Rundown (6/19-6/25) Communally Distant

  • Post category:Rundowns
  • Reading time:15 mins read
  • Post comments:8 Comments

Wherein I discuss my lack of communal solidarity, Activision preventing a generation from bimpin’ NWA while sputtin’ sick ish, a devilish disappointment, Sega’s continued remastered rush-jobs, and the erotic toy that is sweeping all nations!

Something that I have utterly failed at throughout my life is communal participation. I’m a loner by nature and, while I am quite talkative and receptive when speaking to people one-on-one, I am not, and have never been, comfortable communicating with a large group of people. Whether that be presenting something in a classroom, conversing with a group of people in person or remotely, or simply leaving a digital comment. Anonymous or otherwise. Talking to people, as opposed to a person, has never really been my thing. And because of that, I always find it… alienating when I see people deeply entrenched in fandoms and communities.

While I might develop strong personal attachments to the works of others, and monitor the discourse and creations of the communities around these things, I have never been much of an active participant. No theory crafting, no friend-making, no shipping, nothing of the sort. I guess I did write some fanfics, but I never shared them with the communities. However, this is not just the mentality I take with fandom, but anything that can be considered a community.

Since it’s Pride Month, I have seen a lot of people pushing for LGBTQIA+ folk to be prideful in who they are, and for all persons to celebrate their existence. …While various governments are rapidly trying to push for their systematic erasure. But despite being two of those things, trans and asexual, I have never felt like I have been ‘part’ of this community. I have a certain kinship with other trans people, due to a shared experience with dysphoria. But considering how ‘ideal’ and ‘simplistic’ my experience was in many ways, I do not necessarily feel like I belong around them. 

I have never had to deal with people insulting me because I’m trans. I do not have many anxieties over my appearance. And I do not have any sexuality-related… unrest, because I have zero interest in sex or romance.

I know that I do not want to be more social, but I have this regular nagging feeling that I should be. Even I know from experience that I do not derive the same joy from being with others that a ‘regular person’ does. I am at my happiest when left alone, by myself, in my bedroom, free to indulge myself in whatever I fancy… while enjoying a snack. Which I typically do at least once a day, so my happiness chart is pretty evened out.

No acquisition news this week! But maybe next week, because Q2 is almost over!

Instead, let’s kick things off this week by dunking on Activision Blizzard! In January 2021, it was announced that Vicarious Visions, developers of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, and Diablo II: Resurrected, were becoming part of Blizzard Entertainment. Looking back, I see this as part of ABK’s ploy to consolidate their studios around fewer pillars, namely Call of Duty and Blizzard, and an unfortunate situation for all who worked at Vicarious Visions. 

Despite this consolidation, however, I assumed that ABK would allow the original Vicarious Visions staff, or at least the new Blizzard Entertainment staff, to continue working on more remasters/remakes. However, that does not appear to be the case.

As part of a livestream this past week, Tony Hawk himself revealed that there were plans for a remake compilation of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4. This is despite the glowing critical, communal, and commercial reception of 2020’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. When pressed for a reason why this was the case, Tony Hawk attributed it to the merger with Blizzard Entertainment.

This makes absolutely no sense to me. THPS is a very iterative game series, so, the way I see it, a remake of 3 and 4 would be able to recycle a large amount of assets and technology from THPS 1 + 2. And even if the team was moved over to Blizzard, that should not affect the developers’ ability to make games any more than a change in company servers or an office move. So, why shelve this project, when it would most likely be an easy win for Activision Blizzard— It’s because of Overwatch 2, isn’t it? Blizzard wants to push that title out ASAP, and they think it will be a better use of resources to have as many developers as possible work on Overwatch 2, instead of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 + 4.

…Remember kids. Anything good that comes out of Activision Blizzard is the result of developers fighting against a system that prioritizes profit over art.

On a semi-related note, that infamous and predatory Diablo mobile game came out earlier this month, and I expected it to be a massive money-maker. I mean, Genshin Impact made over $100 million in two weeks, and even my beloved Dragalia Lost managed to make $16 million in two weeks. Yet Diablo Immortal only managed to generate $24 million in two weeks. A figure that is pretty pitiful for such a popular IP, a game that saw 8.5 million downloads in the same period, and a title that requires a $110,000 investment to fully upgrade a character.

In Activision Blizzard’s defense, the game was delayed in China, so that probably cut into these figures a fair bit… but I seriously hope that this game flops. If only to maybe teach Activision a lesson about monetization and platform choices. As people were inclined to point out when this story was doing the rounds, Diablo III managed to make $210 million in 24 hours, back in 2012, when the gaming market was smaller and less accessible. It really makes you think about how much this game could have made if it was just a streamlined Diablo game meant to tide over fans while Diablo IV finished development and introduce the series to a new audience. Instead, an entire generation is being introduced to the game via a bullcrap monetization system.

Next up… right, this is the week after the summer media showcases, so there are relatively few announcements going around. The only other major bits of news I happened across were as follows.

After getting a trailer three weeks ago, various interviews regarding Final Fantasy XVI have been published. With the big takeaways being how the player only controls the protagonist, with all party members being AI controlled. The fact that the game takes place in open areas, without being open world. And that the player will be able to control Eikon (summons/gods) throughout the game. All of which… pushes what Final Fantasy is in an iffy direction, to the point where I think it could just be a new IP. That being said, Final Fantasy has been in an iffy direction for about 20 years, so I cannot really complain about norms being shattered.

You know who else has been in an iffy direction for— I’m sorry, but even I cannot justify making such a bad transition. This past week, Sonic Origins was released as the should-be definitive collection of the four Sonic games that everyone likes (except for me). However, not unlike Sonic Colors: Ultimate before it, it turns out that Sega rushed this game out the door and did not give the developers enough time to finish off the project. 

I would point out examples of criticism toward this collection, but one of the lead developers behind the remastered games included in this collection, Simon Thomley, actually went on a little Twitter rant about this whole situation. Voicing how Sega changed the project partway through production, and did not give the team enough time to get everything to a standard they were completely happy with.

Honestly, everything about this collection has seemed like a mess since its minimal announcement trailer back in 2021. This should have been an easy win for Sega, a way to ship a project that pleased everyone. But because of what I can only summarize as bad management, people are playing a worse version of something they were excited for, and the people behind it are working hard on an update. 

Hm… this Rundown is still a bit light, so what else can I do to pad it out? I could bitch about abortion being a human right, my evolving disbelief that democracy is a remotely good system when applied to a macro-scale, and my burgeoning lust for a bloody revolution. However, there are plenty of wiser and more verose people than myself tackling that subject at the moment, so let’s talk about something more fun!

…So, I finally tried screwing around with an AI text generator in order to make TSF stories. Now, this is something that I have seen championed by Skiegh/Trigger of Press-Switch and CaptainCaption of re:Dreamer. Mostly in the Press-Switch Discord and re:Dreamer Discord. But I did not think of actually giving it a go until my Twitter feed got flooded with people making use of OpenAI Playground.

This is almost a preview of TSF Series #014. Coming July 27, 2022!

I spent an evening on this thing, trying to get it to write a few body swap stories for me, and… it was super freaking HOT! Not because the output was fine prose filled with saucy elicit details. But because of how… punctual, simple, and open everything was. How it caters to your desires at the moment, and expands them just enough to lube up the brain and let you create an enticing scenario. Yet not detailed enough that it becomes a work of literature that demands your attention. 

It all feels like an evolution of the things that I considered hot throughout my youth: TG captions, stories, and whatever sub-developed ideas I had rattling across my own mind. Except there are theoretically infinite possibilities thanks to the power of AI, you can cater and customize things as you go along, and the AI is… both predictable and unpredictable.

 When using the basic prompt of “write a body swap story between,” it almost always ended with the characters learning to enjoy their new bodies or swapping back somehow. Because those are the most typical endings to a body swap story. However, it is also rather quirky with its outputs 

I forgot to screenshot the output, and OpenAI Playground does not save anything, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. 

From the prompt of “write a body swap story between a single mother and her son,” the software produced a story about a woman working at the grocery store who wakes up in her son’s body while he is at school. Upon arriving home, the mother sees her body, assumes that her son is in there, but her body ignores her. She then goes to sleep, wakes up in her own body, but is unable to find her son anywhere in the house. That is, until someone comes to the front door, and it is none other than her son… in a copy of her body. They never figure out what caused this swap and transformation. Instead, the story concludes on an uplifting note to the effect of ‘it was a strange experience, but it brought them closer together.’

It starts out as a typical body swap, then deals with some light existential worry… before becoming a twinning story? It’s unexpected, neat, and I’m PISSED that I forgot to save a copy of the transcript! 

…Also, yes, I know I ‘should have used AI Dungeon instead.’ To which I say, I vehemently dislike second person narratives, I know AI Dungeon has issues with body swaps, and there is no ‘modern’ setting for me to jump into when doing a quick start. Why am I so insistent on having modern body swaps? Because it’s giving the AI more toys to play with, ya dorkus!

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. qwerty

    I don’t think you have any obligation to be any more social than you already are, so just be yourself on that front. Speak when you have something to say and that’s your social “duty” in a nutshell.

    1. Natalie Neumann

      I know I do not have any true duty to speak up and engage with others… I just feel like I am strongly encouraged to. :P

      1. qwerty

        I guess. But since when were either of us normal anyway? =D

  2. Tasnica

    I can definitely relate to the push-and-pull between wanting to feel like an independent person and wanting to feel like part of a community (or at least feeling like I should want to want to feel like part of a community). It frequently reminds of me of something I heard someone say once: “I love persons, but people are terrifying”.

    Personally, I think you’re doing just fine on that front. You’re pursuing your passions and sharing them with others, and you’re not putting anyone down for their own passions. You’re creating something good in your own way, and are under no obligation to take specific actions just because others have decided that there are “right” ways to contribute to society.

    1. Natalie Neumann

      Thank you. ^^

      Part of the reason why I have been feeling that way is because I lurk through a lot of communities but am too timid to pitch in or even come up with something to say. Now, when someone from these communities talk to me, or reference my work (I’m mostly talking about Press-Switch, Student Transfer, and re:Dreamer) then I have no problem talking to them one-on-one, and I have had some lovely conversations with people as a result. But the group mentality just makes me nervous.

      Also, that line “I love persons, but people are terrifying” reminds me of a phrase I heard a while back, but the exact wording escapes me at the moment. I hate when that happens! D:<

      1. qwerty

        Not that Nigma Box is a particularly big site or anything, but how does this social anxiety, for lack of better words, reflect when you write articles and such for a bunch of online strangers to read? Do you get any hiccups or freezes or are you perfectly fine with it as it’s less of a conversation and more of an opinion piece if you will?

        1. Natalie Neumann

          Somehow my original reply got lost when I sent it a week ago…
          I generally have no social anxiety when I am talking to one person and, when writing content for Nigma Box, I view it was either talking to myself, or talking to one person. The vaguely defined reader.