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Tycho / on Fri, Oct 30 2009 at 12:00 am

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In The Seventh House

Gabriel installed Windows 7 yesterday on his powerful new laptop, claiming that it “just works,” which is a two-word phrase we typically associate with their competitors.  He says it is “better,” but saying that something is better than Vista is (as a statement) virtually content free.

Vista turned a good machine, one capable of running all the latest software, into a reeking shitbox.  To see a thing of beauty annihilated thus was genuinely traumatic, and sufficient to make me question the depth of my commitment to the platform in general - particularly when there are many valid routes to personal amusement that don’t involve the kind of Byzantine gyrations one must endure on custom hardware.  I have long since decoupled “having an optimal experience” from “enjoying myself,” though for many, many years the two were synonymous.  As friends left the Windows platform one by one, a trend I’ve only recently begun to reverse, it became clear to me that fun is pretty much fun, and fun with friends is amplified, and as a personal edict this has served me better than the earlier, more strident one.

I shook it off eventually, thank He Who Girds The Universe - the lure of the personal computer’s untamed wilderness, coupled with its demonstratively superior presentation even on ports from lesser devices made sure of it, though games I couldn’t imagine playing on a console sealed the deal.  But I’m not installing Windows 7 until at least the first service pack, and possibly longer, purely on principle.  I have a computer again, and I love it; I will take no risks.

If you had no externalities to manage - that is to say, if you were not a father of two, for whom sleep is a rare thing, and precious - I don’t know what could make you stop playing Borderlands.  I honestly don’t know how you could sever the thick roots that seem to grow out of the screen and claim the body, whose novel barbs anesthetize and then pierce the meninges, seizing control.

There are things that I want, informational things, that would improve my experience.  People had cruel things to say about the inventory management in Resident Evil 5, but I actually found it incredibly useful to see my companion’s inventory.  So much of the conversation in co-operative experiences is of such a rudimentary nature - do you have this, do you need this, and so forth - and RE5 obviated that kind of verbal bookkeeping.  I’d love to know how many grenades my friends have, or how many bullets left, so that when I crack open a huge crate of same we can divvy it up with less granular language and get back to immolating space dogs.

There are apparently technical concerns, some of which today’s patch was meant to address, but they haven’t yet resolved a nasty issue that robs characters of their progression.  In an RPG, that’s, um…  pretty bad.  But the dark truth, the midnight contours of which are known to my heart, is that if I lost a character in this fashion I would just start over with another character.  I’m certain that this makes me an enabler.  But I won’t let anything interfere with my supply.

(CW)TB out.

falling through fingers

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