Daily Finds - December 2020 / January 2021


I watched Служебный Роман (Office Romance). It's a 70s Soviet romcom about the boss of a statistics office and her subordinate. I enjoyed it a lot even though the English subtitles leave something to be desired. In Russia there was even a Google Doodle to celebrate its anniversary - and Google says nearly half the population saw the film in 1977!

Something I find really funny is that the 'attractive' women in the film of course mostly look old-fashioned now, with their big hair and 70s clothes. But the 'frumpy' boss would fit in pretty well on Tumblr with this modern androgynous look! It just goes to show, no big deal if you don't dress fashionably now, your time might come around...


Here are two unusual types of guitar.

Microtonal fixed fret guitar

Fanned fret guitar and a page explaining them


Haven’t updated in a few days because I’ve been spending my evenings playing Hiveswap Act 2. Whatever its flaws, it’s an adventure game with great setting, music and art in 2020, and that’s good enough for me.

Couple things I did want to say about it. I haven’t read the comic in over a decade so maybe I’m out of date, but I thought trolls had no concept of gender preference in quadrants. So when it comes to having a character named “Gaegrl Elwurd” (oof...) or Tyzias expressing a clear gender preference, I found that weird, especially when Xefros then claims not to know why Joey feels awkward about kissing a girl. And I actually thought that trolls didn’t have sexual relationships in the way humans would understand it, because of the pail stuff, but after playing this I have to assume I’m just plain wrong on that. (I still think that’s a funnier idea though - that their society is insanely focused on relationships to the point that they’re literally life or death, but when it comes down it, they don’t do anything. That would fit with it being a planet of internet teens. They talk a big game but there’s not much action...)

Also, there were no pitch/ashen relationships shown! I think kismesissitude is the essence of what makes troll culture what it is (given that they’re parodies of internet trolls) so I would have liked to see one.

The Adventure Gamers review thinks that it "would benefit from voice acting", an amazing misunderstanding which somehow accidentally makes a point about how voice chat probably is the dominant way gamer teens communicate online now (probably, I dunno, I'm too old to know). I could talk for a really long time about how Homestuck captures internet subcultures which I doubt have any meaning whatsoever to actual teenagers on the internet today (in much the same way that Elf Only Inn would baffle anyone born after the chatroom era), and about how Hiveswap brings in modernised internet stereotypes... but I'd need to write a whole separate article about it.


Welcome to December! The Rat Shack has been online for almost a full year now. Thank you to everyone who's visited.

Following on from yesterday's peek into the Petz exe, here's a description of the Drama Manager in the game. I found this on the Petz Hacking and Modding Discord.

Virtual Babyz: Believable Agents with Narrative Intelligence (PDF)

Petz Hacking and Modding Discord

It's a "procedural narrative system", before any of the famous examples like Left 4 Dead.

Someone recommended the mobile game "Pixel Petz" for those who are missing old cyberpet games. This has quite a good concept: customise your pets down to the pixel level.

However, I couldn't be bothered with it. It might be great for artists, but as soon as I started pushing pixels around I thought, "aren't computers supposed to make things more fun and easy? If I could draw my own pet by hand, why wouldn't I just go do that without all the monetisation?" I really didn't feel like manually drawing the shading in on each individual paw. And of course the animations can only be very rudimentary in such a system (legs can't bend, mouths can't open, tails can't wag). Still, an interesting idea; if it wasn't an app with microtransactions I'd be a lot more complimentary towards it.