So, I’ve been letting things go a bit. For instance, All my December pictures and January pictures are sharing the same folder, and my personal index of my blog pieces (which I keep around to reference prior entries) hasn’t been updated since December. Well, I got that updated, so it’s a step forward. The other bits of my current stress inventory are:
• Woke up in the afternoon. Usually I wake up late morning, but still morning. And I didn’t go to bed that late. Migraines? Depression? Dunno. Also, been passing out in the twilight and waking up at midnight, though usually stressing out over one thing or another.
• Trump news continues to be an obnoxious back-and-forth. Betsy DeVoss got confirmed as Secretary of Education even though she refused to answer questions and demonstrated she really doesn’t know a thing about the public education system. Also she hates public education and wants to change the system to charter and parochial schools so all the kids of the US are taught to worship Jesus. Not just Jesus, but her gun-toting, poor-hating (gay-and-women-hating) version of Jesus.
• Forclosure king and Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Steve Mnuchin is the Trump appointee for Secretary of the Treasury. Tom Price is the Georgia 6th district representative and sworn enemy of the Affordable Care Act and Planned Parenthood, and he’s been tapped by Trump for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Both of them lied regarding their financies to the Senate Finance Committee, so when the Republicans were going to vote them through anyway, the Democrats boycotted to deny the committee a proper quorum. But Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch suspended the rules and allowed a vote anyway, so both guys passed committee muster and now get voted on by the Senate.
• We’re careening towards a Constitutional crisis, as Trump continues to insist that any reporting not favorable to him is fake news and any official who doesn’t do exactly as he says is a traitor. Executive Orders are extrapolated from the provisions of the Constitution, so we’re not exactly clear where the checks by Congress and the courts affect EOs. Wikipedia suggests congress can pass laws to curb EOs or to prevent them from making specific declarations. Courts can also make a ruling, though Trump’s comments after the Travel Ban was temporarily suspended would be regarded as contempt if it came from anyone else.
If this situation doesn’t lead us a into a shakedown of the process to remove a President from office, Trump’s conflicts of interest might. Leaks from the White House seem to suggest Trump is getting more volatile day by day.
• I’ve been writing more stuff about The Division. Maybe not exactly about The Division, but what I’d do if I were to make a serious, real-world shoot-and-loot game, trying to incorporate as many of the Tom Clancy game hallmarks as I could, and if I didn’t have a big paranoid game publishing company like Ubisoft insisting on its policies and best practices.
This thought-experiment has drudged up at least three separate essays, some of which are partially written. I’ve been writing them thinking they were one or two essays, and realizing only too late that they really need to be separated out.
The Dark Zone
I freaked out over the Dark Zone in The Division. According to wikis and official Division literature online, the DZ is mostly about PvP (player-vs.-player) opportunities. The game promises swankier loot — if you can get it out. My early exploits, based on the false belief that rarer tiers of loot could only be attained in the DZ resulted in encounters in which all the non-player enemies completely outleveled me and killed me in one shot.
Also, the stealth system sucks. Much the way that enemy AI has to be taught to miss with ranged weapons, the AI also has to be taught to be blind and deaf, and then how to behave once perceptive contact with the target (e.g. the player) is lost. Do they search around a bit like an underpaid security guard? Do they go back to their beat like a fighter escort? Do they just stand there and resume eating grass like a bull at pasture? I should write an essay on this!
Meanwhile back in the DZ, overpowered baddies had a nasty habit of walking over to my position as if I wasn’t there and waiting… and waiting… and waiting… until I popped up (One-shot. Dead.) …or until the game timed out and ejected me from the server.
(Did I mention the game requires a persistent online connection? The love by Ubi of its players is exuberant.)
With time, I learned that the Dark Zone sub-zones were poorly labelled. I got myself to the easy zone (monsters leveled 10-12) and toodled about, ambushing mooks and getting my DZ level (separate from my regular level) to 7ish.
The high point of the experience was being picked up by some fellow players and then being invited into a squad. The low point was having a rogue agent (that is another player, this time hostile) stop the evacuation of our loot. The rogue was several levels above us, quickly fragged the entire squad and took our stuff. Because, if you’re going to shoot other players, it makes sense to totally outclass them.
That last bit reminded me how much I hate PvP, but the loot I had gathered wasn’t all that great. I’m skeptical about the Dark Zone loot being better or exceptional, and I’m content to go back to regular non-DZ playing, but may try it again with fellow Division buddies.
Also, players can’t trade stuff with other players. Well, they can, but only stuff picked up while playing together. They game is really stingy in weird ways. I really do miss the Borderlands bit of farming the snot out of the game, and giving the loot to my buddies like so much Valentines Day candy. This scratched that social / trading itch that I enjoyed from my MtG addiction, years ago.