XCOM 2, Linux, and Mods

xcom2bannerI run Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon and I’m enjoying the explosion of games available for the platform. One of these is XCOM 2. (A current release! Oh, be still my fluttering heart!) Vanilla, the game ran just fine, but I’m not a vanilla sort of girl. I crave mods. Sweet, juicy mods that enhance the game without turning it into a cheating bastard. Problem was, the launcher only successfully loaded once out of ten or more tries when mods were installed.

I found that the launcher was reading the mod files from .local/share/feral-interactive/XCOM2/VFS/Local/mods_lowercase. However, it took me far longer than it should have to figure out that these weren’t the actual files, but symlinks pointing to the files stored elsewhere. The launcher (or something related to it) was converting the symlink names to all lowercase and reading the mods from the local user folder. It was also deleting and rebuilding the Steam Workshop mod lowercase folder each time the launcher ran, sometimes more than once in a single instance. That multiple deleting and rebuilding always heralded a crash of the launcher.

Mods that I downloaded from Nexus weren’t having that problem, but the few I got from there were stored in /steamapps/common/XCOM 2/share/data/mods and converted to all lowercase in both file and directory names. In the brief moment before the launcher crashed, I could see that those mods were loaded, yet none of the Steam Workshop ones were. Not only that, but the Steam Workshop mods were stored in /steamapps/workshop/content in a folder with a numerical name. Time to run an experiment!

I favorited all of the Steam Workshop mods I subscribed to, so that I could easily find them again, then unsubscribed to all of them. Now, the
only mods were the Nexus mods in the /data/mods folder. I ran the launcher and it opened without a hitch. Now, the Nexus mods were also being symlinked in the local user folder, though in their own subdirectory beside the one used for the Steam Workshop mods. It seems like this second (now only) symlink directory was also being deleted and rebuilt each time the launcher ran, but only once.

So, I’m no Linux guru and I just want to play my damn game with my damn mods. That means that I stop digging into the cause of the problem once I identify enough of it and go after a solution that will achieve my goal.

That meant resubscribing to all of the Workshop mods, and then copying all of them to the /data/mods folder. To make my life easier, I picked up pyRenamer out of the Software Manager and used it to mass rename all of the files and directories within the mods folder to lowercase. Make sure to select both the “Files and directories” and the “Add files recursively” option for the easiest conversion of your mod folder.

I ran the launcher again and it opened without a problem. All of my mods were there and my saved game recognized them. I was able to continue playing where I had left off. Yay!

This solution means that I’ll have to update my mods in a more manual method, but it also protects my save from a mod disappearing from the Workshop and rendering my save unplayable. I’ll take that tradeoff.

Hopefully, this post will help anyone else struggling with the same problem I had. So, how does a modded XCOM 2 play in a Linux environment? Quite nicely, once this whole Workshop mess was sorted out.

Finding an old friend

While rummaging through my shelves and crates to find empty three-ring binders, I found one old binder stuffed full with notes and drawings for an old novel in progress under the working title of Interregnum. Nestled among the pages was a printed copy of the story. This particular copy of Interregnum was the last complete draft printed, dating to 2005. Ten years ago.

Past the sharp scents of old paper and aging plastic, I recalled sitting in plazas and study rooms during my last university years and scribbling down the editing notes that litter the lines of text. A story I once knew came to life again as I flipped through the pages in my rapid reading. The writing was rougher than I liked, but it bore my basic rhythms of prose. I’ve learned a great deal about writing, including things like pacing and tone, since then. Characters long forgotten bantered in energetic exchanges. Main and secondary characters all possessed unique voices, especially when they teased and ribbed each other. Even the mercenary captain, who became increasingly dour during the waning drafts, was allowed to have some fun and have fun poked at her expense.

This draft suffered from the traveling bug, spending far too much time on the road to get from point A to point B, yet rushing through for the sake of expediency. My notes remark on this, advising to spend some time at certain locations. Show the mercenaries earning their pay, show the lost princess gaining and honing her skills, show the mercenary captain in command. Illustrate the duality of hard power and soft power through the approaches of the mercenary captain and the lost princess. Let the mercenary captain and lost princess make mistakes and figure out how to recover from them. Show the core characters bonding with one another. Spend the time to make it work.

However, that wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t the sole writer in this project. There was a co-writer involved and she had different priorities. The waiting political drama took precedent over the journey. Here, the tone changed from my punchy prose to the co-writer’s aspirations of loftier lines. It made sense for the tone to shift with the focus and reflect the machinations of refined nobility. My words still wove through those sections to prevent a hard jarring of the reader, but the change was still noticeable. As the next draft progressed, the mercenaries were pushed further and further back, while the political drama consumed all of our collective resources.

My notes in the two years after this printed draft show a great deal of struggle with reconciling the elements of the story, even as I admitted to myself that Interregnum had morphed into two different tales. The first book should have been nothing but the journey, then the second focusing on the political drama. That’s a more experienced eye, clarified by hindsight, and has no bearing on the past. Scattered among the notes are multiple attempts at rewrites, a few as fresh starts to help cast new perspective. Those clusters of notes through 2007 show a great deal of frustration, both at fixing the pacing and reconciliation problems and at my co-writer’s growing disinterest. As Interregnum languished, I realized that I could be spending my time working on other projects.

Driven by the need to be working on some sort of original writing project and unwilling to break apart Interregnum after laboring on it for so many years, I started to craft a new story. I threw so many ideas at the proverbial wall, hoping one would stick. One did and that idea grew into the Black Mark series. Interregnum was ultimately broken and abandoned, though the circumstances of that sad event is another story.

As to those empty binders I was looking for, I found them after spending a while on my office floor and revisiting some old friends.


Gugure! Kokkuri-san: Episode 01 Review

Gugure Kokkurisan title card

Our selected anime today is Gugure! Kokkuri-san, streaming at Crunchyroll.

Here’s the summary as Crunchyroll tells it:  Kohina Ichimatsu, the self-proclaimed doll, called out the fox ghost Kokkuri-san with a suspicious incantation! But it was a story of the past where Kokkuri-san was able to answer any question you had. Nowadays, it relies on a certain search engine, but is actually bad at anything digital. He was going to possess Kohina, but got worried about her living all alone and devotes himself to do chores as if he was her mother. On top of that, the dog ghost Inugami who is infatuated with Kohina and the old good-for-nothing supernatural raccoon dog Shigaraki decide to root themselves with her as well!

Genres: Comedy, Supernatural

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this anime. It was either going to be really funny or really stupid. Shall we find out?


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Karen Senki: Episodes 01 and 02 Review

Karen Senki title card
Our selected anime today is Karen Senki, streaming at Crunchyroll.

Here’s the summary as Crunchyroll tells it:  Karen leads the human resistance group, “11”. Having lost her little sister Touka in the war against these evolving machines, Karen’s strong motivation to save humanity is personal and raging for victory. Slowly growing distant and detached to numb her grief, Karen wants to inflict the same pain onto the machines as they have done to her. Can machines feel pain like humans?

Genres: Action

My first expectations when reading the summary was something along the lines of desperate humans fighting something akin to Skynet from the Terminator series. That sounds interesting to me, so I gave the first episode a look. Thinking that the first episode was just a disjointed audience hook, I watched the second episode. After all, the episodes are only 10-11 minutes long. So, what is Karen Senki?


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Akatsuki no Yona: Episode 01

Akatsuki no Yona title cardOur selected anime for review today is Akatsuki no Yona, streaming at Crunchyroll.

Here’s the summary as Crunchyroll tells it: Currently, Hiryuu Palace has no one else next in line for the throne other than the fifteen year old princess, Yona, who had been raised with care. Finally, the night of her sixteenth birthday arrives. She expects it to be a wonderful day spent with her peace-loving father, Il, her servant and friend Hak, and her cousin Soo-won, who she had feelings for… However… That night, Yona goes to visit her father to tell him how she really feels, because he opposes to her getting married to Soo-won. However, when she gets to her room, she encounters a shocking truth.

Genres: Action, Fantasy, Romance, Reverse-Harem, Adventure

I’m usually leery of Harem and Reverse-Harem anything, since good premises often devolve into quivering piles of stupid and obnoxious in those genres, if they’re not excuses for ecchi. However, there are exceptions from time to time, so I’ll give this one a chance. Yona’s feelings for her cousin triggered a warning flag, but let’s see out the show handles it.


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Archeage Beta Impressions

Does it live up to the hype? As with most other games, the answer is no. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s just not my thing.

tl;dr summary: This is a Korean grinder with an interesting economy mechanic – if you’re a paying “patron”. Otherwise, it’s just a Korean grinder. If you have the time and money to burn, you might be sucked in after level 30, if you like grinding.
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Black Mark Book Four: Treasure and Tribulation

The newest release for the Black Mark series is live!04 TT small

Who said work as a translator was safe? This is war!

In the fourth installment of the thrilling Black Mark series, the sly Azarola joins the aviatrix Audra’s multinational team in a race against time to decipher a cryptic message and recover an extraordinary relic before Elspia falls. Despite his crippling wounds, his valuable knowledge marks him as an asset for Inexa and a target for the Directorate. As the team hunts, Azarola learns a condemning secret about himself and his cursed fate. With his life and the outcome of the war at stake, he leverages his subterfuge skills deep within enemy territory, flirting with disastrous exposure with every step. He must find a way to close the witchgates and break the Directorate’s war machine at any cost!

Sample Chapters:
Chapter One
Chapter Two

Purchase “Treasure and Tribulation” for Kindle

Live-Action Rurouni Kenshin

『Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno / The Legend Ends』 Trailer (English)

Normally, I’m not too interested in live action adaptations of manga/anime, but these two upcoming films have my attention. One, it’s the Kyoto arc of Rurouni Kenshin, and two, it actually looks decently done. The characters are recognizable without much alteration from their original designs, yet are translated into live action without looking horribly silly. It’s nice to recognize scenes from the arc in the trailer.

I wonder if the renewed interest in Rurouni Kenshin will also mean that we’ll see the Jinchu arc either animated or given a live action treatment.

Quick Update

So, where have the reviews been?

We tried to get through the first episodes of the Winter 2014 knockout list and ended up despairing for humanity. There are other things we need to do instead of torturing ourselves with bad anime for twelve weeks. Instead, I followed Log Horizon and AstralRuby followed Samurai Flamenco. I do recommend Log Horizon.

What about Spring 2014? Well, it’s not looking good either. Do we really need multiple show implying incest and a couple implying pedophilia?

There is a bright spot in all of this, though. We have the second season of Mushishi. So far, it looks like a return to form and I look forward to watching it.

We’d like to put up some reviews and discussions about anime that we do like, especially shows that we think have been underrated. There are a lot of ranty reviewers out there already and it takes a lot of energy to put up with something you don’t like. However, if there’s a show we feel compelled to roast, we’ll do so, just because we’ll have our righteous anger to sustain us through the grind.



Years ago, my then roommate had a betta fish that I wanted to make something like this for. He was such a lonely fish and often looked like he wanted to follow us. In one of my old sketchbooks, there’s some drawings of a fish-controlled tank on wheels. That someone else had the same idea and actually built it delights me to no end.