A Running Commentary | 11/9/2020
Alright, second week of November, second week of the newsletter. This past week was a big one for news, what with the election and all. I don’t have much unique or insightful to say concerning that, other than this tangentially related question: can a turtle, a creature encased in a rigid carapace, become obese? And actually, I wonder if reptiles pack on weight in general; I’ve never seen a fat snake, and I don’t know if cold-blooded creatures have similar enough metabolisms to store fat that way. Any herpetologists reading this, let me know.
Anyway, there’s a new episode of Mandalorian, there’s a lot of Warframe news, and there are new Curation Links, so let’s go!
The Mandalorian Chapter 10 released Friday, and once again, I have my notes. SPOILERS
- There was a real spaceship scene in this one. We hadn’t really had much of that in this show, as yet.
- This one got a little creepy, didn’t it, with all those spiders. Their design was an old Ralph McQuarrie concept for a creature on Dagobah
It’s actually a design that’s been used in Star Wars once before, in the Rebels animated series. Thankfully for Mando, the ones he found weren’t so resistant to blaster fire.
- This episode’s story picked up right after the last one, and it ends in such a way that the story will have to be resolved in the next episode. This season seems to be a bit more serial than anthological, versus Season 1.
- Our lesson for the kids in this one: don’t eat random eggs. They might be the children of sentient creatures, or of enormous monster spiders.
- No Boba Fett in this one.
- Richard Ayoade’s Zero the assassin droid makes a post-mortem appearance, and Ayoade makes my List, which he should have been on earlier, but whatever.
- Also making the List this week is Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who played the X-Wing pilot who wasn’t Dave Filoni.
I’ve also been watching through Star Wars: Rebels, which I hadn’t actually seen before. I figured that if Ahsoka Tano is supposed to make an appearance in The Mandalorian sometime this season, I should find out what happened to her after the events of The Clone Wars. And, while I didn’t especially care for it in the first few episodes, it developed into something really great by the end. Expect a full review sometime.
Bird of the Week
The mourning dove (so-named for their low, doleful call) is a common sight throughout most of North America. Known as the Carolina Turtledove in the era of Audubon, these birds, like most doves, are symbolic of peace (officially so, in Wisconsin). They are also, ironically, one of the only songbirds that can be legally hunted in the U.S., though not in all states.
While they literally pale in comparison to their cousins in the South Pacific, mourning doves are, I noticed as I drew one, actually quite colorful. They are beige, but they are many hues of beige: yellowed in the head, green-gray in the neck and back, olive in the wings, blushy in the front. They’re really quite pretty if you can get a good look at them.
We had a DevStream this week, giving us a look at upcoming changes to the game.
- Glaives are getting some of their quirks ironed out, which should be good. I don’t play glaives a lot, but every once in awhile the mood will strike me and I will, and the weird way Melee 3.0 was implemented on them rears its head, and I stop.
- Warframe is headed to the PS5, which will be good for people who are getting a PS5 and doesn’t mean much to me.
- The new Deimos stuff looks generally pretty good. Of all the new things, I’m probably most excited for the infested kitgun components, because kitguns are generally pretty good, and infested weapons generally have some combination of innate slash, toxin, viral, or maybe corrosive damage, and those are the good damage types. The Sarlacc pit puzzle might be good, depending on how complicated/rewarding it is.
- Gara Deluxe is coming with the Deimos update. Looks neat.
- Several warframes are getting some buffs/improvements to their powers.
Nidus is getting a way to gain stacks from enemies killed in Larva’s AOE.
Ash is getting his 4 streamlined; now looking at an enemy will set them up for the full Bladestorm damage, without having to look at them two more times.
Nekros is getting a big Soul Punch buff, in that now that power will insta-kill any enemy at or below a quarter of its health; it isn’t worth playing as Nekros just for that, but it will be appreciated for those playing as Nekros already for farming purposes.
Atlas’s walls he puts up will now have some sort of AOE damage. Not sure what to think of this until I try it.
Zephyr is getting several improvements to Airburst and Tornados. I’m not sure it’ll make her hugely more viable, but it’s something. I’d expect these changes to come in tandem with her deluxe skin.
And the big one is Chroma, who’s getting the long asked-for ability to switch elemental powers, independent of his energy color and in-mission. He’s also getting an upgrade to his 1, which is good, considering his 1 is a serious contender for the worst ability in the game. Basically, they’re turning it into a chaining beam weapon with 100% status for whichever element type he has selected. I’m hoping that there’s also a serious damage buff, otherwise, I’m gonna stick to my Kuva Nukor or my status Gaze kitgun, which this rework to Spectral Scream seems quite similar to.
- Speaking of Kuva weapons, the Kuva liches are getting some changes. The Corpus equivalent will be releasing alongside Corpus railjack missions, and both Corpus and Grineer kingpins will be getting better matchmaking for missions, as well as those railjack-based boss battles we saw in the Tennocon 2019 presentation introducing the Liches. The Corpus enemies will not be featuring upgraded versions of existing Corpus weapons, but new-design disguised briefcase guns, which I can only blindly speculate about.
- My complaints about the Steel Path, particularly about having to play it alone most of the time, are apparently common enough to be addressed; a daily set of steel path missions will be released, with guaranteed Steel Essence rewards. The missions will be on random nodes, and if they’re on a node a player hasn’t completed or unlocked yet, completing the daily mission will unlock and complete the node. This seems like a clever way to get some collaboration between steel path players, and I think that if you can get the co-op gameplay back in that part of the co-op game, it will go a long way toward fixing the unpleasant Steel Path experience.
- We saw some of the next warframe, Lavos the Alchemist. Still no word what his power set will be, though. I’m hoping for a frame that can flood the room with different status effects, but that’s not based on anything.
- There are some new augments in the pipe. The ones for Gauss and Revenant seem interesting, the ones for Wisp and Garuda a bit less so. I’d have to see how they work in-game though.
Besides that, I’ve been playing a bit more Xaku, and I still haven’t beat the Glassmaker boss fight. I’ll probably follow up on those next week, as the Warframe part of this RC is already pretty long.
An Island in the City | Molly McCluskey, Diplomatic Courier
The storied history of what is now the American embassy for Tunisia
How Space Tries to Kill You and Make You Ugly | Christopher Wanjek, Wired
Excerpted from Wanjek’s book Spacefarers, this piece lays out all the reasons to stay on Earth. As it turns out, human bodies are expecting to be here, and being away can make us very sick.
Is Connecticut Really New England? | Richard Connick, Yankee Magazine
From the “non-political regions don’t have real borders” file, this piece gives a look at an overlooked state set between New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, making the case that, while its accent and soups may not be, its waters are New England as Maine.
The Empire Strikes Door | Jamie Stangroom, The Geeknd (YouTube)
A deep-diving investigation of who portrayed the stormtrooper who hit his head on a doorframe in a shot that made it into A New Hope. 40 minutes.
What Makes Baby Yoda so Lovable?| Morgan K. Hoke & Douglas K. Smit, Nautilus
A scientific rundown of the appearances and behaviors that people find endearing and exploration of how those manifest in the character design of the Child.
The Misunderstood Python Hunters Saving the Everglades | Rebecca Renner, Outside Magazine
So, Florida has a population of pythons. They aren’t supposed to, but they do. And they also have a lot of people willing to go kill invasive creatures. Renner profiles several of these people, who are often portrayed as yet more wacky Florida Man figures, despite performing important conservation work.