2020.05.31

Quarantine birthday coronavirus package
Current events


From Corona to SpaceX to the Floyd protests, there's a lot going on and I'm just sitting here isolating. If only I had a 5G bioshield I could go ride some flat waves, maybe next birthday. Still, I can't complain about a beer and cheese of the month club and some home office-friendly dinosaur slippers. Thanks, Jes!
The Year of Zoom continues


Yay Jori I'm so happy for you guys! In real life, it apparently looked something like this:


And Gage, Derrick, and spouses played some Jack Box on Zoom with us.

Covid coronavirus quarantine Jack Pack online trivia

Now before you say anything, because Gage always gives me crap about references, I saw fit to use the handle Vas Referens and needed an image to match. That one part is a brain, so the handle is about as intellectual as they come.
Bosch

Amazon Prime Bosch LA skyline with smog added

Source.

(I took some liberties with the above image's original depiction of the LA skyline).

CattleDecapitation rated Bosch above average. In these quarantine times, I decided to give it a watch. Two seasons in, I'd call it above average. It has a lot of semi-subtle detective novel tropes regarding the protagonist, his relationship with his family, and his maverick personality. Any sort of discussion with federal agencies amounts to shouting about jurisdiction and need to know. Zzzzz. On the other hand, it's not all CSI-y and has refreshingly down-to-earth (sometimes gritty) material.

On the plus side, the borrowed actors and plotlines from The Wire are neat. On the minus side, there's handwavey stuff that keeps the plot from going off the rails but is central to its progression. Specifically for season two, the lack of followup to the major mid-season incident and all the "politics makes x happen" are hard to buy.


I wouldn't have made 8this video, but Cattle wanted a screenshot.
RIP PUBG

RIP PUBG end of an era cemetary grave

Cattle has decided to quit PUBG and I am inclined to agree.

A little history...

PUBG fantasy battle royale

PUBG has done a few things over the years to keep interest in the game. A few examples:

Removing all-chat Open chat in the queue was rife with... well exactly what you'd expect from internet randos. Still, it was something to do. And I'm pretty sure you could turn it off. Plane rides were a lot more fun with Music Guy (the guy who would play music on all-chat).
Cosmetics The obligatory money maker. Cosmetics meant they added an XP/grinding system. That's sure to keep players around!
Anti-cheat The prevalence of cheating forced Blue Hole to add anti-cheat software and, more recently, phone verification. Naturally, having a level playing field is pretty darn important to keeping people engaged. They didn't really succeed here, but they made progress.
New maps After Erangel and Miramar came Sanhok, Vikendi, and Karakin. New scenery, new tactics, new game speed. These were good!
New weapons Guns were steadily added, not making a huge difference but they were nice to have. The introduction of the Panzerfaust had the potential to be a major change but Blue Hole played it safe and left it somewhat underpowered.
New vehicles Cars, trucks, and bikes speckle the PUBG landscape. And then there was an airdropped APC that was very fun to use. And an ultralight. And then an automated Vikendi train. Each of these added variation to the experience regardless of how well they were used.
Events For a brief period there were multi-day events that served as the groundwork for the deathmatch mode. Their coolness ranged from 'meh' to the awesomeness of vehicles and smoke grenades only. Then they stopped doing them. Why???
Map makeovers The older maps got visual refreshes. This probably didn't matter since serious players use low graphics settings.
Map selection The ability to select your map came and went. It should have remained.
MMR Blue Hole added a few beta MMR tests. These made a substantial difference to how fun the game was since it's more fun to play with people your skill level.
Speed changes Game tweaks and map additions changed how quickly the game progressed from drop to final circle. A lot of players asked for quicker matches.
Weather Rain and fog were neat effects that had an impact on play.

And there are some things they never tried:

And now, this...

Now they've made two major changes. The garbage AIs that were introduced with PUBG Mobile are now in the PC version. Theoretically it's nice to have easier targets from which you can farm loot before encountering real players in the later stages of the game. But it feels like the kiddie pool.

And, like with most e-sports, Blue Hole has added a ranked mode based on their experiments with MMR. I'll describe this one in story form:

Ever the optimist, I think, "Ranked mode, great! We'll get placed in whatever is below bronze league and it'll be like MMR on stims." Cattle and I set out to play our five pre-rank matches. First red flag: squads only. So we play as a two-man squad, further diminishing our chances to get any ranking points. Second red flag: "BTW queue times will be upwards of seven minutes". Okay, at least they're honest, is this reflective of all ranked mode or just the pre-rank?

We play four pre-rank matches. All Sanhok. Everyone on the server hides until late. No big deal. Not fun, but rip the band-aid off. Through bad luck and lack of skill, we do pretty bad, which is kind of what we want. Pre-rank match five: Erangel. Okay. We're on the plane with 16 other players. What? You put us on the second-biggest map with a handful of players? We laugh that it might be the bronze pre-league. As you might imagine, it's pretty quiet til the end. We play it right except that everyone is level 3'd and we're still a two-man squad.

Get back to the ranked menu: "You've played 4/5 pre-rank matches." To quote the player mantra that Blue Hole adopted, "Fix PUBG".

PUBG game start with empty plane fix pubg

Except this time I think we're done.
More Payday

Payday 2 led mask

We didn't play a ton of Payday 2 the first time around. I think the late-night marathon attempt to beat Hoxton's Revenge had us jumping back to the relative low tension of PUBG. We started where we left off; a successful Hoxton run. Our squad this time was a little different, but we managed a full stealth run after only a few dozen restarts. Anyway, it's a great map if you have the game and haven't played it.


Of course, all the stealth makes you want some action. As such, we're doing the highly-recommended Firestarter mission. Three segments, stealth optional.

Payday 2 bank heist downed with minigun

We got through all three on the lowest difficulty having started but not ended in stealth. The next time around we bumped it up to hard and still couldn't manage a full stealth run, but felt a bit better since the combat was much more perilous.