Standards have slipped
This weekend I finally completed the gruelling chirality tutorial of assembling IKEA furniture. My home office is now messier than it’s ever been, but it should be downhill from here as the highly concentrated mess osmoses into the bare cupboards and drawers.
The pace has been glacial. I can’t put furniture together for more than ten consecutive minutes without becoming sweaty and frustrated so I’ve spread the work out inefficiently over many irritating sessions, which is likely to be how I approach the tidying phase of the project too. At this rate the room should become liveable at the exact moment when we’re allowed outside again and I don’t need to use it as much.
That’s a good segue into weather chat.
WEATHER CHAT: it’s been uncomfortably warm for most of the week. I speculatively bought a portable air conditioner back in March which was too boring to mention at the time, but surprise, my standards have slipped and I’m mentioning it now. I’m glad I decided to get one because I turned it on for the first time a few days ago and it made the temperature of one small room bearable. I feel like I have to use it extremely sparingly but it’s good to have the option when the heat gets too much.
This weekend it rained. I felt relief as cool air poured in through my open windows.
I’m really enjoying my job so far. For the moment I’m doing more hands-on technical work than I have in years — refactoring, design, faffing about with abstract syntax trees — which is lots of fun. It also turns out I get Fridays off during the summer and that makes everything massively more pleasant.
After almost a year I’m gradually training myself to use
git restoreinstead of
git reset. It’s never stuck before but I’m getting the hang of it now and I like it a lot.
git switch? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I have been playing lots more The Last of Us Part II. It’s all I really want to talk about but it’s not particularly suitable for weeknotes because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else. Here are a few spoiler-free things that I can say.
My progress through the game is very slow, partly because I’m only playing occasionally for an hour or two at a time. I’m guessing I’m still in the first quarter of the story. So it’s going take me a while to finish, which is a bit of a shame because I’m missing out on some of the collective cultural event of reading the reviews and opinion pieces, but I’m bookmarking everything so I can come back to it when I’m done. Ultimately I care more about my individual experience so I think it’s the right tradeoff given the constraints imposed by my mind.
Another reason it’s taking so long is because (like the first game) there’s a lot of scavenging for materials and it’s extremely time-consuming. I worry about the effect on pacing; it’s more difficult to stay in the mood of a sequence when you’re stopping every few minutes to run around the perimeter of the room looking for resources. I don’t have a clever solution to this because gathering and crafting is necessary to feel immersed in the game’s desperate world. At least some of the blame is mine because somehow I can’t relax and let myself discover resources serendipitously, which is probably what you’re meant to do. Do I particularly enjoy combing every single location to the detriment of my engagement with the story and characters? No. Can I stop myself doing it? Also no.
Actually, though, I wish that there weren’t any collectibles, or at least that they were disabled until a second playthrough where maintaining the theatrical spell is less important. In a game which otherwise strives so hard for visual and dramatic realism, collectible items are an incongruous bit of gameyness that takes me out of the experience without really adding anything. (Again, I understand that I can in principle just ignore them. Alas.)
As with the first game, I think the default difficulty is a little on the easy side. My over-scavenging is partly responsible for this, but still, it didn’t take long to reach the point where my inventory was maxed out on every kind of resource, which slightly undermines the feeling of desperation and the need for improvisation. I could increase item scarcity in the settings but I don’t really want to design my own version of the game. I’m looking forward to replaying on a harder difficulty to see if it makes for a more coherent experience — it definitely did in the original.
A lot of my enjoyment comes from suspending my disbelief and roleplaying the situation of being in extreme danger at all times. I found this with the first game too; after several playthroughs you can see the underlying systems for what they are, so it becomes easy to just plough through quickly, killing everyone with a brick and not worrying about being seen. But when I don’t know what’s coming next, I feel so tense that I crouch and move slowly and stop to listen to the slightest sound. Sometimes I notice that my heart’s racing or I’m holding my breath in real life. Fun!
I remain ridiculously invested in the characters and the story. I don’t fully understand how Naughty Dog have done this but they’ve definitely reeled me in. Everything’s very emotional and the emotions are real.
Overall: still brilliant.