This is the sort of thing you humans do for fun?

So, like many things I wind up doing, it all started when I saw a single picture on Twitter. In this case, it was a manga panel with a bunny-eared girl attributed to a manga named “Mimi Mix!”

Anyway, the drawing style was cute so I looked it up on a manga reader site and read the first three chapters or so, at which point I decided I was liking the story – a sort of fluffy slice-of-life story about a cafe with some heavy yuri elements, though I perhaps should more properly describe it as a heavily yuri story with some light cafe elements – but really disliking the experience of reading it online, what with all of the ads and the loading times and blah blah blah.

So I went to download it from any of the usual sites and quickly discovered that it just wasn’t out there, or at least wasn’t out there in any of the places I knew to look. In addition, it had never been licensed for translation so I couldn’t buy it from Kindle or iBooks and wasn’t even available through Bookwalker’s Japanese site, which is my go-to for buying Japanese-language manga and ebooks. had the series available in paper form, with used volumes starting at one yen and no new copies available except at “collector’s” pricing. For a manga that was released in 2017 it seemed like it had already been completely forgotten.

So I went back to the manga reader site, and considered my options.

  1. I could just read it on the site, but that involved a really mediocre reading experience.
  2. I could download it image by image and then mash it back together into a .cbz file for iComics. This would work but would be far too manual.
  3. Safari gave me the option to save off an entire page – so, one chapter – as a .webarchive file. This seemed the best option, and I even found a command line to extract the contents of a .webarchive.

For the record, it’s “textutil -convert html (filename)”, thanks to for the tip.

This gave me a folder of images (both comic pages and ad images) and html files. So that was a big advantage over the downloading an image at a time method. But it still wasn’t quite right.

A few hours of shell scripting later and I had a bash script that would take a folder full of .webarchive files and do its best to make a single manga volume out of them.

I’ll put that script here, with no guarantees or warranty. It works for me.

# extract_webarchive - batch webarchive extractor, for saving manga
# Usage: extract_webarchive all - creates folders for each web archive and extracts contents
#	 extract_webarchive filename - extracts a single web archive
#	 extract_webarchive (filename or all) cleanup - try to remove all files other than pages, and make a single cbz
if [ ! -f *.webarchive ]
	echo "No webarchive files found in current directory"

# thanks to
if [ "$1" = "all" ];
	echo "Batch Conversion"
	for filename in *.webarchive
	echo $filename
	if [ -f "$filenamenoext".webarchive ];
		mkdir "$filenamenoext"
		mv "$filename" "$filenamenoext"
		cd "$filenamenoext"
		textutil -convert html "$filename"
		if [ "$2" = "cleanup" ];
			mkdir pages
			mv ?.jpg ??.jpg ???.jpg ????.jpg pages
			rm *
			mv pages/* .
			rmdir pages
		cd ..
	if [ "$2" = "cleanup" ];
		zip -r "$currentdir".cbz "$filenamenoext"/*
		rm "$filenamenoext"/*
		rmdir "$filenamenoext"

	echo "Single File Conversion"

	echo $filename
	if [ -f "$filenamenoext".webarchive ];
		mkdir "$filenamenoext"
		mv "$filename" "$filenamenoext"
		cd "$filenamenoext"
		textutil -convert html "$filename"
		if [ "$2" = "cleanup" ];
			mkdir pages
			mv ?.jpg ??.jpg ???.jpg ????.jpg pages
			rm *
			mv pages/* .
			rmdir pages
		cd ..

That wasn’t QUITE enough, though. One of the things I’ve been trying to do, now that iPadOS has a halfway-decent file manager, is to try to use my iPad as a laptop replacement. It’s not quite there, but it does most of the things a traditional computer can do most of the time.

One thing it certainly can’t do is run shell scripts. But Safari on the iPad CAN save a web page as a .webarchive, and I could save it to a folder on iCloud drive that could then be read by my Mac Mini.

And from the Mac Mini, I could create a Folder Action through Automator to watch the iCloud Drive folder for new files and run my script against the folder. So now I can drop manga chapters into this folder one at a time and the script will build a .cbz file out of them, which I can then copy back into iComics on the iPad.

At some point, I even went back and finished reading the rest of the series that had started me down this path. It’s a fun read, and I challenge you to not have a goofy grin on your face throughout it, but I don’t think it’s one that really sticks with you once you’re done with it.

That’s not really the point, though. I just wanted to document my madness.

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I watched some shonen battle anime

I have pretty bad taste in anime. Basically I watch either comfy slice of life shows where nothing really happens but you get a nice fluffy feeling afterwards or trashy harem shows where between three and ten inexplicably hot girls throw themselves at a basically personality-free male lead who serves as a screen for the audience to project upon. Often these latter shows feature fantasy worlds or supernatural elements, but they all pretty much feature boobs.

Occasionally, OCCASIONALLY I watch something with some actual substance to it. Like, this season has me watching both Rent-a-Girlfriend Season 2 AND “My Stepmom’s Daughter is my Ex” but I am also watching Lycoris Recoil which would probably pass for a fluffy slice of life show if it wasn’t for all of the terrorist plots and the underlying premise that modern Japan owes its famously peaceful lifestyle to a heck of a lot of extrajudicial murdering.

In fact, it’s kind of like Is the Order a Rabbit? but with far more guns. Also it’s not based on any manga or light novels so you don’t have to put up with Smug Internet People knowing how the story is going to go.

I also like idol shows. I’m not sure where those fall. You could argue that stuff Love Live! or The Idolmaster is basic waifu trash but I also really enjoyed Idolish 7 and that’s 99% waifu-free.

One thing I don’t watch much of is shonen battle anime. The closest thing to the genre that I can remember watching in the last few years is Fire Force, which felt a lot like Fullmetal Alchemist – the good FMA series, not Brotherhood – but also had the “How will Tamaki fall out of her uniform THIS episode?” as a draw.

However, I have been watching a lot of Trash Taste and related youtubers, and if there is one thing you get exposed to over and over in those, it’s the slow realization that many nerds out there have a really strong connection to a trio of shonen battle shows and that I had never watched any of them.

So, with a spare evening I figured I would fix that.

OK. One Piece is the currently-reigning champion of the shonen battle anime genre, with over a thousand episodes and movies and video games and tie-in media and on and on and on. It has a huge and devoted fan-base and I would rather not raise their ire, so I will simply put it this way:

After one episode, I realized it was not for me. Moving on!

Naruto seemed like a much shorter series, but I rapidly discovered that this is only because it’s actually several series and there’s a time skip and some of it features Naruto’s kid, and knowing that he gets hitched AND who he gets hitched to does take some of the drama out of things I suppose.

I actually kind of dug this. Having the titular character be an outcast in his home town is probably huge for any young kid watching this show, because every kid is going to feel like an outcast at some point and this holds out the promise that you may be an outcast but you may also have a Super Cool Hidden Destiny. It also feels like it goes pretty hard with the Valuable Life Lessons mixed in with the ninja life, and I enjoyed seeing the degree of growing up Naruto does just between episodes 1 and 2. Plus, as aforementioned he does get hitched and has a son and presumably there will be humorous episodes where he has to deal with his kid being just as much of a brat as he was.

And, hey! The idea that there is a hidden Ninja village of Ninja bureaucrats who send their kids to Ninja grade school, and for some reason they felt the need to carve a Ninja Mount Rushmore into the mountain above their hidden village is pretty fun.

Watched two episodes. May watch more! I understand there is a deep and lasting rivalry between fans stemming over who Best Girl is, and I haven’t seen enough to have an opinion. At the very least it’s nice to know that both Best Girl candidates are also ninjas so with any luck there shouldn’t be many damsel in distress episodes.

There are probably a ton of damsel in distress episodes, aren’t there.

Best for last here, because I am a colossal sucker for shows set in modern everyday settings but with some supernatural elements for spice. For extra points, Bleach opens with an Orange Range song and I love me some Orange Range.

The worst thing I can say about this is that there were bits in the episodes I watched where I found myself thinking, this is Ushio and Tora but with the serial numbers filed off. It seems to find its own footing pretty fast, and if you ignore the Annoying Dad character I found everyone pretty likable.

Besides, the gimmick of the main character getting his soul punched out of his body every time the main girl wants him to get to work on the whole spirit battling thing is just the sort of running gag I can find myself enjoying no matter how old it should get.

Side bonus, I now know where the leekspin girl is from.

Watched two episodes. Will watch more. While shorter than the other two shows, it still has 300+ episodes, and we’re not exactly talking a fast watch here.

Of the three, this show seems to have had the least cultural impact. It’s less goofy and has older characters, so maybe it wasn’t able to really land with kids.

One thing common to all of these shows is that they’re pretty old and not exactly lookers. They’re all 4:3, at least in the episodes I’ve seen, and I swear that they look like paint on cellulose instead of being digitally-painted. They’re that old. All of them ran for several years, so presumably there’s a point where the production values go up. I vaguely recall these all found release in the US during the dark ages of dub-only shows, so it’s nice that Crunchyroll has them all in subtitled form.

I’ll acknowledge that if I wanted to go with the real grandaddy of shonen battle anime I probably should have started with some Dragonball, but (a) I’ve seen a little of that in the past, by which I mean a handful of episodes from the original series and one movie from DBZ and (b) I didn’t want to.

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Friendship ended with PROJECT DIVA. Now CHRONO CIRCLE is my best friend.

So, the worst thing about the whole global pandemic thing – apart from, you know, millions of deaths and a crippling blow dealt to the global economy – is that the entire country went into lockdown literally the same MONTH as a Round 1 Arcade finally opened up sorta close to me, like less than an hour’s drive away.

Just to really drive this home, I actually did get to walk in during their first week of operation, but I was kind of in a rush and didn’t want to figure out their payment card system so I mostly walked around, drooled – figuratively – over their bank of Project Diva arcade machines, and planned to come back and sink a good bit of disposable income into said machines as soon as I had a little more time.

Then the world went straight to hell. So that didn’t happen.

On the other hand, I recently had a birthday, and the mask mandates are off, and I have a good friend who obsesses about Japanese crane games and Round 1 happens to have a bunch of those machines. So her and I and her husband went down to Round 1 to celebrate me getting slightly older, and she proceeded to win FIVE plushies and a Hatsune Miku figurine.

I won nothing. I have not spent hours watching YouTube videos of people playing crane games, to be fair. It would have been unreasonable to expect the same degree of success without extensive preparation.

But it did give me the chance to finally try out one of those Project Diva arcade machines, and it was…

It was OK. After playing the heck out of all three PSP games, and three Vita games, and even some time spent with Future Tone on PS4… it was just OK. It turns out that I may be a little jaded and that the arcade experience really didn’t offer anything extra except for needing to pay by the song. Roughly TWO DOLLARS per song, thanks to Round 1’s ruinous dollar-to-credit exchange rate.

NEAR the Project Diva machines, however, there was this thing:

And this drew me to it like a summer insect about to end its life with a sudden arcing sound and the smell of burned wings.

Then I went through the process of trying to figure out how to play it. This included needing to make a login account, then going through a fairly involved tutorial to cover all of the machine’s controls.

Speaking of which, WHOOO MAMA. Let’s sum things up. You’ve got a touchscreen, where you need to tap notes as a clock hand sweeps through them. You’ve also got clicky buttons around the edge of the screen, where you need to tap and occasionally hold notes, and the screen is surrounded by this massive rotating ring which contains the clicky buttons, is rotated during hold notes, and which is occasionally spun for screen-filling spin notes. During all of this, the light-up pad you are standing on is pulsing and throbbing to the music so you are getting bombarded with light and sound and thumping bass.

Frankly, I want a rhythm game to give me an experience as close as possible to illegal drugs without actually BEING illegal drugs, and this is it.

After a few plays, I also noticed that my Apple Watch was giving me exercise minutes just for the way I was dancing along to aforementioned light/sound/bass. Yes, I am a very large, very bald middle-aged man and I was dancing to anime girls singing catchy music in public. Nobody called the police, however, so maybe they were assuming I would simply have a heart attack and that would take care of the problem.

Rhythm games: They Make Your Watch Happy With You.

In addition to the genuine JOY to be had in playing Chrono Circle, it has the login system I mentioned, which lets you either use an IC card (which I did not have) or scan a QR code with your phone to log in to the game’s servers so it can track your play history and progression for purposes of unlocking new songs. It also tracks how you are doing compared to other players on the same machine AND worldwide.

For arcade rats Of A Certain Age, this is like going back 40 years to the days when you would stare with envy at the initials on the high score list. Just, you know, the people on the high score list are in freakin’ Japan.

So, to sum things up, I am in love with this game and Round 1 is about to make a small but regular income off me.

Side note: very close to the Chrono Circle machine is a “Tetote Connect” cabinet, which is a rhythm game where you play by high-fiving cute anime girls. One play session of that had me feeling like I was about to lose my fingerprints. Apparently you are supposed to wear gloves to prevent this. Will report my findings later.

Also, both Chrono Circle and Tetote Connect machines give you three songs for the same price as a single Project Diva song. I’m not sure the reasoning there but I suspect it contributes to the number of people I saw playing Project Diva while I was in the arcade. Which was zero.

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I have very low standards.

I’ve been watching Blade Dance of Elementers lately. This is the sort of anime I talk about when I want to show how far I’ve fallen, because it’s YET ANOTHER harem anime set in a fantasy world where Only Girls Can Do <special thing> but the main character is a GUY who can do <special thing> so naturally the thing to do is to send him to the super prestigious academy full of hot girls wearing extremely short skirts.

Oh my god. This is the premise of the Wheel of Time series, if you come right down to it. I’m imagining a terrifying alternate universe where those books get an anime adaptation in which Rand is sent to Magical High School.

It’s kind of like a fantasy Infinite Stratos, when I think about it, though the fortunate thing is that Blade Dance never got a second season so it can’t have the same incredible drop-off in quality from season 1 to season 2 that Infinite Stratos had.

Oh, right. Blade Dance got 12 episodes. It’s based on a 20 volume light novel series. The light novels have not been translated, and presumably never will be. I’m on episode 9 of the series and it really feels like maybe by episode 12 we will have gotten to the point where all of the characters have decided to team up, at which point it will end without them actually doing anything as a team.

Before I get to the point of this post, let me give you some more details so you can never ever watch this show.

This is Claire. Claire is a red-haired fire-element-using pettanko violent tsundere who CAN’T COOK LOL OMG seriously everything she cooks turns to charcoal, it’s hilarious right.

Right now, think of three shows with red haired pettanko violent tsunderes who can’t cook. If it took you more than five seconds, I assume it was just because you were trying to decide whether Louise from Zero no Tsukaima has red hair or pink hair.

The rest of the cast is pretty much the same character-design-by-checklist. You’ve got your ice user, who has a bigger chest than Claire and is also a tsundere, you’ve got a princess character who is even more endowed and who is super sweet and nice but has a little bit of a evil side, there’s the faithful maid who points out when the other girls are being dumb, and then there’s Est, who is a thousand year old sword spirit that manifests in the form of a loli because it makes the main character nervous and also because she can turn on THESE EYES when she wants parfaits:

Officers, she is ONE THOUSAND YEARS OLD and there is nothing wrong with watching this show.

OK, you know what, I’ll just come along quietly. No need to make a scene.

On the topic of knee socks, the only way this differentiates itself from the thousand other harem fantasy anime shows based on light novels is that it’s basically Zettai Ryouiki: The Animation. There is a ridiculous amount of dialog delivered with the camera at this viewing angle:

I am almost certain that this anime exists because someone in the studio had a thigh fetish and wanted to get it made into a show. I guess you have to give them a certain degree of respect for that?

That said, even though everything this show has to offer is something I’ve seen many times before, and usually done better, it’s still making me laugh. That’s about all I want from my entertainment these days.

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15 Years Blog.

I remembered an anniversary post! That’s a thing. 15 years of occasionally remembering to post here. The world is a much different place than it was 15 years ago, and I’m not sure anyone really cares about blogs anymore, to be quite honest. I can’t remember the last time I actually had a list of blogs I followed regularly as opposed to just following creators on Twitter.


I’m currently splitting my gaming time between a) the latest WoW patch, which introduced a new zone and new raid and all sorts of things to do in the pursuit of making my character’s numbers slightly larger and b) Elden Ring, which quite frankly is way more engaging than Yet Another WoW patch. I’m really enjoying the experience of playing a Souls-genre game during the initial rush, when there are messages and summon signs EVERYWHERE. It’s also surreal seeing the game reviewed so well by, basically, every piece of gaming media on the planet. It’s …more accessible? than your average Souls game, but more accessible in this case just means that you have a bit of a glowing arrow pointing you in the direction of the next boss that will kill you until you get good.

Elden Ring aside, I’ve been watching a ton of anime, some of it unabashedly trashy – OniAi and Elementalers of Blade Dance spring to mind as two recent examples – and some of it actually kind of wholesome, like My Dress-Up Darling or My Senpai Is Annoying. I’m also working through one of my lower-priority digital organization projects, which has been tweaking downloaded manga so it doesn’t look awful in iComics, which is my iOS comics-reader-of-choice.

I was actually going to do a write-up on my process, which involves using Pixelmator Pro to edit covers and some command-line scripts to tweak image sizes, but I wasn’t happy with how that was turning out. It may be something better-suited for a video. It would be EXTREMELY Mac-centric.

I also re-purchased a small piece of my childhood, thanks to the power of eBay. As a Star-Wars-obsessed youth, I had a number of the die cast toys that Kenner put out in the late 70s, one of them naturally being a Y-Wing. At some point in the intervening 40 years, I’d lost the BODY of the Y-Wing but had somehow managed to hold on to both of the engines.

It turned out that someone was happily willing to sell me the center part for about ten bucks, and I now have this sitting on a shelf, exuding nostalgic good vibes:

Yes, it’s beat all to heck. It’s SUPPOSED to be beat all to heck. Y-Wings are supposed to look like they’re held together by prayers and duct tape. What I’m more confused by is why it’s painted with red accents when every Y-Wing in Star Wars was in Gold Squadron, I think. I know that’s just how the toy was made and I guarantee it didn’t bother me at the time.

Anyway. 15 years, huh. I should probably go back and re-read some of my earlier posts, back from when I still had ambitions and aspirations.

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Work in Progress

2022. New year. Huh.

2021 was a very bad year for finishing games. I’ve been keeping track since 2007, and my previous fewest-games-in-a-year was 17, back in 2013.

In 2021, I finished 5 – and three of them were games I’d played before.

I have been spending a bit too much time messing around in MMOs, of course. That never helps. I’ve also watched more anime in the last year than I managed to fit in probably the five years previous, which has been fun.

Nonetheless, I’m back in the position of owning a bunch of games I haven’t played yet, and I should probably do something about that this year.

Unrelated to this, except that it has definitely left less time for digital entertainment, I’ve finally gotten around to reworking my home office. This is my second major revamp in the last decade, and my original vision for the space was, well, somewhat dark and depressing.

Also, while I originally loved having 25 square feet of desk space, the end result was that it tended to accumulate a LOT of clutter.

So I’ve made some changes. This has actually been occupying most of my spare time since mid-December. Here’s one side of the New Look.

The room is still a bit of a work in progress, but going from Black On Black With Some More Black to a room full of white and natural wood has been a huge and positive change so far. I’ll probably put up another post when I’m done with it, showing off the other sides of the room at least. Maybe I’ll even do one of those videos where someone walks around and tells you All About Their Stuff.

I’m down to 8 square feet of desk space now. I’ve had to break out a card table a couple of times for projects that mandated more space, but every time I’ve done that so far I’ve finished the project and put the card table away again, which I think is very important.

Oh, and that blank shelf on the display shelf is reserved for the Lego Y-Wing I bought in 2019 and which my wife and I plan to put together one of these evenings.

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Twilight? of the Otaku

I’m not a huge Holiday person, but I had the opportunity yesterday to fly down to San Francisco with my wife and spend the day with my in-laws, who are actually fantastic people and not at all the sorts of monsters that the image of “the in-laws” typically conjures up.

I will say that driving anywhere near Union Square during the holidays is a bit of a nightmare, made more so by the frankly overwhelming police presence and the number of blocked-off streets. San Francisco has been in the news lately thanks to a number of smash-and-grab flash-mob-style retail robberies, and it looks very much like they would not like to be in the news for this again any time soon.

They are aided in this by what appears to be a gentleman who has decorated his vehicle in a way that I am CERTAIN would get him in trouble in most jurisdictions.

We were in Union Square because, well, it’s the holiday season and some degree of “Festive” is required, and Union Square goes all out with the Festive. There’s a massive Christmas tree, there are ice skaters and carols and everything is shiny and I will show you absolutely none of this in favor of an out-of-context image from the parking garage.

I realize that “C.H.U.D.” was set in New York City, but if a modern low-budget horror director wanted to do some sort of revival with a Bay Area setting they could save themselves a lot of money on sets by making use of this parking garage.

But, since we didn’t get eaten by anything and didn’t get to witness any Surprise Wealth Redistribution on the part of the local citizenry, we decided that we’d get some lunch at SF’s Japantown. My in-laws are well aware that my wife and I are both massive weebs, after all, though they presumably don’t know the word “weeb” and probably have some much more polite term.

Anyway, parking in Japantown is much easier and much less terrifying, so I recommend it. I won’t necessarily recommend the place we decided on for lunch, because they served me a painfully-mediocre katsudon and charged fifteen bucks for it, but there are many restaurants and some of them look pretty good. I wouldn’t mind spending a week in the area just trying out new places to eat.

I also recommend visiting Japantown if you want to drop some cash on nerd toys. There are a LOT of shops that will sell you anime figures or Sanrio plushes or Tokidoki-branded tchotchkes.

Note: I’m not sure how much a four-foot-tall Rem figure will cost you. I imagine it’s measured less in terms of dollars and more in terms of how much of your soul you are willing to sacrifice. Also it probably comes with a free lifetime membership on some sort of government watch list.

But, to be clear here: I’ve just received my holiday bonus, which was a single check that was roughly four months worth of salary in one lump sum. I have no significant debt and could have gone ABSOLUTELY HOG WILD in the anime stores.

Instead, I bought this:

…which was a bootleg Nezuko keychain. It cost me $4.35, with sales tax. It’s not fantastically-well-done by any means – presumably the bottom of her hair is intended to have orange highlights, and her coat should likewise be a different color – but it’s cute enough and I have been enjoying Kimetsu no Yaiba and now I have a little mascot for my office.

So, the majority of my bonus is, rather than being turned into nerd toys for my office space, being put into savings. I did buy a new standing desk, so I’ll probably post something on that when it arrives. I guess this is what being an adult feels like.

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Earning my raiding creds

I don’t think it’s too outrageous to say that WoW is a bit of a mess. It’s creaking along under 17 years worth of recons, revamps, stat squishes, level squishes, new expansions, content removals, player demands and bizarre development decisions. If someone asked me “Should I start playing WoW, in 2021?” my response would have to include “is it important if it makes any sense at all?”

Having said that, however, it absolutely shines in dungeon and raid design, even if part of that is thanks to the designers being able to assume that players will be making use of a vast number of community-created add-ons to help actually survive the encounters. There’s a lot that could be said on that, but I’ll try to stay positive here and simply say that I really enjoy WoW’s group content to an extent that I can’t say for any other MMO I’ve played in the last decade.

Doing the single-group dungeons, over and over again on harder and harder difficulties, has been what’s kept me logging into WoW long past the point where I would typically get burned out and quit.

What I traditionally HAVEN’T done in WoW is a lot of raiding, because honestly that’s the point where instanced content goes from “kill things and take their stuff, with four strangers” to “kill things and take their stuff, with like 14 to 19 other people who you see on a regular basis” and I have a really bad history with starting to take the raiding side of a game entirely too seriously, especially if I’m playing a tank class.

For the last few months, however, I’ve been hanging out with the same group of people for about four hours a week, beating our collective head against WoW’s current “Heroic” raid. This is the second-highest difficulty raid level in the game, under “Mythic” which is for the genuinely-invested cutting-edge-type players.

There are ten bosses in the raid. We beat boss #9 in mid October. Since that time, we’ve tried to kill boss #10 about 80 times. I’ve added some raids with strangers to that total, meaning that my personal death count to this boss was well over a hundred.

It is a fiendish encounter, one of those where a single person doing the wrong thing can kill everyone, and it stretches on for roughly 14 minutes – at which point, if you haven’t done enough damage to the boss, she simply kills you all anyway.

Up until this point, my high water mark for bosses in any video game has been the Fume Knight, in Dark Souls II. I have no idea how many times it took me to kill him, but by the end of my many, many attempts it was like he was walking in slow motion while I danced around him chipping away at his health bar, with the only tiny tiny problem being that if I missed one dance step he would instantly kill me.

Fighting Heroic Sylvanas Windrunner? More or less the same thing, except with 15-20 other people who also need to be in the same state of focus.

So, I assure you that actually beating the encounter, after months and months of trying, is a heck of a feeling. And it even comes with its own special achievement, that basically says “I did this while it was still hard” because most WoW raids are …if not trivialized by the next major patch, at least made considerably easier.

That was last week. This week, I try to do it a second time. She drops loot, after all, and that makes my numbers bigger.

Posted in MMORPG, PC Gaming | Leave a comment

Xbox 20th Anniversary – No More Looking Back

I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with Microsoft’s consoles. The original Xbox was the 800-pound gorilla of its generation, and had some brilliant exclusive games, but couldn’t stand up to the sheer variety of titles available on Sony’s console of the time. The 360, barring its charming tendency to self-destruct, may just be my favorite console of all time… but was fairly quickly outclassed by PC ports of the majority of its titles.

And the Xbox One may be the second-greatest own goal in the history of consoles.

That being said, after spending the majority of the generation hanging tight to a DualShock 4, I did eventually wind up being enticed back to the Xbox brand, thanks largely to its introduction of backwards compatibility in 2015. I picked up a One S, then a One X, and finally a Series X thanks to finding one by sheer chance, and having my games, along with their save files, come with me from console to console has been a very pleasant experience. It’s how things Should Work.

So, with rumors of new additions to the backwards compatibility program, I made sure to carve out half an hour of my day to watch this morning’s 20th Anniversary stream. On my employer’s time, I will admit. I’ll make sure to work a little later one day this week to make up for it.

I was expecting a nice bit of navel-gazing and the introduction of maybe a dozen or so new BC titles. I wasn’t expecting a half hour of Microsoft poking fun at previous missteps and giving us SEVENTY new BC games.

Oh and there was something about Halo, too. I think?

The glee of today’s announcement was tempered somewhat by their muted after-presentation announcement that this would be the last batch, and that by extension there would be a ton of games forever locked to their original hardware.

Still. I can look at my Xbox library and see a row like this:

And that’s pretty good. It’s made even more impressive because I used THESE discs to install the DOA games:

Yes, these are NTSC-J original Xbox discs, and they gave me licenses for the US versions. Considering how annoying the Xbox regional locking was, back in the day, this was just a touch unexpected.

Sadly, we’re never getting the Fatal Frame games. I’ll have to hold on to a 360 for those, and Justice League Heroes, and two or three other games. SOME of those are getting PC ports, anyway. Bullet Witch and El Shaddai are two of the ones that stand out, there.

Anyway, today was a good day. Going to boot up DOA2 Ultimate and take one more crack at that survival mode challenge that I could never quite pull off. Odds are I’m STILL not going to be able to do it, but you never know until you try.

Posted in xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | Leave a comment

Return to a neglected blog.

Normally, when I haven’t posted here in a while, it’s because I’m playing an MMO and am in the “eat sleep work MMO” phase, and this particular gap is no exception. I’ve been playing a surprising amount of WoW, and a lot of other stuff has been pushed to the side because of it.

The thing that’s kept me in WoW this time is their Mythic Dungeon system, which has you repeating essentially the same set of 8 dungeon instances over and over again, with different difficulty modifiers.

For an example, this week presents its dungeons with “Bursting” and “Volcanic” modifiers. This means that, when you kill any enemy in these dungeons, they explode, doing damage to the party. In addition, while you’re fighting there are periodic and random little lava vents that erupt around the fight area, meaning that you need to avoid getting hit by those.

The effect is that fights are very chaotic affairs where you need to dodge effects in the environment as well as all of the stuff that the opponents are trying to kill you with, and then at the end of the fight people have a tendency to fall over because of the damage you’ve taken from the enemies exploding.

It’s a …moderately cheap way of extending the value of content without actually needing to make something new, to be sure, but I’m enjoying the way that different combinations make repetitive content into something considerably more dynamic. Map chokepoints that would have been good ways to funnel groups of enemies become death traps from many little lava vents in a small area, and trying to speed run dungeons by pulling huge groups and using area-of-effect spells to burn them down becomes borderline-suicidal as the group suddenly needs to absorb huge AOE damage in return.

And all of this will change next week when the modifiers change again, and we’ll need to adapt to whatever those bring.

Anyway, there’s a rating system linked to this, and while I’m not SUPER competitive I am enjoying watching myself climb the rating ladder.

But, setting WoW aside, I have been dealing with some aging-related and clutter-related stress, and I’m not sure I’m handling it entirely well.

I have a long-term goal of moving to Japan and living there for some time. Obviously, thanks to the ‘Rona, this is not happening any time soon, but there are other things getting in the way.

First, I’m getting older, and this is manifesting itself in annoying ways. I had a fall a few weeks ago, resulting in torn intercostal muscles, and it took nearly two weeks before I could comfortably lift things again – and I’m still getting the occasional twinge from my side when I get into or out of our car. This is just one example, but the larger issue is that making sure that my wife and myself have health insurance and access to medical care is suddenly a Much Bigger Concern than it would have been in our 30s.

Second, while I still have both of my parents, THEY’RE getting older as well. My mother, who was already borderline housebound before the world went to heck, basically doesn’t leave the house any more from Covid fears. And my wife’s parents are getting older. Moving away means that we’re not available in case of emergency.

To say nothing of the hassle of moving cats internationally.

Third, even after years of trying to (a) sell / donate stuff and (b) not buy too much more stuff, I still feel buried by the amount of things we own. Some of it doesn’t really matter all THAT much, in the grand scheme of things – while I enjoy having a workbench and a wide selection of tools on hand, I could also easily walk away from all of it – but there are also a staggering number of oh-this-is-collectible or oh-this-has-sentimental-value items.

Fortunately, a friend of mine is an AVID ebayer and has been helping me with the collectibles, for a cut of course. We’re hoping to get as much of that done as possible before the new tax law kicks in next January. This is basically the only thing that is going WELL right now, and it’s a little depressing that it’s only happening because she has been unemployed due to the pandemic and needed something to help pay the rent.

I also took three modern games consoles and a bunch of accessories down to the nearby GameStop when they were offering a sizable trade-in bonus, and walked out with nearly $1K in trade in credit and some gaping holes on shelves where the consoles were previously living. That was also a big win for space.

Something that I haven’t been able to get rid of, but fortunately will not need to move, is the stupid amount of computer hardware I have on-hand, most of which is used to set up test environments for my current job. That’s less of a clutter concern, fortunately, since when I inevitably get fired I can take most of it to the electronics recycler and wave goodbye to the dozen-or-so mostly-obsolete desktops and laptops that are currently taking up an entire, fairly sizable, closet.

So my long-term goal is basically:

  1. Wait for an international pandemic to burn itself out.
  2. Figure out what sort of visa I could possibly qualify for in moving to Japan. Whether that be working as an English teacher, studying in a language school, or the mysterious “designated activities” visa that requires you to have a huge hunk of cash in a bank account and doesn’t allow you to work while living there.
  3. Make sure that whatever visa I get also allows me a spousal visa.
  4. Figure out living arrangements that take foreigners and allow us to have a gigantic spoiled cat.
  5. Decide how the things that are actually important to us can make the move, and get rid of anything that’s not important.
  6. Oh, and do all this with while dealing with all the joys of getting older and having older parents.

No pressure, right?

Posted in Japan, MMORPG, organization | Leave a comment