Storypost | 2023.05.28

PUBG Battlegrounds Erangel bridge C4 explosion UAZ

An explosively quick update.
NVDA share price explosion

Crypto bro youtube video gold rush fomo

The last few months have been an opportunity for businesses to reflect on some things. For non-FAANG companies, the question is, "how do I use AI to save/make money?". For FAANG, the question is been, "do I own the AI platform people will use to save/make money?". The real winner is the company that monopolizes data center AI, and it shows:

NVDA after hours earnings CNBC

Dalle, Stable Diffusion, and the various GPT applications are pretty impressive but more limited than they would seem. Still, it's unfair to bundle AI's hype with that of blockchain, web3, the metaverse, and crypto.
Explosions of flowers

Little Miss Brewing patio Stalin

Mom came down for a fun weekend of wheelbarrow rides and a GBES trip to Black Plague and Little Miss.
Mining (with explosions)

Deep Rock Galactic board game

Having finished Gloomhaven, the office crew has completed a few Deep Rock boardgame drops. It's been pretty easy so far, but I like how they've captured important elements of the video game.
Explosions quite literally (virtually)

PUBG Battlegrounds Erangel bridge C4 explosion UAZ

New to PUBG:
We almost pulled off a timed C4 detonation on a team driving across the bridge.

PUBG Battlegrounds glider Stalber ghillie PUBG Battlegrounds Erangel bridge top camp PUBG Battlegrounds clan creation PUBG Battlegrounds blue chip tower PUBG Battlegrounds Erangel bridge C4

Infopost | 2023.05.27

Stock graphics manage career weird
Source. I didn't have any original graphics for this post so I found some awesome stuff on the internet.

A few days ago I did an career panel for the ECE student association. The organizer provided some generic and student-asked questions in advance. Since writing one's thoughts is a great way to prepare for live Q&A (take that down), I did just that.
Internships and hiring

What are you looking for in an intern?

Some companies use interns for cheap labor - that isn't us. Other companies' intern programs are basically summer camp to attract promising candidates early - that isn't us either. We give interns projects that we can't dedicate FTEs to, primarily projects that are too speculative. For us, internships are an opportunity to try new ideas or see how newer technologies could impact our work.

So we look for candidates that can implement a hypothetical solution in a few months, understanding the domain and technologies required to accomplish their task. Beyond that, we want the code and documentation to be useful six or twelve months later when someone has bandwidth to adopt it.

We interview interns before projects are selected, so at interview time we are simply looking for someone who can write code (rather than having specific technologies in mind).

How do I get an interview?

Like most large companies, the entire hiring process is managed through our careers site. So start by creating a candidate profile.

You can apply to specific job reqs from the website, though as you may know from other candidate portals, this doesn't guarantee an interview. There are a few additional methods to improve your chances of getting an interview:
Terrible resume template
Source. I wasn't sure if this was real or a parody, so I dug deeper. Results posted below.

Do you have any advice on resumes?

In most cases your resume will be read by (in this order):
  1. Software
  2. Non-technical people
  3. Technical people
I'm the last of the three and don't know much about 1 and 2. In many cases, I don't see the resume until the interview is scheduled. In other cases (conferences), I see it first.

It's great if you're getting a postgraduate degree in a specific field or really know what you want to do in industry. It's also fine to take your core software knowledge and see what opportunities come. In the latter case, it's good to have different resume flavors targeting different types of positions. Everything relevant should be on there, but you can provide expanded information for more relevant positions. E.g. if you're sending me your embedded C resume, I'd rather see more about your robotics project and less about your database project.

Your resume typically sets the boundaries for an interview. That is, if you say you're good at C++ and terrible at SQL, I'm going to ask you to write C++ (unless it's a DBA position). So be sure that your resume signals to the interviewer what you think you should be interviewed on.

What are some things to be careful about in interviews?

The core of the interview process is the technical examination - coding questions, system design questions, take-home tests, etc. There's nothing to really be careful about here, just do your best.

The Q&A/behavioral portion of the interview is fairly insigificant unless you say something really bad, it's really all about passing the technical examination. In the case where two candidates have similar technical competency, we'll still lean toward a technical tiebreaker (experience in relevant technology, previous employers, etc.). The only thing that might break a very rare tie is genuine enthusiasm or an overall superior ability to communicate.

The most common issue I see in interviews that doesn't significantly impact my disposition (because, once again, technical question) is one of these:
The most important thing to keep in mind: expect to have bad interviews. Sometimes you won't perform well. Other times the position is not right for you. And often you'll pull an interviewer who has a terrible, terrible interview question (that he thinks is the greatest).
On the inside

Computer science career questions corporate memphis
Source. One of the most important aspects of tech is something they don't teach you on college: corporate memphis.

How did school prepare you for your role?

The curriculum was good, though you don't realize it immediately - the first few months of employment is a firehose of platforms and practices. It all matters though - complexity analysis, multiprocessing, data structures, algorithms, operating systems.

Matrix github copilot ai software coding comic

How has ChatGPT changed your work?

Well there was the amusing moment when the lawyers lost their minds, hearing that engineers had been using an external, cloud-hosted query tool as a Stack Overflow replacement.

In a larger sense, LLMs can be quite useful for technical questions where you know Google results are going to be trash. Will they replace coders? Maybe the ones that write copy-pasted code soon, maybe everyone eventually. Except mission-critical systems.

How do you stay up to date?

Coworkers. Everybody has their pet interests and they're a great source for information and references to further troves of knowledge. Conferences and personal projects help too.
Back to that resume with clipart

Weird website printable chore chart

That website with the resume was a huge compendium of printable document templates. It's kind of a good idea, but also who is downloading your chore chart template?

This text offers a pattern resume format for the place of a pc science scholar. It provides details about roles and abilities required for the talked about Finest pc science resume examples - you possibly can obtain simply - Profession Abstract- A element oriented and hardworking skilled with exceptional analytical, logical Jobs within the pc area is growing. Whether or not you're a pc operator or a software program engineer, customise your resume selecting one from these pc resumes. Finest computer science resume samples and examples - you possibly can obtain simply - Profession objective- To safe a place the place I can effectively contribute my abilities and Sample Mphil Thesis In Computer Science Sample mphil thesis in pc science 117th Road, East zip 10035 trailer addict the starvation video games catching hearth month of Sample assertion of objective for college students excited about MS and PhD in Computer Science & Engineering .


Storypost | 2023.05.15

NOFX final tour San Diego VIP pit

Scotty and Sophie came to town for the NOFX farewell show. I quite enjoyed seeing live music again, the first time since January 2020.

NOFX final tour San Diego lineup NOFX final tour Vandals stage San Diego NOFX final tour San Diego after show stage
New entry door

Escon fiberglass door 42 inch FC 566 516 cherry woodgrain rosewood Escon FC 566 516 cherry woodgrain rosewood door installed sidelight

We finally replaced our sticky, floral, ancient entry door. The 42" single door (with sidelight) is a big improvement on the 30" double door. The new trim is thinner so we have some drywall and stucco touchup to do, but we're very happy with the outcome.

Land Motorcycles District Standard seafoam green

KO has been investigating electric motorbikes and rally-look Subarus (namely CrossTreks).

Search results Subaru Crosstrek rally Subaru STI catalog models

In my day, I'd grab the STI (or RalliArt or TRD or Nismo...) catalog and hit ebay. Apparently the Crosstrek has neither STI parts nor a wealth of aftermarket options. A search for rally CrossTreks doesn't have a lot to look at and, well, the few real rally cars aren't especially ostentatious. But I stumbled upon a rally-look Crosstrek in a parking garage:

Subaru Crosstrek rally look front Subaru Crosstrek rally look rear

Let's evaluate:
The kilroy recommendations:
Sure you could do a roll cage and carbon body panels but that can get a little pricey.

AI generated person who looks like a potato

Zac used Midjourney to generate an avatar for RyanButBetter. He's even reading a potato magazine. I updated my imagery from that weird cyber potato.
Raking and shoveling

Dog Watching grass ungrow Wheelbarrow ride

Weekends have mostly been yardwork - preparing to landscape the upper terrace. Dani saw a wheelbarrow full of dirt and characteristically said, "I could ride that". So the evolution of child transport continues:
  1. Wrap/front carrier
  2. Backpack
  3. Shoulders
  4. Wheelbarrow
Gloomhaven (tabletop) fin

Gloomhaven secret character figure

After nearly five years, The Unnatural Ones finished the last of our Gloomhaven quests.

Infopost | 2023.05.08

F-16 F-22 Su-27 waifus Slave I

Controversies abound. F-16s to Ukraine? Wagner's casualties. Dominion and Tucker Carlson. And finally, what is the best Star Wars spacecraft?

Japanese F-35

The next installment of "why the US military-industrial complex owes Russia a gift basket" just dropped.

WhiskeyTigerFoxtrot WhiskeyTigerFoxtrot Lockheed Martin awarded USD7.8 billion for 126 F-35s

The US F-35 Joint Program Office on 28 April awarded Lockheed Martin USD7.8 billion for 126 F-35 Lightning IIs. The deal exercises an option on a contract awarded in January for Lot 17 of F-35 production.

The contract includes 81 conventional take-off and landing F-35As, 26 vertical take-off and landing F-35Bs, and 19 carrier-capable F-35Cs.

... the order also contains aircraft for eight different customers: eight As for Finland, seven As and two Bs for Italy, six As for the Netherlands, six As for Poland, four As and two Bs for Japan, four As for Belgium, three As for Denmark, and seven Bs for the UK.

All the aircraft will be equipped with Technical Refresh 3, which upgrades processing power substantially with an L3Harris core processor, a new memory system, and an open mission systems architecture. The refresh also includes a new cockpit display.

The first of the Lot 17 aircraft is scheduled for delivery in 2025. Lot 17 contains many aircraft for non-US customers, particularly in Europe. The F-35 has been increasingly popular since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

From Janes Defense Weekly today.

And that's without any F-35s actually in the conflict.

Yeah, Tiktok feeds full of Javelins blowing up top of the line Russian tanks has been a pretty effective indirect marketing program.
The war has been a great marketing tool for a lot of other weapons, too - HIMARS (GMLRS), Bayraktar drones, various SPGs.

F-16 jdam

There's an ongoing controversy about whether or not to send F-16s to Ukraine. It seems like an unapproachably-complicated issue, but an interesting one.

Korn-e-lus Korn-e-lus Former F-16 pilot says he would not want to fly missions over Ukraine right now, arguing 'there is no fighting chance' [Link].

I'd mostly heard dialogue about whether it'd be escalatory, this was new. I mentally recapped what I (think I) know about the air war in Ukraine:

Glide bomb delivery diagram
Since Ukraine's MiG-29s have flown JDAM sorties, it seems trivial to say that an F-16 in the same role has a 'fighting chance' (to borrow the phrasing from the article).

I found a similar sentiment on /r/CredibleDefense:

ChornWork2 ChornWork2 But what about in MiG-29 like they're doing today? Tone deaf commentary imho. Would his view change if a foreign power was slaughtering his countrymen and trying to take over his country?

Lets ask a former MRAP or M113 crew what they think of wanting to take those out in an offensive against Russian entrenched defensive positions without airsupport.

This has to be a politically motivated piece...

Huh, but I thought Business Insider was pretty left-leaning?

Business Insider Fourth- and fourth-plus-generation fighter jets like the F-16 that lack stealth features are "completely outmatched in high-threat environments" because of advanced air-defense systems like Russia's S-400, argued Venable, a veteran and senior research fellow for defense policy at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.

Ohhh. Business Insider was reporting (uncritically) on a Heritage Foundation blog post. I checked out the original post from a former F-16 pilot.

Heritage Foundation SBDs[sic] can be carried by F-16s and have small wings that unfold after they are released, allowing them to glide dozens of miles. The latest version (SDB II) can even acquire and hit mobile targets. The distance that SDBs can glide is determined by the altitude and speed at which they are released, and even at their longest range, a fourth-generation fighter attempting to employ them would be detected and engaged by S-400s long before it could release those munitions.

It's weird the author doesn't mention JDAMs since they're apparently already in use. The range of a winged SDB II (according to Wikipedia) is about the same as the JDAM-ER, for what it's worth.

The Drive JDAM ER wing kit

I should point out that article asks and answers the question, "are F-16s a game changer for Ukraine". So strictly, since JDAMs are already being delivered by MiGs, lobbing them from an F-16 is more of an improvement than a game changer. Perhaps the phrasing of the question was deliberate.

Is it me that's stupid? Like this guy is an F-16 pilot but seems to just miss or gloss over a number of points.

Ukraine will run out of planes in the next couple of years, it will happen. And then they'll have nothing to use the literal JDAMs and HARMs that we have given them. We have seen through public domain images (HARM) and leaked documents (JDAM) that even in a contested environment these are being used and are working

Surely F-16s would still be incredibly useful away from the frontline, and would reduce pressure on GBAD when it comes to drone and cruise missile attacks.

Nobody is asking Ukraine to run SEAD and DEAD or drop JDAMs from 30k feet. Also just because he wouldn't want to fly missions over Ukraine doesn't mean Ukrainian pilots wouldn't - they are literally doing so right now in planes that are far worse than F-16s.

I actually think that's an irresponsible and harmful article from this guy.
> Is it me that's stupid?

You simply misunderstand the policy goal of the article (or interview).

It's the Heritage Foundation. Their goal is to prevent the flow of weapons to Ukraine. If they can't achieve that, they aim to stop Biden from sending effective weapons. Failing both of those objectives, they'd like only a small number of weapons to be sent.

If you approach the article/interview with that perspective in mind, everything falls into place.

In fairness to the author, he does advocate for the export of Predators, Reapers, anti-aircraft systems, and other support. In fairness to /u/osmik, this could just be lip service.
Bakhmut and Victory Day

Prigozhin Wagner video ammunition

A few days ago Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin made headlines with a very public rant about being denied ammunition for his campaign in Bakhmut. The Wagner-MoD drama has been simmering for some time, but things took a severe turn with Prigozhin shouting at defense ministers from a field covered with dead mercenaries.

I don't know man, eighteen months ago we had the Taliban driving bumper cars, last month conservatives cancelled Budweiser, and now we have Putin's PMC guy calling his MoD guys a bunch of Marie Antoinettes. This timeline is getting less and less believable.

Surely this is some clever disinformation strategy from the ex-KGB mastermind of the 2016 election. Is Prigozhin's withdrawl deadline a ruse to bait Ukraine into Bakhmut? Is it just a way to make Kadyrov's entrance seem necessary? None of it seems worth the very public embarrassment.

Maybe it's exactly what it looks like; Wagner is inadequately supplied and they need to be rotated out anyway. But that's not a conversation that has to happen on Telegram so, once again, what the heck is going on here?

Destroyed car Prilepin Twitter

With recent assassination attempts on pro-war Russian milbloggers, there's a lot of fringe speculation about the factionalism being more than just angry words.

SaltyWihl SaltyWihl American/west desinformation is a sensitive subject that is rarley talked about but as seen from operation earnest voice and SA it does occurs.

Has there been any signs that the west has been involved in creating or adding fuel to this crack between Ru MOD and Prigozhin? If not, western intelligence really have an open goal here.

Anyway, it's Victory Day over there, so we can look forward to a unified celebration of our collaborative defeat of the Nazis (Russia, Ukraine, and US alike). Almost guaranteed we'll have T-14s with their turrets spinning the whole time for whatever reason. And maybe we'll see an unauthorized drone landing.

RobRob F5 on r/Ukraine new tonight
Fox News and Tucker Carlson

In funny but uninteresting news, Fox settled with Dominion for a lot of money. The fallout was somewhat interesting though:
Tucker Carlson via NYT A couple of weeks ago, I was watching video of people fighting on the street in Washington. A group of Trump guys surrounded an Antifa kid and started pounding the living shit out of him. It was three against one, at least. Jumping a guy like that is dishonorable obviously. It's not how white men fight. Yet suddenly I found myself rooting for the mob against the man, hoping they'd hit him harder, kill him. I really wanted them to hurt the kid. I could taste it. Then somewhere deep in my brain, an alarm went off: this isn't good for me. I'm becoming something I don't want to be. The Antifa creep is a human being. Much as I despise what he says and does, much as I'm sure I'd hate him personally if I knew him, I shouldn't gloat over his suffering. I should be bothered by it. I should remember that somewhere somebody probably loves this kid, and would be crushed if he was killed. If I don't care about those things, if I reduce people to their politics, how am I better than he is?

The context of this was Tucker watching January 6th videos and texting his producer. The popular commentary was twofold:
  1. "It's not how white men fight." I don't think anyone was surprised he'd say something like this.
  2. He's more or less admitted his show's content is rage-bait. A couple years later he'd release exclusive footage that showed January 6th wasn't so bad.
Those items were digested and re-digested in the media because they had him dead to rights on two things everyone already knew. And so I didn't hear much discussion about Carlson's apparent realization that political anger can result in unjustified human suffering.
New York Times Writing to one of his producers after the assault on the Capitol, Mr. Carlson describes the president he championed on his show as a "demonic force" and a "destroyer."

Of course it's all theatre, that was the premise of the Dominion suit, but I wonder who was writing the script.

Fallout please stand by
The lighter side

Star Wars Squadrons A-Wing Star Destroyer battle

As we were talking about Mon Cal cruisers, Rob sent me a May (the) 4th post on /r/StarWars about the best spacecraft waifu.

Slave 1
Yes, absolutely marvelous ship. I loved stealing it in Jango's GameCube game. It's utterly stupid that Disney renamed it.
Unpaid Intern 1
It's now the "Prisoners with Jobs 1"
Exploited Migrant Laborer Uno
They didnt really rename it, they just shy away from saying the name, referring to it by its owner or class instead.
No, several canon medias refer to it as slave 1.

There was a lot of love for Shadows of the Empire's Outrider. Probably too much love, since it was a ripoff (but reasonable in-universe) of the Millennium Falcon piloted by a ripoff of Han Solo. Also popular were each of the Rebel starfighters and the CR90 corvette.

Moldy Crow Jedi Knight Dark Forces

Moldy Crow
Cultured opinion

And I knew it was going to be there:

TIE Defender
Why did I have to scroll so far down for this?

TIE Defender rocks. Even if it was too expensive for mass production.
If the imps invested in defenders instead of death stars they would have won in weeks

Well, /u/corpboy, the reason you had to scroll so far down for this is because the TIE Defender was a bullshit OP fighter introduced in TIE Fighter because stupid casuals kept dying so much. There's a reason it wasn't in XvT or X-Wing Alliance and it was nerfed in X-Wing miniatures.

Review | 2023.05.06

Astros Playground Pyramidhead

Video games:
Fire Emblem Engage

Nokia N Gage Fire Emblem Engage Picard engage

The lastest Fire Emblem installment hit shelves earlier this year.

Fire Emblem Engage Marth ghost

Engage's main gameplay mechanic is the ability to summon the spirit of a hero from past FE games. They emblem characters aren't allied units though, they give the player temporary stat buffs and special abilities. So it's basically an ult that's also a callback to an earlier FE story.

Having played most of the franchise, it's neat to see other protagonists make a reappearance, if only it didn't herald the MOBAfication of a tactics franchise. "But ults are tactical!" False.

And don't get me wrong, I like MOBAs, I just want them to stay in their lane.

Fire Emblem Engage emblem ring Etie Marth Fire Emblem Engage bond rings Quan Fire Emblem Engage Katarina bond ring Fire Emblem Engage bond effect break defenses

Your character summons the heroes of other timelines with a corresponding 'emblem ring' which, I guess, only fits one finger (so one emblem buddy per combat). Luckily, other members of the squad can don emblem rings to gain the corresponding special attack.

Emblem rings summon heroes from past games, but their allies are not forgotten. You can equip 'bond rings' to give less-awesome traits linked to squadmates from other FE installments. That's actually quite good from a nostalgia perspective since, for a variety of reasons, the main characters were often far less interesting than his/her allies. On the minus side, the bond ring character art is sometimes laughably bad.

Fire Emblem Engage sword cinematic

On the subject of shallow protagonists, in Engage the player character is the "chosen one/superhuman/dragon" who conveniently has amnesia from a centurieslong nap. How compelling. Bland and tropey are okay, but they tends to infect a lot of dialogue and plot progression.

Fire Emblem Engage training pushups Fire Emblem Engage stables horse lens flare Fire Emblem Engage donations Fire Emblem Engage support Fire Emblem Engage weapon upgrade Liberation

Like most of the recent FE games, your character has a home base to do a variety of activities between battles. These include:
Suffice it to say, the mindless clicking has gotten a little overwhelming. In fairness, a lot of it is probably not required to beat the game, but years of playing FE games on super hard mode makes it feel perilous to not grind out every item or upgrade. It's a shame they ditched the tower defense-lite aspect of Fates, Fire Emblem + Rampart would be way more fun than pressing X to do pushups.

Fire Emblem Engage Alfred horse cinematic Fire Emblem Engage post-battle conversations Fire Emblem Engage windmill town conversation

The inter-battle chore time is preceded by post-battle open roaming where you can exchange generic words with villagers who might give you an orange or a carrot. Alas, this dialogue ("thank you for saving our village") is only barely shallower than the vapid plot development and support conversations with allies and enemies.

Speaking of characters, the female character models in this one are different. I can't quite put my finger on it...

Fire Emblem Engage shameless booba Fire Emblem Engage Zephia

What the hell, Intelligent Systems? You're better than this. The previous games had a busty character or two, but in this one every adult female character model looks like a transplant from Heavy Metal.

Fire Emblem Engage combat chain attack

Combat, thankfully, is an iteration on the polished FE formula. There have been a few notable changes that aren't unprecedented, e.g. weapons no longer have durability. The main change to combat in FE Engage is the aforementioned emblem ring power. So while it's nice to have equippable unique actions, I'm hoping the series doesn't go too far down this path.

thumbnail Fire Emblem Engage cinematic battle thumbnail Fire Emblem Engage dragon mother death thumbnail Fire Emblem Engage mother dragon encounter thumbnail Fire Emblem Engage title screen
thumbnail Fire Emblem Engage summon Marth

I'm not very far in the game so it's too early to make any firm judgments. But there are definitely annoyances and reasons to find this FE installment less compelling.
I Was A Teenage Exocolonist

Teenage Exocolonist colorful pond

The post on /r/gamingsuggestions that led me to Shadowverse also recommended a (not really a) deckbuilder called I Was A Teenage Excolonist.

Teenage Exocolonist content warnings Teenage Exocolonist character creation stats strength

The first few minutes of the game has trigger warnings (oh no, "bodily harm and grossness") and character creation that ticks a lot of social justice boxes. I'm not trying to be critical of this (recall I very much enjoyed laughing at the people screeching about TLOU2's diversity), but I was initially worried that the game would be bland so as not to offend anyone. After all, an exocolony isn't going to be a safe space in any definition of the term.

Ultimately though, if the card game is good, dialogue is easy to skip - Shadowverse's meta game isn't exactly compelling.

Teenage Exocolonist Stratospheric ship Teenage Exocolonist schedule action choice Teenage Exocolonist animal encounter

IWATE gameplay amounts to this:
It's a pretty tight gaming experience - there isn't a ton of strategy and there aren't too many options at any given point. On the sprawl scale of Firewatch (novella with a joystick) to Skyrim (ginormous), IWATE lands at at about TLOU: it's pretty on-rails with a lot of story.

Teenage Exocolonist age start summary Teenage Exocolonist bugs jar scene Teenage Exocolonist animal encounter Teenage Exocolonist mushtrees dialogue

IWATE is heavy on plot and character development. Your character grows from a kid to (presumably, still working through it) a teenager and has all the friendship-leveling mechanics of Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Teenage Exocolonist challenge card combat floatcow

The deckbuilding/cardplay element is, unfortunately, even simpler than Shadowverse. You try to max out points by playing cards with a value and a suit. There are a few bonuses for things like a flush and a straight, but it's nothing like Slay the Spire or Griftlands. It is neat that the cards (memories) are closely tied to plot events, but that doesn't make the challenge mechanic any less mediocre.

Teenage Exocolonist guard duty deck thin Teenage Exocolonist Plascutter Surveyor Utopia

I mentioned that choices and plot events grant you new cards, you can also thin your deck and collect items that provided bonuses or can be expended on difficult challenges. This sounds good, but since any stage of a challenge has a (fairly obvious) best solution and cards have very little synergy, there's not much to tinker with.

Teenage Exocolonist glow season night

Despite its colorful graphics and cartoony characters, IWATE's story consists of a dark mystery about the colony planet. There are wildlife attacks, strange spores, and unexplained deaths. It feels sinister and even more so when the grim, tight-lipped adults divulge very little to the young player character.

At this point, the IWATE story has all the makings of a neo-Roanoke with some elements of The Expanse and Star Trek. I'm hoping not to be disappointed.
Fallout 76

Fallout 76 Vault Tec camping display

For our short gaming sessions, me and J have been shooting and looting in Gunfire Reborn. For our longer sessions, we've been wandering the postapocalpytic wastelands of West Virginia.

Fallout 76 road woods

For all the talk of FO76 being open world with adversarial elements, it sure plays like a co-op version of Fallout 4. That's a good thing (imho), the AAA Bethesda games just don't feel like they'd be very good for PvP. FO76's story content consists of a wealth of quests that send you to the edges of the Appalachian map and introduce you to humans, bots, and ghouls of all sorts.

Fallout 76 Duchess bar conversation

I have to heavily-caveat my earlier comment about FO76 being co-op. The open world and side quests are 100% co-opable. Some of the more significant (main?) quests require that you and your buddy complete the area independently (though maybe not individually).

Also I should say that we're like level 15, so the endgame could be heavily PvP. Really, that's the best of both worlds - a full campaign experience and the gameplay variety of an MMO.

Fallout 76 Nukashine animal house guitar Fallout 76 Nukashine kegger Fallout 76 mattress mannequin Fallout 76 highway car hit and run retrofuturism

FO76 has the series's signature environment design style - dark humor, pop culture references, and corpses that tell a story.

Fallout 76 wasted on Nukashine quest Fallout 76 hacking dank Fallout 76 sleeping camp near prison

Everything else is just like Fallout 4: combat, quests, inventory, crafting, hacking, lockpicking, shelters. The shelters are, of course, more important in FO76 since they act as storage/resupply stations. The quests all have unique narrative elements, but many amount to very obvious fetch quests. This works better in an immersive single player experience than it does in a co-op one where I'm not as invested in an unchanging world. Still, FO76 is fun. It has exciting combat and well-crafted environments to experience as you walk five miles to fetch three bloatfly eggs so that Mr. Larvy can make an insect repellant.

thumbnail Fallout 76 sneaking combat ghouls thumbnail Fallout 76 racetrack fortifications thumbnail Fallout 76 Slocums Joe diner
thumbnail Fallout 76 red lake
thumbnail Fallout 76 prison thumbnail Fallout 76 train tracks station
XCOM: Chimera Squad


XCOM Chimera Squad news report apc alien

My vague recollection of XCOM 2: an alliance of aliens (grey-likes, snakes, mutanty brutes, etc.) tries a soft-power conquest of Earth, resorting to violence when the heroes of XCOM expose their intentions. Chimera Squad takes place a little further down the timeline, when humans and xenos coexist somewhat peacefully.

XCOM Chimera Squad story investigation choice XCOM Chimera Squad cultists briefing

Chimera Squad is basically Rainbow 6 in the XCOM universe; a crack team of commandos from everyone with a stake in peace. The game's story involves managing an assassination investigation and civil unrest in three main acts and (presumably) an endgame sequence.

XCOM Chimera Squad base HQ map XCOM Chimera Squad map mission selection gray phoenix XCOM Chimera Squad shooting hit percentage

XCOM: Chimera Squad largely uses the tried-and-true XCOM game elements: turn-based tactical combat scenarios strung across a narrative campaign. Combat takes the form of maneuvering your units between cover and objectives, using your two actions per turn to move, shoot, or use a special. Based on cover and character stats, shooting has a fixed percent chance of hit/graze/miss. Chimera Squad is true to the XCOM aesthetic of having 95% shots miss about half the time.


XCOM Chimera Squad combat hud callouts
The XCOM: Chimera Squad HUD with callouts.

XCOM Chimera Squad breach window Torque XCOM Chimera Squad breach animation rappel window XCOM Chimera Squad breach entry point selection

Chimera Squad's most notable gameplay additions come from the SWAT-like plot element; your objective for each deployment might be to clear enemies, stop a bomb from detonating, escort a VIP, prevent civilian casualties, etc. Each of the 1-3 engagements per mission begins with a breaching action where you select points of entry, initial targets, and bonus effects like tossing a flashbang or targeting drone.

These mechanics are largely just window dressing. It's nice variety, but it's still XCOM. Well, escort missions are never nice variety. All my homies hate escort missions.

XCOM Chimera Squad Torque coil XCOM Chimera Squad Verge madness attack alien pony XCOM Chimera Squad Verge neural network

In XCOM 2 you had human soldiers with different roles. They used guns and grenades and tech against aliens with cool special abilities like mind control and venomous bite. Chimera Squad, being set in a future of semi-peaceful coexistence, lets the player command a squad with very diverse abilities. A couple of examples:


XCOM Chimera Squad new agent unlock Blueblood Zephyr Patchwork XCOM Chimera Squad Assembly Gray Phoenix Equipment XCOM Chimera Squad supply smoke grenade XCOM Chimera Squad training unlock potential XCOM Chimera Squad mission rewards unrest

The inter-combat HQ elements include the following:
The city, meanwhile, creeps toward chaos like the XCOM board game or Pandemic. As the main plot develops, you have to send your squad to side deployments that prevent the city from falling into anarchy. Since there aren't a ton of options in this regard, the side deployment mechanic acts more like a timer than a strategic element.

The HQ sequences have the occasional dark/funny news broadcast and banter between squadmembers. Like XCOM 2, this adds a little bit of personality to the story/characters. Considering the narrative-heavy series backed by a couple of books, they certainly could have given the writers and voice actors a little more to do.

Final thoughts

Chimera Squad is fun, though the game mechanics get a bit stale midway through the third act. But it's neat to come back to an XCOM game after a few years.

thumbnail XCOM Chimera Squad hit damage blood thumbnail XCOM Chimera Squad Terminal Ronin Cherub thumbnail XCOM Chimera Squad Sectopod Verge thumbnail XCOM Chimera Squad combat assault rifle Torque cobra snake
thumbnail XCOM Chimera Squad street combat Terminal
Astro's Playground

Astros Playground Cooling Springs

The kid wanted to see a 'daddy game' so I fired up Astro's Playground, the game that ships with PS5. It's basically a mini-Mario 64 that shamelessly celebrates the back catalog of Playstation products.

Gloomhaven Doomstalker bow

A Party Has No Name entered the Void and vanquished the 117 hp Gloom with a Quartermaster, Doomstalker, and Beast Tyrant. There wasn't much to it, just wail on him and spread around the big attacks. Oh yeah, healing was necessary because the Void does damage every turn. Maybe curses would have helped block some attacks - I don't remember if he was immune to those, he's immune to just about everything.

Gloomhaven The Gloom The Void from town Gloomhaven The Gloom big attack card Gloomhaven The Gloom squad combat Gloomhaven The Gloom health bar