Neurodiversity and Operating Systems

Admit it, you want this bad ass mofo kicking alien butt in your game, too.
Admit it; you want this bad ass mofo kicking alien butt in your game, too.

Steve Silberman said in his book Neurotribes, “just because a computer is not running Windows doesn’t mean that it’s broken.” I’ve seen the comparison before, but I can’t remember where. According to the analogy, neurotypical people run Windows. Some artsy types run iOs. But autistics? We run Linux. It’s just as good as the other two, but fewer people use it, and therefore, it’s less commonly accepted.

I’ll take it a step further: autistic people, when trying to appear neurotypical, are running WINE. For those who don’t know, WINE is a Linux program that allows you to run Windows programs. However, there is a cost. You require more memory and processing power to run a program in WINE than you would if you ran a regular Linux program, or, if you ran that Windows program in the Windows operating system.

Oftentimes, I am that computer trying to run Windows programs in WINE. For the most part, the programs work, but they might be a bit slower. Sometimes, if I try to run too many Windows programs at once, I might crash, and need time to recover. Usually, I can feel this coming on, and try to retreat to solitude in order to reboot.

I’ve been thinking of this a lot lately, while trying to play XCOM2 on my desktop computer. While it doesn’t run WINE, the Steam game loading program acts in a similar manner in that it pretends to be a Windows machine in order to play some games. I noticed that I was having trouble loading one of the most fun functions of the game, the character pool. I’ve had a couple of friends create badass versions of me that I’d like to have running around in my game.

After fiddling around with files for hours, I gave in and installed Windows outright.

I’ve often wished, and tried, to do the same to my own brain. To train myself to forget about being Linux-y and install Windows, so I could run it all the time, and have access to all the cool stuff the rest of the world has.If only it were so easy. It turned out not to be that easy for my computer, either. After a couple of days, the display blanked out, and nothing, short of reinstalling Linux, seemed to work.

(Yes, I know the analogy is flawed; Windows is not WINE, and in most cases you can have a machine dual boot with both operating systems. On my machine, each OS failed to recognize the other OS, and I had to format in order to install them. However, that would mean splitting your hard drive into different partitions, so… )

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Games Summary: February 2015

a few of the games I tried this month
a few of the games I tried this month
A quick recap of the games I’ve played this month:
Italicized games are new to me

3DS

  • Final Fantasy Explorers
  • StreetPass Mii Plaza (as always)
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright

iOS

  • Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector
  • Card Crawl
  • QuizUp
  • Final Fantasy Record Keeper

WiiU

  • MarioKart 8
  • Just Dance 2016

PC

  • A Tale in the Desert (barely – just enough to make sure the livestock survive)
  • XCOM2
  • Viridi

PS3/4/Vita
None, though I downloaded Jeanne D’Arc for Vita

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LttP: Zero Escape Series

999
999
The main characters of 999
Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (which I’ll refer to from now on as 999) is an extremely dark visual novel/puzzle type game that was originally released in the US in 2010 for Nintendo DS. How did I miss this game, then? Two words: grad school. For some reason, between 2009 and 2013, I didn’t really play that many DS games. However, when I got my first 3DS in 2013, I asked around for game recommendations, and was told to go straight to Virtue’s Last Reward (the sequel to 999, which I’ll call VLR).

I liked it. A shorthand version is, what if Professor Layton were much, much darker? The basic premise of both games is this: Nine people are locked up someplace, and need to solve puzzles to escape… and survive. There are sudoku puzzles, math problems, logic puzzles, finding certain items and putting them together, the list goes on. I guess in a way, it’s also like Ace Attorney in that you have to search around in order to obtain items in order to solve the puzzles.

Since I liked Virtue’s Last Reward so much, I went backward and decided to play 999. (Zero Escape 3 is in development, and is due to be released next summer.)

They’re both great games, though to me, it’s obvious that Virtue’s Last Reward has some improvements that I definitely missed in 999.

For example, in both games, you need to run though the events of the game multiple times, in order to try multiple paths. Think of “Choose Your Own Adventure;” if you get to a page that says you’ve died, you start the book over and make different choices. This is basically what you have to do in order to get all the possible endings in Zero Escape games. Now, since you’re going back through stuff you’ve already done, there is a lot of repetition. In 999, there’s really no skipping. You can speed up the story dialogue somewhat if you’ve been through it before, but you have to go through almost all of the steps in order to complete the puzzles needed to escape the rooms. In VLR, you have to obtain keys in order to escape the rooms, and those keys are contained in safes. If you know the code to the safe from the first time around, you can bypass the data/item collecting phases, and just enter the code in order to get the keys and unlock the doors. They also sped up the dialogue skipping, which is great, because VLR has more endings than 999.

VLR is also available on PS Vita, which probably means improved graphics. (I played the 3DS version.)
I can’t really go too much more into the game without spoiling it for those who might be interested in playing it, so I’ll just say two more things:

1. You might not want to play this right before sleeping, or with young children. We’re talking about extremely gory content. There are unavoidable, and extremely bloody, deaths.

2. If you wish you could do an escape-the-room type experience without the risk of death, you’re in luck! Many cities actually have Escape the Room games, in which you and your friends have a certain time limit to solve the puzzles of the room. The Escape Room Directory has a list of worldwide locations.

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Amiibo and GameStop: F*ck That Noise!

Picture of the Wave 4 Amiibo

At first, I didn’t care for Amiibo, because I didn’t have a Wii-U. Then I got the New 3DS, and found out that Codename: Steam allows you to enter Fire Emblem Amiibo. I immediately ordered Marth for an obscene amount of money, and started the lookout for Robin and Lucina.

Picture of the Wave 4 Amiibo
Wave 4 Amiibo. Good luck getting your hands on one of these!

I searched like a woman obsessed. I regularly hit up local GameStops, Toys R Us stores, Targets, and Best Buys, asking if they heard any news about pre-orders for Robin and Lucina. I signed up for the text alerts at NowInStock.net. I even rushed to the computer at midnight a few times, only to be shut out of pre-ordering on Amazon.uk.

Today, I was lying in bed, nursing a cold, feeling guilty for skipping work, when I got a text about Best Buy. The listing for Lucina said "Coming Soon." Then I saw Twitter, and the announcement that GameStop would start taking pre-orders web in-store orders at 3pm Eastern. I looked at the time. It was 2:48. I made sure the kid was still napping, told my husband I had to go to the drugstore to get more Theraflu (fact), and rushed to GameStop. I got there right about 3, and was the fifth person in line. The lone clerk was having difficulty getting on the proper website, and explained that he had no idea about the availability until we customers told him.

I struck up a conversation with a the family ahead of me who wanted two sets of Charizard, Robin, and Lucina. A second worker came in and started checking his register. The young man in that family kept checking Reddit and giving everyone updates. The mother and I discussed everything under the sun, from previous fad toys (anyone remember the pet rock?), to childbirth, to my current cold. Around 3:45, he started getting antsy, and his phone started dying.

Right before 4, the first order in our store went through.

Then the second and the third customers were up. More difficulties. The computers were being slow. Around 4:05, I heard the dreadful news:

"The bundle, Robin, and Lucina are sold out."

"Well, fuck." I said. The young man silently walked out. His mom, dad, and sisters seemed conflicted. I let out a few more "fucks" as I walked out the store and headed to the nearby supermarket for the aforementioned Theraflu. I heard the mother call out "feel better!" I half-heartedly waved.

While grocery shopping, I started thinking. I thought about how ill-prepared GameStop was. The workers weren't warned of the highly-anticipated figurines' availability. The servers weren't capable of handling the increased traffic. They didn't let you order from home; you had to go into the store. There's just so much wrong with the situation.

But it's a First World Problem. And I examined the situation some more. I can't put the blame completely on GameStop. I'm responsible for my own feelings. What responsibility did GameStop have? I was the one stupid enough to wait in line for an hour for them to take my money and promise me an item in two months' time. They hadn't yet made a promise to me. So why did I feel so betrayed? What are customers' legitimate entitlements? I'm probably better off for not having ordered the figurines anyway. I'm going to put that $30 into my son's 529 college plan.

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LttP: Final Fantasy Record Keeper

"shut up and take my money!"

Logo for Final Fantasy Record Keeper

The mobile game Final Fantasy Record Keeper was (finally) released in the US last week (for iOS and Android). Since it’s already been established that I have a “shut up and take my money” approach to things from Square-Enix, I downloaded this game as soon as I got the notification email.

"shut up and take my money!"
Dee’s approach to anything S-E comes up with

But wait… this is a mobile game. It’s free-to-play! Square-Enix doesn’t have to take my money! Record Keeper turns out to be a fun nostalgia trip through the main Final Fantasy games (excepting XI and XVI), and you don’t have to pay a single cent, unless you’re either impatient, or really want a certain rare item.

Let me break it down. You’re a scholar in an art museum of sorts. The paintings depict key scenes from different Final Fantasy games. For some reason, the paintings are fading, and your world with them. Your job is to hop into the different scenes in the paintings to restore them to their glory.

However, there are limitations. You only have a certain amount of “stamina” with which to fight. It can be replenished in one of three ways:

  1. Using Mythril, which itself can be gained in one of two ways:
    • As a reward for completing dungeons restoring paintings
    • By purchase, with Gems, which are in turn, purchased with real-life money.
  2. By gaining five stamina shards, which are gained in battle.
  3. By waiting it out. You gain one stamina point every three minutes.

The game also encourages you to repeat dungeons in order to level up your characters. Not only do you have the scholar (aptly named Tyro), but as you continue to restore paintings, you meet up with player characters from the various Final Fantasy games, including some generic ones. Right now, my party consists of Tyro (renamed Dee),
Cloud, Rydia, Kain, and White Mage. You get bonuses if you match characters and equipment with their respective games. For example, if you put Cloud in the Final Fantasy VII paintings, he gets a boost in HP and EXP. Give him his Buster Sword, and it gets even better!

Speaking of the Buster Sword, let me get to the second way S-E tries to get your money: rare artifacts, or , in other words, fancy equipment. There’s a gatcha system for chances at rare items. You get one free draw per day, but if you pay roughly $3US, you get another crack at it, but this time, you’re guaranteed an item above 3-stars in rarity (out of five). However, you can also use 5 Mythril for the same drawing, and, as previously mentioned, you can gain Mythril from battles.

There are events where you can get certain characters to join your party, or an increased chance at a certain item. For example, as of this writing, you have an increased chance of getting Cloud’s Buster Sword in the premium drawings.

There are also daily dungeons; each day of the week has a different bonus, such as elemtal orbs, EXP, or gil.
I’m clearing FFVI right now, but it’s a fun little game, and I haven’t yet felt the need to actually pay in.

I’ll try to keep you posted as to whether I get tired of it, or I hit a virtual paywall. For now, when I’m chilling, I switch it out with Pokemon Shuffle, which also has a time barrier.

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