Rundown (3/07-3/13) POW & POS

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Wherein I discuss updates, the better blockchain system, bad corporate licensing policies, a whole new story being made evergreen, and how our corporate digital overlords ought not be trusted.

Before beginning this Rundown, I would like to offer a bit of an update. I am sorry that I have not been particularly active as of late and have gone nearly a full month without a usual Wednesday post. I post reviews when they are done, but I have not been able to polish off Student Transfer Scenarios – Part 7 quite yet. 

Furthermore, I likely will not be able to maintain my current weekly schedule for The Saga of Vincent Dawn, as editing these chapters has proven more intensive than I initially estimated. I’d say that I hope things will improve after tax season, but I will be busy writing Psycho Bullet Festival 2222 for much of the year, so I will not be making any more promises. 

As of late, I have seen quite a few people in my various circles talking about NTF art, or crypto art, namely how it has an incredibly negative effect on the environment because the act of buying and selling crypto art results in massive carbon emissions. This confused me at first, because while I am far more familiar with cryptocurrency than most people (it is a major part of my job) I was not truly informed about the relationship between cryptocurrency mining and cryptocurrency trading.

In order to trade and exchange cryptocurrency, the transaction needs to be entered in a public digital ledger, a blockchain, and the trade needs to be validated. In order to validate cryptocurrency, somebody needs to serve as a miner. A miner is somebody who offers the computational power needed to process transactions and prove that they are valid. By validating transactions, miners receive a small portion of this exchange, taken out as a fee, which they recognize as income. 

This seems like a good concept, except the amount of computational power needed to validate a single trade or sale of cryptocurrency is… absurd. As in, one single trade of cryptocurrency can consume about as much electricity as it takes to power an American household for a day. That is beyond inefficient, and upon hearing that, I completely understand why people think cryptocurrency is such a problem. Because when you are consuming power like that and using fossil fuels to do so, you are endangering the environment. So, yeah, it’s a big fucking problem.

Now, it is important to note that the cryptocurrencies where this is a problem use the Proof of Work (POW) method to validate transactions. However, there exists a vastly more efficient method of verifying transactions known as the Proof of Stake (POS) method. The main difference between the two is that Proof of Work uses mining to validate transactions, which consumes a lot of power as complicated calculations need to be solved. While Proof of Stake uses staking.

Staking has users lock their cryptocurrency away in a specified account, or wallet, for a set amount of time, where the crypto cannot be sold. Depending on the quantity of crypto put into the stake and its duration, the user is rewarded with staking income for staking their investment to help validate transactions. So you can effectively think of staking as putting your money away into a bond, certificate of deposit, or investment account, but with no guaranteed rate of return and no government security.

But the most important thing about staking is how it consumes basically no power in comparison to POW methods. So, you might be thinking, ‘why don’t more cryptocurrencies use the POS method if it is far more environmentally friendly?’ Well, the POS method was not introduced until after Bitcoin was first created, and initially the mining costs for Bitcoin were far more modest than they are now. Ethereum, arguably the most useful cryptocurrency, is planning on branching off into a new POS method that will boast a dramatically smaller carbon footprint, but the same is not true for Bitcoin or the like, and Bitcoin sadly dominates the world of crypto. 

Or in other words, cryptocurrency trading is a big problem for power consumption and the environment, we do have a workaround for it, but nobody is really pursuing it even as crypto gets bigger than ever and the damages get worse and worse with every passing day.

The Hyperdimension Neptunia series is probably the most mellow ‘love and hate’ relationship I have with any games franchise. I love the concept, like the core gameplay, and enjoy the characters, but the games are cheaply produced and have routinely found brand new ways to disappoint me with almost every release. I’ve gone through 10 of these gosh darn games so far and seeing as how I am already neck-deep into the Nep-Nep hole, I’ve decided that I will play every significant game in the series until it eventually dies out.

And the latest spin-off was revealed this past week as the fourth installment from Simple 2000 superstar and bouncy ecchi action manufacturer, Tamsoft, who decided to make this next title yet another crossover. Senran Nin Nin Ninja Taisen Neptune: Shoujo-tachi no Kyouen is a crossover between Neptunia and Tamsoft’s own Senran Kagura series. Which is an idea that makes so much sense that I’m actually a bit surprised Compile Heart and Idea Factory haven’t given it the greenlight sooner.

Only snippets about the game were shown, including a few seconds of hack and slash Musou-style combat, a more classically Japanese redesign for series protagonist Neptune, and confirmation of a hot spring mini-game, because that’s way more important than story details. Overall, I’m sure it will fall in-line with the previous Tamsoft-developed titles (which have ranged from average, bad, and pretty good) and while I do not particularly care for the Senran Kagura series and its pedestrian approach to sexual content, I’m willing to learn the lore and see what this game has to offer. The game is due out for PS4 later this year in Japan, and I’m sure it will come to North America sometime next year.

However, I think my biggest takeaway from this announcement is how it affirms that the Senran Kagura series is still indeed alive after it underwent some notable struggles these past few years… almost entirely because of Sony. After Sony Computer Entertainment of Japan became Sony Interactive Entertainment of America, they began adopting different standards for what games they would or would not allow on PlayStation platforms. According to an article by the Wall Street Journal, this was something of an impulsive move on Sony’s part where, inspired by the #MeToo movement, the platform holder decided that they did not want certain content on their platform.

Now, I am all for platform holders policing the content they allow, but if they are going to enforce any kind of standards, they need to be reasonable, upheld consistently, and be clearly conveyed to both users and creators to avoid wasting time, effort, and resources. Unfortunately, Sony did none of those things.

They only took umbrage with games with an anime aesthetic, young female characters, and lewd activities. They had no written guidelines to provide developers and publishers. And the standards were not consistently applied on a title-by-title basis. Hell, the standards for what was and wasn’t okay changed as titles were going through successive rounds of certification. 

It was a mess, and while I do not know if Sony cleaned up their standards in the past two years, they still enforced inconsistent standards against a targeted subset of games and affected the release of future games. The most public example of this was probably Senran Kagura 7EVEN. A title that was more or less shelved after the developers realized it would be impossible to release the title they originally imagined. 

Nothing has been said about the game since 2019, and it honestly would not be surprising if Tamsoft canceled the title due to the hoops the dev team would need to jump through in order to get their ecchi action game through Sony’s thorny certification process.

Two weeks ago, Monster Hunter Rise was announced for PC in a very roundabout and indirect way. Instead of Capcom outright announcing this, the news broke out in the form of various previews that casually mentioned how this Switch exclusive would eventually make its way to PC sometime in early 2022. I thought that was a bizarre and needlessly futuristic announcement that went against Capcom and Nintendo’s marketing efforts, as Monster Hunter Rise is coming out for Switch in a few days, so you’d think they would only want to discuss the Switch version. It made me wonder just what kind of negotiations have been happening between the parties, and now I’m wondering that again after new details have surfaced regarding Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

The game was announced last year as a Switch exclusive and, much to my surprise, it is launching on July 7th for both Switch and PC. I can only assume that Nintendo re-assessed the value of this game as an exclusive and renegotiated to have the game be a console exclusive, but removed any limitations that would prevent Capcom from releasing it on PC. It’s an odd situation, but if it means more people can get their hands on this game and can run it at crazy high resolutions, then I see it as a plenty good reason to celebrate.

Do you know what isn’t a good reason to celebrate? Industry consolidation! And after the European Union formally approved Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax (the parent company of Bethesda Softworks), the two companies hosted a roundtable discussion explaining what this means for customers and people invested in the Xbox ecosystem. …Even though they more or less explained this earlier on, or at least it seemed obvious enough to me.

Much like all first-party Microsoft titles, the bulk of Bethesda’s backlog as a publisher was added to Game Pass. There are some notable omissions, such as Dishonored: Death of the Outsider and The Evil Within 2, along with many titles from the era of Bethesda that I’m guessing most people want to forget about. Titles like Wet, Rogue Warrior, Rage, Brink, and Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, which may all be of interest to somebody, but they weren’t anybody’s finest moments.

Meanwhile, Xbox’s stance on Bethesda game exclusivity is… pretty much their own stance on exclusivity. Most of their games will be Xbox and PC exclusives developed with the goal of bolstering Microsoft’s Game Pass service with quality titles. However, some titles will be released on other platforms if the publisher thinks they would be a good fit. Or to offer my own interpretation: the next Doom, Fallout, and Elder Scrolls are likely not coming to Nintendo or Sony systems. But if Bethesda works on smaller titles, they might make their way to other platforms. Similar to how Microsoft has handled titles like Minecraft, Cuphead, and the Ori games.

However, something I found curious about this announcement was how it was worded. How these games will be exclusive not to Windows and Xbox consoles, but exclusive to “platforms where Game Pass exists.” This more or less confirms what a lot of insiders have been saying about Xbox’s goal for the next generation. It is not to become the most popular console, but rather bring more and more users into the Xbox Game Pass ecosystem. Which I guess is in line with the slightly scary goal of Microsoft as a whole to become a provider of services, instead of productions. And while I think Microsoft’s services, Game Pass included, are a good value, I also have to voice concern over how these services could be abused.

As more and more people switch from buying goods and start getting things through services, Microsoft, and many other companies, could conceivably stop selling goods and only offer services going forward. I mean, they’re already aggressively pushing Microsoft Office users to switch to Office 365, and while it might sound crazy to think that they would ever stop selling Microsoft Office as a standalone product, they could do that. And they similarly could decide that they want more people to be Game Pass subscribers and start releasing titles exclusively via their subscription service.

Now, I don’t expect these things to happen anytime soon, but I am looking out into the darkness of the unknown tomorrow, and while I can only see the foggiest of silhouettes, I know a gosh darn threat to customer rights when I see one.

Header image comes from Boku no Milk o Meshiagare 2 by Yoshida Gorou, who is definitely among my favorite current TSF creators and has produced a small treasure trove of excellent comics over the past few years. Check out their translated works at your local erotic comic distributor, buy their stuff if you’re cool with paying for the moon runes, and check out their Twitter for some mini-comics that have probably been translated by the TSF wunderkind, Corivas. I would link all of them, but Twitter is an asshole when it comes to navigation, and I did not save the URLs when I added certain works to my collection. 

God do I hate how Twitter buries art like this. It makes me wish DeviantArt because, for as flawed as that site was and is, you could dig into an artist’s back catalog with next to zero barriers. With Twitter, you’re pretty much better off using something like this dope Japanese Twitter media downloader I’ve been using for 2+ years. It feels Web 1.0 as all hell, and the UX is not great, but it works, it’s convenient, it gets the job done nicely, and it even works with TweetDeck (which is infinitely more organized and focused than what Twitter has become).

Anyways, I’m rambling again. Bye bye for now, and have a nice day.

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