An uphill struggle this week.
Two more streams. Not very good. I persevere regardless.
Oh, except: this stupid project forces me to understand the WebAssembly specification in greater detail than I would as a casual reader, which in turn confuses me when I can’t make sense of it.
Earlier this month I reported that the spec made me think label shadowing isn’t allowed (when it definitely is) and a few days later added that I couldn’t see how a function body got access to its parent module’s identifier context. In both cases my default assumption was that I’d misread the formal notation and so the prose should be updated to help me grasp it.
Whatever, anyway, point is, this week the document’s editor confirmed that both issues were actual mistakes, so now there are pending fixes for the definitions of label and function syntax which each improve the language spec’s correctness in a small way.
Did I ultimately contribute anything? Not really. But I suppose some chump has to try to read & use these things eventually and I’m pleased to have taken my turn as the chump on this occasion.
Although I haven’t said much more about it here, I’ve been continuing to play The Last of Us Part I at an indulgent pace in idle moments, and I’m now well into winter. I’ll reiterate that the additional detail in the performances and environments is startling and it’s letting me experience the whole thing anew. I’m so glad they gave it this treatment.
I always find Lakeside Resort significantly harder than the other chapters regardless of what difficulty I’m playing on, specifically the waves-of-infected sequences in The Hunt. It’s a weird difficulty spike and I’m not sure why it’s there. Maybe it’s just highlighting my own shortcomings; I default to stealth whenever possible but this is one place where you have no choice but to be good at shootin’, which I am not.
Spike aside, I maintain that both Normal and Hard difficulties are a bit easier than they should be, and the resulting lack of desperation slightly compromises one of the most immersive aspects of the gameplay. But it’s hard to recommend Grounded because — for me at least — it makes this one brief part too hard.
In a non-coincidence, I watched the first episode of HBO’s long-awaited The Last of Us. I was nervous about this show because I care about its source material and rarely enjoy video game adaptations so the probability of disappointment was high. I’d avoided all promotional material in an attempt to preserve a sense of novelty in case there wasn’t anything else to enjoy about it. (Spoilers follow.)
I needn’t have worried because it’s excellent. Everything worked.
They did a great job of matching the tone and aesthetic of the game — Alberta looks pretty convincing — while avoiding the tedium of a shot-for-shot remake. The balance of old and new was exactly right for me: same major story beats, differences in the details, with occasional lines of dialogue, shot compositions and audio cues to keep it connected to the original and moving in the same direction without crossing the line into fan service.
The casting and performances were great. The characters felt authentically new but preserved the emotional core of the ones they’re based on. We haven’t seen much of Joel & Ellie together so I’m keen to watch that relationship evolve, but so far so good, and Bella Ramsey did a particularly impressive job of embodying Ellie’s personality and American accent.
Removing hours of gameplay has given the showrunners the space to flesh out the characters and setting instead, and that’s turning out to be interesting enough to justify the change of medium. In this episode, spending more time with Sarah & Joel pre-outbreak was a smart choice which compensated for not being able to use interactivity to present the prologue from Sarah’s perspective. The watch shop and neighbour’s house were a creepier and more effective lead-in to the escape in the car, and stopping them with a spectacular plane crash instead of a traffic accident was a thrilling surprise.
I was sort of dreading a live-action version of Sarah’s death scene but it was handled well and delivered the emotional impact that’s needed to set up the rest of the story. I’d also braced myself for a lengthy sequence of Tess and Joel tracking down & beefing with Robert, but no, he quickly died offscreen and they moved on. Perfect.
I’m relieved it’s good and I’m excited to see more.
Speaking of outbreaks: I’m glad that I’ve avoided catching COVID a second time or even getting the flu at all this winter. It’s a little unexpected given that life has in some ways returned to normal; not that I’ve been to a cinema or office since the pandemic, but I’ve gone to a few gigs & restaurants and have started using public transport the same as in The Before. I’ll keep being reasonably careful and hope it stays this way.
I’ve seen so many confused or incredulous conversations about Mastodon’s use of the word “toot” that I decided to write down where it came from. This doesn’t change anything but now I’ve got it out of my system I can forget about it.
(I had to temporarily increase my instance’s character limit to fit the whole thing in one post. Can’t do that on Twitter!)
In defiance of last week’s social cowardice I enjoyed meeting Murray for lunch at the new-to-me Tonkotsu in Shoreditch. Their January special was a pretty good combination of several tasty vegan objects, although the objects could variously have been crispier/hotter as appropriate. Basically just turn every knob in the kitchen up a notch is my professional advice.
Riding across the river this morning in −4 °C weather, the sun was bright and the city was absolutely silent.
I did eventually crack and put the heating on.
The unspecified “next action” in my energy ombudsman complaint is due tomorrow. They haven’t communicated with me for six weeks and I’ve no idea whether anything will happen. If it doesn’t, there’s nothing I can do about it. So that’s reassuring.