Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

I first heard of Brothers (they have a nice parallax site by the way) when I was searching for games for my new iPad Pro. With such a huuuuuge iPad I figured it would be a waste not to spend a bit on the nice graphically-impressive games. There was even a sale on it in the App Store recently, but Jack convinced me to buy it for the PS4 instead because the controls probably wouldn’t be as good on iPad – in the screenshots you can even see that they are on-screen “virtual joysticks” that end up blocking the game. The game’s been out a few years, but only came to PS4 and iOS this year.

The game is about two brothers going to get something that will somehow heal their sick dad, and each brother is controlled separately with L2/R2 and the two analog sticks. There are certain things only one brother can do – the older one is stronger, the younger one can fit through smaller spaces, etc.

I kind of had trouble getting the two brothers to walk together, but it may just be because I suck at controlling them. I kept forgetting which stick controlled which brother. In cases where they would fall off a cliff if I forgot which one was L2, I had to stop and think very carefully before I did anything. I ended up getting really tense and gripping the controller really tightly, trying to make sure I didn’t kill anyone.

They don’t speak a real language, just a gibberish language. To be honest, I had no idea what we were looking for throughout the majority of the game (actually until we got to it) – the older brother would show people a scroll of what he was looking for, but I never got to see the scroll. Maybe there was some visual clue near the beginning that I just totally missed.

It was pretty interesting, and I finished it in two plays – it was very short. The first play was relatively normal, just two boys on an adventure and a troll or two, but in the second play things started getting weird and sort of creepy – I don’t like creepy things!

I’ll use spoiler tags for this part just in case.

Spoilers here!

The second play, I started off where the wolves come after you and started seeing the dead bodies hanging from the trees. I was actually surprised that nothing jumped out at me in the graveyard. I really didn’t like the giant battlefield though – giant bloody dead… well… giants, everywhere with arrows sticking out of them. I hated pushing on the arrows stuck in their bodies to move them out of the way, especially when one of them dropped an arm holding an axe that just chopped the leg off the dead body. Why was that necessary? What does that add to the game??? Nothing even wakes up and attacks you like I kept expecting. Freaky spider lady grossed me out too.

There were parts that just made no sense to me – what was that where the younger brother was hallucinating about the giant woman? What exactly was going on there? It didn’t seem to matter to any of the storyline later.

I actually enjoyed the end, not enjoying that the older brother died but enjoying that a game allowed an ending that wasn’t an ideal happy ending. It was kind of intense and unexpected that they actually have you control the younger brother dragging the older brother into the grave he dug, and you actually go through the motions of pushing the dirt over him to bury him.

Unfortunately our experience was slightly ruined because there seemed to be some sort of bug – laying on the floor near the dead brother was the black shape of what looked like a dead bird. In fact it was right next to the grave, so it was strange to drag the brother through this random black shadow you can’t interact with.

When the younger brother reaches back home and needs to cross the water, I actually thought it was a bug that he wasn’t doing anything when I used his usual R2 button. It was a nice touch that you actually have to use the older brother’s button, like he’s there helping you in spirit – I thought there would be a ghost version of him like the ghost mother.

Overall it was a pretty good game, apart from the random creepy stuff that didn’t seem to add anything to the game.

RIP Patron Warrior

Your 80% win rate vs Secret Paladin will be missed.

Patron Warrior is such an amazing deck. Not because of it’s strength, but due to the incredible challenge required to pilot it correctly. This deck is a delicate balancing act between playing your minions, saving resources for the combo, and knowing when to pull the trigger. I spent a ton of time watching pros play Patron to learn the fundamentals. I made the best spreadsheet ever of damage from hand for all combinations of Frothings, Patrons, Whirlwinds, and Inner Rage. Despite all this I constantly misplayed, miscounted lethal, and utterly threw away won games. The first time I was at rank one, five stars I executed my combo wrong, wasted 1 point of damage and lost the game with my opponent at 1 health. After 250 games of Patron I’m still not 100% confidant of the best cards to mulligan for in all match ups.

It’s very depressing that Blizzard is removing such an intricate, complex deck from the game. It’s one of the first decks that truly felt heavily skill based and not just an RNG fest. There are so many other ways to lower the power level of the deck while keeping the core game play the same. Unfortunately, they took the lazy approach and just killed it in the name of “future design space”. It’s really too bad.

Legendary

Need to stroke my e-peen.

Decklist

My Learnings

  1. Dr. Boom is imbalanced. Whether you slam him on turn 7, innervate him on turn 5, or coin-innervate-innervate him on turn 2, he is always the correct play.
  2. Sludge Belcher is not that good anymore. A turn 4 Goblin Blastmage makes a turn 5 Sludge Belcher feel like shit. Since he wasn’t helping me in the aggro matchup and he’s pretty terrible in the control matchup, I just swapped him out for Azure Drakes.
  3. BGH is now mandatory in every deck because of #1.
  4. I won ~9 straight games from rank two to Legend. I now know how Firebat felt like in the World Championship finals. Wild Growth + Innervate in every opening hand is pretty good.

Legendary Hearthstone

I finally hit legend rank.

Legend

The Deck

Deck

I grinded to 5 using miracle rogue and a weird reincarnate shaman deck. Then Mad Scientist came out and everyone started playing Hunter. At this point, I switched to priest because I had the right legendary cards and it seemed broken with Dark Cultist. It started as a cookie cutter, Amaz style priest deck but it still kept losing to hunters. For a brief period, I experimented with a weird Ancient Watcher/Silence deck. It showed some promise but was just too weak to Buzzard/Unleash the Hounds. I fluctuated between rank 2 and rank 4 for about a week. By the end, I got so frustrated that I basically said fuck it and put in 2x Acidic Swamp Ooze and 1x Shadow Madness solely to counter Hunter.

The moment I did that, my win rate shot up. I managed to get from middle of rank 3 to 5 star rank 1 in just one day. It then took me 5 attempts at 5 star rank 1 to break into legendary. Overall it took around 80 wins with priest, which put me at about a 60% win rate. However, this included about 40 games where I stalled out at rank 3-4, so I measure the current variation is probably 65-70%.

The Meta

With a hunter heavy meta, everyone plays either Hunter or the counter to Hunter (currently Control Warrior). So as long as you can break even with one of those classes while winning the other, you will surely but slowly climb. The stupid thing is that my original intention of including Ooze was to hard counter Hunter. Even with two copies of Ooze I still barely maintained a 50% win rate against them. What ended up happening was that I basically won every game I played against Warrior. Paladins were even easier, as Ooze > Truesilver Champion. Priest is already pretty strong against Zoo and nobody plays mage. Unfortunately, I lost every game I played against Reincarnate Shaman and Miracle Rogue. I don’t feel like those match ups are unusually bad for me I just couldn’t seem to draw well against them.

Deck Tech

The core of the deck is pretty similar to any standard Priest deck.

2x Acidic Swamp Ooze
Should be obvious but Ooze counters weapons.

1x Mind Control
I think playing 1x Mind Control is 100% correct when laddering. The reason I think this is that it’s literally an “I win” card whenever you are matched against another control deck that doesn’t play it. Yes, 10 mana is expensive, it’s a terrible card to draw early, and it’s useless against super aggro decks even if you survive to 10 mana. However, most of the time 1 dead card in hand isn’t going to lose you the game. Losing 1 game against an aggro because you got Mind Control instead of a Holy Nova sucks, but winning 5 matches because you Mind Control the Warrior’s Alexstraza or Ragnaros is worth it.

1x Shadow Madness
I was really impressed with the utility of this card. It’s fantastic against aggro as it can constantly trade 2 for 1 and every now and then you get the dream scenario. In the less than impressive case it kills one of their guys and denies a deathrattle.

Matchups

Vs Hunter
Mulligan for early game plays like Ooze, Dark Cultist, and Wild Pyromancer. Shadow Madness and Holy Smite are best if you can get lucky. Never have more than two creatures in play once the Hunter gets 5 mana to play around Buzzard/Unleash. When turn 6 or 7 comes around, you need to kill Highmane as soon as it drops, with Holy Fire, SW:Death, or just running your guys in. If he plays another one after you clear the first, you’re probably dead.

Something I always do is play Northshire Cleric on turn 1. This might just be incorrect but over time I felt it was right. It works because it often denies early Webspinner and Haunted Creeper. It’s very important to do this, as it keeps the board clear of beasts for Houndmaster. It sometimes backfires and just dies for free. However, I tend to want to stall out Hunters and Northshire Cleric doesn’t matter too much.

The overall goal is to just maintain board control with 2 units on the board while stalling till turn 10. Then once it gets to that stage, hope you can Mind Control a Highmane.

Vs Warrior
Mulligan for early game plays like Ooze and Dark Cultist. Always throw away Northshire Cleric and never play it early. Dark Cultist is a great card because it tanks War Axe like a champ. Cabal Shadow Priest is an all star in this matchup as it steals Acolyte of Pain and Armorsmith for super value. Overall, this matchup is incredibly easy since Ooze denies their weapons and you can normally seize board control. This forces the Warrior to waste Shield Slam and Execute on your 3-5 drops, leaving your legendaries to get major value. If things don’t work out early, you always have Mind Control to steal their 9 drops and basically win any game

Vs Priest
Mulligan for Injured Blademaster and Dark Cultist. If you get ahead on board, it’s hard for the other Priest to regain control without committing one of their legendaries. The goal of this matchup is to make the opponent use their legendaries or Mind Control 1 turn before you do. This deck isn’t that greedy (e.g. I only play 2 Legendaries + Mind Control. I went up against people playing 4-5 Legendaries + Mind Control) so sometimes you will just lose. However, most Priests run the standard Sylvannas + Ragnaros and you will almost always beat those.

Vs Paladin
Mulligan for early drops like Ooze, Dark Cultist, and Blademaster. Northshire Cleric turn 1 is actually OK since it denies their hero power until turn 4 when they Truesilver. As I mentioned earlier, Ooze wins this matchup straight up for you. Just don’t commit too much to the board and die to a massive Equality/Consecrate. Keep 2-3 units max on the board and keep them healed up. Save Mind Control for Tirion.

Vs Shaman
Reincarnate on Cairne or Sylvannas, 2x hex and Earth Shock silence is probably too much for you to handle. Cabal Shadow Priest is probably good to deal with their deathrattles. I only played Shaman twice the entire time so I don’t have much insight into this matchup.

Vs Rogue
Mulligan for Loatheb and low drops to apply pressure or protect against aggro. Blademaster/Circle of Healing is incredibly strong, as they have to waste Sap or 2-3 cards just to remove it. Save Ooze for deadly poison or the 3/5 weapon. Hold onto Sludge Belcher until the last possible minute so you can deny the Leeroy combo and at minimum force them to Sap it first, thus reducing the total combo damage.

Vs Warlock
Assume Zoo and mulligan for 2 and 3 drops. Shadow Madness single handedly wins games here if you can grab a deathrattle guy. This deck has a lot of low cost creatures that can trade with Zoo early until your AOE board clear comes online, so it’s not the worst matchup. You will lose if they curve out, but that’s pretty much how Zoo works.

Vs Mage
I only played against two secret Mages but from what I could gather, you treat it like another aggro deck. Mulligan for low drops and try to wrestle away board control. Bait out Counterspell with low mana cost spells like HW:Shield or Circle of Healing. Not much insight here.

Vs Druid
Cabal Shadow Priest gets serious value here, as Harvest Golems and the Keeper of the Grove are great to steal. Ditto for Shadow Madness. Save your Northshires for midgame to try and draw multiple cards.

Goodbye, Jokulhaups

A few weeks ago we had to put one of our cats, Jokulhaups, down.  He was only 3 years old, but he had developed FIP.  From what we understand through the vet and some Googling, there is a common virus that many cats get when they’re young, but all it really does is give them some diarrhea before they get over it.  However, in some cats, it then mutates into FIP, and there is no known cure for FIP at this time.  Cats usually affected by FIP are on the young end or the old end, and the vet said Jokulhaups was on the upper edge of the young end that get it.

After we put him down we had him cremated, and we got him back yesterday.  They put him in a nice wooden box and printed a shiny gold sticker with his name on it – unfortunately it was spelled wrong, but it’s on the back, and I’m considering ordering a plaque for the front.  We put the Jokulhaups Magic the Gathering card (which he was named after) next to him.

Jokulhaups was such a smart and determined kitty.  We got him along with Dragon in 2011, and from the beginning he was finding ways to rebel against us.  When we first got them we kept them shut in our bathroom so they could become more comfortable before we released them into the apartment.  Jokulhaups was always eager to explore more and kept trying to escape the bathroom, so soon we decided to expand their area.  It’s a bit hard to explain, but basically across from the bathroom door was the door to our bedroom.  Standing at the bathroom door looking at the bedroom door, there was a wall to the right, then a sort of open frame to the left that led to the rest of the apartment.  What we decided to do was take a folding table and lean it on its side against the open frame, so that the cats could travel from the bathroom to the bedroom but couldn’t get to the rest of the apartment.  It was at a height where we could just barely swing our legs over it to get back and forth when we needed to.  Jokulhaups decided that wasn’t enough – the tiny 2-month-old kitten jumped high enough to just jump over the table!  No matter how many times we put him back, he would just jump back over.  At that point we just gave up and let them explore the entire apartment.

Jokulhaups had crazy energy and loved to play.  He also got into everything, though.  He chewed through a laptop cable once, and he would chew any paper or pens he found, so we learned to keep everything shut away.  That wasn’t quite enough though – he learned to open the drawers and cabinets in our desks and in the kitchen.  We ended up velcroing them shut, but he was so strong that sometimes he was still able to pull them open, as they all had handles.  It was pretty amazing to watch – the kitchen cabinets had vertical bar handles, so he would just stand, place his left paw against the left cabinet door for stability, and use his right paw to pull on the handle just like a human.

At our second apartment, he was also able to open the kitchen cabinets – these cabinets were the kind with a little indentation at the bottom for you to pull with your fingers, and he figured those out, so we would often come home to random cabinets open.  We were able to reorganize to keep important things where he couldn’t reach though, so we left them.  At this apartment we discovered another amazing thing he could do – when we first moved to this one, we kept them in the bedroom only, to make it easier for us to unpack outside.  Again, this was not good enough for Jokulhaups.  He apparently watched us enough to figure out how to open doors – the doors at this apartment were light and the hinges were loose, so all he had to do was pull down on the handle and he was out.  It was pretty scary the first time we were in the living room and all of a sudden heard the bedroom door opening.  We ended up having to keep the bedroom door locked until we were ready to let them roam free.

As I mentioned before, the doors at this second apartment had loose hinges – the bathroom door would naturally swing almost shut.  Opposite from Jokulhaups, Dragon decided it was fun to shut doors, so she would go into the bathroom and lean a bit on the door so that it would shut completely.  The first time she did this, I watched Jokulhaups open the door for her again from the outside.  However, he wouldn’t open it for her after that all the times she decided it was fun, so after coming home to her shut in the bathroom a few times, we just had to get a door stop to keep her from shutting herself in.

When we got our condo, we actually decided our kitchen cabinet styles based on Jokulhaups – what would be the most difficult for him to open?  We settled on flat cabinets with a round knob.  He couldn’t possibly open those, right?  …Wrong.  We once again came home to random open cabinets.  Jack told me he witnessed him open one once – he actually wrapped his little paw around the round knob!  How did he know to do that?!  We also came home to some open closet doors a few times, but I guess they were too boring for him, as he eventually stopped opening them.

Jokulhaups grew up to be a very large healthy kitty, ending up around 16 pounds as a 3-year-old.  Dragon is only around 9 pounds.  When we first got them Jokulhaups would be pretty aggressive, and would win any play-fights.  Over time though it seemed that he would let her win – we would watch as he would lay on his back with his belly wide open, and allow Dragon to just pounce at him.  He loved to play and didn’t use his weight as an advantage.  He was also so very friendly – a friend brought her cat over once and that cat and Dragon were terrified, but he just wanted to play!  He excitedly went right up to that cat to investigate, and tried to play.  We also brought them over to another friend’s place that had two cats, and Dragon and those cats were terrified, but Jokulhaups just kind of took the entire apartment over, investigating everything.  He loved to say hello whenever anyone would come over.

When we moved to our condo in January, we noticed that he became a little more reserved – we figured he was growing up and maturing.  We no longer needed to keep our pens and papers hidden away, and he did not open the cabinets as often as at the last apartment.  However, a few months after that we noticed that he slowly stopped eating.  We couldn’t figure out why, as we didn’t change anything around that time, but after a while he started eating again, so we didn’t think much of it after that.  A few months later we noticed that he seemed to be losing his balance.  When he was on the couch, he was very unsteady, and he quickly got worse – he didn’t have the strength to jump up onto the couch when he wanted to snuggle, and would fall back down and give up.  We took him to the vet and they could see he was unsteady and that he had lost 6 pounds, but couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with him, so they took some blood for testing and let us know they would get back to us.

When they did get back to us, we found out that he had FIP.  It was uncertain how long he had.  At the vet appointment they had injected him with some fluids, and we got some liquid medicine to give him that would make him a bit more comfortable, but not cure him.  He wasn’t happy with the medicine though; the first day he took it fine, but the next few days after that he would throw up the morning dosage.  We went back to the vet and they gave him some long-term antibiotic shots (long-term meaning a few weeks) so we could stop giving him the liquid medicine.  They also showed us how to inject fluids into him, so that if the fluids helped and he felt better, we could give him fluids weekly on our own.  It kind of freaked me out – I don’t do well with needles, and the fluids also cause a hump under his skin when injected that also freaked me out, so I couldn’t really watch and Jack had to take the responsibility of learning how to do it.

The shots and fluids seemed to help him a bit – he was much more awake and aware, and was hungrily eating the liquidy food they gave us for him (he was too weak to eat the chunky food we usually give them, so we mixed the liquidy food with some water, heated it in the microwave, and spoon-fed it to him multiple times a day).  However he was still very weak.  We had to go out of town for a wedding and had my brother watch the cats, but by the time we came back he could no longer stand.  We found him laying under the couch in our second bedroom, and we didn’t want to disturb him so we didn’t move him, but we became very concerned that night.  Every night since we’ve had the cats they always join us for bed – Dragon always sleeps on my pillow and eventually migrates to snuggle with Jack, while Jokulhaups would often sleep on different spots on the bed.  Even if he didn’t sleep on the bed, he would always be in the room.  However that night he did not join us, and was still in the exact same position under the couch the next day.  It seemed that his legs were slowly becoming paralyzed; his little feet got colder and colder.

At that point we knew we didn’t have much time left.  He could not get up to eat or go to the bathroom.  We put a towel under him, and spent the next few nights next to him on an air mattress in that second bedroom.  He’s always squeaked rather than meowed, and whenever he squeaked at us we would lay him in the litter box in case he needed to pee.  During the day, the sun shines directly into that room, so we placed him in front of the window so he could enjoy it while we were at work.

The day before we were scheduled to put him down, we bought some rattly mice.  They have always been his favorite toy, but he would always lose them under things when he played with them.  I figured I would give him one more.  However, I couldn’t get just one, in case Dragon took it from him because she didn’t have one.  So, we gave Dragon one of them outside in the living room where he couldn’t see, hoping that it would make him less upset that he couldn’t play.  We gave him his in the second bedroom – I thought that it would make him feel better but it was so heart-breaking.  He immediately grabbed it in this mouth and tried with all his strength to get up and play with it.  When he couldn’t, it just dropped it and lay there.

The day of, we took the day off work to spend time with him in the sunny second bedroom.  Dragon joined us, and we spent a lazy family day in the sun.  When we put him down, they let us leave that rattly mouse with him.

We’ve tried to keep an eye on Dragon since then to make sure she is okay.  Thinking back on it, she did become very clingy a little while before Jokulhaups got really bad, perhaps because he stopped playing with her.  She started following our schedule very closely – when we went to get ready for bed, she would follow us and sit on the edge of the tub waiting.  Then, once we were done, she would follow us to bed and fall asleep with us as usual.  She was always there when we woke up – and she still does all that now.  She was never that close with Jokulhaups; the very few times I caught them snuggling, I could tell it was Jokulhaups that snuggled up with her, and she never really paid much attention to him even at the very end, other than some play-fighting.  She seems okay now, but I think she still misses him, and she had never been home alone before that day.  Now she is all alone by herself all day when we are at work.  After a few more months, I think we may get another kitty to keep her company.

This got really really long, but I wanted to remember Jokulhaups.  Goodbye, Jokulhaups – we love you.

Wedding site part 1: Getting started

Now that we have a date and venue, I can start really working on our wedding site!

As of now there’s still nothing on it, just some piggies and a coming soon message.  However, we’ve decided to do a one-page site with fancy parallax effects.  I’ve never done anything like that before, so this will be fun.  The goal is to have it done by August 15th, so it will be ready when we send save the dates the next week.  (Assumed in that goal is that we’ll have save the dates designed and printed by then – we’ll see…)

I found some pretty neat one-page parallax wedding sites as inspiration:

  • Judy and Z – I like the way the navigation bar works in this one.  It starts at the bottom of the main section, then sticks to the top as you scroll down.  It also changes the color of the link to the section you’re currently looking at, so you know where you are.  Something I’m kind of iffy about is that in some sections, you have to click something to see more – if it’s one big page, I’d rather it’s consistently one big page you can scroll smoothly through, without needing to stop to get information.  I am going to do that for a photo section though – although it will at least give you a preview of some photos, and you can interact if you want to see more.  In the case of the Judy and Z site, there is no information in, for example, the “About Us” section unless you click.
  • Casper en Danel – I can’t read anything in this one, but I thought the the timeline section was neat, with the text and photos coming in from the sides as you scroll.  I feel there’s a little too much movement though; it takes half of my screen height for the text to finish moving from the edge of the screen to its final position, so my eyes have to move a lot to try to read.
  • Vince and Mars – This one is cute!  I like the parallax clouds/stars and change with your mouse.  I also like the cute header with the navigation under it; however once you scroll it kind of gets in the way.  On my screen, that header takes up half the height, so as I scroll I can only use the other half to see the content.  I think I would like to do something like this with a cute header and navigation underneath, except that instead of having the entire header + navigation stick to the top, only have the header stick to the top – kind of like the first site above (Judy and Z).
  • Julia and Artem – This one is also so cute!  I love the hot air balloon idea, and that it lands when you get to the bottom.  This one, like the Casper en Danel site, also has text fly in from the side when you scroll.  However, it’s much easier to read because when it comes in, it very quickly reaches its final destination while it’s still near the bottom of my screen, so my eyes don’t need to move as far (only up and down!).  I just also love that at the bottom, it says “Design by the bride, programming by the groom”.
  • Helen and Josh – So unique!  It’s kind of the opposite of the hot air balloon landing – you start at the base of a tree, and scroll up to “climb” it.  This one doesn’t seem as practical though, as it doesn’t have any actual wedding information.
  • Jess and Russ – The text was kind of small and hard to read, but I really like the keyboard and moves into place as you scroll.  I also like the letter that slides out of the envelope at the bottom for guests to enter and RSVP.  Something about the art made it a little creepy though…

So now we’re sketching out ideas of what we want things to look like, and I’m also putting together a skeleton.  I’m going to keep everything on GitHub; I’m also going to take this opportunity to try using watson (apparently not capitalized)!  I found it a while ago and wanted to try it out but wasn’t working on any personal projects – you can add tags to your code, and it will pull them out and even add them as issues on GitHub!  I had a bunch of issues trying to get it working – I tried both the ruby and perl versions, and had a bunch of missing dependencies, things that weren’t high enough version, etc.  I finally got it to work though, and am trying it out now.

It’s kind of irritating for HTML because it takes the ending “–>” as part of the description of the tag.  It does specifically list that it supports HTML though, so maybe I’m just doing something wrong?  I’m also having trouble getting it to connect to GitHub, hopefully I can get that sorted out soon.

…and never mind.  Apparently the version I installed as a RubyGem was not the latest version.  Grabbed the latest version from GitHub and everything is awesome now.  I realized it when I tried to set my own tag format as described on GitHub, but my version said it was an unknown setting.  It successfully added my 4 todos to GitHub as issues!  Hooray!  This is neat.

watson

watson

Bonus: In the course of looking up parallax examples, I found Flat vs Realism.  I don’t know what to feel about it.

We’re still alive!!!

BaconFriedRice has been neglected for a long time.  We’re still using this ugly theme I randomly picked a long time ago, even though I was working on making one over a year ago… Jack hasn’t posted about games or anime, and I haven’t posted about books or worked on anything in my spare time like I used to.

Biggest reason – we have no spare time!  Work is awesome, but we put a lot into it and it takes up almost all of our time.  When I’m free on the weekends I’d rather just sit around doing nothing than work on anything.  I’ve sadly even dropped the things I was doing while I had nothing to do at my previous job – I used to read books all the time, and now my reading has slowed so much that it took me over a year to finish reading Crowdsourcing (don’t even ask when the post about it will be!).  I’ve only finished two other books since then (I Am Jackie Chan and Nine Algorithms That Changed The Future), and I never learn – I start new books without finishing my current ones, and still keep buying more!  One day I’ll get through all the books I have… and one day I’ll post about them all… in the meantime, I’m still keeping track of my books on my Books Trello.

I’ve also stopped working on all the projects I had been working on… and learning the new languages… I have nothing made with Node.js, haven’t even finished one language in Seven Languages in Seven Weeks, have not finished the BaconFriedRice redesign (started May 2012!), stopped playing around with random parallax things… just stopped learning stuff on my own like I used to.  I’m sad and I want to keep working on stuff, but I’m just so tired when I get free time now :(  I need to somehow motivate myself to do things again.

In other random life news… My hair has purple highlights, we are buying a condo that will be completely constructed around December/January… and that’s about it.  My life is boring.  Hopefully you’ll see a post about a book or a project soon.

Fate/Zero

Allison and I watch a lot of television shows while eating. As we started to run out of “real” TV shows to watch, I started to watch Anime and Allison didn’t seem to mind. This means I’ve actually gotten the time to watch anime from 2012 while simultaneously fulfilling my “spend time with Allison” daily quota.

http://i.imgur.com/lCmFfVQ.jpg

Fate/Zero is supposed to be the best anime of 2012, according to several web sources and a random candidate I interviewed at work. When it first came out I was very hesitant to watch it as it’s a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, an anime I consider to be awful. However, having heard all the great reviews, I finally watched it and was very pleased by the results.

So the story is essentially the same as the original, 7 masters summon heroic spirts of the past to fight to the death over the Holy Grail, an object that can supposedly grant wishes. The only difference is that it’s executed ten times better. The animation is top notch, with everything looking crisp and detailed. There were some fantastic and memorable scenes, like the fight between Emiya and Kotomine and of course all the Noble Phantasms.

The biggest improvement over the original anime was just how much more serious everyone was about the entire ordeal. The #1 thing in the original anime that pissed me off was that every master was essentially a random highscool kid or some other irrelevant character. In Fate/Zero, most of the masters are adult mages who have trained for years to prepare for this event. I cannot stress how much of a difference this makes in the overall feeling of the anime. It adds so much impact to the motivation and tone of the story, compared to a bunch of kids that randomly got dragged into a fight. Fate/Stay Night would never have serial murdering of small children but an atrocity like that completely fits the tone and motivation of the characters in Fate/Zero. And yes, there are a lot of little kids getting killed in this. It sounds awful but it fits and I’m glad they didn’t shy away from something like that simply because it’s too shocking.

The main characters are very well developed, and Emiya Kiritsugu has a fantastic back story and personality. I really liked the direction they took with the main character, as he would frequently shock you with his brutality, yet it would always fall into his “ends justify the means” philosophy. What was really fun was looking at the wiki and reading about the real-life characters that the heroic spirits were based off of. I was surprised how much actual history went into recreating the personalities and motivations of the heroic spirits.

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Unfortunately, Fate/Zero is still plagued by the annoying fact that it has to be 25 episodes. Thus, we get to see people employ the “teleport away before I lose so that we can drag the fight on to another episode.” There are probably 3-4 times when two people decide to not finish the fight because it’s not honorable, it’s unfair, or they’re just tired.

Regardless, I was very pleased with Fate/Zero overall. The fantastic action and engaging story make up for the anime dragging it’s feet. It’s definitely a must watch and one of the best animes I’ve seen in the last few years.