Going Downtown in Fallout Chapter 9

Last time, on Aether cruises through Fallout, we… I don’t even remember. Something about going home again. You can read it. We’re not concerned about past. We only look towards the future. And the future, for us, is the Hub.

We embark from Vault 13 and make the long trip south. A long way. It takes a couple of days to reach it. We only know where the Hub is because of Ian; he told us where to find it, a while ago. It’s about half a day south of Junktown, and since we went back to the beginning to visit the Vault, we have to travel everything we’ve done all over again.

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The only real obstacle we run into on the way there is a single Radscorpion. Which by this point is not an obstacle at all. I only include it to commemorate the fact that it manages to poison Athena. It’s true! It manages to get the drop on us, and the only attack it makes before Athena and crew blow it away manages to both get past Athena’s defenses and actually poison her! This is exciting! I rarely ever see this happen! Entire games will go by, and I don’t have to think about poison. Of course, we’re carrying around 10 antidotes because I haven’t bothered selling them off yet, so it’s no matter for us to cure it, but still! It’s like winning the lottery. Of discomfort. Yeah. We don’t even loot the scorpion’s corpse, we just leave it there as a monument to this unique moment.

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Oh, and also, it’s been 50 days since we left the Vault, I think. Our Pipboy gives us a helpful reminder that everyone we’ve ever known and loved will soon die unless we find some way to rescue them by tracking down a lonely little water chip in this awful, awful wasteland. You know, in case we forgot.

Which we didn’t, for your information.

And then, we’re at the Hub! The thriving metropolis, largest city in the Pacific Wasteland, headquarters of nearly all organized traders in the wastes. They control the economy of the region, most commerce flows through here at some point, and this is the closest thing the wasteland has to a pre-war style city.

We walk in there, and it’s surrounded by farms. Two headed cows and weird mutated corn as far as the eye can see. I gotta say, I really love that Fallout thought about agriculture. Most games only give it a passing sidequest where you have to save the odd bumpkin from some ghost of his daughter’s uncle or some thing, but you see agriculture all over the place here.

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We also bump into a caravan that’s in the process of leaving town, hitching their wagons made from the scavenged flatbeds of pre-war vehicles up to their brahmin, the two-headed cows that serve as the livestock out here. We chat up the security guard, and get some deets on the place. Apparently, we can buy pretty much anything here. Including water. You know, if they can get fresh water here, mayhaps they’d have an idea of where we can pick up a water chip.

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After that we break into some random guy’s house in the middle of the night and start quizzing him about the layout of town. He’s a surprisingly good sport about it. He tells us were to find all the necessities in town, such as the police station, the general store, and most important of all, the local bar. He also tells us that we passed by someone from the sheriff’s office who would have filled us in on all that, but we didn’t because it’s 10:00 p.m. And all the sensible people are in bed and not breaking and entering in order to ask for directions.

Athena’s a night person, remember. You guys all picked it and everything. This is what she do.

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It’s Not My Thing

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might notice that I play video games every once in a while. Rarely, I might form an opinion on these games. And sometimes, that opinion runs completely counter to the largely accepted opinion of the general gaming public. A game that gets rave reviews, that I just don’t get into. A game that is completely panned, that I find something special in.

This is something we’ve covered before. This is ok. The fact that I hate your all-time favorite video game with a passion I had once been saving for my love life is just a natural consequence of the fact that any sort of creative work is by its own nature a completely subjective experience.

Unfortunately, nobody told the internet about that.

Once upon a time, I used to be big on being social about my videogames. Well more social than this blog, at least. Forums were my big thing. Go out, be part of a community just talking about video games. Was all well and good until the opinions came up. It’s good to enjoy video games. It’s good to discuss video games. But as soon as you had an opinion about video games, well, it had better walk the line or you’d see just how tolerant and caring the internet can be. It seemed that there were certain things with each community that you had to hold to, or you’d have to deal with all the fan rage the lowest common denominator could muster.

Final Fantasy VII was the biggest problem there. Some places, it was the dew of perfection that was delivered to us directly by angels emerging from the Chosen Land in Holy Nihon. Saying anything remotely negative about it would get you flamed out of the internet. Other places, it was an over-reviewed piece of total garbage only propped up by the conspiracy of lustful yaoi fangirls, and saying anything remotely positive about it would get you flamed out of the internet. Nearly everywhere I went, there was a game like that. Street Fighter. Dragon Quest VIII. Etrian Odyssey. I remember I got heat at one place for really not enjoying Sprung. Freakin’ Sprung. Have you ever even heard of Sprung? No you haven’t. So who even cares?

I love having my opinion challenged. It’s happened several times on this very blog. However, it seems that Joe Internet Video Game Guy has a big problem with handling opposing opinions without being a total dickhole about it. Like something they don’t? Don’t like something they do? You will hear about it until they’re satisfied.

This drove me from a lot of the video game side of the internet. For a good long while. It got to the point that talking with people about those things I love just wasn’t worth it. I’m happy to say that blogging has been a more open and enlightened experience, but still whenever I try to set my eyes on some corner of the internet that hasn’t been connected to what we’ve cultivated here, it still seems to be the same thing. Vitriol, fanrage, just blatant anger over the ‘wrong’ opinion for what is by nature a subjective experience! To me, this is the biggest thing that made so many flavors of online gaming fandom so completely toxic.

I came to a realization recently. It doesn’t have to be that way. If we can all just agree on four simple words, fandom can be so much stronger. “It’s not my thing.” You don’t like something that someone else does? It’s just not your thing. It’s their thing, but not yours. Maybe it’s a lot of people’s thing, but not yours. Maybe it’s not their thing for a lot of people. You know what? It doesn’t matter. Everyone has their own individual experiences. Someone doesn’t like something that’s holy to you? It’s not their thing. And that’s ok.

Video games are art. Or if you’re not on that side of the argument that barely matters, they’re creative works. Whatever. The point is that just by the nature of what they are and how their made, games are very much subjective experiences. Everyone’s going to be seeing something different in it. Sometimes the differences may be vast, sometimes they’re slight, but the variation inevitably exists. And that is beautiful! That means they resonate, they pull something inside of us out and make us look at it. They take advantage of the fact that we each have our own individual story, and they use that to give us an experience that is so unique to us. If games weren’t to be subjective, we wouldn’t be seeing 1% of the games we do now, and they’d all be a lot more dry.

And that is really the point of talking about games, comparing each other’s story. That’s what makes it worthwhile in the first place. If all you’re looking for is an echo chamber, why are you spending the time in the first place? All you have to gain is just hearing your same thoughts in better words, but if you’re not talking to anybody who doesn’t already have them, what’s the point? What really enhances you enjoyment of the material is seeing it from different angles, from looking through other eyes to explore it more fully. And you don’t get that from demanding adherence to your approved opinions.

So that’s how to save the internet. That’s how to make talking about games more worthwhile. Run into an opinion you don’t agree with? Engage it. Explore it. Find out where it’s coming from. Your own opinions will be all the stronger for it.

Cooking With Testosterone: Bison Burgers

Sorry, don’t have a real post for you today.  So we’re going to have this fake post.  We’re getting into the time machine for this one, bringing back something I wrote in… 2012?  Bloody hell, I feel old.  Anyways, here’s some totally cheap content.  I hope you enjoy!

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“Aether, you magnificent figure,” I hear you ask. “Why exactly should I care that you ate a hamburger?” Ordinarily, I’d agree with you. But this is no hamburger! These are bison burgers! These are at least three times as manly as your average hamburger!

“So what?” I hear you ask again. You’re really loud. I can hear you from all the way over here. “It’s still a burger. Absolutely simple to cook.” Well shut your mouth. I’m crippled. It’s the best I can do.

I don’t normally cook meat, because all the vegetarians I live with hate it when I make the house smell delicious and remind them that I’m higher up the food chain than they are. But I do like to break out the bison, once in a while. It can be used in pretty much all the same things beef is normally part of, and it’s leaner and less fattening. It retains its juices better if you cook it right, too, so you can end up with an even juicier patty if you’re awesome like I am.

Started with a cast iron pan. Cooking bison has to be done at a lower temperature for a longer period of time than beef, which is really difficult to manage properly on my screwy stove, but I’m an expert, so I can handle it. I used my traditional burger recipe, mixing in egg to make it juicier and oats to help it stick together better, but it’s juicy enough the egg might be overkill. Then, just cook it like you would a regular hamburger.

As with everything else in life, it’s a lot better with some nice buns. The cheap ones aren’t really going to cut it. The meat’s stronger and gamier then regular hamburger meat, so you’d want to match it with some more prominent flavors. Use a sharp chedder, strong onions, dark lettuce, and top it off with a nice dark ale. Of course, you’ll have to be equally strong to match the bison flavors. Obviously, I had no problem, but you might want to do some serious soul searching before attempting this dish on your own.

I cooked it almost perfectly, if I do say so myself. The only problem was that I went with the cheap store brand onion rings. A bison burger of this caliber deserves the top shelve onion rings. As a result, I’m only able to award myself 49 out of 5 points. I know, I know, I’m ashamed, but I’ve still got one more meal to redeem myself. Stay tuned!

State of the Quest

We’re going to be posting a bit differently, here at Lost to the Aether, for at least the near future. Your main man was wounded recently, and while it’s not anything you should be worrying about, the effects of this do mean that I’m having a harder time focusing and putting the kind of thought I usually do into these posts. I should be able to make a full recovery with time, but until then, well, the content’s just going to be a little different around here, more in line with my presently diminished capacity. So, you know, fair warning. I hope you’re into it. I hope I’m into it, too.

Today I’m going to go back to an old standby and talk about myself. I’m good at that. Specifically, my little gaming quest. I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, once upon a time, I got the odd idea in my head that I was going to beat all of my games. All of them. I’ve been collecting games since I was a cub, I’ve got a lot of them. I give myself a bit of a break when the game is too glitchy to progress, or in the very, extremely, infinitesimally rare case I’m not skilled enough to beat a game, but overall, if I own it, I will beat it. I’m going through my entire collection, with games grouped by the console generation they released in, and by hook or by crook beating every single game I own.

This little quest has been an interesting one. Some games I never would have given the chance I did, some games I found that I enjoyed in a different way, and some games, playing them this way has actually given to my perspective of them. This quest has certainly changed the way I value games and the experiences contained therein.

But have I mentioned that I have a lot of games? Because I have a lot of games. The NES era took me a few weeks to play through. SNES took me several months. The N64/PS generation took me about a year to clean out. The PlayBoxCube era? I have been at this for years. Many years. Too many years. Longer than I’d care to admit. Children have been born into my family since I started, and have now grown old enough that I can have a sensible conversation with them. It’s been a long time. Part of which is that this was the generation I started making an income in, then one that I filled in later when I started picking up the other consoles for cheap, so my collection is perhaps the largest in this area. Part of it is that there are just so many JRPGs on these consoles bloody hell and they all take like 40 hours minimum to beat.

But for all the causes, I’m most of the way through. I estimate that I’ll be through the rest of this console generation and on to the next, hopefully not so long one, in about a year. That might be a bit optimistic of me, but still, pretty close. I’m excited.

I thought I’d take a look at all the rest of the games ahead of me. What do I have coming up, what shall soon be moving through the life of Aether, what more must I conquer before the next milestone. Because sometimes, it’s just fun to get organized.

Currently Playing

Tales of the Abyss

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So of all the games I haven’t beaten yet on this quest, this one is one of my favorites. The Tales series has, overall, been pretty solid ever since Tales of Symphonia, and Tales of the Abyss shows the developers in rare form. The Tales series has spent the past decade and a half really strong in terms of characterization, oddly charming technobabble, and in pointedly subverting common storytelling tropes, and Tales of the Abyss showcases some of the best the series has to offer. Mixing the typical JRPG wayfaring and dungeon diving with a fast-paced Smash Bros-esque combat engine keeps the experience feeling really varied and fresh. They don’t really add much new to the mechanics here over previous installments, and the new features they do add seem largely circumstantial, but the mechanics are very solid. I’m having a good time with it.

Also, I get to play as a left hander in this game. How often do I get to do that?

Summoner: A Goddess Reborn

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The other game I’m currently playing is one of the best games I have left on my list. This one is one of the worst.

Which I suppose if this is the bottom of the barrel, the barrel’s not really that bad. Summoner: A Goddess Reborn is no Fur Fighters, or Turok: Evolution, or Fallout Tactics. It’s not the type of game that actively offends me for its existence. It’s just… kind of bad.

You remember when THQ made RPGs? Yeah, those were always kind of quirky titles, none of them actually very good. This is along those lines. I’m actually really interested in the lore and the world. It’s obvious the developers put a lot of time and thought into those. I just wish they put as much into their engine and presentation. Gameplay is as slow and clunky as my uncle’s pinto. When it goes bad, it gets about as explosively horrible, too. Graphics and sound are poor, and the art design is all over the place. It’s world is interesting, but it’d take a better game to keep me around if I wasn’t forcing myself to.

I’m a little worried that I may not actually be capable of taking this game the whole way through. Most of the time, strategy or skill makes at least a bit of a difference to how well combat goes, but when the game hits its bad points, that goes out the window and there’s not a whole lot to do except button-mash and hope it works out for you. I haven’t been completely stopped yet, but I’m worried that I’ll run into one of those bottle-necks where skill or preparation doesn’t matter and the odds are too stacked against me to make any headway, and that’ll be a really unsatisfying end to this run.

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