and expression is probably lower than it was in Russia before the war, but there's also a lot of pent-up anger and frustration in China and people are willing to hit the streets for far lower cause than I think the Chinese government previously thought would be the case. The big concern I have is that it's a bit of a (softly-spoken, underground) joke in China in that whatever Xi thinks will be a good idea turns out to be a catastrophically bad one, and a lot of Chinese (particularly younger ones) are very wary of being tied to a bunch of obvious nutcases. There seems to be concerns that either Kim Jong-un or Putin (or both) will either drag China into WWIII with the USA or they'll end up getting nuked and China getting caught in the crossfire even if they're not directly involved. Of course, they're not necessarily huge fans of the US either. If Xi says he's not going to start a war with the USA and will work to avoid that, that alarms a lot of people because it means he's capable of turning around and doing exactly that. The original point, that Russia has expended vast stocks of weapons it would have used in a war with NATO in Europe just on Ukraine instead, to limited success, is a very good one and some in the US military establishment have made it clear that they're happy for Russia to keep doing that. That doesn't necessarily mean they want to keep the war artificially going and bleed Ukraine for Europe and America (as a geostrategic defeat on Russia and it withdrawing from Ukraine is a huge win anyway, regardless on how much old stock they have available afterwards), especially as it also using up their reserves, but there does seem to be a real thought that Russia has wasted whatever opportunity it had to reclaim more territory elsewhere with much lower-hanging fruit, and it will be years before it can recover, years that could be spent turning Ukraine, Poland, the Baltic States etc into almost unbreachable fortresses.
  13. Tolkien has released four new(ish) books in the last six years, fifty years after he died. He's on a roll.
  14. It's still used today, though only with informed consent and in life-saving situations.
  15. Finally got to playing Frostpunk today. It's an interesting game which has a lot of excellent design but it's also a lot. It has a huge amount of trackers, a lot of tokens, a lot of (mostly glorious) miniatures and a huge number of card decks (some of which needed to be randomised, some need to be carefully put in order, and some need to be carefully put in order, have cards pulled out and then randomised). It's also what people complained it is, a solo game so hugely cumbersome that you really need four players working together with different responsibilities to play it. The game takes a huge number of ideas from other games and merges them. So you have a collective-against-the-game feel from Pandemic, you have an overland exploration mechanic via a card system apparently lifted from Mage Knight (which I've not played) and a lot of worker placement like every other Euro game ever, with card draws impacting on all of this. I would say the way it replicates the video game mechanics in the board game context is very ingenious, to the point that playing the video game first will give you a huge heads up on how the game works and what it's trying to do. But in the process of trying to make the video game mechanics work in a board game context, it has so many things going on that it's very easy to skip things or make mistakes. We completely fucked up how the Dusk deck works (the manual explains it terribly), to the point where we stopped using it, but without the Dusk deck throwing up random hazards, the game became far too easy to the point of being a pushover. Some stuff I really liked, like the way the round tracker works. As well as showing the current round, you put things further down the tracker, so you can see how long you have until the next storm arrives, but you also put down a token representing the thing you are researching. You might have some cool tech to help survive the next storm coming in, but the tech will arrive 2 turns after the storm has hit, so you can build Workshops and then send Engineers to the Workshops to speed up research, so the first time you do that, the tech will arrive on the same day as the storm, and the second time it will arrive 2 turns before the storm hits, giving you time to make use of it. That was quite clever. Other things, like stockpiling food, are oddly overly-complicated. Overall, I think this is the nichest game I've seen. I think you need to absolutely love the video game and also have 2-3 friends who love the video game and you want to play it together co-op. As a solo game it replicates the video game experience in such a complicated way you are far, far better off just playing the video game. As a board game in its own right without any knowledge of the video game, it's just too much game. People who really want to mix survival games, worker placement and co-op might also end up enjoying it, but otherwise it feels a bit unnecessary. Will give it a second whirl with a fellow Frostpunk fan (I played it with a Frostpunk virgin and they did not enjoy it) and then probably look to offload. A shame, because it looks amazing (and I am strongly considering holding onto the scenery and miniatures expansions because they'd work really well with BattleTech). I do not say this lightly but Frostpunk: The Board Game has the best tree minis ever seen in a board game.
  16. Russia is reporting it will station tactical nuclear weapon delivery systems, and possibly weapons themselves, in Belarus for the first time since the 1990s. There seems to be a general agreement this sounds more of a thing than it actually is. Russia already has tactical nukes in Kaliningrad, in direct range of cities like Berlin, Warsaw, Vilnius and Riga, so putting tactical nukes in Belarus does relatively little to enhance its strategic or tactical options. It also sounds like they will initially put bombers and Iskander missiles in Belarus ahead of the arrival of any weapons themselves. At the same time, Poland has begun laying tank traps along its border with Belarus (they've already done the same with Kaliningrad).
  17. In an interesting move, the long-brewing legal case between games designer Chris Avellone (Fallout 2, KotOR 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, Alpha Protocol, Neverwinter Nights 2, Planescape: Torment) and two women who had accused him of sexual misconduct has been resolved, and overwhelmingly in his favour. The two women issued a statement disavowing all of their prior claims, and they have had to pay a seven-figure settlement to him. In the statement they also requested that the blacklisting that has been going on against him be dropped. This was an unusual case in that Avellone vociferously defended himself from the off, took legal action against the accusers and has now won, fairly unambiguously. Avellone was removed from several projects as a result of the claims, including high-profile writing gigs on Dying Light 2 and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 as well as a plethora of smaller-profile gigs. Very interesting to see how the media responds to this. Multiple venues repeated the allegations against Avellone instantly, but, despite the news breaking hours ago, none of them apart from Forbes seem to have updated the news that the allegations have been retracted. It is of course worth noting that the Avellone case being resolved successfully has no bearing on the very numerous and many cases where people have acted like total shitbags and have admitted it, or been found out anyway (the Avellone case broke the same week as Cas Anvar's, and Anvar never tried to defend himself at all, as with 20 accusers over a far vaster span of time, the weight of the allegations was astronomically higher).
  18. Yup. Ukraine has been using HIMARS to knock out individual supply trucks whilst they are parked up for refuelling or even the driver is out taking a leak*, which is not really what it's designed for but is also hugely important in disrupting Russian resupply operations. *Literally one Russian truck driver reported getting out of his truck and coming back 3 minutes later to find a HIMARS shell had exploded ball bearings through the engine block and reduced it to Swiss Cheese. The accuracy is unbelievable.
  19. Possibly true, possibly psyops. The Ukrainians have mastered the art of sending out mixed messages during this war, to galvanise and speed up support and confuse the hell out of the Russians. IIRC, there was indications before the autumn counter-offensive last year that the Ukrainians could not advance because they didn't have enough ammo and days later they were launching an all-out attack. I do think there are genuine ammo concerns with how fast Ukraine is consuming ammo and allies have been slow to get production of shells and bullets up to speed, but there have been no indications that this problem is imminent. The main concern I think was for this autumn, when a perceived gap could open up between Ukraine's consumption rates and the expected increases, particularly in American shell and HIMARS ammo production which is expected to kick into full gear in early 2024.
  20. Ukrainian and British intelligence seem to be agreeing that the Russian efforts to complete the encirclement of Bakhmut seem to be running out of steam. The number of fires has dropped significantly, Ukrainian counter-fire has increased and the movement of Russian troops into the region has halted. In fact, there are signs that the Russians are now rapidly pulling units out of Bakhmut and moving them to other fronts. There is a possibility that Russia will launch limited, minor attacks on a multitude of fronts to try to disrupt any major Ukrainian counter-offensive effort.
  21. Yeah, it was weird. That's an incomplete story, the narrative continues and concludes in Children of Dune (you can easily stop there, you don't need to do the latter three books). Doing just Dune and Messiah will leave the story hanging, to a certain extent.
  22. God-Emperor of Dune is utterly unadaptable. The last two are more of a basic action-adventure story (by Herbert's series) with random evil nymphomaniac nuns. They are more easily adaptable.
  23. The article writer has form for sensationalism. He did a piece on Susanna Clarke, of whom he is a much more enthusiastic fan, and somehow still managed to conflate her actual medical issue which dramatically slowed her work output with mental health issues. I did chuckle at the claim that Sanderson is the biggest-selling epic fantasy author in the world. He is not. Plenty of authors have outsold him, Rothfuss has comparable sales to him with 2 novels and a novella versus ~30 novels, novellas, graphic novels and short story collections. Martin has at least 4 and probably closer to 5 times his sales. Brooks, Salvatore and the Weis/Hickman team have both outsold him (as you'd hope, with a 20-year head start), and are all still producing new material.
  24. Not sure how he figures that with GRRM sitting on the cusp of 100 million sales. Among living epic fantasy authors, Weis & Hickman, Brooks, Salvatore and probably Feist have sold more than him, and Rothfuss is only a breath behind with 2 novels as opposed to ~25.
  25. Nope, though Paramount+ users and I think people who use the Showtime app in the States get to watch it 2 days before it airs on Showtime itself. We're in for the weekly haul, which I think with this show works quite well (major Lost flashbacks going on here with all the week-by-week theorising).
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