Fallout 76: Still Not Worth It

Fall?out 76 has been out for over a year now.  Before it was released, I played it dur?ing the beta peri?od.  Dur?ing that week-long play “test” I deter?mined that there was no con?ceiv?able improve?ment that they could make that would ren?der the game worth the pur?chase price and ser?vice cost.  This past week?end has been a “free” week?end — dur?ing which I played the game again. That opin?ion has not changed.

Fall?out 76 was in a state that should have pre?vent?ed it’s release when it was released.  Bethes?da took a lot on the chin for that, and, at least par?tial?ly, has owned that.  The fact that Fall?out 76 still sol?diers on per?plex?es me a lit?tle.  There must be at least a few peo?ple who enjoy it, I sup?pose.  That-all-said, play?ing it this week?end … I think I encoun?tered 2 … maybe 3 peo?ple… not what I look for in a mul?ti?play?er expe?ri?ence.

At this point, Fall?out 76 has released their update with peo?ple… oth?er peo?ple, that is NPC peo?ple… in the game.  Does this improve the game.  In short, “no.”

Bethesda’s PASS is No Longer Valid

Many lit?tle things are wrong with Fall?out 76.  Still.  You can still get stuck on lit?tle bits of ter?rain (espe?cial?ly in a fire?fight).  It still takes ages to go between the “world” and an indoor “pri?vate” space.  Inter?ac?tions with NPCs are still freak?ish?ly awk?ward (dou?bly so now that some of them have faces).

For many of it’s titles, Bethes?da got a “pass” from gamers.  The games they pro?duced were so over-the-top com?plex that some bugs were expect?ed.  A strong mod?ding com?mu?ni?ty often fixed many of the bugs by them?selves (<insert game name>-unofficial-patch).  This is not an excuse, but an exam?ple of how tru?ly the com?mu?ni?ty loved the games.


One thing that struck me as I was play?ing was the utter lack of replay val?ue.  One large por?tion of the val?ue propo?si?tion of a Bethes?da game is that I’d be play?ing it 10 or 15 years lat?er — and what the incred?i?ble com?mu?ni?ty of mod?ders would have come up with by then.

The good games… the real?ly good games … like Obliv?ion and Half Life are more like tech demos of what’s pos?si?ble than games.  From their sand?box?es come all kinds of things.  Con?tri?bu?tions from the com?mu?ni?ty … to the com?mu?ni?ty.  This has an out?sized val?ue that com?pen?sates for the bug?gi?ness of the games Bethes?da releas?es.

There is no such com?pen?sa?tion in Fall?out 76.  In fact, when it becomes unprof?itable to run the Fall?out 76 servers, there will be no more Fall?out 76.  I would use this moment to point out that new con?tent was released this year for Half Life.  Think about that.

Not Really Caring is the Problem

Both in my orig?i?nal play test and in this week?end’s play test, not real?ly car?ing is an issue.  It’s dif?fi?cult to press on when you don’t care.  If a game is “not fun” then why am I play?ing it (even for free)?

The wak?ing up in the vault has?n’t changed.  It’s some?what dis?ap?point?ing to me.  Yes, it guides you to tables of things you need and pro?vides a cou?ple of data dumps on ter?mi?nals, but there seems to be tonnes of loot … almost too much to car?ry out … but none of it that you can take.

Imme?di?ate?ly after leav?ing the vault, now you meet the first two “new” NPCs.  They think there is some “trea?sure” in the vault (in fact, con?sid?er?ing the piles of junk in the vault, there real?ly is “trea?sure” … but…).  They’re from out of state.  After you just tell them that there’s noth?ing, they relent and “offer” (in the most clunky data-dump way pos?si?ble) to tell you things.

While that intro?duc?tion to NPCs isn’t great by any mea?sure, it goes down?hill from there.  As short jog lat?er, we find “The Way?ward” which intro?duces our first quest with NPCs — to deal with oth?er both?er?some NPCs at the lum?ber mill.  Now, I’m start?ing to care less about this review, nev?er mind Fall?out 76, so I won’t go into great detail about this quest, except that it’s option?al parts involve a speech quest that you could?n’t pos?si?bly pass at this lev?el and/or a mon?ster that is eas?i?ly 3 or 4 times your lev?el.  And then an obvi?ous solu?tion (you find a record?ing with a pass?word) does?n’t lead to a dia?log option to use the pass?word to gain access to the area.

… and so anoth?er death and anoth?er long walk back.


Why is Fall?out 76 an online mul?ti?play?er game, any?ways.  At best, it’s a game to play with friends … like Bor?der?lands or the new Just Cause.  There is lit?er?al?ly no jus?ti?fi?ca?tion for it being an online-serv?er game.  Can thou?sands of peo?ple occu?py the same serv?er?  No.  Does the econ?o?my of the game require large num?bers of peo?ple?  No.  In fact that would break it.

When you look at mas?sive online game design … and I’m talk?ing about the EVE’s or the WOW’s… you have a game design that is mas?sive?ly mul?ti?play?er from the get-go.  Oth?er online humans are not rare and the rea?sons to fight them are not uncom?mon.  Would EVE work as a non-online game?  No.  Not even close.  Would WOW?  Well… not like it is, for sure.  It would be more like a Bethes?da game.

Part of my the?sis in this sec?tion is that like any oth?er “engi?neer?ing” deci?sion, there are trade?offs to being mas?sive?ly online.  An online game is nec?es?sar?i?ly more grindy (espe?cial?ly at the low?er lev?els) than an offline one — you need this to have a sane econ?o?my.  In Fall?out 76, you can see this in the fact that ven?dors sell you back items at 40x the val?ue that they buy them (not say 2x or 1.5x).

Anoth?er sta?ple of online games is encoun?ters that require a group.  Fall?out 76 seems to try this every so often, but it also fails hard.  It wants to say that you can do this on your own.  This state?ment is in con?flict with the need for group activ?i?ties.  This might not be so hard if there were dozens of play?ers queu?ing up around tough encoun?ters, but this is not my expe?ri?ence (on a week?end when lots of new peo?ple should be attempt?ing these lev?el 1 quests).

In the end, I would advise Bethes?da to look at the “Bor?der?lands” mod?el — muti?play?er local servers with match?mak?ing.  They can even save on run?ning servers as “Steam” will hap?pi?ly do that for them.


I’m not buy?ing it.  I’m not even that inter?est?ed in try?ing to max?i?mize my week?end play?ing time.  Pri?ma?ry com?plaints are:

  • It should?n’t be an online game:
    • The econ?o?my is very grindy
    • There aren’t enough peo?ple
    • The game is still not designed to be an online game
  • It’s still seri?ous?ly bug?gy
  • The writ?ing is still bad (even for Bethes?da’s stan?dards)
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Advertising to a Post Consumerist

Deter?min?ing what I real?ly want is hard.  Adver?tis?ing tries every day and fails mis?er?ably.  It’s even hard for me and thus down?right impos?si?ble for my close fam?i?ly and friends.  Occa?sion?al?ly, my fam?i?ly mem?bers will make an unusu?al?ly inspired choice.  Some?times this amounts to an item that I did?n’t know I want?ed but actu?al?ly real?ly need.  Oth?er times this amounts to some?thing for which I’ve been pin?ing for some time (either overt?ly or uncon?scious?ly).  Maybe they got it just to shut me up…

Watson on Jeopardy

Wat?son on Jeop?ardy

A fair ques?tion would be: Do my fam?i?ly and close friends “get” me more than Google and oth?er deep-think?ing data?bas?es of the Inter?webs?  This empir?i?cal evi?dence would sug?gest that they do.  A win for per?son?al rela?tion?ships over deep data, I sup?pose.

In a sim?i?lar vein, I get real?ly annoyed with most adver?tis?ing.  I would go so far to say that most adver?tis?ing makes me feel empa?thy embar?rass?ment for the cre?ator or object of the adver?tise?ment.  Regard?less of how I feel, though, adver?tis?ing takes up time and resources for lit?tle prac?ti?cal use, in my case.

How do I find myself in this sit?u?a?tion?  I don’t want what “peo?ple” appar?ent?ly want.  I say, “appar?ent?ly” because I def?i?nite?ly don’t under?stand what peo?ple want and the evi?dence, giv?en by adver?tise?ments direct?ed at me, is that I’m expect?ed to want some?thing else.  There may have been a time when I shared some wants with the mass?es, but they have def?i?nite?ly left me some time ago.

Personal Luxury Submarine

Per?son?al Lux?u?ry Sub?ma?rine

My wants tend you come from two schemas: the prac?ti?cal and the mega?lo?ma?ni?a?cal.  In prac?ti?cal things, I eas?i?ly show my diver?gence from the norm.  I don’t want a “new” car.  I research the crap out of most pur?chas?es.  Most of my pur?chas?es prob?a?bly rep?re?sent a long tail process where I fer?ret out a fair?ly unique prod?uct from a rel?a?tive?ly unique ven?dor.  In many cas?es, right?ly or wrong?ly, I con?clude that doing it myself is the answer.

For the mega?lo?ma?ni?a?cal, see Per?son?al Lux?u?ry Sub?ma?rine.

Con?tin?ue read?ing

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Factorio Nuclear Reactor Thoughts

Factorio Nuclear Reactors

Fac?to?rio Nuclear Reac?tors

Fac?to?rio Nuclear Reac?tors are a new pow?er source in Fac?to?rio 0.15.  For those that have played Fac?to?rio, late game setups have includ?ed either thou?sands of steam engines or tens of thou?sands of solar pan?els.  This ends up tak?ing both sig?nif?i?cant pro?duc?tion and sig?nif?i?cant game world space.  While mass pro?duc?tion is part of the game, the space tak?en by the pow?er sys?tem often dwarfs by orders of mag?ni?tude the oth?er game activ?i?ty.

With 2 off?shore pumps,20 steam boil?ers, and 40 steam engines, and a big belt of coal you can get neigh 60 megawatts. As you can see on the left, here, It’s a pret?ty large set?up. It’s enough, gen?er?al?ly, for the first stage of the game… upto mak?ing all the potions, but it starts get?ting dicey at that point. You cer?tain?ly want to also be using coal for smelt?ing as this will not pro?vide that lev?el of pow?er.

Factorio Max 2 Pump Steam Setup

Fac?to?rio Max 2 Pump Steam Set?up

A sim?i?lar set?up with Solar Pan?els would already be sev?er?al times larg?er (and would con?sume bat?ter?ies and steel to a much greater extent).

My sim?ple Fac?to?rio Nuclear Reac?tor set?up (shown above) pro?vides 40 MW with one Reac?tor, 160 MW with two, 280 MW with three and 480 MW with four Reac?tors con?fig?ured.  I rec?om?mend shoot?ing for the two reac?tor set?up to start because the bonus?es are just so high.

But… I’m jump?ing ahead of myself.  You need to get there from the start of your game.  You can’t even mine Ura?ni?um until you have a source of Sul?fu?ric Acid.

In the last few attempts at 0.15 Fac?to?rio, I’ve found that one trick is to start min?ing ura?ni?um as soon as you have Sul?phuric Acid.  There is often a patch that will be cov?ered by one or two min?ers near your spawn and I run that into a chest. Con?tin?ue read?ing

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The Social Inequity of Keurig and Other Cartridge Systems

I’ve been try?ing to decide what it is that so annoys me about the Keurig and oth?er Car?tridge Sys?tems.  At first, one could eas?i?ly decry the Keurig for envi?ron?men?tal waste.  Giv?en their mar?ket, how?ev?er, it was inevitable that they would mit?i?gate this prob?lem.  Too many crunchy-gra?nola types like their fan?cy cof?fee or tea.

Social Coffee

Social Cof?fee

The prob?lem with Keurig has been hov?er?ing around the periph?ery of my  mind for ages… just out of reach.  I saw a car?tridge based bread mak?er for sale in a fly?er some time ago, and still draw upon it as an exam?ple of what is wrong with soci?ety.  I see restau?rants serv?ing Keurig and I fur?ther decry the demise of life as we know it.

But what is wrong here.  At first blush, it seems to be a solu?tion look?ing for a prob?lem.  It’s cer?tain?ly not dif?fi?cult to make cof?fee.  Even the dif?fer?ence between mak?ing bread, oper?at?ing a tra?di?tion?al bread-mak?er and using the car?tridge-based bread mak?er are not that large.

Car?tridge based cof?fee sys?tems were becom?ing pop?u?lar in offices more than 10 years ago.  If any?thing, Keurig took it’s sweet time to appear as a con?sumer prod?uct.  Even before that, cof?fee machines man?u?fac?tured swill to order.  If any?thing, the car?tridge-based sys?tems should be hailed as a step up from those efforts.

If you haven’t yet guess from the title, my the?sis is that the real cost is social, not envi?ron?men?tal.  Cof?fee is a social bev?er?age.  If I put on a pot of cof?fee, I am pro?vid?ing a ser?vice to the rest of the office while ful?fill?ing my own need.  From the pot, I can pour sev?er?al cups of cof?fee and enjoy a moment with oth?er peo?ple shar?ing cof?fee.  Even those who drink tea are com?ing to the same area.  I don’t live in Eng?land, but I sus?pect some bet?ter work estab?lish?ments must have a com?mu?nal pot of tea around.

But the Keurig would have me self?ish?ly make my own cup of cof?fee — to not share with any?one.  The time it takes the Keurig to brew, while short, pre?cludes the inter?ac?tion over the fresh hot bev?er?age as I will move on after get?ting my cup of joe — not want?i?ng to appear lazy by wait?ing for a cowork?er’s cup to brew.  Most impor?tant?ly, Keurig denies me the sim?ple plea?sure of mak?ing a pot of cof?fee for oth?er peo?ple.

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Seats, Feet and Righteous Indignation — Judgemental Treatment of Others is Unjust

I haven’t been com?pelled to write some?thing in awhile, but this pic?ture and the accom?pa?ny?ing sto?ry at the star moti?vat?ed me. From the arti?cle, it seems it’s gone quite viral.  It seems top?i?cal in ref?er?ence to my last arti?cle “Life is not Fair.”  Here we have a woman (the arti?cle fur?ther points out a “white” woman) impos?ing her views on shared eti?quette on a man (the arti?cle points out a man of non-white skin) with right?eous indig?na?tion.  This is ever-so-exact?ly the type of Fair?ness Nazi that I was annoyed with.

Feet On Her Seat, Righteous Indignation

Feet On Her Seat, Right?eous Indig?na?tion

To both inform and save you from the details, the arti?cle and atten?dant viral video, so a young man with his feet on the seat of a appar?ent?ly most?ly emp?ty sub?way car in Toron?to.  Enter a woman who sees this and decides to “teach him a les?son” by sit?ting on his feet.  Then this all esca?lates.  He push?es, she press?es the pan?ic stop for the train, secu?ri?ty comes.  Enter?tain?ment for the mass?es and appar?ent?ly val?i?da?tion of right?eous indig?na?tion and judge?ment for some who view it.

It’s not that she may not have a point (she may).  It’s also not that the pow?er dynam?ic maybe skewed (it may).  There’s a prin?ci?ple here.  Tak?ing from my Chris?t?ian back?ground (and I“m not well versed enough to know how ubiq?ui?tous this con?cept is, but I choose to believe that it is shared), Jesus teach?es that it is not our place to judge. Con?tin?ue read?ing

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Life is not Fair

Life is Not Fair

Life is Not Fair

Humans have a strong sense of fair?ness. To be fair is to be in bal?ance with one’s fel?low humans. Like any met?ric involv?ing humans, how?ev?er, fair?ness suf?fers from hav?ing too much just as much as hav?ing too lit?tle.

To lit?tle real fair?ness exists in the world at large. Protests, vio?lence, injury and death mark the chasm between black and white, rich and poor, man and woman, priv?i?leged and com?mon. It can accu?rate?ly be said that life, tak?en in aggre?gate, is more unfair now than at any time in human his?to?ry.

But this arti?cle aims to talk about the issue of too much fair?ness or being fair when it is uncalled-for.  This is the point where peo?ple look at their fel?low human and want to take an action to make things incre?men?tal?ly more fair between them.  Said this way, it seems like med?dling.

In defense of my the?sis, I’m not writ?ing about a protest to change a com?pa?ny’s poli?cies towards groups of peo?ple.  We must protest for fair?ness among large groups of peo?ple.  It is fun?da?men?tal to our health as a soci?ety that we con?tin?ue to cor?rect these issues.  Rather I’m con?sid?er?ing the urge, in humans, to change sin?gu?lar oth?er humans’ behav?ior. Con?tin?ue read?ing

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Day Break Mill: Searching for Red Fife Wheat…

Day Break Mill

Day Break Mill

I’ve been search?ing online for places to buy Red Fife flour and my search lead me to the page of Day Break Mill.  I imme?di?ate?ly hit the “con?tact us” but?ton so that I could deter?mine where they were.  While I get the pic?ture: it’s in Saskatchewan, still.. did some?one think this was a good con?fig?u?ra?tion for the google wid?get?

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SlowCooker: Pulled Pork: Sauce Made of Sauces.

Pulled Pork Almost Done

Pulled Pork Almost Done

I was leaf?ing through recipe ideas the oth?er day and came across Pulled Pork for the Slow?Cook?er.  The slow?cook?er is great for soups and stews and I always enjoy find?ing anoth?er recipe for it.  Pulled pork is tra?di?tion?al?ly a south?ern bar?beque dish where an oth?er?wise tough cut of pork is slow?ly cooked in var?i?ous juices until ten?der and then ripped apart or “pulled.”

In our case, we had a pork loin (not nor?mal?ly a can?di?date) that was mod?er?ate?ly freez?er burnt (per?fect).  The long cook?ing and hydra?tion of the sauce com?pen?sat?ed per?fect?ly for the freez?er burn. Con?tin?ue read?ing

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Truthiness: of Rights and Wrongs

Truthiness feels good

Truthi?ness feels good!

Truthi?ness.  I love this word.  It encap?su?lates all that is wrong with the Amer?i?can Reli?gious Right.  I’ve been think?ing around how to talk about this scourge and received insight from a com?mon (for me) source: The Econ?o?mist has a book review of “The Bat?tle for Yel?low?stone” by Justin Far?rell. The essence of this book, accord?ing to the review (I real?ly need to read the book), is to talk about the prob?lems with pol?i?tics in Amer?i?ca with?out actu?al?ly talk?ing about pol?i?tics in Amer?i?ca.

It is absolute?ly true that the best ways to talk about a dif?fi?cult top?ic is by talk?ing about some?thing else entire?ly.  I’m not just talk?ing about avoid?ance (a viable strat?e?gy — a head in the sand is worth two in the bush), but about the sub?sti?tu?tion inher?ent in most good fic?tion and espe?cial?ly sci?ence fic?tion.

The book, accord?ing to the econ?o?mist, dis?cuss?es how each group in the vari?ety of dis?putes sur?round?ing Yel?low?stone frame their argu?ment as truth against false?hoods while they are real?ly argu?ing moral right ver?sus moral wrong.  The Wikipedia arti?cle on Truthi?ness echos this point where Col?bert (wide?ly con?sid?ered to have coined the term in com?mon usage) dis?cuss?es the way each fac?tion desires to bring it’s own facts to the polit?i?cal debate, rather than all fac?tions argu?ing the cor?rect action against an accept?ed set of facts.

I had actu?al?ly cho?sen the word Truthi?ness before I had read the Col?bert quotes and cog?i?tat?ed on how they meshed with the theme.  I’ve been cog?i?tat?ing for some time on the inap?pro?pri?ate?ness of Truthi?ness.  I see the prob?lems: that things have become com?plex enough; so far beyond most peo?ple’s edu?ca?tion and expe?ri?ence that they are eas?i?ly duped by those who would manip?u?late their views.  The prob?lem is not that some peo?ple will attempt to manip?u?late oth?er peo?ple — that will always be true.  The prob?lem is that so few peo?ple in soci?ety as a whole have any qual?i?ty of horse?hock?ey fil?ter.

The stat?ed goal of pub?lic edu?ca?tion is to pre?pare each child for the life of a cit?i?zen.  In gen?er?al?ly avoid?ing class?es in civics, they have failed this task. The Huff?in?g?ton Post has a good primer on the sub?ject of pub?lic school pol?i?cy.

How did we get here, or more per?ti?nent?ly, how do we get out.  For good or for ill, large groups of politi?cians and vot?ers dis?trust sci?en?tists.  Has the dai?ly bar?rage of issues become to fierce for san?er heads pre?vail?ing in inves?ti?ga?tion and debate?  How did it come that argu?ing about right and wrong was not enough for some to invent new “facts” so as to be able to argue about what is truth?

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Rack of Lamb: Moroccan Spice

Moroccan Rack of Lamb on Plate

Moroc?can Rack of Lamb on Plate

A lit?tle cook?ing diver?sion: A Moroc?can Spiced Rack of Lamb.  I have some more stand-mix?er bak?ing to do, but my most recent attempt was lack-lus?ter.  More about that when I get it right.  This arti?cle is about our new year’s eve meal.  I want?ed to do some?thing fair?ly spe?cial withtout being too expen?sive.  As these “french cut” rack-of-lambs were on spe?cial, they fit the bill.

A stock attempt at lamb … rose?mary, maybe some dill, olive oil … it seemed below these won?der?ful cuts.  I spent some time talk?ing with my sis?ter about this and she google-texted me a recipe from some?where — I can’t exact?ly tell, but it sound?ed won?der?ful.  How?ev?er, it was new years eve and it want?ed pome?gran?ate juice.  I don’t keep that around.  Look?ing at the recipe, I decid?ed that the juice was used for it’s sweet?ness.  I decid?ed to sub?sti?tute “Water?loo Dark” … which is a Cana?di?an beer with a sweet almost can?dy-like taste.  I also had some “Mad Tom IPA” that I’ve been try?ing to find recipes to get rid of it in — but it has a decid?ed?ly bit?ter fin?ish, so I expect?ed it would?n’t be appro?pri?ate here.  While I don’t like Mad Tom, Musko?ka Cream Ale is the defin?i?tive Cream Ale for me. Con?tin?ue read?ing

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