As you know if you’ve been reading this space for any real length of time, Lost to the Aether is an astonishingly award-winning blog. We’ve gotten so many. I’m going to have to build a new room to hold all the trophies and plaques we’ve been issued here through these viral blog awards, as soon as the internet gets around to sending them. Just check out my Stupid Blog Stuff category to see just how many we’ve gotten. I’m constantly checking the mail, just waiting for those physical representations to come. My trophy room shall be so shiny.
In the meantime, though, we’ve been tagged for another one. And not one that’s ever come our way before. The Let’s Blog Award. And we’ve been tagged not once, not twice, but thrice, in short order. A three-hit combo of success and glory, coming first from AK of Everything is Bad for You, then next from Red Metal of Extra Life Reviews, and finishing off with the prolific Alex’s Review Corner of, uh, Alex’s Review Corner. And I quite enjoy these blog awards. Get a bit of rainy day blog content set up, and get to do one of my favorite things and just talk about myself at the same time. It’s a win-win.
Of course, it’s December, time of stress, panic, and hatred, so time’s a little too limited this month for me to answer all of those tags in one long post, so we’ll break it up, and respond with a counter combo of our own. First up here, we’ll be taking on the questions posed by AK of Everything is Bad for You, a blog that is in fact very good for you. AK is weirdly good at getting me interested in big giant 40+ games I’d had kind of negative impressions of before. I never thought I’d be trying out the Disgaea series, due to their grindiness, but the way he’s talked about them got me really interested, so I dipped my toes in, and it turned out to be a pretty good time. And now he’s doing the same thing with the Atelier series. So if something happens and you never see me again it’s probably because AK made some big long Japanese game series I’d never normally consider look so good I broke down and got it and got so wrapped up I never emerged again.
Let’s get on to AK’s questions before I do that.
- Have you played/watched a series that you first liked but felt went off the rails at some point?
Oh, so many times. That feels like an incredibly frequent occurrence, either a series will start strong but lose what made it great, or it’ll be good throughout but then just fumble right before the end zone. The early and middle parts of a work, the world building and character development and tension-heightenings and the rising actions work very differently than managing a climax and building an effective denouement, and a lot of creators have great skills in the former but not so much in the latter.
The most notable example of that for me right now, probably because I played it rather recently, is Xenoblade Chronicles. For the first 50 or so hours, that game is AMAZING. And a lot of that comes from its settings. This is not normally what I primarily look for in games, but my favorite part of Xenoblade Chronicles was exploring the huge, beautiful, wide open area the game throws at you. Xenoblade’s world is a place of wonder, and it’s a joy to go through.
But then you get to the point where it’s time to lay siege on the forces against you, and turn your focus onto the other sleeping titan that makes up all the landmass in the world. And for the first two areas, everything’s just as good. It even throws some shakeups into the story and the gameplay progression that are rather welcome. But then after that, you’re inside machinery all the time. In a set path through all the areas. All those lovely wide open spaces to explore are gone, and you’re left with a bland mecha-labyrinth to go through. And big revelations start happening. And they don’t make sense. And then you fight who you thought was the big bad guy, but then the hero decides that slaying him is actually a bad thing for no reason whatsoever. And then all of a sudden the gods you had very little foreshadowing were even there are major players in the plot, and got shoehorned in as new adversaries you had very little connection with. And then the big bad guy just dies anyways. And now all the enemies in the next area you have to go to are so much higher leveled than what you faced before and you’re not allowed to hit things more than five levels above you so you have to take several hours to just go and grind before you get to the end. And then more things happen that don’t make sense, and it’s revealed that the world is artificially created at a point where that means absolutely nothing and has no impact on anything whatsoever, and then the games over. It spent so long really tightly focused, able to move a simple plot forward with an easily understood goal and putting the strong points of the gameplay and world front and center, but then when that goal came close, the plot spread out in a way the creators didn’t prepare for earlier and weren’t effective in handling while the gameplay shrunk down and lost its best parts. It was like watching something beautiful turn to ash.
2. What about the reverse — a series that you first disliked or had no feelings about but came to enjoy?
I feel like there’s a lot of these as well. The Devil May Cry series is the one that comes to mind, although I’ve not played all the games yet. A lot of people in my spheres were super into it, way back when, so I tried out the first game, tried to like it, and bounced off it hard. Now, to be fair, there’s a very good reason I bounced off it. And that reason is that Devil May Cry 1 is dreck. Absolutely awful. So I never looked back to the series.
Until years later, when I got really into a lot of Platinum Games’ works, which are made with the same DNA, and some of the let’s players I watched at the time got super into the DMC games. And their energy for it was infectious. So, I jumped back into the series, this time starting from DMC 3, universally agreed as being where the series hit its stride. And it was so much better. So much. I finally got to see what everyone really liked about that series.
For that matter, I feel like this exact same experience is in store for me, eventually, for the Assassin’s Creed series. A lot of people whose opinions I trust like the games, but I tried Assassin’s Creed 1, and had an awful time, so never went back. But 2 is supposed to be where the series finds itself, and that’s still hanging out in my digital library, waiting for me…
3. How forgiving are you of glitches in a game?
Pretty forgiving, as long as they don’t impact gameplay at all. Visual glitches, pop through, things like that are fine, and I do actively love causing so much mayhem in an open world game it causes things to not work right. And some glitches can be actively fun, like the giants in Skyrim punting you into the stratosphere when they kill you.
But if a glitch loses you parts of the game, that becomes more of a problem. I remember playing Fallout: New Vegas when it was young and running into that all the time. One of my companions became useless because he suddenly refused to move at anything other than a casual walk, I’d have whole important npcs disappear, sometimes you’d interact with something important and nothing would happen, it became a whole frustrating mess. And really cut down on the quality of what was otherwise an excellent game I was really excited for.
4. What about a poor localization?
This one kind of depends. If it’s really bad and in a game I otherwise have low expectations of, than I can actually have a really good time with it. Sometimes things sounding really stupid in English can be quite funny. But if I’m actually hoping for a good experience in it, this can be something of a problem. That said, it’s not like I have high expectations of it, but I do want the work to be understandable and carry the same emotional tones it did in its original language. If the localization can’t carry that, it’s going to lose me.
5. How do you feel about cursing/general vulgarity in art and media?
Bah. So I don’t swear a whole lot around these parts, largely because I’ve started seeing swearing as, like, an attempt to be edgy in a really socially accepted way, or something like that. Like, swears are supposed to be shocking and offensive, but by this point in today’s society, all the standard ones are so overplayed that they lost all of that, so most everyone/everything that peppers their language with it now are either a) thoughtless about what they’re saying or b) a tryhard and either way, fall short of being truly edgy or getting any use out of their swears. Having the shock factor that makes swearing useful takes thought and creativity now. Like, you can call someone a fucker, and that doesn’t mean anything. Doesn’t have an impact. But if you can use fancy words to imply that the circumstances leading to their birth are best described as a multi-contributor genetic slurry inflicted upon a single disreputable party, that carries a lot more weight. But also carries the risk of actually being offensive. Which carries consequences. So most aren’t either smart/creative or bold enough to go that route, and instead play it safe, with the same old tired swears that just make them look lame in my view.
A vulgar work also means I can’t enjoy it when my kids are around. Which is a smaller issue, but it can still be frustrating having to limit certain things to certain times. Because they repeat stuff, and I don’t want them to get in the habit of that. There’s a bunch of albums out there whose music I quite enjoy, but can only play them at very specific times. Less fun.
Now, that said, swearing in comedy can really add to it. Somethng about it just has the potntial to make funny things funnier.
6. What three countries would you most like to visit, assuming you could do so without worries about time/cost?
Hmm… England, ‘cause friend there. And Argentina, for the same reason. Then, for the cultural experience, either South Korea or Japan, because I already take in a lot of media from both. Undecided on which, as yet. Have more history with Japanese stuff, but feel Korea might be more welcoming.
7. What’s your favorite drink(s)?
So, AK did say not necessarily the alcoholic kind, but really, the only things I drink are water and alcoholic drinks. With maybe the occasional bit of tea. I’m not a coffee drinker, and I’ve become a bit of a fitness nut, so one of the dieting things I have for myself are no liquid calories, aside from my cheat days, which is usually when the liquor comes in. Limits my explorations of that particular culinary component.
Anyways my drink of choice is the Old Fashioned. A cocktail of whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters. I’ll play around with the recipe a lot too. I’ll make my own various takes on simple syrup using honey, or vanilla, or cinnamon, things like that. I’ve been going with a brown sugar simple syrup lately that’s been working wonderfully with it I’ve taken to adding a splash of triple sec to it too, which gives it a nice citrus note. Or, I’ve swapped out the whiskey for a cognac, which makes it a very floral drink.
And, at that, AK stopped the questions. The awards supposed to come with 10 questions, but no worries, I’ll fill in the rest. Here’s three more questions that I know everyone’s been wondering about me. Finally, your questions answered.
8. Aether, how is it that you are so incredibly awesome?
Well, this is something that I really only know half of the answer to. Part of it comes down to being clear on what my values are and what I enjoy, and being very mindful of living into them fully. Part of it comes down to putting in the time and forcing myself through the failure until I get good at the things I want to do. But really, the rest of it, well, judging by all the gifts I have that I didn’t really have to work that much for, such as having the world’s most amazing hair, an amazing stature, great natural features, and an enormous penis, I just have to assume that God loves me more than he does most everyone else. So that’s part of formula that makes up my awesomeness as well.
9. How can I be more like you?
I live my life by a lot of rules, that keeps me going forward and hitting things to the fullest. Things like “Whatever you’re going to do, do it hard” or “Bite off more than you can chew. Then chew it.” But really, a lot of what I said earlier applies. Get clear on what is valuable to you, what you really want to do, take time to learn about it, and withstand the suck that always comes with being new at something until you get to the point that you can do it well. And then just let yourself shine. Put yourself out there. Show up. And let it glow.
10. You say you’re sexy all the time. What do you look like, really?
Imagine the most beautiful human being you can think of. Something slightly more gorgeous than that.
And that’s all for this blog award! Thanks to AK for the opportunity, and we’ll see everybody next time, when we tackle Red Metal’s questions.
Sorry to hear that about Xenoblade Chronicles. It got a lot of talk, and I was even thinking about getting it whenever I also got a Switch, but I can’t take that kind of forced grinding anymore, and on top of that a story that sounds like it falls into all the old JRPG cliches at the end — evil gods controlling everything, hero can’t kill villain because ‘killing is wrong’ even though he’s already killed one thousand tons of life to get to him, all that. These sorts of cliches make me feel the writers just gave up when I see them in any form of fiction.
Somehow I’ve never played a single DMC game. Don’t have much interest in it either, though I won’t rule it out. And I did really like the NieR games, so I should probably give this series a chance as well since they’re from the same studio.
I have to admit that I’m guilty of swearing on my blog, but I think you know that well enough. Totally understand your feelings about it — watching something like a Tarantino movie from the 90s, for instance, where f-bombs are being dropped all over, they have a different feel because that word had more shock value at the time than it has now (though maybe being a kid at the time also had to do with it.) It is easy to come off as a tryhard edgelord type these days especially with this kind of overuse. For my part, I think my cursing comes from my general sense of bitterness — sometimes a swear is just the only word I can find to express how I feel about something, and I think swearing can still be effective when used properly. But much like salt, sugar, and other substances that can be nice to add to your diet, too much is bad for you. At the very least, it’s good to be mindful of how and when you use it.
I had an Old Fashioned once in my life, at a friend’s wedding — really nice drink! Unfortunately since I’ve quit, I guess I’ll never have one again, but that’s a sacrifice I can make. On that note, I wonder if anyone out there is trying to develop nice cocktail-style drinks with no alcohol in them, but that still have that general feel, though unfortunately without the nice warming effect that comes along with whiskey or cognac. (Then again, there’s apparently no such thing as “good non-alcoholic beer” — the couple I have had suck out loud. So probably not.)
Sorry for being so lazy as to stop the questions at seven, but seeing how it also gave us more insight into you and your God-given gifts, I can’t regret that at all.
And finally, thanks as usual for the great answers! If you do end up falling into the Atelier series, I’d be interested to see how you like it. It’s a good thing those games generally stand well on their own, even though they’re all parts of larger series — you don’t feel the pressure to play more than you might otherwise to keep going with the story. That’s been my experience, anyway.
For what it’s worth, Xenoblade is an absolutely amazing game, one of the best JRPGs we’ve gotten in a while… as long as you can ignore like the last 15% of the game. I’m honestly still interested in playing the sequels, even with how lousy the ending of it ended up, because most of the game leading up there was just that good. It’s enormous, and can easily be overwhelming at times, but it’s really an amazing game. Until it hits the point where it’s not.
Yeah, no sweat on the swearing part. Probably should have explained better, it’s mostly frequent swearing that gives me that impression. Swearing sparingly just kind of goes in stride, doesn’t leave much of an impression on me at all, and I don’t think you swear more than sparingly in your blog. I’ve never gotten that impression with your writing, I can say.
I’m pretty sure there actually is a part of bartending that also develops recipes for non-alcoholic cocktails. So, one time, I was with friends at a bar, and I was the driver, so no drinks for me that day. I asked the bartender to throw together something non-alcoholic without giving him any concoction, and he made this amazing sparkling water and fruit juice that tasted better than most any other drink I’ve had. I’ve tried to come up with a recipe for that myself, but nothing I’ve made even came close. Otherwise, there’s the whole ‘Mocktail’ sections of some cooking sites. I’d imagine anything based in vodka would be pretty easy to make virgin, given it’s a very neutral flavor in the first place.
Nah, no need to be sorry on that. Usually I’d be happy to have a shorter list of questions, makes it easier to throw the post up. This time, I just had some gags I wanted to put in there, and that was the opportunity.
And thanks again for it! And if I do get into Atelier, well, you’ll likely be finding some writings on the subject here.
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