This Week’s Topics:
- Natalie’s Oshi no Ko lukewarm take
- A body swapping rental service that would destroy society
- The BIG Xbox FTC leak
- Some inane Japanese gaming minutia
Rundown Preamble Ramble:
Ai’s Time Warp And Premise Predicament
So, this past weekend I watched the first episode of Oshi no Ko with my buddy Cassie and her boyfriend. …Gosh, these preambles are just becoming ‘things Natalie and Cassie did together.’ Which I guess makes sense, as Cassie is my best friend, and my time is divided between boring life stuff, work, Natalie.TF, and playing with Cassie.
For those not aware, Oshi no Ko is an anime series that blew up in spring 2023, and whose first episode is… a straight up a feature-length 82 minute movie. A movie that follows two people, a man and a woman, who die and are reborn as the children of a rising idol named Ai Hoshino. With the story following Ai’s growth throughout the entertainment industry, mothering her children, and her children’s attempts to support their mother as she reaches superstardom.
As a movie, I thought it was great. Its premise has more meat on its bones than your standard 99 cent isekai novel. Its script is genuinely funny and its cast is endearing. The production values impress on all fronts. And it doubles as a piece of commentary on the busted Japanese entertainment industry. It establishes a good foundation, one that has ample potential to tell a story that spans two decades as the reborn protagonists grow up and Ai’s career evolves. Which, as a big fan of long-form multi-year stories like this, was more than enough to capture my attention.
…But then, with a single action, the story completely changes what it’s about. I can’t really dance around it, but Ai Hoshino dies, time skips forward by about 13 years, and the two children dedicate their lives to investigating the circumstances around her death. Thus changing the story wildly, and trading it in for something… I found far less interesting.
I want a story about a young woman as she tries to make it as an idol in the ruthless Japanese entertainment story. I want to see a story about an idol who breaks off from her girl group, and makes it in the film industry, while being a mother of two. I want a story that directly addresses the sexist culture persisting across Japan as a nation, but especially in the entertainment industry. And I want a story that takes an idol… and follows her as she becomes an adult. As she enters her 30s, her career matures, and she continues to vie for relevance while dealing with the fatigue of being a celebrity.
Instead… they just flat out skim over 13 years of history which, in what became a mystery story, made me completely lose interest. After 13 years, there’s a good chance everybody who was involved in this coverup has just left, has forgotten things, or just died. …And this is before recognizing that the story must take place in the future, or some approximation of it.
Actually, no, this is something that bugs me the more I think about it. The story of Oshi no Ko technically spans 20 years. A period long enough that it would force characters to change in appearances and lifestyles, while forcing the world around them to evolve. The world of 2023 is vastly different from 2003, which itself was different from 1983. Characters would and should change, and the mediums for communication should change as well.
In the flashbacks to year zero, it’s a world of flip phones, CRTs, and DVDs. The technology used implies the world of the early to mid 2000s, but this is also an isolated sliver— things used by a tween in a hospital. By year four… everything seems to be completely modern. Phones look like modern smartphones, Twitter is directly referenced, as are social media flame wars, and large HD TVs are presented as something common. There is nothing about the way technology is presented and used that implies it takes play in anything outside of the nebulous modern day. Which I guess would be… 2015 to 2020, when the manga was originally released.
…But that also means that year twenty must take place 16 years later, so it would be 2031 to 2036? There’s nothing wrong with setting a story in the not-so-distant future, other than how the creators are going to show their ass a lot sooner as we are living in turbulent times, yo! But in a story about the entertainment industry… I think this is a questionable call. A person can only predict how a culture will develop in the next decade, so any commentary would need to be presented in one of two ways. Pretend that 2031 and 2021 are indistinguishable, which I take umbrage with, as I view the era of a story to be the most important part of its setting. Or use futuristic predictions to show problems with modern society— making it some flavor of a cautionary tale.
A time-skip from modern day to the near future can indeed work within a story, but for one with such a personal focus and that began by feeling so contemporary… I think it is a bad call.
Then again, I think the decision to continue this story past the death of Ai is… just not particularly interesting. Cassie presented the prologue as the real story, and considered everything else to be an aftermath. And I have to say it certainly feels that way. By the end of the episode, Ai is dead, her killer was found, and her killer is also dead, and now they need to find out how the killer knew where Ai lived.
One could say that is the… real story. That it is about uncovering corruption in a broader industry, but that also is not interesting to me either. Stories supposedly about industry corruption typically end with the wrong conclusion. Identifying the issue through a conservative lens that the wrong people were in power. That the system is good for society, should be celebrated, and is only in need of some tweaking. Which… no. Systematic change should be routine, establishments should be questioned, and industries rife with abuse and deception like the entertainment industry… should not get a free pass.
I don’t want to say that I know where this story is going just from this episode, as I have not read the manga, the rest of the series, or looked up spoilers. However, from what was presented, I can effortlessly imagine an outline of the most likely place the creator could go:
The story will follow the protagonists as they infiltrate the entertainment industry, use their youth and accumulated cunning to rise up the ladder, and use their positions to dig up dirt on how their mother died. During which, the two reborn twins will form a closer relationship that steadily grows romantic, uncover an even greater conspiracy, and ultimately oust the bad man in charge. Then, with the old god dead, they will remain within the industry monitoring it and ensuring that things remain good for the foreseeable future. …Before ending with the female protagonist carrying a child inseminated by the male protagonist. A child who will, in the final installment, be revealed as a reborn Ai.
Thus resulting in a story with the morals that: Neoliberalism is a functional system and no greater reform is necessary. Amaterasu approves that incest is wincest. It’s cool when doctors fuck their patients, and age of consent just involves adding up the number of years lived. Meaning if a 12-year-old died, gets resurrected and reaches the age of 16… she’s basically 28, and 28-year-olds with the fertile bodies of 16-year-olds are the perfect fuck. Hell, you could go the extra mile and have her get reborn three times as an 8-year-old and—
Akumako: “Natalie, shut the fuck up. I get you’re making fun of pedophile math and people who wanna fuck 16-year-olds, but… shut the fuck up.”
Okay, okay, fine.
Now, if you are a fan of Oshi no Ko and disagree with this… that’s cool. My exposure to this series is limited, and most of my problems with it are more theoretical. While I would prefer it to be something else, that does not make it a bad work. I found the execution of just about every element to be great. The very premise of the first episode is pretty iffy, but it is executed in a way where it manages to feel surprisingly natural. So it’s possible that the story will continue to flourish with this change in premise. A good storyteller can make a good story out of anything. …But the worst recipient for any piece of media is someone who doesn’t like it conceptually.
TSF Showcase #2023-29
Watashi no Karada, Okashi Shimasu [Rent My Body] by Fujiya (Nectar)
Inspired by a fresh translation from the good folks at Gender.tf, let’s talk about a body swap anthology series that managed to, surprisingly, pass me by for a while. I do try to stay up and up with the more erotic end of TSF comics. But I don’t have the same thirst that kept me digging as a teen, so it’s easy for cool stuff to pass me by. Especially with how fragmented the catalog is on a lot of sites, as there is no one true repository. Personally, I think it makes more sense for every site to try and offer every one of these things but— No, no, I’m talking about five comics in an anthology series today, so I need to focus!
Rent My Body is an anthology series that follows pairs of young men and women as they happen across a magical body swap app titled… Rent My Body. But rather than be a transformation God app, this one is actually fairly limited. It only switches around male and female participants, requires some form of unspecified consent mechanism, and despite being an online app, it requires both parties to be in the same room together. Specifically, having them share two sets of earbuds, which I honestly think is just a wonderful bit of imagery and imagination. It’s shorthand for conveying a level of intimacy and comfort, is normal enough to not be seen as an ostentatious means of swapping, is silly in an almost childish way, and sorta has a cartoon logic to it. I like it! (Actually, upon re-viewing the series, it seems like that feature was dropped.)
Part one follows a pair of students who are really into opposite sex POV porn, and want to experience the real deal— the raw deal— with each other after being paired up. Part two follows an idol who wants to take a break from the ruthless rigor of idol-ing and just be an average boy, while the male protagonist wants to experience what it’s like to be a somebody. Part three sees a reclusive boy with self-insert protagonist eyes switch bodies with a gal/gyaru/gentrified ganguro who fucks old men for phat cash. Their arrangement has the gal acting as the boy’s pimp, getting all the cash while the boy gets wrapped up in the thrill of getting just… wrecked by hairy old man dick.
Part four centers around an otaku schmuck who switches bodies with a bunny girl in need of cash. Granting the man all access to a hot body during the off hours, while the woman gets to work high paying construction jobs so she can pay off her rising living expenses. While the latest part five is centered around a love quadrilateral where one man and woman want to be with the other’s best friend, only to realize that they like each other better. Namely being in each other’s body and having sex, which I would really like if it resulted in a lowkey permanent body swap, but at that point, it would just be Trade My Body.
Akumako: “Hello and welcome to BodyStop, where you can buy, sell, and trade new and used bodies. My name’s Akumako, how may I help you?”
Now, all of these are, in my mind, good premises for a body swap, as they all function as dual stories where both parties receive something they desire. They both have a reason to swap. They both gain something from the experience. While the focus is predictably always on the MTF party, it acknowledges that the FTM party is also having a blast in their new body.
There’s something amicable and strangely pleasant about the quid pro quo relationships these pairs enter. While their relationships are similar, there are always just enough differences to prevent them from feeling like true repeats of the same story, but with a different genre of anime girl. And it all represents a world where body swapping is used as a force of good. Something to help people by introducing them to new experiences. I mean, the worst thing any of the main TSF protagonists— a sect frothing with scumbags— do is a little unapproved masturbation. Which in terms of the awful things you can do with someone else’s body is… like a three on the ten scale?
There is a lot to love, a lot to look into with these comics… but they are also limited by the fact that they are 30 page hentai comics, and need to be centered around sex. The sex scenes do indeed play a role in the broader story, with both masturbation and traditional PIV penetrative sex being used to acclimate the main characters to their bodies. …But they go on for just a bit too long, and often hinder where the narrative can go.
This gives these works what I call a ‘sampler quality.’ As they offer enough ideas, follow through, and general flavor to satiate the reader’s palate, but not quite enough to feel like more than a morsel. Which, as a writer, is sometimes all I need or want, as if I want something to be extended, changed, or expanded, I could always write it. This applies to the entire anthology… Except for the fifth installment— Watashi no Karada, Okashi Shimasu. Jiraikei Joshi Hen or Rent My Body 5 Crazy Chick Edition— which is straight dope in my book.
Rent My Body 5 begins with a double date between two couples. Seina, Hina, Hayato, and Hiroki. Male protagonist Hiroki wants to be with the pure and pretty Hina, while the slightly brutish Hayato wants to be with the cute, yet crazy, Seina. The first drinking date goes well, Seina meets with Hiroki at the family restaurant… Family Restaurant, and the two make plans to help each other hook up with their desired partner. Seina takes the lead and, through the magic of storytelling, the two find the Rent A Body app on their phones.
With this, Seina initiates her plan to play matchmaker: Have her and Hiroki switch bodies and have sex so they can become better at sex. Which… makes some sense, I guess? And once the two are naked and in bed together, you get what has to be one of my favorite collection of panels from a TSF comic in a hot minute.
It starts with a first-person shot from Hiroki’s perspective, looking down at his original body’s penis as he is about to be penetrated. Then, when the penetration starts, things are shot into a third person perspective, showing both the insertion and the initial shock from the MTF protagonist as they feel every part of their new form. Things then go deeper, focusing on the action, on the joining of these two bodies, with an X-ray shot bordered by the look of shock, mirrored across both faces. Before jumping back again, showing the two, already lost in the throes of sex. Shock painted on their faces, still drifting from their minds, as the very world they exist within becomes filtered and warped with dark splotches and white specks.
From there, the two have sex, with both getting lost in pleasure, and greeting the morning coated in sweat and surrounded by tissues. Despite being… tired and sore as all heck, they decide to go on a date as each other. They use their knowledge of their respective friends to schmooze things over and get them primed for a second date fuck. Seina and Hiroki switch back to their original bodies as this happens, and as they begin their reaction is a resounding… “HUH?”
They realize that doing it as themselves pales in comparison to doing it as each other. So they return for a round two… or twelve depending on how you count these things. In the act, they confess to each other, deciding to become a couple instead of getting together with their friends, and effectively promising to always do it like this, because it feels so good.
If I was in charge of the story, it would end there with a one page conclusion establishing that they pretty much stayed this way, because why bother hopping back and forth? Instead, Nectar decided to play into the fact that the female protagonist is a ‘crazy chick’ and end with her displaying some obsessive tendencies. Which… works, but I think the most ‘crazy chick’ thing Seina could do would be ‘delete’ the app and keep them this way, because if they swap bodies, then they need to stay together, right? Right?!?!
On that note, let’s talk about Seina’s plan. From her introduction, it’s clear something is up with Seina. She fakes a shy demeanor in her introduction, but has these psycho eyes, a glare that could kill, and is clearly trying to get her pretty little hands on the Reny My Body app. Why? That’s… open to interpretation! It begs the question of how genuine Seina is with her actions. If she is truly getting lost in the act of having sex as a man, or if she is merely acting because she spotted her target and developed this harebrained scheme to become him. It’s not especially clear, and I think that works well here… even though part of me suspects that this might just be due to creative drift during this comic’s production. After all, comics like these take months to complete.
FTC Leaks Are the Coolest E3!
(Boatload of Xbox Internal Documents Leak Via FTC)
The FTC trial regarding Microsoft’s impending acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been one of the bigger sources for gaming news this past year, as big court cases are leaky like babies. When hundreds of people are dealing with sensitive information, it’s hard keeping everything properly censored and redacted while maintaining a full set of records. Hell, I’ve dealt with a few IRS cases, and dealing with a OneDrive directory full of different versions of a document is not easy. Especially when nobody involved has any proper training or tutoring on how to maintain a set of documents for a case like this…
Anyway, all of this information comes from a circulated 187 MB PDF package known as PX7011 (redacted), which contains a… lot of information. As in, hundreds of pages, all broken up across various attachments. Where did it come from? Well, a Microsoft employee uploaded these documents to a court website, and they were not properly redacted. Because it was a public website, somebody managed to yank this file before anybody realized their mistake. To the person who yanked this, thank you for your contribution to the gaming community and content creators. And to the fool who uploaded this document without redacting it… I hope you land on your feet, because there’s no way you’re not getting fired for this.
Now, these findings were pretty cool, but it is important to stress that many, if not most, of this information is old, stemming from 2020 to 2022. As such, while there is a good chance that many of these features, concepts, and plans will be followed through in the foreseeable future, it is also possible that projects were canceled, rebooted, or put on hold. So, without further ado, let’s go down the list!
Xbox FTC Leak Item 1: Cloud Generation Xbox Coming 2028
(Source: EX PX1022 Phil Spencer 101122.pdf)
Next generation hardware is always in development at… all tech companies who handle hardware. So hearing that a new Xbox is in development is a non-story. While the 2028 projected release window makes all the sense in the world. Hell, I would argue that we’re three years into this console generation and it still feels like it has barely begun due to all the titles coming out for PS4. …And the significantly fewer, yet not insignificant number, coming to Xbox One.
The big ideas behind this Gen 10 Xbox are cloud hybrid games, games that use the power of a console in conjunction with cloud gaming in order to offer an enhanced experience. And being an “immersive game & app platform.” Now, I don’t know what the second one is… but I know what the first one is, and I don’t like it one bit! Not at all!
Prior to the launch of 2013’s Xbox One, Microsoft was leveraging the ability to enhance games via their Azure data centers as a prominent feature. However… that never really manifested into anything. Partially because the Xbox One was not a very well planned out device, and many of its online features were cut after the system was vigorously despised after its reveal. They were pushing it as an always online system, and regardless of the features that it could have offered… it should not have been always online. …No video game console should require an internet connection to function.
This is where I see the fixation on cloud gaming going. Something that will start as an option, get players to adopt it by offering special features, by offering cloud exclusive enhancements. Then as the user base grows, they will steadily phase into cloud gaming as the primary model. Which, based on these documents, is what Microsoft wants. They do not want the next generation to be a console generation, but an ecosystem generation. They still want to have a console, that much is clear, but they want Xbox to be on… everything. Browsers, mobile, smart TVs, low/mid-end PCs, streaming sticks, handhelds, cloud consoles, everything.
This is, on its own, in a bubble in a jar within its own house, a good thing. It makes gaming accessible to anybody with a computer, internet, and a controller. However, cloud gaming has its problems. Those problems have been beaten with a drum over the past 4 years, and after the death of Stadia, I like to think that a lot of people just… stopped being interested in cloud gaming as a concept. It has underlying technical issues that tech companies cannot fix, and is so much more complex and less reliable than… just buying a computer game or buying a console.
Plus… I simply do not think it will be profitable, for the same reason video streaming services aren’t profitable. Because data centers, licenses, royalties, and producing original streaming content… are all really expensive.
Xbox FTC Leak Item 2: Mid Gen Refresh Coming 2024
(Source: EX PX1517 Phil Spencer 101122.pdf)
After they did well last generation, mid-gen refreshes are coming back this generation. But rather than try and do a more powerful system, a la the Xbox One X, this generation is going to be more akin to a duo of slim models.
The first is an all digital Xbox Series X model, codename Brooklin, which promises a lack of a disc drive, because that definitely seems like an improvement. A whopping two terabytes of storage, which is, what, 12 AAA games? A new controller I’ll get to later. And lower power draw, which is a factor, as people have been strapped by electrical costs as of late. Especially those in Europe… Also, the console is now a giant soda can be customized in Xbox Design Labs. Which is… neat. I look forward to someone making it look even more like a soda can.
The second is Ellewood, an updated Xbox Series S with 1TB of storage— not to be confused with the Xbox Series S – 1TB that came out on September 1. Because this one only costs $300, not $350, is more power efficient, and comes with a new controller.
Now, Xbox controllers frustrate me because they are great… except for the Mega Genesis Drive style D-pad. It was bad with the Xbox 360, they fixed it with a revision, fixed it with the Xbox One, and then went back to crap with the Xbox Series controller. I use a purple Xbox Series controller for PC games nowadays, but I will admit that it is barely an upgrade over the Xbox 360. I bought extras in 2014, and those… only cost $25. The Xbox Series controller cost me $70 because I wanted colored buttons. I don’t know why it costs so much more… but then again, I am so feature-averse with controllers that I disable rumble.
When it comes to controllers, I am of the opinion they are like earbuds, mice, and keyboards. Tech that should be good when you are using is, but has a limited shelf-life due to how much wear they undergo. Sure, you could buy something super expensive and have it last years upon years. But then you run into potential compatibility issues, and if you screw up and break it… then you’re kind screwed!
As such, I am not too amused with the idea of the Sebile controller. A controller with haptic feedback, speakers, an accelerometer, quieter buttons, modular thumbsticks, and direct-to-cloud features. Which I guess will allow the controller to connect to the cloud in a more efficient manner? All for only $70… and presumably $80 if you want something colorful.
We also have some estimated release windows, with the Sebile controller launching in May 2024, Ellewood in August/September 2024, and Brooklin in October/November 2024. The Xbox Series S model will enter its end of life after this, going for $200 on a Black Friday sale. While ‘Starkville’ will undergo its own EOL after Brooklin’s launch.
…Wait, what the fuck? Starkville can only really refer to one thing… the Xbox Series X. Are they seriously planning on discontinuing the Xbox Series X, their only disc-based console, in favor of a version that cannot play discs? Are Microsoft seriously planning on ditching discs mid-generation? Based on this documentation… I think so. I would say that I’m surprised, but… okay, no, this quote in the presentation almost confirms it.
“Xbox has made buying my games digitally as easy & affordable as discs – plus I can play those games on multiple devices I already own. I don’t miss my disc drive at all.”‘Voice of the Player’ – Xbox Roadmap to 2023
I would be upset about this— and I am— but… I’ve thought this might happen for the past three years. Discs have become increasingly irrelevant in the era of day one patches, DLC, ballooning game sizes, and the majority of players buying games digitally. Physical media sales have been going down for years and… eventually the option will only appeal to enthusiasts and collectors. People should not be accepting this, and not just for the same preservation argument that is trotted out. Because physical goods give consumers power. Physical goods can be resold and traded freely, and are not locked into closed ecosystems that will be shut down, eventually.
I would bring up how you can hack the PS5 and Xbox Series, but… the Xbox One still hasn’t been jailbroken, and that system is nearly a decade old. This combined with Microsoft’s proprietary storage practices… makes me think that future Xbox systems will eventually become digital paperweights, unable to achieve their simple objective of playing video games, because they cannot download video games. And that… that is just sad.
The future of Xbox is a closed ecosystem where the only one with the keys… is Microsoft.
Xbox FTC Leak Item 3: The ZeniMax Slate Circa 2020
(Source: EX PX1050 Phil Spencer 101122.pdf)
So, this is a curious one. On July 29, 2020, ZeniMax provided Microsoft with a portfolio overview of their titles, games in development, and other financial information. This includes some curious information, such as franchise sales figures, projected sales figures that are… complete bullshit, but the big bit is the forecast. A list of games that ZeniMax expected to release within the next 5 years. And here are just the highlights
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Remaster for FY22E
- Doom Year Zero for FY23E
- Fallout 3 Remaster for FY24E
- Ghostwire: Tokyo Sequel for FY24E
- Dishonored 3 for FY24E
- The Elder Scrolls VI for FY24E
Now, the release dates were likely always overly optimistic assumptions, so I will disregard them, as this was early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Also this Ghostwire: Tokyo sequel probably won’t be happening. This was produced 1.5 years before the game was even released, and it took a Game Pass release before it reached 4 million players.
Everything else though? It sounds fully reasonable. I mentioned the Oblivion remaster back in August. A Fallout 3 remaster makes a lot of sense, especially if tech can be recycled from the Oblivion remaster. A Doom Eternal sequel would only make sense, as that game made over $450 million in less than a year. And the only reason why a Dishonored 3 didn’t happen is because Arkane Lyon was working on Deathloop, which I kind of doubt will have a sequel. And that’s fine. Not everything should be a franchise.
Also, there were some unspecified projects that were only given vague names. I can assume Project Hibiki became Hi-Fi Rush. While Project Kestrel and Project Platinum can be anything.
…Holy crap, I just realized that Fallout 5 probably won’t come out until… 2028 at the absolute earliest. Bethesda really needs to get their biggest IPs on a 10-year-cycle at the very least. In fact… most major gaming IPs really should be put on a cycle like that. Do that and… you can just spend the rest of forever remaking the same games, over and over again,
Xbox FTC Leak Item 4: Game Pass – The Confidential Deetz
(Source: EX PX1050 Phil Spencer 101122.pdf)
Hot dog! It’s number time! The logistics that go behind funding services like Game Pass interests me dearly, as I have always carried a fascination with how money goes around in this industry. And I should, because gaming is the queen, baroness, and archduchess of entertainment media. Books would beg to suckle gaming’s succulent loins.
In the cited email thread, they go through potential major Game Pass titles for day and date deals, listing the likelihood of an agreement, estimated partner asking price, and various notes. I consider this to be an interesting insight to see how people communicate at companies as large as Microsoft, and how they plan out the Game Pass library. However, it is clear to me that these figures are just rough estimates, based on napkin hunches™ more than rigorous analysis. It’s not a formal proposal, it’s just for discussion purposes. And it is far less interesting and insightful than… a spreadsheet showing how much Microsoft paid for every Game Pass deal.
As such, I don’t view it as outlandish that Sarah Bond, or whoever prepared this for her, would throw out numbers like $300 million for a long-term Game Pass deal for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. The first game sold 8 million units in its first quarter, they would want the contract to last for several years. Consider the lost sales of… maybe 5 million copies, and… yeah, that’s not an unreasonable starting number for EA to throw around.
Also, some highlighted how they were low balling Baldur’s Gate 3 by assuming Larian would ask for $5 million, and thought that was laughable. Nowadays, it is, but… Baldur’s Gate 3 popularity was unprecedented. The game did well in early access when it began in 2020, but that game went from being something of a niche interest to a game of the generation contender within… a week? Or, at the very least, I did not hear much hubbub about it until launch day, when people were downloading and buying the game by the hundreds of thousands.
Side note, but everybody who was saying Baldur’s Gate 3 should represent a ‘new standard’ probably does not know what the term ‘standard’ usually means. A standard defines the baseline, the norm, the average, not the exceptional. If one has high standards, it means one refuses to accept anything other than the best, and gets fussy whenever things aren’t to their liking. If one has low standards, they are more accepting of slop, clunkiness, and a larger capacity to love and understand games. Also, having ‘high standards’ is pretty stupid, as it just shields one from other experiences, often for bad reasons. If one’s standards require that all games feature full voice acting… then I guess that means they don’t get to play Tears of the Kingdom! Besides, games are hard enough to make without toeless dillholes making up their own rules…
Xbox FTC Leak Item 5: Phil Spencer Thought About Buying Nintendo
(Source: EX PXPX1208 Phil Spencer 101122.pdf)
So, this is a bit of a nothing item that gained traction because it sounds important. In a company as big as Microsoft, they need to think about everything. What they can acquire, what approaches they can take, and how they can continue to grow. Microsoft spends millions upon millions having people draft proposals and prepare documents just to give managers some information, and a lot of them are just trashed. This is simply how large companies work.
However, this… this is literally an email thread called “random thought” sent between two executives. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, says that he would like to buy Nintendo, and… so would every entertainment/tech company. But, as Spencer points out, Nintendo has too much money and too much growth to ever consider selling itself. Because… they do. They make billions in profit every year, have over $20 billion in total assets, no long-term debt, and have strong financials in general.
Which is before getting into how… Nintendo is an icon of Japan. So I’m guessing the Japanese government would step in and try to stop this from happening even if Nintendo’s financials weren’t as glowing. Also, Microsoft tried to buy Nintendo back in January 2000, and got laughed out of the room. But that was under the watch of Hiroshi “Mad Dog” Yamauchi. Dude nearly killed Nintendo with his dumb shit, then made it an international juggernaut.
If Gaming Goes Online Only, Fuck It, I’m Done
(Natalie Rambles About Killing Ownership In The Name of Innovation)
So, Microsoft’s serious push toward only digital-only consoles has… really put a damper on my mood. The future I have been fearing for so long is approaching, and I doubt the backlash will be a fraction as severe as it was in 2013. People have become complacent with digital walled gardens, and are willing to invest thousands of dollars into digital platforms that die out after 10 to 20 years.
Digital media has overtaken physical media by an order of magnitude, and people are complacent with how things are. They are fine with music being streamed instead of stored as MP3 or FLAC files on a drive. They are fine with Amazon’s aggressive Kindle DRM that makes the act of buying books worse than it was back in the finite quantity mail order paperback era. And so many storefronts have died out with barely any attempts to preserve things that… it’s become the due course. Not a crime, but an expected outcome, supported under the pretense that ‘nobody was using it’ and ‘it was around for long enough.’
With video games, the official means of distribution are being shut down, and people are given fewer and fewer options for how they can own games. The future of console gaming, once praised for its ease of use and ease of preservation, is entering an era where it is becoming impossible to preserve titles. In part due to aggressive protection measures to lock down their system. But also due to an almost inevitable push from games running locally, on hardware that can be owned, to running on a central server that, 90% of the time, will be shut down in a few years. It is something that is becoming so accepted and that companies are pushing for so much that… I think the biggest thing preventing its adoption is crappy North American infrastructure. If that continent had Japan quality internet… I shudder to imagine what the climate would look like today.
After all, if games are on a dedicated server, they gain all sorts of online features and it is ‘easier’ to play with others. And when it comes to cloud gaming, not only would that let people play games with every visual effect they want, but it would make cheating in online games virtually impossible.
Which is a big deal if you are a malfunctioning lifeform who requires socialization and a sense of objective superiority to feel good about yourself. Well, without image recognition software and possibly a robot arm.
Gaming corporations want gaming to be a realm they fully control. They want games to be distributed on their subscription model. They want games to run on their hardware. They want to make the concept of ownership a thing of the past, bolstered by how people of my generation don’t get to own shit.
Akumako: “Bitch, you is buying a condo in a month!”
Yeah, but as I said two weeks ago, I would not be able to support myself without reppin’ some quid pro quo ish wit mah moms. Now shut your purple mouth up, I’m making a point here!
Ahem. Microsoft tore off their mark in 2013, and even with a new visage of a former community manager, the flesh beneath is the same sickly green.
Console gaming, the way I see it, has a limited future. Within the next twenty years, I expect things to be in a positively dire place. A place even worse than the sorry state mobile gaming entered over the past decade. Following the death of premium purchases and the adoption of games that are free to play, but can never be owned.
However… there is one platform, one platform where I think things will remain safe. PC gaming. Why? Because people can pirate most PC games, and piracy is one of the most powerful tools to use against corporations, as piracy is independent preservation. It is thanks to the PC’s penchant for piracy that the platform is already a bastion for decades of gaming history that have been forgotten. Forgotten and abandoned by those who should be responsible for their preservation.
Even if console gaming goes to utter shit… I will still have the PC. I will still have The Library™ I assembled. And if that is it, if gaming just falls off into a cliff of online-only service-infested bullshit… Then so be it. The future can be a relentless stream of impermanence and artistic destruction, a meaningless non-history, as long as the past is preserved.
So long as gaming as I have known it is preserved… then let the future rot.
Akumako: “And don’t say shit about how Microsoft is aiming to make Windows a subscription-based service. Nattz would just use Linux if that happened.”
I would, but I’d fucking hate it, I’ll tell you that for free. I’d have to buy two PCs just to do what I have been doing for a decade! And what real people have been doing for 3 decades!
What’s a Toaplan, and Why’s It Getting a Revival Arc?
(Tatsujin Announces Revivals of Toaplan Games)
So, a story that I had to cut from last week’s Rundown (it was 15,000 words, cut me some slack) was regarding a company by the name of Tatsujin. A curious revival offshoot company founded in 2019 that gained the rights to the back catalog of Toaplan. Now, what’s a Toaplan? A Japanese game developer that made games from 1984 to 1994, focused mostly on shoot ’em ups that were released for the arcade. None of which I immediately recognize… aside from Zero Wing. A legit good scrolling shooter that was immortalized with the all your base are belong to us meme.
Aside from that… I guess their second most recognizable game, to a westerner, is the NES version of Snow Bros. A Bubble Bobble like puzzle platformer that was firmly alright. But among the über niche retro shoot ’em up fans, they are a pretty well-known name, and helped push the genre forward during their day. So they had some form of legacy. Meaning it made sense for their titles to be brought back by a new revival company and it made sense to get the porting masters at M2 to bring the Toaplan arcade catalog to consoles. Now, why did Embracer Group acquire Tatsujin in August 2022? I dunno! I’m guessing Tatsujin was just a super cheap Japanese developer with a lot of IPs. Though, calling a single game an ‘IP’ seems overly generous to me.
So, what has Tatsujin really done? Well, you can find eight of their games on Steam, re-released by Bitwave Games, another Embracer subsidiary. …Actually it’s nine, since City Connection put out Batsugun Saturn Tribute Boosted this past May. Also, they licensed out the arcade version of Snow Bros. for release on Switch, which received an updated version known as Snow Bros. Nick & Tom Special. It was developed by CRT Games, punished by Daewon Media Game Lab, and was given this kinda ugly drawn-on art style. One that tries to make the game look modern, but just makes me think of Mega Man X for iOS. According to Metacritic, this re-whatever was just sorta okay.
…That was all research I did while trying to introduce the actual topic. Anyway, rather than just be a company that exists to repackage Toaplan titles, and then be downsized into a larger parent company, Tatsujin is planning several more revivals of their IPs. Though, calling them IPs seems like something of a misnomer…
The first is a revival of the 1988 shoot ’em up Truxton, Truxton Extreme. Which looks to be a run of the mill, nothing special, 2.5D scrolling shooter. The trailer, which was uploaded by Embracer subsidiary Clear River Games, makes a big fuss about it being a big deal, as if this game has such a respectable legacy. But the footage honestly gives me big ‘Atari’s early access flop Asteroids: Outpost‘ and ‘Moon Patrol for the Intellivision Amico’ vibes. Neither of which exist anymore!
They are also doing another Snow Bros. game, dubbed Snow Bros. Wonderland. A reimagining of the 1990 original that takes the form of an overhead action platformer. One mostly centered around shooting and rolling up snowballs and firing them at enemies lifted from the original title. A fine enough idea but, one, I think there is virtually no market for this title, other than people looking for a cute winter game. And two, this game looks freaking nasty.
The soft yellow lightning basking over everything, giving the game this stale desaturated look that goes against the visual identity of a cartoonish platformer. The depth of field filter that cakes a good chunk of the screen in vaseline, and that never looks good. The redesign of the Snow Bros. goes against the idea that snowmen are supposed to be chubby, and instead gives the playable characters these awkward semi-chibi proportions. While the textures just… do not fit in with the idea of a colorful platformer. The world looks like it was made up of assets bought from a storefront. The way they blend brick, grass, dirt, and snow textures looks incredibly sloppy, and… nothing about the ground makes sense as an environment.
Both of these games simply don’t look like good titles, and the idea of bringing back something old only to show something like this just… frustrates me. I love quality re-releases who live up to the standards established over the past decade. I want the rights holders for basically every ‘not reasonably available’ game to make their titles reasonably available by releasing them on PC and modern consoles. But I do not like seeing older titles get revivals or reboots that… look bad. If something is going to be revived, it should stay true to the original, and offer something substantial, something quality, and here… I don’t see that.
Izuna the Unemployed Ninja Has a New Job
(Success Announced Izuna: The Unemployed Ninja Reboot)
Success Corporation is one of those Japanese game developers whose name and logo are familiar to me, but whose history only gets more fascinating yet confusing the more I try to understand it. They are a curious company who are probably best known for making shooters, namely Cotton, a recently revived foundational cute ’em up series, but they have a weird history. As in, they worked with ASCII Entertainment on early RPG Maker and for the Super Famicom and PlayStation. As in, they worked with ASCII Entertainment on the two Sound Novel maker games. Which I only learned existed a month ago.
Success has been around for a while and, due to their role as a Japanese publisher, their name gets thrown around on a lot of older titles. For example, they (seemingly) own the rights to the Umihara Kawase (that fishing rod girl grappling hook platformer) and Touch Detective (that DS adventure game with that creepy blonde girl). I easily spent 30 minutes just looking into their catalog, finding wild stuff! Like how they localized and remastered two visual novel adventure games earlier this year. And how they were behind the über obscure old school DS computer RPG The Dark Spire.
…But they also published a Mystery-Dungeon-like for the DS in the form of Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja and Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns. Games that, like with Touch Detective, I have a weird nostalgia for, as I saw advertisements for them in issues of Nintendo Power. The games also developed a cult following of some sort, but not well enough to keep the developer, the creatively named Ninja Studio, employed. They shut down their website in 2010, never made an official statement, and you’d need to do a MobyGames deep dive to see where they went. …Except MobyGames doesn’t have the credits listed.
As such, I guess the rights went back to Success and, in light of roguelikes becoming a huge genre this past decade, they’re bringing the series back with a new installment for Switch and Steam. Why not just port the originals? Because porting DS games is a ripe pain in the grundle.
…That’s it! That’s all I was building up to. A 13 second teaser! But I had to go on this roundabout summary, because that’s how I compartmentalize and understand this crap!
Hell is a City Connection
(Natalie Tries to Unravel City Connection’s TGS Lineup)
Jaleco is a name that is ingrained deep within my head, and I know why. They were a Japanese publisher who jumped on the opportunity to launch a western branch, and their name is littered over games. As in, probably over a hundred. I mean, they published Shatterhand and Irritating Stick, but Jaleco USA developed… Goblin Commander: Unleash the Horde for PS2, Xbox, and GameCube. Like… what was this company? Where did they get their money? Punky Skunk?
Well… they didn’t have much money by the end of the 6th generation, as they were sold for a penny to Game Yarou— whatever that is— and then everything Jaleco was bought by Clarice Disk. …Who then changed their name to City Connection, after the hit 1985 arcade classic, City Connection. And City Connection is a freaking WEIRD company.
Not only do they have the Jaleco back catalog, but they also have all the shoot ’em ups developed by Psikyo. Who, for the record, had one of the best company names of all time. They made games like Gunbird. (Which was previously re-released on Steam under its original North American name Mobile Light Force, but that version has been delisted.) But they have also been re-releasing Sega Saturn games… which is where my brain just kind of stops being able to process things.
Not only is City Connection releasing enhanced versions of one of the most notoriously difficult systems to port or emulate, they have released games developed by Toaplan and Success. City Connection developed and published Cotton Boomerang – Saturn Tribute and Batsugun Saturn Tribute, and all three of these random Japanese companies I wanted to talk about just suddenly became connected. I guess you could call that a… city connection.
And it goes even deeper, because City Connection is partnering with retro adventure game developer Happymeal on Omega 6: The Video Game, based on a manga by F-Zero artist Takaya Imamura. And their publishing partner is Embracer’s Clear River Games. Meaning City Connection is working with Embracer, owner of Tatsujin… and they actually have been for at least a year. An enhanced port of Sunsoft’s 1992 NES physics-based platformer, Gimmick! was developed by City Connection… but published by Embracer’s Bitwave Games. And that must also has something to do with Sunsoft’s recent attempts at reviving their company and bringing back old titles..
What’s next? Should I talk about how City Connection also re-released Samurai Zombie Nation on Switch and Steam? Or how the developers of Samurai Zombie Nation went on to develop Akira Psycho Ball in 2002? Like… what hell did I stumble into here? What is all of this? What—
Akumako: “Bitch, shut the fuck up and get foked or I’ll make you a skinsuit again!”
Eh… right, right.
So, City Connection announced Assault Suit Leynos 2 Saturn Tribute last week. A mech-based action platformer/shooter that, naturally, originated on the Sega Saturn in 1997 and, naturally, was never released outside of Japan. Re-releasing Saturn games is kind of City Connection’s thing, so this makes sense. …But this title is also the third game in the Assault Suit series, and this is where things get actually weird, as this series had a squirrelly re-release history.
The first game, the 1990 Mega Drive title Assault Suit Leynos, was localized as Target Earth for the Sega Genesis in 1990, and is currently available as a Nintendo Switch Online title. However, in 2015, this game was remade for PS4 and PC by doujin developer Dracue, who previously cut their teeth on the PSP mech action game, Armored Hunter Gunhound EX. Which was basically a spiritual successor to the Assault Suit games, being another mech run, fly, shoot game. It would have made sense for them to just keep remaking these games, but Dracue shut down in 2018.
The second game, the 1992 SNES title Assault Suits Valken, was localized as Cybernator, and while it did receive some love with Virtual Console distributions, it remained a fairly niche title. Because western retro gaming fans have trouble connecting to playable characters who are machines, I guess. However, it garnered enough renown to get a remaster by M2 in the form of Assault Suits Valken Declassified, which was released March 30, 2023.
Now, who actually owns this series nowadays? Well, the games were originally developed by NCS Corporation and published by their internally owned publishing arm Masaya Games. But NCS left the games industry in 2000, and the rights to their titles were acquired by Extreme Co.,Ltd. in 2007. A consolidated group home to 671 employees, and a bunch of subsidiaries. Including Dragami Games, developers of the upcoming remake of Grasshopper Manufacturer’s Lollipop Chainsaw. Also, Extreme is somehow so obscure they lack both a Wikipedia page and a proper MobyGames page.
Assault Suit Leynos 2 Saturn Tribute will be released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC in 2024.
…Oh, I’m not done yet. Remember how I said that City Connection was the owners of all the old Jaleco games? Well, Jaleco released a trilogy of Super Nintendo beat ’em ups akin to Streets of Rage and Final Fight. All of which received different names when localized in North America. Rival Turf! (1992), Brawl Brothers (1993), and The Peace Keepers (1994). A weird trilogy of titles that City Connection has kept alive by putting them on Nintendo Switch Online.
Were they good? They were fine as far as I could tell, but never really warranted any significant attention in North America. Because Jaleco didn’t have any money to push these games, and these titles were not presented as part of a series. Even though they actually were. …All of which I learned because after I saw an announcement for Rushing Beat X: Return Of Brawl Brothers from City Connection, I knew I had to do some digging. Because, just looking at the key art, title, and trailer were enough to sufficiently baffle me, because… what the hell even is this?
The answer is… a beat ’em up that looks like an XBLA game graphically, and is set in a gonzo world where the “Cyber Clone incident” is something characters can just casually say. Does it look particularly good? …No. It looks cheap and the more I looked at the trailer, the less I thought of Double Dragon Neon, and the more I thought about Double Dragon II: Wander of the Dragons.
So… why bring this series back, 30 years later? Why invest the resources into reviving this obscure trilogy that lived and died within a three year span? Um… Because reviving classic beat ’em ups is the hip thing these days! Just look at Streets of Rage 4, River City Girls, Double Dragon Gaiden: Rise of the Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. Hell, remember the Capcom ransomware leak from November 2020 that featured a Final Fight remake? Yeah. This is just their attempt to chase a hype train!
Rushing Beat X: Return Of Brawl Brothers will be released for undisclosed platforms in 2024.
Oh! Oh! Oh! But I have another game to dig into, because, for some bloody reason, City Connection also decided to do a reimagining of the 1984 arcade and Famicom game, Formation Z. A plane and on-foot shoot ’em up that… is a game from 1984. Which is to say, it’s almost charming in how simplistic it is. You can tell it was influential just from gameplay footage, but the game also looks lacking in a way that most early 80s games were.
Formation Z is so simplistic that I don’t know how you could make a revival that isn’t something virtually unrecognizable from the original. …And I still don’t, because City Connection is reviving this title for its 40th anniversary by making FZ: Formation Z. A transforming plane/mech shooter that maintains the general… camera angle and pace of Formation Z (1984), but the aesthetics, player arsenal, and… everything else, looks completely unrecognizable.
It also looks pretty ugly too. This is mostly due to the lighting and shading, but everything these just looks off. It’s like the environments were modeled by an outside team who were given subpar instructions, did what was asked of them, but did not understand the art director’s vision. Which is really weird because this game is being developed by Granzella. A company founded from the ashes of Item in 2011, who are best known for the Disaster Report series and R-Type. In fact, they just released R-Type Final 2 in 2021, and while I don’t think that game looks super great, it looks leagues better than FZ: Formation Z. It’s not even endearingly janky like Disaster Report 4, which was at least trying something ambitious. FZ: Formation Z is neither ambitious nor is it really aspiring to a discernible look.
Despite looking… bad, FZ: Formation Z is launching for PS5, Xbox Series, and PC in 2024.
…This concludes the latest semi-regular installment of ‘Natalie tries to understand niche Japanese gaming company history that was not thoroughly explained to her in her youth.’
Under Unity, We Fail
(Unity Executives Apologize, Give People Another Shitty Deal)
Last week, Unity made their way on the shitlist of everybody tangentially involved in gaming with their new runtime fees. A monumentally stupid decision that saw a level of outcry and justified vitriol that I have not seen from the broader gaming community since, well, ever. Nobody was in favor of this, nobody saw any sense of benefit in this, and any who tried were quickly stomped down for being blind corporate apologists. Because that’s what they were.
Unity’s executive staff demonstrated a level of recklessness and incompetence that is utterly horrifying, and a bold reminder of the stupidity and malice of the genre of people who run billion dollar businesses. If there was any sort of professional board who had the responsibility of defending the job of business executive, like there is for being a certified public accountant, they would have had their licenses suspended. Instead… you know those shitbirds are still going to see obscene payouts.
I said it, I meant it, so I’m going to say it again: There is no saving face. There is no going back. No path of redemption. Unity had something big, they were the de facto engine for many developers, they were the masters of their field. They provided a communal good, made game development more accessible and uniform than it ever had to be. …And they fucked it by threatening to put developers out of business with downright predatory fees based on a nonsensical metric.
Now, there are ways to fix this. Almost all of which involve the executives leaving the company, and Unity being placed under new management. And the best one involves Unity becoming open source software, which it always should have been. However, as a publicly traded company, that would be illegal.
Sadly, a lot of game developers are just stuck with Unity for the time being. For as promising Godot is, it took Unity 18 years to get to where it is today, and a Nu-Unity isn’t going to pop up overnight. Plus, people are currently servicing games that run on Unity and are in the middle of developing games in Unity. So, it is still important to see what Unity’s revised terms are.
- Games developed on Unity Personal will not be subjected to any sort of runtime fee, and the funding cap will be increased from the paltry $100,000 to a less paltry $200,000. Meaning that for devs running a tight ship don’t need to worry about paying anything to Unity, and thank goodness for that.
- No game will be required to use the “Made with Unity” splash screen, presumably because they realize how tarnished their name is and want developers to hide the fact that they are using Unity. I mean, it’s still clear just by looking at the game’s files, but only NERDS like me do that.
- For any game developed under an older version of Unity, before the next LTS version releasing in 2024, the runtime fee policy does not apply. Meaning every game being made using Unity will be exempt so long as they don’t upgrade to a new version of Unity. Meaning Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail are fine.
- Only creators using Unity Pro or Unity Enterprise will be subjected to a runtime fee.
As for the terms of this new runtime fee, it is fairly simple. If a game makes $1,000,000 in revenue within a period of 12 months, then the developer will need to pay the lesser of two fees. A 2.5% revenue share, or an amount calculated based on monthly new users. …I’m not sure how that math works for monthly new users (they did not give any numbers), but this is a function simple enough that I can fit it into a single Excel formula.
…There are more elegant ways to do it, but this works, damn it! In fact, I made a mockup spreadsheet showing how it works!
This is more akin to what I, an insane person, would have expected from Unity. The 2.5% fee is still half of Unreal’s 5% fee, and while there is an annual subscription charged for Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise, I’m guessing similar rates are charged for ‘professional’ developers using Unreal. They just don’t make those rates available to the public.
However, there are still two major problems with this new plan. One, I’m pretty sure that people can stick with the 2023 build going forward. So it is possible that games just won’t support Unity builds released after 2024, and the engine will die out that way. If someone is making a game that is projected to generate $201,000,000 in a year, then using a pre-2024 build of Unity would save them $5 million. …Which I guess means that Unity has practically ended development on new versions, as no company would want to pay that fee unless it would save them that same amount of money in terms of R&D.
…Which brings me to the second point. This revised deal is actively worse for a lot of huge publishers. Let me illustrate a scenario. If a company put out a Unity game, developed under Unity Pro, saw 20 million installs, and raised $201 million in revenue, the creators would need to pay $226,500 under the old plan. $46,500 for the second million and $10,000 for every subsequent million installs. Under this new plan, the same creator would need to pay $5 million. …That is an increase of $4,773,500. That is a 2208% increase.
…I know it is tempting to say that ‘if they make $200 million, this is nothing to them.’ That is probably true, but that is a very effective way to build resentment with the most influential companies around. So, Unity, I’m sorry, but you just lost.
You had it.
You lost it.
And you’ll never get it back again.
Peatrice: “Play her out, you hip pieces of shit!”
…For half of my life, I thought that this song was used in the trailer for the 1993 movie Dave, but that was just a joke Spoony did as part of his Final Fantasy VIII review. …I still miss Spoony. I wish he didn’t lose it and go insane…
Progress Report 2023-09-24
2023-09-17: Edited approximately 5,000 words of TSF Series #017. Created sprites for header images. Created drafts of 7 of 9 header images.
2023-09-18: Edited approximately 20,000 words of TSF Series #017. Created 2 additional header images.
2023-09-19: Edited approximately 12,000 words of TSF Series #017. Exported 9 header images. Scheduled Natalie.TF post.
2023-09-20: Resumed playing Mega Man X DiVE. Due to the nature of the game and its story, it is my primary objective, as I want to get the review ready sooner than later.
2023-09-21: Finished the main story of Mega Man X DiVE. Wrote 1,300 words for review.
2023-09-22: Wrote 2,609 words for the Mega Man X DiVE review.
2023-09-23: I got busy with work and unraveling a big crypto mess, so no writing work was done today. Also, I got a COVID booster. Here’s hoping that I’m not wiped tomorrow!
Verde’s Doohickey 2.0: Sensational Summer Romp Progress Report:
Current Word Count: 107,231
Estimated Word Count: ~600,000
Total Chapters: 75
Chapters Outlined: 41
Chapters Drafted: 14
Chapters Edited: 0
Header Images Made: 0
Days Until Deadline: 248
Production on VD2.0 will resume after completing the Mega Man X DiVE review. I originally planned on resuming production after finishing TSF Series #017, but I want to focus on organizing my thoughts on X DiVE before getting back into the narrative density of VD2.0.
TSF Series #017 Progress Report:
Current Word Count: 38,359
Total Chapters: 7
Chapters Drafted: 7
Chapters Edited: 7
Header Images Made: 7
This story has been completed and is ret-2-go on Natalie.TF!
TSF Series #017 Cassandra – The Cuddly Demon Empress will be released on September 27, 2023.
Mega Man X DiVE Review Progress Report:
I should be done with a draft of the review by the evening of Sunday, September 24, 2023. However, I plan on doing something extra with this review.
…And by extra, I mean a bonus review of Mega Man Maverick Hunter X. Simply because I want to better compare X DiVE to the Mega Man X series.
TSF Series #018 & TSF Series #019 Delays:
Due to the rigamarole that will be involved with moving to a new home this November, and my existing commitment to other projects, I have chosen to delay TSF Series #018: Dæmon;Heäd from its original intended release date of November 18, 2023 to December 20, 2023. Additionally, TSF Series #019: Suicide to Success will be delayed a full year to November 18, 2024.
The reason for these delays is due to the scope creep across recent installments of TSF Series. Which has caused production time to increase from a few days to over two weeks and the average word count to double, if not triple. This in turn limits the time I can allocate to the two novels I want to release in 2024: Verde’s Doohickey 2.0: Sensational Summer Romp and Psycho Shatter 1988: Vice and the Black Righteous Forces of Earth X Weiss and the Genocide Devils of The White Dimension (Working TItle).
I’m not happy about limiting the output of TSF Series, as I originally intended it to be a monthly to quarterly series, but… I’ve got bigger fish to fry!