Introducing Plater, a static site generator

The Gist:

Want to generate a static site but don’t wanna read too much documentations? Know how to build a site from scratch but wants its header/footer/etc to be consistent? Wants to write your post in markdown, but publish them to html? If you say yes to all of this, then Plater is for you.

Plater is a simple static site generator made in Python 3. You can get it from its GitHub page. It’s not really beginner-friendly, but it’s effective for those who know basic Python and can already make website templates with Jinja2.

Basically, Plater does two things. One: it combines templates and contents (Markdown-formatted text files) into a html page. Two: it indexes some of those contents and create a html page that lists them. This way Plater can be used to generate still sites (promotional pages, documentations) or concurrently-updated sites (blogs and the likes). It doesn’t make assumption on what it contains; you get to decide that.

If you use it for whatever reason, do tell me how it goes! I’m always glad to know if the stuffs I made are helping people. Continue reading “Introducing Plater, a static site generator”

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I’ve always believed that even the least interesting plots can become great stories. It all depends on the execution. A good plot can be bad if it’s badly written or paired with shoddy acting/cinematography/artworks/characterization/gameplay/whathaveyou. On the other hand, even bad boring holey plots can be a great piece of art provided it’s presented the right way (see also my rambles on The Lion’s Song).

I write stories. That’s a bit of an exaggeration considering I haven’t finished any stories in ages. Plots are always my weakness. I can make the elements; I think I’m reasonably well at writing scenes and building worlds and creating characters, but I can’t really do anything with them that’s interesting. I can’t plan ahead when I’m writing, so it’s always just, start with an interesting premise and see where it goes. Most of the time it never really gets anywhere, which is kind of frustrating.

I recently watched the film Assassin’s Creed, finally. I’ve been a fan of the video game series for a while, but couldn’t manage to watch it when the film first came out. It was a massive disappointment. It was boring. It tries too hard at being mysterious. It’s too bland, too greyed out. The characters are empty voids they haplessly tries to put one-liners on. The scenes that were set in the Spanish Inquisition were so colourless, such a letdown after the historical spectacles in the games.

Good plots can be terrible films if they’re handed badly, and looking at its story beats, the story could have been a good one. Not something groundbreaking, but decent, more decent than the soulless flick we have.

So, as a fun side project, I’m trying to write an adaptation of the film. It follows the same plot. Not even “roughly the same plot”, but the same plot. The scenes play out differently, but it still follows the same beats. I was going to note down what lessons I’ve learned from it, but I’ve forgotten most of it while rambling here. Dang it, me.

One thing, though: writing this has been much easier than my latest attempts at writing a story. Sure, I still too often get distracted by Twitter and wiki-walking. But it’s good to have a sense of direction, to look at what I’ve written and knowing exactly what goes next and what will happen after that and after that, all the way to the end.

So, yeah, I guess. If you have a writer’s block like I do, it’ll be much easier to at least know what will be behind the wall. I’ve so often tried to overcome that block by writing around it, or in other words by, frankly, meandering. It doesn’t go anywhere, it just gives me a headache.

So. Plan ahead, I suppose. Can’t make a story with just a bunch of interesting characters in an interesting world with interesting tools if you don’t know what to do with them. I haven’t really figured it out myself, but I hope I will.

 

“I didn’t know it at the time, but I was looking for the name of the wind”

Review of The Name of the Wind, a novel by Patrick Rothfuss.

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This heck of an excellent cover is for the 10th anniversary edition

Here’s a nice word in Indonesian that I haven’t found an equivalence in English: roman. The dictionary lists it as simply a story that “paints its characters’ action in context of their personality and inner thoughts”, but insofar as I understand it, as a literary term, a roman in Indonesia is a fictional story that focus on the entire life of a single person, preferably from their birth to their death. Roman are usually lengthy novels, often consisting of multiple volumes, with multiple arcs and subplots. It’s a bit like a memoir, but definitely fictional. A bit like an epic, but it focus more on life and much less on heroics. A bit like, perhaps, a massive elaboration to the backstory of a character.

While I was thinking on what kind of story The Name of the Wind would be called, roman is the only the word I found that perfectly describes it. It’s high fantasy with a very well thought-out lore, sure, but the focus of the story has always been on the life of its main character, Kvothe. Continue reading ““I didn’t know it at the time, but I was looking for the name of the wind””

Sang Perapian dan Sang Salamander

Yo English-speakers. I wrote plenty about this in another post.

Ini terjemahan bahasa Indonesia untuk adegan pembuka novel Fahrenheit 451 karya Ray Bradbury, karena aku nggak ada kerjaan, masih kesel sama kualitas novel terjemahan, dan mungkin masokis (nerjemahin Bradbury itu hard mode, ok). Terjemahannya bukan kata-per-kata, dan diusahakan enak dibaca.

Kritik, saran, komentar boleh nih. Kalau ada yang punya terjemahan versi lain buat Fahrenheit 451 boleh tuh dibandingin.


Sang Perapian dan Sang Salamander

Sangatlah nikmat membakar. Continue reading “Sang Perapian dan Sang Salamander”

The Furnace and the Newt

Preface for another post which contains an Indonesian translation of the first parts of Fahrenheit 415, which ends up being a bit longer than I expected. Figured I’ll just keep them separate:

When you’re reading or listening to a language you’re fluent in, you’re not really paying attention to every word, do you? You never process them word by word, oh this is the subject, this is the verb, and it’s a past tense, and this is the object that verb is done to, no. You kind of take the entire thing at once and process it whole. A girl is walking her dog, and you imagine a girl with a dog on the leash, maybe in a park or on a pavement outside. A girl is walking with her dog beside her, and you’ll imagine roughly the same scene, but perhaps minus the leash, or maybe the leash isn’t as important.

Sorry, I’m woolgathering (aha, woolgathering! Your mind might jump straight to its idiomatic meaning: to indulge in aimless thought, or it might dawdle a bit in the image of wool and sheep). My point is that when you’re reading or listening, the message you receives might not be exactly as the sentence goes word-for-word. Your mind takes shortcuts, expands abstractions, and these blazing-fast processes are often different between culture, not to mention language. Continue reading “The Furnace and the Newt”

Trik Tiga Kartu

An Indonesian translation for the first parts of Chandler Groover’s excellent IF game: Three-Card Trick. Go and play it if you haven’t.


Kata mereka ini tidak mungkin. Atau setidaknya, walaupun mungkin, tidak ada yang bisa melakukannya, yang artinya juga sama saja.

Lalu seseorang melakukannya.

Bukan trik dua kartu. Oh, tidak. Itu sudah ketinggalan zaman. Semua orang terpukau, dan memang semua orang harus terpukau. Ini memang memukau. Ketidakmungkinan dipecahkan. Pikiran didobraki. Hati dimenangkan. Kamu melewati batas yang tak akan terbayangkan oleh orang lain, dan begitulah kamu ingin mereka menganggapinya. Biarkan mereka menebak-menebak. Dan juga, jaga reputasimu sebagai pesulap paling terkenal di sini.

Dan itu tidak akan terjadi, jika kamu tidak mengusir si amatiran ini. Semua orang mengira ia punya bakat atau keterampilan yang tak kau punya.

Kampret!

Kamu tahu apa yang ia punya, dan sebentar lagi itu pun akan jadi milikmu. Ini sama sekali bukan bakat ataupun keterampilan. Butuh lebih dari kedua itu untuk bisa melakukan apa yang ia sebut dengan sok sok sebagai…

Continue reading “Trik Tiga Kartu”

Not Just the Plot

It’s not the plot, it’s how you put everything together.

I have heaps upon heaps of unfinished stories in my cupboards. Some of them are only ever a scene, an idea laid out. Some others, I’ve tried to stretch. I gave the characters goals to work on, a mystery to solve, a world they can explore. But at the end of the day, they all end up being stretches. All the stories you’ve read with all their grand plot, they seem effortless, but I’m sure they aren’t. I don’t know how anybody manage to finish writing any story at all. It’s like pulling life out of thin air.

Most of my failure, I attribute to my inability to plot, to make a story. I can set the stage, can set the actor, but can’t decide on what they’re going to do, what all these interesting mechanics are going to do to them.

Maybe I ought to try doing narrative games?

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I’ve only recently had a chance to try out The Lion’s Song, an episodic, narrative-based, adventure game by Mipumi Games. Every episode is self-contained, with a small overarching narrative. Episode 1, the only one I’ve tried, is available for free. It’s short and charming and I very much like it, but if you break it down, it doesn’t really have an interesting plot going on.

(I guess I should say, spoiler warning for the first episode, but there’s not a lot happening that can be spoiled.) Continue reading “Not Just the Plot”

Darkest Dungeon, a dungeon-crawler I’ll happily grind through

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I just recently got my hand on Darkest Dungeon, a 2D-visual and 1D-exploring dungeon-crawling game with striking Gothic atmosphere. I can write an entire thing on its atmosphere alone, how it reverberates on feeling of hopelessness, how it exemplifies the air of madness and decay through its visual and narration and integrated game design. But I suspect what really got me to come back to it, to keep on trudging through the same old passages, is really because of its battle system.

Darkest Dungeon at its core uses stats-based turn-based battle system. Your party on the left, enemy on the right, four possible moves by your party members. But unlike most battle system, it doesn’t rely solely on just dealing damage. A majority of your possible moves deal damage, yes, but only few of them do that in a straightforward manner. Most have additional effects, like poisoning or debuffing, with a penalty to the damage that can be dealt. Occasionally there’d be more complicated affairs, like “Protect another character while Fortifying yourself” or “Stun enemy, and afterwards you move backwards while getting a buff to Dodge”.

In addition, positioning matters in the game. Some moves only work if the character is in the right position, and some move can only reach enemies at specific positions. So you can’t just lob your highest-hitter together; you gotta pay attention to what they can do and to what.

The enemies are as varied as your party. Some deal damage, some protect others. Some buffs themselves, some (ugh) heal. Some will try to Bleed you dry, some will deal no damage whatsoever, but will Stress your characters out. Any one of them can pop out, although some more than others according to their location, so it’s your job too to decide what to bring on each run to the dungeon.
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The game then, become not just a random rush, but carefully arranging your decisions to make the most long-term good for your team. It could be as easy as just using the same move twice, but there’s still the processing of information. Every decision you make is a decision, not a button mash.

Darkest Dungeon also, somehow, escapes the old roleplaying game stigma of too many, hard-to-swallow numbers, at least as far as I’ve encountered it. During battles, all stats of any units are clearly visible in a tooltip-sized box at the bottom, and any buffs and debuffs or other ailments are clearly marked. None of those stats are vaguely shaped either (INT? DEX? What does that do?). For example, the DMG stat shows the exact (possible) number of damages you can do, barring other modifiers. It might take a bit to get used to it all, but when you do, everything will look gloriously organised.

But of course, random chance is still a thing, and in this game, a very big thing. You could say it’s a shame that such a tightly-made mechanic has to bow to the whim of the Random Number God, I’d say it’s unavoidable for the kind of game it’s aiming for. Darkest Dungeon tells itself as a game about “making the best of a bad situation”. Nothing is certain, and going down the dungeon is always a risky affair. Having everything so cleanly cut would destroy most of the suspense.
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It’s not so much preparing for the worst as managing your probabilities, although I sure hope you have some backup plan for when the worst comes. Critical Hits are a thing, on both side of the playing field. And on the rare occasions that you encounter enemies far above your grade, well, at least your party will die in glory, right?

The only problem with it, which may or may not be a problem for you, is how time-consuming it is. Your party roster will come and go as heroes come and die, possibly taking out the character you’ve spent time and resource training up. Meanwhile there’s no other way to get your upgrades but plain effort traversing the dungeon. Progress, beyond the individual dungeon runs, is hard to see. Its battle system saves it from being old or grindy, as you’re always making decisions, but it can gets old.

Darkest Dungeon is really more about the moments of battles, then, instead of the long-term outlook. The journey, not the end, et cetera. It’s the *perfect* game if you need to unwind your day with some thoughtful turn-based thing, instead of unwinding it with yet another grindy, button-mashing JRPG.

You might even aspire to reach the hardest dungeons yourself, but myself personally, I’ll enjoy it for what it is. I can’t bear another emotional outbreak over losing my hard-wrought heroes, ok.

I just want to say Hollow Knight Hollow Knight Hollow-

Someone in a message board somewhere asked for recommendation for action platformers. I end up making a list on the platformers that I like, in general. For PC, and apparently mostly indies.

I’ll probably make a more fleshed out list + description, eventually. But for now here’s the list.

Generic list of platformer game recommendation, depending on what you’re looking for:

Metroidvanias? Ori and the Blind Forest
Patient, difficult combat? Hollow Knight
Patient, difficult combat (2)? Momodora
Platforming flow? Dustforce
Roguelike-ish? Spelunky
Perfection? Cave Story
Something straight in your browser? Adventure Story
Other stuffs I haven’t tried but are probably good? Axiom Verge. Shovel Knight. Shantae.
Joke answer? Mighty No. 9

The Ballads of Pronouns

Languages shape how we think. People who use different languages think differently; switching between languages, whether in speech or just in your head, literally change how you think. I’ve got like a zillion beef that starts with this phrase, but I’ll try to stick with one for this post: pronouns.

Ah, the magical element of pronouns. Without it, our sentences will be a bland mess of names and objects. Funny thing is you monolingual English-speakers may never realise how lucky you are to be blessed with so many usage for your pronouns. I’m a bilingual, I bask in this blessing half the time, and when switching to the other half, Indonesian, I have to wrangle with my head to cross the gap. I lose the blessing, although there are always some other merits.

On It

For example, it. Such a wonderful word, it. Without it you’ll be stuck repeating the same nouns over and over again. Fun fact: Indonesian has no it. We have no second-person pronoun usable for dead objects. “A cat jumps onto the table, knocking over a vase. It falls and crashes to the ground”. Note the “it” I used to begin the second sentence. If you want to translate that to Indonesian, you have to change the “it” to, approximately, “that vase”, which has about the same level of awkward as it does in English. (We can’t say “the vase” either; Indonesian has no definite article like “the“). Imagine having a string of sentences that start with that it. A translator’s nightmare. Continue reading “The Ballads of Pronouns”