Aggressive Helping and Perfectionist Overwhelm

The entertainment of the past few days has been watching an apparently quite famous Twitch streamer (I wouldn’t know, I’m old and unhip) try out Guild Wars 2.

I’m mostly left wondering how much is deliberate performance for Twitch income and how much is genuine flawed human on display for the public to revel in celebrity culture and their own flawed humanity.

There’s been a LOT to unpack and digest in these last four days.

It started with the news of the hour over on the Guild Wars 2 reddit that “Summit1G” was streaming GW2 on Twitch to an audience of 30,000 or so.

Now my first reaction was, “Who?” but you know, that’s just me being very much not a millennial or younger.

I watch Critical Role on Twitch, and chill to CohhCarnage from time to time because both communities are very positive, filled with good vibes and no toxicity, but other than that, I tend not to be in the loop with anything or anyone else.

So like any curious onlooker, I pop over to the Twitch stream to gawk.

Day 1 is mostly the same old Queensdale run that any new player goes through, and a jumping puzzle or two.

The only difference is that Summit1G attacks and murders pretty much any mob in sight (hey, like me! need me some combat action, yeah!) rather than just travel obediently from point A to point B doing hearts. (He does that too.)

That, and plenty of blindingly shiny blinged out players desperately craving for their five minutes of fame attempting to jam themselves into his camera view. A percentage of viewers (and the streamer himself occasionally) are annoyed. I have no dog in this fight, so I’m only mildly amused. (That, and if you play GW2 on the regular, you’re so used to tuning out this visual bling anyway.)

The guy plays for 11-13 hours straight, which is… wow, a lot to unpack.

On one hand, it gives me the viewer something to actually watch during my late mornings and afternoons, which is well nigh impossible when you live on the other side of the world as the majority of English-speaker streamers.

On the other hand, you can’t help but wonder how exhausting it is and how much this would ultimately contribute to burnout. It seems to be sort of an underlying current in the public commentary surrounding this celebrity – that he seems to be bouncing from game to game unhappily looking for some kind of PvP holy grail.

From Day 2 to 4, besides a quick stint in Ascalonian Catacombs, Summit1G discovers GW2’s structured PvP and goes for deep deep 11-13 hour dives into the format.

He has his own group of mates with him, so they are usually in a complete 4 or 5 person party at any time. This provokes a twinge of envy for how quickly he can get set up and supported. The background players often seem to be adjusting more quickly than he is, playing better games or helping push the team to victory despite his meandering off, lack of objective focus or newbie mistakes.

Then again, they don’t have a distracting Twitch chat stream filled with scrolling emotes, text spam and advice of shapes and colors aggressively overhelping and attempting to backseat drive his every move.

Not to mention, highlighting and pointing out every last poor decision with immense schadenfreude.

(Even if attempting to go 1 v 3 while completely inexperienced seems to be perfectly obvious common sense.)

The very definition of irony

In the above clip, MightyTeapot (a fairly well-known GW2 streamer, whom I’ve normally never bothered watching because I’m old and don’t do videos) had popped in to join their PvP team and do a little coaching and demonstration of a somewhat slightly higher level of PvP play than the newbies were exhibiting.

He’s busily lecturing in his nice, positive, calm voice to… uncertain effect (Twitch chat alternating between catcalls and support) while Summit1G leaves mid point and charges right up to near the enemy spawn because he sees two enemy players low on health and has gone into full lock-on blinders mode.

Little does he know that he’s shot through the enemy team and overextended (a third fully health enemy to his side he seems to have missed or dismissed), and that one of the low health targets is a necro, with a second health bar. The necro pops into shroud and that low health becomes full health, and the three generally dogpile him.

His teammates are mostly back at mid, or reluctant to walk into that outnumbered battle to support, and all the while MightyTeapot is busy droning about picking one’s fights properly (aka not being stupid.)

This is a moment of endless amusement for the Twitch audience.

Which on one hand seems to be positively desirable for the purposes of Twitch streaming – your audience is entertained, they learn stuff, presumably this nets viewers and followers and real life money being thrown at you because some people have a desperate craving to be right on the internet or to provide helpful advice, and will actually tip $5 to have their words read out via text to speech and posted on the stream for all to see. Repeatedly.

On the other hand, this might do a number on one’s ego if one is the least bit less well-adjusted and self-secure. If you’re competitive or perfectionist or the least bit invested in one’s performance, dying and losing would already suck. Especially if you want to be and feel competent. Especially if you have an inkling that your friends are doing much better than you.

Never mind that the reality is that it’s going to take quite a while and a lot of effort of study and practice to accumulate skill and knowledge towards competency, and that patience and good self-esteem are important factors on the journey.

We don’t know how much is real and how much is a demeanor for performance purposes, but suffice to say, that a perfect positive role model is not exactly on display over the four days. (And should we really expect such a thing? Isn’t that over-expectation of a different kind as well?)

There are a lot of complaints. A lot of newbie errors. Like forgetting to use a heal. Walking straight into AoE because one has no clue that it is dangerous.

Generally getting melted by conditions and stunned and interrupted to oblivion because both condition cleanse and stun breaks are a completely alien concept to newbies. (Something I have deliberately used to fairly devastating effect when I paddled around in the shallow end of the unranked PvP pool because I have no illusions about my lack of any real PvP capability, and have to shore up with knowledge trickery.)

This is apparently quite agonizing to a certain percentage of his viewers, who spam the chat with unsolicited advice. Useful for other viewers in a receptive frame of mind, perhaps. Much more questionable if the recipient is un-receptive.

I’ve been in the latter shoes before. It is hard to diplomatically explain to the overly concerned individual that one simply does not want to invest the necessary time and effort to “git gud” because it is not a personal priority among other competing priorities at this time. It’s possibly the individual’s priority, hence why they are so attached to the outcome, but it’s not yours.

I’ve also been in the former shoes. It’s tricky. Sometimes you just want to share what you know with others. The person may not ever learn it otherwise, and if they know it, they might have a better experience.

(I had someone pop a late comment into my Terrafirmacraft Plus post the other day. I would certainly not have realized my error about TFC+ fruit trees otherwise. I would have no reason to comb the wiki about fruit trees, especially since I haven’t picked up the game in three months. On the other hand, the usefulness of this is also questionable for said obvious reasons above.)

Then again, sometimes the advice is too overwhelming and simply too much to absorb at any time. Especially if the person is not feeling in a receptive mood. Then it simply becomes counter-productive pressure, because all the person wants to do now is push back and defend their boundaries and autonomy, including the freedom to make their own mistakes.

Because ultimately, it’s a game. It should be about having fun. It should be about learning organically.

It shouldn’t have to be about performing perfectly to suit other people’s expectations. Hell, -work- wishes they could achieve that. Not happening at work. Why should we expect it in our games and entertainment?

For what it’s worth, I continue to watch because it’s both entertaining and educational for now, and it’s something new in GW2 land (which as we all know, is a rare animal these days.)

It’s nice to see the learning process, newbie mistakes included, because it demonstrates a more everyman human frailty, rather than some god of PvP firing off keys at an expert piano playing rate, helped along by a 30ms connection to the servers.

There’s also the possibility of seeing other people play well and learn something new too. Had no idea you could actually time a warbanner res to resurrect yourself.

Not being much of a PvPer, even I can see that Summit1G has fairly good instincts from his general experience at other PvP games. His escape game is leagues better than what I can put up, breaking line of sight almost instinctively and hopping up and down elevations and putting great distance between himself and others when he’s low on health. (Now if only he can remember that he can heal himself in the process…)

How long he will last in GW2 is another matter. Celebrity gossip and drama appears to follow him. Chances are high that he’ll take flight in another direction soon. But it’s certainly been an entertaining couple of days.

Sorting Out Virtual Stuff

Last week’s lament seems to have gotten to the root of the problem in a roundabout manner.

Clutter in all my virtual houses was creating clutter in the mind, and making it difficult to take in more input – be it actual digital stuff, or just thinking about acquiring more digital stuff.

One thing I’m not good at is handling the urge towards crippling perfectionism, which then turns promptly into procrastination.

That is, if I can’t clean it all up to picture perfect standards, I may as well not start at all.

This is a line of thinking that leads absolutely nowhere.

So in small, baby steps, going real easy on myself, I tried to nip away at the problem from different angles, like a baby piranha trying to eat a brontosaurus.

Problem, The First

Overloaded Guild Wars 2 inventories make it impossible to do anything.

You can’t play, more things will come in to clog the works up. You can’t move them anywhere, because there’s no more space left. Throwing them away is a waste, because you never know when you’ll need a ton of them, and/or make a killing selling stuff on the TP.

You could use them, but you’d have to figure out exactly which esoteric ingredients need using in what precise order, which means lots of wiki recipe reading… aka absolute tedium.

Eternal ice and eitrite ingots were the main panic inducing currencies, because I get to do strikes once or twice weekly, after raiding. When you’re not actively doing anything else with the game, this adds up.

Illuminated boreal weapons were bottlenecked by a lot of tedious mystic forging and/or buying ingredients towards amalgamated draconic somethings. I made one or two, then left it on the back burner.

Eternal ice can be converting into other Living Story currencies, which is the main reason I’m hanging onto the main morass. I just haven’t figured out exactly how much I need of whichever currency yet.

The last option was to use a smidgen of the excess into building larger sized boreal bags. This is attractive for multiple reasons – use up some excess currency and get more space, and literally get more space by owning bigger bags.

The bottleneck here is Supreme Runes of Holding, which are obtainable by gamble-flushing stacks of ectoplasm in the hope of getting lucky. Or buying it off the TP for 8.5-9 gold each. Not exactly cheap, which is why I never did anything about it earlier, but I’ve been accumulating raid gold and not spending these past months, so… eh.

3 Supreme Runes can net 28-slot bags, which is a distinct size improvement from my regular miserly 18-slot or 20-slot ones.

So I made a couple and did some desultory cleaning up.

I’m sure it will still induce anxiety in most people, but hey, there is some visible space. I have some room to play tetris with things, and that’s about all the motivation I can muster for this game and this project, so… good enough.

Problem, The Second

Disk space was more of the main mentally pressing issue.

The C: drive was running at some 8 GB remaining out of a 238 GB SSD (ostensibly it’s 256 GB, but apparently Windows and hard disk manufacturers count GB in different units of bytes.)

The other SSD wasn’t doing much better (20-30 GB out of 238 GB), nor the 1 TB hard disk drive (80ish GB out of 931 GB available.)

Since that is a lot of STUFF taking up room to deal with, I thought I’d attack it from the easiest target for the biggest impact front.

I ran Spacesniffer to visually see the conglomerations of folders taking up the MOST space.

Turns out that the only big things in the C: drive were Windows, Guild Wars 2 and Path of Exile, plus some scattered stuff in Documents folders. GW2 was pushing 47 GB, PoE 30ish GB, and Windows in that 30-40GB ballpark.

It gradually became obvious that keeping the three together would not help the C: drive any, nor are any of them viable candidates for immediate removal. So the last option eventually clarified itself as move either GW2 or PoE out of the C: drive and into another drive.

Yours truly is a lot less confident about GW2 acting right on a non-C: or non-SSD, so that eventually distilled itself into next action: Transfer PoE out of there, and into the other SSD (since I do still want PoE to perform nicely.)

Segueing Issues, The Third

Cleaning up the other two drives to make a bit more room was essentially a collaboration between Spacesniffer and Steam.

Most of the large space hogs were Steam games. I took out 40 GB of Van Helsing 1 and Van Helsing 2. I’ve played the first game, once upon a time, and was sort of halfway through the second. I figure I have a ton of other ARPGs I’d rather get around to first, so I can install them again later, if ever.

Attempting Talos Principle for the third time was the right time.

Laser and block puzzles are fun. The recording ones can go to hell.

I raced through most of the puzzles in four days or so, only going for hints and outright solutions for stars and some later puzzles that got a bit too headachy and tedious to deal with.

The main head rush was the joy of insight, of being able to figure out something new, logically or intuitively, from the components at hand.

Getting to see pretty scenery in super-ultrawide didn’t hurt either.
Oddly, the second world reminded me a LOT of A Tale in the Desert visually, just with more graphical sparkle.

The difficulty started to get a little out of hand during the later puzzles of the third and final world. I started feeling a little antsy and impatient, so I went for only the easy and medium endings, and gave up on the most completionist Messenger ending. There was also Road to Gehenna DLC I picked up in a bundle somewhere, which mostly provoked a “oh no, not -more- puzzles” response, so that quite decided things.

As much fun as annoying and chating with the Serpent is… when you’re sick of the puzzles, you’re very much done with Talos Principle.

Out went another 20 GB, with much relief. I can always reinstall later if I ever want to re-do the Messenger ending, or if I’m finally ready for more puzzles.

I gave BATTLETECH a go.

It was surprisingly text-laden and crunchy, systems-wise. Seemed very faithful to the original tabletop franchise, from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about said franchise.

It was also amazingly unforgiving. I died twice in the tutorial and had to restart from scratch, mostly because I had no clue what I was doing, the tutorials didn’t tell me, and the controls and UI were a little obtuse.

It took a little skimming of some third party guides to begin to grasp the initial basics – like being able to selectively choose weapons to shoot, what “health” was (aka armor and structure), and the odd turn/phase order.

I dunno, but I kinda needed this screen in the ACTUAL first tutorial mission, not AFTER I gained enough knowledge to complete the tutorial.

Being really stubborn, after a brief ragequit and some reading, I played like a really careful X-COM strategist for the third tutorial attempt and blew through with flying colors and a lot less instant death failure.

It still felt slow and tedious, and I had no clue what I was doing on the first story mission after the tutorial, and it was a 30 GB monster. So I gave up and deleted it.

Of course, after that, I got curious enough to Google “Battletech slow” and learned there are mods / easy ini fixes to adjust the pacing and everything, so eh, maybe. I’ll reinstall it when I’m ready.

On one hand, I really find the concept of playing some big stompy robots and strategically shooting up hit locations magnetically attractive. On the other, the thought of needing to understand every last stat and detail of every single Battletech mech and weapon in order to play well is a little off-putting.

Not to mention, Battletech’s apparent habit of cheerfully killing you off ruthlessly if you didn’t immediately know the correct approach to deal with a particular situation. (Destroyed twice in tutorial mission; promptly shredded up by turrets in first story mission while trying to work out how to get LOS to a turret generator to destroy it.)

This Dark Souls difficulty thing is a trend that is getting out of hand.

And then there was SOMA.

I finally completed it today.

Really happy about that. Possibly a little too happy, given that it’s supposed to be a horror game about undersea robot monsters.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that I get bored shitless with walking simulators, really quickly.

I really need the ability to interact and WHACK things with a stick, at the very least. Heck, even Subnautica lets you stab things with a knife, if ineffectually. Most of the time, you would still play as intended, if only because killing things with the death of a thousand paper cuts is beyond tedious, but one needs the option for action, in order to feel less artificially restricted.

Since horror stealth games are an immediate NO GO zone – because jump scares feel artificial and jump scares where you die immediately if you didn’t crouch and wait for eons in darkness while listening to scary noises are time-wasting bullshit – doing it walking simulator style with no immediate death possibility was the only way I’m ever completing the game and the story.

The story was not bad. I can understand why people like it. There’s a certain Gone Home verisimilitude in poking around the leavings of a setting and other peoples’ belongings. I half-enjoyed that part, except the controls felt a bit slow. The thematic and moral questions were quite good for stimulating philosophical thought on issues of humanity.

The body horror bits were a little lost on me. Yes, there was a great deal of aesthetic ugliness around the place. But eh, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps the ugliness is also about adaptations to a deep sea environment. At one point, I also thought that if we were shrunk to the size of a cell and crawling around the human body, it would also look like a godawful gory mess of horror too.

At any rate, it wasn’t a waste of time to experience it once, and I’m also VERY HAPPY that I don’t have to waste any more time experiencing more of it. It is DONE. Finally. Strike off another 20 GB.

The end goal of all the rampant deletion is that all three drives are back to a nice looking blue in Windows Explorer, with ~40 – 140 GB free space remaining. One has a little more mental bandwidth. (Ironically odd statement, since as far as I checked, I’m not an AI or a brain scan reliant on disk space. Yet.)

It’s also helped to target a few more low-hanging fruit goals of games to play and deal with first. Ample disk space is a very powerful motivator.

New Acquisitions, The Fourth

Sorting out the whole Steam nonsense was next on the list.

In went this month’s Humble Bundle Choice serials. I even managed to install some of them to try out before the month is out.

Off the list for me were Verlet Swing (too absurdly trippy for me) and Yuppie Psycho (I don’t really enjoy horror genres enough to play through ’em. I’ll watch someone else play, no problem, but firsthand playing them isn’t really rewarding enough for me.)

In went the Road Trip Special purchase.

Turns out, it’s all DLC.

With all the games I’m now motivated to play through and boot off the hard disk, I don’t actually see myself needing any new games for the time being. At least, I can certainly wait till the Christmas sale.

I do have about $6.50 in local currency or ~$4.70 USD of odd duck games (ie. games with known issues like glitches or pacing or just not very fun, but the concepts sound interesting to explore for cheap) sitting in the cart. I may or may not jump on it later tonight.

But it’s also interesting that I ended up prioritizing the purchase of DLC for games I -know- I enjoy.

I received Boundless free from Chestnut. Given that I’m 430+ hours into the game, I’m starting to feel like I should give the company something in exchange for all this enjoyment I’m having with it. So I did.

I don’t strictly need the deluxe edition upgrade. I was doing fine without it. But as a thank you, with some bonuses attached, I feel pretty good about it.

I get a month of Gleam Club (worth $5usd a month) where I don’t have to worry about keeping beacons topped up – granted, stuffing 10 foliage worth of fuel into my small number of beacons per month is no big deal to me either. The Gleam Club comes with colored chat text, which I am unlikely to use since I am not a chatterbox, but perhaps I can get some use out of emojis in signs.

I get 500 cubits and 10% more plots, not as if I was running out of the free cubits or plots any time soon either.

And I get to make a special weapon called the Golden Fist, which I could have bought from other players or asked other players with the Deluxe edition to fire off my machines to make them. Still, since I now have the ability, I mass crafted 10 of them and will eventually have to get around to forging them and then taking them for a spin to see how they work. (I could have just stuck to normal slingbows also, which have more range than the fist weapons.)

Virtual House Expansion, the Fifth

The Boundless base has been extended in three compass directions with extra plots, to reserve space for future planned expansions of storage, farms, and machines.

I’ve been digging out the holes slowly and steadily, but have been interrupted in these pursuits by the arrival of exoworlds, in shiny colors, that I feel like I need to snatch up, before they disappear in a few days.

Being someone who loves the color green, I so want to stay on this planet forevah!

The sorting/tidying/cleaning/ordering bug has hit well enough to at least do a tiny bit of a constructive thing.

In this case, the new basement corridor that will eventually lead to rooms of machines. Initial sketches using placeholder blocks, while the actual marble and concrete were still getting mixed up and crafted in the machines.
The more-or-less finished product.

Mostly less, because I added a bit more decoration on the mid-level stair landing, and I want to do something more decorative and make a proper fountain/water feature later on.

(The water was left over from trying to make a safe landing spot in the basement, before giving up and doing the L-shaped ramp as stairs route.)

Addendum, the Final

I’d intended to get a quick 30 min game out of one of this month’s recent Humble Bundle Choice, so that one could feel virtuous about actually having played a game I newly own.

I wound up nearly 2 hours into it.

Suffice to say that Beat Hazard 2 is still pretty durned good.

Mind you, it takes a little getting used to.

There’s a Steam review on it where the author calls it “How to make yourself legally blind 2: the game.” Accurate.

My first encounter with its predecessor Beat Hazard, and I recoiled like a vampire from its riot of color and sheer visual excess.

I was ridiculously motivated by Steam achievements in those days though, and there was one nasty one in Beat Hazard that was in the way of my brilliant completionism. So I gritted my teeth and just stuck it out.

At some point, your brain learns to compensate and literally tune all the visual bling out as merely background noise. The trick is to just zone out and let your eyes defocus on the background where the lightshow is, while mostly feeling the rhythm of the music and focusing only on important things – like where your ship is, where the killer bullets are, and where to just spray your own bullets in the general direction of targets.

One big improvement upgrade on the original is that Beat Hazard 2 allows you to play your own music from any streaming site or Youtube by using desktop mic to listen and some third party music identification service to figure out what the song is.

Given how esoteric my music choice can be, that it identified correctly about 50-75% of the Youtube videos I was using as actual music tracks, that’s not too shabby. (We’re talking Melodicka Bros, Miracle of Sound, Wind Rose, Sam Tsui, etc. It kinda half gave up with earlier Miracle of Sound and Peter Hollens videos and it more or less surrendered with nightcore.)

What is pretty cool is that each track dynamically generates for you a new ship that you could purchase (with in-game cash, not real cash – sad we have to specify this now) and use.

So you might find potentially find good or bad ships, and tell your friends to go play those music tracks to get good ships, etc.

Each ship also has special missions to upgrade them further, mostly based about the artist or words in the track, so it keeps unlocking potentially limitless gameplay tasks.

But mostly, Beat Hazard 2 is about chilling to as intense or relaxing an experience as you personally want to make it (you can dial down visual intensity to 50% and use really slow songs, or if you’re score-motivated and highly competitive, then you need 300% visual intensity for the best score multiplier – in which case, good luck to your eyes) while listening to music you enjoy.

I could think of worse ways to waste 2 hours.

A Game For All Seasons Except The Winter of Discontent

Most days, I love my 1700+ game Steam library.

I collect free Epic Games like Pokemon, gotta catch ’em all.

That Itch.IO bundle for Racial Justice and Equality was like icing on top of a very delicious cake, straddling between two different game collecting hobbies – computer games & tabletop RPGs.

But there’s something about this season’s Steam summer sale that is just leaving me out of sorts.

Some of it is the bombardment of so many rectangular options to clarify and re-negotiate.

Yes, yes I know there are discounts. Are they discounted -enough-?

There are good games that I am tempted to play, but they’re only 25-50% off. My formula is usually to wait. So I should wait, except there’s a slight itch of temptation.

I’m ok making an exception for games that I’m really craving in the moment, but so far, that seems to be only PC Building Simulator (40% off), so that’s filed in the back of my mind to consider. I’m just not sure how long the craving will last, once I actually begin playing though.

There are other games that I’ve no intention of playing, games that have a shiny cover that I maybe should assess whether they should get wishlisted, games that sound good but aren’t at the right point of development or personal interest that deserve a wishlist spot yet, and a whole lot of other categories to parse every time my eye flicks across the screen.

The Road Trip Special is delicious, an additional 16% off, and I certainly don’t begrudge spending $21 of my local currency for $25 of games I want. But what games do I -really- want? As in, right now? And will play? As in, immediately. (And I shouldn’t overbuy either, because $4 off $25 is significant, but $4 off $100 is not very worth it.)

Some of it is that antsy, restless feeling of waiting for this months’ Humble Bundle Monthly Choice to come around, before I can fully assess my options and make a buying plan (if any.)

This month was terrible. I paused it. Maybe next month will be better? Maybe not? Two more days to find out. In the meantime, nothing is resolved, nothing is decided.

Some of it is the realization that I am losing track of all the games I own, across various platforms and web stores.

I thought I was going to pick up Finding Paradise as part of the Road Trip Special – if I hadn’t owned To The Moon before the play-along and wasn’t quite jumping to snatch up similar games, surely I didn’t own Finding Paradise.

Except when I navigated to the Steam page while logged in, it turns out that I do.

Now when did THAT happen?!

I check when I added the serial to Steam, and it says July 2019.

I immediately pop over to the Humble Store library, and boggle, because it shows up in the Library category, but not Purchases. The July 2019 Humble Monthly does not contain Finding Paradise. Adjacent bundle purchases also seem to lack the game.


Eventually, the mystery is solved when I figure out it actually turned up in the May 2019 Humble Monthly, and I only got around to filling in the serials of stuff I didn’t want immediately some time in July.

So that’s some money saved and I’m ready to rev it up whenever. (But now that’s $3.67 no longer to be counted as part of the Road Trip Special $21, re-assess, re-adjust, re-calibrating…)

Some of it is a disk space problem.

A limitless Steam library means nothing if you’ve only got 70gb or less of disk space available. Have you seen the size of the really chonky triple A games these days?

Sure puts a limiter on the resolution “I will play this immediately, once I buy it” if I can’t even get it installed.

But what do I remove in order to install said theoretical game?

Most of the games these days are essentially endless.

  • Warframe is 22gb, and I am quite likely to play it again.
  • Hitman 2016 is 67gb, but I’m not done with it yet, and I can’t even get Hitman 2 installed because of said limitation.
  • I was halfway to 3/4 through Shadowrun Hong Kong (9gb).
  • If I take out out Skyrim (9gb), I’ll never figure out how to reinstall the mods again.
  • Enderal: Forgotten Stories (13gb) is big, but if I remove it, I might forget I wanted to play it, and as a mod, it might vanish from Steam.
  • BattleTech, whew! is chonky at 34gb, and I really should play it and clear it, but am I mentally there for a strategic game right now?

On and on, the assessment goes. A litany of “I should plays”, “I’ll get around to it” and the dawning realization that I already have plenty of games that I could be playing without buying new shinies.

Except that the craving is for the gameplay experience of the new shinies, and not that of the halfway-throughs.

On the bright side, there are a few easier decisions. I took out Monster Hunter World as part of the quick assessment cleanup. Not planning on picking up Iceborne any time soon, and the main story was done with the help of the cheaty gear. Grinding for higher gear numbers is not really for me. I can reinstall it when we’re ready to revisit, if ever.

Some of it is currently being in a sort of definition limbo where desired gameplay experiences are concerned.

Usually, I’m pretty good at knowing what kind of gameplay experiences I need. If I need a calming walk in the woods, I have a game for that. If I want a fantasy escapist power fantasy of slaying 30 monsters in a single blow, I have a game for that. Puzzle game, adventure game, grinding game, farming game, check. Happy game? Sad game? Adrenaline pumping or meditative experience? Got plenty for each too.

Except that this begins to fail when nothing seems to sate.

The funny thing is, when I start and play any game, I am still engaged. I can still accomplish stuff and feel vaguely satisfied. I end play sessions fine. It’s the starting that is slightly problematic (which game should I play now) and the lack of any future ambition or desire for more in any game.

I log into Boundless and enjoy my little settlement. I crank out a few more blocks and put on some finishing touches on the next room I’m building. I go on wandering breaks to earn coins or see the sights or snatch up limited time opportunities, etc.

I jump into Path of Exile and continue chugging on leveling an Ice Crash Juggernaut build in SSF Harvest League. It’s going okay. It’s not super powerful as yet, it’s not explodey weak, there’s just room for plenty of improvements when one gets around to shuffling inventory and dealing with it.

I pop into Guild Wars 2 for my regular raids, out of a begrudging sense of obligation. When I’m actually mid-battle, I feel alright. When it ends, I find I actually enjoyed the whole experience somewhat. Except my inventory is a right mess, and I really need to get disciplined enough to deal with it somehow.

I am still inching my way through SOMA, one map at a time. I’ll get to the finish line. Eventually.

In a sudden burst of inspired aimlessness, I started up Talos Principle – a completely new game – and raced through the first world’s puzzles in record time, getting to a new stage of progress. The bite sized puzzles seem to be the closest to what I might find enjoyable right now, except that the prospect of so many -more- puzzles after is a little daunting.

I am “in between” games emotionally, while still “playing” them regularly.

Is it really play though?

Play is supposed to involve elements of discovery and learning.

I feel like I am either defining, clarifying or completing task lists.

That, or sorting inventory. My absolute nemesis. Defining, clarifying and placing objects into locations for easy access and retrieval, which also means I have to define, clarify and find said locations first.

I do this shit at work. I should do more of it in real life. I seem to be doing plenty of it while gaming.

Nothing is complete. Everything is in progress. My life is turning into one giant task list to GTD and incrementally catch up on.

I can do this. I am able to do this. But it is not, by any definition of the word, very much fun.

Shouldn’t I be playing games for fun?

I should.

Except I seem to have forgotten what fun is.

To the Moon Play-Along – Minisodes 1 & 2

Here’s a change in format, play-along questions first, since they’re pretty short, and will also conveniently segue into my impressions and wild speculations:

1. Protesters. Perhaps not too surprising to find they exist in this world. Many of us were not entirely comfortable with the concept of what Sigmund Corp does. What did you think about getting a look behind the curtain as it were, and seeing some of the responses of the employees?

No real change of opinion. Most people believe they’re doing some good in their own way, otherwise they wouldn’t continue with what they’re doing. That’s why you have protesters who believe strongly enough in what they stand for to come out and protest; and that’s why you have people working for a company who believe what they’re doing is right to continue doing what they’re doing.

As mentioned previously, if they’re sticking to the letter of the law and creating only fake memories for people who’ve explicitly consented and are dying shortly anyway, that’s of very little issue. The memories exist only for those terminally ill people, and it gets wiped thereafter by said peoples’ passing.

We’re beginning to see some more questionable use of the technology in the minisodes though, which is always one of the problems with new technology, the potential for misuse outside of acceptable boundaries.

Using the tech for people who haven’t explicitly consented… I think that’s definitely in the ‘bad’ category. Yes, even if the person is incapable of consenting and the fake memories would give them a better fake life, I think that’s not morally (and legally) right to do so. Informed consent and all that, one person’s rights stopping where another begins and so on.

The use of the tech for people who have more or less consented, but -aren’t- dying shortly thereafter… is, I think, getting steadily explored as the overall narrative across all the games progresses.

Something that hasn’t really been addressed explicitly either is the state of memories, real or fake, and the potential for said memories to exist after someone’s passing.

In the actual game, Eva makes a brief reference to reconstructing a new fake memory “River” out of Johnny’s memories and -whatever info- was available in the public domain – emphasis mine. In one of the minisodes, she casually mentions that it’s not as if they save peoples’ memories on a disk, hence it’s ok for visitors to come by. So… does that mean that they save peoples’ memories somewhere else -other- than a disk, say, on a private network, or in the public domain, or not at all?

I suppose the main dubiousness of it all would be, is there potential for any of these fake memories to affect someone else? Because then we’d be passing out of the realm of the personal and into the boundaries of someone else, and some legal thought and consideration needs to be in place for what is or what isn’t permissible.

2. For how short these two (aptly named) Minisodes were — we were given a LOT to wonder about, from Ghost Eva on the road, to Neil’s mum or dad on the phone, to what on earth he was doing with the memory unit in his office to… whatever it was that happened post-credits. So, yeah… My extended version of the ‘WTF?’ question is: What do you think is happening? Speculate wildly!

Okay. So here we go into my general impressions about the two minisodes.

Minisode 1 is a short and fairly straightforward meta-commentary.

The surface story is that we get a sneak peek into Sigmund Corp and its employees as they celebrate their annual Christmas party. We meet Neil and Eva while they’re busy pranking each other and chat up the other characters in the company.

And some of them are indeed characters. Eddie’s long “wish he had hair” saga is worth the price of admission and has more than a dozen people credited in the end credits.

Neil shares with Eva a game he made based on the client they met in To The Moon.

There are also a few serious moments where the employees reflect on what they do for dying people.

Eva says a few words of comfort to a colleague who has some doubts on what she’s doing, after facing protesters.
In other words, a thankless task.
Neil is all about the moments now. Or maybe it’s the authors speaking through him again.

All this while outside their door, protesters haul their placards and throw tomatoes at lab-coated employees who dare show their face outside.

And where’s the meta?


It’s a clever little sidelong swipe at To The Moon and its critics. The critics are the protesters who don’t understand.

Sigmund Corp or the game authors are going to keep making their little games anyway, because it’s all about those fleeting moments of shared happiness for those who appreciate what they’re doing to make it all worth it.

In the meantime, here’s To The Moon as an actual GAME as imagined in Neil’s hands. We have an unskippable arcade sequence where we have health bars, levels, player interaction where they must navigate through paths and escape enemy icons (represented by Zombie Evas and evil pickled olives) while they bring significant memory artifacts from River to Johnny to get to the next level.

And yes, the graphics are EVEN MORE PIXELATED (read: antique) and the gameplay’s a pushover, but…


But yea, it’s funny and enjoyable and blessedly -short-. Pacing is important.

And there is even limited replayability because if you click on all the things like a typical RPG player, Eva will close her diary and Neil cannot read it. So you have to play it again and with game foreknowledge, leave it the heck alone so that Neil can check on it later. But I think getting to read “vengeance and fury of a thousand suns” is worth it.

Minisode 2, meanwhile, is now the creepypasta meets missed connections edition of To The Moon.

aka How mysteriously spooky and relationship-shippy can we make this mini-episode and blow peoples’ minds and allow them to wildly speculate?

Answer: Pretty well.

We’re back at Sigmund Corp for another round of the Christmas Party, except it’s right as the party has ended and people are dispersing and going home.

Neil and Eva have some quick and awkward conversations where they skate around their feelings for each other, while all around them, all of their colleagues are pairing up for Christmas.

The two most senior doctors (literally grey-haired and married) are comedically frisky with each other, to the hilarious ambient tune of crickets as Eva and Neil stare wordlessly at them.

Dr Robert Lin and Dr Roxanne Winters appear to be pretty much dating and/or engaged at this point – Dr Winters is waiting for Dr Lin to get ready and presumably they are either going out or going home, but definitely together.

Neil says he’ll be staying back in the office to work. Eva says she’ll be going to meet her sister Traci for Christmas dinner, and takes her briefcase, goes down to the lobby, and exits, stage left in a car alone.

Midway through her call with her sister, she screeches to a stop as she comes face to face with her doppelganger for the space of a few seconds, before it vanishes.

Meanwhile, we see Neil hard at work on his secret project. He’s swiped one of those fake memory machines and is… trying to use it for something… for apparently the thirtieth time.

It may or may not be related to someone he keeps calling, but not speaking to. The person down the line meanwhile just keeps going, “Hello? Who’s there?” and later wonders if it’s their “Son?” “Is that you, Neil?”

Except the moment he attempts to turn the thing on, the power goes out. And he tromps down to the basement to turn the power back on, where he surmises that someone manually turned the power off… except…

It’s impossibru!

He hears noises upstairs, grabs a broom, and bashes Eva in the face with the bristles…

Apparently, she came back, having invited her sister and her kids, and even Lily and her kids, to set up a Christmas dinner for Neil.

Even Dr Winters shows up (though I can’t remember if Dr Lin did), but she claims that Eva needed some kind of pickup. It’s not quite specified if -Eva- herself needed a lift back to the office (though Neil thinks so and momentarily wonders about it) or if she was referring to picking up Lily and her kids.

Neil has a -moment- where he runs out of the office and stands in a very blatantly telegraphed two paths diverge moment.

Down one path, he leaves to go and work on his secret project even further, possibly to do with the parent? calling him “son” down the line.

On the other path, he goes back into the office to have Christmas dinner with Eva and all the people she called back on his behalf.

The minisode ends there, without any real indication of which path he took.

In the credits, we see fuzzy sepia memories of a Neil who did go back for a happy Christmas dinner, having ridiculous fun with the kids and so on, while an ambient sound recorder is mysteriously zoomed in on “Record” mode.

In a scene after the credits, we see Eva exiting the office lift with her sister and kids, where they exchange ambiguous words about the Christmas dinner, along the lines of, it wasn’t so bad, was it?

There is a split second where the screen flashes to something a little more sinister…

… before we’re back into office lift territory and they leave.

Well. Now.

Minisode 2 is rife for speculations galore. There are definitely overlapping memories/timelines going on here.

Exactly what is still not supremely clear, but there are some possibilities.

Neil is definitely using and mis-using the memory creation technology for something. He’s been trying it out on himself. Repeatedly, for almost the thirtieth time. It may or may not be the source of his headaches and pain, but it could very well be.

The… parent? he keeps calling may be involved. He may be trying to adapt the tech for a new purpose that involves them. One easy guess is dementia or Alzeimers. He may be trying to make something that gives said patients who are still living some manner of memories back.

A wilder guess would be some kind of time travel mechanism or way to create a version of themselves to phase back to the past. (Or he aims for the former and stumbles on the latter.)

The attempt may be slowly killing him. (Or perhaps even -less- slowly so. Perhaps the thirtieth attempt does kill him, or incapacitate him in some way… hence our unseen person’s attempts to fracture that timeline before it happens.)

That unseen person, by the way, is apparently Neil. -Or- someone with Neil’s password and access particulars. You can check this with Eva before she goes out to talk to Neil for the final time, hence Neil’s earlier boggling over impossibilities and glitches in the matrix.

My best guess is that the Christmas dinner with Neil is a bunch of fake memories. It did not actually happen. Neil dashes off, stage right, to work on his secret project further. Eva has to go back, empty-handed, to have dinner with her sister, and that’s why they exit later, not quite commiserating.

Later that night, Eva takes out -her- own stolen tech and layers those fake memories for herself on top of it, where Neil does come back to spend time with them.

After all, this does look like Eva, with her lab coat hanging up, in an apartment by herself, with two big alcoholic drink bottles next to her.

What happens in the future is not supremely clear as yet.

Most likely, -something- happens to one of the pair. Perhaps something happens to Neil and Eva has to try and save him from himself.

A doubled Eva running around behind the scenes could easily account for why Eva sees herself in the car scene, and somehow manages to require a lift back to the office from Roxanne. She could easily have shut off the power. Perhaps she’s doing it with a ‘ghost’ Neil supporting her, hence her knowledge of Neil’s password and access privileges.

The alternative is Neil running around to save Eva, but this seems less likely, given the foreshadowing of extra Evas.

It could perhaps be that Neil collapses first, causing Eva to enter into memory rift unreality to save him, but that in turn causes her to collapse, and then it’s Neil’s turn to save her. Who knows.

If we want to get -really- wild with speculations, we might end up in future episodes with a Neil vs Eva memory duel!

Both of them sitting in their chairs with a helmet on their head, rifling through each others’ shared memories, trying to

  • a) restore the actual timeline,
  • b) differentiate fake from real memories,
  • c) somehow implant enough fake memories to grow close enough and express their love for each other, instead of remaining unrequited,
  • d) all of the above,
  • e) prevent all of the above.

Oh, and this is Eva’s diary from Minisode 2. We definitely have either a ghost Eva or Neil on our hands here.

Much Later Footnote: After reading Kim from Later Levels’ take on things, it also occurs to me that the spooky image of Eva that we see may not necessarily be “later that night” but simply, “later later.”

As in, so much later that Neil has actually passed away and Eva either let him go at that point or wasn’t in time to do anything for him. Knowing her, she would push on with the rest of her life, feeling increasingly lonely and sad… possibly until we hit this crux point of despair in an apartment by herself.

At which point, she decides to use the device on -herself-, creating this long elaborate intensely meta game-spanning con game on herself where the dastardly duo goes around altering timelines and doing their best to save Neil.

Except that if she succeeds in this endeavor, she is actually committing suicide in the “most real” darkest of timelines.

(Or the equivalent of suicide via mental wipe of whatever ‘real’ memories exist.)

It kinda sounds like something the author would do.

Depending on how far we are into fantasy and overlapping timelines, rather than bitter mundanity, perhaps the copy of Neil that exists in this Eva’s fake memories has enough of his facilities and personality to realize what she’s doing… and is game enough to attempt to hijack and disrupt her attempts as well.

Who knows. Once we start layering all this stuff on top of each other, we could go -anywhere- at this point!

One thing’s for sure, I actually prefer the more out-there minisodes. They’re short enough to not drag in pacing.

The storyline is more fantastical and less mundane, allowing for more humorous segues to break up the moments of intentional meaning and metaphor.

It’s like the equivalent of watching normal cinematic jump cuts and being allowed to fill in the blanks like reading comics, rather than one un-ending long take that lingers lovingly on whatever the director finds fascinating while no one else quite understands the significance and is now bored.

Steam sale is on now, so I’ll likely be able to pick up the sequel Finding Paradise once July’s Humble Choice comes out, and ensured there will be no doubled game copies regret.

As for the third game Impostor Factory, that will have to wait until it goes on sale. While this sequence has been entertaining, I don’t think I’m invested to the point of needing to buy the next game at full price quite yet.

To The Moon Play-Along – Act 3

And so, here we are at Act 3 of To The Moon, aka No Wonder the Mom Went Cuckoo and Artificial Drama For the Sake of It.

As predicted in Act 2, we see the last memory from his childhood that was previously blocked and find out the reason for doing so.

While I did not quite consciously pick up on the visual clue of the bunk bed, Eva’s continual pointing out that we missed something at least alerted me to the fact that there was something to miss. By the time it was highlighted that there were too many images of “Johnny” existing in the memory, there being twins had already established itself in my mind. Hearing one of the NPCs say “boys” in plural fashion confirmed it.

The accident itself was… slightly hard to watch, even in pixel form, so that’s probably one of those shared emotional triggers. Mostly I was thinking, “ah, no wonder the mom went nuts, poor woman.”

After that though, the story swerved into the slightly sappy (the Carnival meeting of River and Johnny) and the downright pointless artificial conflict for the sake of the extending the storyline just a little more (the whole Neil-Zombie-Eva sequence). The latter I found utterly excessive, and truly annoying, given the janky controls. More on that later, when we get to the questions.

Then finally, we are asked to watch a big wrap up conclusion sequence that pretty much tied up everything neatly just how the authors planned it, and The End… until the next time (cue spooky red screen flash of pain foreshadowing.)

“Yeah, okay. Glad I got through the game, with the help of the play-along” is mostly my final reaction.

I dunno. I don’t feel like I could relate to any of the characters much, which probably explains the emotional distance. There wasn’t enough time or good player interaction allowed to get into the headspace of any character and immerse and pretend to be viewing things from their perspective.

It mostly felt like a game where one played the camera, watching a whole bunch of external characters interact with each other, in a mundane soap opera (which is also not exactly a genre that sings to me.)

As for games that strive to make you feel unusual emotions, I was already sold on the concept since Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit (back in 2005) and we’ve had plenty of those since.

Heck, Secret of Monkey Island in 1990 was already doing sappy sweet comedy between Elaine and Guybrush (not to mention, I had a big crush on Carla the Swordmaster at the time.)

Grim Fandango in 1998 is probably the only video game in recent memory that actually got tears out of me in a genuine way (the demise of some of the side characters was both noble and sad; and needing to leave friends to move on to something new at the end is bittersweet.)

Things like the Walking Dead’s Season 1 ending with Lee and Clementine don’t count. Those are artificial deliberate manipulations. Little girl. Little girl cries. Little girl faces death and loss. => immediate mirror neurons trigger.

To the Moon, I feel, edges more close to the latter style of game. The plot manipulation is more obvious and clumsy. I mean, the whole musical soundtrack is one big “have feels now” cuecard. The author had a one-track story to tell, we were railroaded as ostensible players through the whole thing with very little input and definitely no say as to how it progressed, your only job is to consume the story as put forth before you, and hopefully, like it.

Still, it’s an indie game, written by one person, made by only a small team (if that) and it patently works for a large subset of people (of which, my Venn diagram only overlaps a small amount)… so I guess we should cut it some slack. At least I don’t -loathe- it.

Onwards to the play-along questions!

1. Johnny… Joey… Twins. It seems after the accident Johnny lost his identity to his mother, and became a replacement-Joey. Does it change how you feel about Johnny as compared to your Act 1 impressions?

Not really, I was already feeling a little sorry for him from the get go. Now he just gets to deal with a crackpot mom on top of everything else.

Mind you, it doesn’t seem like it would have that much of an impact per se. If we take the story at face value that the beta-blockers wiped out his memory of the accident, all he would know is that his mum calls him Joey as a nickname and that his mum is a little off her rocker. (No wonder he’s drawn to caregiving anything strange or weird.)

He does seem to have subconsciously taken on some of Joey’s characteristics post accident. He gets more creative (aka he actually paints and paints well), he liked pickled olives where he doesn’t before, etc.

Either that, or the more sinister explanation is that the mum actually offed Johnny in the accident and Joey became Johnny, but the mum still recognizes him as Joey. But nah, that wouldn’t work. When the little boy runs up to his dead brother, he calls him Joey; and we also see that Johnny had the meeting with River at the carnival, so the survivor must be Johnny.

2. Eva and Neil have a verbal sparring match on their differing views of contract vs. what they now know (or think they know) about what would make Johnny happier. Outcome of Eva’s actions notwithstanding; do you sympathise with one view over the other here?

Here’s where I started feeling like the whole disagreement was an artificial construct of the author to create conflict and dramatic tension, when the author knew very well what story ending he wanted to write in the first place.

I mean, come on, what exactly is Eva’s view vs Neil’s view?

Eva’s view, as far as I can tell, is “I understand the whole story now. Let’s give Johnny what he has requested for in his contract. Let’s give Johnny the brother he’s missing. Let’s (hopefully) try to get River in there as much as we can, while achieving the above. Let’s give him the happiest ending we can, even if it’s built on fake memories. Let’s not bother to explain this all to Neil because I’m just going to go ahead and do it anyway while he screams ineffectually.”

Neil’s view, meanwhile is, “I understand the whole story now. Johnny didn’t know exactly why he requested for what he did in the contract, but now we do. We know what he wants better than he does, but I still don’t know what to do about it. Whatever we do, we shouldn’t erase River. I want to give him a happy ending, but the best plan I can come up with is cancelling the contract, potentially getting in trouble, while Johnny dies, still unfulfilled and possibly sad, with his original memories.”

Neil. Master of stating the obvious. Less good at coming up with solutions.

So Neil, tell me, exactly what do you think Johnny wants?

Does he want his brother back? Does he want to meet River on the moon, because that’s where they arranged to meet up if any of them lost their way? Does he want his original memories left the way they are? (if he did, why did he bother to contact Sigmund Corp in the first place?) Does he want to remember all his original memories (and thought that Sigmund Corp might be able to get past the beta-blockers that left a hole in his mind?)

Either way, you didn’t get very far on explaining any of the above to Eva, because mostly the role the author wanted you to play was to protest and scream “Noooooo, not River!” while the plot moved on.

Let’s face it. Eva’s the woman with a plan here. So let the woman (and the author) just do whatever the hell they wanted, in the first place.

That’s not to say that I -sympathize- with the outlook, because I don’t believe in fake memories and meddling with people’s brains to begin with. But hey, if Johnny asked for it, that’s his choice and he gets what he gets, ie. Eva

I mean, what can Neil achieve? Blubber to the dying man that you got it wrong, you don’t want to go to the moon, you want River back, and oops, you died while I was trying to explain this to you instead of constructing a fake memory that you asked and paid and contracted for, in which you got River back? (Then get fired and sued?)

You know what would have been a much cooler dilemma? If they posited the choice of brother vs River.

If the man actually said something like, “ok, let’s create a fake ending where River doesn’t die and they managed to save the house and lighthouse and die together holding hands in their deathbed, that’s what I want to do…” or “let’s make an ending where he actually travels to the moon and meets River”

…while Eva’s like, “Nooo. Johnny wants his brother back to be happy, not the girl. Let’s create all those fake memories and take out the girl, and get him to the moon as requested…”

Then I think we’d have a lot more and better debates on what would be the best ending for Johnny. Even more game points if they were all branching endings the player could choose.

As is, all we have is Neil not knowing what he wants to do, besides what he -doesn’t- want, and Eva knowing very well what the so-called best course of action is and doing it anyway… so… why even debate if one view is more right than the other, if both are pretty artificial?

3. Throughout that same exchange, Eva asks Neil to trust her. He clearly didn’t. Did you?

See above. The author wants to do what the author wants to do. Trust doesn’t even begin to fall into the picture here. You’re along for the ride. It’s not like the author even began to give you, the player, a real choice here.

Certainly Eva’s got the plan that the author wants to push forward, and Neil doesn’t. So yeah, let Eva work, man. None of you are playing God here. The author is.

4. “He can always find another ‘River’… But he’ll only have one brother.” Again, pretending for the moment you don’t know the outcome of Eva’s actions and what she (suspected) would happen… Do you agree? What about in this context of overwritten memories as opposed to life as it was?

Er, no? There’s only one “River” and there’s only one “Joey?” Every soul is unique?

Yes, he might still be quite happy with another girlfriend or wife. He might also mope till the end of time if he never found his soulmate. He might be quite happy growing up with the brother he never had. He might also be miserable and unhappy if the brother he never had turned out to be an annoying a-hole. How the heck do we begin to predict future happiness here?

As for the context of overwritten memories, well, you’re making fake memories, so go nuts. Make up anything you want. Tell him how happy he gets, I suppose.

I don’t really get the purpose of Eva’s statement as is. She patently intended to move River elsewhere, just far enough away to still get him physically to NASA and the moon, as stated by the literal letter of the contract.

It would have had more poignant meaning if it was a real choice between getting River and getting his brother instead, fake memory-wise.

(In which case, I’d probably say, no, the real Johnny already more or less forgot Joey and is more deeply attached to River (as shown by how he grieves her) so he would have been much happier with seeing River again before he died.

Of course, a fake memory in which he never knew River and also enjoyed a great fake life with his brother is also a perfectly valid ‘road-not-taken’ fake happiness-before-death option. So that’s also possible. Hey, you signed your brain and memories away, you takes the risks of whatever your technician comes up with for you.)

Anything you wish I’d asked you about that I haven’t, for this act or any of the others? Answer that question for this one. 😉

And my question is: why lighthouses? What are lighthouses supposed to be a metaphor or symbol for?

My best guess? People. Lighthouses and stars are meant to represent individual souls in the universe, shining their unique message into the night. Lonely, isolated by default, too far apart to hear true what others are saying… but occasionally, someone comes along to love and care for them like River cares for Anya, and by extension, how Johnny cares for River.