Rundown (2/26/2023) Natalie Talks About Some TSF Critiques

  • Post category:Rundowns
  • Reading time:45 mins read
  • Post comments:6 Comments

This Week’s Topics:

  • Natalie Rambles About Some TSF Critiques
  • A double dose of acquisitions
  • A voyage in subtitling hell
  • The delisting (and relisting) of a famous game for SEO
  • The director of Resident Evil 4 leaving his company
  • A crisis of productivity and purpose
  • My next novel becoming a trilogy

Rundown Preamble Ramble:
Natalie Talk About Some TSF Critiques

Two weeks ago, I talked about an article by a body swap and transformation enthusiast about their thoughts on the genre, and why they found it so compelling. It was the sort of thing that I love to see from the TF community— analysis of what draws people into the genre. Of what makes TSF the best thing. Sadly, it is the sort of thing I do not normally see, largely because I don’t go digging around for it.

But you know who does go digging around for articles about TSF? Natalie.TF reader Chari! Yes, for the third week in a row she brought me some sweet treats and, like a good aunt, I have come to share them with you! I was originally planning on sharing and discussing all six links Chari sent to me, but I did not have much to say about Jimbo Explains His Transformation Fetish by Kendra Holliday and What Is the Gender Bender Fetish? by Boo Ritson. Still, that’s four articles, and four is a lot!

An Analysis of Magical Sex-Change (TSF) Manga by Chiaki Hirai

As the title implies, this article is more of an introduction and light analysis of the TSF genre, which is something that I previously tried to do back in 2022— five years after this article was published. And… this is WAY better and more professional than anything I ever spat out. 

The first thing I want to discuss is the definition that Hirai uses to describe TSF:

“Transsexual fiction or fantasy (or TSF as it’s commonly known in Japan) is a genre of stories featuring the transformation of the main character from one sex to another, usually through coercion or by accident.” 

It’s pretty much the same as the definition I use, but Hirai views it as a genre of Japanese media, namely manga and anime, which makes sense. The term TSF is mostly used in Japanese or Asian communities, and is not commonly used in the western scene. Which use terms like TG, gender bender, and gender transformation instead. Different terms are used… but they all mean the same thing, so I lump them together and use TSF as an umbrella term, as I find it to be the most descriptive and accurate.

Hiari is also more up front about how… most TSF is just porn, and not particularly nuanced or thoughtful porn. 

“Often times the plot device used to propel a normal cis het dude into becoming a nymphomaniac is through rape. And the stories further argue that these transformed people, while initially portrayed as sexually abused, may have secretly or subconsciously desired it.”

…If I had a nickel for every doujin comic I read where that happened, and put all those nickels into a sock, I would have a weapon strong enough to beat a grown adult to death.

This is something that I do not talk about very often, as I tend to view stories that follow this structure and add next to nothing as… noise. Something without unique ideas worth engaging in. This is a dismissive attitude formed over the span of several years, and part of how I choose to engage with the TSF genre as a whole. I am primarily there for the story/characters, the creativity/weirdness, and (if applicable) the artwork. 

This reliance on rape and what I call ‘the transformation into a woman-shaped cum toilet’ is a problem with the genre. Partially because a lot of it is porn, partially because cis dudes have been thinking that women must enjoy sex more for literal millennia, and because it is the lowest hanging fruit. But it is also a problem that I consider to be… ignorable when one is engaging with the genre. 

However, something that I am less dismissive of is how LGBT issues are handled here, and how rigidly gender roles and norms are typically adhered to in most TSF stories. Gender identity, gender roles, and sex are presented as mostly connected binaries. Characters who are transformed tend to eventually accept/embrace their new body and transition to a new gender (ore becomes watashi). And the most queer identities that can commonly be found in the TSF genre pretty easily fall into three buckets.

  • Trans characters who actively or secretly want to undergo a physical transformation. 
  • Gender fluid characters who want to become a girl when they feel like it, while having a male identity to fall back on as their default.
  • Lesbians or bisexual women.

This is a shame, as TSF is a marvelous tool for creators to write stories that play around with the idea of gender identity, gender roles, and queer identities. And without getting into some super obscure stuff from western creators, I cannot think of a good example of a character outright defying gender roles. A transformed character might retain more masculine/feminine interests and way of dressing, but they rarely ever embrace something that goes against norms. Such as an FtM character who still wears skirts and dresses because they just like wearing them.

Hirai highlights the reason for this being that “many writing within the TSF genre, queer perspectives on gender fluidity aren’t often top of mind.” Which is true. Most creators are simply not mindful or knowledgeable of queer subject matter. They are not exposed to it, they do not think about it, so they do not include it in their creations. 

However, I feel that will change as time goes on. As the TSF genre ages it, like nearly every genre, will begin to attract more unique perspectives, and I like to think that has happened over the 5.5 years since this article was first published. Trans and non-binary TSF creators are common these days, at least in the western sector, as the genre spoke to them on a deeper level. …But I’d be lying if I said that the genre could be doing a lot more than it currently is.

That might sound like a slight against the genre, but I actually view it as a feature. I have seen TSF, as a genre, grow over the 15 years I have been infatuated with it, and I am excited to see where it goes over the next 15 or 30 years. After generations of creators build upon the foundation set before them, and the genre grows into something that one can only faintly imagine. 

Pregnancy as the pinnacle of womanhood in TSF porn by Chiaki Hirai

This acts as something of a sequel piece to Hirai’s prior article, but this time focusing on the specific niche of TSF stories that end with an MtF character becoming pregnant. Something that I would argue has always been a thing, but might have seen an uptick in popularity in recent years. I’m not sure. I don’t keep stats on this stuff.

Now, the crux of Hirai’s analysis here is how this fixation on pregnancy emphasizes the “gender essentialist issues at the genre’s core.” Becoming pregnant and having children— becoming a mother— is viewed as the final frontier of becoming a woman, which is what these stories are so often about. Thereby reinforcing “conservative interpretations of gender and sexuality.”

Personally, I think this interpretation can be more broadly applied to how pregnancies are depicted across most media, i.e. as a good thing and ‘a woman’s greatest achievement.’ While under the banner of TSF… I tend to view pregnancy as one of the top ten things that anybody would think of when listing off the differences between an AMAB body and an AFAB body. As such, it is something that this genre pretty much needs to explore. However, it does not need to be in such a heteronormative way or be presented as something so positive.

Hell, reading this made me want to write a TSF Series installment where the MtF protagonist gets impregnated and refers to the embryo growing in their womb as a ‘parasite’ and describes how much they hate it. Society likes to view pregnancy as good, as societies rely on steady birth rates to increase population, GDP, and facilitate economic growth. But some people inevitably hate that shit.

An Introduction to The Ideas of Gender Bender Manga by Sylvia

…Okay, this one right here is the most academic approach to this topic that I have read, and I would be shocked if Sylvia did not take gender studies courses in college. Sadly, I don’t really have much of an ‘academic mind,’ and find the language and structure of academic writing to not really jive with my brainspace. You basically need to throw it into a food processor and mix it in with applesauce before I can nom it on up. …Or make it into a video essay. …Which is basically the same thing.

Tangent aside, this article is pretty much what the title says, an introduction to TSF (or rather gender bender) through the medium of manga, along with six common… things that are often found within them. Which I found especially interesting as a TSF writer who skirts around these tropes while doing weird and wacky malarky.

  • The MtF protagonist coping with their insecure masculinity as they are thrust into a “female-sexed body” (I quote because I love). 
  • The moment of acceptance where the transformed realized they are transformed. Also known as the most repetitive part of writing a TSF story. 
  • Learning how to perform as a different gender and affirm it through mundane acts. Also known as the part I rarely write, because I, from firsthand experience, find this transition to be far easier than many make it out to be.
  •  Access to gender specific spaces, i.e. changing rooms and restrooms. Which is an element that I don’t really think about, despite having gained access to differently gendered spaces 5 years ago, because most gendered spaces suck.
  • Heteronormative assumptions that an MtF character will want to shag it up with dudes. …Yeah, I’m guilty of that. I’ll write more gay stuff, eventually. Pinky swear!
  • Gender identity issues as the protagonist asks themself if they are ‘okay’ with this. A question that I personally find more interesting when the transformation is more than a simple change of physical sex. Hence why the overwhelming majority of my stuff involves body swapping of some variety. Because that is more MESSY & FUN!

Now, this post was originally meant as an introduction, but three years after publication, the writer has not posted anything else to their Medium page. This is particularly upsetting to me, as I am sure that Sylvia has a lot of juicy analysis to share with the world, but alas, this is all they wrote. Still, it is a good primer on some of the more common tropes of the genre, and I can respect it for its more academic approach.

On ‘Genderbending’ by kagemxne-blog

…Gosh darn it Chari, why you gotta send me this kind of stuff? Tumblr during the mid 2010s was a… curious place for queer discourse. It was filled with a bunch of young people figuring out their sexual and gender identities, trying to educate others, and while that sounds like a good thing, there was a lot of… bitterness involved. People had big mouths, big opinions, and big… persecution complexes? People were very eager to call things out for being problematic, and people were constantly trying to take the purest and most moral perspective on a subject. Especially if it gave them an excuse to be incredibly rude to people who disagreed with you.

However, the thing that will always baffle me about Tumblr is that people were not directly talking about politics, human rights, or anything that is important and related to the real world. Instead, most of the discourse was fixated on ‘fandoms.’ A term that, on its own, is so meaningless that I assume it refers to every Tumblr user. Or in other words, it was a website full of people complaining about other people on the same website. And if that sounds like the most unproductive waste of a website, you would be right. But Tumblr is a shadow of its former self, and all of its vices were eventually transferred to Twitter. 

Anyway, this is not an article as much as it is a report from a deleted blog, made seven years ago, that tries to argue that ‘genderbending’ is transphobic. It is a bad scattershot argument that normally I would not even bother to fully read. But because Chari sent it my way, let’s go through it paragraph by paragraph and try to explain how… this poster does not know what the hell they’re talking about.

Also, for clarity’s sake, they are not talking about TSF. They are referring to when people imagine what male characters would be like if they identified as female and were AFAB. Also known as Rule 63. …I would complain about the terribly maintained terminology surrounding TSF, but I already have… several times before.

So, my problem with this argument, from the preface alone, is that it assumes that if one trans person thinks something is transphobic, then it must be transphobic. It assumes that trans people are a monolith, that there is no discourse about what is transphobic among trans people, and that any trans person can definitively declare something to be transphobic. Which is… not true. No matter how wise or worldly you may think you are, that does not make your opinion objective or reflective of an entire group, and some young queer people don’t quite seem to understand that. Also, if you are young, which this poster clearly is, please try to express some humility in knowing that you might not have all the answers. Thanks ;)

So, this is a problem I have with the name gender bender, as when people are talking about it, they aren’t talking about changing someone’s gender identity. They’re talking about giving boys tits and vaginas and giving girls abs and dicks. It is about changing someone’s primary and secondary sexual characteristics… and also hair. The writer here is looking at the name of gender bending and thinking that the word gender was deliberately chosen over sex. When that was not the case. The term was made popular by people who did not know the difference, because it was the 90s and 2000s, and cishet people hadn’t gotten updated on the lingo. But it is overcomplicating and exaggerating something with a conceptually simple solution. Replace a bad name with a new one.

You know what else assumes that everybody is cisgender by default? Every darn society on Earth. Unless a character is made out to be trans, why should someone assume they are trans? Trans people might be becoming more common with the younger generations, but they are still a teensy minority compared to the deluge of cisgender people. As for the “erases any possibility of these characters being trans” bit… I have no idea what that means.

In fandom, you should be able to do whatever you want. Reimagine a male character as a girl. Imagine a cis character as trans. Or make a character trans girl into a cis girl, because most trans gals would like that. But making something in fandom does not affect the official thing you are into. Choosing to believe that ‘gender bender characters push trans people out of media and remove representation’ does not make… any sense at all. This is just a mesh of arguments without any logical through line.

…Okay, that point is not being made well, but it does relate to how most TSF material, and Rule 63 material, tends to view gender as a binary. This is a problem with TSF, and I don’t really know what the solution is. Other than to give characters the ability to mix and match male and female traits as they like. Just like in TSF Series #006-3: OPPAI 3 – Let’s Go To Hell! However, the author here does not seem to know the difference between something not being acknowledged and its existence being outright denied. Instead, they search for every way they can to discourage people from creating Rule 63 art, including bringing out the argument that there is no such thing as the ‘opposite gender.’ When… there is

If something is on a spectrum, then there is an opposite end of it. Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘opposite end of the spectrum?’ Have you ever seen a political spectrum diagram? Have you ever looked up a visualization of a ‘gender spectrum?’ Have you seen a spectrum of visible light in high school physics class? Every point aside from the center has a clearly defined opposite.

So, it is okay to make a male character female if the regular female characters are all one-dimensional. But it is still transphobic, and it gives people a further excuse to ignore female characters because… what? I… I genuinely cannot follow this…

‘If you don’t make a character trans when you could make them trans, you are being cissexist and transphobic’ is how I would abridge this paragraph. Not because I think that is what the author actually means, but because that’s what they’re saying. When people talk about how they find trans people ‘pushy,’ this is the behavior they are talking about. When a trans person tells them that what they are doing is bad and says so with such aggressive fervor. Which is how you build animosity, as people do not appreciate rudeness. If you want to convince people to see your view, try and make a calm argument and argue in good faith. Actually, this reminds me of a nearly decade-old image I have in my library from a Trans Pokemon Tumblr that summarizes my number one criticism with this entire post:

Yes, drawing fan art of binary characters as the other end of the binary erases trans, intersex, and non-binary identities. It does not just ignore them, it actively erases them… because this person said so, I guess. As for everything else… I’m pretty sure this person lives under a rock. If you actually want to do something about the system and ideology in which trans people are othered… get capital or get political. Don’t fixate on people drawing fan art and making remixes of existing fictional characters.

Okies. Guess I’m a transphobic trans woman. Thanks for putting this li’l faggot in its place! …I kid, but based on this person’s rhetoric, they’d probably say I’m transphobic for getting a vulvoplasty, or something comparably insulting.

Bergsala’s Thunderful Gets Even More Electric
(Thunderful acquires Studio Fizbin)

It’s been a good while since the last acquisition, and this time we have a goodie. Not a biggie, but the sort of acquisition I approve of. Thunderful is a growing collection of smaller ‘indie-sized’ developers who have been pooling their resources and skills together to make increasingly impressive games. And this past week, they brought in another smaller studio into their flock with Studio Fizbin. A German developer behind The Inner World, Say No More!, and Minute of Islands… none of which I have ever heard of. But taking a brief gander at all of them, they look to be quality adventure games with captivating, unique visuals. The products of a creative force who really could benefit from having a more structured administrative arm.

As for why the acquisition happened now? Well, Fizbin is currently working on a roguelike action, Project Kokidon, which was to be published by Thunderful subsidiary Headup Games. Meaning there was an existing relationship and this way Fizbin has access to resources that they otherwise would lack as an independent studio. Like with every Thunderful acquisition so far, this falls into my ‘good acquisition’ category

Do the Sock Monkey, A2M!
(Behaviour Interactive Acquires SockMonkey Games)

Nearly nine months after their previous acquisition of Midwinter, Behaviour Interactive has made gobbled up another studio, SockMonkey Games

With Behaviour mostly being known as the developers of Dead by Daylight, which has become more than just a popular multiplayer horror game and become a sort of platform for horror crossovers. However, they also do oddball contract work and mobile games from time to time, which is where this acquisition starts to make sense. As SockMonkey is a studio that mostly does support work, porting, and general contract work, which at least sort of aligns with things Behaviour does or has historically done. Sometimes for console games, sometimes for mobile, and covering a wide range of clients.

It overall is a fairly minor acquisition, though it does make me wonder as to where Behaviour as a company will be in the next five years. I remember back when they were called Artificial Mind & Movement, or A2M, or Ass-to-Mouth. A studio best known for licensed schlock and original titles that were often given critical lambastings. Like Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (2009), Wet (2009), and Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise (2012)

However, they have changed their business strategy, tried to prioritize quality, and have grown to a studio with over 1,000 employees. They are definitely making strides… but I think what is stopping Behaviour from becoming bigger is that they don’t really have any memorable or iconic IPs to their name. Which, for the record, is one of the most valuable assets for a lot of similarly sized studios.

Natalie’s Adventures in Subtitle Hell
(Natalie Wasted Her Sunday Subtitling Pokémon Movies)

On a whim, my friend Cassie and I decided that it would be a real swell time to watch EVERY Pokémon movie together, one every Sunday, as part of a weekly hang out session. Now, for normal people, this would be a pretty simple exercise of just torrenting the movies or watching them on an anime streaming site. However, Cassie is a woman of high standards, and I’m the inglorious self-styled diehard trans bitch, so that simply would not do. 

We needed MKV files of all movies, ripped from their 1080p Blu-Ray releases, with subtitles that match the English dub. 

Now, you might think that the hell part is finding 1080p Blu-Ray rips of, say, Destiny Deoxys. But no, that was pretty easy. I was able to find 1080p MKVs of the first 20 movies from Nyaa Torrents or within an hour. The actual hard part was getting the right subtitles. Which was very important, as Cassie and I both have lisps and not-so-good hearing.

I hate this Hoopa movie just from the subtitles alone… And it is also supposed to be crap.

Sometimes the movies came with the right subtitles, other times they were fansubs for the Japanese audio track, and sometimes, they just had no subtitles. At first, I began looking for alternatives with the right subtitles, but after a point, I gave up and decided to make my own damn subtitles… which was an ordeal. 

I tried looking up official subtitles from subtitle databases, which worked for some movies, and getting them to work was as simple as adding a new subtitle track in my media player. But for others… here is a list of steps that I took, mostly for my own future reference if I need to do something like this again in 5 years.

  1. Acquire an DVD ISO for these films— an official source file— and convert them into MKV files using Handbrake, making sure that the subtitles were not burned into the video. 
  2. Use MKVToolNix and gMKVExtractGUI to extract the subtitle files from the MKV. Sometimes, this produced the industry standard SRT subtitle files, which are basically just text documents with timecodes. Other times… this produced ITX and SUB files.
    • If the extraction produced ITX and Sub files, I had to convert them into STR files using Subtitle Edit. A powerful yet temperamental tool that gave me a lot of trouble because I tried to use it smartly, when the only way I got it to work consistently was by using the brute force method. Which means Binary Image Compare OCR method (manually identifying most characters), Latin image database (not Latin+Latin), 4 pixels in space, and 0% error tolerance. It also meant deselecting most auto-correct options. Meaning no fixing OCR errors, no prompt for unknown words, and no trying to guess unknown words. …And I still sometimes ran into issues with this bastard not telling the difference between an upper-case I and a lower-case L. I don’t know how exactly I fixed that issue. I just know that I did.
  3. Load the SRT subtitles files in VLC to determine if there is any timing issue. Mostly because the MKVs I found used the Japanese cut, which was normally off by a few seconds due to logos and title sequences. But with Pokémon Heroes, it was all sorts of messed up.
  4. Use Subtitle Tools’ online Sync Shifter to edit the timing of the SRT file, getting it ‘close enough’ for casual viewing purposes. Meaning the timing is within a fourth of a second of being where it should be. I tried doing this in Excel initially, but Excel does not like milliseconds, so I googled a solution and found this web tool. Literally 100 times easier!
  5. Replace the subtitle files within the MKV files using gMKVExtractGUI before ‘multiplexing’ a new file. Whatever that means.

In summary, this consumed the better half of my Sunday, and it sucked! I didn’t get to write anything!

That being said… did I feel proud of myself for figuring this out? You bet your keister I did! I had to jump through a lot of hoops, but I proved to myself that I still have the adaptability and skills necessary to accomplish tasks like this. When it comes to computer stuff, I like to imagine that I can do a lot, and to do this task, I had to do A LOT!

A Delisting of One of the Most Culturally Significant Mobile Games Ever
(Rovio Delists the Original Angry Birds)

The delisting of video games is something that has and will continue to do irreparable harm to video games as an artistic medium, as it is the erasure of history. It is shameful that the industry does not care enough about its past to preserve titles, to the point where most preservation efforts are done by independent archivists. People who, evidently, care more about the industry than the supposed industry leaders.

Anyway, I thought of this when I saw that the original Angry Birds was getting delisted. A relic of a bygone era where mobile gaming was young, free-to-play models had yet to be proven, and new IPs could become smash hits. For anybody who missed it, I’m sure it is hard to grasp just how big the series was a decade ago. Any kid below a certain age with an iPod Touch had probably played at least the trial of the game. There was merchandise up the wazoo. And the title was commonly referenced throughout mainstream culture.

Over the past decade, the series has continued, new games are pushed out every year or so, and they have been largely successful. The Angry Birds IP no longer has a place in the broader cultural zeitgeist, and that kind of makes sense. It was a casual game that aimed young and lacked the story or complexities needed to really stick with an audience. Or, at the very least, I don’t think there is a generation of people who are nostalgic for Angry Birds.

The delisting of Rovio Classics: Angry Birds was announced on February 21, and the game was actually delisted on February 23. Laughably short warning period aside, why was the game delisted in the first place? Well, Rovio was not especially clear why, but they said it was negatively impacting their other games. Which I view as code for: ‘we want people to play the newer games with monetization elements, not the original without any additional monetization.’ 

Now, this does make some sense, as Rovio’s business model is designed around pumping out and supporting a newer slate of Angry Birds games. This would still not warrant a delisting… but this is also not really a delisting. While Rovio Classics: Angry Birds was indeed removed from storefronts on February 23rd, this was followed with a relisting of the game, under the new name of Red’s First Flight. A name with far less SEO viability, and one that probably will not come up when people look for Angry Birds.

…Except it is the third result when looking at the iOS app store. So, I dunno if that helped or not.

…Was this whole segment pointless? Probably!

It’s Time For Shinji Mikami’s Head To Find A New Home!
(Shinji Mikami Leaves Tango Gameworks)

Normally I don’t really pay attention to firings and people leaving studios, but this one is especially bizarre. Acclaimed director Shinji Mikami announced he will leave his studio, Tango Gameworks, in the coming months

To provide some brief backstory, Shinji Mikami had an almost legendary stint at Capcom throughout the 90s and 00s, where he gained the status of a superstar director. Between Resident Evil (1996), Dino Crisis (1998), Resident Evil (2002), Resident Evil 4 (2005), and the cult classic God Hand (2006), he had more than a good run. 

However, he ultimately left Capcom in 2007, as he did not like the direction the company was going in. And considering how the 7th generation was ‘the dark times’ for Capcom, I don’t really blame him. Mikami went freelance for a while, made Vanquish (2010) with PlatinumGames, and then founded Tango Gameworks in 2010 with funding from ZeniMax. This led to The Evil Within (2014), which faced some pretty heavy criticism back in the day, and marked the last game Mikami directed. 

Since then, Mikami has largely been an executive producer and CEO. Which means offering insights and wisdom to developers as they do the work of constructing the game, along with more general business and social engagements. 

Now, the question is naturally why Mikami left, and I am sure that he will answer those questions in due time via interviews. But if I were to hazard a guess, I would say that he feels he has imparted all the wisdom and advice he can on the staff at Tango Gameworks, and he wants to become a freelancer once again. Helping young developers and getting involved in more projects than he would ever get to touch if he continued working as a CEO. 

I would also entertain the possibility that he left so he could direct one last game, but that simply does not add up. He built Tango from the ground up, he has a lot of clout at this point in his career, and if he wanted to direct one last game, I cannot imagine Microsoft or Bethesda telling him no. 

Natalie is Still Pissed She Gave Up Video Games
(Elden Ring Selling 20 Million Copies Makes Natalie All Bitter)

While I had no doubt in my mind that From Software’s latest Souls game, Elden Ring would be a massive success, I’m still shocked by just how successful the title has been. It sold about 10 million units on PC within its first two weeks, and just a little before its first anniversary, it has sold over 20 million units

To me, 10 million units is the amount of sales where a game becomes a phenomenon— because parts of my brian still think it’s 2011. But 20 million units sold is a feat that probably less than 100 games have ever achieved, and something that cements a title as a quintessential part of the gaming canon. …And realizing this honestly just makes me a little sad.

I tried convincing myself that I would not enjoy Elden Ring as much as I should due to how rotten my tastes are. Though, after hearing it be referenced and brought up so often, I truly do feel like I missed out by not playing it. I could correct this by just buying and playing the game, but sadly, I am simply not allowing myself to play video games anymore. 

As of writing this, it has been over three weeks since I touched a video game, and that trend shall likely persist until the middle of April when I start prepping for my Mice Tea review. …That was not deliberate wording by the way. That is how I genuinely view the process of playing a game. ‘Prepping for a review.’

As much as I want to play and enjoy video games, I have a very finite amount of time. I’m 28, I doubt I’ll be creatively productive for more than three decades, and I have a lot of ideas that I want to bring to life. For as much as I love analyzing or talking about other people’s creations, I feel I need to prioritize my own ideas, my own stories. Oodles of people could come to the same review/analysis-type conclusions I could, as I don’t consider my perspective as a critic unique or even remotely smart

However, I know that I have a unique voice as a creator. That I have created things unlike anyone else. As such, I think it is the highest and best use— the objectively superior use as decreed by the Based God Elon Hubbard, Alpha Centauri Commander of the Milky Way Incorporated, Neo Yugoslavian Division – Women’s Council of the Johova’s Hellspawn A.K.A. Fluppy The Filipino Horse Boi With A Stanky-Ass Dick Named Rupert “Son-of-the–Goodliest Mama Jama” Jebidiah XXXVII— that I write my shit instead of saying things about other (real genuine 100% Japanese-sourced Alberta Beef) people’s shit. That was a 78-goldarn-word sentence, and that’s what we members of THE SHATTERED call art!

…But in all seriousness, I just feel better about myself when I am making something creative, and it fills me with a good feeling that I simply do not experience when I am engaging with someone else’s work. 

For years, I have worried about fucking up a critique, about failing to see an insight, or just not being as thoughtful with how I handle things. I consider reviews to merely be my opinions as such, because otherwise the pressure of producing a ‘definitive analysis’ sickens me. 

I want to create stuff… because it makes me happy. Because I love looking back on my creative accomplishments. And because, when I inevitably get murked by some ‘righteous’ eugenicist cracker (or wind’s disease), the only thing that will bring me joy in my final moments is the knowledge that I made a lot of stuff.

Now, what constitutes ‘a lot of stuff?’ Is there a point where I will be satisfied with what I have created, where I will be content with no longer creating things? 

Um, currently my life goal is to produce 100 short stories and novellas based around TSF concepts, known as TSF Series. 12 novels. And two visual novels. Making all of this will take a lot of time and effort, and if I die before I finish this lofty goal, I will die unsatisfied.

Natalie Got Too Ambitious, So She’s Pulling a The Hobbit
(Verde’s Doohickey 2.0 Will Now be a Trilogy)

Last week I boldly reaffirmed my plans to write the entirety of Verde’s Doohickey 2.0 within the span of a few months. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how… foolish that idea was. Desperation and harsh deadlines are generally not conducive to producing quality works of any variety, and the more I outlined the story, the more I realized it should be a trilogy. 

Verde’s Doohickey 2.0 is too long, too detailed, and has too many characters to be a single product. As such, I am planning on releasing this novel it in three Acts throughout 2023:

  • Act I will be released 5/29/23 to 6/13/23. 
  • Act II will be released 8/16/23 to 9/16/23. 
  • Act III will be released 11/18/23 to 12/15/23. 

This will give me a two-month gap between acts for me to recharge my creative energy and work on other projects. I do not like doing this, and this ruins the real-time summer motif I had in mind, but my ambitions here are way too high for me to go with my original plans.

Currently, the outline for this story is at over 60,000 words, and it is set to be told across 53 chapters, only 33 of which have been outlined. So… she’s a biggie.

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Charishal

    Thanks for the post.
    Sorry about the last link. I just bookmark everything I find on the topic, even when it’s an ill though-out position. It sure was an opinion formulated during a different time. It’s possible that the initial poster may have changed their mind since.
    Elden Ring is quite the time investement. It took me about 100 hours for my first playthrough (exploring every location using a guide). And that is only going to increase considering From Software announced a DLC. It is a good game that has a lot to offer for all types of players, but I’m not sure myself if I should have spent a whole month of my time with it.
    Happy Pokemon watching to you and Cassandra.

    1. Natalie Neumann

      No need to apologize for the last link. It was kinda fun dunking on a bad take from someone like that. :P
      I would have felt a bit bad about it, but they deleted their Tumblr, and I’m guessing their opinions changed in the past seven years. So, in my mind, I was dunking an idea, rather than rebuking a person.
      Considering it took me 100 hours to clear the first two Dark Souls and I got 60 hours into Dark Souls III before I ‘had my fill,’ I’m guessing Elden Ring would take me WELL OVER 100 hours.
      …For the record, the only reason I didn’t beat DS3 is because of The Nameless King. The camera in phase one was not built for enemies his size, and phase two covered the ground with smoke, making it harder to see the boss’ attacks. I tried for an hour, realized that there was no NPC helper I could summon, and I just lost interest at that point.
      Cassie and I are only two movies into this 26-part watch-a-thon, and it has been lovely so far. ^^

  2. Tasnica

    Thanks for sharing some interesting reads and your thoughts on them!

    Your Poke-marathon reminds me of something me and a group of local friends did for a couple years (back in the mid-2010s). We’d get together and watch the Pokemon anime in chronological order, movies included, while playing the Pokemon games. We were actually just getting into Hoenn by the time it tapered off!

    1. Natalie Neumann

      Wowzers! That sounds like one heck of a commitment. Honestly, I’m not surprised it tapered off, as the Pokemon anime is one of the longest anime of all time, there are over 20 films, and the games… well, they’re generally less than 30 hours if you know what you’re doing. What Cassie and I are planning is just the 23 anime films, two specials, and Detective Pikachu (because it is inarguably a Pokemon movie). It should only take about half a year to get through, and by making the movie nights once a week, I doubt we’ll get burned out.

  3. qwerty

    oww my head. Nothing makes me as mentally vitriolic like that “genderbender = you think fuck trannies” person…

    1. Natalie Neumann

      Normally, I brush the ‘gender bending is transphobic’ people aside as somewhat-well-intentioned fools who don’t quite get what they are saying. Because just a glance at the TG/TSF community should reveal it is a pretty queer and queer welcoming place. …Well, so long as you don’t look at 4chan or some crap. But with the post featured in this week’s Rundown, I found it a bit hard to be that generous. :P