Not the happiest of birthdays...Mar 8, 2021
March 8 has been my birthday for as long as I can remember. Probably since I was born, in fact. Today's my 40th. And unfortunately, it's not like the day is having a great start.
About two weeks ago
It was just a normal evening. Girlfriend hit the shower, doggy was sleeping on the couch and our little girl was happily playing with her toys. All of the sudden I had this "I need to go to the bathroom NOW" moments. Seeing how my girl wasn't in any dangerous situation, I quickly went. I mean...what could possibly go wrong?
When I got back, she had scuddled over to the kitchen (note: our baby doesn't do crawling...she kind of sits on her butt and does forward hip movement shakes to go forward). She was playing happily...in the massive pool of water that had erupted from the sink.
I moved in a blaze. Baby in her chair, dog dragged into her bench, checking the origin. It came from under the sink, alright. It was lukewarm and with bubbles as if soapy. My girlfriend had just finished her shower. I dragged some buckets into it and started mopping. Ideas started dawning on what the origin had to be...
About 1.5 years ago
I won't go over all the home renovation. Suffice here that we've completely redone the drainage pipes. The bathroom upstairs has two cranes and the bath 'exit' come together, then straight down in a pipe behind the wall. Underneath the floor it is joined by the kitchen sink and the dishwasher. Then, still underneath the floor, it passes underneath two other rooms to finally exit in an old water well.
I was opposed to the connection of the water well, but at that point I conceded that leading it to the toilet exhaust would give other issues (there's a reason it was to be seperate). That old water well is a cylinder of about 0.75m diameter and somewhere 1.5-2 meters deep (I suck at estimations on that). When we bought the house, it was the exit of roughly half of the rain pipes from the roof. We saw the entrance of it, and an exit that had some sort of hose-filter on it. So our reasoning was that this was used as an overflow : once it got above that level, it would flow through the hose-filter into the sewer. In that same reasoning, it'd be okay to lead all those earlier mentioned pipes in there.
On hindsight, that was a disaster.
Since that connection, our bath never really ran out of water. No...wait: somewhere just before or after making that connection, I manually used buckets of water to empty the well. In about a week, the problem returned. Basically: every time we take a bath or even a shower, the water remains in the tub. At a same level, curiously enough (at around 4 cm high). So if we put 10 cm water in the tub, it sinks to 4cm, then just sits there and VEEEERRRRRYYY slowly drains. Of course, our reasoning was that the hose was too small so it can't process all the water at the same time. Worse: because the water's not clean (not truly dirty, but certainly not clean) the well would faster fill up than drain out, flowing over.
Back to two weeks ago
Since then, we've come to accept that the bath doesn't drain fast enough. We even warn each other, so we keep the garden door closed when taking a bath because it creates a small river of dirty water. The idea was that somewhere in the future (after other projects), we'd break open the pavement and redo it properly.
This, of course, changed dramatically when we realised that the pipes had clogged up. Since then, it became a recurring thing. Turning up the dishwasher filled the kitchen sink. Taking a shower or bath had to be drained out gradually. And soon that failed as well to prevent overflow.
About ten days ago
My father-in-law is pretty handy on many things. He rented what can best be described as a full force garden hose. You put it in a pipe exit (the pipe leading into the well, in this case), push it through as far as possible and pour water into it with high pressure.
Lemme tell you: that was a DIRTY job. Working on the toilet stank more, but that's only a mild comfort. It was wet, dirty and had us walking all through the house. My girlfriend assisted us in giving us dirty looks, as if she had no intention of taking care of her house (aside from telling us we stank, that we needed to pull up our trousers and "motivational" stuff like that ). But after that, it was all...
About eight days ago
Wait...no. Nope: same situation: kitchen overflow. Which was extra weird, as in the process of the former I had drained the well at least to below the line where the water entered.
At first I couldn't figure it out. At the end of that session, we had clear water running from the well all the way to the kitchen sink (yeah...it was a powerfull water garden hose thingy). My girlfriend rightfully argued that there must've been another clog somewhere in the section between the two floors. The one or two days of using water upstairs must've pushed it below somewhat.
Granted: the second time we flushed out things, this worked. This time it wasn't just tiny pieces of food disposal (like mini chopped up carrot pieces) but some chalk-ish soaplike substance. Probably toothpaste and shampoo gelled together. Also extra weird because before my father-in-law could lend the hose again, I had used some drainage products to no avail. Was this product really worthless?
It wasn't. It was worse. After cleaning, we decided we had enough of the hose-tube in the well. We cut it and put that hose-thing in it. Was there a clogging up somewhere between there and the sewer as well?
The water exited almost in a fountain way less than a meter from us. It was a little hose, stuck in the debris in the ground there. I had never noticed it before. Why did it exit there?
Suddenly a very grim prospect dawned on me. I quickly filled a bucket and poured it into that tiny hole. It exited in the well immediately.
The well wasn't connected to the sewer.
There are times you want to blame the universe for existing in the way it does. This was one of them. I really punched it (well...part of it, anyway), but the universe didn't seem particularly impressed. Fuck.
Anyhow...it's a grim and certainly EMBARRASSING realisation that we've basically dumped our kitchen and bathroom water over our garden for the last 14 months or so (only 'filtered' by a well that went from 'pretty clear water' all the way to 'river Styx water' in that time). But it also gave perspective: THIS was the reason our bath never ran through quickly (check physics in the "communicating vats" section...the water equalizes on the ground level). And it more than likely has both increased the chance of clogging up and the strange smell we had when draining the bath: our underground pipes were just that: UNDER the ground...so they've been filled with water since the beginning.
And I've got to applaud my father-in-law for his discovery at the end of the day: the sewer entrance. We knew one near the street (about 25 meters away from the well), but this connection hub (also with the neighbors) is 5.5 meters away. That's...doable.
A week ago
Similar to this, our daughter slowly got fever-ish. At first I didn't pay attention (or rather: my attention went to the above). This was put back in focus when her fever got so high (above 38°C) that we couldn't get her to the daycare center anymore. This certainly complicated things. I had my job (mostly teleworking) that required attention, I had to work on the above and now our darling as well?
Luckily, both my mother and girlfriend's mother helped out tremendously on that part. Well...the taking care of her, that is. Unfortunately, her condition didn't improve. I went to the docter last tuesday and then again on thursday. On this latter day, I started developing symptoms as well (I think my girlfriend as well, though she often "one ups" everything whenever I say anything about myself, so I wasn't sure(1) ). And especially her refusal to eat or drink became a worry. I mean...by thursday she was just passively 'being' there, only showing any activity when we tried to feed her anything. She clearly had trouble swallowing. And because it pained her, she refused eating.
It had gone too far. Girlfriend warned me that she could be going to the hospital. I was more cautious, but it turned out to be right. The same docter advised me (well...us: girlfriend was on the phone with us) to get her there. At first I still held the hope that it would 'just' be revitalizing her, but this hope was quickly crushed: she wasn't just dehydrated, but her infection needed more attention than the mere medicine we had for her. She (and girlfriend) slept over in the hospital.
Saturday & sunday
I didn't feel well...which extended to yesterday and today. But that earlier drainage problem wasn't fixed. But it needed to. It's unfortunate, but her brother was unavailable to help, and my brother...erm...like my father, I'd rather not have him around. He's better at listening, but last time he helped, his main assistance was unintentional(2). But I've got to admit: working with father-in-law works great. I tore up the asphalt, he shoveled it away, as well as the ditch for the pipes. Somewhere in the afternoon, we drained the well as good as we could.
On sunday, we broke down said well on the side (the line of pipes now go directly through it). We had some pipework laying around from last year. Enough to create a watertight line all the way to the sewer(3). Hooray! Yesterday I was able to take a shower and see the water drain the whole time. It was almost scary.
I also visited the hospital, of course. It goes fairly well with our child. That is to say: she's fully monitored, meaning that she has all sorts of wires connected to her. While she leaves them alone, it limits her freedom. Since saturday, she has increased liveliness. I've got no doubt she wants to hop around the room, explore every cranny and play with things. But currently, her only games are throwing her dolls out of the bed. We can't really discourage her as she almost literally has nothing else to do.
And while I'm not feeling well, girlfriend is probably worse. For three reasons.
Main one is obviously our child. It's pretty exhausting, both mentally and physically to be locked in a room with a baby you can barely entertain (television can only do so much). But there's more.
For one, she had her first covid-shot friday. Was a bit unclear whether that should continue since she's not feeling well, but it was granted regardless. So...yeey?
The other thing is, in the long run, the most painfull one. I mentioned she worked at the hospital, right? (in fact, the same one baby and her currently are). The thing is...when she applied there last year, they couldn't decide who to hire from two candidates. So they decided to hire them both for the duration of the year, with the best one being allowed to stay. This had been a source of stress for her. Oh, she got a glowing review about a month ago. Thing is: so did her colleague. And when was this decision made? Friday evening. After the corona shot. And in the middle of our baby being ill and the drainage problem situation (though the hospital obviously didn't know that). They choose the other candidate.
(no, I honestly never expected that. In fact, it had all the indications the hospital was going to hire them both somehow. Sucks that I not only was wrong but that she wasn't choosen either)
So...what happens today? Well, with girlfriend and baby in the hospital, friends socially distanced and me feeling under the weather: not much in terms of celebrations. In a few moments, father-in-law stops by, we'll buy the remaining pipes for the roof rainpipes, lead those to the sewer entrance, brick up that entrance segment (it's currently too small to have two extra pipes on the level we need them to be so the water can flow into it), close up the ditch with sand and put tiles on top (in somewhat of luck, father-in-law has those in the size of our bricks). It's a rush job in the sense that it sticks out, but that'll be okay. It'll be one problem down. Then once our illnesses go down we'll have a small celebration (in about a week? ). And I'm planning a 'real' celebration in 6 months, when this whole covid-thing has blown over.
Special thanks @alexander1970 for congratulating me. And best of luck out there.
(1): not sure if other couples have it, but I've seen this behavior before. As soon as you (as male) open up to something uncomfortable, she immediately develops something worse. "Oh, YOU had a bad day at work? MY day was much worse! You see, <rant of half an hour>". That kind of thing. It's annoying, but I've learned to not share anything, which in a way means her days are now overall better somehow...
(2): my girlfriend often shies away from household work. But she doesn't want others to know, so when others come over she suddenly has no excuses and helps without me whining. It's...strange. I'd say something about it but I don't want fights over these sorts of things
(3): because we're not TOTAL idiots, we created a Y-split at the start, on which we'll put a lid. That way, when it clogs up again we can work from this halfway point.banjo2 likes this.
No more giveaways...unless...?Feb 3, 2021
I'm Taleweaver. Long term opinionated guy on gbatemp ever since hanging around slightly longer than "just here to find out how to haxxor my wii". Also a (hopefully former) addict to humble bundles. Those of you who frequent the giving/trading area(1) probably know me as "that guy with far too many games". Because every so often, I post threads offering the chance to give away steam keys (containing games) that either I already have, have no interest in or some other reason (that I don't have a VR set is one that comes to mind). I've collected links to those below for those curious.
2020 was obviously a busy year for them, with large bundles for the Australian fires, black lives matter and the covid situation (oh, and also the itch.io version with nearly 1500 games...though the definition of 'game' sometimes differs). I picked those all up, filtered out what I wanted and gave away the rest. I think I accidentally played a few of those games.
Anyway...one of my new years resolutions is to spend less on games (both board games and video games). I won't exclude ever buying one, but it won't be enough to warrant an actual giveaway (sorry, but I don't do giveaways of one or two games...I don't want it to start revolving around who browses the subforum the most).
There is a "unless..." involved, but it's a long shot. See, what I've noticed is that either more people are sitting on a mountain of steam keys, or people are just returning the favor to me personally because I've given them or their friends free stuff first. Hence this blog entry: it's basically a beggaton, albeit with a delay. In short:
If you have spare steam keys for games you don't want or need, consider keeping them around and (after some time) donating them to me for a giveaway.
The thing about giveaways is that it takes quite some administration (maintaining a list, giving everyone pm's with games and semi-moderating the thread takes some time). The links below show that I'm capable of handling that, as well as that I don't really care about having more games than I currently have (I won't lie: if you offer something of my wishlist, I might participate in the giveaway myself. But I won't hog or redeem codes before anyone else).
Of course: this shoutout goes out only to those who buy MORE games than they're playing, and on the steam platform (itch.io and gog.com work with download links, and unless I'm mistaken, the epic store doesn't even work with redeemable keys). Oh, and only keys from a reliable source (humble bundle and fanatical games come to mind...I'm not sure whether there are other non-shady sites selling stuff).
Should this be you...then drop me a private message, okay? If possible, with an estimate of how many (valid) keys you're willing to contribute.
I'll say this upfront: you'll get no special treats aside a winning tie-breaker among non-contributers and an honorable mention in the OP. It's not that I don't want to, but I tried something similar in one of my giveaways and it lead to people min-maxing things ('here's a 0.1 dollar game steam key. Can I get that free 10 dollar game now? ').
Oh, and three other things I'm thinking of:
1) DO NOT SEND ME STEAM KEYS YET!
2) keep track of which games belong to which keys (you can't see which games are coupled with it until they're redeemed, which defeats the point ).
3) this one's aimed at the moderators: I'm assuming this is all okay to do on gbatemp. If you deem it's leaning too heavily into distributing illegal stuff, then it won't happen (I obviously don't think so myself, but I don't own this forum. I'll abide by gbatemp rules). If so, drop a comment below and I'll edit this entire blog post.
That's all for now. I have no idea what'll come of this, but I already have a 'nothing'. Anything more is a bonus.
Links to my giveaways:
end of 2018
first one...spring 2017, I guess
(1): small note: I believe there's a small restriction for entering here. Something like "ten posts minimum" or so. Either way: just be a good temper and you'll get access.
How to Mario kart like a BOSS...Dec 29, 2020
So...nephew and niece came over for (after)Christmas. Ages respectively 4 and 6. We played Mario kart 8 on the wiiu. Or at least attempted. Honk if this sounds familiar...
Me: *hands controller over to everyone*
Me: okay...let's start a race. Just some basic options (*selects multiplayer, grand prix, 50CC race *). Now click this button *points at A* to join.
Nephew(4): ...but I want to play Mario.
Me: sure. here...*gently turns wiimote back to the correct position, because he had them turned over from how I gave it to him* If you now press this button here you can...
Nephew: ...but I want to play Mario.
Me: w...yes. You press these buttons. And then...see? You're the red cross on the screen. You go all the way to the left and above. There: now you've got Mario selected.
Nephew: ...but I want to play Mario! *almost begins to cry*
Niece: I don't like this vehicle. I want another vehicle.
Me: in a second. First we select the person you want to play with. Is this okay for you?
Nephew: ...but I want to play Mario!
Me: *avoids grinding teeth* you ARE playing as Mario.
Me: *reaches over and presses 'ok' again on all controllers*
Me: okay...now you select your car by pressing these buttons *gestures to 'up' and 'down'*
Niece: ...but I don't like this character.
Me: ... *reverts back to previous screen, presses 'ok' for me and nephew, she selects Peach*
Me: ahem...okay...again: which car do you pick? *quickly picks the first car he sees*
Niece: *gets the idea, but is curiously pondering over EVERY SINGLE CAR*
Nephew: I don't like this car.
Me: okay...you want this one?
*repeat the above two seemingly infinite amount of times*
Nephew: (as if nothing happened) I want the car she uses.
Niece: *has finally decided on a kart*
Me: *finds the same car...but it's in a different color* Is this okay?
Me: okay...so...just press okay to...
Niece: I want different tiers! *starts selecting the color tiers as well*
Nephew: I don't like these tiers.
*repeat some more*
*repeat some more AFTER THAT with the kite to select*
Me: so...we take these races. Okay?
Niece: but I don't know these races!
Nephew: I want a race with monsters!
Me: *starts first race regardless*
The race is a classic 12-person race with the AI occupying 9. Niece is...okay for her age, I guess. She sorts of grasps using weapons/boosters, but forgets them immediately. Nephew(again: 4) on the other hand:
Nephew: *turns right...drives straight into the wall*
Me: *trying not to show that he's intentionally driving much slower* Hmm....
Nephew: *turns around, gets a joy from the "turn around" signal and the turtle that puts him back on track*
Niece: *seemingly avoids all boosters and weapons, but at least drives*
Nephew: *manages to drive himself in a corner* MY CAR WON'T DRIVE ANYMORE! *Mario grinding, attempting to drive into the wall at full force*
11 months old daughter in the background: *slowly but methodically creates a block tower of FOUR ENTIRE BLOCKS all by herself! *
Me: (at daughter) awww...bravo <name daughter>. Well done.
Me: *to nephew* erm...you might want to turn around? *gently nudges wiimote sideways so he at least isn't facing the wall anymore*
Nephew: *is having more fun, despite turning and shaking the wiimote more than a barman shaking a cocktail*
Me: ey, niece...get back on the seat properly, will you?
Niece: *sat on the couch on her knees, but so absorbed in the race that she's about to fall off, faceplanting the floor*
Niece: *begrudgingly takes a less dangerous stance on the seat*
Nephew: *has found a new goal: drive in all the ravines possible*
Niece: am I first?
(note: neither can properly read at this point, and their English is also absent. But she can sort of make out numbers)
Me: no...you're seventh at this point. See the number seven there? Oh...eight now. Keep driving.
Me: *tries to snipe other racers and bump them off the road, in an attempt not to completely wipe the floor with them*
Nephew: *stuck on repeat: drive off into the ravine, get picked up and placed back on tract, drive off into the ravine again*
Niece: *finishes last lap*
Me: *somewhat drives back and forth, trying to avoid the fact that I'm stalling*
Nephew: *still on his second lap (of tree)...still happily drives into EVERY RAVINE HE SEES*
Niece: Am I first?
Me: no...you finished 9th.
Niece: ah...*continues driving...even though it's just a rail on repeat because she already finished*
*insert more infinity*
Nephew: *FINALLY drives over finish*
Game: *shows score*
Niece: hey! I can't see where I'm driving!
Me: it's okay...we go to the next race.
*repeat all this three more times*
We played two times. The second time was barely easier selecting everyone their gear. On top of that, nephew AFTER ALL THE SELECTING wanted a sleeved controller (meaning: mine), so we repeated that once again.
The both most bitter and most hilarious thing that at one point we played a Bowser's mansion race. This was more winding and curling than most races we've played thus far (and...Mario kart 8 is perhaps not the best first racer in that regard). But for some reason, nephew felt much more at home here. Not only did he not constantly ram into every wall, but he even passed some computer enemies.
Niece, on the other hand, was having much more problems with the race. Up to the point that at one point, nephew PASSED HER (this was, incidentally, the best position he'd been in in all the gaming). Before that, she was a pretty decent young gamer. But at that point, her mood IMMEDIATELY turned. Her mother (my sister-in-law) tried to comfort her, saying that she could do it. She insisted she couldn't. So when nephew passed her, she immediately dropped the wiimote and went elsewhere.
So...gaming with kids is awesome. But...you really need some patience with them.
Sort of review of 'Fear'Dec 23, 2020
I've just read Fear, by Bob Woodward. It was available in my library, and an actual book, in Dutch, is still more convenient to read than e-books. It's an interesting read. On Trump I've read The fifth risk (by Lewis), A very stable genius (by Leonnig & Rucker) and Game theory in the age of chaos (Selinker). While good books, they are - admittedly - aimed at sensationalism, and hardly objective if at all. Far more than the others, Woodward tries to make himself invisible, letting the interviewers do the talking. Oh, and perhaps I should note that Fear is Woodward's first book on Trump. He's currently bestselling Rage (which I haven't yet read).
The read was...interesting. I mean, sure, the media has largely pointed out that most if not everyone of his staff thinks Trump's an idiot and/or a liar. All of that was "known" by most non-republicans already at that time (the book is from 2018), and I doubt it convinced many (I mean...IIRC, fire & fury was the first book that outlined that, yes, Trump's character is represented in his tweets). I probably wouldn't even have finished reading the book if it was just Trump being ridiculed.
The interesting part is really how this impression is formed. The sometimes given impression that Donald is lazy or just plays golf is, flat out, wrong. The Trump that gives fiery speeches, that leads meetings and tells others what to do...he does that all the time, it seems. He's passionate about his ideas, has a goal in mind and pushes (well...pushed: the book's 2 years old at this time) the agenda forward. Those are, in itself, very worthy treats.
The thing is: this all is marred with a complete lack of study, an incredible amount of television watching and blatantly ignoring even previously agreed upon things. During the reading, I suddenly realised: "hang on...Trump's acting like my dad! "
You've probably have persons like this in your family as well. The stubborn-beyond-belief types that you end up ignoring. To me, it has come to confrontations with my dad. When I was young, he renovated our childhood home. Didn't exactly learn much and did it his own way (with help from a few friends), but...it held. As a kid I didn't know much better, so I didn't think of it much. At most a "hey...other houses look nicer!" at times. But now that my girlfriend and me have bought a house, and my father-in-law turns out to be a great handyman...my dad feels left out. There are jobs at our house we planned on doing this way, but he insisted it had to be that way. We started with explaining. He...sort of listened and looked away...and after some days he still insisted we should do it that way. It took me at least a dozen tries to get him using e-mail properly, each of the repeating times making the exact same mistakes. Often with a "...but it SHOULD work THIS way. Why doesn't it work THIS way?". As if I personally wrote the entire world's mailing protocol as well as outlook.
Luckily for the world (and especially any staff), my dad isn't president of the USA. It's one thing to constantly forget how to use e-mail...but quite something different if it's about global trading. The book describes how Gary Cohn made all sorts of preparations on why a trade deficit wasn't bad and even profitable to the USA. Trump didn't read it, but instead put him against probably the only economist that followed Trump's idea that trade deficits were bad (Peter Navarro). The result was one of many internal fights that would turn the white house into a 'game of thrones'-like situation where the staff had to engage in all sorts of activities to prevent disasters. Both Rob Porter (Trump's assistant) and Gary Cohn describe how they've stolen documents from Trump's desk before he could sign them. This went without consequences because Trump isn't one to follow up on something.
Another feud was between Bannon and Jared & Ivanka. It has since been public knowledge, but at least at the start, neither Jared nor Ivanka had any official clearance...yet they acted as if they owned the place. Reince Priebus is described as a chief of staff who sort of wants to keep things running smoothly, but is sabotaged on any sides. The interesting part is that Trump is never directly blamed for all these internal wars: he acts at best as if he's just a witness, but it's pretty implied that he's sowing intrigue for his own benefit. Like when Lindsey Graham and another republican (forgot the name) came to talk to Trump about an immigration proposal, they were greeted with an entire "lynching party" who shot holes all in their reasoning.
The funny thing is: Trump is pretty clear in all of this. I mean...erm...How do I explain this? Look: if you're asking yourself why amnesia happens so much in stories, it's because of a simple reason: it allows the author to tell a story from scratch. It allows the audience to feel for the character because they're equally ignorant of the world, the upcoming story, the central conflict...whatever's the story is about. Politics, on the other hand, is usually a heavy subject because it doesn't just "start" at some point. The current politics have reasons that are rooted in the past for reasons the general audience often doesn't care to understand.
So in that sense, voters got exactly what they requested with Trump: someone who has no idea how politics work yet has A Very Clear Opinion On What Should Be Done. And boy, does he talk BUSINESS in this book! "Our army is in Afghanistan. What are they doing there? Why aren't the locals paying them? Why don't we pull all our troops back?".
I won't lie: as an European, I sort of wanted to be in that meeting between Trump and his generals. With popcorn. The USA (or at least the army) considers itself the police force of the democratic world. But the local population considers the US invaders forcing a standard of living they simply do not care about, let alone want. Of course the top of the army is offended to be regarded as mere mercenaries. Like...my position's not too different from Trump, but at the very least respect the guys who risk their lives and - more important - the lives of their men on the field! But no...the meeting was held by the top army staff to try to persuade Trump into their view of the world and how it should kept safe...and instead it blew up in all sorts of ways.
You remember the Rocketman tweets? Well...a lot of their staff had all the trouble in the world both averting Trump from actually sending a tweet that would cause nuclear war AND keeping South Korea as an ally ("no, they don't pay us for our presence. But we can intercept missiles heading to the US FAR more efficiently from there!").
The Mueller investigation wasn't over by the time this book was released (and hadn't gotten to Cohen yet...at least he's not mentioned anywhere). But on this one, I've got to agree mostly with republican critics that Trump was convicted without due trial. Flynn talking to Russians was a mistake, but all seems to point that Trump simply had no idea that this was political suicide. Dowd, Trump's representative in this situation, comes across as a smart guy. The thing is: he accidentally pretty much proves that Trump ordered Comey to go easy on Flynn. If my knowledge of US history is intact, that fact's akin to that Saturday Night Massacre that lead to Nixon's impeachment. But it's Dowd who plays it smart and goes against the president's wish to be interrogated by Mueller. For the reason he cannot really say to his client: that Trump is a notorious liar.
The book stops pretty abrupt, but considering it was only the first two years of the presidency, that was to be expected. But my main takeaway is how NORMAL everything seemed to be just two years ago. Of course an escalating trade conflict out of nowhere, nearly a nuclear war with North Korea, ripping up Iran's nuclear deal (also against most of the staff's desire, btw) and more feuds than in Shakespearean drama's is pretty hefty, but compared to that longest government shutdown, the Ukranian affair, Stormy Daniels, Cohen's testimony and - of course - the pandemic manhandling it's like it's not so bad. Like I said: my own father would barely be a better president. So...yeah.
Taleweaver's top 220 games of all time...Dec 22, 2020
So before all hell broke lose early this year, I thought it’d be a good idea to take a look back at not just the a list of my favorite games of the past ten years but to list up ALL my favorite games. But as soon as I started inventarising, I realised it’d be an impossible task. There is no absolute quality treat as to what I consider quality, and mix in different genres (I like everything). And with the amount of games I’ve played in my 39 years on this planet, and it’s even more impossible. Heh...If I would list all ports, emulated games I’ve tried, board games and expansions/DLC separately, I might even cross 2020 games. But I doubt many would read an entire list if about half of those entries were things like “I’ve tried this game for five minutes but then it crashed and I never played it again. Were good five minutes, though ”. So instead, I’ll go with 220 games instead. More so: my 220 favorite video games. And I’ll mostly attempt to stick to one of a franchise, though there are a few exceptions when the sequels do more than ‘just the same thing with better graphics’.
This obviously is a personal list (and mentions the platform I've played it most on, not on where it was available). Not only haven’t I played even close to what I want to play, but some games I would remember different long afterwards. That’s just how things go...
220. North & south (DOS): a curious one from the era before game genres (1989): a two-player head to head featuring the blueskirts (a Belgian strip on the civil war) that is mostly worker placement, but has some platforming and battlefield gameplay as well. Got good memories playing this one co-op.
219. Z (windows): after C&C, there were many clones entering the field. Z was one of those. It added the curiosity of area control, thus making it a MOBA years before it became a thing. It’s fast paced and frantic, with fun characters (okay, they’re basically the turtles in robot form).
218. Clive Barker’s undying (windows): another oldie. A ‘doom clone’ this time, though IIRC it was one of the games using the first unreal engine. Either way: it’s a shooter/horror mix with my (then) favorite author in the title. As far as shooters go, it was pretty decent. Didn’t age well, though.
217. Trine 2 (wiiu): got this on release day of the wiiu. Incredibly pretty platformer, but kind of cheesy. You can solve most if not all the puzzles with enough boxes.
216. Fez (windows): pixelated perspective fun! This isn’t so low on the list because of controversy but because it didn’t grab me that much.
215. Badlands (android): at the time one of the best android games. And remarkable what “just one button” can mean for a game.
214. Kororinpa (wii): when it came to motion controls, nintendo did all the innovative stuff. Well...except for this one: you just roll your marble through a 3D-ish maze. Kind of childish theme, but relaxing to play
213. Triple town (windows): bejeweled mixed with city building. Three gras form a bush, three bush a tree, three trees a small house, and so on. If the bears weren’t introduced to mess up your plans, I’d probably still be building stuff right now.
212. Scorched earth (DOS): worms later popularized the concept, but this is one we sneakily played in computer class: you set your missile speed and angle and hope you’ll hit your opponent before he hits you. Then you buy extra weapons. What wowed me most was the huge amount of options in the game (especially the option to increase explosions so large bombs blew away over half of the screen )
211. The static speaks my name(windows): it’s free, it’s fifteen minutes...and it’s more horrifying than many hours long horror games. If you really want to know how depression looks like: this game shows it in a creepingly disturbing way.
210. Eldritch(windows): at first glance, it was like (original) wolfenstein 3D with some Lovecraftian theme. That would, however, not do it justice. You have some weapons, but you won’t survive if you don’t avoid the monsters. At the very least, it’s an interesting game. I had a lot of fun with it, but I’m just not good enough for roguelikes (or is this a roguelite? You unlock new chapters, but if you don’t go to the first part to grab extra gear, the second is just extra impossible).
209. Kirby epic yarn(wii): okay, I’ll level with y’all: I don’t like this game. There are easy games, very easy games...and kirby epic yarn hits rock bottom here (you literally CANNOT FAIL). Why is it on this list? Because it’s about the best co-op experience you can have with newbie gamers (aka: girlfriends).
208. Picross 3D: round 2 (3DS) one I’m currently playing. I’ve played 3D picross before and it felt like a gimmick. Round 2 introduces a second color. In theory this seems like extra madness, but thus far the puzzles are great, the whole atmosphere as well and it’s both very satisfying and different from “regular” picross.
207. Ghostmania (wii): somewhat of a variant on tetris attack: drop blocks, sorting them as much by color as possible. Drop a ‘bubbled block’, and it’ll take out that color. A bit disappointed it never went outside wiiware territory.
206. Bit.trip runner 2 (wiiu): the whole bit.trip series are quirky little gems. Runner 2 is the most normal one, and also the best endless runner game I’ve played (okay, aside from the music levels in rayman legends).
205. Cat lady (android): ugh...talk about a theme that is extremely far removed from what I normally like (cats and the color pink). Despite this, this is an interesting and rather fun little card game. And whomever made the digital port went all out on extras. The result is a small gem that’s easily worth the couple bucks it costs.
204. Hive time (linux): it’s a bee simulator game...or is it an idle game? Either way, it’s an interesting and relaxing sim. Simple, but efficient.
203. The sequence 2 (android): the original is a couple hundred positions lower, in the “wannabe zachtronics games” section. This one is a huge step closer to that compliment. My main problem is that the creator of this game is a genius. Solving a level certainly makes you feel like him, but jeez this game is frustrating if you’ve got “normal” intelligence.
202. Horizon chasers (linux): can be described in one word: “outrun”. It obviously isn’t (try playing it in an emulator once ), but this racing game captures the mood of that sunny californian racer so damn well...
201. Manifold garden (windows): okay...do me a favor and picture google “obscure cities”, perhaps with the words “Schuiten” and “Peeters”, the creators of this graphic novels (though it’s much closer to art than anything story-driven). The images speak better than I can describe the still urban landscapes that have something dark in them despite sometimes overly bright use of colors. Well...manifold garden draws direct inspiration from that, and is a more agoraphobian sequel to antichamber. This one really ought to be higher if it wasn’t for that damn epic store (and me running linux).
200. Unpuzzler (android): a pure relaxing puzzle game. Search which puzzle piece(s) you can remove from the board, and keep going until the board is empty. It’s in the “zen” category of games
199. Enemy mind (windows): a sidescroller with an unique twist that really schools everything else (yes, including all R-type clones): you are merely an ethereal entity. You survive by infiltrating ships and using their ammo and fuel before hopping to the next one. Not only is this darn unique in the genre, but the story is also worth following.
198. Shadow warrior remake (windows): after hard reset, I wasn’t too thrilled trying this game and expected a mindless shooter. And while it doesn’t disappoint, it has a very interesting edge with the sword. If you told me beforehand I’d ever be using my melee weapon in the last stages of a game, I’d thought you were crazy. But shadow warrior pulls it off nicely.
197. Driift mania (wii): top down racers (aka: super off-road) are a dime a dozen. The reason I picked this one is because of fond memories with a former girlfriend of mine. The reason it’s on the wii (and everyone, even including her mother, had a controller of their own) helped.
196. Bridge construction: portal (android): I feel sorry for the makers of bridge construction: they made their game many different ways and I’m about as many times unimpressed. It’s bad if even the addition of portals only helps pull it up to here. Don’t get me wrong: I had fun with this game. But after a while it was just “meh...I don’t care about this” when the next level felt exactly the same again (there’s only so many ways you can construct a bridge).
195. Outland(windows): a game that starts as metroidvania and ends in ikaruga. A very good game, really. It’s just...by the time I reached the end boss, I was just “meh...screw it”. Can’t really say why anymore...
194. Borderlands 1&2 (windows): pixelated art, endless enemies, endless gun variety. What’s not to like? Well...I had fun, but going at it solo diminished things, I guess. And I missed the guns from unreal tournament.
193. Wolfenstein: new order (windows): one of my last AAA-titles before I just couldn’t stomach the repetitioned gameplay elements anymore. Still: good story, good gameplay...I liked it.
192. Hey, that’s my fish (android): a simple area control game: each player puts some pinguins on the hexagonal boards. Then in turn, you move one of ‘em in a straight line to anywhere you want. Your previous position sinks under the surface. Some spots have fish on them, and you try to catch the most. While it looks cute and child-friendly, it’s actually an incredibly cutthroat game where you block and deny passages to others as the board keeps shrinking. It’s mainly here because I played it with my nephew, and he loved it.
191. Isle of skye (android): I thought this a carcassonne clone until I played it. The scoring mechanic is different per round, but that’s a small deviation. No...this game is all about bidding for tiles. Guessing how much a tile is worth, pricing accordingly and grabbing decent-cost tiles is...it’s not my favorite game mechanism, but it’s certainly pulled off great here.
190. The Stanley parable (windows): to be honest, I didn’t like this game at first. “So you go here and the narrator changes?”. Meh. But I had to hand it to the creators: when I jumped to my death in an attempt to prove I wasn’t being narrated, the narrator snarked at me that indeed: I had free will. Well done! So...it’s a game that managed to overcome a bad initial start, and with some fresh humor. Still: a branching walking simulator is still a walking simulator.
189. Onirim (android): a free mobile solitaire game that’s actually good. Why? Well...it has provocative art (think the Babadook or sjamanism). It has an interesting premisse (open the four doors to the dream realm). And it has a lot of tough choices. It’s certainly worth checking out.
188. A virus named Tom (windows): in a way, this reminds me of the older 2D puzzle games I played as a kid. You move around a board, avoiding bugs and rotating plates that turn green once they’re rotated correctly. You win if all the plates are connected/glowing green. The story is saturday afternoon cartoonish (think Hannah Barbera), the gameplay diverse and frantic. It also gets incredibly hard after some time.
187. Dust: an elysian tail (windows): to be honest, I almost forgotten about this one. Sure, it’s beautiful, has fancy combo’s and an interesting gameplay loop. But it doesn’t have any decent “oomph” that keeps it into memory. It’s good in what it does, but I’ve played dozens of similar ones.
186. Despotism 3k (android): oh, boy...there are games where you play the villain...and then you’ve got this one. On the surface, it’s a simple simulator. Increase your population, keep everyone fed, maintain motivation. Oh, and click a few binary choices once in a while. It’s mostly done by dragging up and down, making it simple to play on a phone. The thing is: you basically play the more cruel brother of GladOS. You increase population by forcing reproduction, you keep power by running your peeps in a hamster wheel, and you feed them by dropping your least useful workers in some sort of soylent green creator. Probably the most sadistic game I’ve ever played, and probably more sadistic than e.g. hatred or postal. But man...I can’t keep from grinning just by thinking of it.
185. Smash bros brawl (wii): yup...time for controversy. Yes, it’s on the tail end of my list and yes, it’s the wii version. Here’s why: I don’t like most fighting games, and brawl’s no exception. It’s here mostly because of the cutscenes in subspace emissionary. Don’t like it? Make your own list.
184. Mystic vale(android): one of the most beautiful games I’ve played on android. Soothing nature, calm transitions...everything’s in this game is relaxed. It’s also a virtual card game where you upgrade your cards (yes: you upgrade your cards. Literally). So it’s strategic, tactical and pretty smart. It also has a push-your-luck elemental where you can keep drawing until you’re bust, or play with what you’ve got. The thing is: despite all this, I found it rather boring and unengaging. I recognize quality when I see it, but this just couldn’t keep me coming back for more.
183. Pac-man 256 (windows): pac-man as a roguelike? Yeah...it’s basically eating dots and avoiding ghosts in a procedurally generated environment. But it’s fun trying to eat as much dots as possible while keeping on the run from the nothingness that follows you.
182. Rusted warfare (android): before the C&C remake, RTS’es were something of yesteryear. C&C3, for example, isn’t on this list despite me playing all through it. But while rusted warfare automates harvesting perhaps a little too much, it is without question a decent RTS...on mobile, no less!
181. Renowned explorers (windows): unfortunately for this game, I dislike RPG’s turn based combat systems. This one was interesting because the ‘fights’ are really conversations, so you’re attempting to bully, convince or trick people to your side. It also has humor, some minigames and other plusses. But in the end, it couldn’t make its way higher on this list than this.
180. Stunts / Trackmania(DOS/windows): stunts is a very old PC racing game which was unique in that you could create your own tracks, complete with jumps, loopings and pipes. It was far from perfect, even for its day (basically: anything but the fastest car was just a waste of time), but my friends and me took challenges in creating racetracks for each other. The trackmania series continued that trend, but the lack of collision – while it makes sense – is a downer. Also: the more realism meant it lost some of its cartoony charm.
179. Spelunky(windows): my first roguelike experience. Loved the vibe, loved how you could attempt to steal from the shops, hated the difficulty.
178. Morphblade (linux): Tom Francis, aka suspicious developments, is a developer that gets a free pass from me. This is a survival tactical turnbased game is totally abstract but genius in its simplicity. Kill enemies, choose your upgrades wisely and move wisely. It should really be a mobile game, though...
177. Minesweeper genius (android): the lovechild of minesweeper and picross. Do I need to say more?
176. Threes/Kenshó (android): different games that scratch the same itch. The honor should really go to threes, as a charming evergrowing sliding puzzle that inspired the more popular 2048. Kenshó is what an AAA publisher would make of the concept. I’m not sure if it makes it better, but they certainly do share the same “slide to progress and screw up at the same time” mechanic.
175. The beginner’s guide(windows): after Dear Esther, I was convinced that walking simulators had reached their peak. The beginner’s guide, however, showed a serious impact in terms of storytelling (sort of like what The blair witch project was for movies). The gameplay decisions, however, are just zero.
174. Giana sisters: twisted dreams & rise of the owlverlord(wiiu): apparently there’s a very old predecessor series, but the reboot by black forest games just blew me away. A light & dark world intertwined, platforming that gives Sonic a run for its money and graphics that are up to par with Trine. There aren’t much surprises in what to expect, but you certainly get enough for your buck.
173. Zuma’s revenge/Luxor series (PSP/linux): shoot some balls into an approaching marblefest to line up the same color. Fast, franctic and ooooh sooo addicting.
172. Campfire cooking(linux): I never got the chance to play Stephen’s sausage roll, but after obtaining this one through itch.io’s monster giveaway, I played this instead. You basically roll and rotate your barbecue stick until your piece(s) are properly roasted (but not burnt). I just kept coming back to this until I finished all 100+ levels.
171. Train valley(linux): I don’t get people who like train games. Pick up goods. Drive to other destinations. Drop off goods. Yaaaaawn. No: I’ll go train valley style: you’ll lose upkeep money roughly every second. Cargo loses value in time as well. Tracks cost money. And trains need to go everywhere without bumping into each other. Result: a mad attempt at going “just in time”, as you lay tracks as the trains are moving, stop and start them to have them shave directly next to each other. Now THAT is a train game!
170. The witness (linux): okay, I admit it: I’m too dumb for this game. The whole connect the dots thing that is a large part of the game somehow (I initially thought this’d be a minigame) is still okay, but some stuff hidden in the scenery or how to interpret symbols...it’s like myst, really: it’s the sort of art I WANT to get into but just end up just pretending to like more than I really like it. :-(
169. Santorini (android): easy to teach, hard if not impossible to master board game with chess-like aspirations. There’s a 5x5 grid where both players have two pawns. On your turn, you move one of ‘em (even diagonally), then build a block adjacent to your destination. You win if you can climb to the third floor. As such, this game is tactical and engaging to the max. Oh, and beautiful. The kicker: this situation is just the ‘base’ game. There’s a few dozen special powers that each player can posess, that totally turn the game into something that’s both unique and deep PER INDIVIDUAL COMBINATION! It’s both very thinky and fast, and beautiful to boot. The reason it’s this low is kind of embarrassing: even standard AI bots just wipe the floor with me.
168. Sproggiwood(linux): after playing crypt of the necrodancer, this one served me just what I liked about that game: fast turnbased combat (yeah, I know: it sounds more ironic than it is), interesting powers and a funny story.
167. Fallout 3 (windows): let’s get one thing straight: fallout 1&2 are fallout. This is a wannabe. However, bethesda followed a fucking GOOD game to do a 3D makeover. I wasted quite some hours into these lands, searching for bottlecaps, weird stories and so on. However, when 4 decided to cut back on story options and focus more on crafting, I just went elsewhere...
166. Warcraft 3(windows): warcraft 1 was ‘okay for its time’, warcraft 2 ‘good’...and 3? Great. I wasn’t much a fan of the hero mechanic initially, but it certainly won me over. And blizzard really upped the ante with each iteration.
165. Hob (linux): this is a very temporary space for the obvious reason that I’m playing it now. It’s probably much higher, but for now… So what is Hob? A 3D exploration game with platforming and a steampunk/nature theme. It’s somewhat a cross between prince of persia and Zelda, really. Combat isn’t that great, but the exploration is so good it’s almost unrealistic (better than Zelda, IMHO. It’s that Zelda is better in some other departments).
164. Sim city 2000 (windows): nowadays I no longer have the patience for city building. But back in the day? Played sim city to the death and not only bought sim city 2000 but also an actual gaming guide for it (which I tossed away years later...something I still regret). Building all the way to arco’s was just awesome!
163. One must fall 2097(DOS): while street fighter was all the rage in arcades, I was using my dad’s PC to play this gem by the illustrious “epic megagames” studio. It was pretty corny (all the robots looked alike), but damn...I loved it.
162. Jaipur (android): in theory, a very simple 2-player trading game (based on a board game). However, with the fluctuating prices, the camels as wildcards and the estimating of what to draw, things got TENSE! One of the few games where I was really trying to guess what my opponent (the AI) was trying to do.
161. Jazzpunk (windows): outside of monkey island, good humor is rare in games. This 3D point ‘n click game, however, goes all out on that front. From bizarre minigames, random characters and genuinely funny puns, this is just a delight to play. I envy you if you’ve never played it before, as you can’t really replay it for the same effect.
160. Carcassonne (android): the classic tile-laying game. Strangely enough, after I had this and played it, asmodee took over and remade the entire thing in 3D...though it looks and plays almost exactly the same as the old one. So...I’ll leave it up to you which version I’m talking about.
159. One finger death punch 1 & 2 (linux): if ‘lightning in a bottle’ is a verb, then this is ‘lightning in a small bottle’. It’s a stickman beat ‘em up that ramps up to downright INSANE levels. But rather than tone it down, OFDP revels in it and adds angelic choires, rising suns, jedi swordfights and the kitchen sink into the frey. Looks and plays simple, but damn does it nail its power fantasy tropes.
158. Plague inc evolved(windows): the idea and the atmosphere really shine here. You’re a virus on its mission to wipe out the earth. You start out innocent enough and slowly either increase your transmission rate and/or your symptoms. Great music, has everything going with heartbeats, microscopes, easy to grasp graphs, newspapers that go from reporting boring stuff (‘Pratchett chosen best author in the world!’) to disaster (‘USA taking lolwhutvirus seriously!’)...you name it. It only has two problems (well...three if you take the “the US takes it seriously” as unrealistic): once a cure is found it’s immediately game over even if you wiped out half the world, and the gameplay is just clicking bubbles. Yyyeaahh...style only can only get you this far in my list. :-\
157. Race the sun(windows): this is an odd one. You are a solar powered machine that is racing a cube-filled planet (think original star fox) as the sun slowly sets. Avoid obstacles, grab upgrades and just keep going. The interesting part is that the sun slowly sets, thus eventually leaving you powerless...unless you run over speed pads which delay the actual sunset. Though initially pretty hard, it’s also very zen-like. My favorite endless runner (though I’m not too fond of the game in general).
156. Burgle bros: after playing this, I immediately fell in love with Fowers (board) games. This is a 70s heist game: you and your allies (it’s a coop) try to rob each floor of a bank while avoiding the guards. So be careful when lasers, movement sensors and other contrapments set off alarms that sends the guard your way.
155. Mushroom-11 (windows&android): both PC and android games work equally well, which is strange since it’s so mouse-heavy. It’s also pretty unique: you’re a blob that continuously grows in all direction to a certain volume. Your mouse (or finger) kills off a part. Result: you’re playing pretty much an eraser paintbrush, “pushing” your blob in a direction to grow. It’s both interesting and actually quite fun. Not sure if the fallout-vibe was needed, though.
154. Rebuild 3: gangs of deadville (linux): I had zero expecations going in, and almost quit upon seeing the graphics and even the gameplay. I mean...it LOOKS like a cashgrab (defend your city in a zombie apocalypse), and the graphics are more about clichés than anything else. But you deploy your troops, slowly build up food, shelter, a safe zone, let people rest...and before you know it, hours have gone by and you’re actively saying “well...I only want to clear THAT house before I go to bed”.
153. House of the dead: overkill(wii): my second best lightgun game. Unsurprisingly, it’s on the wii. Yes, it’s mindlessly blasting zombies. So what? I had hours of fun in this.
152. Excitebotswii) found this wii-gem while helping out a (now former) girlfriend to clean up her house. That took several days, looked hopeless and my job was becoming pretty stressfull. This is what I played in those times: a racer where it’s almost as much about performing tricks as finishing first. I wasn’t a fan of some wiimote antics (swirl the wiimote to gain traction on a trapeze?), but it was a very welcome stress-reliever.
151. Frostpunk(windows): I was a bit afraid when I accepted to review this for gbatemp. What if I wouldn’t like it? Should I piss on a free game if it wasn’t good? Luckily, this dilemma solved itself by frostpunk being actually good. It’s a survival city building game. You basically build houses and heating equipment around a central heating mechanic, but if you run out of resources your population dies. And oh, boy...if you’re on of the “games should be fun!” style, you’d hate this game. Because it throws dilemma’s your way by e.g. showing you near-starved children. Will you save them? Will saving them cause a revolt by others? Will you resort to canibalism for food? It’s tough...but it’s the good kind of tough.
150. Lula: the sexy empire(DOS): I admit: I’m a boring old “cis het male”. That means I like whorishly dressed girls, sexual innuendo, flirting, treating women as objects and all those other things I don’t usually say in public. This is pretty frowned upon these days, but back in the nineties some actually created games on that principle. Most of these games sucked, though (and no: not in a good way). Lula wasn’t exactly a technical or gameplay-wise masterpiece, but at least it was an actual game. With full fledged considerations like “how do I name my porn movie?”, “what quality bed do I use?” and “what kinds of porn scenes need to be there?”. And yes, it has some damn hot hand drawn images (note: channelling my inner 19-year old now), but it also has some humor. Cheap shots mostly, but fun ones nonetheless.
149. Hotline miami 1 (windows): aaah...a bit of the old ultraviolence. The fastest gorefest you’ll find, along with the most disturbing cutscenes. It’s a fever dream gone bad, a hectic “whatifItrythis...ohnoI’mdead”. The sequel was just ‘more of the same’, which is a shame (I mean...the first one dragged out things a bit too long)
148. Starcraft (windows): after playing warcraft 1 and 2, starcraft was on my “must have” list for that new computer I was going to build. And man...it did NOT disappoint. Never finished the protoss campaign, though.
147. Offspring fling (windows): I think I got this in a giveaway, which means at least someone’s missing out here. This is really a nintendo game not made by nintendo: quirky, cute and entertaining. As the name suggests, you’re a parent in search of her children. But picking them up increases your length and speed. Luckily, you can just throw them around, hitting switches or even effects to haul them to the exit. Yeah...family game of the year material right there!
146. Doki doki literature club (linux): yeeey, a game where I play a cis hetero male trying to court anime chicks in my local literature club. Despite it all starting pretty timid, I feel more creeped out playing dumb teenager main character than Lula. Luckily, the second half catches up where this game would otherwise fail. Oh yeah...the price of free certainly helps.
145. Zombiiu (wii): I honestly don’t get why, but I’ve had people telling me I wasn’t allowed to love this game. But I did...and still do. Zombiiu has you playing an unnamed character trying to survive with merely a baseball bat and some (very) rare ammunition as you try to survive London after a no-deal brexit ( ;-) ). The use of two screens really added to the atmosphere, and not having much experience with survival horror games might have helped. Still...to me this really holds up.
144. Far cry 3 + blood dragon (windows): okay, I’m cheating, as these are really different games who only ‘sorta’ scratch the same itch. But honestly: I liked the many side-objectives in far cry 3, and the nonsensical stuff of blood dragon. Unfortunately, someone at ubisoft decided that’s what every one of their games should be from then on, which plummetted my fun department.
143. Solsuite (windows): for some reason, this game still gets a yearly update and still refuses to be on steam, gog, any platform other than their own website. The concept is simple enough: hundreds of single player card games (752 in the latest iteration), with all the quality of life you might ever want and some you didn’t knew you want. And mostly anything I did was play spider solitaire over and over again (hellbent on proving that every game is winnable. I think I had 100 wins to 0 losses at some point...but it took quite some back-and-forth’ing).
142. Cosmic express (android): after I learned that draknek (the creator) did not only created sokobond but also ‘A good snowman is hard to build’, this one instantly got a free pass. And for good reason: cosmic express has a remarkable simple concept: lay down tracks so you’ll pick up all aliens, drop ‘em off at their home and then drive through the exit (which is also why I have it on my phone for around two years). It SEEMS easy until you start playing. Be prepared for a lot of “okay, this is simple. I just loop to here, than there, then...oh, I’ll be stuck then. Okay, so let’s instead go there, than...wait...huh???” moments. But really: all his games are masterclasses in elegant design.
141. Serious sam series (windows): a doom-clone with a Duke Nukem-clone main character. What makes this game so special? Well...massive, massive MASSIVE amounts of enemies. Especially when doom 3 had an identity crisis and Duke Nukem forever was a wishlist, S.S. picked up the market with decent 3D, endless hordes of iconic enemies (hint: ‘aaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!’) and, of course, an actual cannon in your arsenal.
140. 140 (windows/linux): an abstract platformer that slowly implements rhythm in its gameplay. Weird, interesting, and probably my first game without any text or explicit story whatsoever. And yes, I cheated (but not much) by putting this at nr. 140.
139. Skullgirls (windows): could be my favorite fighter game. Street fighter might’ve been more iconic, but I don’t want to train my microsecond button presses. The all-cartoonish style with great, sexy characters is what really stole my heart.
138. Papers, please (windows): a bureaucracy’em up, all right. At first it grabbed me in style that reminded me more of 80’ish experimental games than most pixel art games (hint: most are just 13-a-dozen platformers). But what really pushed it to the top was the sense of humor in the seemingly dark undertone (“excuse me...are you a man or a woman?”).
137. Mark of the ninja (windows): there’s a nagging feeling I don’t play this game correct, even though I finished it. Sure, it was on my gpd-win, but still...Either way: it’s a stealth game that still allows for a lot of killing. It’s knee-deep in ninja tropes (love it!), has decent cutscenes and interesting gameplay. But again: I feel like I don’t do it enough justice by only playing it mobile.
136. Fluidity (wii): takes the price for weirdest protagonist: you play as a pool of water. The idea is that by tilting the wiimote, boiling to steam and freezing to a cube, you’ll get through this platforming world. It’s more interesting than fun, but I had fun nonetheless.
135. Dr. Luigi wii): while not my favorite puzzle mechanic, I gotta admit it’s pretty addicting when you clear out all the virusses by chocking some poor sod full of weird pills.
134. Book of demons (linux): what do you do when you want to make diablo but don’t have the budget? Why you make book of demons, of course! At first glance it’s diablo in papier mache. On second glance, you’ll ask “why am I restricted to only a straight path?”. But if you keep at it, you’ll find a very fun and self-referential diablo-clone that holds up despite your character is just an unanimated 2D-sprite. The game understands it’s a mouseclick fest, so it throws you some bones where you might not expect them (click on top of enemies when they’re power boosting to stop ‘em, click on your health to stop poison, hover over stars when you’re being smashed...it’s all about mouse control)
133. Wario: smooth moves (wii): yeey, microgames. Probably would be a blast at parties, but alas: never held one. Still: the overall game feels like improv theater. “brush the teeth!” “roll over the barrel!” It’s all about figuring out what to do in the 5 second interval. Pretty unique.
132. Mad max (windows): I won’t deny it: it’s just a bog standard sandbox game set in – oh irony – a desert. Fight baddies, do fetch quests, pimp your ride. I just loved playing this game, that’s all.
131. Dune 2 / original C&C (DOS): titles like these are really the hardest to place: groundbreakingly innovative, but can’t stand the test of time. Click unit. Click move. Click destination. Yeah...no way anyone’s gonna play original dune 2 now. And C&C? Drag move, click & move...all awesome. But the balance is just laughably bad.
130. Xenoblade chronicles (wii): on hindsight, I wanted to love this game more than I did. In an attempt to prove that game pirates don’t just cheapskate, I fully participated in...what was it? Operation rainfall? To get some JRPG’s over to the west. So I bought me xenoblade chronicles. Loved the environment, loved the story, was onboard with the “it’s not turnbased but…” combat...but I still mostly lack the patience for these kinds of games.
129. Wii sports resorts (wii): ...probably my favorite party game (when talking video games), really. Bowling, archery, that flyover game...all great stuff. But none was as great as the swordfighting game. Stupid visuals and plonk-plonk sounds couldn’t stand in the way of its greatness.
128. Zelda: skyward sword (wii): I really couldn’t tell a favorite with wii sports resort, even though they’re very different. SS was very decent, and I sorta liked the swordfights. It’s just that the whole exploration part went out the window, and the final boss is street fighter’s Akuma for some reason. Still...decent Zelda (though that’s probably just my opinion).
127. Freecell quest (windows): on hindsight, I probably wasted way too much time on this one. It’s freecell. Fun game, yes...but it came with an entire storyline that took itself seriously (which resulted in somewhat campy gameplay). Still...I loved wasting time on it.
126. Zelda: oracle of ages/seasons (gameboy color): another impossible choice. Neither have a nostalgic edge for me, and because I played these back to back I can’t even say which dungeons belong to which game. But oh boy, do they provide quality. Not up to par with Awakening, but solid game entries the both of them.
125. Pony island (linux): a game that’s not about pony’s...or an island. It involves weirdness, programming and platforming. Erm...I recommend it, but can’t say more of it.
124. Super metroid (3DS): I’ve tried many metroids, but mostly I just give up on them once I should backtrack to God knows where. Super metroid’s the only one I played through. IIRC, I payed two cents to this to nintendo for some reason, but I forgot why it was so cheap.
123. Roundabout (windows): a recommendation from the late Totalbiscuit: a sandbox(ish) game where you drive a limo that’s constantly spinning around. Of course navigating anywhere isa nightmare, but it’s also a main part of the game. The best part, however, is that the developers went all in on the crazy idea and got some of the most hilarious B-movie quality cutscenes to go with it.
122. Raptor: call of the shadows (DOS): yeeey, more nostalgia (also: thanks, GoG! ). A top down shooter that’s a dime a dozen for most, but is awesomeness to me. Also: start mission six, grab the extra weapon near the start, quit, sell it...and repeat this until you’ve got enough money to buy the insane guns .
121. Puzzle quest (PSP): I’m not even sure if I used my PSP for any other game during commutes. Match-3 never appealed to me, but throw some action elements in it and suddenly I was on board. Good stuff from my mid-twenties nostalgia.
120. Prince of Persia sands of time(wii/gamecube): PoP is mostly a “I want to get into it, but I had other games to play”. The original was great, but I had no idea where to place it. Sands of time is great in another way.
119. Picross series(SNES, gameboy, android, arcade): nonograms, picross, griddler...call it how you want. I played through the gameboy game (or even two?), the snes one and have it on my tablet (katana nonogram). Perhaps the best iteration was a weird Japanese arcade game called ‘logic pro’, where you had to help a gorilla find love by solving these against an insane time limit (but I finished it nonetheless).
118. Nova-111 (wiiu): my first positional-based turnbased combat game. The story is forgettable, but the combat manoeuvering is kind of good. What puts it here, however, is that after some time you’ll meet enemies that behave both in real time and in “frozen” time.
117. Mirror’s edge (windows): I’ve got a soft spot for zen-like games, and this one’s a gem in that regard. Well...I don’t know who insisted on combat sections, but he was WRONG. Despite this, I somewhat had a crush on Faith back in the day...
116. FTL (windows): what to say on Faster Than Light? It’s worth the hype, certainly. Loved “just going at it”. And it’s one of the few starship fighters I can tolerate (everyone else tries to be starship enterprise...but I ain’t no trekkie).
115. Lyne (android): a staple example of what a mobile game can be. Yes, it’s abstract. Yes, it’s “just” connecting lines. But it’s good. Its only flaw is that it takes 20-30 levels before some difficulty starts to show, and over a hundred before you’re really puzzling. Luckily, it has an insane amount (along with daily generated ones).
114. Lumines (PSP): if it was up to me, I wouldn’t have used the techno/house/rave style. It would still be a great puzzler game that could stand toe to toe with tetris. However, it started to grow on me and now I can’t think of the game without it. Meaning: if the game’s good enough, I will accept the music.
113. Kalimba (windows): someone on gbatemp recommended it at some point. Bought it, played it, loved it. You play as two totems at the same time trying to survive what amounts to madness. It’s somewhat simple, but man is it clever...
112. Istanbul (android): Hmm...I’ve bought board games ranked lower. Istanbul I’m content with just the app experience. Not sure why. In any case, it’s a race through city districts to collect five diamonds. The interesting part is that you can go almost everywhere each turn, but knowing what the BEST move is, is...tricky. Definately try it out if you’re even remotely interested in virtual board games.
111. Hexologic (android): on the surface, this is just kokuro on hexagons with ‘just’ numbers one through three. However, style, interesting design choices and ease of play give this addictive puzzler a welcome spot here.
110. Mole mania (gameboy): FFS, nintendo...why the hell did you never followed up on this gameboy gem on your (3)DS line-up? But nooo...it’s Miyamoto at his best, but apparently it’s not good enough. But ahem...in itself, mole mania still stands on its own. You’re a mole that has to traverse some worlds above as well as below ground. Very interesting puzzle designs (that would be better suited on, y’know...two screens?). It has some quirks because it’s a nineties game, but that has some charm as well.
109. Gorogoa (android): so...this is probably as artsy-indie as they come, but hear me out: gorogoa plays like a child’s dream. It’s a rather unique point ‘n click because of the different panels, but that somehow enhances the experience. Only minus is that you’ve got no idea how long this game is until it (almost) ends.
108. Gargoyle’s quest (gameboy): back in first grade when gameboys where the max, everyone traded games with everyone (we’d finish it, then pass it back to trade something else). I don’t remember how I got ahold of this one, but it blew me away. I hardly knew English (heh...I could barely read at all!) but still decyphered there was something of an epic story going on. The constant updates were also new at that time. I played it again on emulator about twenty years later, and still loved it (never got in the NES or SNES ones, though).
107. Gunpoint (windows): this pixel game basically fulfilled watch_dogs basic promise of hacking. I’m not sure if I was just very good at it or that the game was too easy, but damn it was hilarious. You could lure enemies by turning off the lights, but when they clicked the light button, you had hacked it so the electrical outlet on their feet killed them. And you could string all sorts of things together. It was wacky, had a hilarious story and is still pretty unique in how it handles things. Not the first Tom Francis game on this list.
106. Element4l(windows/linux): a 2D parcours platformer-ish game. You basically morph between elements air (a floating bubble), rock (a falling rock), ice (for smooth gliding) and fire (a spark to the right). With good timing, you’ll keep or even increase your momentum to send you flailing through the level. Cute style, engaging gameplay. Solid game.
105. Baba is you (windows): part of me wants to throw this game off the list because the solutions border on unfair. Exploration, however, is key. And programming. By shoving boxes together, you create or alter the physics of reality. So get ready to talk meme, as you change ‘baba is you’ into ‘flag is you’, move as a flag to form ‘lava is float’ so you can walk to the key after forming ‘key is win’. It’s brilliant in its design...but I’m all but brilliant in playing this game.
104. Double dragon 2 (NES): youth nostalgic! The kids from the block had an actual NES, and with that also a genuine game genie allowing for infinite lives. One of my best moments in video games is where me and someone else (one of the other kids? My brother?) where busy spin kicking and boxing each other for the sake of it on the left side of the screen while two enemies on the right side were just silently waiting until we were done kicking each other’s ass so we could kill THEM instead.
103. De blob 2 (wii): why no, splatoon did NOT invent a genre. Before that, de blob was a 3D platformer where you were tasked to throw some color into the greyness. Its sequel improved many, many things (among which the control scheme). More importantly was the period in my life. Things really looked grey (I was fed up with my job at that time, IIRC), so just smashing some color into the environment was a welcome relief.
102. Aladdin (SNES): I don’t know how this SNES game came in our posession (my brother, me and two friends had one snes to share, but I have no idea who bought the cartridges), but I already knew how awesome of a platformer this was. But damn, that cave of wonders was a hell to survive.
101. Capcom soccer shootout (SNES): I don’t like football (soccer), and video games about it aren’t much better. Especially not when EA’s involved. But soccer shootout on the SNES defies this trend. Not only because you can tackle and slide people unconscious (it’s even better because the game isn’t really AIMING for it like e.g. Mario strikers), but the referee taking its time meant that fellow players and me were already arguing (“it’s fine” “no, it’s not. You brutally murdered my guy!”) before he got a card out. Indoor soccer was even better. (final note: it wasn’t until ‘behold the kickmen’ that I’ve seen a sports game that really got my approval like this. That one I’ve just not tried enough to grant a rating here).
100. Bioshock (windows): one of the few games I played during my time I played my favorite game. I had to adapt to the horror element or the (light) crafting element, but I liked it and later loved it. Even things like the hacking minigame. The sequel is still on my “meh...perhaps I’ll play it once” list. Infinite...would have been better when not named bioshock (seriously...it doesn’t even pretend to be in the same universe until the very end).
99. 999 / virtue’s last reward (DS/3DS): probably my favorite visual novels...though despite the escape rooms I’m not sure whether or not I should count this as games or as e-books. Virtue’s last reward was ‘okay’ in that it not only jumped the shark but happily went for seconds (the first draft of the real ending sounds like something a teenager would write as fanfic).
(note: believe it or not, but the positioning of this game is completely incidental )
98. Wolf among us (windows): back when telltale was still good, they produced this gem. My familiarity with Fables (great comic!) helped, but it’s probably just as good if you’d never read any of those.
97. Simon thatham’s puzzles (linux/android): stumbled upon this free game collection bunch by accident, but it’s now a staple on every tablet I own: a bunch of simple procedurally generated puzzles to keep you busy. It’s like an infinite amount of those crossword-kind of puzzles. I don’t play them often, but never regret wasting time with it.
96. Batman arkham asylum / city (windows/wiiu): I played through both, and remember being wowed at the smooth combat, the great characters and the way everything was designed. However...it didn’t last. Honestly, I can hardly remember anything but small fragments of the game. I didn’t hunt for completion, didn’t search every nook and cranny and can’t even remember why I even played it.
95. Bastion (windows): pretty straightforward: beautiful looking game, fine gameplay loop and a smoooooth narrator.
94. Yellow & yangtze (android): this game’s here for artistic reasons. This board game (by Reiner Knizia) is both civilization building as area control. It’s both beautiful and so incredibly vicious. It’s a game I rather love from a distance rather than actually playing, if I’m honest.
93. Brothers: a tale of two sons (windows): probably the best game that I played once and then never again. It’s about controlling two characters at the same time. Granted: there’s a huge story element at about two thirds of the way, but while it lifts the story, it’s still the overall package that left an impression.
92. Lost vikings 1&2 (SNES): you control 3 vikings with different abilities, which you’ll all need to guide to the exit. The first was a bit too combat-focussed, but both remain classics in both storytelling and level design. It amazes me that to this day there are hardly or no clones out there.
91. Don’t starve (windows): didn’t like it the first time, but once I read up on some wiki’s on basic survival, this crafting game really started selling itself. I’m still terrible at it, but love it nonetheless.
90. Crypt of the necrodancer (windows): I’ll admit it: I only very reluctantly started playing this game, expecting nothing but some passtime. And...it wasn’t an easy boil, to be honest. Keeping a rhythm isn’t easy, and for a while I just played as the bard. But I have to admit: the music is all earwurm-quality, and just ‘being in the groove’ is just fun. I’m still terrible at it, but really: many thumbs up here.
89. Tetris party deluxe (wii): not specifically “this version”, but for the moment it takes the cake (haven’t played the tetris effect or one of the newer versions). Of course I love tetris for its simplicity, but I also really dig that climber game in here.
88. TMNT arcade / simpsons arcade / X-men (arcade): these are very different but scratch the same itch: beat ‘em ups by konami. There was a time my friends and me went to the fair just to play the Simpsons and X-men, and TMNT was an arcade in a local fastfood joint. Absolutely adore these games.
87. Super paper mario (wii): I honestly tried to get into the other paper mario games. But in the end, they all became “I’m trying to like it because super paper mario”. Yeah...what can I say? There’s platforming and all sorts of wiimote antics in this game. The others lack all of that.
86. Saints row series (windows): I finished 4 and 5, and perhaps 2 and 3 as well. But really: this woops GTA’s ass so much it’s not even funny. Well...except in worldbuilding (I won’t deny that rockstar does that a lot better). But the characters? The humor? Saints row all the way...
85. Offworld trading company (windows): I had to play it because I couldn’t believe it: a RTS game without vehicles? But indeed...it is that. Mine fast, flood the market, sabotage your opponents...there’s something here that is both unique and great about it.
84. Portal & portal 2 (windows): you know this game, you love this game as well. For me, portal 2 stood out mostly (ironically) because it came with this godawful online platform that stood between you and your game. But ey...that platform became a success after all, and the portal games are very decent puzzle games.
83. Sleeping dogs (windows): I already picked up karate as I started playing this game. As such, I respected the style of this beat-em up sandbox game. Oh, and the style as well. I think I 100%ed this one.
82. My farm life 2 (windows): without facebook, the whole farmville hype train passed me by. Years later, a (now former) girlfriend showed me ranch rush, a time management game where you’re pressed for time while you run around your farm completing mini tasks. The my farm life trilogy is sort of a sequel, but this one stood out as the best one (1st was a bit too basic, and 3rd added some stupid stuff, if you ask me).
81. Mini metro (windows & android):*sigh* by now you should realise I reward originality, elegance and simplicity more than a big budget that’s utilised for a rehashed gameplay experience. And mini metro is all three of those: you’re the operator in a city that sprouts both metro stations and people wanting to get to other stations. But where you you plot commuting lines? How many trains do you add there? It’s simple to pick up, hard to put down and very zen-like. One you should definitely get if you’ve got a tablet.
80. Patchwork (android): one of the first digital board games I’ve played, but still among the best ones. It’s hard to describe, though: you and your enemy pay for tetris pieces that will pay themselves back later, and as you race to the end of the track you hope to pick up the best pieces. I’ve never been able to crack how the AI works.
79. Half life (windows): lemme repeat: this game isn’t aiming to be a “best of” video games but a personal one. And for me, half life just didn’t had the same impact as it had on some. It’s a good shooter, absolutely. Great story, loved how it all flowed into the next part, absolutely adored the helicopter parts. But it didn’t define me as much as other games.
78. Final fantasy adventure/mystic quest (gameboy): youth nostalgia: this game came with a huge-ass map, a long manual and an actual list of items and weapons. Oh, and music that wasn’t bad for the gameboy. In layman’s terms: it’s a poor man’s Zelda (this came out before awakening). Looking back, the story was pretty flaky and the design could’ve been better. But you can’t beat nostalgia here.
77. Hardback (android): one of the most unique games I’ve ever played: it mixes deck building with scrabble of all games. I’m...all but a sucker for word apps (and its predecessor – paperback – reminds me a bit too much of it), but it’s no joke: this IS a deck building game as well: stock up on letters that grant bonusses if you use them in combination with other letters. And it’s so damn addicting...
76. Fran Bow (windows): I’ve come to accept that neither horror games nor point ‘n click games are among my favorite bunch. Consider this the exception to the rule. In large part because the makers understand psychological horror, which is a main part of the normal/psychedelic world you’ll both need to travel to get anywhere in this game. On top of the splendid storyline, the handdrawn visuals are a far better choice than anything 3D-ish (IMHO).
75. Bubble bobble (gameboy): rationally, this should be because of nostalgia. But really: the gameboy one is the only really good one (with the NES one as “okay”). 200 levels, 4 bosses, a gazzilion bonusses and endless fun. Mindless, yes...but fun nonetheless.
74. Burnout paradise (windows): look...it’s not that I don’t like racing games. Racing games don’t like me. “oh, you don’t like the hyundai Romeo Starlink 3000 with extra neon chrome? Then GTFO!!!” they seem to shout at me. Like the fast & furious franchise, it’s like they pornographize cars (it probably has a term, but I don’t know which one). Luckily, it “only” needed a game that’s actually about racing to get my attention. Burnout paradise is that game: an open city filled with ramps, shortcuts and cutoff environments. Scratching someone’s hood isn’t a cardinal sin but how you greet each other. Scrapyard cars, takeout matches and spectacular chases that end in exploding vehicles...now THAT is how you do a racing game.
73. Age of rivals (android): this one ticked off about all my red flags against it, but somehow came through despite all this: it’s...erm...I guess it’s a game about building and upgrading your civilization. But you do this by drafting one of four cards. I’m not even...how can I explain all this? There’s an economical aspect, you need defence, offence, scholarship...it’s like civilization condensed in a mobile app but somehow it all WORKS. More so: it somehow reminds me about magic: the gathering’s best moments as well, as you need to pick careful to allow for powerful combo’s. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just fails spectacular. It can’t work. It SHOULDN’T work. But. It. Somehow. Does!
72. Spec ops: the line (windows): nice...after dissing ‘other’ racers and ‘other’ civ games, it’s time to piss on chest-high wall shooters. Well...I remember trying gears of war with a friend once. I was just so damn LOST. What was I doing there? Why was I shooting? Was I supposed to be enjoying this to be labeled a “gamer”? I only reluctantly started playing the line. I guess others will hate it because it holds a black mirror to military shooter gamers. Me, I just felt like FINALLY a shooter didn’t indulge in childish power fantasies but dared to explore what it’d be like to be a soldier. I didn’t LIKE the experience, but damnit...it’s not like, say, Spielberg made Schindler’s list for entertainment purposes either.
71. Monument valley 1&2 (android): no surprises here: just calm impossible perspectives, soothing music and interesting puzzles. The experience was just too short, though...
70. Yoku’s island express (linux): it’s not the first pinball RPG, but it’s head and shoulders over the other one (that’d be ‘rollers of the realm’). As a metroidvania, it’s not the best one, but it managed to properly incorporate a rather quirky mechanic into an actual fun game.
69. Inside/limbo (windows): okay, it’s not really fair to lump these different games into one slot. But on the other hand, they’re too similar in what they set out to do to judge otherwise. On the surface, inside is certainly the better game, with its still horror that reminds of the comic outcast. Then again...limbo has a more thorough place in my heart as one of the indies that put indies on the map (also: that spider!). So as such...a shared place.
68. Golf peaks (android): perhaps the best puzzle game I played in 2019: a clean card game about golf. Each card represent a type of stroke and strength. It’s up to you to pick a direction and a card to get the ball to another spot...and to the goal in the end. Clever, smart, intuitive and so satisfying to play (note: their ‘inbento’ game is also good, but falls somewhere below the 220 spot).
67. Thomas was alone (windows): bithell games have made some notable games afterward, but his debut is (thus far) still his best work. Platforming with multiple characters (so no: Thomas is hardly EVER alone in this game) is still fairly unique when it comes to actually depending on each other.
66. VVVVVV (wiiu/linux): lemme get this straight: super hexagon is good. Great, even. But it’s somewhere just below this list. But VVVVVV? Best pixelated platforming game I’ve ever played. Fantastic music, superb storyline...difficult but not frustratingly so...if this came out in the early days of the gameboy, Terry Cavenaugh would be more popular than Miyamoto (well...that is to say: initially. The latter just has much MORE good games on his name).
65. Donkey kong country returns (wii): I have very fond memories of the SNES donkey kong country. And truly miss king K.Rool. But when revisiting it later, I’m all like “wtf is this?”. Luckily, DKCR kept what was cool about it and doubled down on it (woooo, insane minecart sections! ), and boosted the characters as well. Only the boss battles are a fucking chore… :-( I honestly can’t say why tropical freeze doesn’t get mentioned here. I have it, I tried getting into it...and it just fell flat. It doesn’t do it for me for some reason.
64. Contraption maker (windows): an unmentioned favorite from my youth was ‘the incredible machine’. A puzzle game where you complete rube goldberg machines for wacky effects. But alas...Sierra let the series die out. So I was extremely pumped when the original makers were kickstarting “contraption maker” (kickstarting was pretty new at that time, IIRC), a new entry. It came, I played it, loved it every bit as much and even more. ...and then nobody seemed to know what this game was about (or what a rube goldberg machine is, for that matter). I’m really saddened by this, because with all the games seeming to fit certain boxes, this one is even at that a welcome change.
63. A good snowman is hard to build (android): I mentioned draknek before. This is his finest work: the best block pusher game you’ll find. Not only is it both imaginative and a clever idea, the puzzles themselves are of a quality you wouldn’t expect from a “random” indie developer. Oh, and if steam reviews mean anything: this has gotten people into gaming who otherwise wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.
62. Super mario land 3: wario land (gameboy): I had all three: mario land, six golden coins...and this one. The former were good, this is just awesome. I can’t count it as a Mario game as it’s about bashing into enemies and grabbing coins, but the level designs, the many secrets (even an entire hidden world!), the way some levels changed after some fashion...there are hardly better platformers in nintendo’s lineup if you ask me.
61. Desperados (windows): this game really stole the thunder for the original commandos for me. I loved that game as well (though it was frustratingly save-scummy most of the time), but played desperados soon after. This one not only is less hard but added an awesome wild west theme to it. Upon playing it years later, I gotta say that it’s much harder than I remember (insert “games back in the day”-meme here). Still...a very solid entry.
60. Rise of nations (windows): one of the many games from my youth where an illegal copy just “ended up” in my collection. Bought it years later...less than a month before it came to steam. Anyway: this game easily knocks age of empires off of any of my list. Why? Well...because it’s both historically themed and an RTS. RoN, however, doesn’t stay restricted to one era but allows upgrading from the stone age all the way to a futuristic one, and the way areas work mean that you can’t just ‘zergling rush’ to your opponent while he’s busy upgrading. The side effect is a bit sadistic, though: if you out-upgrade your opponent (which isn’t very hard against the AI), you can attack their horsemen army with tanks or even planes. It’s very unfortunate that there never came a sequel (I can’t even FIND rise of legends anywhere legally ).
59. Kirby pinball land (gameboy): I had anticipation when playing this game: surely others would copy the franctic concept of combat-based pinball. But nope...twenty or even thirty years later, and Yoku’s island express is the only one somewhat coming close. As such, kirby’s pinball land remains a nostalgic gem of a game to me.
58. Steamworld dig 1&2 (windows): I guess I should thank the existence of dig dug for this duo: a platforming/RPG’ish/roguelike’ish game where you just dig to the center of the earth. You try to collect treasure which you’ll spend on the surface to buy better gear and there are monsters...but the entire selling point is just that: JUST. DIG. DOWN. I love it (especially the second), but can’t really pinpoint why.
57. Another perspective (windows): this started as a joke. ‘huh...this game’s only 6 megabytes in size. The trailer is larger than the game. How good can it be? ’. But it really blew me away. On its surface it’s a puzzle game where you’ve got to switch between two dimensions to grab all the keys and open the door. But the way the narrator works is something I want to stick into many AAA-developers’ faces, screaming “NOW THIS IS HOW YOU TELL A STORY, DAMNIT!!!”.
56. Duke nukem 3D (DOS/windows): I actually played through Duke Nukem 1 and 2 (okay platformers for their time), but that only increases the greatness of this one. Duke Nukem 3D wasn’t just “doom with an attitude”: it was pop references, a great weapon selection, incredible level design and – of course – mature content. Yes, it was sexist, treated women like objects, gory and had toilet humor...but critics failed to mention that it was also a game that was directly aimed at maturing teenagers like me, that it had many secrets, great level design and great quotes (though most if not all of them came from pulp classic movies most of the audience – including me – had never heard of ).
55. Tony hawk pro skater 2&3 (windows): there are but a few demos I played even remotely as much as the THPS2 demo. Pretty soon I chained the most absurd combinations known to man together. So...there’s something to be said about realism in games, but this is NOT it. I spent so many hours on 2 and 3 that I can’t even count. But I had enough of it before 4 rolled out, though.
54. Torchlight 2 (windows): another diablo clone (see also: book of demons). This one’s higher probably because I played it not too long after diablo 3, and catered more to what I wanted: less faffing about, less forgettable (but expensive) cutscenes, more hulksmash action. This was also in a troubling time personally, so it provided much relief for me.
53. Fallout 1&2 (windows): ‘War. War never changes’. Common lines now, but back then I had no idea what a gem my friends got their hands on. It was on a “crazy bytes” CD that housed a few other great games. This version of fallout was buggy and missed sound and cutscenes. It didn’t matter: my friends and me learned how “turn based combat” worked and loved playing and even discussing it while we played (“aim for the eyes! No: the torso!”). I bought the game later just to pay tribute.
52. Stealth bastard & inc 2 (windows/wiiu): stealth bastard deluxe was in my first humble bundle I ever bought. The other games were forgettable, but this one stole my heart: stealth puzzle’ish platforming, an evil narrator that’s up to par with gladOS and some of the best music I’ve heard in a game.
51. My time at portia (linux): this recent entry is mostly because of the time (see also: my 2020 list). I never got into harvest moon or even stardew valley. The reason this one stole my heart was partially the 3D aspect but also the variety: I can mine all day, socialize everything, befriend everyone and just have stuff to do all the time. It’s like a walk in Disney land: serves no purpose, but tickles that inner child of mine.
50. Sin & punishment 2 (wii): from the most calm to one of the most franctic games: s&p2 is a lightning gun shooter that makes full use of the wiimote and nunchuck. It’s very arcade-ish (meaning: lousy story) and almost a sleeper hit, but oh man is it satisfying to blast everything to bits.
49. Factorio (linux): the intial steam reviews kind of scared me: is it really crack in game-form? Will I still have a social life when playing this? The answer is...this is only partially for me. See, I’ve come to accept zachtronic games as individual puzzles. A large open-space engine-to-build is...interesting and engaging, but not to the degree I like. And while I understand the drab theme (you’re basically a one man industrial revolution), I’m not a fan of it. Still: the reviews are right, even though it’s somewhat lower on my list.
48. Rogue legacy (windows): yup...this is my top roguelite game. And for good reason: the core gameplay (castlevania dungeon dwelling) is just the best I’ve played. Yes, enemies whack you dead the first times, but provided you’ve collected enough to spend, you’re upgrading your castle, ensuring your next run will be (slightly) better. And the traits your characters have are just absolutely bonkers.
47. Super mario galaxy 1&2 (wii): Can 3D platforming be better than this? I’d doubt it, but haven’t played Odyssey yet. In any case: these are classics for all the right reasons. What else to say? Nintendo absolutely nailed it on these games.
46. Starcraft 2 (trilogy) (windows): I wasn’t a fan of the split of the campaign, but in the end it was probably the best choice. It absolutely blew the first starcraft out of the water, and it was one of the few games I played competitively online. I’ve got to note that this score is based on my own PLAYS of the game, as I’ve watched hours upon hours of professional matchups (heck...I could probably watch some right now and still love it).
45. Rollercoaster tycoon 1,2, parkitect (windows/linux): original RCT had some of the best not-team game memories for me where me and my friends where outdoing each other creating the most insane rollercoaster that still attracted guests. RCT 2 mostly added scenery, parkitect is a remake by others (that does roughly the same thing). I’d include RCT3 in this spot but I hardly ever did more in that game than dabble around a bit.
44. Rayman origins / legends/jungle run/fiesta run (wii, wiiu, android): 4 games in one spot? Well, that’s one way to condense things. Seriously: Origins and legends play exactly the same, so that kind of settles that: great platforming games with great atmosphere. The best parts, IMHO, were the runner sections where you jumped, slided and overcame all sorts of hurdles. It’s a work of art how the timing syncs so well to the music (especially in legends) and the parkour elements. ...and this should explain why jungle and fiesta run (on android) are included: these distill the game down to just that. I was a bit worried about the mobile ports at first, but it is really just the base games except that someone glued the “run to the right” button shut. Perhaps weird (especially when playing on a GPD XD+), but it works very well.
43. Ori & the blind forest (windows): ah yes...Ori. Strong contender for the most beautiful category. Yes, the story hits some strong emotions (though admitted: that’s mostly the introduction). And there are some very good racing moments in it. But after the introduction and I was finally able to play, I was like “wait...is this just another metroidvania?”. I wasn’t wrong. Granted, I like the genre and Ori has more to offer than its introduction and visuals, but...perhaps not as much as I had hoped it’d be.
42. Mr shifty (linux): at one point I wanted to play something “like hotline miami”. First played through ‘12 is better than 6’ but left a bit unsatisfied. Expecting something similar, I started playing this...and as it turns out this throws hotline miami some 100 points below this one. The best description is ‘hotline miami mixed with double dragon’. You basically play like Nightcrawler at the start of X-men 2: you hit enemies with a sort of falcon punch, hopefully before they shoot you. In typical beat ‘em up you sort of trash the place and pick up throwable ammo (which includes cellphones and deadly wads of money here, btw ). This gameplay loop would be great fun in itself, but the icing of the cake is the story: nonsensical, witty and all sorts of awesome. The devs clearly had a great time making this game.
41. World of goo (windows, wii): most indie games (or most video games, for that matter) iterate on proved concepts while keeping the budget in check without sacrificing the experience. 2DBoy debuted by creating an entire new genre: stacking goo together in a tower. While an awesome experience, he at least acknowledged that there needed some diversification to keep it from becoming repetetive, which is good. The game’s music is probably in my top 10 as well.
40. Mario kart 8 / wii (wiiu, wii): for the obvious reason: couch co-op. I’ve spent weekends with friends where many had board games and I had a plugged in wii with some controllers. Mario kart games could last for hours. Mario kart 8 did some interesting twists that made it better, but alas I don’t think I’ve got as many couch co-op experiences with it (why oh why doesn’t my girlfriend play video games? )
39. Guacamelee 1&2 (windows): I really like metroidvania games (this duo isn’t even the best one). This Mexican styled one not only oozes with charm, but has allround awesome characters in it. On top of that: the abilities you’ll get often not only increases your wrestling-style fighting (I forgot to mention: awesome combat as well!) and open up other parts of the world but also vary the way you’ll play future parts of the game. Guacamelee 2 is the safe kind of sequel, doing roughly “more of the same” as the first. But really: they’re both top notch games.
38. Shards of infinity (android): while waiting for the roll for the galaxy app, temple gates “instead” released shards of infinity. Ironically just as I was trying out deckbuilder apps (e.g. ascenscion and star realms). This one immediately blew those out of the water (especially the latter: star realms plays very similar), and cemented the indie developers as my favorite ones. I still play this regularly, though I’m very much awaiting the two or even three expansions for the board game right now...
37. Infinifactory (windows): I later heard that it’s one of zachtronic’s early games (infiniminer) that inspired minecraft. I really wonder how the world had turned out if notch had played infinifactory instead. This game is about utilizing assembly line tools to automatically build a given outcome. So line up your lines from the belt so you can fuse, rotate, split or destroy the given resources in the hope that you actually create the output. There are more than a few 3D puzzle games, but this one really stands out. It’s hard, yes, but it is so stupidly addicting that I often didn’t dare look at a new puzzle once it became available, as it would probably just cut into more hours of sleep.
36. NSMBU/wii (wiiu, wii): Mario platformers are probably the toughest to give a name and place. I’ve got the best childhood memories of world and super mario land 1 and 2 (3 is a different story). The NES ones are ‘okay’-ish, and for some reason the (3)DS games I don’t like at all. The wii (finally!) added true couch co-op, which meant that I’ve spent many of hours with former girlfriends playing through it (one even bought her own wii for this purpose!). NSMBU...is the better game, if you ask me. I like the levels more, the large world is more connected, and so on. It’s just that at this point it’s more an exercise to get my little nephews to not throw the wiimotes at each other while I try not to show off my 20+ years of platforming skills.
35. Anno 2070 (windows): on hindsight, I really shouldn’t have been hesitant. Steam reviews hate this game with a passion because of uplay, but it turned out I NEVER HAD THE SLIGHTEST PROBLEM WITH IT! What I got instead was uninterrupted pure utopian city building. It’s pretty complex in terms of resources (IIRC I counted over 70, and that’s without any DLC enabled), and it’s like every building is a challenge to place efficiently. It has combat for some strange reason (this isn’t an RTS, ffs!). The only disadvantage was about a researching building. With this building being pretty expensive you don’t build many of those, but these unlock permanent upgrades (by which I mean “you also keep this unlocked when you restart from scratch”)...but they take literal hours to become available. It’s luckily an optional and small thing, but it left a sour taste in my mouth nonetheless.
34. Zelda a link between worlds (3DS): I waited far too long to play this. Why? Because the “grab any weapon you want in advance rather than from a dungeon” ticked me off. I mean: finding the weapon for a dungeon is half the reason for being there! And would I need to farm up money in advance for this stupid gimmick? Luckily, this feature played out much better than I thought, and this zelda has another trump up its sleeve: wall hugging! Yup: rather soon in the game you can turn into a moving 2D wallpaper. This adds depth to the dungeon like no other Zelda game before without adding unneeded complexity. These dungeons make good use of perspective and other Z-axis stuff while at the same time being unique and interesting. An easily deserved 2nd best Zelda game for me!
33. Half life 2 (windows): I’ve thrown many franchises together in a single game, but for half life I honestly couldn’t. Half life 1 was good and I could see why people adored it, but I wasn’t one of ‘em. I also see why people worship half life 2...and this time I AM one of them. From the gravity gun to the awesome level design, to the storyline to the great shooter moments...all of the raving reviews are honest and more. The only reason it isn’t higher for me is because it doesn’t have the emotional impact as the above games are. And like it or not: how I perceive games isn’t up for discussion.
32. Rockband 2 (& guitar hero 5) (wii): I remember feeling kind of embarrassed buying a plastic guitar for my wii. I was a grown man without a girlfriend...how pathetic could I be? But once I started playing guitar hero (erm...on tour, or 4, iirc), this quickly faded in the background. I was somewhat late to the plastic clickfest party, but I was enjoying it nonetheless. Granted, the wii modding scene allowed me to ...ahem...test out more games than I’d like, but these were about the setlist, right? Well...wrong. Guitar hero 2 had (by far) the best setlist, but guitar hero 5 had the best interface and way to “just play a damn song”. ...but rock band 2 just blew it out of the water. None of that “here’s a song that’s super hardcore for sake of being hardcore” bullshit, but just playing rock songs. Good rock songs, that is (RB2 easily had the best songs I had never heard about before). Sure, the genre died out (I can’t even remember what I was thinking when I bought the drums ). But countless great co-op memories remain.
31. Final fight 3 / vendetta (SNES, arcade): one tough question to answer in this list is: what is my favorite beat ‘em up? In the end, I decided not to decide and crown both winners combined. Final fight franchise is obviously the most known one. It was up to par with double dragon, but alas this is also what dragged it down. Why? Well, because DD couldn’t improve (I honestly think the developers only accidentally created a great genre). I’ve never even SEEN final fight 2, but 3 is a gem. 4 fighters, almost as much action moves as street fighter, and multiple paths to the end boss. Not much in terms of real replayability (though that didn’t stop us from replaying it OVER AND OVER AGAIN), but still: great stuff. Vendetta, however, came out of nowhere. Saw it on an arcade machine when beat ‘em ups were on their way out. This might be their swan song, really: insane end bosses (the first one fights you with a circlular saw...on a driving truck!), LOTS of pick-ups (a bucket, bricks, tires, bats...even a freaking SHOTGUN!)...I had to look up the makers (konami...who else? ) because it’s like no one ever knew about this. Still: great stuff!
30. Captain toad: one of my former girlfriends stated that she hated 3D games because they’re too hard to aim in. Which is a very fair point for platformers: just landing on a koopa can go wrong all sorts of ways. This makes it all the puzzling why it took so long for a major company to understand that 3D platforming without jumping could be a thing. So this spin-off for super mario 3D land just ended better on my list than Mario’s 3D adventures.
29. F-Zero GX: if games ever held a western-style gun duel to the death, you can be sure that F-Zero GX would be the one remaining standing because damn is this game FAST! Ever since, I sometimes think of games in comparison...Sonic & Sega all-stars? Rollcage? Fast? Redout, perhaps (note: haven’t properly tried this one)? But then I look at GX again, and the comparisons fall apart. Saying that this is a hard game is an understatement: this is just sheer madness. You can get passed by a dozen vehicles in the time it takes you to blink. The tracks are Escherian fever dreams. And I sometimes think that games like this and super hexagon are made for some sort of übermenschen that perceive time at about half the speed we are. Nonetheless, I keep coming back to it for the pure adrenaline rush.
28. Plants vs zombies (android, windows): a former girlfriend introduced me to this one. I didn’t have a tablet at this time and wasn’t really convinced at first. So you plant a few plants that kill zombies. Okay...so how do YOU kill zombies? What do you mean ‘just the plants’? Safe to say I had no idea what tower defense was about. But once I started playing myself, I slowly but surely got hooked. Every level got you a new plant to use, and every level the zombies marched on further. The key was to diversify and think strategically. And yes, the approachable theme helped tremendously: I’ve dismissed most other tower defense games as “simply not as good” (and with most, I mean everything aside orcs must die).
27. C&C remake (2020) (linux): if the adagio is true that game studios go to EA to die, then this is some sort of zombie game. It’s in each and every way how a remake must be: smoothed, quality of life improvements, fit for today’s monitors, remastered music...this, my friends, is how you do a proper remake. Not polish up a game from 4 years ago that looks exactly the same but reimagine something from TWENTY years ago and release it with all the expansions (this was from before DLC became a word) for both C&C (a.k.a. tiberium dawn) and red alert. Yes, it also means keeping some wonky pathfinding, but that was part of the original game!
26. Wii fit plus (wiiu): I often feel like a curiosity in that I like both sports and gaming. And that never got displayed more clearly than in wii fit. The whole plethora of minigames are awesome, I worked myself in sweat from the super boxing challenge and the skiing and snowboarding games reminded me of the actual thing. I beat the trainer to 100 jacknives, and (believe it or not) completed all the jogging distances before nintendo updated it with some extreme ones. Heck...I even bought me a second balance board one time just in case my first one would ever break. Laugh all you want...I really loved this game.
25. Duet: premium (android): the ultimate zen-game. Turn two dots clockwise or counterclockwise in a circle, and avoid all obstacles. While barebones on the surface, the brilliant soundtrack, the soothing soundbites and the near-endless levels (on top of the ACTUAL endless games that the generated ones come down to) pump it up to the extreme. Granted, it’s perhaps more a therapeutic anti-depressant aid than an actual game, but that doesn’t mean the game doesn’t deserve this place.
24.Braid (windows): though I’ve been playing video games roughly my whole life, I’m sure Braid was the first one where the story climax totally blew me away. Yes, the time mechanic is interesting, yes the puzzles still stand on their own, yes the game is still incredibly beautiful...but you can only truly experience the end once.
23. NBA jam (SNES): heh...most of my owned SNES games must be on this list. NBA jam was the obvious ‘versus’-game. The game wasn’t even so much as actually playing as about bragging. At one point half our schoolyard were shouting things like “he’s on fire!” and “oooohYES! ”. The wii version was a faithfull remake, but couldn’t but fall short because the audience – that’d be us – grew up since then.
22. Roll for the galaxy (android): check it out...one and a half year before the actual release, I was awaiting roll for the galaxy. And to what it is? Erm...an economical tile laying game about trading in the universe that involves dice as workers. Yyyeah...it’s not a great pitch for people who don’t know Tom Lehman, but to his fans (e.g.: me), he’s among the best. In video game terms, I probably best say “it’s a puzzle game of some sorts”.
21. Pang series (arcade, SNES, android): on the surface, this shouldn’t be this high. I’ve played better arcade games. I played better frantic puzzle games. But when I tally up hours alone, I’m like...okay, I finished the first and second arcade games (on MAME). Also the buster bros on SNES. And the pang adventures game twice (both android and PC). And even some otherwise unremarkable game called Juanito arcage mayhem. And I’ve never been bored, even though the concept is always the same: shoot hooks upward to the ceiling so large bubbles burst into smaller ones, and the smallest ones disappear. Go to the next level once it’s bubble clear. It’s simple but catching...and I’d play any game with this concept instantly.
20. Tetris attack (SNES): I’m honestly not sure why it has tetris in the name, as it’s about switching blocks until sets of three match and disappear...and it has a Mario (okay: Yoshi) theme. That theme is only accidental, but man...for a snes game this is loaded with extras. Puzzle game, different endless modes, and my very personal: versus AI. Of course you didn’t “just” match three. No way: you lined things up to match at least four, and ideally from six onwards, which dumped blocks on your opponent (and vice versa). This game mode has me zoned out so much that I nearly missed my train station once: it sucks you in and keeps you until either you or your opponent is pushed off the board. I have no idea what the story was about, but any reason to beat up more enemies was fine by me. :-)
19. Dead cells (android): I was late to the party here: everyone and their mum had already unlocked all sorts of stuff while I couldn’t even survive the promenade of the damned. But this year I found out it was on mobile as well, and man does it work well on gpd xd+. I’m sort of lucky that I’ve got a kid and renovations to take care of, or I’d probably waste any free time attempting to 100% this game.
18. Walking dead season 1 (windows): I feel like I’m betraying telltale here, but I never played season 2, the DLC and hardly any of their other games. Still...walking dead was a milestone in storytelling. I never cried playing video games, but man this was a close one.
17. Tabletop simulator (linux): I attempted to play this a few years back and dismissed it for its GUI. In the pandemic, however, I first used it for trying some solo games, then some games against myself or even my girlfriend, and now I’ve hooked two colleagues into this. None is a true replacement for actual board gaming, but the near-infinite amount of board games available finally means it ranks where it should have been years ago.
16. Unreal + return to na pali (windows/linux): mid nineties I got a new computer with an actual “voodoo 2” graphics card. Unreal was one of the first games I got for it. And...well...my life hasn’t been the same since. I wasn’t new to 3D shooters at all, but this one somehow mixed extremely fun and interesting weapons (with two fire modes! ) with a serene medieval planet inhabited by peaceful creatures under siege. It not only had absolutely marvelous atmospheric music (that I still listen to sometime) and never-before seen visuals (water that actually looked like water), but some unmatched opponent AI and level design that still hasn’t found its equal over 20 years later! Oh, right: and if that wasn’t enough, it had bot deathmatch directly built in. Heh...I understand that for some, half-life changed their life. But this? THIS was the actual game changer in the industry. And on top of all that, it came with a full blown editor as well! It wasn’t until much later that I learned just how deep it was, but certainly on hindsight it’s no wonder that the unreal engine became a standard: epic games just layed out the red carpet for using their editor in the first place! Return to na pali did more than offer “more of the same”, offering more weapons, different enemies, a different storyline and the signature level design. Still...it scratches the same itch, so it has to share its spot.
15. Monkey island (1&2) (DOS): “my name is Guybrush Treepwood, and I want to be a mighty pirate”. Almost from the getgo, I knew this game was a gem. Other games (point ‘n click were what PC gaming was about) kept a realistic or even mature tone, but humor in games were rare. From the speech options in dialogues to the comments whenever you looked at...well, ANYTHING...this game was gold in video game form. I wasn’t much a fan of the sequel at first, mostly because it branched out much faster, which could leave you very clueless at times (oh, and wtf was the ending about?). But I won’t deny that both have given me great laughs and my undying love for the videogame medium.
14. Abe’s Oddyssee (windows): it’s not that the game was a sleeper hit, but upon playing it for the first time I thought “wow...THIS is the future of platforming! ”. For more than a few reasons, really: the worldbuilding stood head and shoulders over anything I’d ever seen (ahem...which was, admittedly, mostly Mario stuff). Abe still holds the crown as the most likeable protagonist. And the juxtaposition of Mudokons (those are your guys) and the monsters from Rupture farms (your bosses) is top notch dystopian lore. Oh, and the cutscenes are still among the best I’ve ever seen. Still...I won’t deny it wasn’t flawless in the gameplay department. The pace often grinded to a halt and required some thorough thinking. And because you played a very timid main character, having him killed physically hurt (at least it did to me). And while the control scheme was novel (you had a button to fart. Yeah...beat THAT, flight simulator! ), it meant that porting didn’t easily work out. I’ve still got to properly work my way through exoddus and the remake.
13. Donkey kong / mario vs donkey kong (gameboy, gameboy advance): let me just state this now: I FUCKING HATE THOSE MINIS!!! >:-( Lemme explain: like many, I was pleasantly surprised that after the initial 3 levels of donkey kong on the gameboy, it turned out you were only at the very start of a puzzle platforming adventure where bringing the key to the exit was the goal. I think I played through the whole thing at least 3 times, and perhaps more: this was platforming at its finest. The Gameboy advanced version was equally great, even though the levels were somehow split in two and you had this weird ‘box the minis’ level every so often. But my enraging problem comes from the next sequels: these forgot the original platforming elements and went all in on puzzle mechanics. Not terrible games and probably pretty unique and charming...but I want Mario vs Donkey Kong, damnit!
12. GTA San Andreas (windows): so...despite me stating earlier that Saints row blows GTA out of the water (which it does), the nostalgia factor is just too strong in this one. And it can hardly get better than San Andreas: not one but three huge cities with a buttload of side missions, a downright insane amount of stuff you can do and a storyline that I actually found engaging all the way through. So...yeah. It’s for nostalgic reasons, but it’s still my most favorite sandbox game ever.
11. UT99 (windows/linux): after blown away by unreal, I soon learned that the sequel was going to be called “unreal tournament”, and would focus on the multiplayer aspect. Had I known in advance, I wouldn’t have been disappointed: unreal 2 (which came later) was a joke, and unreal tournament proved even better than unreal. Why? Well, because the bots got (even) better, the weapons were tweaked, we got some extra stuff (both the translocator and redeemer became classics in the genre), extra gameplay modes (capture the flag! Assault!) and the signature great level design. UT was released at almost the very same time as quake 3, which also relied solely on multiplayer. But to most people, the latter came with fists to a shotgun fight. UT’s trumps not only hammered things home but it became clear that the included editor was like an endless present to this new “internet” thing that was becoming mainstream. UT also had mutators, which were mini-modifications with a twist: they could be combined. Low gravity AND replace all weapons with sniper rifles? Sure thing. No health and extra damage? Absolutely. And the bots just adapted to everything as if it was nothing. Man...I remember using a 100 megabyte zip drive to use a neighbor’s 56k modem to download a map pack and a bunch of mutators for UT and being happier than Christmas morning that year. Perhaps the best testament is that I found out that even ten years after release, people were still building maps for this game!
10. CSD trilogy (windows/linux): cook, serve, delicious is a bloody hard sell on gbatemp. I played the first one after buying it for like a buck or so, expecting nothing. It’s a button clicker game with a cooking theme (hit S for salami, O for olives and <enter> to serve...that sort of sums it up). Granted, it doesn’t look like much – certainly not the first one – but I was quickly hooked nonetheless. The fact that you could pick and upgrade your menu made a whole lot of difference. I beta tested the second one (a very nice developer, by the way), but if I was honest I was sort of left out. The RPG element of upgrading your menu items had been changed for more (much, MUCH more) different menu’s. It looked far better, yes, and had a way to prepare some part of the meal in advance. It’s...different. Not worse or better, but different. Same goes for the latest entry: it mostly follows the outline of the second, but has a slight bit of upgrading (hooray!) and an interesting storyline that handles the way the day is outlined. IMHO it’s strictly better than the second, but still only ‘on par’ with the first unless you bring visuals in the mix. But either way: the gameplay loop is very rewarding if you’re into this sort of game.
9. Zelda: link’s awakening (gameboy): yup...this is THE Zelda for me: awakening on the gameboy. The one I learned to appreciate just how smart the levels were designed in. Where I slowly progressed and was thrilled to achieve progress once I got myself a sword. The one I probably cost my parents more money than the game was worth in phone bills to the nintendo hotline. But damnit, I had no idea how to get in that bloody castle at that time! Ahem...but still: lovely characters, great story, combat was great, music was great...and it still is. I WILL get a switch one day and I WILL play that Awakening remake on it. But...just not today.
8. Opus magnus (windows): Zachtronics’ best work, and really on par for the best puzzle game. If you want to call it that, as it is an open ended programming game. Anyway: your job is to place, pick up, transform, transfuse and/or split or rotate alchemy elements to match the demanded goal. This is really the sort of game where you run into your own flaws in thinking. It’s less complex than infinifactory (which is this game in three dimensions, really), but that only means that there is more room to improve efficiency. In a brilliant move, this game not only shows your ranks on efficiency and blocks used against others who solved the game, but also allows you to record a gif of your collection. Just picture google ‘opus magnum gif’ to see the most interesting contraptions on the planet. But that just entices you to build and program more. Or to achieve it in less steps. Or just place that there, and then set that part to rotate...and so on.
7. Antichamber (windows): I’m a sucker for both Escher paintings and deeper meaning (wisdom) in games. This game does both in a way that should really be impossible. None of the games are real brainburners but most have a very nice “oh...of COURSE! ” moment when you think outside the box properly. To make it even weirder, about halfway you get a gun that multiplies blocks that play a part in the remaining puzzles. The storyline shifts from the psychological wisdom in...erm...sort of 2001: space oddysey territory, really. But that only enhances the experience.
6. Celeste (windows/linux): quite simply: everything in this story is either amazing or stellar. The platforming? Amazing. The story? Stellar. The characters: amazing. The gameplay loop: stellar. And so on. Really, why am I talking about this? Just...get it and play. Yes, it’s better than Mario, Rayman, Braid, Abe’s oddyssey or whatever platformer you can throw at it. I fucking mean it: just play it rather than hear me ramble about it.
5. Doom 1&2 (DOS): I was hooked to doom from the moment I got it properly running. But really: you’ve got to know the context here as well. There weren’t many other video games vying for attention. There wasn’t anything similar until others started copying it. And it was so much better than wolfenstein 3D that the very least you could say that it was a classic. But really: this goes beyond that. It’s 25 years later and I can still start up doom and have a good time. It’s both iconic, simple and efficient. It is, rightfully so, a milestone in video gaming. Doom 2 was...erm...it was heralded as more than I initially gave it credit for. Some new weapons, yes, but at least the initial levels lacked the imagination that the originals had. And the city levels were just open spaces. It’s not that I don’t like it, but every time I look at comments saying that a sequel was “a lazy job”, I think of doom 2. Id just created more levels, a single extra weapon (which used the same ammo), a few new enemies and done. Yet nobody cared. So lemme just say it: doom 2 was a far lazier job than whatever you’re bitching about when discussing this or that sequel.
4. Race for the galaxy (android): easily my favorite mobile game. Race for the galaxy is a card game where you pay to play cards by discarding other cards, and aim to combine them with certain other cards in your tableau. I know: doesn’t sound very revealing, or even replayable. And granted: I was initially confused by the many icons and phases as well. But once I understood how it worked and had an idea what all cards did (and you sort of needed to know ALL cards to properly estimate the value of single cards), I started liking it. And then loving it. And then buying the DLC for it. And then hunting down the physical board game. And...damnit, I’ve spend hundreds of hours into it, even though it plays in 10-15 minutes, has barely any variation in mechanisms (ingame variation is endless though: every card combination means different decisions and different outcomes) and has no grinding whatsoever. I still love it to death. I’ve mentioned Tom Lehman before in roll for the galaxy. Well: this game is still the better one. And if you ever feel like trying a game you’ve never tried before: try this. If you take the time to learn it, you won’t regret it.
3. Red alert 2 & Yuri’s revenge (windows): Tiberian sun was a letdown for me. I had anticipation even while playing red alert. But I didn’t like most of the ideas, didn’t like the sort of sci-fi they went with (westwood studios swapped the ‘realistic’ science fiction for campy aliens, really...though on hindsight, c&c was always campy). And definitely didn’t like that the cutscenes gave the credit for your work to someone else. Cherry on the shit turd was that the mammoth tank literally blew away everything (I finished the last GDI level with nothing but that tank and a repair vehicle from a stolen enemy factory). When I caught wind of red alert 2, I had little hope. But then I got reading. Mind control units? Blimps? Robo drones? Bombing units? I admit I became curious again. And oh, man...Red alert 2 did NOT fail to deliver. Rather the contrary: it was westwood studios’ swan song (they were just acquired by EA). No more useless units...just counter-units and units that countered those. Cheap ground units could garrison buildings. There were camouflage tanks, prism tanks and snipers. The blimps were near impossible to destroy but moved incredibly slow. The V3 rockets fired fast but could be shot by anti-aircraft. Nothing was invincible, everything had a weak spot. And the sea units were fully present. Even the balance was better than ever before. I loved every moment of playing it, and couldn’t get enough.
...and then came Yuri’s revenge. A whole extra faction that cranked the madness that was already at eleven to...erm...twelve? Granted: fighting the faction was a lot easier than playing it, but there were so many tricks you could do. Mind control units, then send them into the grinder for cash. Mass produce the cheapest unit, turn them into small tanks and either attack or rack up EVEN MORE cash. The things you could do with your units were just about limited to your fantasy, and even then. RTS’es were never the same afterward. Red alert 3 required hotkeys. Starcraft 2 was years away. And generals...hmm...I never really liked playing it. Either way: it just couldn’t be topped. This was (and still is) the pinnacle of RTS territory.
2. Rocksmith 2014 remastered (& rocksmith) (windows): I told you about my shame of buying a plastic guitar for guitar hero and rock band, right? Well...I later thoroughly hesitated to buy a real guitar. A cheap 70 bucks one, but that with the 20 for ubisoft's stupid cable (which isn't even noise-proof) and the 5 bucks for the game (steam discount) was a pretty hefty investment. And I'm not even counting the guitar band, the guitar stand, extra strings and the plectra. And I hadn't touched an instrument in over 20 years (and that wasn't a guitar). But It Was So Fucking Worth It!!!! Look...in a way, rocksmith doesn't belong here because it's not really a game. It has some minigames that involve the guitar, but the main gist is just what you expect: learning the guitar and playing songs. There's none of that "play at X level or you're boo-ed off the stage", no campaign, no characters and hardly any steam achievements. Just you, a guitar and a voice that guides you through 100+ tutorials. It has of the best soundtracks for a guitar game, but I'll get back to that. But really: all that is there is all that there should be. I found out that learning to play the guitar is an intrinsic motivation for me. All that "steam accomplishment" and "beat the high score" is just unnessecary clutter that'll only entertain those who shouldn't play this in the first place. Me, I'm perfectly happy replaying the intro from "it's been a while" at 60 percent speed over and over again, slowly increasing the speed or the amount of notes until it's in my fingers. I've spent hours on Don't look back in anger, set a goal to myself to understand the melody of the XX's islands or just play through anything from Bob Marley without it being embarrassingly bad. It's just...that. I’m not aiming to be in a band or something. The learning, understanding, improving...that's what it is for me. I don't like all tracks and will probably start from roughly scratch again (haven't played it since we moved houses), but you can bet I'll pick this one up again. And though it's 'only' number two, I'd pick this game as the sole game if I can't but take one video game to an uninhabited island (though I'd request a buttload of strings with it). It's not for everyone...but it is absolutely for me. (btw: I bought the original rocksmith as well. As reviewers pointed out, 2014 rightfully blows it out of the water. I knew this...but I bought it to import the tracks into 2014).
1. UT2004 (windows): the one...the only. The legendary...or is it? It came out just at the right time for me (due to circumstances, I graduated just a few months earlier...and less than a week after my birthday). It was an all out buffet right out of the gate.
See, it included everything from UT2003 (the UT sequel my PC wasn’t powerful enough for), and included vehicles as well. This split the community in those who played onslaught (a connect-the-dots gameplay on large maps where you slowly gain ground until you’ve got a connection to their base) and those who played the “regular” first person shooter. I played everything. And almost always online. I quickly found that most people sucked at onslaught, which meant that I could singlehandedly change the outcome in 16-player matches. I later found communities and even a clan where the competition was a lot more fierce, but always friendly. I went to private LAN’s, communicated through voice chat and at one point had written over 100 reviews on custom level maps (yeah, there were dedicated sites where people could send in their work). I participated in 3 forums and helped beta test maps. The mods had grown from the “proof of concept” work of UT99 to sometimes indistinguishable or even better gametypes than the standard ones. Really: UT2004 was my world, my home and where I belonged.
I’ve got to admit there was a dark shadow side to this period. It took me 2.5 years before finally landing a job (and damnit, I didn’t slack on that department AT ALL! >:-( ). So my private life was a mess. I won’t deny that I was addicted to that game, but what choice did I have? I never neglected sending resumes, preparing for interviews or being ill-prepared on those, let alone that I’d give gaming time priority on any of that. Instead, it was UT2004 that kept me from becoming depressed.
*sigh* Don’t get me wrong: it would’ve been my favorite game regardless. It’s just an extra thing I’m grateful for when it comes to praising the game...
Taleweaver's top games of 2020Dec 21, 2020
Yup...the yearly tradition no one's waiting for is upon us again: my yearly rundown of my favorite games I've played this year.
Despite this weird year, I really haven't played more games than otherwise. Three reasons compensate for my extra free time:
1) since 17th of January I'm a father, and man do babies need attention.
2) house renovation has left the critical stage, but my father-in-law and me did A LOT in this year.
3) because of those (and mostly the first), my girlfriend needed far more hugs, compassion, talks and all sorts of tasks done around the house.
Nonetheless, I've lined up 30 games I've really played this year. Partially on the 3DS XL, which I've bought just because it allows to quickly get in and out of a game.
That said...the runners-up (in no particular order)
doppelt so clever
Swords & soldiers 2
A glider's journey
Gardens inc: from rakes to riches
Links to previous years: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016,2015,2014
30. Love letter (linux)
This short card game has gained quite a following. There are versions of Lord of the rings, batman, star wars and even Lovecraft (I swear these are all real games). Upon first trying this digital version, I almost dismissed it. You have two cards, play one, keep the other and draw another card. This goes on until the deck runs out, after which the one with the highest card wins. Erm...okay? Sure, it has twists and some bluffing, but still...? But then it dawned on me that this is the sort of lighthearted game that's mostly about luck and meant to play round after round with drunk friends. So...I can see it being popular in that regard, but I'm not a fan. And the original theme (bring a love letter to the queen) is just so very NOT my thing.
29. Kirby: planet robobot (3DS)
Yeah...so it's a Kirby game. You know what that means: easy as heck, beautiful as candy and copyable abilities. This one has front- and background action up on its sleeve, as well as actual mech action. It's very good at what it does, but I really had to force myself playing. I wanted to enjoy it, but I just couldn't get into it.
28. She remembers caterpillars (linux)
a pleasant humble bundle puzzle surprise. You get some meeples in different colors, a board with some bridges and gates, and a destination for each meeple. You can combine the meeples into mixed colors if needed...but the bridges only allows its own color while the gates prevents exactly those colors from passing. In a way, it plays both as a mobile game and a blast from the past. But at least the screen constantly and clearly shows what it wants from you, and the level design is good. I'm just bad at these kinds of actual puzzle games.
27. Captain Toad (3DS)
Ranked it pretty good a few years ago on the wiiu. The 3DS version is about as nice. This isn't one I aim to complete as just to relax. Just slowly replay level after level until I've got everything. The gameplay is good like that...except a pity that there are enemies all over the place (I want to puzzle and explore, damnit! Get your nintendo pedigree out of my game!).
26. Molek-Syntez (linux)
My guess is Zachtronics pissed off his animators, graphical department and screenwriter after opus magnum (one of the previous games), because this game is so minimalistic in all these fields it's almost ridiculous. However, opus magnum is an absolute, absolute gem of a game. And at least the gameplay is smooth and challenging in the same way. So...here it is: a sequel-of-some-sort that's inferior in almost every way.
25. Hive time (linux)
One of the many games of itch.io's absurdly large racial injustice bundle. It is somewhat a mix between a city builder and a clicker game, and it revolves - you guessed it - around a bee hive. Get your bees out for resources, increase the hive departments, increase bees...increase the numbers, really. It lacks both gameplay depth as technical optimization (jeez...this game stutters more than anno 2070, and it's MILES away in graphical power). But it's a damn cute time waster. :-)
24. Terraforming Mars (android)
...this one's probably on me. The initial release was marred with bugs, but by the time the android version came out, most (all?) of these were fixed. But while being one of the most popular board games on the planet, I just don't get the appeal. It's just trying to get numbers to go up. I've got the idea that if I keep up, I'll see how great it really is, but for now I'm always avoiding to start it.
23. Zelda: oracle of seasons (GBC/android)
I was playing this (again) on commute early march. All off the sudden everyone was ordered to stay home, and I just lost interest. Just as well: I've played through it already. Nothing bad about it's quality...I just didn't feel the need to continue.
22. Luxor evolved (linux)
Shout out to fanatical here: for one dollar I got a bundle that's filled with luxor games, a couple match 3 gem ones and a ranch rush clone (garden inc...would've been on the list if they only KEPT their core gameplay loop instead of introducing all sorts of stupid shit). Luxor's just about shooting balls into a pool, attempting to line up colors. It's mindless and (for some reason) Egyptian themed. But I can't deny I loved playing it.
21. Forager (linux)
Huh...another timewaster. And a good one at that: you craft and unlock, gather, fight enemies...the only remarkable is perhaps in how it all neatly fits together without any of potential downtime like "a story". Liked it, didn't love it.
20. Picross 3D: round 2 (3DS)
Picross, griddler, nonograms...I've played them all. The 3D one of the original DS was sort of cute but gimmicky. At first I thought this'd be a repeat, but the two colors make all the difference while also (surprisingly) keeping the complexity within check. If "zen-like" was the only criteria, this'd be on top of the year.
19. Baba is you (linux)
Programming meets block pushing. A great concept and executed rather well...I think (the graphics are just so intentially bad that everything else might look good by comparison ). There is, however, a very large but: the learning curve is so steep it's unfair. When you resort to youtube for the solution, you should feel stupid when a solution was just outside your grasp. Here, I've had moments I thought I had tried every nonsensical solution, but the true one was a random one I apparently hadn't tried in the process. It's a puzzle game for puzzle gamers and programmers who are better in their field than I am.
18. UnpuzzleR (android)
...great follow-up, Taleweaver. Real classy. Because this is a more mindless puzzler: you start with a completed puzzle, but one by one you remove all the pieces. But which piece can you move? This one's mostly escapism after relationship arguments have died down (but the mood isn't back to normal).
17. The sequence 2 (android)
The first sequence put the developer (one man band) on my radar, and the sequel is better in every way. The hexagonal grid allows for more freedom, so this should be easier, right? Well...as it turns out, the dev is still way too smart and is also good at puzzle creation. I've been stumbling with this one as well, but solving it really makes you feel smart, and peaking on youtube has that needed "of COURSE! " moments. Now if only the 3rd one had a more sandbox approach rather than the bare minimum, we'd have an even GREATER game!
16. Horizon chasers (linux)
I never realised I missed the old arcade game outrun until I loaded up this racer. It's unfair in the sense that you start at the rear and have to pass all other cars by racing flawlessly, but the atmosphere is where it's at. It's nothing too special in the racing genre, but I prefer it over probably all racers that go for realism these days.
15. Hob (linux)
One from the tail end of the year: a mix between Zelda and Journey. You're a silent protagonist in a nature overgrown cyberpunk world, armed with a measily sword. Sound familiar? Well...it's mostly the exploration that steals the show. Wide open landscapes and platforming really put this on the map. Haven't decided on its final place in this ranking, but this place'll do for now.
14. Manifold garden (windows)
Damn you epic store! What's the bloody point of valve's efforts to play everything on linux when you steal gems like this? I don't WANT to boot into windows! But really: I did. Why? Because manifold garden takes the concept of antichamber and the graphics from the graphic novel "Obscure cities" (go on: picture google it: the images are mindblowing) and runs with it. It's a mesmerizing experience, and is a classic in the making. But I'm thinking of boycotting epic stores for my very own personal reasons that has nothing to do with steam fanboy'ism (note: this was somewhere in the midst of the year. It's available on steam right now).
13. cut it down (android)
I didn't play much games on my phone this year. Not really a reason to when I was mostly at home. Still: this one's a nice (and free) gem. It might look like a stupid "cut the rope" clone, but if you stick with it it slowly unfolds to be something like the incredible machine. That is to say, you've got to cut in the right spot so it activates a contraption. It's more basic than I make it out to be, but regardless nailing a level just feels very satisfying. And that has become a rare trait for mobile games for me.
12. Factorio (linux)
I should really give this one more of a chance. I love zachtronic games, and this is like an insanely overblown contraption machine. The thing is: I'm not in a situation where I can devote enough time to properly learn it. So don't take this position as a definite...It's just how I currently rate it.
11. Virtue's last reward (3DS)
It's about freaking TIME I settled down to play 999's sequel. The first and second acts are very good: the characters are great, there's plenty of mysteries to solve, the escape rooms are brimming with atmosphere and the story really sucked me in. And what really is the center stage (being able to keep parts of your conscience between timelines) is a good choice. Just as the two prisoner dilemma, by the way (do you trust that person or not? Do they trust you?). And kind of hilarious that the characters are taking a pandemic with "nearly 100'000 worldwide deaths" seriously when reality has since proven that even basic protection's too much to ask sometimes . It's just a shame that things really start falling apart in the last act. I mean...what the hell were the writers smoking when they had to explain all the mysteries they threw around in the game?
Spoiler (note: ONLY REVEAL IF YOU ALREADY PLAYED OR NEVER WANT TO PLAY IT!!!)
So this strange solar eclipse is turning the EARTH red because this all takes place ON THE MOON. This timing is crucial because I can't remember. But because everyone's infected with the virus that slows down brain activity, nobody notices. Oh, and your character is about 30 years older than you think you are because your young consciousness has jumped to this point because your older consciousness has jumped to THAT situation so STUFF could happen (or have happened?) so that it could then, together with Phi's consciousness, jump(ed) further back in time before the pandemic where older consciousness you tried and failed to stop the death cult from either releasing the virus or sync-explode all nuclear reactors (or was it both? ), which is where YOU LOST BOTH ARMS AND AN EYE (which isn't something anyone - including yourself - noticed). I'd also tell how the old lady turns into the K armor if she isn't in the timeline where she is killed by Dio (and therefore K is replaced by Kyle), but my mind was too busy going wwwwwhhhhhaaaaaa????? at this point.
10. Yellow & Yangtze (android)
Reiner Knizia is to board games what Miyamoto is to video games. Or at least would have been if he didn't release so much games that the overall quality generally can't keep up. But Y&Y, a sequel-of-sorts of his earlier Tigris & Euphrates, is what kubism meant for Picasso: eternal fucking glory. It's a downright brilliant mix of city/civilization building and a wargame. It is also a game that intimidates me, because what you build up can so easily be thwarted. But the app works flawlessly, looks fantastic, has a great tutorial and the enemies wipe the floor with you. Erm...yeeey?
09. Yoku's island express (linux)
Welp...move over, rolling realms: here comes an ACTUAL pinball metroidvania. Yoku's island express has you playing as a beetle carrying an oversized marble around an island, meeting funny characters and unlocking all the arcade flippers in the place. It's (luckily) not as difficult as real pinball games and the game is downright BEAUTIFUL. I won't deny that my lists are quirky personal ones, but this one I'd recommend to anyone who doesn't want to stray too much from the beaten path.
08. campfire cooking (linux)
another gem from itch.io's bundle. A puzzle game where you have sticks in the fire and want to cook the meat at the end. Or both pieces. Or heat water. Or similar. Like many good puzzles, you can guess the intention almost immediately. You can never just pick up the sticks, but have to rotate them around. It's weird and hilariously ineffective (I'd punch anyone in the face who tries to play this game IRL ), but pretty deep and keeps you coming back for more. I beat it...and now have Stephen's sausage roll on my wishlist.
07. cook, serve, delicious 3 (linux)
*sigh* I had no idea this one was coming, but I instantly bought and played it (this was in early access). It's good, and even better than the second one...but I can't lose myself in it anymore as I could before. It's just as good...but I have changed. And okay: the games higher on the list are just very strong hitters.
06. my time at Portia (linux)
the game I played in my first daddy-ish weeks (months?). Our baby was fine, but my girlfriend had all sorts of hormonal issues post-pregnancy. This game was my way to relax when tasks were over. Well...you should probably cut the steam gaming time (73 hours) in half: I was interrupted A LOT while gaming. For obvious reasons.
05. Zelda: Link between worlds (3DS)
The first game I tried after getting my 3DS XL. I liked snes's 'link to the past' but not to the point I really cared. And I had bad expectations for the way you got weapons here. But man, was I wrong. And man, is this game GOOD! Once I could turn into a 2D statue, it immediately shot up to my favorite Zelda club of games. You can BET I'll play this one again!
04. C&C remake (linux)
If 2020 wasn't the year of the pandemic, then it probably would have been the year that EA released a good game. Yeah...it feels unreal to write, but the C&C remaster (containing the original tiberian dawn and red alert) isn't good. It's GOOD! It's FANTASTIC! It's anything I ever wanted and more (well...aside containing a red alert 2 remake). All the levels, updated graphics, polished cutscenes (so they'll at least look like polished crap on today's monitors )...and the wonky pathfinding everyone forgot about.
Ahem...but seriously: this is a childhood's dream. I had to buy it. I do NOT regret paying EA. They're not redeemed...but they now at least have an exception to their rule of evil.
03. Dead cells (android)
I had given up hope getting this to work properly on my PC. That is: I had workarounds, but couldn't get all shoulder buttons on the controller working (which you really need).
...and then I found out this existed. On android of all operating systems! When it was on sale, no less! I immediately bought it, installed it on my GPD XD+...and the rest is history. Well...if you want to count hours of delays in our house renovation because I was playing dead cells on the couch, that is.
(baby was to the daycare at this point...I'm not THAT bad at daddy-stuff )
02. Tabletop simulator (linux)
Avid followers might recall I ditched this very same game in last place some years ago. What happened? Why the pandemic, of course. Our house and childcare had JUST reached a point where I could start inviting friends and family again for board games (no kidding: we held one on my March 8th birthday)...when everyone was ordered to stay at home. It took some months, but I then remembered this game. Started playing solo games at first, then convinced one colleague to get it, then a second one. Now we play the endless amounts of recent board games through this game/front end. I'm still no fan of the interface (heck...even with all the updates through the years, they still at best have managed "less ugly"), but it's functional and works. So...TTS is back, bitches!
01. Roll for the galaxy (android)
I don't exaggerate in any way that I've waited for this game for 1.5 years. That's a long time for a virtual board game, but it has been worth it. I'm a temple gates fanboy in a world that barely knows who they are. But all their virtual board games are polished, highly replayable and a blast to play. Roll was no different. The only problem I have with it is that I now need to wait until they get around releasing the board game expansions for it.
And okay: it has been a very close call with number two (which, as you could guess, ALSO has a roll for the galaxy mod. With the expansion. But TTS has you doing everything manually, whereas all the bookkeeping and AI make a much faster and pleasant experience). But I've found myself mindlessly starting plays of this game all the time, so it truly deserves its place here.Ev1l0rd likes this.
Three unfortunate corona-conversations...Dec 5, 2020
Not that long ago, I wrote down a well-meant "fuck you" aimed at anyone who purposefully declined on (ever?) getting vaccinated against corona. And it's easy to write off these people as "less intelligent" or "paranoia", but of course it's never that simple. I mean...my own father had a conversation (debate?) with a friend of his who'll refuse the vaccine when it became available. My father remarked that if he he purposefully declined, it should only be fair that he's rejected from the hospital in case he does get infected later. It's harsh, but I tend to agree with my father on this one.
Look...those who know my writings know I hardly ever go full on one-sided on an issue (fuck...even Donald Trump has gotten plenty of "yeahbuts" from me...far more than he deserves, even). And I know that starting my writing this way isn't going to make me friends with those I'm hoping to convince. Still...should you be on the fence about it, at least hear me out on this. It's important. If it was just for you, I wouldn't even be writing this stuff (honestly: I don't know you and am in no position to judge your actions in life. Criticise, yes, but judge? no. You're a free individual). The problem is that if you don't get vaccinated, you can still carry the infection to someone else who hasn't yet gotten it, whose immunity falls short or something else. Basically: I'm worried for the people around you. For you as well, but again: your life, your choice.
Unless I'm mistaken, the two main arguments against it are "normal vaccines take years to develop. If this can be done in less, that means something's fishy" and "we have no way of knowing the side effects". They're both flawed arguments, but they are arguments. Let's see...
Yes indeed: normal vaccines take much longer. But normal diseases don't keep the entire fucking world in their grasp like covid-19. As a result, the research is top priority in most if not all research labs. Earlier pandemics certainly had economical damage, but when compared to covid-19 these blend into nothing. Result: just about any government WANTS and FUNDS any sort of research, because every day it's stopped earlier is a day that's worth it.
And the elephant in the room: a wider spread disease means more test cases to work on. It's a lot easier to find a cure if the disease isn't in some exotic location but available in patients in just about every hospital worldwide. Same with volunteers: there are plenty, again for the law of large numbers.
But an important missed factor is the way vaccines are developed. It's a staged approach, with steps 2, 3, 4 taking place after succesfully finishing the earlier step. This is needed, but because of the earlier funding, these steps were "somewhat" taking place during the finishing of the previous step. In other words: while step 1 was being finished, step 2 got underway in the assumption that 1 was succesfull. If 1 wasn't, then that step 2 needed to be rolled back, but that's at most some extra work that could be done while a new step 1 was underway.
(I hope this makes sense, because I'm not sure how to properly explain it without sacrificing the actual process for the sake of clarity).
All in all: this results in an earlier vaccine. Yeeeey.
As to the side effects...well: what do you want me to say? There's potential side effects on any legal drugs, but can you honestly tell me you never took any medicine whatsoever? Yeah, don't answer me that one. Lemme be clear here: the pfizer medicine has about 10-20% chance of inducing fatigue, fever and/or a headache for about a day. Not too shabby a sacrifice to put an end to a deadly disease, right?
But yeah: you're talking the long-term side effects. Those are unknown, I'll give you that. Unfortunately for you...the same goes for most medicines, and the cases where long term effects are mentioned are generally because it was proven after it was released. Because like it or not, but tracing back anything after two years after vaccination is very hard to trace back to its origin.
So what's in this vaccine anyway? Well...nothing that can alter your DNA, if for no other reason that it contains nothing that works onto our DNA. But as any vaccine, it contains fragments of the actual illness, with its more vicious parts removed. That way, our bodies not only fight and win against it but become better prepared to battle it in the future (yeah, and I'm probably shortening it too much. correct me if I'm wrong, okay? ). I don't know why we'll need two shots for immunization, but I've got no reason to doubt it's for a good reason (hint: every paranoid story I've heard can be countered with "even if that's true, it can be done with one shot as well").
But what the anti-vaccers seem to forget is that if you get this, you'll get a neutered version of covid-19. If you don't get this and run into covid-19, you'll get the nasty stuff. And the idea that you're totally immune afterwards was debunked months before Trump became infected in the first place. And that's where the title of this writing comes in: some bad conversations regarding covid. Luckily none that concern myself or my immediate family, but enough to share with potential anti-vaccers to give them some food for thought...
The first one I heard from a friend over the telephone. One of his colleagues from work caught it...and "bad" is an understatement. I've heard on the news that some people got it so bad that they had to be put in a coma, but I always assumed these were very unfortunate elders with underlying health issues. Well...at least in this case, it was absolutely NOT true. I don't know this colleague myself, but my friend told me he was just "a guy" (not his closest colleague, luckily enough). In his thirties, physically fit, no known (visible) medical conditions...and he got covid so bad he had to be put in a coma for months.
Unfotunately, it didn't end there. When he came to, his kidneys (or liver? I don't quite recall what my friend said) were completely gone. So in the end, he went for euthanasia.
That's one thing for statistics: because he didn't techically die from covid-19 he is not in that infamous death chart. But obviously: without covid he'd still be here.
The second story hits much closer, but was, in a way, predictable. My uncle's a doctor. Some time ago, he got summoned to a retirement home to check upon someone who got sick. Normally he'd needed a full face shield, but it was unavailable (so he just had a regular face mask). From what I've heard, this patient was alone in an airtight room and without mask. My uncle examined her and she had covid. Some time afterwards, she died from it as well.
Unfortunately, because of the circumstances, my uncle got it as well. I only know he was "very sick" and had 40° celcius fever (that's 104° fahrenheit...so A LOT). He came through, but still...the least you can say is that a face mask doesn't mean full protection.
The third one is probably the saddest one. It's from my girlfriend, who works in a hospital (not the covid-department, though she knows many who work there). There was a huge downer yesterday: a girl from 13 died there from the virus.
Yeah...another one for the statistics: when you look at the actual charts and conclude that a large majority of deaths are people over 65, it still leaves a minority that can pass away as well.
Did I tell you about the girlfriend of my best friend? She "probably" caught it in the first wave (also a nurse), but because her job didn't order her a test, she can only "assume" that because she had all the symptoms it must have been covid. She lost her sense of taste for at least two months.
Then there's a former colleague of my mother, who got it months ago as well and (last I spoke my mother about this), this same colleague still had a lessened longue capacity (which was what? about a half year after getting it?). This one's harder to confirm, as it's one step beyond 'fact' and into 'rumour' territory. Still...
The action plan
Am I trying to scare you? Well...Yes and no. I'm aware of newspapers having a bias, but that doesn't mean they're hatching an evil plan of spreading a hoax in order to get everyone a shot of something. Simple logistics: if they wanted that, they'd just put whatever it was (nanobots? mind control drugs? Whatever they fancy) in regular flu shots and turn everyone into body snatchers that way and leave out any controversy about it.
On the other hand: covid-19 ain't no picknick. The above isn't from a newspaper or from hearsay, but from friends and family whom I absolutely trust. They might miss details (they're not reporters, and neither am I), but know what they've experienced.
And that leaves only the possibility that the vaccine is real, and fights an equally existing threat to humanity. And that's why we need action, damnit. Up until now, most of us had just to follow some rules about social distancing and face masks. This can be temporary. We can go back to normal. And all it requires is cooperation.
Do we need you? Well...we'd need at least 70% of the population to push the virus back to a point where it simply cannot infect enough people to survive. At least in Belgium, I dare say that we'll easily get that amount (for the US, I...am less optimistic ). But that's not really a reason for optimism. Let's say that 5% of our population joins the denial cult. Once everyone had their chance of vaccination, the restrictions will be eased and contacts will increase. And that means those 5% still have a chance to catch it. An even higher chance than before even, because the restrictions are lifted. Should they self-quarantine longer, they'll theoretically save themselves more, but let's not kid ourselves: that ain't gonna happen.
And 5% is still over half a million people of our population. Should they all get infected and the , that still means we're averaging over a full cemetery of new graves to dig.
And frankly: I don't want to be in a position where I've got to tell a full cemetary "you had this coming". More so: I don't want to look at the survivers with disdain because their hardcore ignorance caused them to infect others who were less fortunate.
So here's my ending plea: don't be like that. Freedom above all else is a nice slogan, but at least ask yourself: is this really worth it?
Would you want to tell your children and grandchildren that you survived the 2020 pandemic but that you flat out refused to participate in covid-19's demise?
Local politicians will get it. You can bet that all sorts of celebrities will do their part. You will have friends and family who will get it.
As a Belgian, I'm not a patriot (heh...good luck finding one in this shithole ). I don't believe this country's better than any else. But I believe in humanity. I believe that as a species, we'll understand the threat that covid-19 poses against us and that we'll fight back and win against it. Fuck...the hard part (creating a vaccine) is even done. This should be the aftermath. It's just that it's an individual aftermath that only works if we all do our part.
So FFS...let's do our part already. Not just "some", not just "most"...I'm talking everybody.
Who's the dupe of Trump's la(te)st scam?Nov 13, 2020
It comes at the surprise of no one: Trump refusing to admit defeat. He never did, and...I don't think anyone thought he's going to. Ever. It's just not his nature. Ask him about any of his tremendous amount of defeats and he'll deflect it onto scapegoats, say you're misinformed or ridicule you behind his back.
Is there fraud in the election? Yes and no. The 'no' is easy: every US citizen had at most one vote. There weren't additional votes cast, there weren't removed either. The entire process is so closely monitored not just by the US but by the entire world that anything but accidental miscounts or the occasional incompetence is flat out impossible. Is anyone suprised by Trump's team of lawyers coming in with the most ridiculous claims? No. More so: I presume everyone was expecting them.
The 'yes' is the sort republicans want to sweep under the rug because anything is fair in love and war, and they conceive "winning the election" as a war on democrats. That's why they don't consider the following not as fraud:
* abusing presidential power to strongarm a foreign nation into gathering dirt on a political opponent
* when Biden encouraged voting by mail, Trump replied by having his henchman Louis DeJoy blatantly sabotage timely delivery of ballots
* calling the victory early in states that were still counting the mail-in votes (that leaned heavily toward democrats...see also the above)
There's also the "holding superspreader events in a time of national crisis", but that only works if you acknowledge there's a crisis. That's why Trump had full stadiums (well...sort of), whereas Biden had almost exclusive events where everyone should practice social distancing. It's not fraud, but a cruel rearranging of human priorities for political gain.
Biden won regardless. The surprising part wasn't that, but how well Trump actually did. I'm sure that if you show Trump's course to the next generations, you wouldn't get them to believe that he actually try to WIN the election. I mean...
"I pay less tax than you. I consider at least half the nation as my enemies. I suck up to every dictator on the planet. I'm about to go bankrupt again. My former employees and family consider me a monster. I threated to fire the nation's leading virus expert. WHAT THE FUCK DO I HAVE TO DO FOR YOU FUCKS TO NOT VOTE FOR ME???!!!!???!!!!"
In any normal country, my ten months old daughter would easily beat Trump. But because we're talking of the US, it means Trump got 72 million votes, as of this writing. More than in 2016, I must add. As far as US experts go, they all say that if it wasn't for the incredibly incompetent handling of the covid crisis, he would simply have been re-elected. So this whole "longest government shutdown in modern history", "blackmailing foreign countries", "leaving UN, WHO and several international treaties", "disassembling of the state" and even his trademark anti-diplomatic skills don't mean jack shit for most americans (okay: provided they've got a job). But ey...I'll admit that the current death count of 243'000 citizens seriously overshadows any of those blunders.
Don't get me wrong: it'd be impossible to avoid any deaths, and the best you can hope for is that A) Biden's upcoming plan isn't sabotaged (because let's be clear: it won't be popular) and B) that it has a decent effect to begin with.
Speaking of sabotage: Trump's unfunded claim that swing states that didn't favor him must have been fraudulent. I'm just glad to see that after Pennsylvania went to Biden, it just lost steam. As upcoming president, Biden will have a full plate tackling the virus in and off itself, let alone rebuild international relationships that were damaged in the last years. He doesn't have time to occupy himself with the petty mood of a sore loser. And it's not like Trump's lawyers believe in what they bring to the court: hearsay, unsigned post-it notes and rumours. And rightfully so: it'd be different if we had a 2000-scenario on our hands (where it all hinged on Florida, where the results were extremely close), but Biden won with a comfortable lead in many states, and the popular vote with over 5 million votes over Trump. *sarcastically* Oh, no...perhaps the polls indicating that Trump's popularity never rose over 50% WEREN'T fake news after all!"
Oh, and a sidenote to all you "Biden stole the election" drones...if he did, why not steal senate as well? As it stands, Mitch will just continue blocking anything republicans don't like, so it's not much of an improvement.
So...with all the smoke and mirrors cleared up: why the hell is Trump fighting this uphill battle? As of current, he's starting to get flak from the republican party because his refusal to admit Biden's the president-elect is starting to have effect. James Lankford, Oklahoma's republican senator, claimed he'd "intervene" if Biden was kept out of security briefings' loop. And for right reason: it's hard to keep the claim that Hillary Clinton was "the worst candidate in history" alive when she's less a sore loser than Trump...with a much closer race, no less.
So it's not like Trump's attempt at a coup is going anywhere (nope...rearranging the pentagon ain't working either, Donnie). But perhaps there's a much simpler explanation: if Trump has the most loyal fanbase (and it's hard to argue against that) and he can tell these guys anything...why not play them for the suckers that they are?
Trump's army of lawyers isn't working for free. So in order for them to keep fighting "the just cause" republicans receive letters where campaign donations are requested for these legal fees and to alleviate the debt of Trump's campaign team. Wait...what was that last part? Nothing special. Just that the majority of the donations go to repay debt.
Yeah, I kind of snuck in Trump's financial record there in that parody of him. But it's no joke: somewhere during the campaign, one of my requested youtube-video's thought it was odd that certain campaign adds were suddenly removed little over a week before the election. While obviously not the prime source, the guy pondered whether or not the Trump campaign had ran out of money. Which wouldn't be too surprising, considering it's always a costly affair (Biden's probably not counting his personal cash either). But...debt? Could it actually be that while most of the people on this planet expected Trump to sue the country over this election, Trump himself hadn't kept money aside for this stuff?
And there's more: at one point, Trump suggested that he "might leave the country" if he lost. Of course, this was met with joking replies (he's probably welcome in Russia), but what if it's serious? Trump's casino and university went belly-up, but it's like he never faced real consequences on that. What if he intends to cash in on his fanbase one last time to leave for some no-exchange country while the rest of his US government team remains with nothing but IOU notes?
Belgian's bad corona report...again :-(Oct 29, 2020
It's not fun to admit it, but it has to be said: Belgium sucks at any continuous plan regarding covid.
Oh, we've flattened the curve, alright. Mid march we went into lockdown and it...mostly worked. That first wave came and went. April was the peak in terms of hospitalized patients, May showed a slowing down until, say, september. Then it began to rise again. Nowadays, the news shows the following image on a daily basis:
It ain't good. It ain't good AT ALL!
However, it's not as if the virus was ever really gone. And we don't have leaders that openly defy the impact.
What we do have, however, is spread politics. It took a year and a half, but we finally managed to get a full on federal government. Oh yeah...so no more backup measures and emergency drafts, right? Well...no. Almost the contrary.
I have a few writings on how politics work in Belgium. Mostly how we've got a federal government for the entire country, a Flemish government for those speaking Dutch, Wallonian government for Frenchies and a Brussels one because it considers itself both...or neither.
Back in March, we were so surprised that Sophie Wilmes didn't so much staged a coup as she was brought forth to deal with this sudden mess ("What's this mess? Hey...you! You're in charge now!!!"). Anyone who either doubted her actions or the virologists (a certain 'Marc Van Ranst, mostly) was just about boo-ed off the television.
Things are different now. Since we've got the new government (with Alexander De Croo as prime minister and Frank Vandenbroucke as minister of health matters), we got new prevention measurements. And some more a couple days later, even though it takes a few weeks for changes take effect.
I should stress that even though we're not in lockdown, things don't differ that much. Working from home is nearly obligated (when possible) and most social/sports events are delayed/canceled/forbidden. The schools are the most notable exception, and that might change as well (autumn break is two weeks instead of one, now).
But to get back at politics: one of the major parties - N-VA - is openly trying to break up Belgium(1). So it comes at no surprise that they play it "the Trump way". They aren't in the federal government, but are leading the Flemish one. And they reason that because Wallonia is hit harder in this second wave, Flanders shouldn't follow the same strict regulations.
The problem is that this sort of reasoning resonates with people. "Why should we take precaution X when it's worse in Wallonia?". It's just madness. Sure, Brussels and Wallonia are hit harder, BUT FLANDERS IS RIGHT BEHIND THEM!!! Belgium's no fucking island. The netherland had a more lacking approach and have conceded to stricter regulations. France just went into lockdown (again). But guys like Jan Jambon (N-VA, obviously) somehow compared the measurements with "extinguishing your house in advance, in case your house might catch fire later".
I don't usually hate people and try to follow their reasoning, but that really pissed me off! It's one thing to vie some retarded political goal(2), but another to openly deny actions "because someone else has worse symptoms".
*sigh* It's not that I don't get it: we've got plenty of people like Boesy as well: men and women being fucking tired of staying at home or seeing their free time occupations canceled or neutered(3). Politicians know that they can only push people as far as their respect goes. Which...really isn't far, to be honest. I've noticed a trend that the media is scheduling more medical related programs lately. This helps, but still people make their own rules rather than follow others.
...which is pretty hard NOT to do, because some of these rules are seeming contradictions: you can invite 4 people at your family, but are only one "snuggle contact" outside your personal family (others should stay distant). But can I have two semi-snuggle contacts instead? Or three, if one of those is of the same bubble? (ey...sorry, but my parents and parents-in-law want to see our daughter. And I'm still renovating with my father-in-law). I can technically help a friend setting up his fence when using social distancing rules, but in practice it's impossible to set up a 40 kg heavy pole of 2.5 meters perfectly straight without coming within 1.5m distance (read: the damn thing is simply too heavy to properly lift, let alone manoeuver alone).
I'm no saint, but I at least try. The problem is that at least half the country - and probably closer to 100% - at least uses these sorts of excuses. Oh, we barely have people ignoring masks, I'll give you that. But face masks are about the most basic protection; it ain't bulletproof!
During the first wave, the girlfriend of my best friend was about the only person I'd know who had had covid, and that wasn't too surprising considering she's a nurse. Okay, and there was someone of my family who "needed a test", and one vague colleague turned out to have had it. That was it.
This time, it's my closest colleague's sister and a fairly close colleague who got it, and my sister-in-law needed a test (luckily it was negative, or we'd had to go in quarantine). So it's coming closer. Worse: my girlfriend works in a major hospital, and she's on high alert for the near future. She joined that work shortly after the first wave, but is now part of the team that has to prepare for what's coming. Insofar as it's not already there: she's seen people on oxygen support and seen the lines at the triage center. Two of her colleagues have gotten the infection, and though I don't dare say it, I'm fearful she'll get it too (and as such, myself...and depending on which day one or both of our parents as well).
Meanwhile, my job is...well...not "on the line" at the moment, but I'm not sure how long it'll be. For november and december our team will each have two additional unemployed days, and I'm afraid that this is still on the positive hope that things will somewhat pick up.
Yeah...I know: this whole writing's not going anywhere. I just felt like writing down my feelings.
Best of luck to you, wherever you are.
EDIT: obligatory update. There was a press conference today. Seems like we'll go into full lockdown again as of coming monday. The regulations might not be 100% the same as the first time, but at this time I'm having trouble distinguishing.
It's a good move, but if my blog entry was any indication, my reaction is a "well...better late than never. " It shouldn't be that the hospitals are going critical before we as a society react properly. Especially not when it's the second time this happens.
(1): the question "what about Brussels?" is still unanswered, leaving them in a sort of deadlock.
(2): Flanders will be at best temporarily better off, and most likely stay around the same. But with no scapegoat left, I'm sure N-VA will just try to blame everything on other parts of what remains of Flanders
(3): the most recent regulations killed off my karate class. But just before that we were allowed to practice, provided we avoided personal contact(4), didn't use the change rooms, ventilated the room properly, stayed on our assigned space in the dojo, limited ourselves to ten people maximum, disinfected our hands and didn't practice "kijai"...say "loudly screaming to boost your confidence". Yeah...one can argue that it's for our own benefit and I agree with it, but I'm pauzing the hobby for the time being.
(4): believe it or not, but karate is broken up into three roughly equal parts: technique, kata practice and kumite. Only the last part - contact training - involves touching someone
A friendly reminder: if all things are even, Trump has about 75% chance of being prosecutedSep 8, 2020
(warning in advance: yeah, it's going to be one of THOSE blog posts. Just stop reading if you don't care, okay? I only care about people who care to begin with)
Well...I'm sure the blog post title has people riled up. But before you post how right or wrong I am, just hear me out, mkay? It's about the Mueller report.
If you ignore all the political bullshit that's been spun around it, the main document has some implications that are...pretty darn important.
The most important question Mueller faced right of the bat was the following: if we find criminal behavior, what will we do? Trump was (and still is) the sitting US president. While he is technically not above the law, Mueller argued that there is no court he can be properly be trialed. So to him and his team, the whole debacle shifted from "what crimes (if any) will we find?" to "how should we deal with it when we do find criminal behavior?".
The team did find criminal behavior. The obstruction of justice is, like it or not, criminal behavior. It isn't suddenly "okay" when the patterns aren't 100% the sort of "caught red handed" evidence (which, in his defense, wasn't found). So...what did they do? For those of short term memory: the team basically passed the hot apple to the senate. Freshly appointed attorney general William Barr "leaked" a very personal summary. It was far beside the point Mueller tried to make, but these times narrative is everything. Trump tweeted "exonerated" so many times that it stuck, leaving the actual senate to fight against public opinion rather than properly deal with the situation.
Well...the fact that republicans(1) hold the majority in the senate also is an important factor, of course. If the democrats had pushed for impeachment then, they'd find themselves in a minority to actually remove him from office(2). So they didn't.
...but make no mistake: Trump is in no way forgiven or pardoned in any way. It is just delayed because Mueller doesn't find it fair to prosecute Trump when there is no real court he can be judged. But the report still exists, it is out in the open, the actions were illegal at the time Trump performed them, and the crimes won't have been expired by the time Trump's no longer sitting president. So for Trump, this presidential race isn't just about prestige. He's literally running to stay out of jail.
Now...the title of this blog is misleading for two reasons. One is the "if all things are even". That's far too lenient. Trump never once managed to get a 50% aproval rate by his own population, and even conservative polls have him trailing Biden by a lot(3). But for sake of the argument, let's say he has an even 50% chance shot of winning a second term. Then there's still the more quiet race...the one for the senate.
I won't lie: I'm not too familiar with how the process of voting the senate works. I know the democrat/republican split is sort-of even, I know that party lines mean everything for both parties and I know that the voting is in 2020. Oh, and that if democrats take over 4 republican seats (or 3 and the presidency), they'll hold the majority. For convenience reasons, let's give them 50% of succeeding(4).
In this scenario, we've got four options:
1) democrats deliver the president and take senate majority
2) democrats deliver the president but remain a minority in the senate
3) Biden fails but dem's take the senate majority
4) Biden fails and republicans hold the majority in the senate
In the first two scenario's, Trump's no longer a sitting president and can be prosecuted like you and me (what? you think we can get away with these kind of crimes? LOOOOLLLL!!!). The third one would be kind of hilarious to everyone in the world but his fanbase: Trump would remain president, but with the democrats holding majority both in the house and the senate, they can just properly impeach him (again) AND remove him from office without anything the republicans can do (kind of the inverse as the current situation, really ). Sure, he'll scream about conspiracies all the way to his jail cell, but come on: we know this clown long enough to know that's going to happen no matter what. Better suck it up and be done with it, than suffer the insults four more years (and probably longer, because why stop at two terms?).
So...only if Trump manages a status quo on two fields, he'll manage to stay in office.
But Taleweaver...the Mueller report's dead and buried
I'll concede that that's a good point. As it is, nobody's talking about that report anymore. New scandals have emerged and subsided. Ukraine? Gone (republicans will tell you with a straight face that Trump was never impeached to begin with). Covid minimalisation? Mostly gone (most have accepted that the incredibly dumb action can't be rectified, so they'll pretend that it was unavoidable and therefore forgivable). The black lives matter had a strong moment there (especially with Trump heating the diversion rather than accepting everyone as potential Trump-voters), but they're now becoming second page news now that this whole "Trump thinks war criminals are losers" has become trending(5).
The thing is: none of these scandals have as thorough an analysis with so many clearcut conclusions with them. You can go out and chase people who were there when Trump said X, and get thwarted by opponents who dig up dirt on the people who claimed Trump said X (or some nihilist fucks who go all "so what if Trump said X? It doesn't make him a racist"). The Mueller rapport is head and shoulders above that. The only thing - and I'm fairly sure it is literally the only thing - that's missing is a court for this situation. And that gets resolved by removing Trump from office by A) voting him out or B) impeaching and removing him (which requires both majority in the house and the senate).
(main source for this blog post is a blog I recently came across here. It's about a gazillion times better than this shit)
(1): I sort of wonder whether or not republican politicians are just extremely pragmatic in general, or that they're just weeded out until only the most spineless Trump puppets have remained.
(2): in other words: exactly the way the later Ukraine situation turned out.
(3): unless you count the imaginary "real" polls in his head. Let's not go there...
(4): I'm inclined to think this is even less than the presidency. As much as I hate Donnie, I can (somewhat) see why people fall for his personality. On the other hand, I literally shudder to think of anyone even wanting to be remotely near Mitch McConnell.
(5): I don't get this news AT ALL. That is to say: I've already read this in 2018 when he actually SAID those words about the fallen soldiers in world war 2. And again sometime later when McCain died. This is now getting spun as if it's something new, but if you're a Trump veteran supporter, you should've already known this for years.
A Belgian voting tale...Aug 19, 2020
Okay, I admit it: I've added to the controversy about the US mail voting controversy. More specific: I created this poll about it. I had anticipated polarized results, but honestly didn't expect it to be this bad. If I had known that a large majority of republicans want to vote in person (as opposed to democrats, who largely want to vote by mail), it'd been a different situation, but I didn't. From what I can see, there are two major issues at hand:
1. voter registration. This...apparently has quite some cracks in it, or at least has the idea that this is much harder than it should be. About the only thing that helps me understand it is that in the USA citizens don't have an ID-card.
2. the USPS is in financial trouble. Critics say that this is because of legislation that puts them in a position where it would be impossible to make a profit. Either way: recent actions on that front have led to a political tug of war.
I won't go into detail on neither of those. I mean...that's what the thread linked earlier is for. Instead, I'm going to use my own blog space to talk about Belgium's last election, highlighting some differences. Here goes...
The first thing to know is that in Belgium, voting isn't optional. It is obligated (I repeat: obligated) for all citizens above 18. I'm not joking: you can get fined if you don't cast your vote, even if that vote is just a blank. That's what nearly happened to me and my girlfriend last election, but I'll get to that. I might be mistaken, but afaik this obligation doesn't apply to Belgians living abroad somewhere. They have options to cast their votes by distance (mail or the internet...I'm not sure, honestly), but won't face fines if they don't vote. It's different for Belgians who have their home address in Belgium. Should they be on vacation or business trip on election day, they should apply for someone to cast a vote in their name. I know because I voted for my parents once when they were on vacation.
EDIT: almost forgot: convicted criminals aren't allowed to vote. There may be other exceptions, but certainly not many.
There are also four kinds of voting, which usually align to some degree. The district's the closest (it's the town or city you live in), then there's the "gewestverkiezing" (basically Flanders vs Wallonia vs Brussels...Belgium's weird like that ), federal (the actual 'Belgian' election) and one for our electorates in the EU. We also have over a dozen political parties. Half of these are Flemish parties, the other half Wallonian. And they're divided, so as a Flemish citizen I cannot vote for e.g. PS or ecolo (Wallonian parties). They cannot vote for SP-A or Groen. The mentioned examples have very similar ideologies. Still...
But I digress. When I say I follow Belgian politics, I mean I keep track of what the parties want to achieve, what they actually achieve and what they criticize. Nearly every political party vies (runs?) for all kinds of voting areas, but I have to admit it's a whole mess to figure out which areas are courtesy of the "gewest" and which are handled at a federal level, let alone what the EU has as responsibilities (district's usually easiest to figure out, though).
To add to the choice-stress: we have a say in the person(s) within the party as well. When we pick a political party, we next get a list of candidates of that party. They usually put their front runner on top of the list, but you can explicitly vote for your neighbor if he/she runs for something. Since all the voting happens on the same day, you either go early or you have to queue. I (and since I'm with my girlfriend: we) go somewhat "early but not too early". I've never had anything any issues until last election (again: I'm coming to that).
By the way: the poll boots I've been to were always within a few streets from my home, and always carried computers with touchscreens. There are still a few districts that still do pen and paper, but Antwerp have at least voted completely electronically since at least 2000 (the year I started participating in our democracy). Never had a hitch or any controversies about it either (well...not entirely true: every election it happens that a few voting machines fail, resulting in longer waiting lines because the remaining ones are used more often. That's about it).
Our last elections were on May 26th 2019. For the next part, it's important to know that me and my girlfriend moved to another province early April. Or say mid april, when we officially changed our address.
[h1]The voting process[/h1]
Obviously, with voting being obligated, there is no registration process. Everyone over 18 gets their ballot in the mail a couple weeks in advance. You bring it to your voting boot, show your ID-card, receive a voting card for the computer, insert that card in the computer, cast your vote, you get your ID-card and the ballot (with a stamp on it) back, and that's that. That stamped ballot is only needed in case there has been some administrative error somewhere (note: I'm not sure on the word "ballot". Perhaps in the USA the actual voting card is sent through the mail instead of an administrational invite to swap for the actual ballot. But you get the idea, right?).
...which brings me to the major thorn in the foot of the USA: no unified ID-card. It's not that I haven't seen in films and series how drivers licenses are used for ID, but it still strikes me as odd. In Belgium, everyone has an ID-card that he or she needs to have on him at all times. Should you lose it, you must immediately apply for a new one. It acts as age verification, legitimation and for most if not all administration tasks. Heck...I had to use mine just yesterday when we were taking garbage to the dump(1). It's for local citizens only. I'm a registered local citizen, so I put my ID in the machine and it allowed us access. Easy-peasy.
And to be frank: get your shit together, USA. Your complaints about "illegal aliens" suddenly got a lot less believable once I realised you don't have a unified way to ID your own citizens in the first place.
Back on-topic: since the recent controversy, I should perhaps point out something in regards to mail: OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS NEVER HAVE POST STAMPS. Whether it's a fine, an official announcement from the mayor, a fine or a voting ballot: it is delivered free by the mail. Or more precise: the Belgium state sponsors it. Granted, our postal service isn't tied to some ridiculous claims like in the US, but to us it's equally ridiculous to expect that the postal service should try to make a profit. It's almos the inverse: the name "postal service" itself says that it's a SERVICE. We don't expect the road next to our house to make a profit for the country in order for them to build or maintain it. Like that, and like our ID cards, it are things we simply expect from our government. More so...when our ballots didn't came through, we never once thought it might have been the postal office "withholding our ballots".
I've mentioned my girlfriend and me moved houses, right? As a result, I went to the postal office to request our mail to be forwarded for the next six months (it's a service they do for people moving houses). So when our mail came through but not our ballots, we initially assumed it was just late. But pretty soon, all our friends and neighbours had theirs and we still had nothing. I contacted the district's office, who told me that since our official change of address was too close to election day (roughly a month earlier ), we would still have to vote in our old neighborhood. The ballots "should arrive at your new address, though". They didn't. I called my old house, but neither my old neighbor nor my rentee had received anything.
The problem was easy to solve, though. I just checked the Antwerp district's site, (again) identified through my ID-card and just printed out a replacement ballot. The next day, my girlfriend and me did the same for her (using her card).
Whenever some republicans (it's always republicans for some reason) claim that mail in voting is prone to fraud, I mentally imagine myself just printing out that ballot in my name dozens of times. Would have been easy to do. And if US ballots have something akin to "yeah, just put it in whatever voting boot you want" on it I would see the fraudulent potential. But this Belgian quality ballot had my name, ID card reference and the voting boot address on it. I could either bring in the original ballot (that we still expected by mail at that time, btw) or the copy. Either would end up having my name marked as "this guy has voted", and just queue-ing again with another ballot (and perhaps a fake moustache for comedy purposes ) would just reveal that I had already voted before I would get my actual voting card.
So...on May 26th, my girlfriend and me took a trip back to our old country to cast our vote, using the printout ballot (original is still...somewhere). We accidentally ran into our old neighbors. We visited my parents (who lived in that area). And returned to our actual home later that day. Voting in our new town (and if this pandemic keeps up: from home) is something for next election. At that time, neither of us thought anything else of it. But it wasn't...
About two to three weeks later, I got a mail. From the election committee. It was a fine of over 100 euro's (I forgot the amount). I apparently didn't show up for poll booting duty. This duty is a random draft. The poll boots have to be manned (y'know: helping people who manage to find marking a dot difficult, crossing off names and so on), and for obvious reasons these can't be political volunteers. So in addition to being obligated to vote, there's a chance you're drafted to show up and aid in the voting process. My brother had it happen twice. My father some time as well. My mother - strangely enough - never thus far. And up until now, I was never selected either. And the ironic thing is: I wouldn't mind aiding. It's on a day nobody (by definition) has anything planned before the afternoon, and the only thing my brother didn't like - getting up so early - isn't something I'm bothered with.
So apparently I now was selected...but only got notified afterwards.
I wrote back the situation. That my girlfriend and me moved in April, and didn't get our ballots. How we had to call both the new and the old districts to find out where to vote and how to obtain a ballot copy. I enclosed a scanned copy of the stamped ballot, proving that we drove about 70 kilometers just to cast our vote. Had I known I'd be selected for jury duty on that very same voting boot, I would have been there. More so, I wrote: I'd be glad to be selected next time, albeit in our new district(2).
This letter was a gamble, I admit. I've challenged unfair fines before, but they usually end up adding "administrative costs" on top of the original fine. So I was more than thrilled to receive a letter back not only acknowledging my situation but apologizing for the erroneous fine as well.
Yeah...what else to say about Belgian elections? To me, it was just something that's sort of "there". I'm sort of on the fence on the obligation part (most other EU countries don't do it, and I know a few people who deliberately don't vote despite the potential fine), but I'd certainly vote if it wasn't obligated. Our political system is a mess that needs to be cleaned up, yes. But if I've learned anything from the USPS mail by voting situation, it's that our problems are luxury problems. These sorts of hiccups are minor and incidental. We've got plenty of political parties, but there is never a clear winner (btw...it's well over a year since that vote and we still don't have a government ). But that means that whatever passes is approved by a large notion. We don't have a "winner takes all" attitude where a new leader can spend his time undoing what his predecessor achieved. I was never really proud of what we have in Belgium, but in retrospect perhaps I should be. It's certainly not something one can take for granted...
(1): we're still renovating. Last week my father and me tore down a wall and a ceiling to make room for a stairs to the attic. Result: an insane amount of rubble, stone, bricks and dust
(2): to be honest, I wasn't really thrilled to be part of the assistance committee if they started out by not properly notifying me. Also: voting is usually in public schools, so at about five minute walks for most people (at least in urban areas). An hour drive obviously diminishes the enthousiasm a bit.
Trump's a sucker for controversyJul 17, 2020
So Trump wrote a book. No...not Donald. His niece, Mary. In itself, it's not much different from the conga line of mostly past-employees who paint the same picture of the guy (oh, btw...John Bolton confirmed in his book what was already known: Donald Trump did blackmail Ukraine). And even the fact that she's both family and a psychologist isn't very groundbreaking (I got an unread case study on him on my computer for some years now). And...frankly, I don't give a damn about his troubled youth or his abusive father, or blah blah blah...
What peaked my interest is something I implicitly already knew, but that really clicked once I heard her (okay...someone else summarize this part of her book) say it:
Donald Trump takes enjoyment of the controversy he creates
Now...since I don't have a degree on psychology, I might have missed that this might be a characteristic of the other labels put on him (narcissist and troll come to mind...the latter obviously NOT a DSM-5 certified label). But it's important not to dismiss it as a smirk ("yeah...DUH!!!"), as it's a key treat. In fact, it's perhaps the sole aspect of Trump that anyone to his political left should be glad about.
Let me put it this way: when most of us would paint a picture of utopia (lead by the one painting the picture), it'd be one where is some sort of balance. Whether this'd be an all out handholding fest singing kumbaya around the campfire or a world filled with borderwalls where every citizen gotta stay put, there is a "this is how it should be" vision where people living their lives within the given laws.
But if Mary Trump's perception is correct, this utopia isn't what her uncle wants or strides for. In fact, he's lived most of his version of utopia literally since his inauguration.
Remember that time? Democrats were weeping that Hillary lost while a hitherto (relatively) unheard of group got the leader they wanted. And man, did they come out.
Was it a big crowd? Yeah, sure. Nothing wrong with it. And while you could say democrats were bitter(1), the win was justified. Trump was to be sworn in as president. Could have been a great start.
...but instead, he used the opportunity to launch the idea that it was "the greatest turn-up ever". That simply wasn't true. Police records and photographs easily proved it wrong...but reporters fell in Trump's trap. He didn't want the media to correct him. Heck...he didn't even want them to just go along with it. No...what he wanted was exactly what he got: controversy. The birth of "alternative facts", "fake news" and "hoax" as catchphrases. Police reports always have a source that can be discredited. Pictures can always be virtually editted.
This whole sherade baffled non-US people for two reasons. The main one was rather known: your limited political spectrum. Europe traditionally has at least a good handfull of parties that keep each other honest. A party can't simply claim that the others are lying, because that'd be an uphill battle (if you steal a candy bar and there's only one other kid around to see it, you can attempt to pin the theft on him. Try it when the whole class saw it and it'll fail miserably). But the US has only two political parties, so making the other look bad is an easier way to gain access to power than, y'know...properly demonstrate how you'd use the power you would be getting. From what I can tell, this mud throwing used to be mostly for show. Sure, the Bushes, Clintons and Obama's made some stabs at each other during the race for the president, but once they were in the presidential seat they found themselves needing both parties to rule the country. Donald just continued this rhetoric of divide and conquer behind closed doors.
The second reason will no doubt get me some flack: it's the lack of education in your country. The "free speech" you hold so hight has ended you victims of con men. Probably a few times too many, so as a result you've grown suspicious of (media) sources to trust. Heck...perhaps you don't even HAVE proper reliable sources, which is a rather scary thought here in the EU(2). It's not that we don't have conspiracy theorists(3), but it's at best a minority group of the minority group. Attracts a few lost souls that wouldn't achieve to much anyway. However, I've read that in the US, people believing in...erm..."alternative religions" range in the double digits. Can't recall the exact figure, but with easily over double the amount of people as potential voters, a "it's the common man vs the elite" can really take off.
Of course, it's now the same "elite" that are trying to rescue the country. And in a way, this is really reaping what was sowed. Over the last three years, Trump has trolled like no one ever before. It landed him (among others) an economic war with China, the longest government shutdown in modern history, his own impeachment and the highest number of fired employees since it was counted. Yet he's still in power.
Sure, I could point to quite a few pointers to indicate his ship is sinking:
-the Lincoln project is a growing number of republicans who hate his guts
-his popularity is the lowest its ever been
-he can't properly fill up a stadion of supporters
-black lives matter was a thing where any potential president would see huge ass popularity by ensuring he's on their side. He, however, chose something else
-both his former US national security advisor and his niece wrote books that line up with what others layed out on his behavior
-more and more state senators openly defy his decrees in order to keep their citizens safe
-attacking mail-in-voting means that grumpy old bastards can't even properly vote for him without risking their lives
-polls show Biden - a guy who barely leaves his basement, ffs - now even tied or leading in republican bastions like Texas
-even fox news admits his latest "urgent press meeting" was flat out campaign propaganda
So...how does he respond to all this?
NEW CONTROVERSIES FOR EVERYONE!!!!
So...yeah. I know: writing about this only plays into his hand. So is every post disagreeing here, because the Streissand-effect means that it'll only increase it being talked about. Still...it's been a while since I ranted, and I felt like it. So...yeah.
But lemme tell you Trump supporters the following: he'll love writings like this more than he likes your cheering (remember Jeff Sessions? First senator to back him. Now he's nowhere. Pretend Trump gives a damn about you all you want...but you'd be wrong)
(1): I could make the "and rightfully so" argument, but really: that'd only give readers the idea that I'm a bitter loser myself, whereas I had zero influence in the election to begin with
(2): we've got one state sponsored television network. And that might seem strange (perhaps even communist) to you, but again: we've got so many political parties that as a result, the network just tries to be neutal to everyone as a result
(3): heh...my father was a tax auditor before his retirement. About ten years ago, he told me he had to audit an organisation that predicted the end of the world in 2012. It was hilarious (damn...I've got to ask if he remembered what happened to it in 2013 ).
Baby shower & covid19Jul 13, 2020
I remember when my girlfriend first asked me to come to a baby shower with her(1). I agreed, expecting it to be at the new parents' home, a handfull of friends and family taking turns saying "oooooooh", "what a nice baby! " and "oh, look...(s)he smiled at me! how cute " while being served a drink. You could call that an understatement. The 'handful' were two families, friends, relatives, colleagues and perhaps some local hobo's to pack the party venue to the brim. My girlfriend was from another Belgian province, and it was one of the first (and certainly the most obvious) clues that family was IMPORTANT to them. The food...imagine that banquet they hold at the end of Asterix novels. Or the buffet of those 'all you can eat' restaurants if that doesn't ring a bell. Sandwiches, pies, soup, desserts, rivers of drinks...you name it.
"When we ever have kids, expect the same thing," she told me somewhere during or after the event. Yeah...I there was clearly no escaping holding such event.
...or was there? As all my followers (all 5 of 'em ) can tell you, I became a father on January 17th. We had already taken first preparations on a venue location about a month earlier (it was freezing cold that day), and were set to hold our baby shower somewhere mid-April.
Then the pandemic happened. Started with a few inside jokes (someone coughed, others backed tongue-in-cheek away). Then mid march the country went in lockdown almost overnight. Everyone was glued to their television screens, we were introduced to experts who calmly but firmly told the politicians that closing schools, stores and public venues, and encourage working from home was absolutely necessary to stop the rising disease numbers. More so: they told us the numbers would continue to rise for about two weeks after the measures were going in effect.
As such, our "babyborrel" was almost instantly dead in the water. Perhaps if we peaked earlier it wouldn't have happened. Perhaps if Italy had taken measures before us it wouldn't have happened(2). Perhaps...
Anyhow: we canceled the event. They understood (more so: they were glad we called them rather than them having to call us). Yes, we'd call back later.
...and so we did. Belgium's peak was early april, almost exactly as promised. Unfortunately, equally promised was that the statistics with diseases and death counts weren't going to drop off a cliff all of a sudden. It was going to take some weeks before the numbers were safe enough to SLOWLY CONSIDER opening SOME areas again. About a month passed, and the idea of holding the event started piping up again. We picked a date in July, hoping that wouldn't be too optimistic. As it turned out...it was okay. And not. Lemme babble a bit more...
It's easy to look at America (now including Brazil and other countries on the continent along the US) to see how NOT to do it, but knowing what to do depends on knowledge that need to be researched(3). I've seen Belgium people going from downright fear and admiration of the experts and politicians to a level of distrust and annoyance in a way that's directly opposite to the threat level (4). As such, the new rules aren't so much vague as interpreted...pretty creatively.
I know this sounds like "yet another covid-rant" (and in part it is), but it's important to sketch the reasons to motivate how the preparations went. So we've flattened the curve. Hooray! But what about a second wave? What will we (the general 'we' that I use to point at Belgium, but is obviously also influenced by at least the EU) be able to still do socially while still making sure the T doesn't go over 1.0 (5). We've had lower infection rates for some weeks now, and only very recent it has gone up again(6). But more worrying than the mere 1.15% increase in patients is that it has pretty much stagnated for some weeks. Meaning: it's likely it'll go up again. And this time there's no unpreparedness or unwillingness anymore: as of last saturday, mouth masks have become obligated in stores and outhouse venues like cinemas. Things like mass scale concerts were never allowed, but what about smaller scale venues? Would those still be okay?
The answer is, luckily for us, yes. Not without preparations, though. Our one mayor luck from last year was that the party location we've inquired was large. Very large. This was quite a relief, as it would allow...erm..."semi social distancing". It's not an official term, but it describes itself. My father's side of the family is pretty close with each other. They visit each other almost every week, and certainly have done so in some level since the re-opening. Same goes for the family of my girlfriend's side. So we created two large table groups, seperated from each other enough. We had to tell people not to intermingle so much with people they didn't know. A bit of a shame (we both have great family members who would really get along fine with each other), but...yeah.
There was hand sanitizer on each table, and a clear entrance and exit (the idea being that people wouldn't bump into one another on the buffet or going in or out). The area behind the bar was off-limits but to a handful of us, but luckily everyone was understanding about that.
There was also a maximum limit of 50 persons. We...took a gamble on this one. We invited 57, with the expectation that some would call off (which obviously happens even without crisis). And indeed: my colleague/friend got some (non-covid) disease that prevented him from coming, the partner's of my girlfriend's friends stayed at home and we've got a very emotional call from my gf's godmother: she had had cancer. Is cured now, but her immune system is practically zero. Even with the precautions, it would be unwise to be in a public event.
Most of this is hindsight, however. Preparation of the room is one thing, but remember my intro where I talked about a walking buffet the size of an Olympic swimming pool? Yeah...there was that. My parents-in-law got us cava (24 bottles) and pies (forgot how many...about a dozen), and my gf had a contact who made special pies. So among the regular ones were two almost wedding-style pies towering over the rest of the buffet.
There was one upside to the entire crisis: we scheduled the party event on sunday, but they had nothing planned for saturday. This meant that we could set up and decorate the place since then. And man...it certainly took that much preparation. Setting up tables, decorating them, making sure the children had something to play (note: there was a playground outside, but this was - of course - out of sight for the parents), and making sandwiches.
I now HATE sandwiches. These weren't just made by the dozen, but by plateau. Without exxageration, I think I made about 200 to 300 of 'em. And for hygiene sake I washed my hands...I lost count around 8, but probably also a dozen times. But again: because we could spread it between saturday and sunday (before noon), there wasn't so much of a rush (I'd be batshit insane if I had to set it all up AND take it down again in one day).
The afternoon itself was like a fairy tale: everyone was happy and understanding. My family was cracking jokes as they always were. A former study mate of my gf still had her humour. My dad talked to my circle of youth friends. My brother's kids hardly stopped playing. My brother's girlfriend helped out a large amount on washing dishes and refilling glasses (many prefered just the small bottles...not sure if it was corona-related or just for convenience). I hardly had time to eat any of the sandwiches (great) or pies (the large ones were delicious), and only had a small bowel of soup.
Now...we knew in advance we would have too much food (heck...I'd even go as far as to say that this was meant to be). The problem was that the DEGREE of which we had too much was too much. It's one thing to have one or two plateaus of sandwiches and a few untouched pies. We had about two full fridges left. So when people left, we just didn't give them sugar beans or a "thank you" card...we gave them entire bags full of sandwiches and pies.
Cleaning up...I'm glad my friends and brother's family helped out because I was starting to get exhausted. All the decorations had to go. All the nuts and chips that wasn't eaten had to go. Removing the paper towels, table decorations, and so on, and so on. We didn't have to do the disinfection cleaning, which was great as well.
Back home, I almost fell down because of my fatigue. But still: the extra fridge is now filled with 4 plateaus of sandwiches and half a huge-ass pie. Our regular fridge holds a double plateau and our freezer four remaining pies. So we've still got enough to feed a regiment, but at least it's not an army.
And our daughter? She had a blast. I know pretty much every parent will tell you this, but really: we've got a wonderful child. A bit cautious when seeing so many (not so) strangers, but quick to burst into a smile or into playing. Of course she ended the evening as exhausted as we were, but still: we couldn't have wished it any better.
(1) important sidenote: the Dutch word is "babyborrel", which also points to the difference in culture. perhaps the idea in other countries/languages is to "shower" the baby with presents, here it refers to a drink ("borrel") to celebrate the baby. And
(2) our first outbreak came just after spring break. Many came back from skiing vacations in Italy, and brought covid-19 with them. Of course Italy was hit by surprise even more than us (and as the rest of the world), so pointing blame is never serious. It's just easier to blame someone knowing that they're innocent than not blaming anyone.
(3): the discussion around mouth masks is just ridiculous. I get that people don't like wearing them, but they've proven their effectiveness to stop the spread far beyond quack medicines like chloroquine. No, the WHO didn't explicitly pushed for them at the start of the epidemic because they needed more research at that time. That they're recommending it now means the opposite of ignorance: they've made enough tests to ensure it helps.
(4): granted: my girlfriend's a former nurse. She still sees the sector as heroes, but sees a "return to normal" as some form of oppression (why do politicians have to postpone, delay and/or interpret experts and listen to the economy/public?)
(5): I'm fairly sure it was 'T' but perhaps I'm not using the correct letter. Anyway...the idea is that if every covid-patient on average infects LESS than 1 other person, the virus will eventually die out. If it's more, the virus increases. The idea is simple, but it's pretty much a gamble as to what activities influence it.
(6): last week: on average 87 known infections per day. This week: 88 per day. Note: just today: a report of 90 for yesterday.
Do black lives matter?Jun 11, 2020
(warning: huge rambling political rant ahead. Avoid if allergic)
It's rather strange, but I tend to follow US politics more than Belgium's. I've seen Donald Trump rise from a badmouthing asshole pissing on other republic nominees, then pissing on the democratic nominee (Hillary Clinton), and then finally the former president. Without even attempting to prove any allegations and insults, let alone fixing anything, but always creating new scandals that kept the previous scandals without consequence somehow. It says something of the political elite that they can't properly block or stop one of the most unfit persons to be presidents to become president.
I've seen the last three years with a mix of anger and fear. Anger because of the so many double standards (how does he even gets away with ONE scandal, let alone more than I can even count?), and fear because the USA still has - with a landslide - the largest army in the world. Breaking alliances, sucking up to dictators, insulting trade partners...In a way, I'm glad that he created about as much domestic disputes as foreign ones, or we'd be in a third world war right now. This whole "world war 3 or civil war 2...or both?" question remained largely up in the air until a certain pandemic.
When the impact of the corona-virus became clear in Belgium in March, I immediately thought I knew how dire situation in the states would become. While we were cautioned to stay at home and take never-seen-before precautions, Trump was keeping a cruise ship in quarantine because "it would negatively impact the number of cases in the USA". Once he started downplaying things and made up bullshit like "I want all the churches open by Easter", I think we all knew he would never admit being wrong. And thus start a war with his own medical experts.
I have to admit that I didn't pay much attention to the mentioning that it were mostly the poorer class that was hit by the virus. Or more to the point: it was within my expectations. The US has always been the most capitalist country in the world, so people getting either fired on the spot or forced to choose between working or not receiving income was the consequence of that. In contrast: in most of Europe, there are systems of absent leaves, teleworking or other kinds of ways to compensate for the forced 'stay at home' order. Of course it costs our country dearly, but the alternative is more corona patients which, in the end, costs the country even more. It's not that the states don't have it, but the way I see it, it's peanuts when compared to the cost of living.
So...the daily casualties rose to much higher than it should be, and when it finally peaked, it didn't drop down as it did in any other country but just hovered there at that peak level. Result: over 100'000 deaths (over 110'000 now, even). Ouch...
This is where things would become surreal if you're not used to how Trump thinks. Therefore, I should point out something that somehow isn't clear to everyone just yet:
He Does Not Give A Fuck About Anyone But Himself
If you read it hundred years from now (or somehow live under a rock to this point): this isn't an insult or an exxageration, but harsh truth. He has a bunch of loyal fans whom he praises, but only when they do his bidding. Everyone else can die from the corona-virus for all he cares. Why doesn't he wear a face mask? Because he thinks it makes him look stupid to his base. Why does he imply that cleaning products might be worth investigating in regards to medicine? Because he tries to score on an intellectual level to his base (people aren't stupid enough to gargle bleach...but they ARE stupid enough to believe someone they trust).
In pretty much any country, the population rallied behind their leaders in dealing with this virus. Even half baked ones suddenly see a spike in popularity (and we can DEFINITELY count Belgium among those). Not in the USA. There it's every state or even every city for itself because the federal government decided to deny any responsibility.
Even worse: for a while it was pretty common to hear Trump or Kushner say that things were under control, while any reasonable expert on pandemics warned that the level of testing was critically beneath the bottom line, the hospitals were underprepared and the reports had conflicting advises. Again: what the Trump administration meant was that somehow the Dow Jones maintained stability. Any sane man would say that there's something very wrong with that (what's the purpose of good economy numbers if your unemployment rate is through the roof?), but there's no sane man left in the government.
There's also a more cruel interpretation of that "everything's fine" approach. As I said, the majority of deaths is in the poorer classes. And in a country with as much inherent racism as America, that means "mostly black". Poor people don't give a fuck about the stock market. The "everything" in their lives is their safety, which is still jeopardized,
and their family, who run comparable risks. Everything is fine? No. Not by a long shot. They weren't fine before covid-19 became a threat, but it's grown to be unbearable.
The spark that wasn't a spark
On May 25th, George Floyd died after being pressed to the ground and choked to death by the police. This...
Nope. This isn't going to work. I was going to write something in the lines of "this was a spark in a powder keg", but it just wouldn't be a proper analogy. Let's forget about the pandemic for a second. Let's just...say that you are you. You go out to the store for cigarettes and try to pay with a counterfeited 20 dollar bill (forget about the why for a second. Maybe you're drunk). When confronted with this, you refuse to pay with another bill. The cops get called on you. Upon threatened with a gun, you get handcuffed and put on the sidewalk. Then, when backup arrives, you get dragged to their police car.
At this point you go into a frenzy. Fear or claustrophobia. This results in you getting dragged out of the car an on your stomach on the street. Three men hold you down while the fourth puts his knee in your neck. You struggle, but to no avail. You scream that you can't breathe. You scream for your mother. Nothing changes. You're told to get in the car. You say you'll oblige, but again: nothing changes. You say you'll co-operate, that you'll get into the car. Nothing changes. There's a ruckus nearby. Bystanders are questioning what's happening. They're voices in the distance as you lose your conscience. But still the knee is in your neck, restricting your breathing. An ambulance is called but only as it arrives are you released. Way too late. Way too late. (source))
Look...I didn't know at that time. With so much modern technology, it's easy to distort what really happened into a mere "a black guy was killed by the police in the USA". It's in that state that I perceived and internalized the news. not to sound cynical, but it's hardly new. Black people were cannon fodder to the police back in Obama's days as well. And well before that, really. At some point, the US police went to war on the street rather than serve and protect its inhabitants. Again: not to diss "the police" or (ugh) "the man", but as a mere state of mind.
I underestimated the initial protests. Internally, I had added Floyd to the long list of people shot by the police. Bad news, yes...but also something that has become a fait divers. A "that's the way it goes". That said way is far more disturbing than I initially thought (just check this comparison for the last ten years if you think that "at war" is overrated). But this goes well and beyond an accidental gunshot because "I thought he was reaching for a gun". Derek Chauvin flat out murdered an unarmed, attempting-to-cooperate, handcuffed guy while on active duty. Anyone who disagrees isn't having a different opinion...(s)he either missed the reconstruction, or is flat out wrong.
Where to go...
I called the USA police department inherent racist because they are (I'm 100% sure there are a thousands of exceptions, but they remain the exception rather than the rule). Since the incident, more and more stories come bubbling to the surface. Treatment of black people under pretenses that simply don't exist for white people. Casual frisks or police stops. Behavior that is seen as suspicious, whereas guys like me can do exactly the same in the USA without being suspicious (man...I really start valuing my white skin while writing this :-). Fucking KILLOLOGY (I wish I was kidding, but no: some rambo actually primes cops as if they're going to be sent out to the battlefield). Of course Floyd's death is an excessive incident even by those standards, but just where exactly ARE those standards to begin with? Chauvin had violent incidents on his name, yet somehow nobody thought it was wrong that he was still on active duty, let alone training other policemen (because yes...that's the defense of the other cops on the scene: Chauvin was the senior officer so he knows best).
This isn't the first mass protest, but I see two major changes to previous protests.
One is, obviously, the bad timing. Protestor's impact is directly related to the amount of people, so we can't really ask people to stay at home. Unfortunately, these are times where "stay at home" is of the utmost importance to limit the spread of the corona-virus. As such, I've got very mixed feelings here. Mass protests strengthen the virus's spread. Both sides know this. But that's far from an excuse to just let things slide. Rather the contrary: everyone who's on the street now is twice as brave as normal protesters. They don't just risk scrutiny, police brutality and any other consequence that follows from
standing up to something those in power don't want, but they also risk catching the virus. People are very fucking DETERMINED to make a change in that country if they're willing to risk their health on top of anything else.
The second surprises me even more: concrete proposals. Defund the police is both radical as what is really needed. It may sound weird, but when you look in detail, it makes a lot of sense. For most of the police's tasks you don't need armed men trained to be fucking killers. So why have them? Union's don't agree, but their credentials make them part of the problem rather than the solution. So why listen to them?
(John Oliver puts it even better: at one point the NYPD went on partial strike, drastically reducing the amount of arrests and interventions. However, to the population there was barely any visibility...which leads to the question: were those arrests and interventions needed in the first place?)
Meanwhile, in the white house
At first I blamed Trump. "If only the guy acted as a president", I'd thought. Pay some respect. Comfort and unite. Y'know: do those things you were hired to do in the first place. Of course he didn't. He not only picked the side of the police but doubled down on that, all but encouraging MORE police brutality. Except there was no "all but", an he really did encourage it. Either way: the crowd quickly turned on him, making him hide in a bunker under the white house.
And it got from that to worse. Dispersing crowds with violence so he can have a stupid picture of him holding a bible sideways (because yeah...why piss off black lives matter protesters when you can piss off them AND catholics?). And all sorts of the most bizarre tweets you've ever seen.
There are a lot of ways I had predicted the end of Trump. His broken promise of the Mexican wall. His trade war with China for absolutely no reason. Sucking up to Russia. His tax records. Longest government shutdown in recent history. The Stormy Daniels affair. The Mueller report. The Ukraine phone call. His mismanagement of the corona crisis. In the end...could this be the one thing that sinks his dictatorship?
On the USA's political spectrumJun 1, 2020
I'm an European (Belgian, more specifically). When talking politics with foreigners - especially USA - there's one thing I really don't like to repeat so much but which I pretty much have to: The USA doesn't have left-sided politicians.
Things are polarised between democrats and republicans, and because both sides claim to be so different (mostly describing the other side as diabolical, really) it's not as easy as a foreigner to chime in. But it's true: democrats are politically on the right side, republicans extremely right. I'm personally what I would call "moderately left". Judging by Belgian political parties that's pretty accurate (oh, right: we've got far more political parties than you can shake a stick at). But it's not fun when politically uneducated Americans throw me on one heap with democrats, which I at best see as "the lesser of two evils" (if I was a fan of 'em, I'd vote open VLD or Vlaams block in my country...but again: I'm moderately left, not moderately right or "extreme right").
"But what about Bernie Sanders?" I hear you ask. Yeah...Bernie. He would've been what the USA desperately needed. The irony is that he is seen as a radical leftist, whereas he just wants to get to where Europe has been since the Marshall plan went into effect.
The reason I'm writing this blog now is not just so I can quickly reference it in future posts (I really don't like repeating this stuff all the time), but also because I saw an interesting youtube video about it:
More specifially, this image of the political compass (which I strongly urge you to get to know if you're unfamiliar with):
To me personally, the interesting part isn't so much that it proves my point of US politicians all gobbling up the (economic) right part of the scale (which I've banged on for a few years now), but the tendency to authoritarian. I always assumed USA was more of a "live free" country wanting as little governmental influence whatsoever. And if that's even remotely true...what is everyone doing in the authoritarian half of that diagrem?
Granted, I don't know most of these names (most are/were presidential candidates, right?). But with all these political candidates going on...it still surprises me somewhat that there can't be that much difference in content.
Compare it to Belgium. Before covid-19 threw all political differences aside to fight a common enemy, the fight was between Bart De Wever (whom is about on par with Biden but less right-sided) and Paul Magnette (left libertarian somewhere...certainly more than Sanders). Roughly the same amount of voters in different parts of the country (who speak different languages to boot), and absolutely a different view on the direction of the country. It's good we don't have a "first one past the poll vote" thing into place or there'd be bloody riots. But instead we have endless discussions which lead to strange results (hey, guess who the current president of the EU is? It's our fucking last prime minister. No doubt he's fit for that job, but he nonetheless quit his actual job )...that nonetheless remain very civil.
In the US? If it wasn't for Trump creating scandals to blame others for, everyone would just agree on the course of action.