I played Fire Emblem: Three Houses

After over 70 hours of gameplay spread across three months, I finally finished the Blue Lions route in Fire Emblem: Three Houses last Saturday. This was my third attempt at playing this game.

I had to quit playing the first two times because the hundreds of options the game offers for customizing character builds made me feel overwhelmed and anxious. Modern JRPGs have become surprisingly complex, although most of them last 60-100 hours (or more) so I suppose they give you plenty of time to get used to all the complexity.

Towards the end of Three Houses I discovered that it supports same-sex marriage. I wasn’t expecting this from a Japanese developer, least of all Nintendo, so it was quite a pleasant surprise!

In a few months I want to go back and finish the remaining three routes the game offers, but for now I’m taking a break from all the political turmoil and gray morality of Fodlan to play something on my other consoles.

Over the weekend I started a playthrough of Golden Sun on the GBA. After months of thinking about the best combination of stats for a large cast of characters, it feels good to go back to a simpler era.

Week of 27 July, 2020

  • I barely remember what I did this week. Whenever I wasn’t working, eating, or sleeping, I was playing Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked on the 3DS. The last game to hook me like this was Fire Emblem: Awakening, also on the 3DS. There’s something about RPGs on handheld devices that makes me want to pour my entire life into them. Maybe it’s because the experience is similar to reading a book — a book where you can choose your own outcomes and fall in love with the characters over a period of weeks rather than days.
  • It’s becoming clear to me that the only games I care about enough to see through to the end are story-driven RPGs, especially turn-based JRPGs. After I’m done with SMT, I’m planning to play through all the other RPGs I own until SMT V comes out next year: Yo-Kai Watch 2 (3DS), Dragon Quest 8 (3DS), Final Fantasy VII (Switch), Disgaea 4 (Switch) and Child of Light (Switch). I only have the time to play through one or two games each year so I doubt I’ll be able to finish all of these, but that won’t stop me from trying!
  • Mentally, I’ve been all over the place. I don’t feel anxious anymore, thanks to the medication, therapy, and exercise. However, the SSRIs still make me drowsy enough that some days I barely want to move from my couch. My doctor has asked me to try taking the medication at night, but it’s too early to tell if it’s making a difference.
  • I have now been writing in my Bullet Journal for a whole month. I’ve filled over sixty pages with tasks, notes, events, observations, and way too many lists. Looking back at what I’ve written, I’ve found that my perception of time is hilariously skewed. Things I could have sworn happened two or three months ago actually only happened two weeks ago. Conversely, things that happened at the start of the month feel like they happened just yesterday.
  • Incidentally, I only realized today that August has thirty-one days and not thirty, so I guess I need to be sent right back to Kindergarten.
  • For someone with a brain like mine, social media is a bigger health hazard than cigarettes or alcohol. I owe a large part of my professional success to being Very Online™, but I’m at a point where the negative effects it has on my mental health are far too nasty to ignore. I still check my social media a few times a week, but I rarely read anything outside of my replies or DMs, and most of my posts are jokes or pictures of my cats. Most of all, I immediately unfollow anyone who shares political posts, even if they’re a close friend.
  • I’m now part of a book club! We discussed Blake Crouch’s Recursion last week, and next up is Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s Hugo-winning This is How You Lose the Time War. I’m having a lot of fun.
  • You know what else is fun? Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure. It might not be as intense as working out at a gym, but it’s more than enough to get me sweating. I’m starting to feel healthy again after months of not moving my body.

Week of 8 June, 2020

  • I didn’t post a weeknote last Sunday. For the last two weeks, my mental health has been at its lowest point in almost a decade. I’m better today, but some days it gets so bad that I can barely move.
  • On my worst day, when I was walking around the house in a kind of brain fog, I couldn’t even understand the dialog in one of my favorite TV shows.
  • The good news is that I’m finally speaking to a therapist. Yay?
  • Needless to say that I haven’t been cooking very much, but I did manage to make a great paneer butter masala on one of those rare days when I felt a bit like myself. Cooking continues to be a source of joy, an unlikely outlet for creative energies, and a way to connect with my friends.
  • I’m taking a break from the Earthsea books — not because I dislike them, but because I want to step out of that world for a little while. I’ve started reading Gideon the Ninth, which is sheer insanity. In a good way. I expect to write a lot more about this book in the future.
  • I discovered a game called Children of Morta through a Steam sale. It’s quite similar to Diablo 2 in terms of gameplay. Since my brain refuses to think straight anymore, this has been a good way for me to forget about the world while mindlessly slashing through skeletons, spiders, goblins, and unnameable blobs.
  • I’ve found that if I really want to have fun, I should really only be playing one game at a time. There just isn’t enough time in the day. So, I’ve decided that I’m not going to move on from Children of Morta until I finish it or get bored.
  • RTJ4 dropped, and it’s as flawless and magnificent and sublime as I imagined it would be. Please go listen to it. Now.

Week of 25 May, 2020

  • America is burning. India has been burning for months. Unable to contribute much to what’s going on, I’m educating myself. The only thing I really know how to do is read and write, so I’m reading. Maybe one day I will write.
  • I cooked a giant pot of creamy, buttery dal bukhara and I’m unreasonably proud of this achievement. I’d make a great house-husband.
  • Darkest Dungeon was free for the weekend, so I’ve spent the last two days gleefully getting my ass kicked by eldritch horrors. I’ve been wanting to play this game for months, and I’m happy to report that it lives up to the hype.
  • Tehanu is incredible. You can tell within the first few pages that Le Guin was an entirely different person by the time she got around to writing it.
  • Work has been frustrating. I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to build a thing that should be straightforward, but isn’t. It’s been making me not want to even look at my IDE. I’m close to a solution now, so hopefully this period of reduced productiveness will only last a few more days.
  • Charli still on repeat.

Week of 18 May, 2020

  • I found the first Earthsea book to be dry and stilted, but Le Guin’s world and its inhabitants are getting more complex, more diverse, and more human as the series goes on. I finished The Tombs of Atuan and got halfway through The Farthest Shore this week, and I can’t wait to start Tehanu. I can already anticipate the emptiness I’ll feel when I finish all the books in the series, when I’ll be forced to say goodbye to Ged, Tenar, and all the other denizens of Earthsea.
  • Champaca has started delivering books across the country, so I got myself all three books from N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy. I now have my eyes on Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series and Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past series. This is going to be a good year for reading SFF.
  • Charli is still on repeat. Anthems should be the official anthem of the quarantimes.
  • For the last few weeks I’ve been working with a client who wants to create tooling for developers building machine learning models. Every time I step back to look at the work I’m doing I feel immensely proud of what I’ve accomplished, and there’s no greater joy in the world than that. In the middle of this pandemic I at least have my work to keep me grounded and contented. I’m immensely grateful for this.
  • From 2009 to 2011 I ran a personal blog not too different from this one. It was served from a cheap shared hosting box, which I lost because reasons. I thought it was gone for good until I looked for it on the Wayback Machine and found that it had been backed up there in its entirety. I spent a large part of the week migrating posts from the backup to this current blog, which means my archives now extend back to 2009. That’s more than a decade of blog posts! You can read a particulary juicy one that went viral here, and you can see the whole archive here.
  • I fired up Factorio over the weekend because I was bored. After four hours of messing around with belts, I’m ready to pour my entire life into this game. I’d forgotten the sense of wonder and discovery that I got from city building and simulation games when I was a kid. Console gaming is fun, but you can’t control a game like Caesar, Rollercoaster Tycoon, or Constructor without a mouse and keyboard. I’m now tempted to build a PC so I can play modern incarnations of these games. Somebody stop me.

PS: as an experiment, I’m allowing comments on all my new posts. I’ll disable them if it turns into too much work, but I’m willing to try this out for a little bit. Be kind.

Week of 13 April, 2020

  • The cats have stopped fighting! Minor squabbles still break out once or twice a day, but for the most part they’ve settled into an uneasy truce.
  • Found a contract for the next six weeks. It’s not a Rust gig as I had hoped, but it involves some heavyweight data visualization in the browser that will call for a lot of cleverness. I expect to enjoy this thoroughly.
  • Eating a lot of cheese this week. No regrets.
  • Working through Crafting Interpreters at a decent pace, though I could probably be going faster. Instead of just translating the Java code in the book, I’m trying to write idiomatic Rust as far as possible. This takes longer and makes my design totally different from what’s in the book, but I’m learning far more this way. I’ve also added a few additional features to my implementation, like proper line editing in the REPL using rustyline.
  • My fitness trainer now has an online lesson plan, so I’m back to working out. Feels good to be doing something with this bag of meat.
  • Still irritated at how much pointless detail that Gandhi book has. But I’m going to get through this thing one way or another.
  • Still playing Radiant Historia and Into the Breach, still loving the hell out of both games.
  • Album highlight of the week is Cha Cha Palace by Angelica Garcia.

Week of April 6, 2020

  • Spent a lot of time on calls with potential clients. Happy to report that I can sound very professional even when I’m not wearing pants.
  • Started reading Crafting Interpreters. With a lot more Rust under my belt than the last time I tried this, things are going better than I expected. I even managed to add reasonable (by my standards) error handling to my baby interpreter!
  • Started posting things on this blog again, trying to keep it fun and low-stakes. I want to have fun writing, and turns out Growing an Audience™ and Using Fully-Formed Sentences™ is the exact opposite of fun.
  • Played a lot of Radiant Historia on the 3DS. I’m loving the gameplay and story so far, but the combat needs to get more interesting soon.
  • Played a few hours of Into the Breach on the Switch. Holy. Fucking. Shit. This is easily one of the best designed video games I’ve ever played. I see myself pouring many many hours into this gem!
  • We got a new kitten just before pandemic, hoping that she’d become friends with our older cat. Did not go according to plan. It’s impossible to leave them in the same room together without one of them trying to murder the other every five minutes. We’re keeping them separate for now, hoping for at least an uncomfortable truce.
  • The first half of Gandhi: The Years that Changed the World was incredible, but now the book is getting repetitive. It has a lot of detail that I consider unnecessary. I’m somehow powering through the last 200 pages so I can pick up Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series.
  • Some albums I enjoyed this week were: Saint Cloud by Waxahatchee, 2017-2019 by Against All Logic, and Aarupa by Quinton Barnes.

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We are not pawns of some scripted fate. It’s the invisible ties we forge that bind us.

Robin, Fire Emblem: Awakening

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