Wherein I discuss: The Next Releases of two DOPE TSF VNs. My disastrous Q4 2022 schedule. The 2022 Bayonetta controversy. And the return of Silent Hill.
Rundown Preamble Ramble:
PS & ST Heaven and DL Hell
This past week I have been playing through Press-Switch v0.6a, which shadow dropped in the wee hours of Monday morning. The game itself is… Press-Switch. Meaning it is an excellent exploration of TF concepts, primarily body swapping. A glorious showcase of what you can truly do in a visual novel with regards to presentation. And an excessively lengthy title, boasting over 700,000 words.
As the premiere Press-Switch flowchart girl, it is my duty to drop everything and both play the game and map it out with handy-dandy flowcharts. Speaking of which, you can find my latest version right here:
…You know what the funny thing about all of this is though? Less than 9 hours before Press-Switch v0.6a came out, jcjace45 of the Student Transfer development team put out a post on TFGames.Site. Where he announced that the much awaited Student Transfer Version 7.0 would release in November, before the Thanksgiving holiday (November 24).
This means that Press-Switch and Student Transfer are getting new releases within a month, more or less. This should be a cause for celebration for me, as I adore both of these games. They are literal dream games to me, and I am still amazed that they exist, let alone are half as good as they are.
However, this is the absolute WORST time they could come out, barring tax season. As I have mentioned in every Rundown these past 6 weeks, I am currently waist-deep in a personal archive project for Dragalia Lost. And I still have at least… 60 hours of recording that I need to do, in addition to… at least 10,000 words of writing about the game for Natalie Rambles About Dragalia Lost – THE FINAL. Which includes a stupidly obtuse Dragalia Lost sub-project that I started back in June, but put off because I had other stuff to do. And I can’t delay that because the game will be MURDERED on November 30, 2022.
“Ah shit,” I thought to myself. “What am I going to do? This shit is gonna straight end me.” Because even with my reduced workload over the next few weeks, I simply WILL NOT have the time to get all of this done. Especially when I remember my birthday project, TSF Series #015: JK no Sarariman – A Turnabout of Despair! Which I could probably bang out in 3 days, but 3 days is a lot of time when you have… less than 40.
Normally, I try to leave my schedule fairly open in case things like this happen, but these past few months have not been kind to my schedule. Not at all. Things started fine as Summer began, but I quickly decided to rework my entire schedule by trying to complete an 88k word novel, The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan, within 60 days. Meaning outlining, writing, editing, and art-asset creation. This was an impulsive decision on my part, as I originally planned on releasing the novel on November 18, but instead scooched it up to August 15.
Immediately after that, I began work on a 35k word extension novella to my 2015 novel, Verde’s Doohickey, depicting an alternate continuation story featuring the aftermath of an irreversible body swap. This project took me about two weeks to re-outline, edit, and make header images, before releasing from September 6th to 9th. Then I spent like three days re-editing/re-publishing Verde’s Doohickey with this additional content. …Oh, and I dropped a 9k word short story that I finished in 3 days. But that ain’t no thang.
Afterwards, almost all of my time has been devoted to Dragalia Lost, and while I am almost done, almost ain’t good enough, chief!
Also, while doing this, I encountered two snags. One, I am a tax accountant and tax season runs from September 15th to October 15th every year. Two, I got COVID, which necessitated that I sleep an extra 3-4 hours a day for a week.
Okay, so what does that mean for the rest of the year? Well, I have been a LYING BITCH by making promises and #TODO lists that have been thrown into the trash. As such, screw my promises, let’s go minimal.
- 10/30/22 – Press-Switch v0.6a Review
- 11/18/22 – TSF Series #015: JK no Sarariman – A Turnabout of Despair!
- 11/??/22 – Student Transfer Version 7.0 Review
- 11/30/22 – Natalie Rambles About Dragalia Lost – THE FINAL
- 12/21/22 – TSF Series #005-2:Ghost Milky in… Genocide the G.O.D.S.
- 12/28/22 – Natalie Rambles About 2022
I am sorry, but I simply cannot get the Mice Tea review, Student Transfer Scenario reviews of Detachment, Fellas’ Necto-verse, Whodunnit, and Remote Possibilities, or anything involving my other novels anytime soon. Trust me, this pisses me right the hell off, and I DO NOT want to do this. But I am not as efficient as I want to be, and will be playing my ass off trying to get the Dragalia Lost thing out. I already have some things done from back in April and June, but this project is supposed to be a beast. And now… shit. I might need to cut the BIGGEST component to make the deadline.
The Bayonetta Voice Acting Controversy
(Bayonetta Voice Actress Hellena Taylor Explains Her Absence In Bayonetta 3)
No acquisition news, so let’s start up with a controversy that spread like wildfire, because it involves a popular Nintendo (published) franchise. This past weekend voice actress Hellena Taylor posted a series of videos explaining why she is not reprising her role as Bayonetta in the upcoming Bayonetta 3. Her reasoning is that she was paid an insultingly low rate for her work, a total of $4,000.
$4,000 for providing the voice acting to the player character and titular protagonist for the latest game in a series that, across two titles, garnered $450 million in revenue without accounting for merch sales. Because of this, she encouraged fans to boycott Bayonetta 3 and to give the money they would spend on the game to charity.
This initially sparked discourse across the broader gaming community about voice actors’ wages, and I noticed three general questions:
- Why don’t voice actors receive royalties/residuals like actors do for film and television?
- Are low rates like this common across the industry?
- And is this claim even legitimate?
To answer the first question, the reason why voice actors do not receive royalties in ~95% of instances is because there is not a precedent for anybody to receive royalties in the games industry. The reason why this precedent exists in older mediums like film and television is because people in these industries fought hard to get rights and formed strong unions. Unions that ensure that workers are given breaks, provided food while on set, and receive compensation if they have a role in a successful project.
These unions were a bitch to establish, and were met with a lot of resistance from the film industry. The leaders behind the gaming industries desperately do not want game workers to unionize and organize in order to demand better treatment and royalties. Because if they need to pay royalties to developers and actors, then that means they get less money. And that’s just unacceptable. Because they want all the money. I mean, wouldn’t you?
To answer the second question, yes. Yes, getting paid peanuts for voice acting is incredibly common. While the hourly rate for voice actors is generally high, you need to remember the hours of practice, training, research, and unused takes that are involved in these things.
There is a reason why career voice actors appear across so many games or anime. Because they need to be constantly working to maintain a living wage. There is a reason why voice actors typically have multiple ventures outside of voice acting. Because the scene is so hostile and competitive it is hard to make a living off of just voice acting. And there is a reason why a lot of voice actors typically work in the commercial and VO industry, doing things like commercials, narration, promos, or internal work for private companies. Because there tends to be more of those jobs than character acting jobs.
And to answer the third question, reporters have looked into this story, and found some contradicting bits of information. Bloomberg gathered sources and reviewed documents stating that Taylor would have been paid at least $15,000 for her work— which is still pretty low. Their sources also indicated that Taylor allegedly asked for six figures and residuals— which is virtually unheard of in the industry. Taylor denied both of these claims, saying that she stands by everything she said in her videos, and claiming she did not ask for such a large amount. And I am inclined to believe her, as, based on what other voice actors have said about working on AAA games, including Nintendo titles, $4,000 for a role like this is not that unheard of.
Also, the replacement voice actress for Bayonetta, the iconic career voice actress, Jennifer Hale, had no knowledge of this situation when she took the job. So the fact that she was widely harassed for taking a job offer in a competitive industry, is disgusting. If you want to be angry with anyone, be angry at PlatinumGames. Because when a person complains about bad pay… believe them. Don’t believe your precious corporations. Because corporations are supposed to exploit people.
The Hills are Silent No More
(Konami Announces Silent Hill Series Revival)
Over the past year or two, leaks and rumors have surfaced about Konami’s plans to revive the Silent Hill series. And… boy howdy did they sure do that, as they announced FIVE new projects for the long dormant series, so let’s go over them one by one!
The first is the much discussed Silent Hill 2 Remake. Silent Hill 2 is one of those cult classics whose place in the broader gaming culture has percolated over the span of two decades and whose influence has run deep across the horror genre. It is a title with such acclaim that I pity any studio tasked with recreating it. A title commonly cited when people are crafting their ‘greatest games of all time’ lists.
However, as leaks revealed, this remake is being developed by the folks at Bloober Team, who horror fans have a very poor opinion of due to how they handled various subjects, and horror in general, across their past titles. This has led people to assume the remake will be bad outright. However, I find that to be an incredibly rude sentiment to give to the dozens, maybe hundreds, of people who are working on this game, when the game is not out.
Also, even if it comes out, and gets things wrong… this is an Unreal 5 game coming to PC. Chances are, people can figure out how to mod it and how to remove the stuff people don’t like. And trust me when I say Silent Hill fans are crazy enough to do something like this. One of them remade P.T. in Unreal engine, so I think they can do just about anything!
Anyway, as for the trailer itself, it mostly took the form of a prolonged cutscene, showing off the visual identity of this game. Naturally, it is different from the original Silent Hill 2, taking some creative liberties with lighting and minor details. However, I am sure it will be hyper-analyzed leading up to its undetermined release window, and for the days and weeks after it debuts on PS5 and PC.
Now, I said there were five projects shown, but three of them were more teasers than anything else, so let’s get those out of the way.
The first of these teasers was Silent Hill: Townfall by No Code Studios and Annapurna Interactive. Which could be anything based on the trailer.
A new Silent Hill movie because, despite being received poorly by fans and critics, the two films were financially successful at the box office. Plus, when you count royalties that Konami received over the past decade, they probably made a lot of passive income off of them.
A Silent Hill ‘interactive streaming series,’ Silent Hill: Ascension, which is being developed through a collaboration involving Genvid, Behaviour Interactive, Bad Robot Games, and dj2 Entertainment. I know nothing about it based on the trailer, but I am going to pre-emptively assume it will be an utter mess…
Meanwhile, the fifth announcement was for a brand new Silent Hill game known as Silent Hill f. A name that really only works if you do the Japanese title thing of writing out the entire game in caps, or SILENT HILL f. Otherwise, it looks like it should be Silent Hill F, which is not a good title for… multiple reasons. However, I am willing to give this game all the kudos in the world for four reasons.
- It is a completely new continuity and lore, which is something every Silent HIll game should have pursued.
- It is set in 1960s rural Japan— an era ripe for cultural exploration.
- It is being written by Higurashi and Umineko creator Ryukishi07. Not the sort of person I would ever expect to helm a Silent Hill game, but he is one of the most reliable and skilled writers in the Japanese games industry.
- Its aesthetic is based highly in the cold and desolate eeriness of a poor rural community, and also plant-based body horror. Something that is highly underrated, and looks sexy as hell!
Also, Silent Hill f is being developed by NeoBards Entertainment, who have mostly worked as a support studio, remastering old Capcom games, and also the upcoming Resident Evil RE:Verse. So… they probably understand the gist of how horror games work. Plus, I like their tagline: Making games that matter. That’s a good goal, but these folks have a lot to live up to. However, maybe, just maybe, they can make Silent Hill 6. …Because f is the sixth letter in the most important alphabet, and Silent Hill 5 was Homecoming. Silent Hill 5 was also whatever Team Silent was working on and Kojima Productions’ Silent Hills (the third s is a 5). So… this is Silent Hill 6 until further notice.
No release date or platforms have been announced, and I can only assume that the previously leaked playable teaser for this title will drop sometime soon, based on some ratings board leaks.
…Okay, that’s it for this week. I am trying to record all footage for the Dragalia Lost main campaign before the end of this weekend, and then I will get back to repeating content in Press-Switch. I already played the new stuff, drafted the first 3,400 words of my review, and if I whip up a conclusion, I could release something right now. But I don’t wanna.
Header image comes from Press-Switch v0.6a. …Obviously.