A somewhat slow week on personal projects and learning as more of my time has been dedicated to my full-time job, which is a frequent-enough occurrence that I probably won’t mention it here again.
📦 Death Stranding
Maybe it’s the cool overcast couple of days we’ve had here, which mirrors the game’s mood, but I’ve been really enjoying playing Death Stranding this week. I was initially repulsed by its nonsensical premise, convoluted plot, and terrible on-the-nose naming for everything and everyone. I’m really glad I gave it a shot after all, because this game’s got soul.
Walking across its lonely, grey landscapes gives me that same “wistful explorer” feeling that I got from the original Mass Effect UNC missions. It’s just you and the environment for extended periods of time—a meditative experience. It’s balanced really well with its tightly integrated multiplayer component, which brings other players’ creations into my world. It’s easy and free to provide positive acknowledgement of their contributions and to help each other complete missions or build structures. All this supports the theme of connection and cooperation, which despite the dystopian backdrop puts this game squarely into “optimistic scifi” category for me. It feels good to play it.
The game also has a lot of what I consider respect for the player:
- Apart from the Save function being a bit buried, menus are quick to load and navigate. Everything you need to use quickly has shortcuts. Surprisingly many games get this wrong. I remember being annoyed with Witcher 3’s menu system, which was slow to load but had to be opened frequently even during combat.
- Avoiding repetitive encounters. Since the main game loop is ferrying packages back and forth between points on the map, it could be frustrating to constantly be running into the same enemy encounters, but Death Stranding avoids this trap. Passing through a field of BTs seems to happen only on the initial approach to a mission waypoint. I remember completing a mission like that, then getting another mission to navigate back through the same area and bracing for the inevitable repeat of the same encounter, but feeling pleasantly surprised at its absence.
- Inventory management can be fun for some, but there’s a button to just “do it for me”, which I appreciate.
- Same with balancing while moving on foot. It’s a neat mechanic that could be rewarding to master, but sometimes I just don’t want to worry about it, and the game provides an easy way to do that (hold L2+R2).
- Saving defaults for deliveries and photo mode settings.
… and many others. All these little touches make what could be a boring walking simulator an experience that stays interesting and rewarding. I’ve had a hard time putting this game down!
✨ Server-Driven UIs
- What is a Server-Driven UI – Judo.app — general summary
- Server-Driven UI — Everything Old Is New Again – Judo.app — gives a bit of historical context that helps explain the latest tech pendulum swing
- Airbnb‘s, DoorDash‘s, Uber‘s, and Yelp‘s SDUI posts
- This discussion thread with the author of the Airbnb post and a developer from Lyft providing a more balanced perspective on their experience.
There’re many SDUI frameworks out there already:
I suspect the big tech companies that built their in-house SDUIs will open source them eventually, or another open source framework will be released separately, and there will be a convergence of sorts. It seems like a generic-enough problem.
Overall, I feel that Apple and Google are at least partially responsible for the thin->thick->thin client swings. They had an opportunity early on to take existing Web formats and make them work for their mobile OSs, but they chose to build custom platforms instead. The trifurcation of UIs was unnecessary. My hope is that someone figures out how to take HTML+CSS+JS and convert that into native components on mobile, so we could converge again on technologies that aren’t owned by big corps.
- 🏃🏻♂️ Ran 17k this week. It’s my longest distance yet. Proud of myself for slowly working up to this number while staying injury-free (*knocks on wood*).
- 📸 Found another use case for Syncthing: using the PS App on my phone to synchronize screenshots with my laptop for easy uploading into posts like this one.
- ✉️ Messing around with WordPress plugins for sending these posts as emails. I haven’t really shared this site or these posts too broadly yet, but I suspect any family/friends interested in reading them won’t be familiar with RSS/Atom.