Previously on weeknotes:
One of those rides was to Islington for a pint with Paul while he was briefly in town. […] Inevitably he did test positive for COVID the next morning, but so far I appear to have dodged it. 🤞
As should be obvious to anyone familiar with the narrator from Arrested Development: I didn’t dodge it.
Well, here we are. I made it more than two years without catching SARS-CoV-2 but this week it got me. I started feeling rough on Monday, tested positive on Tuesday and have left a decisive red line on a lateral flow test every day since.
It’s been unpleasant, like flu or a very bad cold, but thankfully nothing frightening. The fever in the first few days was the worst part because it stopped me from sleeping properly and I spent the daylight hours in a confused fug. The secondary symptoms (coughing, sneezing, headache, general congestion) would’ve been easier to tolerate if my brain had been well-rested, but it wasn’t, so I’ve been more or less a zombie all week.
The most worrying aspect is that, aside from the fever passing, I don’t feel significantly better today than I did a few days ago. I hope it doesn’t drag on much longer; I’ve already missed four days of work and I have shit to do. Being ill isn’t fun and I feel like I’m letting people down.
Of course what’s worse than the illness is the annoyance of having caught COVID-19 from something as unadventurous as a brief visit to a local pub. My friends have been dating and partying and flying abroad for holidays without catching it while I cowered at home for months — years! — to keep safe, so it doesn’t quite feel fair to have it turn out like this. Oh well, I suppose it’s a relief to have finally broken the streak so I don’t have to worry about when & how it’s going to happen any more.
I haven’t been able to do much all week, so having a relatively mindless video game to get lost in was a blessing. I let myself wander blearily for hours in Horizon Forbidden West to see what I could find, free from the expectation of that time being especially entertaining or having any narrative impact.
Having finally summoned the courage (and XP) to try all the cauldrons, I found them a fun combination of exploration, combat and gentle traversal puzzles. Their tidy metal surfaces certainly work much better than the more organic environments elsewhere in the game, which are poorly assembled and janky to traverse.
I realised that one thing which annoys me about This Sort of Game is the lack of singular focus on player experience generally and fun specifically. For example, the override tool takes some time to recharge, so after you override anything you get to watch an “Override Tool Recharging” progress bar in the corner of the screen as it slowly recovers for the next use. As far as I can tell this doesn’t affect anything at all — I’ve never been in a situation where I wanted to override twice in quick succession — but it’s there because, well, everything’s got to have a cooldown doesn’t it?
I don’t know whether it’s even possible to upgrade it, but in principle it’s yet another parameter out of hundreds that could be nudged upwards or downwards to have a barely detectible impact on the game. The overall mentality is that the player will want to spend time thinking about the opportunity to change some random stat by 1% even though the cumulative effect on fun is zero.
The design of the whole game feels like this: a jumbled pile of systems upon quantitative systems, but no real coherence or connection to “is this necessary?” or “is this enjoyable?”. It would literally be a better game if they took all that distracting complexity out, and that’s without even considering how they could’ve spent the same effort more profitably. I don’t get it.
I also watched a lot of sudoku videos.
Happy new price cap! By now in the UK we could, in theory, have seen disruptive “challenger” energy suppliers who outmanoeuvred the lumbering old guard with agile digital innovation. What we got instead was more middlemen with badly-engineered web sites that can’t even cope with their customers logging in to submit a single form containing a single number. A truly lamentable state of affairs.
Nat said we’re “a nation obsessed with tea, Pimm’s and meter readings” which I can’t argue with.
We watched the first episode of Severance. So far it’s an intriguing enough premise to keep watching, and fairly well executed with impressive production design. I was worried at first that it was going to be self-consciously odd for no good reason, like Tales from the Loop turned out to be, but episode one stayed on the right side of that line and managed to not become annoyingly confusing or oblique yet.
The faintly New Weird vibe did make me wonder why nobody’s made an SCP Foundation show yet. Seems like an obvious thing for, say, Amazon to do.
We also watched Turning Red, which is by far the best film I’ve seen for years. It’s visually beautiful, effortlessly funny, sweet, charming, moving, absolutely nails its intended tone… it’s just really great. Recommended.
Also, the fabric and food in the film is technically stunning. I’m keen to see it again so I can pay more attention to the details.
I submitted two talk proposals to Brighton Ruby before the deadline, but I’d drunk a lot of Lemsip so they might have been complete gibberish.