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”

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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”

Switching Between Writing and Coding Styles on Notepad++

If you’re like me and you do both literate writing and code-wrangling with plaintext, (and you also have attention span issues which cause you to jump between the two often), you’ll probably have problem picking which text editor to use. Coding environment, with its monospace font and and code highlighting is probably not suited for simple writing. I like to write with Serif fonts, myself.

Notepad++ is an excellent text editor for coding, but as I found out, if you take out the highlighting and switch the font style, it’s perfectly suited for prose writing too. It’s just switching between the two that’s a pain.

So far, here’s what I do.

  1. Settings > Shortcut Mapper > Set something easy to reach Style Configurator
  2. In the Style Configurator, on Global Override, choose the colour and font style that you’d like for writing.
  3. Keep using your default coding style for coding. When you want to switch to writing, call up Style Configurator with your shortcut, then, on Global Override, check everything that you’ve modified
  4. Ta-da~

… Okay put like this it seems pretty messy just for theme switching. Still, it’s easier than it was before, and I don’t have to switch between apps when I’m jumping between writing and coding.

Hope that helps. And if you’ve got any method that’s easier, please let me know.

On Coding, Website-Building, and Relationships with My Hobbies

Let’s just start this by saying that this post is awfully overdue. I’ve been meaning to write it since I sort-of finished building my personal homepage (pseudomon.github.io) last month, but somehow it’s just been side-lined. My interest in programming jumps around with time, it seems. When I’m into it, I will bury myself in it, but other times I just let it slip out of my mind completely.

It’s like having a relationship with someone who travels a lot, and you only get to see them when they’re unexpectedly in town.

So. Yes. I have a personal homepage now. pseudomon.github.io, which I’m hoping to turn into a portfolio-like place where I can put my more notable works, just so they won’t drown in the sea of other posts in this blog. So far I’ve listed some reviews and stories that I’ve made. I was hoping I could also put up my programming projects, but after poking through my folders, I realised that I don’t really have any that’s worth showing. Mostly they’re just, well, code doodles? Experiments? The only programming project I’ve actually gotten done is the website itself.

I’ve been meaning to build my own website for a long time now. I think I even made a blog post about it here in, what, 2014? I was trying out static site generator at the time. I remember creating a working offline one with Hugo, with my own design.

At the time, my main motive for building a site from scratch was load times. WordPress was a behemoth that ate up resource and bandwith (still is, really), and I was thinking about creating somewhere that’s lighter. But, as I’ve mentioned above, I had an odd relationship with programming, and I guess at the time it was in town. That odd desire to mess around codes again must’ve been fuel too.

I had an early interest in coding and programming, I suppose. I can’t remember when I started using a computer, but I remember my first was Windows 98. For reference, I was born in ’97. And then I distinctly remember joining online communities around when I was 9. I was active at this website, Neopets, and they have a web page for every pet that’s customizable with (sanitized) HTML and CSS. I somehow found places where fellow Neopets player were putting up tutorials and web design references, and things were just going from there.

I didn’t stay in Neopets long enough to make anything notable (I was 9. What’s to be expected?), but I suppose I learned enough of the basic to carry with me. I never made an effort to remember what I did; I only sometimes make small web pages for the heck of it, but it’s.. it’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to do it. Continue reading “On Coding, Website-Building, and Relationships with My Hobbies”

January Playlist

So. January of 2017. What a nice month. For me, it’s the beginning of a pretty major turn in my life after dropping out of college and finding new ways to put my life together. For the rest of the world, it seems the beginning of an age in which 2016 (the most horrible year) is just a prelude. I can’t seem to go online nowadays without hearing of unrest and unscrupulous governments and war. Reading my twitter feed is like watching the world crashing down in slow, panicked, motion.

There’s a lot I’ve been hearing, and a lot that I want to say, but, uhh, I just don’t think I’ve enough words to put them down yet.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in the eye of a storm—nothing seems to touch me directly, but damned if I can’t feel for what’s been going on everywhere else.

So here’s an alternative: what I’ve been reading, playing, and doing this beginning of the year.

Reading List

The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change by Al Gore

AKA, Al Gore’s musing on the state of the world and where it’s going. Al Gore, former vice president, environmentalist, I tend to take as one of the good ones, and his musings are thoughtful and on point. It’s hard to summarize this incredible book, since it seems to, on top of being 500 pages thick, be able to tackle nearly every facet of our modern life. It’s also willing to look back on ancient history and using that the look to the future. The way history is meant to be.  Continue reading “January Playlist”

My 2016 in Video Games

Hey, it’s 2017. The last year has been kind of oscillating between “bad” and “meh” and “shitty” but also sometimes “pretty good” and “life’s pretty okay”. So what’s the best way to look back on it without getting too personal?

Games of the Year! I’m going to mostly list games that has made an impact on me on 2016 instead of a list of quality games that are released this year (there’s a kajillion of them and I barely play them!).

The Big Throne

Ori and the Blind Forest

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I only started playing this during the December holiday season. There’s so many good, fantastic, beautiful things in it, I can’t even start counting. The gameplay and level design are perfect, the control is great (bless Ori’s fast walking speed) sans the need to press the Shift button for extended period of time (please have mercy on my pinky). The story is more a heartfelt fable than anything groundbreaking, but how it’s told is a beauty.

But my best takeaway from it is how easily Ori dies over and over and over again. Hit a spike, jump into a pool of poison, be destroyed by enemy’s projectiles. And he’ll still be back, kicking, and with every death I, or at least my fingers, learn more on how to handle the obstacle better. There’s something heartwarming in Ori’s many visceral deaths and all the dozens attempts he’ll endure again. Continue reading “My 2016 in Video Games”

A Non-Regret

While moving out of my dorm room a week ago, I found a whole stack of my fiction writings I don’t even remember anymore. Most of them are just doodles, none of them are proper start-to-end stories (I still have trouble finishing stories). I won’t be able to transcribe all of them, but I’d try to pick some of the better ones and put them on my writing doodle blog.

This one is pretty loaded with descriptions for the heck of it–the kind I’d call a garbagefic, but after typing it out and making some minor editing, I think it’s pretty good? Lemme know if you want me to continue it.


A Non-Regret

It had been a week since the incident, the accident, but every morning he still opened the newspaper with trembling hands. He scanned the pages, read quickly, and afterwards, nervously, he’d put it down and picked up the next one. He kept the TV for entire days, always tuned to the news. None of us had the heart to change the channel, to hide the papers, or even to tell him to sit down, relax, and forget everything about what happened. None of us told him that everything would be fine because we didn’t believe it ourselves.

The police investigations had found no clue, no fingerprints, nothing in the way of DNA leftovers. They knew the murder weapon was a knife, but they couldn’t find it. They wouldn’t. I buried it deeper than anyone could find, in a cemetery on the other side of the town. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, that could incriminate him in the murder.

It had been a week. We’ve all forgotten it, or tried to, at least. Every morning he read the papers with his nerve wrecked, and every night he still spent an hour washing his hands as if he could still feel the blood on them.

But the people, as people do, in a city as large, bustling, buzzing as ours, have forgotten it faster than we could. The papers had stopped mentioning it, the news had carried on to more recent matters. It seemed no one will ever find us.

And then a woman came to our house. Continue reading “A Non-Regret”