Return of the Obra Dinn is a ship-shape seafaring death puzzle

Screenshot from Return of the Obra Dinn, showing the ship's main deck in moonlight

Lost at sea in 1803, the Obra Dinn suddenly reappears outside Falmouth years later. None of the ship’s 60 crew and passengers remain to tell the tale of what happened – every soul aboard is either dead or missing. There’s only one person who can solve the mystery of this ghost ship… a determined insurance investigator.

Return of the Obra Dinn is a puzzle game from indie developer Lucas Pope, best known for releasing the ultra-depressing immigration simulator Papers Please. While Obra Dinn isn’t as soul-crushing as Papers Please, it also centres around an administrative task, and a morbid one at that: your job is to identify everyone aboard the ship and what their fate was.

Boarding the ship, you’ll quickly spot a single skeleton on the deck, just outside the captain’s quarters. It’s time to whip out every insurance investigator’s favourite tool: a magic pocketwatch that lets you travel back to the moment of that person’s death.

Continue reading “Return of the Obra Dinn is a ship-shape seafaring death puzzle”

Attempting an internet detox for my brain

August has not been my best month ever. It definitely wasn’t the worst either, but I had a lot of days where I honestly felt pretty crappy. The land of low moods, anxiety, stress and self-doubt.

When I feel like this, I notice myself slipping into some unhealthy internet patterns. Things like:

  • checking the news over and over
  • scrolling through Twitter for ages
  • binge-watching YouTube for hours at a time

These habits are part cause and part effect. I definitely don’t think they’re entirely to blame for my rubbish moods, but the first two can spark or exacerbate them. While YouTube doesn’t tend to make me feel more negative, it often distracts me from doing something that would actually help me out. And when I’m feeling down, it’s a lot harder to exercise discipline around using them.

I want to try to break free of this cycle, so for September I’m going to attempt a sort of internet detox. I am not doing this to boost productivity or anything like that (you know my thoughts on this). But I am hoping it’ll help with my general wellbeing.

Continue reading “Attempting an internet detox for my brain”

Thoughts on 6 months of blogging

I’ve been writing this blog for more than half a year now. This will be the 29th post I publish.

Starting a blog in 2019 feels a bit like signing up for MySpace or posting on Usenet or some other dinosaurish internet activity. Really, I should have started a YouTube channel or tried to make it big on TikTok. Nowadays, if you want to spend hours and hours editing yourself into audience-friendly content, video seems to be the way to do it.

But, anachronistic as it may be, I’m happy I started this blog. It’s been a positive thing in my life and I’m excited to keep at it.

Continue reading “Thoughts on 6 months of blogging”

The ghost of David Berman

David Berman, the singer from Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, and one of my favourite songwriters, died this week.

I learned this within minutes of waking up on Thursday morning – from a music website, which I have been trying to read first thing as a replacement for the news, ironically to avoid negativity – and it absolutely floored me.

Nevertheless I got up, went to work, then went home early after realising I just could not keep my shit together. Instead I got on the emptiest carriage of the train, put “The Wild Kindness” on my headphones, and had a good cry.

Continue reading “The ghost of David Berman”

Everything I read in July

I finished five books this month: Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride, Normal People by Sally Rooney, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and A Case of Conscience by James Blish.

I loved one of these books, and am going to say mean things about another. But which is which? Also, does Satan make aliens to test our faith? Both of these questions will be answered, and more, in this month’s reading roundup. If I keep this up long enough, maybe publishers will send me stuff for free!

Continue reading “Everything I read in July”

Productivity culture is making me miserable

Productivity! Who doesn’t love it? Who doesn’t want that feeling of doing something useful, something valuable, something constructive? Bettering ourselves and driving the economy? It’s the dream, right?

The idea of getting more done at work is nothing new. But lately the entire concept of being more productive has become increasingly fetishised, to the point that it’s gone well beyond the 9-to-5 into some sort of aspirational lifestyle.

Lately I’m starting to realise just how much the Cult of Productivity has infiltrated my life. It spoils my free time, it controls my hobbies, and it’s even messing with my emotions. And I’m thoroughly sick of it.

Continue reading “Productivity culture is making me miserable”