Quick update on my Diablo IV enjoyment: I don’t have any. So I stopped playing and went back to DeadCells, which is so much more fun.
What was nice, though: I tried to use my Steam Deck as a little gaming PC and it worked like a charm (if a little slow: there were a lot of frame rate drops while playing Diablo IV through Lutris). No need for a Steam Deck Dock either, since I have had a USB-C hub laying around and that’s enough. This opens up some nice possibilities in terms of playing non-mac games for me.
First impression of Diablo IV. I hate the MMORPG aspects of it. I don’t need to see other people in my game. I don’t plan nor want to interact with anyone when playing games.
I also do not like how enemies spawn out of nowhere. In Diablo II you never saw them spawn - if that wasn’t part of their mechanics. Enemies were always already there. Seeing them spawn is another MMORPG thing.
Sadly a lot of Diablo IV’s MMORPG elements make the game very slot-machine-y feeling. You click a bunch in front of a beautifully bleak backdrop and then you find loot. And that loot might be good or bad, but certainly you have always the chance to find better loot. As long as you just click a little more. To be clear: This has always been what Diablo was about, in the end - and maybe it’s because I’m older and/or maybe because you can’t step into the same river twice - but I do not feel like story/progression and this game loop hang together correctly. It feels manipulative. Add on top the social elements - which are designed in a way that try to keep you in the game longer, by promising better rewards if you socialize (and forging relationships in a game like this makes it more likely for you to come back to socialize with game buddies) - and a shop to spend a weird in-game currency that you mostly can get by spending real-live money.
Diablo IV is a glorified slot machine casino.
That being sad, I have enjoyed the less gross aspects of the game, which is the campaign. (Mild spoilers ahead) I mostly like the lore - I’m on level 22 maybe? - but even there I feel like that Lilith, the main antagonist, is too visible and not very mysterious. It seems weird that she is so hands on with her plans, interacting with villagers in far away, unimportant locations directly. Where are her underlings? As a villain she is not super interesting, I’m afraid, and we haven’t seen a lot of other interesting characters - good or bad - so far. If this is a problem of lore, or more a lacking aspect of world building, or story telling I don’t know yet. It might be all of the above or maybe I’ll change my mind. Diablo’s stories have always been somewhat campy, but campy doesn’t mean their story telling was bad.
As you might imagine, I am not blown away by the game. A video game podcast I listen to, Tripple Click, likened the game to Destiny, which is a game with a similar slot machine loop built-in. I would relate it to Far Cry, which although different in many ways seems to me like yet another different take on the same basic idea: Loot-oriented, rpg-style, progressively open world-revealing, multiplayer friendly, story driven gaming.
If all AAA games become one game - at least as far as the general design blue print is concerned - maybe AAA games are not for me anymore. I guess it’s not fair to say, there are many different kinds of AAA games, but it at least feels like the amount of convergence has become more apparent over the last 10 years or so.
I wonder if the dystopian looks of AR/VR headsets are really the problem. I can see that they don’t translate well to PR story telling: People find it creepy to look at.
But I do wonder if that even matters. If we think about people’s desktop setups right now - with multiple displays, the users hunched over a keyboard, cables everywhere, big headphones cutting us off, probably looking at a wall, instead of the room - isn’t this just as dystopian? What the current aesthetics of every day computing has going for itself in comparison to a headset blocking our view of the real(?) world is that you can make it look somewhat palatable in photos and videos.
If you hide the cables and clean the desk, it can be made to look somewhat pleasing even. But that’s not really how most computing places look.
In practice there are finger prints, bread crumbs, cables not very well hidden, there is fan noise, dust, asymmetry. And then we sit in front of these machines for hours on end. Computers brake our bodies. There is nothing innocent about using “normal” computers today. This is true also for handheld devices.
It seems to me that there are two directions to answer to this status quo. The first is a kind of digital ludditism: “We should use less screens, we should go out, we should not be so dependent and addicted to our computing devices.” The second is an optimistic affirmation of technological progress: “All the computing around us is great, the future is bright. I’m excited.” And then there are mixed versions: “Computers are great in moderation.” Or: “Computers are a necessary evil.”
I’ll add to the mix a stance that is all too often called fatalism: Computers are inevitable. And furthermore: There is no choice involved. It doesn’t really matter if we like or dislike technology. What matters is if technology is able to reorganize society around itself sufficiently. If a technology - take the smartphone - is able to do so, we’ll find all kinds of excuses - that’s the wrong word, because there is no value judgement implied, but merely a description of a general discourse dynamic - to not find it creepy or dystopian. In practice the reorganization has more to do with making certain kinds of activities more interesting, effective, productive - or, in short: more likely. If an activity sufficiently occurs mediated by a new technology - for whatever reason - that new technology will be adopted.
And when it has been sufficiently adopted, perceived PR problems are none anymore. But let’s not kid ourselves that it would be PR that makes this possible. PR can - maybe! - help to establish some use cases or open the door, but it’s the actual use that leads to an uptake in the likelihood of (mediated) activities. And that’s where the difference lies. That in turn doesn’t mean that PR is useless either. PR makes things appear pleasant, which is nice.
Coming back to AR/VR headsets: The problem of these technologies so far is that they do not make you play more games or take more meetings, or whatever. The technology is not persuasive enough to get over the uncanny valley. But, again, it’s not the uncanny valley itself that make them unsuccessful so far.
I’ll admit that my reddit usage has been barely existent in the last few years, but the last time I used reddit, I used it through the excellent app Apollo.
Apart from being upset by the sheer audacity and the way in which this was communicated, I always hope in moments like this, that we would move on collectively to more federated, less monopolistic ways of organizing ourselves online.
It would need large-scale adoption of paying by users - surely not 100%, but more than the 5% you hear often - for such a thing to occur, I think. People who are less technically inclined and maybe have less of an interest - ideological, anthropological or otherwise - would need to be part of this. I’m not very hopeful that they ever will.
There is a certain kind of perverse satisfaction to observe how some of these giants of social media are failing right now. But I’m not optimistic enough that all or even a significant portion of the people will make the jump because of this. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok seem to continue to thrive.
But for me, right now, there is a lot to see and do in places like micro.blog and mastodon. I hope it stays that way and maybe, just maybe, there are enough interesting people on these platforms that the “normies” will come over (and stay), too. It seems like this would lead to a healthier, more democratic future.
Why is it called Logi Options+? Do I have to pay for it?
The ‘+’ stands for better design and user experience, with more features available over time. The app is free to use.
Always good if you have to explain that the new app is better designed and has an improved user experience, because it’s not obvious to the user wtf the name even stands for…
P.S.: Just to be clear: This app is a piece of garbage and breaks frequently.
Quick note about Obsidian’s new icon:
For me it’s more of a warning sign than reason to celebrate. The only time I want to see a rebrand is if the old brand was offensive. The Cleveland Indians/Guardians rebrand comes to mind. Otherwise I do not care directly.
I do care however about the meaning behind a rebrand. It seems the public facing reason is “the new icon represents our values” which is not inspiring confidence. It sounds too business-y, even if the values themselves sound good.
The old logo was licensed cc-by - so maybe they didn’t like that and changing the logo had mostly practical reasons and then they took the opportunity to strengthened their visual identity. Who knows really? But I take a rebrand as an indicator of “corporatification”: Grown ups (managers) showed up in the beautiful workshop that built Obsidian and needed to reduce the complexity of an ongoing project like this down to its perceived core, forgetting as always that illegibility is a non-debatable fact of reality. Reducing complexity is changing what you found, not stripping away inessential parts. We’ll see if they can hang.
In short: The best case scenario is that nothing will change. Dynalist inc. (the company behind Obsidian) will continue to make a great app and that’s it. Worst case scenario: There will be changes in the approach and the business practices to satisfy things like “growth” and “revenue”. Ugh. Let’s hope this is not an early indicator of Obsidian being the next Evernote…
I agree with almost everything that has been said by the hosts as regards to subscription pricing vs. “lifetime unlock”. It’s very obvious that it’s a better model for developers. However I think it’s important to point out, that it would not be - at least not immediately - in the best interest of potential customers to agree. Saving money is always great. Not having to worry about stuff like canceling subscriptions is always great. Psychology matters. Even if there is a second order argument to be made about the benefits of subscriptions for customers: Loss aversion is a real thing.
Related: Marco’s very old blog post Right versus pragmatic.
P.S.: I’m trying to get myself blogging again by doing some more posts in this style: Short comments or observations without lots of explanation and context. Let’s see how that goes.
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