A few random things, thoughts on Trauma Team

Last night was a little rough. I’m never quite sure what causes the onset of it, but I definitely started to fall into one of those moods again when I visited BenZhen. I felt slightly guilty because I didn’t want to just visit her and be sad…but at the same time, part of me was simply hoping to be comforted in some way. The problem is that I don’t know how to best let other people help me. Of course, the parallels keep on coming to mind…how my mom helps me whether I want it or not, so I have to push her away–it makes sense that now I don’t know how to get people to help me.

Oh well. I’m sorry BenZhen…if I had a little more courage I might not have failed like I did. But I fell into that trap again; it’s so easy to just leave things be and stand down; letting things pass by.

On the way home I realized very acutely that I needed help. It was a very definite thing…I was driving in the car and my mom was saying some things, and I became very conscious of the fact that I was most definitely not okay. I thought to myself rather cynically: I’m glad I’m not on the highway because I’m finding it difficult to concentrate and I’m in a -really- bad place emotionally. But at that point I knew that I most definitely needed to find help. Or at the very least, -try-. Failing that, perhaps I would want to go somewhere and cry alone. But I had to do =something=. I knew at that time that things had bubbled up too much for me to push it back down.

So I headed to my nee-san’s place. And I almost ended up failing there too. I almost ended up just letting things be. I was even there just sitting, talking with the dog and asking him, why am I so bad at getting help? I was about to cry out here too, actually.

Fortunately I managed to make another little baby step and I managed to talk to my nee-san about it. We had some alcohol too…hmm, I’m beginning to really enjoy drinking =X

In other news! We went to Curry House in cupertino today for dinner. Was actually pretty decent! The curry was not really spicy at all when I asked for “hot”, but that kind of matched the yelp reviews anyhoo, so I wasn’t too disappointed. I had the pork katsu, which was definitely a good choice. The curry tasted kind of like the curry you might expect from a chicken dish at Darbar (minus the spiciness), so that was interesting. And yummy. If I ever go there again I might have to order the extra spicy though.

And in yet other news, my Fox in SSBM is starting to get back into shape…slightly. Meh. It’s not really a big deal, but it felt good to get back into shape today, even if it was just a little bit. Also I feel like I’ve become a little better at incorporating small amounts of dashdancing into my play, which is cool. I still can’t really do the mofo-style spazz random dashdancing, but I can use it like I use wavedashing right now, so that’s cool.

Finished Touhou 8: Imperishable Night, without using any continues (started with 7 lives though, instead of the default 3). I was actually surprised; I thought it would take me at least one more playthrough in order to be able to manage that. I guess this was the first playthrough where I felt like I knew what was going on, at least roughly. Also I keep on slowly getting better at using bombs. Slowly. I didn’t do too bad with that. Overall the game was actually really good–I think I managed to get the last spell cards for stages 1-3. Maybe even stage 4; I forget. I’m not sure how much I like imperishable night though. Some of the spellcards are really neat and interesting, but the human/youkai mechanics make my head hurt a little–I think they’re really neat, but I don’t like thinking about other things that will distract me from the main task of staying alive.

I’ve also started playing with a gamepad. I’m not quite sure how much I like it. It’s nice to have the dpad, but I’m just as familiar with using the arrow keys with my right hand. In addition, using shift for focus seems a lot more natural. And I feel like my bomb reaction time is a lot better. So perhaps I may decide to go back to keyboard.

I’m playing a bit of Hydorah too now, every once in awhile (yeah, I play a lot of different games). I think gamepad is definitely the right choice for that, since it’s -so- 16-bit style. And because there’s no focus mode. Hydorah is really well made; and pretty fun. Though I’m not sure how I feel about the 16-bit style difficulty, and harsh death penalties. I guess it’s at least not quite as bad as Gradius. Anyhoo, I’ve done one playthrough of Hydorah, but that was just going through the default route only. Eventually I might aim for a full clear playthrough (going through all the levels). Maybe.

Continuing with the game talk; I finished my first playthrough of Trauma Team. I do still feel like there’s not enough surgery missions; I feel like I would be happier if there were maybe twice as many surgeries and the same about of other missions. Or if there were 2/3rds the amount of other types of missions. Or something. I guess it’s just because I don’t like the endoscopy or orthopedic missions. The orthopedic ones are IMHO really boring; there’s no tool switching so there’s really no strategizing or thinking involved–it’s just doing one thing. The endoscopy is slightly better, but it just feels like the actual operation part plays backseat to the real challenge which is moving the damn thing around, which is kind of lame. The forensics and diagnosis parts were actually okay, though somewhat tedious at times.

It also actually did feel kind of disappointing that there were no “cool viruses” a la GUILT. But I think it’s more basic than that–I don’t think Trauma Team really needed cool viruses; it just needed more variety. When I first started playing, it seemed like there was so much stuff, because there were 6 different doctors/game modes, and they were all new and exciting. But -within- each of those, there wasn’t enough variation. Take orthopedics. In the first mission, 90% of the time all you’re doing is holding A and following a blue line. Later on when you learn how to cut out synthetic bone using the laser, it’s still holding A and following a blue line. Sure, it’s a “different” tool, but it’s essentially the same thing. So it’s boring. Later on they introduce the drill gimmick, the hammer gimmick, and the screw gimmick, but that’s pretty much it–there’s only 4 real different gimmicks that you’re doing in orthopedics (unless i’m forgetting something. and stapling doesn’t count).

Compare this to surgeries in the other trauma center games. You’ve only got 8 tools, but there’s more and more evolutions of things that you need to do with them. first you learn how to suture a wound. Then there are the large lacerations which you have to drain, forceps, and -then- suture. Then there’s the under-the-skin things that you need to ultrasound, scalpel, drain, and then suture. And don’t forget the aneurysms where you need to inject, cut, forceps, drain, forceps, suture. And that’s not even getting us started with the GUILT virus types, which give us a whole new slew of things.

It’s not just orthopedics either. The regular surgery missions suffer from this too. Somehow there’s not enough there, so it doesn’t seem very memorable. And again, it’s probably primarily because there are less missions. But some part of it is the design too. If we go back and look at the endoscopy missions, the gameplay mechanics aren’t very interesting at all. The drain and forceps (not to mention stabilizer) are dead easy to use, and the hemostatic forceps and the syringe are -both- simple timing gimmicks (which, by the way, is the same as the screw timing gimmick in orthopedics). The scalpel is a little different but just feels awkward somehow. The snare is alright, though somewhat confusing at first. Now, you may be pointing out that the laser, drain, and gel are all just as easy to use in the surgery missions. And that’s true. But that works in the surgery missions because you have to worry about which tool to use when, and which areas of the patient to treat first. There’s never -any- time in endoscopy where you have to make that kind of decision–you just go along finding things, and whenever you come to something you treat it with the appropriate tool, and then move on. There’s not really anything interesting going on.

The first response missions were really interesting though. I think that concept is a really neat one; and makes for some real fun when you’re trying to juggle four patients at once. I almost wonder what it would be like to have that, but with the full surgery kit instead of just the 4 first response tools. I guess it wouldn’t really make sense, but oh well. Anyhow, I didn’t mind playing the first response missions at all, because they’re basically like surgery missions–even though within a patient it’s easier to decide what to do at any given point, that’s made up for in the fact that you have to handle multiple patients at once. So it works out really nicely. And there are enough different tools (scissors, gauze, air tube thing, cpr, defibrillator, gel, tourniquet, needle, bandages, etc) to keep the variety going.

But yeah, when you compare the gameplay to that of say, new blood, it’s somewhat unsatisfying. In the previous trauma center games, you had everything from operating inside a moving car, to operating on a bomb, to operating on a puzzle, to defeating a giant jello-virus with your laser. Here it was mostly just standard stuff. And even then, there’s less…no aneurysms, no special viruses, etc.

The story was really good though. The characters are for the most part pretty likeable, though I could say the same for New Blood as well if I recall correctly. But the animated cutscenes were really enjoyable; though sometimes a bit slow-paced. I think that’s the one really big saving grace of Trauma Team, to be honest, is the way that the story goes, and how it weaves together at the end. It’s not fantastic, but it’s nice.

I don’t know if I’ll shoot for all XS ranks (there’s those “medals” too, which I don’t really understand yet)–for one thing because it means I’d have to XS all of the orthopedics and endoscopy missions, and I really don’t know if I want to do that.

Also, played DotA for the first time in a long time yesterday. Felt pretty weird after getting used to HoN. Though part of that was also because I was playing on a monitor that stretched it to widescreen (yeeech). Krobelus’s attack animation is 10 times more awkward than Defiler’s, so that definitely took some getting used to. *shrug*

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