Rundown (10/30-11/05) Trash the Twitter

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Wherein I discuss: The downfall of social media. An ample assortment of acquisition anecdotes. And one of the best DS adventure games returning from the otherworld.

Rundown Preamble Ramble:

In this week’s installment of ‘current events Natalie is getting to a few days after everyone stopped caring,’ I simply must talk about the crap going on at Twitter. After announcing his intentions to buy the platform earlier this year, Elon Musk was appointed the director of Twitter last week. And within a matter of days, he has already begun his plans to make this already collapsing platform even worse. Where to even begin… 

  • He fired the board of directors, who have experience and insight that should be instrumental in running a company like this, and became the sole director of Twitter.
  • His appointment emboldened racists who caused hate speech to soar in the hours after he took over the company. 
  • He announced plans to fire 75% of staff, because that is sure to inspire confidence in the other shareholders and user base as a whole. 
  • He spread a new story from shady sources in order to protect the right from criticism and give them basis to form a new hairbrained conspiracy theory.
  • He announced that the verified feature, which has been instrumental to control the flow of information across the world in general, will become a subscription feature. Where, for $8 a month, anyone can become a premium-class user and have their tweets reach more people. Which, you know, defeats the purpose of verification.
  • And he imposed harsh deadlines on employees, effectively forcing them to sleep at the office or lose their jobs.

And I’m sure there was even more awful crap that I missed this past week.

This is… an aggressive destruction of a platform. This is beyond any level of believable incompetency, and I can only assume that Elon Musk’s goal here is to destroy Twitter. Why would Musk want to do that? I have no idea. Maybe he just wants to watch the world burn and go down in history as a villain. He wouldn’t be the first billionaire to desire such a luxurious legacy, and he sure as hell won’t be the last.

People have been coping with this news by highlighting how major platforms with hundreds of millions of users can fall from grace, be replaced, and lose market share. Examples such as how Digg went from being something essential to spreading news to something that dropped in irrelevance like a rock down a well. Or how Tumblr went from a 1.1 billion dollar company to a 3 million dollar company within a few years. These are correct comments that show how fickle and fragile these platforms truly are, but it is important to highlight the differences between these situations. 

With Digg, there was nowhere near as strong as a social aspect. People came there for news stories that were curated by tastemakers, with some algorithm assistance (before it went to crap because they relied almost entirely on the algorithm). Also, this was over a decade ago, and I’m not sure how relevant a platform like Digg truly is, as it was more of a proto-social-media platform.

With Tumblr… the actual death knell was the culling of nude content from the site. Which, for those who do not remember, was one of the biggest aspects of Tumblr. The goal was to make Tumblr more advertiser friendly, and to do so, they rushed out an algorithmic filter that produced so many false positives. This led a lot of artists and art-likers to migrate to other platforms with similar features. A platform called Twitter.

So, what is going to happen now that Twitter is bearing the signs of collapse? Well… I think Twitter is going to wind up being a lot like Facebook. While millions have left Facebook in recent years— after they were caught manipulating the 2016 election and announced plans to corporatize the ‘metaverse— Facebook is still around, garnering millions of daily users. The site’s reputation will probably never recover or significantly improve, but it is still around. It is still around because it is where people made social groups, where people are connected to friends and families, and where a lot of people choose to communicate.

Twitter… is not quite the same. People do have friendships and relationships, but it is less geared toward connecting people as much. There are no friends or family, just followers. No groups, just a bunch of people tossed about in a pot of discourse. And few superfluous elements like games, marketplaces, or what have you. 

Facebook is a platform used for a lot of things, while Twitter is a platform for a few things. Twitter is a place for talking shit, getting into fights, spreading memes, sharing art, distributing news, dropping mad knowledge, making business connections, and spreading lies. Generally speaking, accounts are nowhere near as valuable as they are for something like Facebook, and there is a firm limit to what could be done with a Twitter account. Tweeting, following, liking, and retweeting.

Twitter is important, as it is a means for millions of people, and most news outlets, to distribute information in a way that will spread to a large population. However, it is also something that I think could fairly easily be migrated to a similar platform. As far as features and overall tech are considered, it is not that hard to make a Twitter-like social media platform. And if people choose to migrate to one, it could potentially replace Twitter in… I don’t know, let’s say two years.

Or in other words, Twitter can be replaced… but there currently is no widely recognized replacement for Twitter. 

When previous social media platforms went to crap, there was a clear place for people to go. Tumblr and Facebook went to crap, people went to Twitter. And now that Twitter is going to crap, where are people going to go? I don’t know.  

…This is where I would pine for the loss of Twitter, as I have been using the platform for 13 bloody years. I started a Twitter account two months after starting high school— before I knew what masturbation was— And I used that platform to spew a relentless amount of shit as a teenager. I was a neurodivergent minor with the filterless freedom of anonymity, so it should not be too surprising that I spewed a bunch of racist, sexist, and just problematic crap. Because I just viewed it as a tool for venting. 

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s just one ‘gem’ I found after downloading an archive of my old Tweets.

…I’m sorry. I wrote this when I was 17, just a few days after I started Nigma Box. I should have known better, it was a bad attempt at a bad joke, and I have no idea what spurred this comment.

I started behaving better after high school, and my active use of the platform dwindled around the time I started HRT in June 2016. Over the past 6 years, I have made less than 500 non-automated tweets. About 100 of which were replies.

I have only ever liked 15 tweets. I seldom ever retweeted. I rarely ever use and have been using TweetDeck almost exclusively since 2013. Because there are no ads on TweetDeck. And instead of sharing art, I just use this handy extension to save them in my art folder… which I really should back up more than I do. I mean, it’s only 90 GB…

Or in other words, I do not use Twitter as a source for discourse or a way to vent my thoughts. Instead, I use it as a feed of stuff. Of news stories, artwork, memes, information, jokes, projects, and so forth. I have automated tweets set up for this site, and I reply to the sparse mentions I receive, but I am by no means active, nor do I do much to fuel the algorithm. 

As such, I am 100% okay with Twitter dying… but where are the 100 accounts I’m following going to go? What is the next step? What is The New Twitter? I don’t know, but I hope a solution comes sooner than later…

…Actually, the Automattic-owned Tumblr is allowing nudity on the platform again, so perhaps people will just migrate there. I never had my own Tumblr page, but it was a lot more personable than Twitter. So that’s a plus.

The End of Ethics In Anime Journalism
(Kadokawa acquires Anime News Network)

Kicking off this week’s acquisition news, the mind-bogglingly massive Japanese media company, Kadokawa Corporation, announced another acquisition. However, instead of grabbing a Japanese game developer, they are instead acquiring Anime News Network. An incredibly robust and long-running hub for anime news, culture, and information, that had been operating independently for 24 years. 

My reaction to this was a resounding “Ah… SHIT!” Not because I personally use Anime News Network very often— I wander onto it once a month— but because of the principle of this story. A Japanese mega-corporation has acquired a major site in a niche industry, and the site is now wholly dependent on their new owners. 

Now, the release tries to dissuade any worries that things will change for the worse. The original owner clarified that the staff will remain the same, and this process will help ANN make progress with various projects that have been in the works for several years. So, in a sense, the site should be getting better in the upcoming months and years.. 

That being said… I just hate seeing fewer independent companies with power over industries related to things I love. It paints a dire picture for the future, and makes it harder for individuals to start up similar sites without outside funding.

The Spry Brown Fox Leapt Into the Netflix Cage
(Netflix Acquires Cozy Game Developer Spry Fox)

Netflix is continuing to expand into gaming by, effectively, buying up whatever successful mobile developer they can. And this month, they acquired Spry Fox. With Spry Fox being responsible for various titles I recognize the name of. Such as Triple Town, Alphabear, and Cozy Grove. A tile-based strategy game, a word game with heavy emphasis on character customization via hats and other tat, and a life-sim live service meant to become part of a player’s daily routine. 

They strike me as a purveyor of cutesy time-consuming titles, which I think meshes well with the sort of thing Netflix would want from their game offerings. Titles that keep players coming back day after day, using a palatable art style to draw in a wide audience, and are, by design, built around dailies. 

I have nothing against Spry Fox, and I cannot really blame anyone for taking a deal like this. …But I still think they are going to wind up producing spin-off games for Netflix properties in the next 5 years. Which I like far less than a studio just making cozy games that provide peeps with some positivity in this increasingly dismal world.

The Complex Frontier of Googling Who Dis And Reciting Them Deets
(Frontier Developments Acquires Complex Games)

Moving onto an even more obscure acquisition, Frontier Developments has acquired Complex Games. Two names that I did not recognize, so let’s go over who is who, and then explain why this acquisition is happening.

Frontier Developments is a developer turned publisher who are probably best known for titles like Rollercoaster Tycoon, Jurassic World Evolution, and Elite Dangerous. Games that I have nothing to say about, but my eyes were instead drawn to four other games.

The WiiWare cult classic pointer-based adventure games LostWinds and LostWinds 2: Winter of the Melodias. A duology of Zelda-esque 2D puzzle platformers where the player used wind to extend the protagonist’s mobility and defeat enemies, while traveling through as rich of a world as you could manage with a 40MB limit. Both games actually came to PC in 2016, but the PC port was pretty limited from what I recall. The game looked pretty flat when rendered in 1080p, and controlling the cursor with the mouse did not feel nearly as good as it did with the WiiMote.

The Kinect launch title, Kinectimals, which was basically Xbox’s take on Nintendogs, 5 years after Nintendogs. A game that mostly exists within my mind due to E3 2010 memes, and how quickly the game fell into shovelware bins. While it was considered more of a novelty, I’m sure there are a group of teenagers who fondly remember playing the game as small children and having fun with their virtual pet who could read their hand movements. Or, rather, read them about as well as the original Kinect could.

The Kinect 2011 holiday game, Kinect: Disneyland Adventures. A title that was positioned as a virtual recreation of Disneyland, and one that did far more than I’m sure most would have expected, featuring a deluge of characters and attractions-turned-minigames. However, the most curious thing about this title was how it received a ‘remaster’ in 2017. One where the game was stripped of its Kinect controls, renamed Disneyland Adventures and brought to both Xbox One and PC. I’d say that was strange, but the same thing happened with Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure.

But most importantly, Frontier developed the obscure Sony-published PS2 adventure game Dog’s Life. A hub-based minigame-driven collectathon about a dog traveling through a world, interacting with humans, possessing other dogs, and trying to save… dogs from being turned into cat food. …I think. That might sound normal, but just looking at a random 5 minutes of gameplay is enough to leave me baffled

Why does the game look both surprisingly good for the time and weirdly dated? Why is half of the game this third-person adventure game with a wonky-looking camera, and the other half is a first person smell-based adventure? What is up with this uncanny American voice acting in this British game? Why is this soundtrack so darn funky? Seriously, even the title screen goes way harder than it needs to. 

Dog’s Life is a game that would be a cult classic of some sort if it were on the GameCube, or got a surprise PC port, but chances are the game will forever be locked to the PS2. And the worst thing about the PS2 is that its library is so good that games like this are pretty easy to ignore. The same thing is true for the PS1, combined with the fact that like 30% of its best games are Japanese exclusives.

…Meanwhile, Complex Games is a small Canadian studio who has been around for 20 years, but only released 4 titles. At least as far as I could tell. Their first three titles were Cyber Circuit, Hidden Expedition: Devil’s Triangle, and The Horus Heresy: Drop Assault. Three mobile titles I don’t have anything to say about, and largely served as the foundation the studio built upon with their latest title, Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters. A tactical RPG that came out for PC this May and was published by none other than Frontier Developments.

This makes for a publisher-turned-parent acquisition— something that I have seen more than a few times in these acquisition stories. Frontier was happy with the work Complex did, Complex wanted the security of a parent company, and the two agreed to an acquisition. These are the types of acquisitions I am generally okay with, as this represents a more natural growth. Something that helps mid-sized game companies like Frontier grow into something bigger, and helps small studios like Complex gain the support they need to remain competitive in this market.

Buy ‘Em And Trash ‘Em – A New Owner’s Embrace
(Embracer Shuts Down Square Enix Montreal One Month After Renaming Studio)

Next up… this is not quite an acquisition, as much as a follow-up to an acquisition. After Embracer Group acquired Square Enix’s western studios earlier this year, the mobile developer, Square Enix Montreal, renamed themselves to Onoma. It was a pretty nothing story, so I did not mention it at the time. However, less than a month later, Embracer announced their first studio closure, as Onoma was shut down, effective immediately.

Per a Bloomberg report, this is because Embracer was to focus exclusively on PC and console games, and not the complex mobile market, and getting rid of Onoma was a ‘cost-cutting measure.’ While Onoma was a pretty small studio, Thankfully, some unspecified number of Onoma staff were moved over to Eidos Montreal, but this is still an incredibly strange series of events. 

My pet doggy dog theory is that the Onoma renaming thing was part of an obligation between Embracer and Square Enix. Embracer never wanted Square Enix Montreal, but they had to take them as part of the package deal. Or in other words, Square Enix Montreal was gonna die no matter what.

This article also offered insights on the current status of Eidos Montreal. Namely that a new IP in development was recently canceled, one inspired by Stranger Things, and Eidos is working with Xbox first party studios on other projects. Namely Playground Games’ Fable reboot. That last bit might sound odd, but it is important to remember that Edios’s sister studio, Crystal Dynamics, is working with The Collective on the Perfect Dark reboot. 

…Which itself is an odd situation, but this pivot to a supporting role is part of a profitability motive, as Marvel’s Avengers and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy were both commercial failures. And all it takes is one commercial failure to kill most AAA studios…

A Specter of The Past Reborn
(Korean Ratings Board Lists Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective)

Now that the acquisitions are done, let’s move onto my favorite source of new game announcements, ratings boards! This past week, the Game Rating and Administration Committee of Korea put out a curious listing for Ghost Trick

For those not familiar with the name, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a late era Nintendo DS adventure game directed by Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi. Over the years, it has earned a reputation as a cult classic, and it is one of my favorite games on the platform. 

Its time and object manipulation puzzle solving was both inventive and wacky. The game oozed style with not only its slick character designs, but a unique 2D/3D look. One where characters were represented with these low resolution and lavishly animated character models that popped against the 2D backdrop. The story was filled with a variety of twists, without ever feeling overly complex or convoluted. Its characters were a bunch of delightful goofballs, with the sidekick Pomeranian Missile being one of the best animals in all of gaming.

Sadly, the title did not do particularly well commercially, likely due to its early 2011 release window, leading it to fall into obscurity. To combat these losses, Capcom released the game on iOS about a year later. A version that was arguably superior to the original, featuring higher resolution art assets, smoother 3D models, and a more condensed UI.

Considering that ratings board listings are accurate 95% of the time, I’d say that this means Capcom is remastering Ghost Trick, likely based on the iOS version, for PC and consoles. As for why they are doing this now, I would point at The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. A remaster of two 3DS games that sold half a million units within its first year. Which, while not incredible, is likely enough to justify additional remasters.

…Now, why is Capcom remastering Ghost Trick before bringing over Ace Attorney 4, 5, and 6 to modern platforms? I have absolutely no idea. All of those games got Android and iOS ports that could be ported over to PC and console, but I guess Capcom just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. 

Ends & Updates:
Goldarn Dragalia

Another week, another couple dozen hours doing these tedious as hell recordings for Dragalia Lost, and at this point, I am just sick of this whole process. Sick of the same Kaleidoscape floors that I have gone through hundreds of times each. Sick of the process of opening iTunes, plugging my phone in and out, waiting for the video file to be transferred, renaming it, using FFmpeg Batch AV Converter to convert the files, and then doing the same darn thing all over again.

Fortunately, I have met my recording goals for most of what I wanted to capture. All Kaleidoscape recordings have been completed, and now all I need to prepare are event recordings and 20-ish recordings of adventurers I did not record any other footage for. 

Sadly, this process has left me convinced that I will not be able to finish the supplemental element of Natalie Rambles About Dragalia Lost – THE FINAL, as there are simply not enough hours in the day. 

  • Adventurer Stories: 1,480/1,480 – Archived mirrors of Hunter’s Lodge story videos for Yukata Cleo, Kimono Notte, Sharpshooter Sarisse, Summer Mitsuhide, Yukata Lathna, Vania, and Saiga.
  • Castle Stories: 52/52 – Completed by the communal archive team. Some videos were replaced for consistency purposes.
  • Dragon Stories: 266/266 – Completed by the communal archive team. Some videos were replaced for consistency purposes.
  • Event Stories: 503/505 – Mostly completed by the communal archive team. Archived mirrors of Hunter’s Lodge event stories. Missing Mega Man Chaos Protocol prologue and EX Story for Post-Mortem Panic.
  • Main Campaign Story Recordings: 265/265 – Completed by the communal archive team.
  • Main Campaign Quest Recordings: 250/250 – Completed by me.
  • Kaleidoscape Recordings: 64/64 – This was the worst idea, but somebody had to archive this crap… 
  • Event Compendium Recordings: 07/28 – Teams curated. Need to record.
  • Regular Quest Recordings: 259/259 – Completed by me.
  • Additional Recordings for representation of all Adventurers: Prepared list for adventurers to capture additional reference footage for. Footage capturing will end on November 15th.

Now, most of this is going to be irrelevant next to the hard work of other archivists like Dart-kun on the Dragalia Lost Discord, but you can never have too much footage of a dead game, right?

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