Rundown (7/23/2023) Dude, Whatever, It’s Summer!

  • Post category:Rundowns
  • Reading time:52 mins read
  • Post comments:3 Comments

This Week’s Topics:

  • One of Natalie’s favorite music people dropped a HOT new mixtape!
  • A transition related retrospective and analysis
  • The return of Natalie’s weekly dose of TSF translated goodness
  • TSF Showcase 2023: All You Can Eat! Summer 6 Comic Works Mix
  • The power of worker solidarity
  • The confusing pricing models for gaming subscription services

Rundown Preamble Ramble:
Dude Whatever It’s Summer Is Back, Bay-Bee!

It has been three years since I last talked about them, but Team Teamwork’s mixtapes and mashups are deeply formative music for my late teens and early adulthood. To the point where I spent hundreds of hours listening to them while doing homework, commuting to work, and making art, or even doing some writing. Ocarina of Rhyme, Vinyl Fantasy VII, Super Nintendo Sega Genesis, Katamari Da-Emcee, The Good-ass Remixes Vol. 1, and FCRV.1. But the crown jewel of their musical library is easily the Dude Whatever It’s Summer series. A somewhat annual tradition of mixtapes that have come to become an almost definitive part of summer for me.

I more or less thought the series ended after the chill banger that was Go Ahead, Relax. It’s Summer. (2020), but after a three year hiatus, Team Teamwork returned with Dude Whatever It’s Summer 2023! A mix that mostly continues the chiller tone from the more recent entries, while going in HARD on the hip-hop. That’s okie dokie in my book! My only qualm is that I can’t quite write while listening to it (I need to give it another 5 to 10 listens before that), but it’s still a more than welcomed addition.

Now here is where I want to provide the links to Team Teamwork’s past works… which is a bit hard, as Tim Jacques is a musician (remixers are musicians, don’t @ me). And as I said last week, musicians are generally bad at sharing their work in an easy to digest manner. I mean, I would think it would be as simple as making a public Google Drive, MediaFire, or Mega directory and including a means of contacting the creator if a file gets removed. But noooo! So, here’s a zip file containing all of Team Teamwork’s work, to my knowledge, from 2009 to 2023.

Enjoy it, and have a bangin’ summer!

Aiming For Unattractive!
(Natalie The Eternal Enigma)

This past weekend my mother and I went clothes shopping for the first time in 4 years. It was largely a bust— I only got one top— but while I was out and about in a crowded place, doing some people watching, I recalled something that I don’t know if I’ve explicitly shared on Natalie.TF.

So, in going through my gender transition, I had the main goal of being seen and recognized as female by the vast majority of people. Which I have largely achieved. Through surgeries, HRT, and some fairly misguided voice training, I largely pass, and the only things left in 100% achieving this are updating some pesky legal documents.

Now, this is not an uncommon goal amongst trans femme folks, but an often unstated or implicit part of this goal is to become attractive. However, I don’t, and pretty much never, wanted other people to see me as attractive, desirable, cute, or any other positive connotations. When it comes to appearances, I want to be about as invisible and bland as I can be as a natural redhead.

Why is that? Well, it’s a cluster of reasons all thrusting against each other like a bunch of slimes sealed in a bucket. They have a habit of hiding and congealing about, but here are four off the top of my head:

  • I never really liked being seen. Even as a small child, I liked the idea of blending in, being ignorable, and always HATED it when I was made the center of attention.
  • I’m asexual and the idea of anyone even imagining me in a sexual context is… revolting to me. And when someone is seen as attractive, then there are going to be people who will think about fucking them when they see them.
  • I’ve always struggled with social situations, and my skills only regressed after COVID, so I tend to want to avoid attracting any attention when in public. Because I cannot fathom how I would even process someone complimenting my appearance in-person.
  • I simply do not like doing the things that ‘women do to be seen as attractive.’ Namely makeup, drying and ‘doing’ my hair, and dressing up in something cute or revealing. I started my transition 7 years ago, and I still only ever wear pants and basic tops.

Part of me initially thought these ‘personality defects’ would be ‘fixed’ by transitioning… but I’m overall the same person as I was when I started. Still into the same sort of work, still writing for the same site, still into the same stuff, but I’m also more congruent, competent, and confident. Transitioning gave me the strength and comfort to be at peace with who I was, rather than changing who I was.

I know this doesn’t really adhere to standards or molds about what it is stereotypically seen as being trans… but fuck those molds. If those molds were more fluid, I could have started my transition when I was 16, instead of 21. I’m glad that I’m trans and everything, but this desire from certain members of the trans community to make and force people to adhere to molds is missing the entire idea of being trans. To be trans, to be gay, to be anything that goes against the default, is to look at the heirarchical machinations of society, say, fuck that, and do your own thing. To be queer is to say fuck society and do what makes you happy, to hell with any standards and comfortably packaged narratives.

…I still get a kick out of how I am all about going against society and voicing opposition to power structures, but I’m also a tax accountant and (basically) collect money for the IRS. What can I say? I’m helping millionaires pay their ‘fair share’ according to a system I cannot control, and some of the collected funds go to welfare programs.

Espeon is Back With The Lewd TSF Goodness!
( is BACK, Bay-bee!)

Every week, I take a visit to the promised land of erotic delights that is e-hentai and pick up whatever new translated TSF comics I can find. Meaning I enter the words “body swap” and “gender” and plop the interesting URLs into this handy downloader. It’s how I find most TSF stuff these days not posted by the 150+ active artists I follow, because I don’t know where else to look. I mean, 4chan is an option, but… no. That place is just sad.

I have found a steady stream from said artists over the past 6 or so months, but the e-hentai well has been running pretty dry, and I haven’t found much to add to my robust collection of erotic TSF comics. And by robust, I mean 9.62 GB. I have found a few new creators like Maideneir, but it’s been pretty dry when it comes to translated Japan-produced TSF comics. To the point where I only had six additions to my hentai comic collection. Specifically, these comics:

  • Chichi no Jikan by Shirota Kuronosuke, which I already talked about in Rundown (1/15/2023) MILK TIME IS ALL TIME!!!
  • Nottori Channel | Possession Channel by Seiroa. Which I mostly like because it involves a dude with a box for a face named Possession Man who possesses girls for a live stream. That’s a phat money idea, but I wasn’t super keen on the execution.
  • The Story of a Boy Whose Body Was Mostly Turned Into an Adult Woman’s in an Accident by Inucreamice. Which is a series of short comics that depict… what the title says. It is basically a head swap comic with a shota-kun and a MILF with giant tits. There’s some light character progression as the protagonist grows more feminine and gets exposed to more sexual encounters… but the main allure is the squiggly art style and bouts of creamy weirdness.
  • Haru and Sana: Love Connected Through Cosplay by Marialite. Which was more Marialite skinsuit funsies.
  • Sexaroids vs. Reseller by Kouji. Which was honestly Kouji at their worst. Still good on average, but it was too simple and lacking in character.
  • JK Kuricha ni Sareta Otoko | High Schooler Who Got Turned Into a Creature by Marialite.

With this in mind, I couldn’t help but get a teensy bit excited when I saw that Espeon’s TSF comic translation group,— the namesake inspiration for Natalie.TF— was back on Patreon! Now going by GTF TL (Gender.TF Trans-Lations). Meaning that there should be more (and by extension more good) translated TSF comics rolling down the avenues. Naturally, I tossed in $15 a month as a show of support.

Yes, I’m budgeting to spend $180 a year on doujin translations, even though I’m supposed to be saving up for a condo. What can I say? I’m a good accountant!

…Hold on a second… I just had an idea. If there are going to be more translated TSF comics… I’m going to want to talk about them. I have dabbled with the idea of doing comic-specific posts called TSF Showcases in the past, but… what if I do a quick and dirty version of that? Something like what I did… in a LOT of Rundowns this year! What if I do TSF Showcases… but as part of Natalie.TF Rundowns? And if I do them every week… I can talk about every cool TSF comic, or other TSF work, that I come across!

And if I wanted to, I could just roll up all TSF Showcase segments at the end of every year as a year-end Christmas treat! Like a holiday clipshow! Or a compilation video! Or a cum-pilation video! It’d be like an annual Natalie Rambles About TSF Comics!

I like that plan! So lemme write SIX segments to get this puppy started! …While retroactively rebranding 11 earlier segments from earlier this year.

TSF Showcase #2023-12
TS o Suru. Seidorei ni Naru (Change Sex and Become a Sex Slave) by Tansan Protein no kai

…At this point, I barely even look at titles before I start reading a TSF comic, because I know from experience that they have basically no relation to the quality of the work. Just look at Kouji’s Turned into a Breast Milk Fountain by a Beautiful Vampire! And despite Change Sex and Become a Sex Slave seeming like yet another typical cum fiesta, this one is… actually trying to say something unique.

The story centers around a disgruntled young man named Saotome, who receives a mysterious offer from a university promising to genetically transform him into a woman. It’s a fairly typical concept that starts just as typically, complete with passing transphobic microaggressions. But then we get into the fact that Saotome is also signing up to be a sex slave for the next year, and he reflects on why he signed up for this procedure in the first place. It’s not for extra cash (which is a super common theme for this subgenre), but rather, to fulfill a dream of his.

Prior to this, Saotome was in a relationship with a beautiful girl, and while he loved her at first, this love soon morphed into a form of envy. While he had a beautiful girlfriend, he would never have what she had. He would never have her feminine beauty, and, as a man, he would need to dedicate his life to forever chasing that. Competing for the ability to be close to such beauty while competing with other men. Younger, wealthier, and more handsome men who his ex, or any girlfriend he had, could easily choose over him. No matter how much he spent on her, how much he complimented her, that would always stay the same, and this relationship would never be truly secure.

All he had, all he would ever truly have, is himself. And there was one thing he simply lacked. The beauty of his girlfriend, her “true feminine beauty.” A trait— a value— that came to consume Saotome was his key desire, and one that became a downright obsession. One so strong that he would sell a year of his life to sexual servitude, and all that comes with it, just to make this dream come true.

Now, there are some problems with Saotome’s worldview. But there’s more than a kernel of truth in his interpretation of things, and this background does a lot to make him a compelling protagonist for a TSF story like this. And after his off-screen transformation, the story steadily has the protagonist realize what he did. Changed his bodily chemistry on a fundamental level, signed away every right he had, and allowed some pervert to violate his body before he had the opportunity to truly see it for himself. He is simultaneously experiencing something horrifying on a level he never had to confront until now— a horror he was shielded from as a man— and has the opportunity to fulfill a long-term dream.

It’s something that this 72 page comic has ample time to delve into, giving the protagonist some much appreciated time and space to emote and work through these complex feelings… But then he is auctioned over by a bunch of fat ugly bastards. In a lesser work, this is where the protagonist would get mind broken and become what I (un)affectionately dub ‘sexual toilets.’ But no. Tansan has Saotome go through a spectrum of emotions as his body is used and abused by this man, but most of all… fear.

Saotome is left with dead empty eyes, but comes back to life as he is comforted and praised for his efforts by his handler. One who shows him a level of affection he had not experienced since he was a child. Saotome definitely has things to be afraid of, and reason to be miserable. But as he is laying down in his cell, all he can think of is how… desired he was. People paid a lot of money to be with him, he was pampered and cared for when he was done, and after being seen as replaceable or expendable for so long… he is valued. He gave up his rights… but he got his greatest desire in return. Or, as he so succinctly puts it, “With all this love, I won’t need freedom anymore!”

This would be a great ending to this story, but you know what the best part is? That’s just the end of part one! They made a sequel to it, and based on the raws (both parts cost $7, and that’s basically a sandwich), it’s got oodles of potential. So… get on that GTF!

That all being said, I should probably comment on the art, as it’s not the most polished or refined, with certain characters looking more like rough cartoon sketches, and backgrounds being pretty minimal. It’s definitely by someone still honing their craft, but as someone who has seen a LOT of amateur art, they have some serious potential, and I love seeing them blossom. Plus, artists like this tend to have a lot of personality in their works, either intentionally or unintentionally.

TSF Showcase #2023-13
JK Kuricha ni Sareta Otoko (High Schooler Who Got Turned Into a Creature) by Marialite


While I don’t consider myself to be a true transformation fan, there is one form of non-TSF transformation that I just love, and it’s flesh monster TF! I just adore the idea of something human becoming this unruly and untenable amalgamation of flesh, with a structure that should not exist in accordance with the laws of nature. Something that could only be formed by a physical manifestation of utter evil, or by humankind trying to play god and just making something terrible! Hell, I love these things so much it’s amazing that I only ever included them in one of my novels.

Why haven’t I used them more? Same reason why I rarely do fusion. Because this stuff is pretty rare. To the point where I had to resort to stuff like the back half of Inside (2016), Pupa by Sayaka Mogi, and Carrion (2020), and the legendary Saya no Uta (2003). And if I don’t have inspiration to do something, I typically don’t do it. Creativity needs to be sparked by something.

So, you can imagine the look on my face when I reached the second page of this comic and saw a JK getting gobbled up by a phallic flesh monster. Who then morphs into a vagina and gives birth to itself, now in the form of the girl it just gobbled up. It’s a sick (in more ways than one) goopy TF sequence, and that’s only page 4! The comic gets a bit sidetracked from there, spending a good ten pages showing a pretty plain sex scene between the male protagonist and the titular JK/Creature. There’s some text to remind you of what’s going on, but the visual language is just that of two people having sex. I was expecting the worst at this point, but come page 16, things pick up… and it goes hard.

The protagonist, enlightened by post-coital clarity, realized he just fucked a flesh monster, and runs like mad, tumbling as he feels the residual effects of his actions claim his body. Shirtless and tattered, he’s approached by a female peer, looks at her through a viscous filter, and as he feels the inevitable, he tells her to run while she still can, but already it’s too late. His head then springs open, transformed into an aimless mass of flesh and muscle, tearing away from their confines in a form that should not exist. The girl screams as the rules of reality are broken before her, only for her to be silenced as the flesh lays claim to her, wrapping itself around her head. She is swallowed within seconds, her mind grows dim, and her final thought is the revelation that… this is her end.

…And that is barely the halfway point of this comic. It keeps going, moves at a positively rapid pace, and before you can even process what the HELL you just saw, it takes it to the next level. We’ve got rapid onset births. Biological mind breaks. And even more flesh monsters eating women alive! It just keeps going, and reaches a glorious high at the end… but what really cinches this comic has to be its artwork.

I like a nice anime art style that goes against the default and makes use of thicker linework and shadows— you could even call it my preference. So I was into things from the first panel. But then we get to everything else, and it’s a gosh darn master class. The stellar framing of each panel conveys a consistently unsetting mood. The creature is presented as this truly formidable thing, moving with such (implied) speed and weightlessness despite being so large. The sense of motion that oozes from each transformation. And of course the way it conveys emotions, managing to capture a full spectrum within its narrow scope, and doing a lot to make these characters feel like people. Marialite is a commissioner as far as I can tell, and I don’t know how much they spent on this comic, but whatever it was, it was well worth it.

If you just like TSF… then there’s barely anything for you, I’m sorry. But if you like flesh monsters, you’re in for one WILD ride.

TSF Showcase #2023-14
Slow Conversion by Onihidden

What, you thought I was just gonna keep this locked to the normie shit? Nah, kid, we’re covering the good shit, the hood shit, and the wood shit. And this most defo is the wood shit!

Slow Conversion is a gag western Pokémon porn comic that’s about 25% shitpost, 25% introspection on a community that probably exists, and 50% earnestly dedicated to what it’s doing. But it’s from an artist who knew what they were doing, has refined skills, and took this material just seriously enough.

The comic begins with the protagonist trying to become a Hypno with a fat hog by hi-jacking Bill’s transformation device. You know, something from the Gen I games that raised SO MANY questions that the series never bothered to ask. But— like most millennials— dyslexia got the better of him, he typed in Pokémon number 79 instead of 97, and became a Slowpoke with a slow-pussy.

From there… well, the comic just sort of writes itself. The protagonist gets sent to a daycare by an Abra who knows a sex pest when they see one. He gets raped by a Tangela, because they’re the tentacle rape Pokémon. …Which is weird because Tentacruel is right there! Dude even has cruel in his name! But rather than just stay there like a good little Pokémon, the protagonist ventures off into the city, and gets captured by the cops for breaking and entering. The punishment? Being the Super Head Honcho for a real fat ugly bastard who speaks in porn tags!

Afterwards, the protagonist learns his lesson. That rape is bad, his plan was bad, and he should needs to work on his porn addiction. But instead, he was fucked so hard his mind is forever broken, so he repeats his mistake, but this time becomes a Vaporeon with a vape-pussy. …I guess that means it’s like taking a hit of that cinnamon apple ish whenever a bro sticks it in. (That’s a joke about unregulated vape flavors and a dead podcast.)

If my colorful recounting of this wasn’t clear enough, the core appeal of this comic, at least for me, is just how brazen and ungiving of fucks this comic is. Despite only being 30 pages, it has personality for days, an adorable art style, and really impressive coloring for a pure black and white comic. The expressions are wonderful. The cartoonish look contrasts the erotic elements in a way that I find low-key hilarious.

The sex scenes are drawn with the same rigorous attention to detail hentai taught me to expect… but it’s applied to cartoon animals who look like they taste like candy. And the dialogue is strong enough that I had a smile on my face from start to finish. …Except for that 9 page sex scene. I get why it was that long, but the grotesque shit combined with the harsh lighting kinda bogged down the climax.

Still, stuff like this is why I keep coming back to TSF comics. Because for every forty blasé snoozefests, you get something positively ill like this. …And I just realized that I talked about two comics about people turning into Pokémon and getting railed within four months.

TSF Showcase #2023-15
Joshikousei Sennyuu Repo ~Hanzaisha ga Onnanoko ni Hyoui shite mita~ (Schoolgirl Infiltration Report) by Marialite

Yeah, we’re doing two Marialite ones this week, because that’s just how things worked out. Though, I have to say that Marialite’s works, for as good as they are, usually have a limited range. They tend to be these wild high school skinsuit or general body stealing stories about one character who amasses a lot of power over another. I guess you could call them ‘TSF takeover’ stories if you want a punchy name that only a niche among a niche understand. This is… one of those, but takes things to a level beyond. A level of power fantasy that just makes me go… who do you get your brainworms from, because I wanna hit that dude up for some of that good ish.

Schoolgirl Infiltration Report is what I call a God App transformation story, following an unnamed misanthropic young man with an app that lets him possess other people, and do a whole lot more. Change their sex, turn them into mind slaves, give them a percentage of their awareness as they are possessed, and transfer his consciousness just by touching their hands. It’s a level of sexual power fantasy so immense that you should stop thinking about morals, sit back, and bask at what this psycho will do next.

For the bulk of this story though, the protagonist’s mission statement is just to have fun and absolutely decimate a school girl named Ayami for… no reason. Dude just thinks Ayami looks like a cute stuck up brat, and wants to make her life terrible however he can. Stealing her body while keeping her aware of the fact she’s being possessed. Possessing her friends and abusing her trust. Turning her into a boy for, like two pages, before reverting her back to normal. And pulling out some incest in a way that… I have never thought of before, but is dope as hell.

It honestly reads more like a stream of consciousness, but is given enough form, structure, and pacing to feel like a cohesive story, with just enough escalation and progression for things to… work. And with two chapters of story to go through, it has plenty of time to roll up the erotic ideas into this hefty clump of nonsense that is sent rolling off into the finish line, reaching the conclusion. A conclusion where… this erotic hell is just Ayami’s life from now on. Being treated as a sexual object by someone who can control her body and mind using just an app on his phone. She didn’t have a chance for a moment, because when in this subgenre, No One Can Stop Possession Man!

Anything else I can add? Well, I do need to give this manga some kudos for featuring three female-to-male TSF transformations. And not just the boring ‘I’m gonna be a girl but also grow a dick, because dicks are the ultimate rape apparatus‘ shtick that comes up a lot. I’m talking about an honest to goodness MILF to DILF transformation. Unexpected left field stuff like that really gets my mind going…

All in all, it’s a good time, has a lot of great creative energy… but you could also say the same thing about most of Marialite’s other works.

TSF Showcase #2023-16
Sexaroids vs. Reseller by Kouji

Kouji is one of my favorite TSF comic creators, so whenever a new translation of their work comes onto my radar, you can (now) expect me to cover it.

The gimmick of this comic is in the title. A scuzzy sexbot scalper has been buying them in bulk in order to sell them at a mark up during the high demands of a launch period. Basically what those Christmas ruining scumwads were doing during the PS5 and Xbox Series launch, but with bigger boobs and boxes. The sexbots come to life as the scalper sleeps, and in order to teach him a lesson in disrupting the market, they decide to engage in some twinification. …How exactly does that work? Nanomachines, dude!

From there… the story goes through the motions. The sexaroids (who I keep wanting to call sexdroids) help the scalper grow accustomed to his female body by gang raping him. First as girls, then as futas. They overwhelm him with pleasure, accelerating his transformation, gaslighting him into thinking he was always a specialty sexaroid, and right as he is at the apex, they give him a choice.

Either give up his reselling ways and go back to normal. Or give up his humanity and live a life of endless erotic bliss as a premium quality sexaroid! And as the conversion reaches its apex, he chooses the latter, gets boxed up, carried into the night by a conga line of seven sexaroids, and the comic ends as he is being sold to a man in a suit.

…Yeah, going through it again, this is probably one of the weakest works I’ve seen from Kouji. Not because it does anything wrong, but because it doesn’t do enough. Kouji is at their best when they have the transformation carried out beyond just a sex scene. When they can show the character coming terms with their changes while outside of the throes of sex. When you can see their soul and identity change as they embrace something else. Like a tokusatsu villainess, tokusatsu lady grunt, or a bottom getting dommed by a cis lady. But this story… is pretty much just one long sex scene, mind break, and that’s it. Great idea, needed like ten more pages of straight up story.

TSF Showcase #2023-17
Professional Possession by Imp Underneath

Oh snap! I was not expecting one of these to drop as I was getting things finalized. Imp Underneath is a TSF artist who I happened across about two years ago, and has consistently impressed me with their works, and on pretty much all fronts.

Their stories have grown more detailed and elaborate over time, expanding from shorter one-off comics to longer, more elaborate series. Their artistic evolution has been so rapid, vast, and varied I originally thought they were a commissioner, when… no. Their art style evolved that quickly, and their range is that broad. And I’ve been consistently impressed by both their grasp of the subject matter and ability to tell detailed stories within just a few pages. Hell, I still think that their three page HIJAX possession comic is rich enough to be the basis of a novel. I could go on about a LOT of their works, but… let’s just do their most recent one.

Professional Possession follows a college professor, Mr. Moore, as he gets drunk and solicits a body hopper to help fulfill his sexual fantasies. First with his “ice queen” boss, then with a student “like something out of a fairy tale.” Conceptually, kind of a vanilla, or basic, sexual fantasy (regular-ass people want to have sex with people they see during work, especially if they’re not supposed to). However, the matter of perspective struck me as a… curious choice as I started reading things.

Typically, the point of view character in a TF story is the one who gets transformed. The shapeshifter, body hopper, possessor, etc. Here however, Moore is the protagonist, meaning that the story is exploring a fantasy different from being someone who becomes someone else. Instead, the comic is more about the thrill of being with someone who can become anyone, fulfilling just about any sexual fantasy, while still being part of a close relationship.

All of which has an extra level of spice due to the adaptability of the person Moore is with. They look like people Moore knows, and can effortlessly fall into the role. But they are also capable of breaking character at a moment’s notice. It’s a different spin on transformation, and one I’m sure has its fans and detractors, but I still find it to be a compelling change of roles.

Plus, Imp does a great job of interjecting little bits of character throughout the story. Practically every page offers some extra flair of personality, between the framing, expressions, dialogue, or just little background details. It adds a lot of humanity to this world, expanding Moore and the hopper beyond the usual confines of a 38 page comic. However, something that really caught me off guard with this comic was how it ended.

The story very well could have concluded after the first 21 pages. The typical length for a comic like this. Instead, their relationship grows into something greater than a paid fling. It expands upon the hopper’s versatility, feeds into the previously detailed fantasy of a girlfriend with a thousand faces. But just as it starts to get into a groove, it accelerates the story to its logical conclusion… before kicking things into OVERDRIVE with its final three pages. It’s bonkers, more concept than substance, and leaves the door open for a sequel that… probably should never come. Because the version left lingering in your mind is better than any reality. Not because I don’t think Imp has the geopolitical smarts. Because you need to know where to let the story end and where to let the reader’s imagination begin.

Screw it, Let’s Talk About the SAG-AFTRA Strike
(Capitalism Ruins Everything – Part 37)

A hot topic this past week was the SAG-AFTRA strike currently going on between the corporate American entertainment industry and the people who make everything worth a damn in the American entertainment industry. What is the strike about? Well, the super short version is that the industry wants to continue lining the pockets of investors and disgustingly wealthy executives instead of passing down the wealth to the common workers.

Basically everything asked for by the writers, actors, and other artists, is reasonable and sustainable for the industry to maintain. They mostly just want modest pay raises to stagnant wages, better residuals, and more basic benefits. A lot of things in the entertainment industry have not been updated for DECADES, and the people working in it think it’s high time things change. In a just system, these changes would be quickly approved, but the overwhelming majority of them have been outright rejected. That would be one thing, but their vicious task-masters are also asking for utterly insane shit. Like demanding that they capture the likeness of an extra once, and then have the right to use that extra’s likeness in whatever they want, forever.

Now, if a strike like this was happening in the games industry, my panties would be positively goopy. Because worker solidarity, protests, and refusing to work is a great way to get what you want without storming the castle and busting out the guillotines. (Even though I prefer the former, because video games taught me that bad people should get killed and their bodies be plundered for goodies.)

However, the ‘entertainment industry’ is not something I am too attached to. If the lack of discussion of TV and movies is not enough of an indication here, neither are really my jam. I only follow the industries via scraps of cultural osmosis, have only watched two non-animated western TV series in my life, and have not seen a Hollywood movie in years. Though, I guess that is going to change soon, as my buddy Cassie wants to show me the Jurassic Park hexology later this year…

Either way, I can only hope for the best for the workers, and if this leads to a new dark era for film and television, then good. I would rather see a dysfunctional industry slowly die than continue to triumph at the cost of artists. However, I also get a feeling that this is just going to result in a lot more non-union jobs and work outsourced to the tech industry. It’s what a lot of these studios want. To crunch and abuse non-union workers, put an end to residuals, and automate as many things as possible as AI text generators continue to evolve and iterate. After all, if AI can make an opening credits sequence, why can’t it make an entire movie? And if an AI can make a novel, why not have it make a script? And if AI can be used to make a deepfake clip, then why not have it deepfake an entire movie?

I mean, a good reason why not to do that is a public outcry against AI generated creatively bereft garbage. But that depends on the masses, and you sadly cannot depend on the masses. Not because they are dumb or bad people. Because it’s the ruler’s job to keep the masses uneducated and ineffectual.

…God, I’m going to have so much fun writing that scene where that human-turned-rat rapes that rhyming chicken’s head off.

Natalie is Confused by the New Game Pass Subscription Tiers
(Xbox Live Gold is Now Game Pass Core)

I’m pretty sure there have been murmurs about Xbox Live Gold— Microsoft’s long-standing online subscription plan for Xbox consoles— going away for years at this point. It was always an overly expensive service, only started getting decent with the addition of free games after PlayStation Plus launched for PS3, and after the boom of Game Pass, it stopped making much sense. After all, why have people pay for two subscription services for the same console when they could easily be rolled into one unified service? …Probably due to a lot of backend issues, as a lot of legacy Xbox Live stuff is old! But now, Xbox Live Gold is finally going away, and will be replaced by Game Pass Core!

The new subscription tier will give players access to online play for games, and to a Game Pass Core library of over 25 titles. Mostly older first-party titles, with new games to be added “2-3 times a year.” It is worse than the stream of titles players got with Games with Gold, a perk with Xbox Live Gold that allowed players to accumulate a library of titles if they maintained a subscription. But the offerings of Games with Gold have been pretty bad for a few years at this point, and this is something at the very least.

In fact, I’m pretty sure the reason why they actually did this is so they could end Games for Gold. Negotiating contracts, making sure the license transfers worked correctly, and paying royalty fees must have been a major time sink and money hole.

Now, this whole shift led me to pause and recognize that Game Pass for consoles did not, and does not, let people play games online. Meaning that people had to pay $10 a month or $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold and $11 for Game Pass Console, for years. This model would have added up to an annual cost of $192. That is a lot of money… but now that people, presumably, cannot have two tiers of the same subscription, how will people pay for online play and Game Pass? Well, I think the only way is through the Game Pass Ultimate tier for $17 a month, or $204 a year.

This tier contains a lot of features. Game Pass for Console, Game Pass for PC, online play, an EA Play subscription, and also cloud gaming streaming. …But it’s also a lot of crap that people won’t want. Realistically, how many people want both Game Pass for PC and for Console? How many people want the EA Play subscription that comes bundled in? And why do you need to opt in for cloud streaming if you just want to play the latest Xbox first party titles with friends?

The tier system illustrated above is a gosh darn mess in my mind, and I actually think Sony’s model is cheaper, more focused, and overall better. For illustration purposes here’s a 5 minute edit of a chart some schmuck in PR whipped up in 25 minutes back in 2022.

If you are looking at the monthly costs, and only look at the highest and lowest tiers, they seem comparable to one another. The lowest tier is mostly just online with some game-related extras. While the highest tiers offer streaming, a robust library of hundreds of titles spanning decades, and online play. But Microsoft is seemingly moving away from annual subscription plans, probably because they realized they can just charge more for month over month subscriptions. Meaning Sony’s most expensive option costs 40% less than Microsoft’s option.

Honestly, I think Microsoft should have just turned Game Pass for Console into a $15 a month tier and included the perks of Game Pass Core. Because it is wicked confusing when the next tier up doesn’t contain any of the features of the tier below it, and even more confusing when the monthly difference is only a dollar. Sure, this is great for people who just want Game Pass and no online play, but… I think that is a super niche market.

This arrangement is way more complicated than it should be, but that’s kind of the way that subscriptions are and have been operating for a while. Rather than just having a single, simple, and flat rate, a lot of different companies have been making them variable rates, introducing tiers, and generally confusing customers. I could talk about entertainment subscriptions, but… no. This is not a problem just with customer-level streaming services. This is just a problem with subscriptions, period.

From QuickBooks to Microsoft 365 to cryptocurrency accounting platforms— standard non-tier based subscription models are basically a thing of the past. Discounted annual plans, once a staple way to keep people subscribed by hoping they flake on a charge they see once a year, are steadily being phased out as interest rates grow.

This is why I continue to urge people to look into moving away from these online subscriptions and try to buy things instead of renting them from underregulated corporations. Things are moving closer and closer to the end of ownership for the vast majority of people, turning everything into a rental, a service, or a good with a finite life.

Which is also why I’m saving up for a condo, because apartments are scams meant to consolidate wealth. They should be cheap, if not free, and regulated by the government in order to eliminate homelessness and make society objectively better by nearly every metric. But that would go against the god of America: Capitalism.

…I wonder if anyone noticed that I made a reference to GameLife with the topic summary this week. You know, that internet games show that was hosted by a dude who, on the night of Virginia Tech, threatened to shoot up his ex-girlfriend’s school, and then got placed on house arrest. Meaning he was a True Gamer™. …I make fun of gamer identity, but I also threw in a Donkey Konga 3 reference in the topic list, and spent MOST of this article talking about hentai. I try to say I’m better, but really, I’m just more self-aware.

Also, holy crap, getting everything ready for those TSF Showcases took longer than I hoped. 6 segments, 3,600 words, and about 6 hours of work to read, write, and grab/crop/edit images.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. ImpUnderneath

    Hi Natalie, I’m happy you liked the ending of my new comic. I was actually motivated to add the ending by one of your previous blogs. I was kinda in a slump in the middle of creating ‘Professional Possession’ but then I found one of your previous blogs where you mentioned me ( ). I really liked what you wrote about the TSF genre in general and it motivated me to try and put 120% into making ‘Professional Possession’.

    I was also half-thinking about writing a sequel comic, although it would focus on Moore trying to break up with and escape the body-hopper, rather than the global ramifications of the end of the first comic. I always liked the idea of a mildly yandere body-hopper.

    1. Natalie Neumann

      Oh SNAP! I was not expecting you, or any other artist I’ve showcased, to leave a comment! Let alone be motivated by something I wrote!
      Although, I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising to me. I found you when idly checking my Twitter followers one day, so I knew you were a Natalie.TF reader of some variety. ^^
      As I said in the post, I really enjoy your work, and it’s a treat whenever you release something.

      What I said about a continuation was not meant to be 100% serious, and was more a way to interject with my thoughts on how an open ending can be a good ending for certain types of stories. I’m sure you have what it takes to make a sequel, and I think focusing on another angle is probably the best approach, rather than following the hopper’s destruction.

      1. ImpUnderneath

        Oh yeah, sorry I phrased some of what I wrote poorly. I know you weren’t suggesting I shouldn’t do a sequel.