Respirator with CO2 monitor

The colors change to reflect the CO2 level, and the skull gets sad. andrewshumate:

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Rez and Rezlikes

Having taken some time to think about it (20 years) I can say with some confidence that Rez is my favorite video game.

After my recent PS3 shenanigans a friend had mercy on me and gave me their old PS4, which means that I was finally able to play the upscaled Rez Infinite for the first time. When it comes to gaming, I am nothing if not behind the times. I also picked up the Rez Infinite vinyl soundtrack, which includes two picturedisc LPs, a 7", and a gigantic coffee table book about the making of the game. It is a gorgeous artifact! And the game-development backstory is really interesting. A lot of time and love went into this game.

The look of Rez is just the most cyberpunk thing in the world, and I don't mean that in the "it's got some neon, and maybe a dork in a leather jacket" sense, but in the original Neuromancer phrasing: "lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data like city lights, receding". Objects have their own ghostly rules and often lack physicality. And of course there's the synesthesia aspect of the design: the music is a part of the game, and not in a DDR "you have to tap along with the song" way. The controller vibration is a separate audio channel. It's not testing you on your rhythm; you play the game to the beat not because you lose if you don't, but because it makes sense that way. An aspect of playing this game is that you are also sitting down to bop along to a favorite album.

Rez Infinite is the same game as Rez, but re-rendered in HD and with some slight graphical tweaks, and it includes one new level, Area X, which is absolutely gorgeous. Area X has no polygons, only self-illuminating particle systems. But it is unfortunately brief, and was clearly a pitch for "please let us make this game" that I presume went nowhere.

Anyway, I played the whole thing through, unlocked literally every secret level (there's some weird shit in there) and having sucked the marrow from that game, moved on to the sort-of sequel, Child of Eden. There was no PS4 version of Child of Eden, so that meant going back down to PS3.

The Child of Eden graphics lean more toward the "nature" levels of Rez than the "cyber" levels. The wireframe sandworms are back, but you're also de-lousing space-whales that, once properly pollinated, bloom into ghost-phoenixes. "BE NOT AFRAID." If you give the mecha-orchid a happy ending, you may be rewarded with an idoru music video. It's all pretty great.

And it's a really good game; I finished it. But it's not as good as Rez for several reasons. First, the soundtrack is... just ok? It's pleasant enough, but less techno and more j-pop, and it just doesn't grab me the way the Rez soundtrack did. Also the integration between the gameplay and the music isn't really there in the same way. But most frustratingly, the difficulty of the game just ramps up way too fast. Rez eased you into the upgrades but this game just kind of throws you off a cliff at around level 3. I almost gave up before completing level 5 ("Journey") because I was just getting sick of it. But I'm glad I pushed through, because level 6 ("Hope") gets fun again: it's clearly an unused, leftover Rez level, a trench run. And the "fire" noise is an 808 handclap.

I will now be accepting recommendations for other PS4 or PS3-compatible games that I should play.

Things I like:
  • Trippy visuals.
  • Puzzles.
  • Non-twitchy pacing.
  • Music that is part of the game.
Things I don't like:
  • Being a sniper.
  • Anything multiplayer.
  • "Talking" to an NPC.
  • An overabundance of plot.
  • In-game commerce, real or simulated.

Katamari Damacy was a big favorite. There's no synesthetic aspect, but the puzzles are good, the timing is non-twitchy, and it's just so goofy and hilarious. (BTW, the PS4 "Reroll" package of it upscales everything to HD without altering the gameplay).

One notable exception to the above lists is that I loved Portal. There's a lot of plot and exposition in that game, and in some ways it's a shooter, but it's also very puzzle-heavy and you can mostly take your time to solve them, rather than running and twitching and boom now you're dead. The game gives you the space to look around and think.

A friend kept advising me to try Bioshock again, and for the second time I gave up by like, level 2, I guess? The first basement medical facility. I love the look of the game, and I'm interested in hearing the story (anything that dunks so hard on Libertarians can't be all bad) but my experience with the game is: I'm enjoying exploring this weird, spooky environment, and then suddenly some zombie is shooting me from behind, and now I'm dead. After the third time in a row that happens, I realize that this is the opposite of fun and that I have completely lost interest. It's like I'm trying to read a comic book but every now and then it reaches up and smacks me in the face. I said to my friend, who is also a big fan of Cyberpunk 2077:

    "Look, the difference is that I like puzzle games that make me feel like I'm tripping balls. Whereas you like shooters where sometimes a chatbot tries to have sex with you."

Both Rez and Child of Eden have a "chill mode" where you can play the whole game but nothing shoots back. All games should have this.

I write screen savers, ok? I want to play games that are screen savers with puzzles in them.

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Nature is healing

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Extremely soothing polyhedra

Anthony James:

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The pixels are leaking again

Polygon Pants: "Mobility works surprisingly well for such close-fitting triangles."

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Today is Johnny Mnemonic day.

Thursday, January 17th, 2021.
That's right, today's Thursday.
It says so right there.

"Fax the images to Newark."

I wrote a review of it ten months ago -- I saw it at Alamo shortly before lockdown, which probably means that Johnny Mnemonic was the last movie I saw in a theatre.

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Sony Scopeman

Niklas Fauth:

Hardware Design files of a replacement mainboard for the Sony Watchman FD-10. This turns it into a bluetooth and WiFi-enabled vector display.

In "Audio" mode, the ESP32 acts as a bluetooth speaker. Play back audio files from your smartphone or laptop to hear and see the soundwaves. You can change the size by adjusting the playback volume.

In "Video" mode, the ESP32 renders the result of the Lorenz Attractor equation. You can change the simulation speed using the "Tune" knob.

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Take the Nightline through an infinite Metropolis.

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RetroPie and MAME

I'd like to put some arcade games on this thing, but I'm lost in a maze of twisty passages, all alike.

The docs seem to say that there are 12 (twelve!!) different builds of MAME included in this thing? And I'm supposed to mix-and-match ROM sets with emulators somehow? Or it magically figures it out? Or something?

Let me ask a simpler question. Say I want to start with just a small set of early 80s games, let's say, Star Wars, Tempest, Millipede, Pac-Man, TRON, Joust. Can someone point me at the proper URL to download that works with "RetroPie 4.1.1, RPI 4/400"?

And also what folder do they go in, and do I have to edit config files or some shit?

Do things work completely differently for the vector and raster games, he asked with great trepidation?


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RetroPie questions

When we do Cyberdelia, we set up head-to-head Wipeout on PS1s, but the PS1s are getting finicky in their old age, so I figured I'd give emulation a shot. I have questions:

  1. If I have two RetroPies running Wipeout, can I get them to simulate a link cable for head-to-head play on two separate screens, rather than side-by-side on one screen?

      Update: The answer seems to be no. Nothing running on a Pi simulates the link cable. Maybe it works in some other Windows-only emulator, but probably not. ("Sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'll never know.")

  2. If that works... since the Pi4 has two HDMI outputs, can I just run two copies of the emulator on the same Pi?

  3. How do I rip a physical PS2 disc to a file that RetroPie will run? I've tried "dd if=/dev/disk8s0", "disk8", and a couple things in Disk Utility, and I don't get something that works.

  4. Failing that, where do I find a working iso of Rez for PS2?

      Update: The answer seems to be, "RetroPie doesn't emulate PS2 at all." You would think that "here is a list of the systems that we emulate" is something that they would publish prominently, but you'd be wrong. You would think that "This game is for a PS2 and we don't emulate those" is something that would pop up in an error dialog, but you'd be wrong again.

  5. I tried to get it to use vintage PS1 and PS2 controllers using one of these and one of these and it didn't work. It kind of flickered the controller name and would never let me enter the configuration page. What's up with that?

  6. So I got one of these, and it works, but when I configure it, it seems to be saying that the left analog stick and the right analog stick are sending the same codes. That seems wrong?

      Update: I wiped the card and started over from scratch for other reasons, and having done that it now believes that this controller has two analog sticks, so this problem magically solved itself? Still no luck with the vintage controllers, though.

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