talklittle's recent activity

  1. Comment on OKSolar: Improving on Solarized using the OKLab perceptual colorspace in ~comp

    talklittle
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    I completely agree with the subjective criticisms of Solarized, and despite liking the Solarized colors in the abstract, have avoided it in real life situations due to the contrast issues. OKSolar...

    I completely agree with the subjective criticisms of Solarized, and despite liking the Solarized colors in the abstract, have avoided it in real life situations due to the contrast issues. OKSolar looks way better to me, and big props to the author for the laying out the proper methodology used for this improvement.

    Maybe Tildes can consider replacing the Solarized themes with OKSolar? I may submit a merge request at some point, unless someone beats me to it.

    4 votes
  2. Comment on Tildes Pop-Up Game Event: Ludonostalgia! in ~games

    talklittle
    Link Parent
    Thoughts on Final Fantasy 6, the Phantom Forest and Phantom Train. As an adult the thing that struck me was, "this location is tiny!" Sure enough, it was 50 minutes on the in-game clock...

    Thoughts on Final Fantasy 6, the Phantom Forest and Phantom Train.

    As an adult the thing that struck me was, "this location is tiny!" Sure enough, it was 50 minutes on the in-game clock start-to-finish. If I'd been speedrunning it, I could see it taking under 15. Contrast with modern AAA JRPG sensibilities where the sequence would be 2 hours long; FF7 Remake's train graveyard comes to mind, naturally.

    I had conflicting opinions on this. On the one hand, it felt almost too short: How could they waste this setting and this music? I wanted some more fun stuff to do on the train. There were a couple very short yet memorable moments, but I've been spoiled to expect more.

    On the other hand, it was refreshing to be left wanting more. A tenet of entertainment too often neglected. Stepping back, I realized the entire 6 hours of game time to that point were all rapid-fire bursts of new characters and locations and story tidbits. Whereas with a modern JRPG, you'd still be running sidequests in the first hub town at the 6 hour mark. If you're lucky to be past the prologue!

    The other thing that stood out was at the end of the Phantom Train sequence. I was having a good time, suplexed the meme boss, and now wondering, "Okay that was fun, but um, what was the point of that entire area? So random. Mysterious, and kind of funny, and there was awesome catchy music, but huh?" Then the game answered me with a 20-second cutscene I had totally forgotten about.

    I could see how as a kid, this cutscene was not that interesting, maybe an "oh, that happened, let's move on, gimme more funny stuff." As an adult though, everything came together in those 20 seconds. That hour of gameplay in this strange setting was leading up to this. I'm trying not to oversell it here, but I honestly thought it was masterful scenario direction. First the mysterious, eerie forest, and the strange train area: the combination of setting and tone was simultaneously a lead-up to, and a misdirection from the next story beat.

    Spoiler: End of Phantom Train Sabin, Cyan, and Shadow disembark. Whereas all the NPCs on the train had been cartoonish white-robed ghosts, now we instead see regular human figures entering the platform gate. Once aboard, the train does not wait, and immediately lurches into motion again. Cyan suddenly recognizes two of the new passengers. His wife and son. While Cyan was away, they died, and are now being taken to the afterlife by train.

    There's no time for a dialogue. The train is already halfway past the platform. Cyan gives chase and calls their names. They each offer their last words as the train pulls out of sight. Thank you for our life together, my love! / Don't worry about mom, I'll protect her!

    Really glad to revisit this classic game. I can appreciate it on a different level today.

    7 votes
  3. Comment on Tildes Pop-Up Game Event: Ludonostalgia! in ~games

    talklittle
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    Great idea! I'll probably pick up from where I left off with Final Fantasy 6 pixel remaster. I was at the story fork and had just met Celes I believe. See if I can put in an hour or two this weekend.

    Great idea! I'll probably pick up from where I left off with Final Fantasy 6 pixel remaster. I was at the story fork and had just met Celes I believe. See if I can put in an hour or two this weekend.

    6 votes
  4. Comment on Nothing to see here in ~test

    talklittle
    Link Parent
    Okay

    Posting a comment just so I can delete it

    Okay

    1 vote
  5. Comment on Nothing to see here in ~test

    talklittle
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    Like I said...

    Like I said...

    2 votes
  6. Comment on AI-generated art sparks furious backlash from Japan’s anime community in ~anime

    talklittle
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    It seems inevitable that animation studios will adapt to use AI in spite of short-term backlash from various sources, just like they've done with 3D and computer generated/computer assisted...

    It seems inevitable that animation studios will adapt to use AI in spite of short-term backlash from various sources, just like they've done with 3D and computer generated/computer assisted animation.

    CG in anime is still not 100% seamless, as in you can probably tell which action scenes use CG, but it's become ubiquitous. Meanwhile the backlash has more or less gone away as artists and technology have simultaneously improved to make the CG higher and higher fidelity. Simply put, CG lets artists/directors realize their visions for larger and more complicated scenes with less human labor.

    There is so much tedious gruntwork in animation that AI might someday be recognized as a holy grail of cost cutting. Animation studios have already been outsourcing to cheaper countries for a long time, and big-time manga artists similarly often have apprentices and ghost writers that they delegate illustration tasks to. Anime outsourcing is notorious for having hugely unpredictable quality—recall the Higurashi no Naku Koro ni anime with some episodes of hilariously bad character art and warped faces where they look like a completely different person.

    Imagine if the original studio could both cut costs by not having to pay for outsourcing, and on top of that, guarantee a consistent style every time a character is rendered. Only needing a quick once-over by an experienced human artist to fix the details. Game changer.


    Now as for some pessimism, I worry what will happen to artists in training. Great artists often come about by working alongside great artists from a generation before. What if the industry is able to cut two-thirds of the less experienced artists from the workforce, focusing on retaining the high-level creatives? Then would the industry as a whole only produce a third as many master artists as it does today?

    It would be too ironic if AI, hailed as a tool to free up humans' time on unimportant busywork and allow for creative work and leisure, had a hand in stifling that creativity by cutting off a knowledge transfer pathway that people need to reach that high level in the first place. Unless we can teach AI to teach us?

    4 votes
  7. There's a new Di Gi Charat series airing now for the series' 24th anniversary: "Reiwa no Di Gi Charat"

    Named for Reiwa, Japan's current calendar era which began in 2019. This came completely out of left field for me. I was going down the Internet nostalgia rabbit hole, likely inspired by the ~talk...

    Named for Reiwa, Japan's current calendar era which began in 2019.

    This came completely out of left field for me. I was going down the Internet nostalgia rabbit hole, likely inspired by the ~talk topic. The path eventually led me to Di Gi Charat, the anime series from 1999.

    The original anime still holds up today. The episodes—only 4 minutes each, including the theme song—are highly bingeable. They're on YouTube. So quirky and funny. It's about these two small weird alien catgirls landing in Akihabara, Tokyo's anime central, and working part-time at an anime store called Gamers. Incidentally, Gamers is a real store, and these characters are Gamers' mascots.

    Reiwa no Di Gi Charat has fansubs which can be found on unofficial sources. 4-minute episodes. Theme song performed by Masami Okui like the original. The art is really polished. It's amazing they brought back the original voice cast for this. I'm floored.

    (Listening to Di Gi Charat soundtracks on Spotify as I write this!)

    4 votes
  8. Comment on Let’s talk visual novels in ~games

    talklittle
    Link Parent
    I haven't played it yet, but OPUS: Echo of Starsong came out last year and is currently 30% off ($17.49 USD) on Steam. It's quite a departure from the typical visual novel interface. Looks more...

    I haven't played it yet, but OPUS: Echo of Starsong came out last year and is currently 30% off ($17.49 USD) on Steam. It's quite a departure from the typical visual novel interface. Looks more like an adventure style game with a controllable avatar. The reviews look good. Supposedly an emotional story.

    To be honest, I think the conjunction of interesting game mechanics and feeling like a literary work is rare if not nonexistent in this medium. Ones with game mechanics are easier to market to a wider audience, and that also coincides with more straightforward pop fiction stories.

    It's a shame the anime/manga style and culture don't appeal to you, as that means I can't wholeheartedly recommend my favorite VN writer duo, Kouki Yoshimune and Hayato Tashiro. But I'll write about them anyway! They are absolute masters of the craft. They know their anime-watcher audience intimately, and know how and when to play it straight, cutesy anime tropes galore, and when to cut the BS and get real. How to set up and subvert expectations. How to get their audience to expect subversion and then subvert that. Love our cute characters? Well how about we sprinkle in a bit of gut-wrenching melodrama, some unimaginable challenges, force them to grow the hell up. Love this other character? Well...they can go ahead and develop normally, congrats.

    Most importantly though, they know how to make things feel rooted in reality. Like their characters, when not performing comedy routines, are actual thinking human beings, with self-awareness, and made of both reason and emotion. That even some of the more fantastical events (oh boy) are given a proper treatment as to how they might be dealt with in our real world.

    The titles are Kimi ga Nozomu Eien and Muv-Luv and should be experienced in that order. Yes, you read that right, one of my favorite pieces of VN literature ever is titled "Muv-Luv." No English translation for Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, but there is an anime adaptation which gets the point across. If anyone's interested, do watch the anime for Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. DO NOT watch the anime for Muv-Luv, which I've heard is not a great adaptation. I could gush a whole lot more about these stories but will stop in the interest of spoilers.

    2 votes
  9. Comment on Let’s talk visual novels in ~games

    talklittle
    Link Parent
    Now there's a head scratcher. My guess would be economics, as a good localization is fairly expensive and possibly differs between large and small screens, and the western VN audience is limited....

    how rarely decent VNs in English get cell phone and/or tablet releases

    Now there's a head scratcher. My guess would be economics, as a good localization is fairly expensive and possibly differs between large and small screens, and the western VN audience is limited. And although the potential market of phone owners is massive, there is also massive competition on the business side of mobile gaming. So sadly I would guess the cost projections wouldn't give favorable numbers. But this is pure speculation.

    I'm ecstatic there are amazing devices like the Steam Deck and other handheld PCs now. I missed out on the PS Vita which I've heard is a solid VN machine. Reading on the go: it just makes sense.

    haven't even bothered with Umineko

    Haha, couldn't exactly blame you. It's ridiculously long at approx. 1.3 million words or 3600 pages, versus War and Peace's paltry 560,000 words or 1424 pages. I suppose I powered through while treating it as a rite of passage ("I must finish this"), and taking long breaks after each of the 8 chapters. Plus it's a compelling mystery!

    To be fair, while Umineko gets too verbose, it's not "just" a murder-detective novel. It does IMO give fair treatment to some family domestic issues—I've read that the author Ryukishi07 was a social worker and knows enough about abusive dysfunctional families.

    2 votes
  10. Comment on Let’s talk visual novels in ~games

    talklittle
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    Anime-style VNs are an interesting niche. And they will always be niche: the reader/player has to enjoy video games (and own a device capable of playing them), enjoy anime along with all its...
    • Exemplary

    Anime-style VNs are an interesting niche. And they will always be niche: the reader/player has to enjoy video games (and own a device capable of playing them), enjoy anime along with all its associated tropes, and enjoy reading... AND have a personality type that lets them chill out and enjoy the slower slice-of-life scenes, which will be prevalent in almost all titles.

    Which brings us to: Characters. Characters are almost always the most important part of an anime VN. Intricate plot details are often forgettable, but a VN has succeeded when, years later, you still think back fondly on its characters. [Insert reminiscence about helping Nagisa overcome her fears with a drama club in CLANNAD; the noble Saber and haughty Rin Tohsaka and their adventures in Fate/Stay Night; the mysterious Touko Kuchiki and her wistful artwork in Kara no Shoujo; the wacky cast of Muv-Luv with Sumika and Meiya at the forefront; etc. etc.]

    Admittedly, there is a tendency for VN writers to lean heavily on character archetypes, and this applies to anime/manga in general. The way I see it, writers use two tools to push their characters to transcend those archetypes: plot and relationships. Yes, I'm saying the plot can exist in service of characters and worldbuilding, and it doesn't have to be the other way around.

    People coming from traditional literature may be surprised when reading VNs. They may carry over their usual expectations of a tight premium on wordcount, well-edited plots to eliminate repetition, a "show, don't tell" policy on characters, and may expect characters to just do their jobs as agents advancing some deeply insightful or mindblowing story.

    It's no wonder people would be taken aback, then, when VNs spend a lot of time doing almost the exact opposite. They're traditionally extremely verbose, with a lot of slice-of-life "filler," lean on archetypes for familiarity, spend a ton of time showcasing the characters' interactions which have no bearing on the main story, and tend to state the obvious when it comes to internal monologue and such. The main plot may occupy only a fraction of the total word count.

    I wouldn't waste my time recommending VNs to an average gamer, nor even an average anime watcher. Most people won't like them. That's obvious: it's niche.

    And yet, I love VNs.

    There's something about the way that a well-constructed VN's plot and characters take on alternating and intertwining roles in fleshing out the VN's world and creating some kind of impact on the reader. When the world and individual characters are presumed equally important, when the reader opens up a work knowing they will find a "favorite" character, it means the reader opens their mind to appreciating characters' mundane conversations, appreciate the half hour spent reading about characters drinking tea at the cafe, or talking about their favorite models of car and motorcycle, or going fishing, or walking in the woods looking for flowers, or whatever.

    A VN enthusiast learns to appreciate the slow moments. Maybe a zen thing. Maybe it's a natural physiological response and adaptation to the familiar. You learn to like the thing just by spending more boring hours next to it. A kind of...wholesome Stockholm syndrome? Haha.

    As others pointed out, the music is vital as well, and often it's the atmospheric tunes accompanying the slice-of-life scenes that can elicit the strongest emotional response years later. Artwork is an important selling point to draw people in, but the music is probably what stays with me, and I am definitely known to pull albums up on Spotify/YouTube/MP3s if I'm in the mood for some nostalgia some evening.


    Recommendations? Since it's Halloween season, I'd echo others' suggestion of Danganronpa. Fun rollercoaster ride of death, accommodates mainstream players more than the average VN.

    If you're looking for something darker and are okay with gory and NSFW scenes, there's Kara no Shoujo. A detective story based in Tokyo in the 1950s. One of my favorites. Play through once without a guide; you will feel lost and reach a dead end, but that's okay. Headphones required, to appreciate the music. I absolutely love the moody aesthetic, the music, the voicework on this one.

    And then there's the When They Cry VNs. Umineko no Naku Koro ni is especially beloved in some circles. Crazy closed-room detective mystery in a mansion on an island, with witches involved. Probably the most mentally straining VN I've ever encountered, really demands your brain's full attention. Problem is it's maybe the longest VN I'm aware of, over 120 hours' read.

    The House in Fata Morgana is a compelling story again involving a witch. Beautiful art. Significantly more thoughtful treatment of gender/sexuality issues than the average anime VN.

    6 votes
  11. Comment on What programming/technical projects have you been working on? in ~comp

    talklittle
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    Been finding more areas to use Rust lately. It's great fun finding code to replace with Rust, as it's so efficient it can be stuck anywhere, and without the inevitability of memory bugs/exploits...

    Been finding more areas to shoehorn use Rust lately. It's great fun finding code to replace with Rust, as it's so efficient it can be stuck anywhere, and without the inevitability of memory bugs/exploits with similar C/C++ programs.

    Can be a good fit for desktop, servers, mobile apps, and web (WebAssembly). No GC/runtime is awesome as it means programs can also start up very fast and use little memory; great for serverless applications like AWS Lambda where you're charged by the millisecond and MB of memory allocation.

    On Android in particular, I came across some useful posts about how to cross-compile and then call code from Kotlin/Java:

    Using a tool like cargo-ndk makes the cross-compile painless. A downside so far is that even a minimal Rust library adds a few MB to your app's binary size.

    Now just hoping I can finish a "real" project interesting enough to show off. Have a couple ideas that might stick, but don't want to talk about them yet, as I'm one of those people whose motivation kind of nosedives when hyping stuff too soon.

    4 votes
  12. Comment on Tactics Ogre: Reborn, a remake of the Super Famicom title, will release on November 11 in ~games

    talklittle
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    I'm excited for this modernized remake too. I could never get very far in either FFT or Tactics Ogre for some reason. Maybe early-game battles in tactics RPGs are hard to make interesting, given...

    I'm excited for this modernized remake too. I could never get very far in either FFT or Tactics Ogre for some reason. Maybe early-game battles in tactics RPGs are hard to make interesting, given the inherent restrictions on available characters and skills. (Meanwhile, I repeatedly dropped Ogre Battle for a completely different reason: the massive difficulty spike there always blocked me from progressing past chapter 9-ish.)

    So even as a kid who was willing to go all-out on braindead grinding in JRPGs like Final Fantasys to get my party to level 99, tactics RPGs somehow lost my interest too soon.

    The new remake of Tactics Ogre boasts:

    Enjoy numerous playability improvements, such as a quicker pace of battle, auto save, and a complete overhaul to the controls and UI to make it easier to get into the game than ever.

    Hoping this will make the early game a lot more accessible this time around.

    3 votes
  13. Comment on RSS feed improvements in ~tildes

    talklittle
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    If you're interested in diving into the (relatively straightforward) RSS code, here's where it was introduced: https://gitlab.com/tildes/tildes/-/merge_requests/127/diffs

    If you're interested in diving into the (relatively straightforward) RSS code, here's where it was introduced: https://gitlab.com/tildes/tildes/-/merge_requests/127/diffs

    8 votes
  14. Comment on How to install + serve Tildes directly on a VPS? in ~tildes

    talklittle
    Link Parent
    No, my goal was only to run the tests, to catch setup errors for newly setup development environments. That said, some of the tests, in the "webtests" folder, do encompass the core website code,...

    Were you attempting a Tildes install? (If so, how did it go?)

    No, my goal was only to run the tests, to catch setup errors for newly setup development environments.

    That said, some of the tests, in the "webtests" folder, do encompass the core website code, such as creating a user and accessing the homepage, so following my CI document should at least get you as far as loading the homepage.

    Things that I am not sure about include fetching remote content (like article word count), and background services and cron jobs. And things like gracefully restarting nginx and server components, and auto-restarting components using systemd.

    Has anyone successfully created an instance?

    As far as I know, no, but multiple people have expressed interest. If you do succeed and document how you got there, that would be fantastic. I'm sure it would get the creative juices flowing for other developers, imagining how they could build on top of the Tildes codebase.

    5 votes
  15. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    talklittle
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    I had more fun than expected with Sunblaze, a precision platformer with emphasis on puzzles. I haven't played Celeste yet, but have played the normal difficulty of Super Meat Boy. Thought Sunblaze...

    I had more fun than expected with Sunblaze, a precision platformer with emphasis on puzzles. I haven't played Celeste yet, but have played the normal difficulty of Super Meat Boy. Thought Sunblaze would be the same, where I'd play the normal mode and get frustrated enough, and hands hurt enough, to stop right after.

    Instead, was pleasantly surprised because the puzzle emphasis took away the frustration of a high bar of execution. It was fun to play in 10-minute bursts, and I ended up making it all the way through hard mode. It also helped that hard mode introduced new mechanics instead of only relying on harder precision and timing. Overall a mostly smooth difficulty curve. The pixel art and music are pleasing too.

    4 votes
  16. Comment on How to install + serve Tildes directly on a VPS? in ~tildes

    talklittle
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    A few months back I put in some work to get Tildes unit tests and code checks running on GitHub Actions free tier. This info may inform as to what software packages need to get installed, and...

    A few months back I put in some work to get Tildes unit tests and code checks running on GitHub Actions free tier. This info may inform as to what software packages need to get installed, and folders and permissions to create.

    https://github.com/talklittle/tildes/commit/a337415ed1c91e4fd47c99d5099ec132e78f8701

    The first file, ci.yml, is where most of the good info lies.

    Notes/caveats:

    1. This is a Docker environment, as used by GitHub Actions cloud runners. Specifically I found it easier to use the Nginx Docker image instead of installing Nginx normally, but this may not apply when installing on bare metal without Docker.
    2. Uses Ubuntu instead of Debian (a limitation of GitHub Actions). This is why some of the Apt repos are turned into Ansible variables, instead of keeping the Debian repo URLs.
    3. Focuses on getting the code style checks and unit tests to run; full site may or may not run (untested).
    5 votes
  17. Comment on How to install + serve Tildes directly on a VPS? in ~tildes

    talklittle
    Link Parent
    Right. On a new-from-scratch Git checkout, Ansible (via vagrant up) will skip creating node_modules, causing tests and Git hooks to fail.

    I guess that wouldn't have been affecting me because I already have the folder?

    Right. On a new-from-scratch Git checkout, Ansible (via vagrant up) will skip creating node_modules, causing tests and Git hooks to fail.

    4 votes