As I’ve been experimenting more with IndieWeb ideas on this site, I’ve been kicking around the idea of open sourcing the custom theme I use to power this site (currently called “K”). Part of this is from a desire to start sharing useful code again. I haven’t really put anything out there in years now. Once upon a time, long before the rise of Github, any code I wrote for myself would at least have ended up as a downloadable .zip file.
The other reason I’ve been giving myself, is to add to the pool of MF2-compatible themes available, in an effort to give people more options for deploying Indieweb sites. Right now, the Indeweb wiki only lists a handful of themes as compatible out of the box, so the more that can be added, the better it will be for growing the community.
The thing is, the theme is very much not ready for other people to lay eyes on, in its current state:
I (currently) do a bunch of non-standard things under the hood.
I’m also not doing a bunch of theme “best practices”. Simply because I’ve not needed to.
I’ve not really cared much about testing in browsers beyond the ones I use day to day.
A lot of the code has been cobbled together as and when I’ve needed it, so there are loads of “standard” features straight-up not implemented.
There’s a tonne of things hard-coded specifically for me. Those would have to be stripped out or altered to be configurable. That’s more code I’d have to write.
I’ve hacked up a bunch of dependencies, in the name of optimisation for my own needs. A public release would need to include the full code of these dependencies, or it’ll severely restrict anyone who wants to use the theme.
All in all, there’s quite a lot to do to make the theme usable by anyone who isn’t me. My natural instinct is to hold it back until it’s “ready” but as I’ve been typing this out, I’ve been wondering if I should just go ahead and put the code on Github anyway?
I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to work on, now I’ve got past Armies on Parade. The last few weeks have been a hobby holiday so I could recharge and avoid burnout, but I’m getting to a point where I can feel a pull towards my workspace again. I’ve had a few ideas kicking around my head, along with several projects I could revisit. In the “revisit” category, I’ve got:
Idoneth Deepkin; I have some Eels, a Shark, and a King still waiting to be added to the small army I painted earlier in the year. I also have a few Daughters of Khaine models to add as Allies.
Adeptus Custodes; I’ve got a bunch of Custodian Guard built and primed in gold, just waiting for me to get the spark of inspiration again. Then I’ve got some bikes, Terminators, and a Dreadnought to build.
Adepta Sororitas; at the end of last year I picked up some of the old metal Sisters of Battle sculpts, which I planned to be a companion to the Custodes. With the beta Codex coming in Chapter Approved next month, it might be time to get them back on the painting table.
Dark Angels; I’ve been slowly chipping away at the mass of non-Primaris Space Marine kits I have stockpiled over the years by painting them as Dark Angels. I painted a couple of 5-man Tactical squads and Razorbacks last year, and it might be time to finish these to the point they’re usable on the table.
Alpha Legion/Deathwatch; I had an idea when Kill Team came out, that I would create a highly customised Alpha Legion warband, using Primaris bodies and the Deathwatch rules. I made a start, but Armies on Parade ended up being more work than I’d anticipated. A lot of the kits I’d acquired for this project ended up going into the Armies on Parade project as well.
Death Spectres; I still have plans to expand the army I started in Armies on Parade. I want to fill out at least a battalions-worth of models, so this project needs another troop choice and HQ to reach that goal.
None of these are particularly grabbing me right now. The most likely to get worked on are actually the Dark Angels, as my local GW store is looking for 1000 points of Dark Angels to display in their cabinets. By painting up three Ravenwing units I already have, I could get to that target pretty easily. But I just finished painting a bunch of black-armoured Space Marines, so I can feel my brain resisting.
Over on the new ideas side, there are:
Various “competition pieces.”
At the moment, I’m leaning very heavily to Knights. I have accumulated three kits over the years, but have never got around to doing anything with them. The thought of having a “grab and go” army of just three-five models definitely appeals to me, and painting such large models would be a great change of pace. I’m in two minds whether I’d want to go with the fairly realistic, heavily weathered style I often apply to large vehicles – or to go with something simpler and cleaner. I’d also like to do some minor conversions and reposing, but I don’t know if that’s just setting myself up for a lot more work than I’m looking for.
Both of the Stormcasts and Nighthaunt ideas are really just painting the lovely models from the Soul Wars box. I’ve had an idea for applying more of a heraldic look to the Stormcasts, but I haven’t nailed down all of the details yet. I might save them for Armies on Parade 2019.
Competition entries is as it sounds. I have at least two competitions pencilled in for the next nine months, and it might be a good idea to make a start on these. I have one firm idea for the second contest, that will take quite a lot of effort, and a couple of secondary ideas where I know what I want to paint, just not how. I might start chipping away at my most developed idea, and leave the others for now. There’s also a themed monthly competition that happens in my area, so sometimes I’ll want to take part at those.
So as you can see, I’ve got a lot of choice! In fact, it’s too much choice, really, and choice paralysis has been kicking in something fierce. At this point I’m 80% sure I’ll start on some the Knights, as those seem like win-win: clearing something from my backlog, and being a viable army with only a few models needed.
But as any GW hobbyist knows, there’s always something new and shiny on the horizon to distract us…!
I don’t know what this is, beyond a “Spindle Drone” from the upcoming Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress game, but it sure has got me interested and excited to find out more! In 25 years, I can’t recall ever before seeing or reading about anything like it in the Warhammer 40,000 lore.
Given the setting of the game, and some of the teases, it seems likely it’s tied to either the Eldar/Old Ones or the Necrontyr/C’Tan. But the legs and the curves of the armour remind me more of the Tyranids than anything else, despite it appearing to be (entirely?) mechanical.
Blackstone Fortress should be out by the end of November, so it shouldn’t be too long before we get some answers.
I’m aware I haven’t posted up anything about Armies on Parade in a while… the WIP posts kinda dried up, and I haven’t mentioned anything about the event itself. It’s just a time/motivation to write thing – I’ll try to rectify it at the weekend.
There’s a point, approximately five hours or so into Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, where you realise “this game is vast.” By then, you’ll probably have followed through the introductory quests on Kephallonia, got a handle on the basics of combat, levelled up a bit, and unlocked a couple of abilities; the title screen is finally shown, and suddenly the world really opens up.
I should note right up front that I’ve not finished Odyssey yet. In fact, I have the feeling I’m about half-way through the main story (maybe two-thirds, at a push), and even less through the supporting and side quests — even though I’ve invested around 67 hours into the game at this point. The rest of this post will be as spoiler-free as possible, but if you don’t want to risk it, assume it contains light spoilers.
With the caveat that I haven’t yet seen everything Odyssey has to offer, I feel comfortable in saying it’s my new favourite Assassin’s Creed game, and it’s definitely in the running for my favourite game I’ve played this year. The story doesn’t have the immediate emotional depth of God of War (so far), but it’s wider ranging and isn’t as linearly told. Kassandra is that rare video game protagonist: simultaneously complex, consistent, likeable, vulnerable, and emotionally well rounded. Sure of herself, but unsure of her place in the world. Fiery and righteous (and violent) when she needs to be, but warm and kind at her core.
I’ll mention Kassandra exclusively throughout this post, even though there is an option to play as Alexios. I tried a little bit of the game as Alexios, but just didn’t connect with him anywhere near as much. As far as I’m concerned, Kassandra is the “canonical” way to play Odyssey, with Alexios providing a mirror universe “what-if?” imagining. I just can’t imagine any of the emotional beats of the story I’ve experienced having anywhere near the same depth or impact when played as Alexios. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong during a later play-through, but for now, my recommendation is to play Odyssey for the first time as Kassandra. Much of the credit for this goes to the voice acting and scripting, which for Kassandra has been superb.
Part of that connection with Kassandra might also come from the addition of dialogue options, something I hadn’t expected to make as much difference as they have to my enjoyment of the game. Earlier games in the series (with the possible exception of last year’s Origins, which I haven’t played yet) were fairly linear Action/Adventure games. For most of them the only choices you had were which secondary weapons to equip, and which side-quests or collectibles to complete.
Odyssey is a full-on RPG, and is all the better for it. Dialogue options actually seem to matter, with many choices having subtle or far-ranging effects further down the line. You’re free to explore the various regions of Ancient Greece at your leisure, completing the main quests at your own pace.
I keep trying to come up with a good comparison for a previous game which has hooked me so completely with the right combination of story, scope, and gameplay, and the game I keep coming back to is Skyrim. I’ve put in multiple hundreds of hours in Skyrim, across more than one platform, and right now I’d be willing to do the same with Odyssey. I’d actually buy a Nintendo Switch if there was a native version of Odyssey available for it.
It’s not just dialogue choices that affect the game. Other actions and choices as you play are made to feel like they matter. At one point I was given two quests by the same doctor NPC. One of those was simple – “go get my notes from X, so I can treat this patient,” while the other was a branching quest that opened up further quests to do at another location, and which offered insight to the main story. Previous RPG experience has taught me to complete all quests before returning to the NPC to turn them all in at once, for optimal gains. Only this time, because I didn’t return immediately after obtaining the notes, and went to the other quest location first – as Kassandra noted in the accompanying cutscene, she decided that was more important – the patient died as a result. At other times NPCs have remarked on whether I managed to complete their quests without killing anyone. Earlier choices are referenced in later interactions, or inform how an NPC reacts to you. Weaken a region by killing soldiers in the course of your quests, and you might find it is conquered by the opposing army whether you take part in the “conquest battle” or not. In short, it feels like the world is reacting and reshaping around Kassandra as she travels through it, and since I noticed this it’s been influencing how I approach certain quests. Instead of simply murdering every guard in sight at a location (the default approach), I’m looking for alternative ways to achieve the objective where appropriate. Murder-fests are still required for some missions.
If I had to “ding” Odyssey for anything, it would be the ship-to-ship combat system… but even then, it’s as much because I’m not very good at it as anything mechanically “bad” in the game itself. I didn’t like the addition of ships in Assassin’s Creed 3, and purposefully skipped Black Flag because of it, so I spent the earlier parts of Odyssey rolling my eyes whenever a quest required me to take to the seas. Non-essential naval side-quests were avoided entirely during the early game. After several upgrades and some necessary practice I’ve started to get the hang of how best to handle the Adrestia, and I’m getting more comfortable with taking part in this part of the game. Time will tell if I can truly enjoy naval exploration and combat as much as the rest of Odyssey.
Apart from travelling to an island for the first time so you can unlock a synchronisation point, enforced ship missions have been relatively few and far between so far. Ship combat is also relatively easy to run from when required. On balance I don’t think it’s enough to really mark down Odyssey for this.
One other, minor, gripe is the resource cost of upgrading gear between levels, particularly if you focus on a particular “build”. Right now I have focussed heavily on Assassination damage, with additional fast adrenaline build-up/regeneration. This has been super fun to play, as it fits my usual RPG play style… but I’m stuck with several pieces of equipment that are several levels below me, as I haven’t been lucky enough to come across anything at my current level that isn’t a relatively big stats downgrade for this build, or would force me into a different build.
So far I haven’t obviously suffered in game because of this, but I suspect at some point I will hit a wall where progression will slow and I’m forced to hunt out new gear or grind for materials to upgrade. You can dismantle unwanted gear for some resources, but it’s rarely enough, and having some spare specialised gear for certain tasks can be useful – the best example I can think of is “X% damage bonus against <faction>” gear for when going into a conquest battle.
But both of these are so minor in the grand scheme that is Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, I really am reaching to find things to “balance” against the glowing praise I have for the rest of the game. If you were on the fence about Odyssey because it’s such a departure from the formula which has defined the rest of the series, then I really do recommend you give it a try. I had thought God of War was a certainty for my “Game of the Year,” but I’m far less certain now.