Linked List: May 2020

IL-2 Sturmovik Flight School Missions #

Extensive set of progressive missions to teach you to fly the whirly airplanes of IL-2 Sturmovik.

Tweety The Coward #

Jalni Cobbs, writing in The New Yorker:

A Presidential threat to have the United States military shoot civilians is the opposite of leadership, the antithesis of wisdom—a comment as ill-advised and as detrimental to the public well-being as recommending injecting disinfectant or self-prescribing hydroxychloroquine.

Rule of thumb for choosing leaders: Those who communicate with fear and threats of violence are the weak, terrible ones. Choose them at your peril.

Pancake #

Performed by Tori Amos in San Antonio in 2003, the bridge of this particular performance of Tori’s song is from Neil Young’s Ohio.

The studio version of Pancake can be found in the excellent Scarlet’s Walk — one of my favorite albums.

Wishing you a happy Friday, with apologies for the relative silence this past week. I am working on a post about my favorite flight simulator which has taken more time as it involved learning to use the mission editor. It should be up soon.

35 Years of HUGGH! #

Today I learned that Sylvester Stallone and James Cameron Wrote the screenplay for Rambo 2. Wesley Morris, writing in The New York Times:

Stallone’s physique, the stunt work, the limitless carnage — they turned the blockbuster into a pornographic political event and Stallone into a permanent delusion of American supremacy.

I can see how that may be the case and I think the current idiots in charge should be sent to Mars, but this doesn’t stop Rambo 2 from being in my top-10 favorite films of all time, with a wonderful score and Rambo’s response to the question of how he will live in the end of the film:

Day by day.

If you want to be Rambo I recommend putting down your guns and picking up a video game piece of art called Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Bookshop.org #

Just bought books from Bookshop for the first time. Bookshop is an online book store that supports local, independent book shops, and you can select the shop you want the profit from your purchase to go to. A pleasant experience.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 Launch at 16:33 EDT #

Here is more information about the mission, which is launching around half an hour from now at 4:33 PM EDT. Update at ~T-minus 16 minutes: Launch cancelled for the day, likely due to weather.

The Shining #

The Shining, released 40 years ago, is like All Along The Watchtower in that the interpretation became iconic, overshadowing the original.

If you watch one of the very best films ever made, be sure to select the longer version that does not have scenes cut out (such as the nurse scene in the beginning), and also consider reading this exposition. There is lots of background information at The Overlook Hotel, too.

IL-2 Battle of Bodenplatte Sale #

Good news for fans of flying digitally simulated airplanes in computers: This weekend you can buy my favorite propeller aeroplane flight simulator for $79.99 $19.99 (premium edition that includes the P-38 and FW-190 collector planes), or $49.99 $12.49 for the regular edition with P-51D, P-47D, Tempest, and so on, as long as you buy it from the developers’ website (on Steam there is no discount and you need to own Stalingrad to play Bodenplatte — not sure why).

Here is the Stormbirds review of the game and a podcast interview with IL-2 producer Jason Williams, who has a long history with flight sims. And here is a recent post on Reddit with good information about this special video game and its community.

Is It Normal for My Child to Be Afraid of Monsters? #

Simon Rich has everyday parenting tips regarding monsters in the latest issue of The New Yorker.

The Incredible Ibex #

A species of goat that can climb up steep rock walls. The BBC narrator sounds like he took a long drag of a powerful strain before reading the script, but maybe he is just as astonished as the Italian mountain-man being interviewed:

“When I see a steep slope, I’m terrified. But I’m no ibex.”

Via Tim Stone’s A–Z column at RPS.

Treasure Tech #

Another weird and wonderful combination from video game modification makers: A Doom gameplay mod inspired by the Wario Land series.

The only portable gaming device other than pocket computers I have is the Game Boy Advance SP Classic NES which I used to play the odd WarioWare, Inc. Let me go add a Nintendo Switch patronage goal to my list now.

Étude in D-sharp minor, Op. 8, No. 12 #

By Alexander Scriabin, as performed by Vladimir Horowitz, is Friday’s song. Happy Friday!

See More Sunrises With Free Civilization #

We are not ready to send wannabe dictators from East and West to a prison colony on Mars yet (hurry up with the ship, Elon), but Hypertexthero is here to inform you that Civilization 6 is currently free for keeps at Epic Games Store until next Thursday.

Civilization 2 was responsible for many sunrises in my life as I’d stay up all night playing and witness the holy beauty of morning twilight.

Via O’Connor at RPS who rightly claims this action may constitute economic terrorism by Epic and whoever Civ’s publisher is at the moment.

There’s a book coming in September, too.

IL-2 4.006 #

ShamrockOneFive on the new features in the latest IL-2: Great Battles Series patch. Nothing revolutionary, but small incremental improvements add up over time, and my all-time favorite flight simulator has never looked better.

Giant Dive Bomber vs. Flakpanzer Battle #

From the “Flite Test” YouTube channel, which is making me want to go outside and fly model airplanes, and later come back inside and play some War Thunder with my friends on PCs, Linuxes and Macs.

Balsa Model Flight Simulator #

New game being developed by Kerbal Space Program creator Felipe “HarvesteR” Falanghe that lets you build, fly, and fight model aeroplanes. In this AMA thread, Felipe tells us about the origins of KSP in his childhood:

It didnt’ really happen in that order. The rockets (and rocket-building) concept came up first. It was a thing I used to do with my friends and brother, when we were teenagers. We’d make ‘spacecraft’ out of firework rockets and random garbage we’d strap to it. And after some time we started making little ‘crew’ out of tin foil and tape them to their little paper cockpits. Very few of those brave tin men survived, but they were very eager to hop aboard (none tried to escape). We eventually gave them names, and as a species, we called them Kerbals.

That grew over time into a concept for a game, and in fact, the earliest versions of KSP didn’t actually have characters in, because their design was the last thing I came up with.

The gigantic heads were almost by accident. I had modelled their body shapes, and was going to leave the heads for the next day, but just for fun, I made a quick capsule-shaped head with bulging eyes to see what it could look like. I then kept tweaking that until the Kerbal’s faces became what they are now (afterwards, Dan, our animator, did a lot of improvements to them, so they became a lot more expressive and fun)

Cheers

Biodiversity Library #

These resources are a reminder of what we lose if we don’t fight to preserve our environment and its biodiversity that keeps us alive and inspire discovery.

The Silent Flight of Owls #

Large wings, small body.

All This Time #

Paul Ford reviews a multimedia presentation of the music and philosophy of rock odd-man Sting that he found in the online vaults of the Internet Archive.

Weirdest Sting moments for me: His portrayal of the cruel, cunning Feyd Rautha in David Lynch’s awful film Dune, and the popular song Every Breath You Take which sounds like a stalker’s manifesto, from The Police’s 1983 album Synchronicity.

orb.farm #

Lovely sealed aquatic ecosystem simulation by Max Bittker with pixel art by @aconfuseddragon. This type of art reminds me that I want to play Noita more often and post GIF animations of my latest demises here from time to time. Expect to see the first soon.

Ignore Plot & Geralt for Witcher 3 Fun #

Alice Bee writing at Rock Paper Shotgun:

It’s taken me so long to realise my problem, that The Witcher 3 is now old enough that we should be having discussions about whether it was too young to start school this year, and whether maybe we should have waited. But I’ve figured out that I was trying too hard to force myself to care about the main plot, which is a thing I do not care about at all. I’m sure it’s great if you’re an avowed fan, but I have no idea who any of the women involved are, or indeed, why almost all of them want to rub their nipples over Geralt. I have no investment in the big skeletal winter warriors who can turn entire villages into an iced-up freezer shelf. My revelation was: I do not have to care.

I think large open world video games are best when the player can make a custom avatar because to spend so much time in a place you need to have empathy for the character you control.

My favorite parts of Witcher 3 are the world, its animation, light, color, music, and the world-building of the writing in journals, books, notices, and so on.

Didn’t like many of the characters, including the namesake, which reminds me there are mods to play as different characters, including one for Ciri that looks promising.

Also disliked that you could not fight soldiers and guards since they were clearly so much more dangerous than your all-powerful “Witcher”.

CyberPope 2077 #

From the Photoshop Battle at Reddit. Here are 30 of them on Detroit Metro Times. Via Grantalf.

Discovered Technology Before Themselves #

Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike in a 2011 interview at Slashdot:

A friend of mine recently quipped “most people working in software discovered technology before they discovered themselves.” There are so many people in the industry working on projects without a real personal narrative as to why they’re doing them, other than the intrinsic feeling that solving technical problems is fulfilling. There is a whole entrepreneurial scene in the Bay Area right now; I can understand the draw of building things, but the level of self-seriousness that people bring to something like a “customer loyalty” startup baffles me. Honestly, it’s simply not true that this stuff is “changing the world,” so don’t be too concerned about missing out if you don’t jump in as quickly as you can.

Please, don’t spend your late teens or early twenties in front of your computer at a startup. If you’re a young person, I think the very best thing you could do is get together with a group of friends and commit to a one year experiment in which the substantial part of your life will be focused on discovery and not be dedicated to wage work – however that looks for you. Get an instrument, learn three chords, and go on tour; find a derelict boat and cross an ocean; hitchhike to Alaska; build a fleet of dirigibles; construct a UAV that will engage with the emerging local police UAVs; whatever – but make it count.

James Mickens would agree, and I think both would like Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Dual Mouse Input #

id Software founder John Carmack:

Has anyone made a PC game that did something with dual mouse input? Plugging multiple USB mice in just works, and most people probably have an extra mouse around somewhere. It would have some of the goodness of dual motion controllers, but with the precision and latency of mice.

Elegant, simple idea for cheap dual VR controllers.

Video Game or Videogame? #

I like videogame but the world wants it to be video game.

Ball Lightning #

My mom saw this phenomenon near a hot water radiator inside our house once. Surely a matter of time before a mobile phone video of one of these emerges? Hadouken exists.

Weather in Deadstick #

From Flight Log #1 in the development of upcoming bush plane flight simulator Deadstick where the player takes flying jobs in changing weather environments:

There are many sims that do an incredible job of simulating aircraft, but I always found that the experience of simulating the pilot and airmanship was somewhat lacking. To that end, the concept of Deadstick was born, to give players the experience of what it’s like to be the pilot.

The thing missing from all flight simulators is character development.

Instead of yet another minutely modelled jet or prop fighter plane, I’d like a dynamic mission system where you keep one plane and can choose your home airfield, the jobs, targets, cargo you take from a notice board, the colors and mods of your airplane, your flight suit, and so on.

I am hoping Deadstick will be this.

Via Stormbirds.

Graduate Together #

Barack Obama, in his commencement speech yesterday:

If you planned on going away for college, getting dropped off at campus in the fall—that’s no longer a given. If you were planning to work while going to school, finding that first job is going to be tougher. Even families that are relatively well off are dealing with massive uncertainty. Those who were struggling before, they’re hanging on by a thread.

All of which means that you’re going to have to grow up faster than some generations. This pandemic has shaken up the status quo and laid bare a lot of our countries deep-seated problems. From massive economic inequality, to ongoing racial disparities, to a lack of basic healthcare for people who need it.

It’s woken a lot of young people up to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don’t work. That it doesn’t matter how much money you make, if everyone around you is hungry and sick. And that our society and our democracy only work when we think, not just about ourselves, but about each other.

I think free education and a basic income financed by taxes on the top 1% richest in society would solve a lot of problems. And I don’t trust politicians, but miss a decent person instead of a charlatan as president.

Blockeley University #

Virtual replica of the UC Berkeley campus in Minecraft, currently hosting a virtual graduation for the UC Berkeley class of 2020 and a music festival. Instructions for joining are nice and simple.

Facebook Tracking Pixels #

Also known as Giphy.

Blue Nile #

Is this Friday’s song, by harp and piano virtuoso Alice Coltrane, from her third solo album, Ptah, the El Daoud.

Little Stories Told With Numbers #

A lovely little bit of software called Account by What is Code author Paul Ford. Super nice, even if the numbers leave you a little depressed. My favorite line in the documentation:

Paragraphs were a wasteful orthographic indulgence by lazy monks and we don’t allow them here.

Mr. Murakami’s Place #

Unofficial translations of world-renowned author Haruki Murakami’s internet advice column on the WayBackMachine as the original site seems to have disappeared.

According to Japan Times Murakami will host a new radio special soon to help with the Covid-19 blues on Tokyo FM 80.0 (which does not seem to be on radio.garden) and 38 stations in Japan from 10 p.m. to 11:55 p.m on May 22nd. Should include some good music as readers of Murakami’s books will know.

I wish they would broadcast to the rest of the world (if you find a link please do tell). Here is a Japanese to English translated link to the description of the last episode (scroll down a bit to see the text).

Fallout 76 Free Weekend #

And the battle of the digital video game stores continues. Play Fallout 76 for free on Steam this weekend, and get it for 25%-off the usual price until next Thursday.

Given I have not finished Fallout 4 yet I have avoided this one. Should I give it a go?

Get Grand Theft Auto 5 for Free #

According to the wonderful Alice O’Connor over at RPS you should be able to get GTA5 for free at Epic Games Store today, though the site seems to have been hugged to death at the moment.

Trail Router #

A route planner that favors greenery and nature in the routes it generates. More information here and here.

Civilization V: Peace Walker #

Here’s the oddest link of the day: A Lets Play of a Civilization V mod that makes Big Boss’s mercenary company in Metal Gear Solid, Militaires Sans Frontiers, a new civilization in the Civilization V game.

Unreal Engine 5 #

Looks like the people back at the lab have been hard at work to make many many many more triangles.

Deep Note #

The THX introduction sound (mp3) that reminds me of the introduction of Elite: Dangerous.

Failing at Evil #

Videogames are much easier than real life.

Healing Games #

The Japanese genre called Iyashikei (癒し系). My favorite video game that I place in the genre despite the presence of combat is the work of art called Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And I heard about something called Animal Crossing that is fairly popular at the moment. I heard this from a friend who also plays Arma.

Bosch Project #

Zoom into the fantastical paintings of Jheronimus Bosch.

David Lynch Weather Report #

The Twin Peaks director started a YouTube channel yesterday.

SAI #

Indie action game exploring Celtic folklore and deforestation. Brings to mind Horizon: Zero Dawn, and makes me wish for a bow and arrow in Generation Zero.

I am glad more people are making games that makes us think about the destruction of our environment.

John Peel BBC Sessions #

Quite a collection of music where we can listen to bands playing on the radio before they became famous. Somewhat like a 1960s–2002s Shazam.

Signal vs. WhatsApp #

Who do you trust?

MS Flight Simulator 2020 vs. Real Life #

The screenshots showing aeroplanes on the ground in weather in the latest development update are impressive. MSFS 2020 is looking like an increasingly advanced version of Google Earth’s own flight simulator.

Documentary on Programming Prodigy and Activist Aaron Swartz #

Hosted on decentralized peer-to-peer video hosting platform PeerTube as well as on YouTube. Aaron’s website remains online.

Code Page 437 #

Found while looking for the name of the ASCII character representing the player in Rogue.

Twitch Roulette #

Join a random Twitch streamer who has no viewers.

Tiny Combat Arena #

The crisp line detail and bright greens and blues recall DOS-era flight simulators like SU-27 Flanker.

The Purpose of an Economy and Banking System #

Is to support a society, not the other way around.

What About That Day #

Beautiful song and video shot on Super 8 film by my current favorite creator of music Jenny O. from her new album New Truth that comes out June 19th. The song is one of those that can make you cry and I only wish it were longer. Happy Friday! ~ ❤️ ~ ♫ ~ ❤️ ~ ♫ ~

A Life in Computer Games #

The memoir of Civilization creator Sid Meier arrives in September.

Through The Darkest of Times #

I am not surprised that the game’s developer, Jörg Friedrich, worked on the anti-war war game Spec Ops: The Line.

His comments at Game World Observer:

“Whenever you create an engaging gameplay loop, it means giving up on real wars and following some Hollywood fantasy,” he says. “No one wants to play a game that covers how it really is to be a soldier in a war situation — it would be terribly boring, nothing would happen most of the time, if ever. Possibly you are sent somewhere without knowing exactly why and where, and when you arrive, chances are you die. Or you get injured or crippled. I think most people want to play warrior power fantasies — not war.”

“Replicating war in a game usually makes it look cool because you are not actually there. Since you know that that video game explosion cannot really hurt you, all you see is a cool looking explosion. Every medium has this problem, not only games. To fix it, you need to change perspective. This War Of Mine does a good job in putting you into the shoes of people suffering from war, rather than the ones causing it.”

Tomorrow 75 years will have passed since V-E Day.

Windblown Star #

LDN 1471 imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. Images of wind are often my favorites, no matter how far away the subject is.

Game Changer #

New Banksy art unveiled at hospital to thank doctors and nurses.

Playstation 2 Advert Directed by David Lynch #

Titled Welcome To The Third Space, it is unsurprisingly the most bizarre in a series that includes Bambi and Wolfman.

Grand Theft Auto: Vatican City #

Artwork by street artist Zabou.

Slavery #

Scott Santens on the following question in his Basic Income FAQ:

If we no longer force people to work to meet their basic needs, won’t they stop working?

What underlies a question like this is that it’s okay to force people to work by withholding what they need to live, in order to force them to work for us. And at the same time, because they are forced, we don’t even pay them enough to meet their basic needs that we are withholding to force them to work.

What is a good word to describe this?

I think most people’s resistance to the idea of a basic income for all human beings is just that they are used to how things are and cannot imagine how things could be.

It was the same with slavery in the 1800’s (and ongoing right now elsewhere in the world — it is a continuing struggle), it was the same with the civil rights movement, and it was the same with women’s right to vote in elections. People were used to the status quo, and a concerted effort by many was needed to change minds and change the world.

This same effort is needed now.

Mother Earth Game #

You are the Earth. Keep the humans alive. Or don’t.

Tim Bray Resigns From Amazon #

And at the end of the day, the big problem isn’t the specifics of Covid-19 response. It’s that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential. Only that’s not just Amazon, it’s how 21st-century capitalism is done.

Amazon is exceptionally well-managed and has demonstrated great skill at spotting opportunities and building repeatable processes for exploiting them. It has a corresponding lack of vision about the human costs of the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power. If we don’t like certain things Amazon is doing, we need to put legal guardrails in place to stop those things. We don’t need to invent anything new; a combination of antitrust and living-wage and worker-empowerment legislation, rigorously enforced, offers a clear path forward.

Don’t say it can’t be done, because France is doing it.

Maybe a general strike is coming, after all.

Television News About The Economy #

Instead of spending all your time watching television news reports you can just watch this one and then stop.

You may not understand why, but I’ve made you sad, and whose to say that’s not enough.

MicroProse Coming Back #

I heard someone wearing 1980’s sunglasses call out “I will be back” from my screen in The Terminator last night, and by coincidence today I heard internet chatterings that MicroProse, software publisher of some of my favorite games like Civilization and Falcon 4 is returning, too. Could the current crisis lead to a videogaming renaissance?

Different is Better #

And 67 more pieces of advice from Wired’s 68-year-old co-founder, Kevin Kelly, including: “When crisis and disaster strike, don’t waste them. No problems, no progress.”

The 5 Best Star Wars Moments of All Time #

Matt Cox, one of Star Wars’ #1 fans, writes at Rock Paper Shotgun:

On Star Wars Day, the holiest of days, we are duty-bound to celebrate the cultural monolith that is Star Wars. So let’s run through the most iconic characters from our beloved fascism allegory, and relive their finest moments.

Hypercharged: Unboxed #

A child’s toy collection brought to life to battle around a suburban home, with both online and local cooperative play supported.

Since I still have some of my Rambo action figures, I decided to move my hand-held pointing device so that the arrow-shaped cursor on the screen hovered over the “Add to your wishlist” link. I used my finger to depress a button on the computer mouse, causing an audible “click” sound to be emitted.

The Doctor, The Disease, And The Division #

Siddhartha Bajracharya, a physician in Brooklyn, writing about his current experiences working in the real world of Covid-19 and its eerie near-future mirror of The Division 2, which he plays with a friend at night:

With the global spread of the coronavirus and the faltering response of the American government, The Division 2 has unavoidably become a mirror to current events and public policy, a game with inherent political messaging despite a few prior, feeble objections from its creators. Of course, video games have always been political. From the already-dated frontier thesis mythology of Oregon Trail, to the delightfully unsubtle Martian analogue of the Iraq insurgency in Red Faction Guerrilla, this is not a challenging concept to comprehend.

Of course, medicine has always been political, too.

Every time I practice medicine I practice politics. Every time I’ve called a pharmacy pleading for my patient’s insulin not to cost as much as their monthly rent. Every time I’ve told someone their kidneys are slowly failing and their life is about to change forever and we have ways to keep them alive and kicking, but I can’t offer them the best and ultimately cheapest treatment—a kidney transplant—due to their immigration status.

If only we could blame this all on something so simple as a conspiracy. In the real world, no one designed the coronavirus, no monologuing villain unleashed it. There’s no Deep State waiting in the wings to save us when all hope is lost. The institutions that were meant to protect us against the biblical threat of plague were instead deliberately and systematically dismantled for reasons of greed and cowardice, experience and expertise thrown out and replaced by obsequious incompetence, in a decades-long project that has now inevitably resulted in avoidable catastrophe.

Digital Incunabula #

Matt Margini, writing about Janet H. Murray’s book Hamlet on the Holodeck, twenty years later (2017):

In other words, Murray became devoted to creating “incunabula,” a term meaning “swaddling clothes” that is used by book historians to describe awkward experiments produced just after the invention of the printing press. Digital incunabula are the main subject of “Hamlet on the Holodeck.” When Murray analyzes a video game, or a piece of hypertext fiction, or a primitive A.I. character, she seldom praises it as a complete or refined narrative experience. What she celebrates is potential. She compares Myst, for instance, a seminal first-person adventure game from 1993, to the juvenilia of the Brontë sisters, who told stories to one another about tense dungeon-crawls in a “regressive, violent, overheated emotional universe.” Fans of Myst and fans of the Brontë sisters seem equally likely to resent this comparison. But Murray’s point is that the juvenilia became “Jane Eyre,” and that rough-hewn digital stories are best understood as the evolutionary predecessors of forms that are yet to come.

No one knows where we are headed, but I hope there is a Holodeck and a good restaurant there.

Kojima’s Strange, Unforgettable Videogame Worlds #

Adrian Chen writing in the New York Times about one of the world’s best video game designers, Hideo Kojima:

At times, he seemed to be describing a fairly conventional action game, with vehicles and combat and a world to explore. At others, Death Stranding sounded like nothing that had come before. Kojima said it would initiate an entirely new genre, the “strand” genre: “You will attempt to bridge the divides in society,” he wrote on Twitter, “and in doing create new bonds or ‘Strands’ with other players around the globe. Through your experience playing the game, I hope you’ll come to understand the true importance of forging connections with others.”

Despite its flaws Metal Gear Solid V remains one of my all-time favorite video games, and July needs to hurry up and get here.

Attend Hogwarts in Minecraft #

Or explore Middle-Earth.

People Learning to Play Again #

With friends in the digital worlds of video games during quarantine.

Pain #

…is the title of today’s song, and the inauguration of a regular feature here at Hypertexthero: A favorite song every Friday. Because Friday, like every day, is a good time for good music. By The War On Drugs.

Women Exist #

Ian Walker, writing at Kotaku:

Were there female Viking warriors? Who gives a fuck! We love gaming because it allows us—developers and players alike—to do whatever we like. I can play as a powerful gorilla escaping a testing facility or a scared child evading brain worm-infested pigs. I can kill time at the doctor’s office with a puzzle game or spend hours emotionally invested in a sprawling RPG. It may be hard to understand by people who, like me, have been catered to their whole lives, but seeing a woman as a playable character in a video game can be the first step toward someone new joining our hobby. We should all embrace that.

Ubisoft’s decision to include two fully developed characters in Odyssey and now Valhalla should be a win-win for everyone. Not only does it technically double the amount of game, it also gives a whole new group of players the ability to see themselves in a powerful, compelling Assassin’s Creed protagonist. But considering how a vocal minority has reacted to women being added to games in the past, it’s no surprise that Ubisoft wanted to get ahead of the nonsense as soon after the Valhalla reveal as possible.

Yes.