Rundown (5/28/2023) The 6 Month Post-Surgery Update

  • Post category:Rundowns
  • Reading time:43 mins read
  • Post comments:2 Comments

This Week’s Topics:

  • That thang between Natalie’s legs
  • Bad Brain murders executives
  • Embracer’s $2 billion oopsie
  • Nintendo kills the 3DS while it stews in its grave
  • The PlayStation Showcast Fundown
  • A Marvelous pursuit to the current generation

Rundown Preamble Ramble:
The 6 Month Post-Surgery Update

Last week, I passed the 6 month mark for my bottom surgery, meaning that I am pretty much 100% healed no matter how you look at it. I haven’t really discussed this on Natalie.TF yet, and seeing as how I do not know what it means to keep personal matters private, I figured I may as well talk about bottom surgery. Or SRS. Or whatever you wanna call it..

Starting off, let’s talk about why I got the surgery in the first place. When I started my transition almost seven years ago, bottom surgery was presented as something of the ‘end goal’ for trans women. As it was the surgery that would allow trans women to update their birth certificates and would do much to ‘end’ their gender dysphoria by removing the most ‘male’ parts of their bodies. It would make them not only female in regards to gender, but also ‘sex.’

Back then, the idea of trans women without genital dysphoria, or were comfortable having a penis, were not as propagated, or even respected, even in the trans community. Sure, it was seen as an ‘option,’ but it was seen as an option the same way that transitioning without HRT was seen as an ‘option.’

This perspective shifted over time, and now it is not uncommon for trans femme folks to be perfectly content with keeping their penises. I kept this in mind when determining if I wanted to go through with this surgery, but I reached an impasse of sorts. 

My genital dysphoria was not bad, and I was largely content with my body as it was after facial surgery and several years of HRT. Tucking alleviated most discomfort caused by my penis, and I was able to forget it was there during large stretches of time. There was some occasional strain, and I considered getting an orchiectomy just to get rid of my useless testicles. But before that, I decided to pursue genital electrolysis instead, where I quickly reached a conclusion:

These. Things. Need. To. Fucking. DIE!!!

Genital electrolysis was the worst experience of my life, and that’s saying something, because I’ve tried to kill myself several times. The process of having a woman pluck hairs from one of the most sensitive parts of my body, for several hours, while gritting my teeth (metaphorically) as the pain grew worse over time, was bad. It was the most disgusting and dysphoric thing I had ever felt in my life. And the recovery was just slightly less bad. 

The process of having my genitals grow to twice their unusual size, becoming this unruly and untenable mound of flesh that I felt brush against my pants with every step. It sucked! But it was all worth it if it did its job and I didn’t need to shave anymore, right? Nope. I went in for five sessions and saw barely any changes to hair growth down there. Not because my physicians were bad, but because I’m a natural redhead, meaning my hair is very thick, and I basically need to go in for twice as many electrolysis appointments as someone with dark hair. After that I said, screw it. This is not worth the pain, money, or days of discomfort. And since I’m asexual, I only wanted a zero-depth vaginoplasty, which does not require genital hair removal.

Or in other words, tucking largely absolved me of my genital dysphoria, as tucking basically makes one’s crotch as flat as any ‘vagina-havers.’ But electrolysis taught me a new way to hate my genitals, so I made it a point to get on a $400/month health insurance plan that would pay for bottom surgery. 

So, now that I have gone through the months of recovery, was it all worth it? Well… it’s incredibly comforting to not have to worry about my gaff, tucking things, or straining something by keeping my genitals packed up for 16 hours. Any fear I might have had about someone ‘finding out’ that I’m trans through a ‘physical inspection’ has been abolished. And there is a lot of solace in just looking down and seeing something flat, puffy, and small. Seriously, if I didn’t grow up with a pair, I would be aghast at how large a scrotum was… 

During over 90% of my life, having a vulva is a considerable quality of life improvement… but there are some areas where I am less enthused. Let’s start with the hair. Quite simply, I do not fully understand how to remove all the hairs around my labia. So I only remove the ‘main‘ hairs when I shave, and use tweezers to get stranglers once I see them. This includes hairs that grow in the folds of skin between my crotch region and legs, and the few hairs that grow out of my labia minora (the fleshy red part past the lips).

Next, we have the most common use for any genital. Urination! Which… is sadly the worst part of having this freaking thing. Because I have had dozens of accidents over the past few months, where I sit down, pee, and then have that pee spray past the toilet, where it either trickles down the bowl, or sprays onto the floor. 

As someone who’s big into TSF, this was kind of a surprise to me. Typically, MtF characters have no problem peeing after learning to relax the right muscles, while FtM characters are the ones who struggle with toilet time. I could point out an example from chapter 2 of Futari Switch by Akira Hiramoto. But whenever I had an accident, my mind instead went to this one excerpt from Super Freakin’ Parody Rangers IN SPACE.

It’s a pretty direct bit that plays into the supposed difficulties of peeing with a penis, and it might sound right… but nah, it actually should go more like this:

When WOMEN go to take a PISS, they SPRAY it out of their URETHRA and the URINE becomes a powerful STREAM that SPLITS across the labia, SPREADING past the TOILET BOWL and onto the FLOOR!!!

Based on my 25-ish years of experience, peeing with a penis is super duper easy… if you do it while sitting down. I only did it standing up, like, three times. Just plop your keister, relax a bit, and the urine will almost silently hit the bowl, and not the water underneath. If you’ve got a boner, or if blood rushes to the penis after a good poop, there might be some issues with urine escaping from the gap between the toilet bowl and the seat. However, the solution to this is just to press the penis down. 

Also, for the record, my penis was only 6 inches at its apex and pointed down, so this method might not work for someone with an 11-incher that points up. …Wait, is that why ‘penis-havers’ are trained to use urinals? Because if you piss sitting down that implies you have a penis that fits inside of a toilet bowl when erect? 

…Wow, I’m sure talking about dicks a lot in this section.

Anyway, peeing is the worst part of having a vulva. I doubt it was the fault of my surgeon, and instead, I’m going to blame my bladder muscles for being so SLOW on the uptake. When it works, it works fine. When it doesn’t, I need to break out the diaper wipes.

That about covers— Fuck it, let’s talk about masturbation!

So… prior to this post, I only ever attempted masturbating by vigorously rubbing my labia majora. Doing this stimulated the tender skin of my vulva, rubbed my labia majora against my clitoris, and after a few minutes, brought me to a climax. Honestly, it was a lot like masturbating using a penis, but switching stroking for rubbing. And much like with a penis, it felt better when there were layers of cloth between my hands and genitals. Meaning when I masturbated this way, I did so with a layer of panties, pants, and a blanket between my hand and vulva.

If that sounds like I would make a mess out of my panties… I barely ejaculate, and there’s always crusty goop that drips from my vulva. Meaning I don’t really care if clear water-like liquid gets on my panties. It’ll wash out anyway.

For the sake of this Rundown, I decided to try masturbating by touching my clitoris and labia minora (the reddish part past the lips). But… that did not go well. My clitoris is sensitive, but not in a way where it feels good to touch. In a way where it feels irritated even five minutes after I’ve touched it. While my labia minora is wet, soft, and feels like something that I should not touch. Kinda like a butthole.

It is possible that I just need to ‘get in the right mood’ to enjoy these sensations, but that has become harder for me as of late, as I have been running out of things that I find ‘hot.’ It has honestly gotten to the point where I can only get off while lying in bed, imagining a body swap story in my mind. And if I cannot narrow in on an idea that I find ‘hot’ then I just give up and go to bed.

In conclusion, much like everything about my transition, it hasn’t been exactly what I expected, but I don’t regret it at all. I feel like a burden has been removed from my body, because it literally has, and I’m more than content with this being the ‘thing between my legs’ for the rest of my life. I would like to enjoy it in the way that I had been fantasizing, to some degree, for 14 years. But I will admit that most of these ‘issues’ are likely just ‘me’ problems down to the physiological and mental level. 

Here’s hoping that I can eventually master the art of urination and masturbate like a TSF protagonist. But if not… that’s fine. Because this sure beats the shit outta having balls.

Net Ease Into Another Studio
(NetEase Opens Bad Brain Game Studios)

…Geeze, am I going to talk about a new one of these every month or something? 

Since 2020, NetEase has made an absolutely aggressive expansion effort into non-Chinese markets by establishing new studios. Nothing has really come of this, because games take five years to make, but that isn’t stopping them from building up studios, and this past week they established Bad Brain Game Studios. A Canadian studio with offices in Toronto and Montreal that is working on an “open world, story-driven, action-adventure inspired by blockbuster cinema and paranormal thriller novels of the 1980s.” A description that is both vague and more informative than most new studio’s debut project announcements.

Also, rather than just debut with a website, press release, and mission statement, NetEase also commissioned an animated short to help with this announcement. A short where a team of game developers’ brains break out of their skulls, merge together, and kill executives who want to stifle their creativity. Which is certainly… a choice.

It’s an attempt to establish the studio as something of a creator-driven underdog, something distinctly different from a typical AAA games studio. Which, for the record, is a good thing. However, these people are still owned by NetEase, one of the biggest game companies in the world, so I don’t really buy that they will have actual autonomy and won’t need to hit publisher determined metrics. There might have been discussions of studio freedom, but the owners can ultimately do whatever they want.

Still, this odd announcement aside, this just represents yet another development studio springing to life, and that’s something that I can’t really begrudge NetEase for doing. Studios like this basically need outside funding. Either it could come from a big international publisher, or from a bunch of venture capital groups. That’s how capitalism works!

The Embracer Group Screwed Up and Lost $2 Billion in Revenue
(The Knights of the Old Republic Remake Was Probably Canceled)

Here’s something I wasn’t expecting to see this week. The Embracer Group announced that a strategic agreement fell through after the company spent seven months negotiating an agreement. Everything was laid out and the proposal was waiting for final approval, only for the counterparty to decline the proposal at the last minute. This strategic agreement was worth approximately $2 billion in contracted development that would have been paid out over 6 years, and as this news broke, their stock price tanked by 40% in a day. 

So… what happened? Well, Embracer wasn’t naming names, but this was almost certainly a big multi-game contract from another party. Some think it might have been Amazon, as they announced a partnership regarding Tomb Raider in late 2022. While others think it might have been part of a Disney/Lucasfilm deal related to the Knights of the Old Republic remake announced in 2021 and switched developers in August 2022.

The latter sounds a bit more reasonable to me, as the KotOR remake has publicly undergone development issues, and the CEO of Embracer gave a telling answer when asked about the remake. He did not actually say anything, but the framing of this non-answer implies that the game was canceled.

I am noting this for historical purposes, as I’m sure this will be brought up again in the future, and I find stories like this fascinating. There is this belief that businesses on the scale of Embracer are these big foreboding entities who can arrange these massive deals. But even when deals reach 10 digits, that doesn’t mean they’re a surefire thing. 

Nintendo Hates You and They Can Go Fuck Off
(Nintendo Made the Nintendo 3DS Harder to Hack)

I don’t know what hardass got promoted or hired at Nintendo over the past year, but they’ve gone from being an almost cutely abusive and contrarian force in the industry to a goldarn menace

About two months after Nintendo ‘officially’ turned the 3DS into a physical-only gaming device, the company released one more update for the system. It offered some vague ‘stability improvements’ but as people dug into the details, they discovered that this update broke workarounds that people have been using to hack the 3DS

If Nintendo were doing this while still actively supporting the system, then fair game. I understand why they would not want people to hack a device they are making money off of. 

But Nintendo discontinued the Nintendo 3DS in September 2020, and stopped selling digital games in March 2023. They have completely stopped making any money off of the system, and could just do nothing related to the 3DS ever again. But instead, they decided to give a great big ‘fuck you’ to every Nintendo 3DS owner by removing what Nintendo transformed into a necessary function.

This is an act of malice from Nintendo, and this makes me want to sell every Nintendo product I own, only ever playing their games via piracy. Because if this is how they treat their legacy and user base, they should not exist as a company and should not be financially supported.

In fact, this awful news served as a good kick in the ass for me to finally dig through my closet to catalog all the gaming crap I’ve accumulated over the years. I’m currently spending this holiday weekend going through this and I should have a listing up for the Rundown next week.

Let The Segmented Summer Showcases Begin!
(PlayStation Showcase Roundup)

E3 may be dead, but that isn’t stopping most major gaming companies from scheduling showcases for early June. But rather than wait a week and change, Sony decided to start the festivities early with a juicy State of Play. …Or rather, a PlayStation Showcase.

Unlike prior years, I’m trying to get away from talking about games if all I really have to say is ‘oh, that looks pretty neat.’ Not because I think those games are not worth talking about, but because my interests have been skewing more toward games whose announcements can be seen as part of bigger stories.

There were plenty of games like that, including Sword of the Sea, a gorgeous ‘run and bask’ from the developers of Journey and Abzu. The Plucky Squire is a game that I would describe as Chibi-Robo! X A Link Between Worlds, which is one of the highest compliments I could offer. While Phantom Blade 0 is a reminder that 2009 video games are still being made, and thank Verde Dusk for that. I have completely gone from hating that gray shite to thinking it looks cute

…But I care so much more about reciting video game history and establishing the narrative around games than talking about new ones that just went through a normal dev cycle.

The Metal Gear Solid Rumors Were REAL!
(Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Volume 1 & Metal Gear Solid Δ: Snake Eater Announced)

Let’s start with the big news. After having delisted 2011’s Metal Gear Solid HD Collection back in 2021, Konami is finally re-releasing the original trilogy of Metal Gear Solid titles in the form of Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Volume 1. A compilation of Metal Gear Solid (1998), Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

This is incredibly fortunate news, as these games are culturally, technologically, and artistically important enough to be made available on a wide variety of platforms. …Which is where the first problem emerges. The collection was originally announced for PS5, but the language around this at least implies the collection is coming out for PS5, Xbox Series, and PC when it debuts this autumn. Which I sure hope will be the case, as people have been waiting nearly 20 goldarn years to get a native port of MGS3 on PC.

However, the arguably better news here is the fact that this is only volume ONE of a collection, and unless you’re SNK circa 2008, you don’t put out a ‘volume 1’ unless you are working on volume 2. What could a volume 2 of this series entail? Most likely Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Metal Gear Solid 5: Peace Walker, and… maybe Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, since Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is playable on PS5 and Xbox Series? That would make for a pretty solid collection. It would ignore the quirkier stuff like Metal Gear: Ghost Babel and the Metal Gear Acid duology. But if anybody actually wants to go that deep, that’s what emulation is for. 

All of this sounds good, but it will only be good if the ports themselves are good. Porting seems easy, but it is a time-intensive process that has been botched too many times to count. Fortunately, it seems that they are on the right track. Based on a snippet about the game from IGN, this collection will contain Metal Gear (1987), and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990), Metal Gear Solid Integral, along with the 2011 HD versions of MGS2 and MGS3. Or in other words, all the trappings that one would want to see in this collection. Meaning all Konami needs to do is make sure things run at 4K and 60fps while not introducing any significant problems.. 

…Oh, and they also prefaced this announcement with a CG teaser trailer for Metal Gear Solid Δ: Snake Eater. The much rumored Snake Eater remake, supposedly developed by the prolific support studio Virtuos.

While I personally loved Snake Eater, or about as much as one can after only playing it once, a decade ago, doing a failed no-kill run, this is a remake that I’m very… apathetic toward on a conceptual level. The game does not need a remake. The aforementioned remaster/re-release means it will be made available going forward. And the more I think about it, the more I actually want this remake to be different. Heck, it’s basically promising to be that, given the delta (change) as part of the game’s title. Ideally, that would take the form of something akin to the recent Resident Evil remakes… But based on some pre-release screenshots, it seems to be taking the original map design to heart.

Metal Gear Solid Δ: Snake Eater is… a name that will forever annoy me, because, as far as I can tell, you cannot make an uppercase delta using alt codes. Which might not sound like a big deal, but I rely on alt codes to produce a bunch of characters. Like —, æ, ä, é, ü, ♥, ≤, and ≥. I guess it could also be called Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater, but that’s not what the game will be called in an official capacity.

Aside from that, Metal Gear Solid Δ: Snake Eater was announced for PS5, Xbox Series, and PC via Steam. No release window was given, but it’s not like those things are ever accurate anyway.

Natalie Just Wanted An Excuse to Talk About Dragon’s Dogma
(Dragon’s Dogma II Announced)

The historical reception of Dragon’s Dogma is that of a fairly niche curiosity that steadily grew in popularity over the span of a decade. The title was one of the many western-geared offerings of Capcom during the PS3 and Xbox 360 era, and had the misfortune of being an open world fantasy action RPG released 6 months after Skyrim. This shaped the cultural attitude toward the title, and it was met with a more muted reception. Partially because of the very ‘by the book’ western fantasy design. Partially because of its attempt at creating a more hardcore experience with a lack of fast travel and aggressive night cycle. And partially because the game was meant to be played in a particular way that was not obvious to a lot of people.

But then the game got a solid PC port in 2016, followed by re-releases for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. It was here where a wider group of people were able to appreciate what this game was doing, and it developed a reputation as something of a cult hit. Well, I say ‘cult’, but the game did somehow manage to sell 7.2 million units, which is just a regular hit. Or at least it was on a 2012 game budget.

…Actually, looking at that number, I can really see why Capcom decided to give Dragon’s Dogma II the greenlight and announced the title last year. Due to the fact that games take so long to make, I kind of expected it to be years before any proper footage would be shown. But then Capcom showed a gameplay trailer and… it looks like Dragon’s Dogma on the RE Engine. Which is to say, it looks like a rock solid action game with a grounded setting and elegantly crafted monsters, along with elaborate effects. I would say more, but my memories of Dragon’s Dogma are forever tainted by its progress-erasing auto-save system, so… yeah.

Bungie Digs Up A Classic IP To Murder It
(Marathon: The Live Service Announced)

The Marathon series is one of those curiosities that a lot of game-likers have heard about due to the fact that it’s what Bungie made before Halo. However, they are also part of that bizarre type of game that is talked about as a thing, but rarely ever described, let alone shown. Why? Because they were sci-fi first-person shooters released exclusively for Mac in the mid 1990s. Or in other words, It was part of a genre that was undergoing explosive growth year over year, for a platform that was barely on the radar during the explosive popularity of Windows 95. 

Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if people did not know much of anything about these games until MandaloreGaming, who reviewed the trilogy about a year ago. Despite this obscurity, the games have been freely available for about two decades, and the IP has no real weight or value. The fans do not really want a new game. Especially from modern Bungie with their live service malarky. It’s done, that’s okay, and if Bungie were to revive any of their old IPs… there’s always Oni (2001).

…But Sony acquired Bungie in February 2022, and they undoubtedly wanted them to get to work on another less established live service with a Destiny-like flavor, without being a Destiny. So they decided to have Bungie reboot Marathon as a PvP ‘extraction shooter’. What’s an extraction shooter? Um… it’s a multiplayer shooter that prioritizes stealth and careful navigation that’s also a spin-off of the battle royale genre. It’s also apparently the genre of titles like Hunt: Showdown and Escape from Tarkov. Two games that I have seen videos on, but still do not understand. Like, at all.

My utter inability to comprehend modern gaming trends aside (which is going to get even worse once I’m in my thirties), I need to naturally ask why they are doing this. Why are Sony and Bungie rebooting this single-player story-driven series as a multiplayer title, rather than creating a new IP? Because that dumb idea has been attempted several times in the past, and it has never worked. Shadowrun (2007), Syndicate (2012), Triad Wars (2015), Nosgoth (2013)— Wait, no, this is just a Nosgoth

Sony, you spent tens of millions of dollars on a Nosgoth

You could have done anything, but you did a Nosgoth!

I would feel utterly indifferent about this if it was a new IP, but it is the use of a name and possibly lore that really turns this apathy into spite. It all makes me actually hope that Marathon: The Live Service dies a swift death from active disinterest and can be forgotten and relegated to a subpar footnote to the story of a niche game series. Sadly, with a release slated for PS4, Xbox Series, and PC, it will have plenty of shots to find an audience.

Natalie Rants About Live Services Revision 2023-05-28
(Because Marathon: The Live Service Upsets Me On A Fundamental Level)

You know, I tried to acknowledge the good in them, but live services are such a destructive plague on the industry that I seriously cannot condone or even tolerate them at this point. Yes, one of my favorite games of all time was a live service, but that is precisely why I HATE the blasted things. I love it when games are updated with new content and quality of life improvements. Online multiplayer and connectivity has opened up entire worlds of possibilities for game design and gameplay. But live services are killing history and turning something that should be replicable and infinite into something finite. Hundreds of games have already been lost, and at this point, it’s not worth it. 

Live services are a bane on this industry, and I downright hate them. They are the amalgamation of every nasty and awful thing the game industry has been trying to pull ever since the booming popularity of online gaming in the early 2000s. They are the rampant and reckless destruction of art by design. They prey upon the neurodivergent and disabled. They abuse humanity’s natural desire to amass, collect, and organize, and use it to stuff the wallets of executives. They perpetuate a cycle of abuse without the release of a post-launch break. And they prevent people from experiencing art, limiting their views on what this wonderful medium can and should be, in favor of ruthless repetition.

Live services should not exist, should not even be associated with packaged video games, and are something I once accepted to a degree. But now that I’m out of the system, I see just how vile it truly is.

Silly Sony, That’s Not a PlayStation Vita 2!
(Sony Announces Project Q Streaming Handheld)

The last big announcement of this showcase was the reveal of Project Q, a streaming-only gaming handheld that is designed to connect to the PS5 and play PS5 games. An idea that seems novel and interesting but, as I brought up two weeks ago, is not new, and is something you pretty much can do already. PlayStation Remote Play already works with handheld systems like the Steam Deck and ROG Ally, except those can also be used to play non-Sony games and even run games natively. Whereas Project Q just seems to be a screen and a controller grip. Also known as something you can replicate by buying by connecting a PS5 controller to a PC or mobile device and downloading the official remote play app.

If I have not made my point implicitly, I’ll make it explicitly. This thing is a solution to a problem that has already been solved, so why bother entering this market with a functionally worse product? Well, this was announced right before Sony’s wireless PlayStation earbuds, which are probably just rebranded versions of an existing Sony earbud, and that tells me all I need to know. Project Q is a vanity product, plain and simple.

It’s a product that relies on tricking people with a fixation on brands and their lack of knowledge of existing alternatives. I know thousands of people have already been confused, convinced that this is the only way to play PlayStation on a handheld. But it really isn’t. The only way I could view this as a worthwhile product is if its price competes with its limited functionality. I would say that something like $200 would be reasonable for such a device… but otherwise, it would be better to use any of the other options available. 

I mean, you can just use your phones to play your PS5 games portably… You guys have phones, right? 

Bonus Nat Fact: I actually did not have a smartphone when that infamous line was uttered in November 2018. I bought my first smartphone on July 21, 2019, and I only got it because I needed to use 2FA for work. It was an iPhone 6s, and its battery died after 28 months. Probably because I left it plugged into a charger for about 18 months straight. Replacing it would have cost more than the phone itself. So I got a refurbished iPhone XS instead, whose battery I have been abusing because I’m bad at unplugging my phone from the charger.

Marvy’s Next Gen Upgrade!
(Marvelous Games Showcase Rundown)

Marvelous, a company 20% owned by Tencent, decided to throw their hat into the ring with their own showcase this past week. This struck me as a rather odd move, as they are a mid-sized developer/publisher, so how many games could they really announce or showcase? The answer is 6! …But four of them were the epitome of nothing announcements.

Project Magia was announced via concept art by Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tail, Edens Zero) but no further details as to what the game would be.

Project Life is RPG saw a debut via concept art and a speech about the game’s vague themes.

Rune Factory 6 was announced with a logo, vague concept and that’s it.

Daemon X Machina: Titanic Scion was announced via a CG trailer that did little more than confirm that this mech game will contain mechs.

Another Story of Seasons game was announced, which is usually nothing new, but the series has struggled to transition to the standards of the Switch after making its home on 3DS for so long. I previously dogged on titles like Friends of Mineral Town and A Wonderful Life for looking… bad. While this new game aims to address this by adding a level of detail and life to this world that simply has not been seen… ever. Based on the in-engine footage, this is a generational leap forward. 

That would be enough, but this new title is also aiming to finally introduce multiplayer to the series. A feature that has been expected ever since Stardew Valley did it in 2016. These games are ideal for friends getting together, sharing their farms and towns, chilling out in a digital space— you know what, I don’t need to justify why they should do this. Marvelous saw how much money Animal Crossing: New Horizons made and how many people played it online during the pandemic. So of course they want to try and get a fraction of that success with their next big entry in the cozy game genre.

Rune Factory: Project Dragon was announced as a spin-off of this spin-off of a series and aims to take the series in a different direction by… being an open world Japanese flavored action game? If you were to show me gameplay footage of this, I seriously would have never guessed this was a Rune Factory game. I would have written it off as a Genshin-Impact-like due to the similar sweeping landscapes, approach to rendering anime in 3D, and real time combat. That’s not to say it looks bad though. It’s a game where you can fly around floating islands on the back of a big fluffy snake dragon, and graphically it’s another generational leap from its predecessor. 

I don’t want to be mean, but 2021’s Rune Factory 5 looked like a PlayStation Vita game. By comparison, Rune Factory: Project Dragon looks like a game built on a completely new engine by a completely different staff, for completely different hardware. It is such a leap in quality that I would be baffled… but then I realized that Marvelous received $65 million from Tencent in 2020, and increased their staff from 535 to 637 between March 2020 and September 2022. Capital and staff are the most vital ingredients for a studio to reach modern development standards… and Marvelous got a hearty injection of both. Good for them.

Also, I’m experimenting with the header image design a bit here. I’ve noticed that Rundowns with pixel art headers get fewer views, while Rundowns in general have been seeing higher readership after I started using the black borders earlier this year. I don’t really care about views— if I did, I would give up writing fiction— but if something that takes me an extra 2 minutes is the key to getting another couple dozen views, I think it’s worth it.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Charishal

    Thanks for the post and for being so open with us, Natalie!
    Some headers might be more inviting than others, but I also wonder: you usually use your pixelart when your main rundown topic is about something more specific and personal to you. Those personal topics might be more difficult to engage with for the occasional visitor. Whereas when you write about your feelings on a piece of media (and use it in the header), this piece of media can be a common point of interest, maybe making the post more approachable (?). I’m just spitballing…
    Also: I apologize if I go too far with this question, but I’m kind of fascinated with this topic : did you experience any phantom limb sensations following your surgery? Testimonies vary quite a bit on this.

    1. Natalie Neumann

      My ‘rule’ for Rundown headers is that they should be something related to the preamble ramble in most instances. When I am talking about a game or comic or project, then I will just use a screenshot from the game or comic. But if I am talking about something personal, then I most likely do not have any visual reference I can use, so I whip up a quick pixel art header. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as How I have historically used Chibi CGs from various visual novels for my E3 related Rundowns. I don’t actually remember why I started doing that, but it became a tradition, and I intend on keeping it up even in this post E3 era. In fact, I should go searching for some chibi CGs right now…
      The phantom limb sensation persisted for the first few weeks of recovery, and if I bump by crotch into something, like a low table or tall box, I will recoil for a moment before realizing that it isn’t a big deal. Aside from that, I don’t have any phantom limb issues.