Measuring the World in Science Packs Per Minute: Factorio

Factorio - Linux Cover

Aside from the occasional outlier like Frostpunk, I’m not a fan of city construction and management games. I suppose my main issue is that I don’t much care for abstracted gameplay; there’s been many times in my life when I picked up a game that had a cool setting, only to discover that most of the game actually consisted of watching a bar of numbers tick ever upward or of staring at line graphs for hours on end. It is to the credit of the Prague-based developer Wube Software that they have managed to create a base-building game that appeals to both hardcore engineers and mercurial arts majors like myself.

Factorio is a game that has been in the oven for a very long time. Work started on the game back in 2012, and after a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign the game saw the light of day in 2016. Since then the game has spent almost four years in “public beta”, with the final official release expected for September of 2020. While public betas have gained a dubious reputation in recent years as developers kick half-finished games out the door to make a quick profit, Factorio is the sort of game that is ideally suited to the model. Factorio, like the sprawling factory complexes its players construct, is a game perpetually being refined and optimized to achieve the maximum possible performance under the most stressful conditions.

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A Curdled Disappointment: The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire, Parts Two and Three

TLOK - Ruins of the Empire 2TLOK - Ruins of the Empire 3










This will be much shorter than most of my usual reviews. While the subjects of this post both disappointed and frustrated me, the feelings they provoked were sadly not of the creatively productive kind. For months I was actually thinking I would write nothing more about the final two parts of The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire, as I felt there was nothing I could say that would not simply rehash earlier criticisms I’ve made on this blog. Still, this comic roused enough bile that I decided I would write a short piece just to flush it out of my system before I move onto something more enjoyable. So, with a quick link to my more hopeful review of Part 1, let the healing begin.
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The Mannikin’s Pagent: The House of Small Shadows, by Adam Nevill

House of Small Shadows - Cover

This is my second attempt to sample the work of Adam Nevill, one of the new stars of Britain’s literary horror scene. My first experience with him was with Apartment 16, a novel that seemed to have everything I could ask for (A haunted apartment! Modernist artists who flirted with the right-wing occult underground! Vorticism!). However, the novel didn’t really gel with me, so I put Mr. Nevill to one side for a time. Lately, though, I’ve developed the itch to read a little horror again, and after watching Netflix’s decent-if-truncated adaptation of The Ritual, Nevill’s third novel, I decided to give him another try.

For anyone out there unfamiliar with Adam Nevill’s work, I would heartily recommend reading this review by my old Ferretbrain colleague Arthur covering Adam Nevill’s first four novels. As it so happens The House of Small Shadows (2013), was Nevill’s first novel after the group covered in the review, and as such represents a major evolution in his work. Nevill has grown in confidence as a writer, able to deftly wield both psychology and the supernatural, and he pays homage to one of his major influences while making the work wholly his own.
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An Uncertain Start: The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire, Part One

TLOK - Ruins of the Empire 1

I felt a certain amount of trepidation when I picked up this comic. After all, while I am a great fan of The Legend of Korra and of the character of Kuvira in particular, I have also been strongly critical of how showrunners Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino handled various elements of their show, even to the point of coming up with my own pitch for a version of Book 4 that avoided the pitfalls of the actual show. Still, curiosity won out, and I picked up my own copy of the comic last week to see how it handled the various issues The Legend of Korra left dangling after its finale. The fact that Michael DiMartino himself was handling the writing duties was another small inducement, if only for a chance to see what the showrunners had in mind for the ultimate fates of both the former Earth Kingdom and Kuvira herself post-finale.

Having finished the comic, I confess that I’m not entirely sure how to feel about it. The comic is only the first part of a projected three-part story, and as such it is both difficult and foolhardy to render judgement on a work that has yet to be completed. That said, the comic is an odd duck. While it shares many of the problems that plagued The Legend of Korra as a whole, there are also parts that could be the seeds of far more interesting developments further down the line.

(Before I begin, I must mention that in this review I am treating Ruins of the Empire, Part One as the first act of a three-part story. As such, I will be spoiling everything. Additionally, I will assume everyone reading this is familiar with the basics of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, either by having watched the original shows or by reading my earlier discussions on the subject.)

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Before the Rows, the Lens: Experimental Film, by Gemma Files

Experimental Film - Cover

I’ve been having trouble finding something to read for a while. I’d started this year intending to reread some of my old favorites, but every time I tried I couldn’t focus on them and just ended up drifting off again and again. To remedy this, I decided to try something new, so I dug out my copy of Gemma Files’ 2015 novel Experimental Film that I’d purchased a while back and left on a shelf. As it turned out, Experimental Film was one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had in a good long while.

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Interval 2 – Initiation

Hello, internet. It’s been a while, but with the coming of the new year I will be returning to this blog with my erratic, long-winded discussions of things I found lying around my room. For now, please enjoy these warm holidays wishes from an unholy monstrosity (and an oblique hint of things to come).

P.S. There will be no “year in review” post, since 2018 never happened. At least not as far as I’m concerned.

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A Word

Hello, internet. It’s been a while. I know periods of radio-silence are not unusual for me, but I’ve been quiet longer than usual, and I feel it’s about time to just write something just to explain what’s been going on to both you guys and myself.

So, here goes.

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