The Changelog – November 2022

This November has been weird. If I had to describe it, my first instinct would be to say that it felt like slipped time. After all, my emotional status has been all over the place, with moments of genuine excitement and moments of dread.

November is usually a bad month. It is always full of bad memories and events. Even this year, November hit again early in the month: once again, I had to attend a November funeral. So I was ready to accept another black month in which the best I could do was to collect the pieces.

Instead, looking at the tangible results, I have more things to say that this post/newsletter would allow. Yes, I read almost nothing and watched even less. But I had much new gaming stuff, a new blog article, and a plethora of small things I don’t even know where to start.

So I’ll start from the beginning.

Housekeeping

Before we move on, here are a couple of random considerations and updates on my activities.

New Blog Article

Finally, I completed the Utility-Based AI article. I have had this annoyance in my draft folder since June. I wrote it. I realized it was a mess. So I rewrote it from scratch.

And at last, I published it last week. I am pretty happy about it. Finite-State Machines always take the spotlight of introductory game AI, but I think Utility-Based AI is more straightforward and more versatile for many use case.

You can read the article here.

Twitter Psychosis

It feels like a year has passed, but Twitter psychosis started early this month. In those almost 30 days, everything changed. And I am still not sure how to feel it.

On one side, I feel that the magic broke. The influence of that despicable human being owning the bird platform spread through the air like pollution. Many of the intriguing people I followed are gone (some on Mastodon, some on Telegram, and some quit social media altogether). Around 15 people. Not much, but they accounted for ~30% of the people on my timeline and the people that made using Twitter worth it. A big hit.

All this makes me feel really uncomfortable using Twitter. Like if I am doing something ethically wrong (and, for some part, I am doing it).

On the other side, there are still people I adore on that. People who I admire. People with who I became a friend. People we use to have meaningful chats. This very restricted set of people (another 15, I’d say) makes me feel that it is still worth it to stick around. Because some good things can still come out, after all.

I am really grateful for the beautiful people I met on Twitter. Especially in the last 2 years.

It really sucks to be confused again.

Reading

This month I didn’t read. Or better, I finished a book, but it was mediocre and not worth it to be listed here. So, for this month, I’d skip the reading session.

But don’t worry. I have a gigantic interesting list I really want to read. The holidays will help!

Watchlist

As I said in the introduction, my watching habits hit rock bottom in November. Yet, I can talk of the only two things I watched this month.

First, I watched the finale of Star Trek: Lower Decks’ third season. It’s actually surprising that we are already at the end of the third season of one of the most refreshing and fun take of the Star Trek franchise. Lower Decks may look like one of this decade’s many snarky adult animated series, but it is surprisingly deep. Moreover, it is seriously jam-packed with references to the old and current series for the amusement of our older fans. And it also throws several jabs at the absurdities and inconsistencies of the Star Trek worldbuilding, providing a good amount of self-irony.

The second thing I watched was Uncharted (2022). It was not on the list, but one afternoon I was talking with a friend watching it. So I jumped in and watched just to compare our impressions the day after. Watching a movie with friends is worth it even if it turns out to be a bad movie.

However, in the end, it was an enjoyable experience. Let’s be clear: the movie is not great in a general movie critique sense. If a mad scientist wanted to create a film by mixing deus-ex machinaplot armors and questionable decisions, Uncharted would be the result.

But if you know me, you know I have a soft spot for silly, mindless action good-vs-bad movies. This is why I adore all the action and b-movies from the 80s and the 90s. So, with a bit extra of “suspension of disbelief,” I don’t regret the time spent watching it. After all, have you ever played the games? Do you think they are realistic depictions of treasure hunting?

I also didn’t mind one of the main critiques at the time: the casting. Yes, Tom Holland always looks like he is 16. But the movie clearly takes place way before the first game. So I can accept it.

PS: There is this tendency to “outsmart” movies. I think the cause is social media. We want to look smart, so we vomit on the web all the “gotchas” possible to say, “see? I am smarter than the writers of that movie.” I really find this behavior unbearable. Social Media totally ruined movies for me.

Music

This November also has been without a particular theme. I listened to ~1000 tracks, 31 unique albums, and ~350 different artists.

The best album of the month, and my monthly suggestion, is Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds with a significant margin. This masterpiece of Progressive Rock was released in 1978 and is a beautiful adaptation of Well’s The War of the Worlds.

It is a long album but is greatly recommended.

Gaming

There is a lot of talk about games.

First, I am slowly playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (I blame the same friend of the Uncharted movie 😅). I have problems with the Assassin’s Creed series. It is part of those blockbuster games without souls. They get repetitive fast, provide zero new exciting mechanics, and are uninspired. But they are not bad, so you can slowly play them and have fun hours from time to time. Moreover, it was free on the GamePass. So I have nothing to lose (well, I have time to lose).

But I will talk about this game when I complete it (next month, probably more).

In other gaming news, I finally received my Steam Deck. The story of my Steam Deck is turbulent. I ordered it in the first days of October, and… it got lost. So, after some back and forth with GSL assistance, I contacted Steam. Steam quickly sent me another one, and it arrived last week (kudos to the Steam Support guys).

The experience so far has been excellent. It may not be the best console for ordinary people, but for a hacky guy like me… oh boy. What a treat. 

Besides randomly messing around with my Steam library, I was waiting for the Steam Deck to play Cult of the Lamb. So far, I adore it. But, even in this case, I will probably do a review next month after more hours on it.

In fact, I need some more space to talk about this month’s obsession: Board Game Arena (BGA for short). What is BGA? It is a place where you can play digital adaptations of hundreds of board games for free, from the most famous, such as Carcassonne or Settler of Catan, to more niche ones. The implementations are great, the possibility to play asynchronously is even greater, and, I have to say, I am having the time of my life.

You have to know that I am a big sucker for board games. The lack of people to play with was what was blocking me. So BGA is the perfect alternative.

BGA also reignited my love for physical board games. That’s why I rediscovered my collection (made of simple games because Gioia refuses to play the more complex ones 😅).

So, if you are willing to try it, don’t forget to add me as a friend (the user name is always the same: thek3nger, what else).

Conclusion

A slightly smaller edition this month. Not bad, though, considering I was almost sure I would have written nothing.

Another unpleasant November is now behind us. And, as you know, it is always darker before dawn. So it is time to think about next month.

December is the month of Advent of Code. For 24 days, I will be toiling to solve the Christmas-themes programming puzzle. If you want to follow my struggles, this blog is the place to go. This year I think I will code in Dart or in Jakt. Still trying to figure it out.

And December is the month of Christmas.

And, oh jeez, if I love Christmas.

Other Interesting Things

  • The problem with being surprised by the amount of content for this post is that I didn’t have a good list of “Other Interesting Things.”
  • I joined the beta of Readwise’s Reader. It is awesome. Readwise is an expensive service that I love and consider indispensable for people who read a lot of books. Reader is Readwise’s solution for those who read a lot on the internet. It added incredible value to my subscription. I will talk about it more if you want a more detailed review.
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