I've been playing Fallout 4. I used to refer to Fallout 3 as "Bethesda's Fallout" but at this point there have been more Bethesda Fallout games than there were Black Isle Fallout games.

I'm not planning to rehash what I've said about Fallout 3 here as my opinion on that applies just as much to Fallout 4. The only thing I'm currently irked about is the vaults.

When I played Fallout 2 the discovery that the vaults were shady was disturbing. It was a brilliant revelation. These days it's such common knowledge that it's not even addressed in-game. My character, "the sole survivor", doesn't even question it. In fact she has the option to say that Vault-Tec is "evil". Arguably she'd be right but based on what?

That is to say I've encountered their work in previous games - she hasn't. She was put in a vault and frozen. It kept her safe from the apocalypse, pretty much as advertised. Nothing particularly shady happened to her aside from being cryogenically preserved - she wasn't part of any behavioural experiments or anything like that. The fate of her husband and infant son were nothing to do with Vault-Tec as far as she knows either.

So when playing the Fallout 4 DLC why does she just unquestionably assume that experimenting on people is something Vault-Tec do? Why does the overseer just blurt this out?

It's dumb and pretty much Bethesda's Fallout to a T.

Perhaps it'll turn out to be a daft set of decisions but I'm going to risk being smug in advance. Hold my text editor, lads.

I'm working on a game. As with most things of this nature it started off as something small and got wildly out of control. It's written in Sugarcube and TWINE - that is to say it's a text-based adventure played in a browser and distributed either as just an HTML file or as an archive with resources.

Personally I'm not a fan of having to package up a load of resources. Not a fan. Also when I started work on it (and perhaps still now) images that were outside the dev environment wouldn't be displayed in the preview functionality.

I opted instead to embed the files as Base64 strings. Basically taking the file data and turning it into text that a browser is happy to decode. I use this method to embed images, sounds, and text.

Of course the immediate reaction from various people I asked when implementing this was "That's probably a bad idea" and comments about bloating a browser and the like. Doing this willy-nilly would absolutely risk that but this is me we're talking about. At this stage I'm old compared to lots of the young folks creating games. I grew up in the age of dial-up, tiny hard disks, and similar limitations. If there's one thing I know it's about compressing files!

The images I'm using are mostly run through Geometrize before being resized and squashed into tiny JPGs. They're also used sparingly. I think there's two images of that kind in the game so far.

The others are PNG-8 files with very limited colour counts to keep their file sizes as low as possible without becoming hideous.

Similarly there's sound in my game. I considered using Opus for audio but Safari doesn't currently support it natively. Everyone else has got their shit together (even Microsoft's Edge browser supports it, for gods' sakes) but that's a fairly big chunk of users and the saving isn't that great. I mean, percentage wise it's excellent - about a 30% reduction in filesize - but that's not really worth the trade off when that's 3592 bytes vs. 5184 bytes. That's the largest sound file in the game.

The largest image is much larger but that's because it's a struggle to compress images with transparency in this day and age because it would seem different vendors can't agree so we're still stuck using JPEG and PNG. As a result in order to actually be supported I've got an image that weighs in at 123 KB.

Fonts are where things get properly heavy

  • 21 KB - Trash Hand Regular
  • 63 KB - Patrick Hand SC
  • 27 KB - Black Biro
  • 21 KB - Rokkitt
132 KB. Ouch. Still - worth it.

So how big is the game? Currently it's 1404 KB. It'd fit on a floppy disk. Here's the breakdown:

  • 9 KB of sound
  • 132 KB of fonts
  • 163 KB of images
  • 1099 KB of text
I think it'll be fine this way.

When is it even set?

07 March 2018

On the plane back from New Zealand I watched a few things but one stood out to me. I watched it from beginning to end and don't recall enjoying a single moment of it. I endured in the hope that there would be a reveal of some description; that in some way the pieces would fall into place and make the whole mess make sense.

I'm still baffled.

It's like the polar opposite of the TV show We Are Klang. That's hilarious, idiotic, and best described as a kid's TV show for adults. Every time I watch it I wonder how they managed to convince anyone to fund it but love that they did.

Its budget wasn't $20 million (2007) though.

This thing has a running time of 123 minutes, or about $16,000 per minute, and in my mind is best described by Moe from The Simpsons.

The thing in question is Synecdoche, New York, in which we follow Caden Cotard, a theatre director of no discernible charisma. He has a wife and a daughter and is generally miserable. Actually that pretty much describes the state of everyone in the film. No one is happy, no one ever becomes happy. The amount of misery they endure varies but basically the film is a study in people having depressing lives as inexplicable weirdness happens around them.

A character buys a house that's on fire. It remains on fire for the entire film. This is never explained and isn't a hallucination. Okay then. Po-mo.

Caden receives a MacArthur Fellowship which would, in theory, provide him with $500,000 over the course of five years. Or $25,000 per quarter. In the film this funding is open-ended and vastly in excess of that.

To try to do something with his life he tries to put on a play set in a copy of New York, in a pocket dimension. It's supposed to be a warehouse but the size makes no sense whatsoever. Yay, postmodernism.

He then spends the rest of his life feebly trying to create something in this warehouse with a small town's worth of actors with no real direction, massive scope creep, and a few different relationships.

That first wife leaves him taking his daughter with her. Said daughter grows up and has a life that could be described as equal parts Bohemian and harrowing. Caden doesn't appear to be able to understand how time works and so is constantly baffled by how she's now an adult. I don't mean in a "they grow up so fast" way - no, I mean in a very literal sense. He thinks she's still four after having been gone for six years. Oh and as a dying adult she thinks he's gay. Apparently she never actually looked into his life despite clearly being traumatised by what she was told about him. The scenes with her are uncomfortable, depressing, and ultimately nonsensical.

His other daughter from his second marriage takes no part in the narrative except to be referred to by the wrong name a couple of times when talking about his first daughter.

Oh and a mysterious illness is slowly killing him in annoying but mundane ways. I suppose this is supposed to signify decay and spiralling out of control in various ways but at this stage it's hard to really know what, if anything, this film is trying to say. In that respect it's a metaphor for itself, I guess.

Here's a trailer that makes it seem like there's anything like a coherent narrative:

Did I mention that eventually he swaps places with the actress he's hired to play a cleaner and she starts running the show? Yeah, so that happens.

I'd sum it up as "Here's a bunch of stuff that happens. You'll find it a bit emotionally disturbing. Don't expect resolution because there's none coming."

I'm mostly writing this to get this irritation out of my head and onto digital paper. It's pretentious guff that is most certainly not "extremely funny". It has nothing to say, just like the play Caden attempts, and much like that ultimately collapses under its own weight.