Wherein I discuss supporting my hobby with money, an embarrassing display by Epic, the revival of a satisfactory skyward story, and a mysterious remake.
I don’t need to explain that I’m big into TSF/TG/Gender Bender stuff, right? And precisely because I am so invested in this… I guess you could just go ahead and call it a genre, I also want to actively support it monetarily. Now, I have been doing that for years, and I currently support titles like re:Dreamer and Press-Switch (which is still on hiatus), and artists like ONATaRT, but I routinely feel like I do not do quite enough, as there are so many amazing artists and creators out there, and people who are catering directly to the TSF community.
So, why don’t I support more creators? Well, I don’t make a lot of money and what I do make I put away into my savings and retirement accounts (like a good Millennial). Still, I set aside a monthly $69 Patreon budget that I am willing to spread around, but I just… don’t. Why is that? Well, I think it is for several reasons.
One, when I do pledge to somebody on Patreon, I like to make it a commitment, and I want to make sure that I deeply love their content and workload. I do not like subscribing and then jumping ship after pillaging what content is available on their page and Discord— even though that is perfectly acceptable— because Patreon is meant to be a support network for creators.
Two, when I do make the commitment to support somebody, I want to make sure I am getting a good deal. I love spending a few dollars a month and getting a gosh darn pool or original and exclusive content for me to enjoy. Whether it be sequences, sketches, comics, or whatever. If you gate content, it makes me want it more. If you time-lock it, I really do not care. And if your output outside of Patreon goes down, then chances are I’ll start forgetting about you. Unless everything you drop is spitting hot fire, like the TG GOAT Ian C. Samson.
Three, while I love and admire artists of all shapes and sizes, in most cases I would rather just pay a monthly fee to a small group that commissions and pays artists to create high-quality content than support creators individually. In a sense, this already exists, with groups like TSF Singularity and TSFC both supporting a spectrum of artists and putting out a lot of content for $3 or $5. But based on what I saw after a month of experimental patronage last year, their work lacks the same depth I like to see from my TSF.
If I want this depth, I pretty much need to go to a dedicated visual novel or a dedicated manga creator/distributor. This is why I give Press-Switch $60 an update, and why I give re:Dreamer $20 a month, despite having not touched the game since May 2020. But with comics, this gets real tricky. Most of the TSF comic media out there tends to be niche manga, and supporting niche manga sucks. You can support dedicated scanlation groups. You can support groups who commission translation groups, such as Gender.tf. Or you could enjoy the free English versions available online while kicking some money back to the Japanese creator by buying their work on DLSite or Pixiv Fanbox. And while the last choice is the ‘best’ choice, it is ultimately an act of charity for a funny book laced with moon runes that I cannot hope to read.
So in conclusion, supporting the things you love kinda sucks when it is so fringe and scattered. …Also, it’s time to talk about video game news.
The biggest story in the games industry this past week, or rather weeks I suppose, is the Free Fortnite fiasco. In short, Epic offered mobile players of Fortnite the ability to purchase the game’s premium currency at a reduced rate via Epic’s website. This was done to get around Apple and Google’s fixed 30% share in all revenue earned by apps on their platform, and as should be no surprise, goes completely against both platform holders’ terms of service. In response to this, Fortnite was removed from the iOS App Store and Google Play Store, and a legal dispute kicked off between the three parties.
All of which Epic rightfully anticipated and planned for. They had a trailer prepared for this, a lawsuit all written up, and are expressing no sign of budging as both Apple and Google are threatening to punish Epic more and more for violating their TOS. To the point where Apple is threatening to revoke Epic of their developer privileges on their platforms, along with removing support for any games that run on the Unreal Engine, one of the most popular game engines in the world. It is a dire measure, assuredly, but it is a sign of Apple and Google asserting their dominance and reinforcing the status quo that benefits them.
Now, I want to go out and say this is a conflict where there are no good guys. Google and Apple have a beneficial rate implemented and do not want to share more revenue with developers because money is nice and they like having it. Epic is the last game company that needs more money and is rallying together the mostly young and impressionable fanbase of Fortnite to help sway the whims of technology conglomerates. Admittedly, it would be nice if more platform holders shared more revenue with their developers due to how little most platform holders do to help promote smaller titles and apps, and because of this, there is an argument to be made that these companies should only take 20% or 25%. But that is not going to happen, and I do not see anything truly good coming from this corporate hissy fit.
Next on the itinerary is a series of retailer listings of unannounced games, starting with an Amazon UK listing for 2011’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Nintendo Switch. Now, this may seem like an especially random listing and title to re-release on the Switch out of all the Zelda titles that could benefit from a re-release— and it is— but there has been buzz about Skyward Sword coming to the Switch since Eiji Aonuma offhandedly mentioned that this port at a Zelda concert back in November 2018. Nintendo denied that this port was happening, because of course they did, but recently an Amazon UK store page for this title appeared, and as such, it seems like this port is indeed happening.
Now, while I am all for this title being brought forward and introduced to a new generation, I honestly would rather they bring forward literally any other Zelda title except this one. I played Skyward Sword back in 2012, and while I ultimately enjoyed it for what it was, it’s a title I never particularly want to revisit, and for many reasons, but I’ll just list three.
The controls, while designed for the Wii Remote from the ground up, fluctuate between cumbersome and awkward in general. They lacked the same efficiency as traditional buttons, and made the game tiring to play after a longer play session, not that the game even wants you to play for more than an hour or so. Despite featuring some utterly fantastic character and environmental designs, the game lacks the same stylistic cohesiveness seen in Majora’s Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and Breath of the Wild. And you could really tell that the developers were struggling with ways to make the Zelda formula interesting and novel, and their approach to flesh the game out was more padding than anything else. I personally did not mind the linearity that came with most of the game, but when the player needs to revisit the same three disconnected biomes over and over, it gets repetitive fast.
The next retail leak came in the form of Guatemalan retailer MAX, who put up a store page for a title dubbed Prince of Persia Remake with a November release window, slated for PS4 and Switch. For fans of the series, which has not seen a new entry since 2010’s Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, this is all rather exciting, but almost immediately the discussion veers from the fact that an older title is being remade to the question of which older title is being remade, as it could be three different games.
The original Prince of Persia, a methodical and difficult 2D platformer with deliberate and realistic platforming and an hour long time limit that, while remarkable from a historical perspective, has a pretty crappy fun factor. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, a title that revived the series and is considered to be among the best games of the PS2 generation. Or Prince of Persia (2008) an entirely different take on the series that was met with a more mixed reception before being forgotten by Ubisoft, presumably because it did not perform as well as Assassin’s Creed.
Which of these titles will be remade? Who knows! But I’m sure that Ubisoft will drop a press release package for it soon once people start to forget that the company promoted, empowered, and enabled abusers for years upon years.
That would be everything for this week, but Warner Bros. Interactive had two new game announcements to make at the recent DC Fandome event, with the first being from Warner Bros. Games Montreal. Now, WB Montreal is a studio that has had a rough time over the past few years. They cobbled together and shipped Batman: Arkham Origins in 2013, and while the game was received pretty middlingly by critics and fans, it was a remarkable accomplishment for a young studio like them. They were founded in 2010, development began in July 2011, and they shipped a sequel to one of the most celebrated games of the generation by October 2013.
Since then, the studio has lingered in development hell with projects being cancelled and reinvented partway through. They were working on a Suicide Squard game, only for it to be canceled in 2016. After this, they were supposedly working on a Damian Wayne Batman game, but that too was likely shelved in favor of the project revealed today, simply named Gotham Knights. A title poised to be a multiplayer open world RPG that follows the four playable characters of Barbara Gordon, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Jason Todd as they scour across Gotham after the death of Bruce Wayne, in order to restore order and establish themselves as heroes in their own right after their mentor allegedly passes away.
Based on that premise and the name, some might be wondering if this is a sequel to 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight, but it is instead a completely original story, albeit one that wears its Arkham influences as prominently as it can, and is clearly redesigning bits and pieces of the series in order to make it more Live Service friendly. Yes, from the inclusion of multiple playable characters, and likely multiplayer, the decision to include numerical leveling, and branding the game as an action RPG over an action-adventure game, it is clear that WB Games wants this title to be a platform. One that uses progression systems, co-op, and piecemeal grindy content to keep players socially and monetarily engaged over a prolonged period. As is the style of AAA games of the modern era.
Aside from its genre, how does the game look? Well, like a more game-y Arkham title, and while I do not particularly care for the series, I know many people do, and hope they can enjoy what this title has to offer. Honestly, my only real gripe with it is how Jason Todd, a crappy character who nobody outside of DC editorial really likes, is being given the spotlight over other supporting Batman characters like Cassandra Cain or Kate Kane. But at the same time, I get it. He is the guy with the guns, guns sell AAA video games. Anyways, Gotham Knights launches for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC sometime in 2021.
The second game revealed was Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, which is being developed by Rocksteady and was revealed via a 4 minute pre-rendered cinematic trailer that did little to establish what the game would be like. However, it will be a one to four player story-driven third-person shooter featuring Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang and King Shark as they are told to kill the Justice League. Or at the very least a murderous Superman, because evil Superman is an easier concept to get one’s head around than regular Superman, and they don’t want to make these anti-heroes and villains too unsympathetic, I suppose. Again, I do not pass judgment on a title until I see in-engine or doctored up footage, so I am pretty much apathetic to this concept, but the title is slated to release for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X sometime in 2022.
Header image was created by ONATaRT.