Rundown (11/28-12/04) Passionless Pits of Pseudo-Pleasure

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Wherein I discuss my search for passion, the fall of a much heralded titan, a Sony streaming subscription successor, and the DOPE-tier TSF Bunny Boy!

Something I routinely see from the mediacentric video essayists I follow is passion. A fierce, undying adoration for a work that leads an individual to analyze, gush, and articulate the importance and quality of a work. How it changed this or that affected them personally, or impacted a narrow-in-scope pocket-sized generation of people. This is something I have seen since I first started using the internet, and only recently did it finally click in my head that I, in some way, envy these people and the level of enjoyment they are able to eke out of things.

I enjoy things, of course. Why would I still be alive if I didn’t? But this deep appreciation, this wild adoration, is something that I simply do not feel about… anything. I have gushed about how much I loved certain games, how much I admired everything a work has done as I lather them with pseudo-prose. However, these works rarely stick with me for more than a few days.

Sure, things can influence me, and I might have lapsed adoration for something months or years after the fact, but rarely does something stick with me for a good while. I keep moving from one thing to another as I flutter between art, comics, music, and games, while steadily chipping away at my own lackluster creative endeavors. It honestly makes me want to try my hand at writing more about the things I adore. Unfortunately, I am struggling to maintain a consistent schedule as is, with a novel deadline steadily approaching like a black ship looming over the horizon, filled with men who will ravage my culture, murder my neighbors, and rape all females of birthing age.

…Jeepers, that was a dark simile.  

Starting this week with a particularly sour story, Respawn Entertainment, the EA subsidiary responsible for Apex Legends and the Titanfall series, recently announced that they removed 2014’s Titanfall from digital storefronts. They also announced that they will be removing it from subscription services by March 1st, while keeping the servers up and running for the game’s dedicated playerbase. …At least for the time being, as I find it hard to believe that there is any financial incentive to support a game that is no longer available for sale.

Now, why did they do this? Based on the replies to these announcements, the official servers need maintenance, but even if that is the case, that is no excuse to shut down a game like this. There is no good reason to prohibit the game from sale unless the game is going to be shut down or rendered unplayable. If a shutdown is expected, it is the publisher/developer’s responsibility to inform the world of the shutdown date well in advance, preferably with over 3 months notice. Not with a 0 day warning, which is what Respawn did here. But above all else, I am disappointed that Respawn did not have any end-of-life plan in place for this game, and that this game, as far as I can tell, does not offer peer-to-peer or LAN connectivity.

It all bodes ill for the future of online-only gaming, though I think the most upsetting takeaway I get from this story is that… this has been normalized. People are starting to accept this. Commenters said that it was ‘time’ for the game to be gated off and by voicing such complacency. They are demonstrating that the industry is comfortable with the idea of killing games. It makes me worry about just how many games are going to be lost in the upcoming decades. How many millions of dollars and tens of thousands of work hours are going to be wasted as games are shut down or locked off, doomed to only live on in recordings and memories. Though, Titanfall received ample coverage at launch, and gameplay of it is easy to find, which is a lot better than certain other games I could mention.

Over the past two or three years, game-likers have been wondering if Sony was going to counter Xbox’s incredibly successful Game Pass subscription service, and the reason why is simple. Game Pass is a great way for people to gain access to a large library of games that they can play freely and without restriction, all for a low monthly fee. And according to a recent scoop provided by Bloomberg via Jason Schrier, Sony is currently in the process of building up a new service to take on Game Pass.

The service, codenamed Spartacus, is set to launch sometime this upcoming spring, and is described as a multi-tier subscription service that will combine and expand PlayStation Plus with PlayStation Now. The tiers are still being finalized, but according to Bloomberg, the current plans are as follows:

  • Tier 1 would be the current PlayStation Plus service, which grants players access to certain online games and three free subscription-locked games a month.
  • Tier 2 would give players access to a large library of PS4 and (eventually) PS5 titles.
  • Tier 3 would give players access to a vault of past PlayStation titles, including PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP titles.

The last bit of news is the real takeaway for me, and it makes me… concerned. I am delighted by the idea of Sony turning the PS5 into the ultimate PlayStation system by introducing PS1, PS2, PS3, and PSP titles to its library. But that does not sound like what they are doing here. The way I read this news is that Sony is expanding PlayStation Now to include PS1, PS2, and PSP titles, while rolling the subscription into part of PlayStation Plus. 

PlayStation Now doubles as a streaming service and a platform where players can download select games (Meaning PlayStation 4 games). The PS3 titles on the platform can only be streamed, and I have a strong feeling that these PS1, PS2, and PSP titles will also be streaming only, which sounds pretty laughable when you think about it. Phones have been able to emulate all of these games for nearly a decade, but the PS5 might not be able to do it. 

Furthermore, while I want to view this as good news, this is not Sony announcing backwards compatibility with prior PlayStations. Or adding over a thousand games from the PS3 and PSP storefronts to PS5. It just means that, for a monthly fee, players can access a streamed collection of PS1, PS2, and PSP titles. And at that point, I really have to ask how illegal emulation isn’t preferable. Sure, this might be easier for some people, but… emulation really does not take that much effort, and it results in a better experience in almost every instance.

It is possible that I am being per-emptively hostile here, and that Sony will roll this out along with emulators for PS1, PS2, and PSP games, but I strongly doubt that. Even then, the emulation would almost certainly leave something to be desired. It makes only some sense, but official emulation by people with access to system-level source code will always be worse than things that software geniuses work on in their free time.

Header image comes from Pokémon TSF Season 2.5 – Chapter 3 by Vel

Going back on the whole schtick I was spinning in the introductory segment, nowadays one of my biggest sources of passion come from the TSF comics that I come across in my fairly mundane travels. This past week, I dove deeper into the catalog of Vel, who is probably best known for his Pokémon TSF Series. A 500+ page comic series that features a deluge of Pokémon uniting under a Gengar who possesses Gloria, the female trainer from Pokémon Sword and Shield, in order to create a utopian state where humans and Pokémon are equals. Which she achieves by having Pokémon possess, body swap, or otherwise merge with humans, steadily building a sort of army to launch a makeshift revolution that caps off during the end of the second season.

It’s a wild idea, and it’s one that Vel explores to its fullest. Each chapter brings with it a new Pokémon, new transformation, and more narrative ambitions, evolving from what was clearly a one-off idea into something grand, hot, ambitious, fly, and… pretty weird. I mean, it’s got nothing on Darcy’s Super Ultra Eclipse Nuzlocke by Jamsnjellies, but nothing does.

Initially, I thought that was the extent of Vel’s work, but he also has been pushing out oodles of TSF works over the past few years. Ranging from an original story called Lucia’s Present, which follows a devil girl who keeps pushing a timid crossdresser into increasingly wild TSF situations with every new chapter, with each being more creative and zany than the last. Or his one-shots, which are these sweet little TSF idea nuggets that fill me with an excess of inspiration for potential story ideas.

For as much as I love his work, I’ll admit that he’s definitely not perfect. I don’t like how he lumps his English and Korean content into the same ‘Pixiv manga’ collections, or sometimes as part of the same work. His grasp of English is… endearingly sloppy. And while cute and competent 95% of the time, his artwork is definitely a lot simpler than other artists. Though, I would argue that this less detail-oriented approach is better for online artists, as people typically do not take the time to notice the shading or backgrounds. So long as your proportions are solid and your expressions are good, that’s really all I need.

Seriously, check out his stuff, enjoy the TSF funsies, and maybe throw him a dollar a month on Fanbox… Wait, he only charges people a dollar? …And there is no way to set custom pledges? How curious. With PayPal and Pixiv fees, he’s not going to make any money this way! How’s he gonna afford those adora-cute dresses working like this?

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