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Meeple Monthly Roundup, April 2018
Here's what we were up to in the month of April, 2018
June 5, 2018
7 Min Read
You can read more of my writing over at the Meeple Like Us blog, or the Textual Intercourse blog over at Epitaph Online. You can some information about my research interests over at my personal homepage.
This delayed release of our roundup - you get the full up to date thing by backing us on Patreon!
Part of the patron pledge rewards is a monthly roundup, and here it is - it's basically a summary of all the things we've done this month along with some notes on movies, video games and the like that we enjoy and think you might too. Don't expect any Hot Takes of current hits - I'm so far behind on all my entertainment that I recently just finished watching the 1970s British sitcom Porridge. Aside from some jokes that have aged about as well as a Jaffa cake it's still pretty funny.
Meeple Like Us Roundup
One of my favourite things I'm doing with the site at the moment is highlighting some of the absolutely top-notch stuff happening in board game media at the moment. We published our most recent monthly roundup yesterday and it's got some great stuff there. I feel safe saying that because we never put anything of our own on the roundup. This is essentially the best of what we saw elsewhere and a lot of what we saw was awesome.
In terms of our usual schedule of review content, we talked about Sagrada and its accessibility -- it's a colour blindness nightmare in an admittedly challenging context. We looked at the amazing Hanamikoji -- unsurprisingly for a game that has a gameplay hook best described as 'choosing which knives with which your opponent will stab you' it doesn't fare especially well in some of our accessibility categories. Still an excellent game though for those that can play it.
Meeple Circus is a ludicrously cheerful game of stacking meeples onto other meeples, and we gave it a reasonably glowing review and a less glowing teardown. The search for a genuinely accessible dexterity game continues.
Right at the start of the month we reviewed Iquazu from HABA -- this game's low placement in the BGG rankings is an injustice that I do not believe should be permitted to stand. While it does occasionally pitch over into 'too unfair to be fun' more often than not this game shines like the gems it forces you to place. It might be far from the most accessible game we've looked at but it still deserves more attention than it's getting.
We've also been busy on other fronts. We published our second-year summary of the site. We also ventured into the world of Wordpress development, releasing the MLU BGG plugin you now see adorning almost every page of the site. We also finally saw the online publication of our two accessibility papers in the Computer Games Journal. These were Eighteen Months of Meeple Like Us and Meeple Centred Design. Making use of our new BGG plugin I also wrote some code to display stats from the site in real time for those that would like to see the distribution of ratings in our various categories,
Finally, we also put our recommender into the world in its beta format -- it still needs to see wider use for us to shake out whether or not it's really working though.
Crikey, that's a fairly full dance card now I see it all written up.
Good grief, have you seen Moana? I mean, I know I'm late to the party here but it is ridiculously loveable. I spent a solid week with the songs on repeat in my head, and even now I find myself humming away to the tune of 'You're Welcome'. It is SO GOOD everyone.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is a film I watched on a train journey during the middle of the week. Mainly because I couldn't actually get any work done and found myself unable to control my Switch on a rickety British train. It's not quite up to the quality of the first one but it's still very, very likeable. From the introductory sequence of Baby Groot dancing to the tune of Mister Blue Sky I was hooked. It turned an otherwise predictably unpleasant experience with Virgin Rail into a thoroughly enjoyable movie time.
Mrs Meeple and I made it to the end of the fourth season of Bojack Horseman and let me tell you -- this show is the most pitch-perfect study in character that I have ever seen. It's bizarre to me that all that insight and nuance should be bound up in the context of an anthropomorphic cartoon horse. There is some genuine darkness in this season, some genuinely hilarious moments, and the occasional soupcon of easily dashed hope and fragile optimism. Bojack Horseman might be my favourite show on Netflix and if you're not watching it I think you absolutely should check it out. Maybe don't judge it on its first few episodes though.
On a similar note, The Good Place is a great television show that is more interesting than its premise would initially suggest. Moral philosophy with jokes -- what's not to like? Unfortunately I can't say too much about it because this is a series that benefits from you immersing yourself into it from the start without some internet yahoo like me spoiling it for you.
Believe it or not, before this month I'd never watched Bob Ross. Now I am obsessed with him and everything he does. I'm not at all convinced that he's a painter. I think he might be a stage magician just pretending to be a painter. You look at the screen and there's a blue smear and a messy bit of yellow. You look away. You look back a minute later and there's a river with the reflection of an afternoon sun glittering with the water-marks of a hundred tiny rocks. That's some Derren Brown level nonsense if you ask me. Anyway, he's on Netflix and all over Youtube and it's like having a calming, soothing unguent poured directly onto the torn and fractured parts of your soul.
I haven't had a lot of time for reading this month unfortunately but this section is going to have a common theme for a while -- Terry Pratchett. The Discworld series is inexpressively important to me. I have read every single one of the books multiple times and I committed myself to a reading challenge at the start of the year. I'm going to read every single Discworld book again. I'm currently on book eleven (Witches Abroad) and it's marvellous to appreciate anew the beautiful use of whimsical language, magical imagery and sheer humanity that seeps into every word and every page of his books. #SpeakHisName
So, it turns out Breath of the Wild is pretty good. I haven't been having quite as much fun with it though as I had hoped from the borderline ecstatic reviews I kept reading. It's fun, for the most part, but I find a lot of it to be very frustrating. Weapon degradation is a real flow-breaker and has contributed precisely nothing but annoyance to my experience. It's also hard as nails in parts and trivial at others. You wander into one shrine and solve it within a few minutes. You walk into another and end up using all your weapons and equipment on an enemy that is part walking robot and part industrial mincing machine.
I'm enjoying it a lot more now I have a few shrines under my belt and a few upgrades, and there is a kind of ineffable melancholy in the exploration that keeps me returning beyond the lacklustre combat mechanisms. It's like an RPG with the soul of a walking simulator and that by itself has value. This is a game that revels in the quiet indulgences of serendipitous discovery.
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