The GTA SA Nostalgia Run
I played out GTA SA a few days ago. For like the forty-ninth time - but for the first time in a long time too.
It was one of the games I feel like I grew up on, and possibly the game I have at this point played the most of any one game...
That might not be true, there are some strong alternative contenders to the total-gameplay-time throne - like the other two GTA installments that came before it, but either way I have fond memories of GTA SA in particular.
And GTA 3. And GTA VC, which I've played through way more recently.
Mostly on PC, but I got VC for Android a few years back too, when I finally bought a phone that was capable of such games, and the mobile anniversary edition of it had just come out.
Not sure GTA SA ever did come out for mobile (Edit: It did), but if it has it's not worth it y'all! The visual acuity and quality's severely limited with these mobile ports - as is the gameplay experience overall considering you play it on such a tiny device, though it is impressive that such tiny devices actually pack the power to play such games these days!
And it's pretty fun being able to relive the game with swipe-based controls when you're used to keyboard and mouse. Even if the latter's considerably better in all areas, not least precision.
But anyway, the reason I haven't gotten back to GTA SA as much as I have GTA VC - and even GTA 3, is probably because it's just so big compared to the other two.
If you want to go for a full completion of the game it takes considerably longer to do so - the game world is like three game worlds in one compared to the previous two - and that factor might've made me the most overjoyed when I first tried that game. And the reason I still feel like it's my favorite of the three. It was HUGE! Just when you thought you were nearing the end of the line a whole new city opened up to you, and the game world expanded incrementally and impressively as you went along; providing more adventure than you could ever imagine you were bartering for when you got it.
They even have that brief throwback to Liberty City! To Marco's Bistro. Even though the flight there was considerably shorter than I remembered.
I remember the world being bigger too, though it's still immense.
And maybe the size is just right, considering how lost I am with the newest segment of the franchise.
Whereas this one provided expectation-surpassing adventure and breadth, the new one seems to just have too much, plain and simple. The world's either too big or too cluttered. Or too dynamic.
I was blown away by the visual improvements, but somehow not as blown away by the world itself. Something about the dynamics or aesthetic of it all just seems too smooth. Too good. Now that I've been back to the nostalgia realm of GTA SA again the notion's reinforced on me again.
There's just something they did so flawlessly with the first three games - and with VC and SA in particular - that the newest ones seem to have lost.
But then again maybe I just haven't played them enough.
Maybe I poured so much time into these old ones that the game worlds there are imprinted in my mind to the point I see them differently.
I still do get lost occasionally along the mountainous roads of GTA SA - especially between Los Santos and San Fierro, but you figure it out after a while. It comes back to you. The map has an immensely simpler overview too compared to the new ones. When you look at that terrainial cheatsheet it almost seems like the world is smaller than it seems there.
Like - akin to for example how they made 2D sprites seem 3D in DOOM just by rotating them - somehow they managed to make this world also seem even bigger than it is, be that by mechanical or architectural design.
It's so balanced.
The time it takes you to get around is just right. The distance from one place to another is just right. Everything's so calculated and polished and... natural.
And Grove Street truly feels like home.
Even though they say you can't relive your childhood memories I had a really good time with this re-run, and from it I currently have... a few hundred GB and hours worth of game footage in video form I'm planning to chop up, and merge, and occasionally speed up for repetitive road or exercise-related segments, as to make for one long-ass walkthrough from start to finish, just to make it feel like the time I spent going through this game again was worth it after all.
Lately game time just does not feel like worthy time unless I record it.
I realize that argument is just like being out on a real world vacation and typing away on a phone or laptop as to make the best possible use of that time - and thus making said vacation all but the retreat and recuperation time it's meant to be. A game's meant to be enjoyed too. Nothing more.
But it's not entirely the same is it?
With games the recording process doesn't need to distract you.
At least not as much.
You can have it running in back without paying the recording a second thought, just making sure you start the recording process when you start the game and to stop it when you stop it... and maybe consider being a bit more efficient with your gameplay time as to not waste viewer time on unproductive rampages and joyrides around the block.
Though of course I've done a fair share of those too.
Wouldn't be GTA without 'em.
Also delved a bit deeper into the in-game dating realm than I was planning to - wonder if that's a reflection of some real life desires. Hmm. If I delved deeper into my subconscious mind maybe I'd figure that out too...
I was planning to write about the video tools I've been testing now that I have all this footage to edit, as Windows Movie Maker isn't a viable option anymore, and I'm not a huge fan of AVI Demux or OpenShot (the first works great more so for simple cuts, and the latter is terribly hardware-heavy even for small files so I can't imagine it working with 20-30GB MKVs), but maybe best save that for some other point! Video tool recap: later.
I'm still not entirely done with this game either.
I made it past the last mission yesterday, and feel content and free and satisfied with my nostalgia journey... but I still have some oysters to fetch, and some dates in wait, and some driving/boating/flying lessons to ace and races and derbies to stage and hoods to take-over! And I think there are two clothing chains I've yet to buy the entire wardrobe from.
It really is an extensive game... but not too extensive.
You can complete it in a week, and you can keep playing... for almost as long as you'd ever want to. :)
I considered installing the Thing To Do In San Andreas Till You Die mod this time btw, I've known about it for years now, but going through reviews I discovered it's unfortunately not bug-free, and I wasn't looking to have my game crash during any of these recordings.
Instead I opted for just the Silent Patch (couldn't get the game running properly without it - the mouse wouldn't work in-game - and the splash screens didn't show before the menu either), and the Extended Gang Wars mod by the same author, which expands the territories you can take over to all that show any hostile gangs in-game.
No drastic change, just a natural expansion. TTDISATYD had this and much more, but that's something for another time. In another ten years maybe.
The mod's still being developed; maybe it'll be flawless then...
Also big props to the Definitive Edition mod, which was also a high contender for one all-in-one mod to try the game with this time around - it includes the Silent Patch as well - and seems pretty much bug-free, but it just seems to change the visuals of the game too much for it to still feel like the original experience.
I'm not a huge fan of the ENBSeries visuals - the way they make things hazy/bright/shiny rather than just plain pretty - beautifying certain surfaces, but otherwise also somewhat distorting the natural atmosphere/scenery of the game. And that's also included.
And new textures - especially surface-related ones - generally don't make things look better to me, just messier.
I believe additional polygons and enhanced physics/particle effects would be a better thing to focus on, or to combine with these, to really change the world in a way where the high-res textures don't seem so misplaced.
Especially the grass.
The high-res grass just looks wrong to me. With the same in-game form and motion it just looks sharp and edgy, not like the lush vegetation it's intended to be.
Maybe there'll be additional improvements on these things in time though, and it'll be possible to play the game in a way that feels enhanced with these new textures, instead of just edited.
There's a mod for GTA VC that does exactly this, and adds thousands of new polygons/points/whatever-the-things-that-control-the-detail-level-of-shapes is called. I can't find it right now. I can't remember the name, but it's out there, and that one works amazingly well.
The textures don't change at all but suddenly everything in the game feels so much smoother; natural; modern. I wish someone could do the same thing for GTA SA. There's also a great corona fix for GTA VC that drastically improves the lighting. Maybe there's something similar for this game too...
When I'm all done with collectibles maybe I'll give modding a shot too!
Not all retexturing projects are bad either.
There's a set of retextured cars out there for example that look amazing - probably more than one that does.
When done in moderation such edits work well - and when they're done well, but when it's the whole world it just gets wonky without more form-related fixes. Maybe certain models (like cars) already have a larger amount of polygons too, and work well with new textures.
Vegetation seems the most difficult to get right.
I'm just repeating myself at this point though! Wanted to write a bit about my experiences with this game while it was fresh in mind, but that's about enough for one post ain't it.
There's more I love. I love the story. I love the struggle. I love the VAs. I love the music - even the country songs! It's such a balanced assortment.
I STILL love everything about this game, even if the visuals feel a little dated. The mechanics still work. The cars are still fun to drive. The missions still feel rewarding and at times exciting and/or suitably aggressive.
It's a good mix, and the main character's a good pick.
For all his flaws you gotta love CJ.
You probably wouldn't love him as much if he didn't occasionally err too. Protagonists need flaws to be relatable - but not so many you just feel sorry for them. He's a good balance. Both good and bad traits and not too much character - you can put yourself into his shoes too.
Which reminds me: The main thing I dislike about GTA V is really the three-character selection.
It's not a revolutionary dynamic, it's just wrong. It doesn't let you immerse yourself in any one character role. It doesn't let you feel like you are any one character - since each character is living their own life while you're off playing one of the other two. And that - to me at least - is a huge detriment to the whole experience. I still can't understand how they opted for it.
You just can't bond with 'em; can't immerse yourself in the game; can't make their story your own.
But more on that in some other post too, this is getting way too gigantic...
Finna slow down with the gaming a bit now but: I'll probably keep getting back to this one for some time yet.
The 1999 2.0 9-3 Turbo Story
I scrapped my car recently, and though I sat in the driver's seat for about an hour waiting for the scrapyard guy to arrive and take it away (which he did just over an hour late), feeling out my kinship with said car, not letting the coat of condensation on the inside of the windshield and apparent humidity on the seat phase me, though starting to feel like our time truly was up and it was best to part ways... it feels it'd be worth writing a long-ass post in homage too. You grow close, you know? A car's like a baby. Should've given it a name, my brother always gave his cars names...
It all started in August, 2020, when mid-pandemic-and-self-isolation I was looking for a method of transport that could take me to the office, without the unwanted albeit obligatory company that commuter trains usually provide you with - with facemasks a wielding or no.
I browsed around on Blocket - our local online marketplace - and found a shiny black SAAB 9-3 for just 7000 SEK, in Kungsängen, just kilometers away.
It took a while for us to set up a suitable date for inspection, the seller led a busy life it seemed, but finally I made my way there, and met the particular individual who was selling this vehicular vintage piece.
She was kind and all, but it was her brother's car, though it was registered in her dad's name, and he lived way up in Mariestad - which is by the way a coastal city - which by the way explains the surplus rust. You couldn't see most of it, just a bit around the wheelhouses, but I discovered later that the undercarriage had plenty, and one of the wheelhouses by the engine was almost rusted through.
Since neither dad nor brother were there to sign the contract, and she didn't have the registration certificate, we wrote up a makeshift one on a piece of paper, and signed it with both our names, but only my phone number. I didn't even ask to see any personal identification! She took a photo of the contract, and I took the paper, and the deal was sealed!
I did take the car for a test drive first though, of course, and surveyed it with scrutiny - I believed, and it was great! It started immediately. The engine sounded great - soft but strong - never strained. The turbo worked. It took curves easily. It just floated along the asphalt, as SAAB cars usually do - I do have experience with this particular brand. My brother's repped SAAB pretty much his entire life, and the family car for the past ten years or so has also been a 9-5, from 2002. Very similar to this one, albeit a station wagon rather than a hatchback.
Erratic Crane Fly In The Bathroom
In Swedish: Harkrank.
We've had one in the bathroom for a while now.
It hid on the back wall at first, the first time I saw it at least. It stayed in the lower shadow, in the corner behind the toilet, a seemingly dormant fly on the wall, maybe attempting to idle through the winter in a badly optimized and warmed up area - we have heated floors in the bathroom.
I took a shower a while later and suddenly it was in the shower. Again just stuck to the wall - fortunately on the same wall as the shower head was directed from - so it was never in the way of the spray. I washed myself a bit more carefully, standing a bit further back; making sure not to send any unwanted water the way of this crane fly...
A while later it was above the lamp. Above the mirror cabinet.
This is the place insects are usually initially drawn too - it seemed it had succumbed to the common temptation, and was repeatedly buzzing towards the light source, which is also a heat source, which I don't believe is healthy for any sort of insect that attempts to go hither.
I'm not sure if it was the same day or no but not too long after it had fled the heat and seemed to be flying randomly around the bathroom. It came towards me, and I tried to not instinctively slap it, but just veered off a little and gave it room to retreat. It tried to get close again but I kept my distance, and it flew towards the corners, and towards the door - which was closed at the time - and towards the light again - and amidst this chaotic and seemingly indecisive flying it apparently fled the room, and I haven't seen it since.
So thus ends the story of the Erratic Crane Fly In The Bathroom...
I hope it managed to get out alright; I hope it goes on to have a nice life.
I hope it survives the winter, if it needs sleep through it, and emerges once against a beast in the bright bathroom light when spring comes a cracking and all these little critters crawl forth from their seasonal dormancy.
Was a pretty big crane fly too. If any crane fly makes it this one just might.
Just One Small Positive...
Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.
The EU Energy Crisis 2022
The energy crisis stresses me up.
Mom's taking shorter showers - she didn't shower at all yesterday, as we were at at an all-time-high on the kWh (8 SEK/hour), and I think her stress levels are carrying over a bit.
Fortunately I don't need to pay for electricity at home, but often these days I feel bad if I sit by the computer with less important tasks, cause it runs on electricity too. I feel bad if I use my cellphone unnecessarily. I feel bad if I charge my electric toothbrush - I could use the regular one instead. I feel kinda bad during my morning showers too but not so much so I don't take those showers anyway cause after the cold finale I feel GREAT. And they raise my mood and productivity for the rest of the day.
The house is a little darker than usual too.
We still have advent stars in our windows - as tradition necessities. It brings a little merriment to a season of otherwise just overall gloom, but we don't turn on ceiling lights unnecessary now.
My room's dark.
I rummaged around my desk for an old cellphone with a flashlight yesterday, instead of flicking on the light switch for just a moment.
Little things like this all have an impact, and when they say on the news that 'they don't want to cause a panic, but we really are nearing a crisis, so please save electricity when you can'... it does get in your head a bit.
Wouldn't be good if the grid fails mid-winter.
Wouldn't be good when our house is heated electrically, and the cold wind billows outside, and we're already rationing radiator usage as to lower the bill...
Practical ways to save on electricity without it impacting your life and leisure too much though:
1. Don't heat up more water than you need to. If you're making tea, just make enough for you, no need to fill the whole kettle.
2. Eat cold food, or use alternative appliances to heat said food. The stove's a major power-hog, and I assume the microwave is too. How about a sandwich? How about some salad? Maybe not for every meal, but some. It'll make a difference.
3. Don't iron your clothes with an electrical iron, don't clean the house with a hoover - try a mop, and don't get any smart appliances.
4. Don't get an electric car.
I wonder if that last item in particular might be a largely contributing and/or root cause of the mess we're in, with too many people suddenly switching over to 'green energy' even though we don't have a power grid that can handle it - motivated by bad-conscience-fueling commercials and green government incentives that only truly benefit the rich...
Things the state COULD be doing to make things better:
1. Hook up all gym-related machinery to generators, even if it's just to power the lighting within said gym said machinery is housed in.
Make something useful of all that excess exercise energy.
2. Temporarily kill the cellphone grid, or at least less used frequencies.
We don't need neither grid nor excess frequencies. Cellphone towers consume a LOT of energy - more important we can all keep warm than connect on the ethereal plane.
There'd be some health-related benefits to this too.
3. Lower fossil fuel taxes - they're ten times as high here as in say the US - and stop giving EV purchase grants until our energy issues are sorted.
4. Change the way the energy market works, and have long-term goals rather than short-term auctions where suppliers sell energy at their cheapest available bid, with a price that fluctuates on a daily basis and contributes to this financial chaos.
You'd think going by the cheapest bid would be the best way to get cheap electricity too, but unless there's a surplus of energy it's not so. Instead the energy companies are currently able to make higher profits the smaller a production margin they have - the bigger the demand for the energy they sell the more money they can make from it.
This does not benefit us, nor proper power grid expansion and architecture that'll long-term make sure we don't get in these kinds of shortage situations again.
5. If possible just stop exporting electricity entirely.
Kill the international energy market too. It causes further uncertainty and fluctuation. At the moment we're thankfully getting some extra energy via Norway, but we're still exporting to Germany too... it doesn't make sense.
How this trouble all came to be in the first place?
Our biggest nuclear reactors were shut down intentionally to make way for greener energy a few years back. Another one was taken offline just recently for generator maintenance - it'll be back 18/12. There's a Finnish reactor that was active until just recently, but is now offline until the end of February, and in France multiple reactors are down for maintenance as well. The winds aren't blowing enough for local turbines to produce energy, and there's something going on with our hydroelectric plants.
They're on ice.
Considering we need just a brief dose of sunshine to power everything in the world for a full year... why can't we get solar energy working instead?
Why rely on nuclear relics and wind turbines, that are not only a highly unstable energy source but also continually slaughter birds and insects at an alarming rate, give people insomnia and inertia and are built in the least eco-friendly materials you can think of? When they're discarded they can't be recycled, so they're just buried in gigantic landfills, and will remain there for probably hundreds of generations (not years, generations) to come.
Our current 'green' energy sources are not green at all.
Apparently NASA are working on some less explosive lithium batteries, so that's cool though. Maybe they'll help get the solar panel business expanding then. Maybe when we get our constantly impending and ongoing energy crisis sorted out we can also start focusing on hydrogen gas for cars too - which seems to be in terms of environmental impact the perfect solution - the only issue is that it requires energy to produce.
Currently said energy goes straight to batteries instead, which is more productive, but lithium production's a dirty business, so if there was a surplus on electricity the extra energy required to produce said hydrogen gas would be a better way, I say.
Just need to get a surplus.
And if we have giant electricity/gas/etc pipelines going all over the continent already - even along the bottom of the Atlantic ocean - can't we import solar energy too? Where's the weak link? Where's the shortage on that? Is storage the issue there too?
I do hope we get this shizzle sorted soon, cause I want to take looong showers, and charge multiple appliances at once without having to give a second thought as to the energy consumption thereof.
I want to get back to my simple but all-things-considered still relatively luxurious lifestyle once again.
Just need some more energy to do so.