Rundown (12/27-1/02) New Year, New Assignments

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Wherein I discuss my 2021 conundrum, a Dungeon Fighter turned… fighter, and the inevitable cloud-based cataclysm.

It’s a new year, and being the calendar-based individual I am, I took this opportunity to revise and rework my schedule regarding Nigma Box, as I detailed in an update earlier this week. Through the bullet points I provided, you may have noticed that I had a lot planned for Q1 2021, and that is intentional. For me, this year is going to be defined by two major projects I have taken on.

Project Re;Novus 2021, which is my dumb internal name for the collection of seven 5,000 to 12,000 word short stories based on my first, second, third, and fifth novels. Along with Psycho Festival 2222, which will be my longest novel so far. However, I cannot begin working on them without adopting a schedule, setting aside some time, and having an outline to go off of. As such, the outline takes priority, and I need to jot my ideas down while they are fresh, or else I will forget about them. I do have scattered notes and concepts I’ve accumulated over… years, but no unifying structure, which is what I am currently working on before I take care of anything else.

That being said, I will release a new secret review on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, so look forward to that. But for now, let’s get on with the usual Rundown shenanigans. 

This being that awkward time between Christmas and New Year’s, there naturally was not much news to go around this past week, and the biggest announcement was probably DNF Duel. A fighting game based on Dungeon Fighter Online (also known as Dungeon & Fighter), a Korean online beat ‘em up RPG that originally debuted in 2005, and has gone on to become the fourth highest-grossing game series of all time, right under Call of Duty… at least according to Wikipedia.

That might come as a surprise considering how, while very popular in Asian countries, DFO has had a spotty track record in the English-speaking world. A North American version released in 2009, 4 years after the Korean release in 2005, but that version shuttered in 2013 after assorted issues, and the title was not revived until a worldwide release in 2016 when the free-to-play online game scene was already thriving and the competition was more intense. Regardless, the game still makes a literal billion dollars a year, so it is not surprising to see some of that cash go into a fighting game, but what surprised me was the developer, or rather, developers. 

DNF Duel is yet another license fighting game developed by Arc System Works, who has pretty much become the all-around fan-favorite fighting game developer, as their games offer rock-solid mechanics, colorful casts, and a visual flair that has yet to be matched due to their mastery of the Unreal Engine and anime character models. While without question the guys you want to work on any licensed fighting game, I was surprised to see them be attached to this project due to the studio’s frankly insane output over the past few years. 

Seriously, just counting fighting games, which is not the only thing they do, Arc System Works released Dragon Ball FighterZ, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, and GranBlue Fantasy Versus within 3 years, all of which had waves of DLC characters on top of featuring large rosters upon launch. And when considering how much the studio is putting into Guilty Gear Strive, it’s hard to imagine that they have the capacity to work on a fully new title.

Well, that’s where the second developer attached to this project comes in, as the game is being co-developed by Eighting. Yes, Eighting, a company who you might know from their work on Tatsunoko Vs Capcom and Marvel Vs Capcom 3, but spent most of the last decade working on licensed console games for Zoids and Kamen Rider. It is a somewhat bizarre arrangement but could result in yet another good fighter that will garner some audience and acclaim, but just be a blip on the radar for most. As is the fate of most fighting games.

Beyond this one juicy nugget, nothing much stood out to me this past week, so if I may, I’m going to go on a mostly unrelated diatribe about something rattling about in my mind. 

I have always been in favor of ditching physical media in favor of digital, whether it be music, video, games, books, software, or just documents in general. However, I have become increasingly apprehensive about how it’s starting to look like the future won’t just be digital, but it will also be cloud-based and subscription-based. 

You have companies like Microsoft and Adobe hiding the ability to buy their products outright on their websites and redirecting them towards the subscription every step of the way. You have music, as a medium, shifting away from purchases and towards play-based streaming. You have video streaming services buying up the exclusive rights to shows and movies to host on their platforms. And you have the games industry, where you see a growing number of these live services and always online games that either will or have already died.

This all makes me incredibly worried about what will happen 10, 20, or even 30 years from now. Eventually, there will be an entire generation who has grown up with media that you acquire as a service, where they don’t have personal experience with buying a piece of media to own it and own it forever. At that point, will mass media even be sold outright, or will the mega-corps of the future fund and distribute it? Will most people even want to collect digital, let alone physical, media? Because if somebody grows up using Netflix, Spotify, and Game Pass instead of renting movies, downloading MP3s, and buying games, I can’t imagine them having any attachment to the idea of owning the media they enjoy. 

Admittedly, there will always be media hoarders (like myself) and presentation nuts (more outspoken than myself), but will these people become fewer in numbers in successive generations as fewer people associate with the idea of outright owning media in general? It all makes me worried about the upcoming digital future from an archival perspective, and from a personal perspective, I’m just scared of how many things I love or would love will simply vanish into nothingness as they are wiped from servers, no backups are prepared, and nobody can ever experience them ever again.

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