a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

captain, it's windsday

The Shop had originally given us a half day on Friday, to compensate for Christmas falling on a Sunday this year. On Thursday, when it became clear how bad the weather was going to be, they upgraded it to a full day off. I had originally planned on working a full shift either way. I was happy that I would be the only one in the office on Friday. Being alone on Thanksgiving was one of the best work days in recent memory.

But on Thursday night, the winds came roaring in. I got woken up in the middle of the night by snow being blown on my face. The bed is about six feet away from the window. We closed all the windows and bundled up tight. On Friday morning, the winds were still roaring. The snow wasn't thick, but the hill I have to climb to work looked like a solid sheet of ice. The temperature was one degree fahrenheit, not even taking the windchill into account. I decided to take the day off. I don't get holiday pay, so I regret having to lose out on a day's income (especially since I'm still not fully caught up after losing a week and a half of pay to covid) but I didn't feel safe going out in those conditions.

It's been a pretty relaxing day. I started replaying Final Fantasy 7 recently, and most of my leisure time was spent on that. There's a long boring story about why I'm replaying FF7 for the half-dozenth time, and maybe I'll tell that story someday, but for now all you have to know is this: It's not my favorite RPG, or even my favorite FF game, but I played it during a very formative period of my life, so replaying it is of great comfort to me. It's one of the games I replay the way some people may rewatch old seasons of a favorite sitcom. There's a lot wrong with it, but it feels cozy.

What may be more interesting than the why is that I'm able to play it at all. It may not seem that impressive to be able to run a 10-year-old port of a 25-year-old game, but I've had very bad luck with games on this computer, because it's an old laptop with no dedicated video hardware to speak of, running Linux. The only game I've had good luck with so far is Daggerfall Unity --- everything else I tried either failed to run at all or ran with extremely compromised performance. RetroArch works fine for emulation, as long as I don't try to play anything newer than the SNES. Playstation games crash immediately, the original version of FF7 would be a no-go.

But, once I enabled the Proton compatibility layer in Steam, that version of the game has been running flawlessly. Smooth as heck, no unexpected behavior whatsoever. It feels like a miracle that a modern-ish 3D game running through a compatibility layer works so well, but I'm glad it does. It's brought me great comfort in the long, dark, cold days of the solstice.

Since I've played the game so many times, I wanted to give myself a little extra challenge, so I'm doing a no-magic run. There are plenty of very detailed challenge runs out there, and simply not using magic is extremely tame (see the IENANENPANLBCMO Challenge if you wanna feel a little better about your own life choices) but the thing is, I like Final Fantasy 7, and if I turn it into an unbearable tedious slog, I won't like it as much. And I don't want that to happen. A no-magic run tweaks the experience just about the right amount --- it doesn't make the game worse, it just makes me play in a radically different way than I'm used to. I've gone the entire game without casting a single spell or using a single ability that consumes MP. I've used a ton of materia I normally never get to use, because my characters are so loaded down with elemental magic for every occasion, healing magic, revive magic, a few summons for good measure. My party's had to make do without any of that, and it's led to some pretty bonkers decisions.

For example, here's how I heal my party members during combat: Cloud has the 2x strike command materia, and his sword has lightning materia linked to "elemental" (I can equip any materia, I just can't use it to cast spells.) All of my party members have armor equipped with the effect "drain lightning", meaning any lightning damage received heals them instead of hurting them. When I need to heal someone, I have cloud attack them. Each of his two sword strikes would hit for around 1000. Et voilà! A free 2000hp heal, four times the potency of a hi-potion, no MP or rare items required.

I just got done chasing Ultimate Weapon all over goshdang creation to get a sword that isn't even that much better than what I have, and to open the path to the ancient forest. I remember the ancient forest being pretty annoying too, but all the other endgame content is way off the chart of "amount of bullshit I'm willing to tolerate to keep playing the game", so I'll probably do that tomorrow and then wrap up. I'm probably ready to defeat Sephiroth, but it couldn't hurt to level a little bit. Sigh, wrapping up a comfort game is always a drag. Not sure what I'll do next, but I'll keep experimenting with my Steam library to see what this computer can handle 🦝

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