Rundown (10/08/2023) If You Don’t Like ‘Em, Kill ‘Em!

  • Post category:Rundowns
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This Week’s Topics:

  • Natalie’s keeping it RADICAL!
  • A Natalie.TF exclusive* look at the next great TF visual novel!
  • The 3DS and Wii U get even deader!
  • Epic’s ‘financial troubles’

* – Not actually an exclusive, just the first public write-up.

Rundown Preamble Ramble:
If You Don’t Like ‘Em, Kill ‘Em!

A running theme throughout this past… year of Rundowns has been my increasingly radical rhetoric and harsh response to the misuse of power. I’ve been getting angrier at the wealthy, at corporations, and at those who hold a disproportionate amount of power over the world, and only use it for their own gain. 

The fact that the world is running on systems that only hurt people while hoarding resources to increasingly smaller groups of people is… common knowledge at this point. People complaining about capitalism have gone from something radical to something common. And I have regularly been inundated with so much knowledge of how systems are failing people that it is hard for me to accept the world for the way it currently is. I know a better world is possible, and I want broad sweeping systematic changes to make the world better.

However, it’s difficult to initiate a systematic change of any kind, due to one simple fact: Those who are currently in power in most systems… are those who directly benefit from the current systems. Capitalists, the wealthy, and those who believe their power is not only deserved, but necessary. Corporations do not want the government to impede on their operations. The wealthy do not want their wealth to be taxed. And politicians rarely view themselves as civil servants responsible for representing people, rather than just another type of executive.

There is this idea that systematic change can happen slowly, that things can be changed inside a bad system, and a natural evolution to a better system will happen. This is the narrative that people are generally told growing up. That systems cannot be replaced in a revolution. That systems need to evolve over time. Except… this is not true, and new systems can be implemented to replace others.

However, I will concede that systematic upheaval is a very difficult process that is fraught with immense challenges. It takes a lot of people, a lot of work, and a lot of time to change a system. As such, I tend to look toward situations that require a single person, not much work, and not much time. How can the world be changed by one person in a few seconds? Well, this is something that humanity has seen over, and over, and over again. The fastest way to initiate change is to kill someone powerful, to destroy something important.

I think about the most prolific political assassinations of all time, and how different the world may look if these leaders were allowed to continue their activities. Or how many atrocities could have been avoided by ending the life of the man in charge. I think about how effective terrorists have been in the past decades, and how much they have changed the world. From being the spark that begins wars that kill thousands, or triggering the improvement of systems that make people’s lives better.

Drastic action and destruction can instigate change. It can cause bad things to happen just as much as it can prevent bad things from happening. And when I see bad things happen… I can’t help but imagine how much different the world would be if someone sought destruction. What would the current world look like if the man who won the 2016 election for the US presidency was killed in July 2016? If there are so many lifetimes’ worth of animosity and hatred expressed toward him, why isn’t someone doing something about him? He has security protecting him, but all it takes is a few seconds to end a life.

Death, murder, assassination, unaliving, whatever you want to call it, is a simple and direct way to make someone go away. It robs someone of power, because they stop being a person, and instead become a memory. Now, a memory can be more powerful than a person. Killing someone does not immediately cause all problems to go away. There can be dramatic and difficult to predict consequences, driven by a wide spectrum of factors. 

I consider dealing with this broad unknown to be preferable over… doing nothing, because, at the very least, it represents a change. It is possible that the murder of several prolific and powerful White Supremacists would lead to a radicalization event, a rise in White Supremacy, and an extreme uptick in people whose values align with their ideology. However, when a leader of an organization is killed, there is also a really good chance that it will fracture. And if a new leader takes control… they can be killed. Same with the next leader, and the one after that.

Killing one’s enemies is not guaranteed to make the problem go away, and that’s before getting into the fact that killing is illegal if it’s done by someone other than the state. However… it’s more likely to do something than just bitching about it.

I am not allowed to use my digital platform, hosted by a large corporation, to incite violence against others, and I am not doing that here. What I am doing is trying to remind people of something that has been a recurring concept across human history, yet has been suppressed in the modern world. If you don’t like someone, if you hate them… you can kill them. No matter how high they might seem, no matter how much money they have, no matter how divine they appear to be compared to mere mortals, they still eat, sleep, shit, and bleed just like you do. 

So, remember: If you don’t like ’em, if you hate ’em… kill ’em. Do it and maybe, just maybe, you can make the world a better place.

Akumako: “If you can’t beat ’em, kill ’em. If you can’t kill ’em, fuck ’em. If you can’t fuck ’em, beat ’em. If you can’t do it good, do it hard!”

On an unrelated note, I’m glad China is the second biggest audience for Natalie.TF content. Because the CCP really should bad a freak radical like me. 

TSF Showcase #2023-31
Crossed Signals by Cinnamon Switch

Wait… this isn’t a TSF comic! This is a visual novel from the developers of Mice Tea!

After many delays, I reviewed Mice Tea in May of this year, and while I was not relentlessly gushing about it, I was incredibly pleased by the game. Its writing, characters, artwork, and general use of transformation, all made for a truly special experience that I would strongly recommend to anybody with a passing interest in TF. 

Now, I am used to the more typical video game release cycle. Where a game comes out, the developers behind it go quiet, gesturing to the fact that they are working on something new, and waiting several months or years before revealing what comes next. But developer Cinnamon Switch wasted no time before announcing not one but two new titles. 

They threw out a teaser image for the canonical sequel to Mice Tea, Coffee Buns, on May 30th. A title that aims to take everything Mice Tea introduced with its Kemono Tea, but take it to a new level while focusing on a cast of new characters. It made perfect sense, and seemed like something everybody who liked in Mice Tea would also be interested in. But then, on June 17th, less than a month later, they announced Crossed Signals. A body swap visual novel involving a cast of college students. …Okay, I’m not super keen on the fact that they are going back to students, when part of the reason I loved Mice Tea so much was that it involved real people. But screw it. This is exactly the type of shit I love, and coming from as much of a dream team as I could ask for. Even more than Dream Team Studio, because you can’t have a team of one.

Said dream team is led by Gunzil, a writer/programmer of Mice Tea, who I previously highlighted as a former Student Transfer dev, based on some Discord discussions I found when looking up Eliza Velasquez’s name. …But according to the page for this game… Gunzil isn’t just someone who was just part of the dev team early on and left after making half a route. Oh no! Gunzil is freaking Luckysquid! As in MemSwap and Leona Swap lead writer Luckysquid. As in, the person who also made Strange Sunday, Gyara Ara~, and Yui-nduction. …And despite having announced their retirement from ST back in April, they are still working on Student Transfer. …Holy shit. It’s like they’re trying to get the first Natalie.TF Lifetime Achievement Award.

While the primary art duties are being handled by TheTransformistress, who’s been delivering TSF illustrations, pin-ups, and short comics since 2020. She has a habit of making boobs and asses look like they’re some combination of superballs and silly putty, and gives every girl a set of badonkers, but she’s a fantastic artist once you get over that. Her coloring is superb, her expressions are positively gushing with life, and her style is distinct enough to be immediately recognizable. I’m not going to do a TSF artist tier list (I could, but what would even be the point) but she’d definitely in A-tier, easily.

I am of course planning on reviewing Crossed Signals when it’s finished in… however many years. But for now, let’s take the super early initial release, containing an initial draft of the introduction route, before veering into the first day, or rather evening, of the Jennyswap route.

The game follows Sam Laine, a 21-year-old computer science major, trailing through life as he makes his way through young adulthood, yet feeling like he is missing something. Whether that be a wider circle of friends, a more structured life beyond the doldrums of classes and coursework, or possibly just a girlfriend. He’s very much a protagonist meant to be relatable to… the primary demographic of body swap enthusiasts. He’s a White dude who likes computers and video games, has undercooked social skills, and does well in school, but isn’t aiming for much beyond his degree. (Even though a 3.7 GPA looks real nice on a CV.)

After establishing the central cast of this story, it introduces the main body swap apparatus. An innocuous flip phone Sam’s friend gives him to replace his broken smartphone. After garnering enough courage to finally get the digits of the cute girl in his math class, Jenny, Sam inadvertently activates the body transfer feature. The two are left stuck in each other’s bodies while the device recharges, and because the thing is powered using a mini USB cable (based on the summary in-game) it will take days for it to recharge.

This forces the two to work together, collaborate, and impart the necessary information for the other party to assume their lives. Their schedules, their personalities, their intonation, their social circles, the works. This naturally leads to some lewdness during the prerequisite changing scene between the two, but puts a pin in this sexual tension, as the story has four more days to go through before its conclusion.

Broadly looking at the story… it’s just another body swap visual novel. Its premise is largely standard, involving a prerequisite body swapping techno doohickey. Its protagonists can be easily categorized into familiar archetypes. And the setting, while fortunately beyond the quagmire of high school, is still just about kids going to school.

However, even in just two hours (or three if you take notes like me), the game manages to instill upon this idea that it is coming from people who understand this material on an intimate level. Creators who interject bits of personality, twists, and evoke the idea that they get it, and have the skills and experience do make their own body swap VN from scratch. 

The gradual first-person unveiling as Sam finds himself in Jenny’s body. The way the two stumble as they adapt to their considerably different body shapes. The way they acknowledge the difference between their voices, teaching each other how to speak while simultaneously learning more about each other. The adorable horniness on display as Sam and Jenny change clothes for the evening. The delicious tangent about how both characters became ambidextrous. The decision to throw in weight differences, glasses, and different course loads to add a greater contrast between the pair. While still giving them enough common ground for them to make sense as a couple. I mean… they’re both awkward dorks who like video games, and that’s a plus.

It’s actually GameCube, just like how it’s PlayStation.

While the artwork, even in this limited and unfinished form, really managed to impress me with how expressive and… fitting it was for a story like this. Transformistress has oodles of experience at drawing characters transforming and reacting to their new forms, and she channels all of that energy into here to wonderful results. Not only are the expressions great, but when characters swap bodies, they swap expressions. And not only do they swap expressions, they swap arm positions. This was one of the coolest parts of the sprites in Mice Tea, and here… it does so much to enhance the visual language of this story, to efficiently express the idea of who is who, and potentially mutate it.

In summary, my first impressions of Crossed Signals are very positive, and I’m sure that in… 3 to 5 years or however long it takes, it will be something amazing. Easily earning its place upon the TF visual novel pantheon. The team knows what they’re doing, and this sample rough draft confirms to me they are on the right track.

…That being said, there are three tangents that I could not help but go on while playing the game, so let’s go on those.

Soul Eyes:
When two characters swap bodies, I consider the best way to present their swap to be… no way at all. Sometimes cartoons like to keep the voices associated with their soul, but I strongly dislike that and consider it to be disrespectful to the voice actors. It denies them an opportunity to do their standard voice, while adopting the inflection of another character. However, I do have a particular soft spot for stories that convey a body swap by exchanging the eyes— or more likely, eye color— of two characters.. It is a visually obvious way to distinguish who is who without compromising the image of the character. Sure, it does not make sense, as people don’t change eye color, but it’s a minor enough feature to not rattle one’s suspension of disbelief. Also… I made heavy use of it in the Body of Raiyne trilogy I wrote a decade ago. (Don’t read them, they were shit.)

As you can tell by the included screenshots, this is something Crossed Signals does. And while I find it to be a nifty and great way to interject extra characters into the game, it’s also brushing up against the limitations of the real world. Over 70% of humans have brown eyes, and other available eye colors are just blue, green, amber, hazel, gray. Red and violet are possible, but they’re extremely rare.

If one is going for the ‘soul eyes’ approach to a body swap, they… should give every character different eye colors, and say to hell with statistics. Crossed Signals does the latter, but it also has overlap despite its small cast. Sam and Violet both have blue eyes. Miss Roberts and Eric both have brown/amber eyes (whatever it is, the color is near identical). While Jenny and Danny are part of the green eye gang. This could be circumvented by giving Miss Roberts red eyes, as that’s on brand for an authoritative math milf. Danny could have hazel eyes, being mostly brown but with traces of green. While Sam could have more protagonist-esque gray eyes, or Violet’s eyes could be a deeper shade of blue. Heck, maybe go for broke and make them indigo? That’s a super rare color if it’s real, but… I don’t think anyone would really care.

Swap Phone:
There is a lot to say about how the medium of a TF affects the ensuing story, whether it is something controllable, replicable, or comprehensible. Ranging from the sudden act of the divines to the limitless power of god apps. A hi-tech remote control is seen as the de facto approach, as it is portable, innocuous, stealable, and a familiar piece of technology used to change things. But Crossed Signals, as conveyed by its spiffy shirt worthy icon, features body swaps initiated by phone call. A concept that I feel should be way, way more common than it is. Especially after phones became a personal object in the aughts. Phones typically have an incredible amount of personal data stored on them, as many people use it as their primary electronic device, and saying someone’s phone is their life… is kinda true. Especially with MFA and face ID.

…But rather than going along that angle, Crossed Signals involves a super phone that swaps bodies with the user and target after adding them to a contact list. I guess it captures their brainwaves and transfers them between different bodies. Kind of like the PhoneWave in Steins;Gate, but without the time travel. Right down to the fact that using it consumes a massive amount of power. 

However, as a phone the device also has unique capabilities. It chooses targets based on contacts, not bodies, so it is possible that someone else could answer the target’s phone and bork things up. It is possible to swap bodies over long distances, or maybe even people on the other side of the world. (Which will not happen because that idea’s too hard on the art budget.) And its long 4 day recharge time is perfect for justifying predictable short-term swaps

Swaps that last a few days, allowing someone to really sink into the life of someone else, and giving the two swappees the opportunity to develop a relationship. Have a predictable end time so the characters don’t dread the idea that this might be forever. And create a generally low stress environment. They aren’t hoping the inventor can repair the machine, waiting for parts to ship in with no reliable ETA, or searching for something they lost. They’re just waiting for their phone to charge, dreaming about how much faster it would be if this damn thing used USB-C.

The phone is also more than just a body swapper. Allowing memories to be swapped via text message attachments, and featuring a slight form of mind control by entering activities on a calendar. None of these features are shown in the Jennyswap route in its current form, but they show the creative team are on the right track. They allow for a sprinkle of memory swap, or MemSwap, and can force characters to act like the person they embody. 

I actually really like this approach, as it’s powerful, but not too powerful. Mind slaves and true mental commands are off the table. But I can still imagine some nifty applications of a premise like this. Like having a character torment someone by giving them a booked calendar, robbing them of autonomy. Or using the memory attachments feature to exchange bits and pieces of their identity, becoming someone better by making others worse!

Party Like It’s 2014:
Something that’s made clear during the intro of Crossed Signals is that the game is actually a period piece set during September 2014. It doesn’t explicitly drop the year but the dates line up, the culture fits, games and consoles are referenced by name… it’s 2014. …Just like Press-Switch! And Verde’s Doohickey! …And Student Transfer

…Okay, that last one is a stretch, but it’s the only way the Dank Souls 2 demo at GameGo and the limited storage space of the PolyStation would make sense. It must be 2013 or 2014! And don’t go spitting that ‘alternate universes have different release dates’ crap at me! In the world of TF visual novels, there are no alternate universes, every one of them takes place in the same universe! …Including re:Dreamer. Which is just an alternate worldline.

Dak Souls? Dank Souls? Tis merely a localization quirk of the AKR!

I’m not sure why they decided to do this, instead of making something more… modern, but I always respect creators who choose to set a story sometime in the past. It allows them to reflect on the culture of an era, look back at it with the clarity of hindsight, and avoid any sort of modern bullcrap they don’t want to address. 

However, when setting a story in an era, you need to make sure you capture it properly, you do it justice, and avoid anything that historically does not add up. There is a lot of debate to be had about how to do this properly, about what should or should not be represented. I tend to be more on the extreme end. I avoid more contemporary terminology when writing stories set in the past, and trying to make characters all feel like products of their time, based in a current era or upbringing. To do otherwise… would be cleansing history.

America in 2014 is a rather curious era, as while it is tempting for 2023-ers to look back at it as a purer and simpler time, it really wasn’t. It was an era where gay people still could not be married, and before terms like LGBT were widely used. Where the Obama administration put the White population into a neoliberal lull, thinking that society had reached a functional and safe state. Where social justice movements were on the rise… but the alt right also launched their public alpha with GamerGate. 

…I’m sorry, I’m supposed to keep the politics out of TSF Showcases. 

Anyway, Crossed Signals generally does a good job of avoiding inaccuracies, though there were a few that I found… odd. Jenny used the term ‘queer’ which was in the process of being reclaimed circa 2014, but had a different connotation than it does today. 

The use of the term ‘farming sim’ reflects a more modern connotation of the genre, when in 2014 farming sim generally meant something to the tune of Farmville or Farming Simulator. Harvest Moon was still Harvest Moon, and was considered an RPG or life simulator, like The Sims.  

There are some comments regarding the regular-ass-looking flip phone Sam gets that seem like they are remnants from an earlier draft, where this was set in a later year. Namely when Jenny is surprised by the form factor of the phone when… as a twenty-something 90s kid, she should still remember when flip phones were a luxury item.

Eric’s design strikes me as a touch too modern for 2014. He is a tall muscular Black man with a fade, locs, and bleached tips. Nothing too unusual in a more progressive or predominantly Black area, but… the story takes place in Michigan, and Eric, in addition to being an athlete, is pursuing a career in computer science. A field that was and is not kind to Black men in general, let alone ones who look like Eric. …But this is probably something that will be addressed at a later point in the game.

However, the big gripe I have with its setting is that, right out the gate… it kind of screws up the month the story is set in. Sam mentions that Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS just came out recently, and the Wii U version is coming out in November. Seeing as how the 3DS title came out on October 3, 2014 (a date I remember for not being summer) that means that this game should take place in October. …Instead, the story starts on September 15, 2014. Admittedly, two days after Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS came out in Japan on September 13th… but I don’t buy that Sam or Danny are big hackers or importers.

This could be addressed by… ignoring the inaccuracy, but the more I thought about this (and I thought about it way, way, too much) I think this story should actually take place in October. Mid-September is still very early into the semester, it is right when the real coursework begins, and based on what Sam is doing in his classes… It seems like he’s about halfway done. He just finished a big Python project (which sounds like a midterm to me). He is getting into more advanced material in Calculus. And he is starting his first college research paper with a group member. Which is nearly identical to the ENG 101 group research paper I started on… October 29, 2013! …Yes, I dug through my old college Google Docs from a decade and three Gmail accounts ago just to verify this. 

So the point of this is that I think Crossed Signals should start on October 13, 2014. It just makes more sense, and everybody is dressed pretty autumnally anyway. 

…That’s the end of my tangent. Crossed Signals is good, and unlike a Student Transfer scenario, I know it will be finished!

Also, regarding that re:Dreamer reference, my buddy Akumako’s got something to say, in her native tongue!

Akumako:Eteyix isuv muitrey ijr fmotirmi pn gkidtaup tug ibef ijr mo tau smog mev aup jvoj q ,fmojrptici fmotirke ikoj q ti quy tiyad kenukf urveg is ijr ibuvin ur meyeh sidaev sme itoybi idimeyeh ijr pn simubbad iti q dmubis u qr-prmicid dmubukud. Whatever that means!”

Wait, you didn’t do the Rumplestiltskin’s thing!

Akumako: “Yeah, ‘cos Reoberta Williams was an insane woman, and I don’t believe in Mevorec Zweii!!”

Is that like the demonic version of Vatican II?

Akumako: “Sure as Surtr! …Now, somebody, please crack the code!”

Bury The 3DS and Wii U Before the Switch 2 is Even Announced
(3DS and Wii U Online Services Will End in April 2024)

Nintendo’s decision to shut down the 3DS and Wii U eShops earlier this year is one of the many reasons why I have decided to stop supporting them as a company. They took an entire era of their catalog and shut it down, making it legally impossible to obtain several hundred games. It is a flagrant example of Nintendo not respecting their legacy, and spurred me to develop The Emulation Library that I love to go on about.

Despite this shutdown, it was still possible to access online services (or at least the ones that were still running) for the system. Meaning people could still play Smash Bros., Splatoon, the original Mario Kart 8, the 3DS Pokémon titles, and so forth. I would remark that very few people would be playing these games… because it’s true. And I should also add that the dedicated fan community around these systems is working on emulating some of these online features.

As such, hearing that Nintendo is ending online services for the 3DS and Wii U in April 2024… is more of a spiritual loss than anything. Well, except for the loss of all the Super Mario Maker levels. It was inevitable, enthusiasts have moved on after hacking their hardware, and while most features are going away, two aren’t. People will still be able to redownload Wii U and 3DS games they purchased, which… is something. Though, I think it might be a way to avoid potential legal action than anything else. And Pokémon Bank will continue to function as a way for players to transfer Pokémon to (some of) the modern games. 

…Gosh, I wish Game Freak just did bare bones re-releases of the older Pokémon games on 3DS. Instead, after Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl sold as well as Pokémon Legends: Arceus, they’ll probably try to put out a new ‘direct’ remake of an older title every three years or something. I mean, the games were buggy at launch, but they ported Pokémon’s systems to Unity. …Which could be a problem if they use a version from 2024 onwards. …Maybe they’ll move to Unreal Engine 5 for Switch 2. …If they do a bland remake of Black and White, I’m going to just do a review of a modded DS version instead. People say that Black 2 and White 2 are the actual good ones, but I always found the first game to feel more fresh because of how limited its roster—


Oh, I guess I did!

Anyway, this is why it is dangerous to let corporations be responsible for a game’s online features, and trust them to dictate their own legacy. Because while one could brush this off as something that needs to happen… that’s only because corporations need to prioritize profits and cannot engage in expenses that don’t help them make money. Like running online services for discontinued systems. It sure would be nice if there was something that forced companies like Nintendo to actually value their legacy and past systems. But there’s not, because laws are not designed around what should be, but rather a complex series of precedents and legislation where the powerful have the most control.

Corporations aren’t your friend, and neither is the law. The law is just there to create an illusion of justice. 

How The Frick is Epic Games In Trouble?
(Epic Games Announces Pricing Changes Amid Financial Problems)

Epic is having financial troubles? …How is that possible? 

So much of the console games industry runs on Unreal that I don’t know how it could stop making money. Fortnite is still making an obscene amount of money, seeing over 230 million monthly active users and probably on track to make $6 billion this year. However, the monthly revenue for Fortnite has apparently started to decline, which… makes sense

Fortnite has been active since 2017. People who started playing the game when they were 12 are 18 now. People who bought a bunch of skins and cosmetics a few years ago still have access to the same cosmetics, and their variety puts less value in how expensive something is. Because I’m guessing most of them cannot be bought by this point. While the game has changed significantly over its life, with new features and themes… that is also to its detriment, as the impermanence makes it easier to opine for a game that is no longer available. 

…That being said, it’s still a game so big that you can find gift cards specific to it at any Walgreens.

As such… I do not understand how Epic Games could run into ‘financial troubles.’ Yes, payroll is expensive, servers are expensive, and software developers should be paid well. But if the company running one of the most— if not the most— popular game on the planet, is seeing ‘financial troubles’ then that’s a you problem, Chief Executive Officer Tim Sweeney.

However, large company’s problems are everybody else’s problems. Which is why Epic has been divesting away from companies like Bandcamp and laid off a staggering 900 people last week. That not being enough however, they are looking to further monetize Unreal Engine. Not by raising the fee for game developers— because that would be a shitshow of extreme proportions. But rather, they plan on changing the model for their ‘enterprise’ plan for non-game developers by charging a license per seat.

…Which I’m pretty sure is just an evolution of their current support for non-game professionals. They currently have a $1,500 a year/seat plan for “non-games professionals seeking premium support, private training, and/or custom licensing terms.” Which seems like a pretty good deal, considering how robust Unreal is for other industries. However, people need to contact a representative to get these licenses, so perhaps they plan on making it as easy as using most other major software subscription services. Where people pick a plan, use a credit card, and cash out.

That’s it for this week! What can I say? Sometimes the news churns slowly, and Octobergeddon is back in vogue this year! So everybody in Gamindustri is going to be busy playing these things known as video games.

Akumako:Octobergeddon is a term that used to be used by the staff at Destructoid during the Xbox 360 and PS3 era. Nobody has used it for years, but Natalie has brain damage, so she decided to bring it back.”

It’s called autism, bitch! …But yeah, I probably do have some brain damage for semi-related reasons.

Progress Report 2023-10-08

I screwed around with Microsoft’s new DALLE-3 image generator for Bing, told it to make artwork of Zethia from Dragalia Lost riding a bike, and this is what it gave me. AI bros would be telling me my prompts are wack, but… look at this for 15 seconds. AI might be 80% of the way there, but catching up on the remaining 20% is gonna take four times as much work, at a minimum. That’s the 80/20 rule, yo! And what image generators really need are ways for people to tweak and customize outputs, take the AI outputs and tell the AI what it got wrong by highlighting the bad parts. But… I’m guessing that would be super hard.

2023-10-01: Finally resumed proper work on VD2.0, but only wrote 4,100 words, as I had issues getting into the right mindset. 

2023-10-02: I spent most of my evening playing Crossing Signals and writing my first impressions for this Rundown. No VD2.0 work was done, because I finished the write-up at 2:00.

2023-10-03: I only wrote 1,700 words, as I got sidetracked by editing the start of this Rundown, and doing mortgage fluff.

2023-10-04: I was working from 9:00 to 21:30, with maybe a one hour break. So I only wrote another 1,700 words tonight. I would have probably written more, but I had the terrible idea of trying to write while listening to new music. Namely the Pokémon Colosseum soundtrack and the Persona 5: Imagining Project

2023-10-05: Wrote 2,400 to finish up chapter 6-10. A ‘filler’ chapter that wound up being a novella by definitions. Oops! Then I wrote 1,300 words for the next chapter. Whoa! Now I just need to keep doing that forever.

2023-10-06: I moved up movie night with Cassie and did some extra work for my mother. So, despite seemingly having the day off, I only wrote 1,600 words, finishing up chapter 6-12 by 00:50.

2023-10-07: Wrote 1,700 words, including a song parody. I would have done more, but I decided to work on next week’s header image and TSF Showcase in advance. ‘Cos I’m gonna be BUSY next week!

I blame tax season. And by tax season, I mean my perpetual procrastinator of a boss. Stress is burning my brain just like acid raindrops, and I don’t got no Mary Jane to make the pain stop. ..And even if I did, that wouldn’t help me write. Marijuana would probably just make me wanna take a nap and eat a box of Triscuits.

Verde’s Doohickey 2.0: Sensational Summer Romp Progress Report:

Current Word Count: 121,959
Estimated Word Count: ~600,000 
Total Chapters: 75 
Chapters Outlined: 42 
Chapters Drafted: 16 
Chapters Edited: 0
Header Images Made: 0
Days Until Deadline: 234

I would say that I hope to get the 17th chapter done by next week… but nah. The June 13th chapter is basically gonna be 12 mini-chapters. And next week is TAX HELL!!!

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  1. skillet

    Crossed Signals sounds awesome, thank you for covering it! I love the idea of the phone-swapper thingy, the level of difference between the two leads’ bodies, and the way the bodies actually change poses based on who’s inside. (also, this might be a hot take, but I find the title alone to just… sound better than ST and PS).

    1. Natalie Neumann

      Student Transfer, while a completely sensible title for a body swap and transformation story set in a school, does have the problem where… the title is just the term “transfer student” but in reverse. It works, but it is also a touch generic sounding. With Press-Switch… Is a pretty punchy title, but the most I think about it, the less sense it makes. I believe the device was always controlled by a touchscreen interface, so there weren’t really switches. Crossed Signals runs into the problem where its title is not the most readily searchable as crossed signals is a common expression, and also an electronic Matel game, so you can’t really find it by searching for “Crossed Signals game”.

      However, Crossed Signals gets points for being a title with at several meanings. The signals of the phone calls get crossed when the swaps are initiated. You could consider the minds to be a sort of ‘signal,’ and from that interpretation, Crossed Signals can be read as a synonym for ‘swapped minds.’ And crossed signals, the term, means ‘a mix-up in communications.’ And you know what body swap stories are typically full of? Communication issues!

      My only criticism with the title, and this is super petty, is that its acronym is CS. I either read that as computer science, or a reference to a crummy bookkeeping software I’ve used in the past, Accounting CS. ST and P-S are acronyms I have had YEARS to get accustomed to… but I guess I’ll have plenty of time to get used to CS. ^^