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2021 in review


Zakamutt

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To procrastinate doing anything productive, I have decided to write a summary of what I did last year.

GENERAL

During the early parts — months really — of the year I was kind of reeling from having had a very frightening GERD — acid reflux — flareup. It’s fairly hard to tell the symptoms from a heart attack, and paranoia about the whole deal caused anxiety issues. In the end it receded… when I started eating less and barely eating at all when I was not very hungry. Would’ve been nice to have tried that earlier. GERD and anxiety seem to feed into each other in weird and fucky ways and the literature associating them interests me because I have to wonder if GERD might actually be the egg and not the chicken (the egg came first[1]).

To this day I sort of have a trigger-adjacent thing for hearing ~120bpm music with a steady beat — disco speed — where my heart will like go along with it like what disco music does to you and that will trigger warning signals from somewhere and seriously what the fuck? It’s slowly getting better though, idk.

Relatedly, I’ve discovered that my issues with various chest skin pains and neck pains are all due to me having absolutely awful ergonomics for any position I can take while using my computer in bed, and I don’t like using it anywhere else, thus I’m fucked. No longer worried about the various pains, but very annoyed by them.

I’ve gotten a new wider bed, a data plan for my smartphone, and at the end of the year, a new smartphone that doesn’t suck massive dick (poco x3 pro). I also got my first taste of imported Japanese manga, which has been pretty pleasant compared to scans.

I’ve slightly re-intensified my guitar playing habit, and I don’t occasionally hate myself for not playing enough to ever play well any more. Maybe one day I’ll actually record that one tune I don’t have a good recording of yet. I’ve also started using a guitar with lower action since the one I was always using before has VERY high action and is hard as fuck to play.

I’ve also started enjoying minecraft speedrun streams (RSG 16.1, anything Elysaku does). This started out as me watching SmallAnt and him doing mc speedruns, after which I branched out to Couriway watching his 1k seeds challenge as well as various other lesser known but more cracked runners like crookst. Overall I’ve branched out a bit from mostly watching hearthstone streams.

MEDIA

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In January I finished watching the FFVI translation comparison by Clyde Mandelin / tomato, which I had started watching the month before. I watched the entirety of every video and counted the Japanese lines read for Tadoku[3] purposes using the Microsoft calculator as a makeshift clicker. I guess I’ve sort of finished a playthrough of the game now Kappa. At this point I was really fucked and couldn’t make myself read a vn due to anxiety issues or neck muscle posture issues or both but I could watch a video, or something. This ended up being most of my tadoku contribution for the month, which was certainly weird. I do recommend the series if you can read Japanese, it’s interesting. Not sure how it’s like to watch as a pleb, maybe it’s still cool? Lots of plebs do like mato’s site. Also I’m sorry, the whole JOP bit I’m doing will unfortunately not improve much as I carry on writing. You have been warned, &c.

digitalseclusion_2021-02-05_21-17-45-1.pPre-edit opening screen. Note “radiating humming” instead of “radiating hum” or whatever and the lack of commas and stuff.

The first VN I completed in 2021, in February, was Digital Seclusion, a rather doujin EVN created by a member of a forum I still haunt, ghostlike: Fuwanovel. I liked it, but thought the prose could use about five or so editing passes, besides needing another proofreading pass. I ended up doing my usual bit where I comment that the writing is all cringe and needs an editor and I expect no response, but instead the writer, Zalor (whom I had some rapport with, admittedly) said that it would be helpful if I could proofread/edit — so I did, through the medium of screenshots and text in his discord DMs.

UxcKxGN.png
And that’s the first screen done.

In the end while I think I helped improve the text a decent bit, it was also clearly a bit of an auteur work with a distinct (if perhaps not optimal) voice and I didn’t push too hard for changes, opting to just suggest stuff (and a lot of suggestions there were). Thus while I allowed myself to be named in the credits in the end, and it’s certainly nice to be in the credits of a cool VN, I always have mixed emotions about it — maybe someone will discover my name in there one day and think it’s representative of my writing abilities? I have the dumbest fears. Sometimes I try to imagine what gender dysphoria would be like and apparently “someone has the wrong opinion about you” is a vague match so then I imagine being in a room and knowing someone incorrectly thinks I’m a trash writer or translator and it’s actually extremely uncomfortable where the fuck am I going with this. I mean I think there’s even a disclaimer in the credits too. Really this will never be a real problem for me.

12r_2021-02-15_12-14-59.png?w=1024Kinda waifu ngl

I started reading 12riven in February (also read in March and April). I didn’t finish, as is my stalling wont, but I got some endings and got some distance into the true route. I found it very enjoyable, and the pacing nice and tight most of the time, but I do worry about whether it can tie it all together. Also the basic mechanism of the in-universe psionic powers is, I must admit, pretty dumb. It’s given to you in a scientific manner but it basically precludes a materialistic outlook. I mean R11 has this too I guess but it’s more blatantly cringe in this. Anyway if you can go along with the dumb the rest is pretty entertaining. EOPs are missing out! They’ll probably remain missing out even if it ever gets translated (rip lemnisca tl) because Uchikoshi is a fucking memelord and loves adding plot relevant puns all over the place. It’s going to be hard to get all of them to the level of the original, but who knows?

shimaisou2_2021-02-03_03-37-01.png?w=102Definitely a shimaisou line

I also tried out Shimaisou 2 (1 is a cool dark yuri utsuge) for a few hundred lines and then stalled it because idk. I tried continuing my long stalled playthrough of zanane but the common route kept on being boring and unfunny and very ドM when I am ドS so I stalled it again after a few thousand lines. I might never come back.

1e4babae6aebae38199e381aee382822e4babae6Nothing strange going on here at all

In April I read a chapter and a bit of the slow-start fucked up yuri yandere mystery-ish game Hitofuta. I then stalled it, though it was definitely an interesting experience after the initial SoL of like 1000 lines was past. Ask me for a download if you want, there’s some fuckery where non-jp IPs can’t access the download page for it (but it’s free doe!).

sutekina_kanojo_no_tsukurikata_2021-04-2sutekina_kanojo_no_tsukurikata_2021-04-2

I also started Sutekano which was kind of interesting, partly picking it up because so many people seemed to hate it for whatever reason, and stalled it after a bit.

asanyaa_2021-04-01_21-36-46.png?w=1024yeah right Jin

I also tried Asanyaa, which made me realize I found TS content strangely enticing. Going to chalk it up to autogynephilia or whatever just being a normal thing in a subset of non-trans men tbh I think Ozy did a survey and it showed something similar ignore selection effects. Anyway I stalled it after the first h scene. Apparently it’s a moege not a nukige somehow? Idk man. Anyway, when’s the glorious transhumanist future with effortless bodyswaps?

e69c88e5a49ce381abe587a6e5a5b3e381afe681

The second VN I completed – also in April – was Tsukiyo ni Otome wa Tegami wo Nurasu, which is a horny-ish spooky mystery yuri game that actually sort of plays into a “predatory lesbians” meme, though not in a way that really bothered me. Not that things bother me in general. It’s weird but was fun enough to read. It would be an intresting translation challenge, as you’d want to write in like 7 different styles for the various letters at the start!

e69c88e5a49ce381abe587a6e5a5b3e381afe681

Apparently it was created by two het women who flatly deny any homosexuality whatsoever in the afterword-y extras. Also, those same women created a doujin otome game called Toki-Hako (toki-bako? who knows…) that has an insanely high rating on EGS and a rave review, but there are like 3 votes total so who knows.

rpg_rt_2021-05-30_12-34-14.png?w=805

May saw me playing Makoto Möbius (given the メ I reject the vndb romanization, but not with enough fervor to actually change it). It’s my first CHARON game, and I guess it does interest me in other games by the writer but not massively so. It’s a neat plot with the CHARON signature menhera girls and some other funky plot twists included. That said you can just up and miss endings that really matter to the plot with ease, even after having gotten the true ending, so it’s a good thing I checked a guide. Bad design imo. I played in Japanese but to my understanding there is a translation, on whose quality I cannot comment other than my usual prior[2] of translations being bad.

cs2_2021-05-12_07-11-23.png?w=1024I’m pretty sure I took this screen purely because of its amusing content out of context

I also started on Aibeya 2 in May because I was testing it to see if it would hook or something because someone was having trouble with it, and caprice directed me to read it for a bit because the heroine was pretty heckin kwi. I read until it started to turn from moege to probable nukige in regards to h-scene density and decided I was done with it. For once, it’s more dropped than stalled… though you never know!

yuwakunimakenaide_2021-05-06_04-08-01.jpyuwakunimakenaide_2021-05-06_07-07-45.pn

And for my last May ge, I read most of Sakyuseka after a friend recommended it as being not quite the nukige it looked like, and in fact a pretty good plotge with a romantic core (that just happened to have a lot of porn you could skip if you wanted, I guess.) I got until the best part of the game according to said friend and stalled it because LOOK I DO NOT NEED A REASON IT WILL HAPPEN. Anyway, recommend I checking it out, it’s cool and there’s some decent porn too if you’re into that. Very high production values for a doujinge.

firefox_2021-06-22_21-20-57.png?w=1024

In June all I did on the VN front was a read of a few hundred lines of Kira Kira, since it was being used to demo the japanese VN streaming site OOParts and could be tried for free. I concluded that I liked Setoguchi’s writing style and also that it wasn’t something incompatible with English or anything, just would take a decent writer with enough time to work on their wording enough, so basically any translation of his works is likely to be a failure in this industry. As shown by the Musicus TL getting disowned by most JOPs, but I digress. Really when he’s not doing a stream-of-consciousness thing (which I didnt see in kira kira but have seen in Carnival screenshots) he’s just doing moderately complex sentences with good imagery and effective prose. There’s no magic nipponese essence of whatever he’s just kind of good! It’s totally doable! Urobuchi is the same except maybe when he’s doing Chinese kanji autism shit! I totally know this 100% from having read like 200 lines. Anyway. Pity the actual Kira Kira tl out there is much worse still than even the Musicus tl, which is, I understand, merely not all that well written in comparison to the original.

tsuyuchiru1_2021-07-01_02-50-09.png?w=10

In July I played the bit-more-spice-than-usual yuri VN Tsuyuchiru Letter. It has really nice sprite direction and it fairly easy to read, so do read it in Japanese if you wish as a beginner. The spicier elements do bring enough excitement and delicious suffering to the table to make it an enjoyable read, though perhaps the most interesting characters are the ones they’re clearly hoping to include in a sequel (the game folder is even called “tsuyuchuri1” but they haven’t announced number 2 yet ree). The novel ends somewhat conclusively, but has sequel hooks for other couples, so if you hate even the sequel hook thing you might want to avoid the title.

The translation by Meru should be mostly solid, I trust Meru to not suck (but apparently she wasn’t looking at the sprite direction when translating, not having been given the actual script, so it’s possible some of that is off in English given that a lot of it is midline expression changes etc). Also there’s a plot CG in it that’s edited with chinese text in the CN loc but doesn’t have an English version as far as I can tell (though you get the text read in the normal textbox too so you’re not really missing crucial information). Modestly recommended for yuri fans.

hotel_2021-07-06_10-35-03.png?w=1024

Secondly, I started on Hotel., a VN which exemplifies the infuriating Japanese habit of ending the names of works with periods. Other than my rage at its typographical inconvenice, Hotel manages to be very different from any other VN I’ve read, feeling more like a… sitcom? than anything else, though the plot does hint as something a bit darker than just comedy.

hotel_2021-07-07_00-37-38.png?w=1024

It follows — in sort of ambiguous third person-y view, sometimes first — the daily lives of the quirky employees of the titular hotel, from its clearly autistic manager to its whimsical owner to the couple that keeps having arguments about their upcoming marriage to the be-afroed black guy speaking simultaneously in kansai-ben and engrish that tried to make everything a manzai scene to the mysterious loli on a mission with an eyepatch and insane guitar chops to the nocturnal, bisexual and horny bartender woman who keeps trying to unsuccessfully woo the manager, along with also trying to get at the cute cook girl just in case. And I’ve only covered half of the colorful array of characters in this thing! Nor do I know much about the mystery it’s building up to yet, but the Hotel clearly isn’t normal in any way! Anyway, stalled as usual, but maybe I’ll read more of it.

muramasa_2021-07-23_20-13-04.jpg?w=1024

Third, I read like half of chapter 1 of Mememasa. It’s ok I guess.

muramasa_2021-08-01_01-12-03.png?w=43

In month 8 (I refuse to fuck with month names above July. Fuck the roman emperors who fucked up all the names). I read Trash Waifu. It was a qt enough short vn that fulfilled personal emotional fetishes of mine, and surprisingly ok for a random EVN I picked up because it had a meme title. I still haven’t read the sequel. Read it if the concept more or less laid in the description appeals to you I guess.

pcsx2_2021-08-05_06-55-34.png?w=1024Good osananajimi. Naturally, she probably likes you but ur donkan.

I also started on My Merry May using a ps2 emulator and the combined orig+sequel release My Merry May with be. For the most part it’s a galge, but apart from the sci-fi elements which do end up mattering for the plot somewhat, what really struck me was the unusual and rounded feel of the characters.

pcsx2_2021-08-07_20-53-44.png?w=1024Apart from all the sci-fi aspects of the setting, you also get forced into being the effective parent of a little robot girl that learns REALLY fast. Also she’s pretty hot and calls you oniichan but there is no porn in this game oh well.

Unlike a lot of arrow gay THESE DAYS (I feel), each character is in service to themselves, not to their archetype, and won’t always act the way you expect – but the way they act will always make sense, in the end. I picked up the title because it was super high rated on EGS and the (a?) writer had also worked on Symphonic Rain, which has the same nuanced characters I like in this.

pcsx2_2021-08-25_13-59-09.png?w=1024My queenpcsx2_2021-08-26_18-06-47.png?w=1024She can cook too, so we know she’s not born after 1993

I actually read pretty far into the game, getting into the route of the one middle-schooler girl in the game (I just really vibed with her she’s a dandere and mature please understand). Just after I got to some realdeal plot in her route, I had to get my laptop fan repaired and it took a month. Maybe I’ll actually go back to this one, I may have found a waifu in Misao. Also there really doesn’t seem to be a single ingame hint that the 13-16 relationship is considered weird by anyone yet. Funky from a contemporary Western perspective. But I enjoy it.

pcsx2_2021-09-30_19-54-46.png?w=1024I guess there is this

I also also started on Despiria, a Dreamcast (as you can see the theme of this month is I emulate shit) Atlus RPG. It’s a kind of sci-fi cum catholic cum biological horror setting where you’re a nun with psychic powers.

redream_2021-08-15_12-36-43.png?w=1024Narration text. Text presentation is cool and varied in general in thisredream_2021-08-15_07-31-13.png?w=1024what a cutieredream_2021-08-15_13-11-45.png?w=1024redream_2021-08-15_12-11-44.png?w=1024Dive text is heavily animated, fragmented, the works. Good luck JOPs(?)

You can “dive” into objects or perople to read minds or in the case of objects, leftover emotions, which helps you gather information on dangerous heretics pushing drugs and other unchristian nastiness.

redream_2021-08-15_13-07-34.png?w=1024

Also the battle system – though it doesn’t get used that much in the excellent opening area – has you use two persona-ish things with a persona crafting system.

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It’s text-heavy and unhookable, and worse, has time-limited text display that you also can’t repeat. But it’s pretty cool and I can see myself returning to it from its stalled state at the third area. It would be cool to see a translation of it… even if it would be shit as usual.

redream_2021-08-16_03-14-57.png?w=1024He doesn’t like the psychic nuns. He’s kind of just a dick in general, though.

After this I get fucked by lack of laptop and when I finally get it in December I don’t really do much except read Hotel for a short session in The Moe Way’s discord server.

I could list LNs and manga I read as well but I’ve been writing for hours oh god oh fuck if you want it ask me. Read Urasekai Picnic and Yagakimi!

ACADEMICS

Background: you need 180 ECTS (hereafter points) to get a Computer Science BA in Sweden. This is my current goal, though since I am lazy as fuck I have been doing it at a modest pace of 5 credits per quarter – the usual pace is 15 per quarter. I had ~115p in partial credit and ~95p in completed credit at the start of the year. The partial credit thing will be explained later.

The year started off with a fat L as I managed to fail a 10-point (double length course, started in late 2020) in calculus. This was basically self-inflicted as I studied approximately fuck all for the latter half of the course. Essentially every failure I perform is self-inflicted. That’s how it goes.

I then went into the second quarter of the year and bullshitted my way into the statistics course that required me to have passed the calculus course, because my exam results weren’t in yet so I couldn’t know that they wouldn’t pass my obviously-failed exam out of clerical error (I never technically lied in any official communique). Anyway I passed the statistics course, so KEKW I was right about doing fine in the course anyway. 5 points to the Zaka team.

For third quarter I signed up to ONCE AND FOR ALL catch up on a course I half passed 10 or so years ago. The course has changed massively since then and the written exams I had failed were now replaced with coding assignments. This was actually quite fun, if a lot of work. First, I had to write a generic hash table in C, with various utility functions, auto-resizing, function pointers for element comparisons, lots of really annoying but also cool stuff. Also a lot of tests for it.

I then mailed the instructor about it and he didn’t respond because he was sick. I mailed him again and microshit office decided that THAT specific mail was the one damn mail it was going to put in the spam folder. It hasn’t put anything in the spam after that. At the same time, my laptop fan was dying and I killed it dead trying to fix it (HP laptop design is SHIIIIIIIIIIIITTT ree). Thus I was limited to a 5-year-old smartphone to check basically everything, and if I wanted to code I had to either use university workstations (that unfortunately are FUCKED half the time and near unusably slow) or an old laptop that was already crappy when my mom got it five years ago. I discovered many fascinating bugs and difficulties trying to navigate the world with 25gb of disk space and 4gb of ram on a win8.1 machine. For example, booting a vagrant VM for c coding was so slow I had to increase the timeout or it would fail. Good stuff. The laptop redeemed itself later when I didn’t have to use a VM, though.

Anyway so about the mail to the instructor about presenting my assignment completion – I send another mail saying wtf do you have a spam filter on links and he says “uhh I replied earlier” and im like “no I did not see that but ok when do we meet”. Eventually I notice it’s been in the spam for a week plus. FUCK. But yeah, I do the presentation and it goes well.

Unfortunately the lack of instructor response demotivated me, so I lost 2+ weeks of time mostly not working on the second assignment I needed to pass, a Java assignment to create a symbolic calculator (but not the parser). In the end, combined with the miserably slow university systems fucking me over, I don’t get the Java assignment done until way into the last period of the year.

The last period, I’m without a laptop and have to somehow manage an algorithms course with a coding assignment component. I sign up to be randomly assigned a partner after briefly considering partnering up with someone I actually know and not doing it because I am a fuck. Anyway my luck ends up pretty decent as I hit a competent enough partner that doesn’t mind being a bit chill (though we somehow end up getting 29/30 points for the assignments – which meant we were guaranteed a grade bump on the exam – which will never not amuse me, since this was described as “going all out” but I certainly did not feel I did. Maybe my mediocre LaTeX skills and good English writing ability is rarer than I thought…). We have some tough times with the assignments sometimes, but we get through it.

The lectures are not that great and I end up slacking off on attending them after a while (my sleep schedule is also fucked in said period making it harder), but unusually for me I did eventually catch up on them using online material. Having a lab partner to be accountable to certainly helped. The exam is on the 3rd of jan 2022 and the last lecture is on like the 14th, so I manage to sneak in a presentation of the last part of the programming course I was trying to finish in last period. It ends up being pretty last-minute, I think on the 22nd, but I pass without much issue. Now this is VERY SIGNIFICANT because the course I have at last completed is a 20-point course! My official points fully gained thus increase by 20, and I am now safely above 120 points, which lets me take advanced courses. This is important for my future planning. But back to the algorithms course.

I take the exam with a bit less prep than I should have but certainly some prep, and the professor has decided to make the kind of section I do worst at double the points it notmally is, use even more obnoxious notation for it than usual, and use a problem I barely remember anything but the greedy solution for but ask about a dynamic programming algorithm. Despite this convocation of fuckery, I give myself a 75% chance of having passed the exam — it was multiple choice, so there’s little subjectivity involved. The results still aren’t in despite having sat it on the 3rd of Jan and it being fully computerized. Whatever I guess.

[1] Let there be an assortment of DNA features resulting in what we would call a “chicken”. Then this assortment must have been produced by mating two non-chickens, or they in turn would have been produced by a chicken egg as described next. This assortment will first exist as gametes or whatever, then as a fused egg, then as a chicken. Since egg happens before chicken, the egg comes first. QED fuck any philosopher that goes against me I’m 110% right.

[2] “What I expect” in Bayesian statistical terms, because I have read too much LW-style rationalist writing. For questions of something happening or not, this is just the percentage of the time that you would expect something “like that” to happen or not – give me a coin to flip and I’ll give you 50% for any one side to show up. For evaluating a number like an expected score for a vn (like how vndb does it in its Bayesian rating) or my estimated “translation quality” rating, it’s the average you would expect given no other information – a good prior would be the average of everything you’ve seen before in the category. Since most translations are bad (fan translations a bit worse on average), I expect this one to be bad also, in a purely dispassionate way that doesn’t actually give you, the reader, any useful information and could well be wrong. Also my standards are really high. Anyway, this digression has gone on long enough and made me look enough of an autistic dickhead to satisfy me, plus the more I talk about bayesian whatever the more formal error I’m going to introduce since it’s not like I really know it much other than in intuitive terms.

[3] Friendly challenge to read as much foreign-language (mostly Japanese) text as possible in a month. Goes by the honor system.

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Sorry to hear about the health concerns you had earlier in the year. Still appreciate the help you gave me btw. For something designed to be niche, I'm reasonably proud of the (final) build I currently have of Digital Seclusion and your help improved it a lot from the first public version. Often I'm hesitant to ask for help. Not because I don't think I need it, but because I'm paranoid that nobody is willing to help me. So even though you were rather harsh at first, it touched me that you were willing to edit for me. 

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My 2021 in rewind was, let's say a good year (taking it from my point of view) I know there has been Covid and stuff but lucky enough could have had my operation in city of Barcelona. That was about ending of April or so... I'm feeling much better in that way and of course I haven't been jabbed just for my own sake... (Mainly doctors said just don't get the jabs) which I totally agree with them. I'm feeling strong as ever. So I'm taking positive vibes only :)

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