Rundown (10/22/2023) Natalie is a Homeowner

  • Post category:Rundowns
  • Reading time:46 mins read
  • Post comments:4 Comments

This Week’s Topics:

  • Natalie bought REAL property!
  • A Fictionmania flashback
  • A game design tangent
  • The return of a niche DS adventure game series
  • A Pokémon tangent

Rundown Preamble Ramble:
I’m A Homeowner!

Well, it finally happened. After months of lead up, the funds, paperwork, and doodads have been arranged and I am now the owner of a condo. The closing was on Tuesday, I won’t be moving in until sometime next month. But I have a whole 1500 square feet that my mother and I will live in for the rest of our days. I won’t show off pictures of the interior until everything’s painted and settled, but it is a very nice location, only 25-years-old, and is located in a pretty ideal location with regards to shops and transit.

How does this make me feel? Eh, I knew this was something that would happen eventually. My mother and father have had a dysfunctional relationship ever since he got laid off from the Chicago Tribune (he delivered papers). Living alone is prohibitively expensive, so of course I would want to live with one of my parents. I’ve always been a momma’s girl, so I naturally chose to live with her, rather than my chronically unambitious father. Rent is a trap meant to keep people locked in their lower class, unable to accrue wealth like property owners, so naturally I decided to buy property. And homes are… an inefficient use of land, so condos just plain made sense.

I’m just glad that I was able to find such an ideal location, as I can walk to the grocery store. Which is something that a lot of suburbanite Americans cannot say. And if I ever need to go into Chicago for whatever reason, I can easily get downtown by relying on public transportation. Which is such a blessing, as just getting to the doctor cost me $56 in taxi fare this past week. If I live closer to the train, then it would cost me… $5 for a round trip. You CANNOT beat that deal!

Also, I still get a kick out of the fact that I can call myself a homeowner. Not because it means something significant to me, but—

Akumako: “BULLSHIT! You know that homeownership is the manifestation of destiny of all Whites. Obtained REAL property. Not to be mistaken with real people. ‘Cos slavery’s a rigged game. It’s better to just rent ’em and work ’em to death. Modern day minimum wage conditions are merely an evolution of neoslavery!”

…I just think it’s funny that homeowner is pronounced like homo-wner, so when I say it, it sounds like I’m calling myself a homo.

Akumako: “…Bitch, it’s <CURRENT_YEAR>. And you’re getting jollies from a gay joke?”

One, I’m trans—

Akumako: “That don’t make you gay! At least not in <CURRENT_YEAR>! If we were in the Halcyon Years™ of 1963, then yeah, ‘cos the White Masters thought y’all queers was the same. And all pedophiles!”

Well, it does mean I would be profoundly stupid to ever be so much as rude to gay people. Though I should include more gay relationships in my work. It’s something I have in the pipeline for VD2.0. Also… in case it’s not clear by now, I generally try to be as progressive as possible. But I am not of the mindset that because something is problematic, complicated, or features various breeds of phobias, it is of a wrongful existence. Partially because, if I did that, then I wouldn’t be able to enjoy many things I currently enjoy. And partially because I tend to weigh intent and context more than the actual language being used, as that is something critically important that, far too often, is missed. So, keep that in mind when I call myself a homo-wner! Or a homo-weiner.

Also… I was born in 1994, grew up on a lot of ‘boy media’ and developed a strong affinity for the breed of humor used there. It’s an immature attitude, yes. But… just let me have this.

Akumako: “Okay, fine. I’ll let you be a dirty little homophobic tranny.”

Also, if you want to highlight bad things that I did or said in my work… just read them, you;ll find them.

Akumako: “Like that time you wrote a story where a little girl ate a dude’s dick!”

It was a corpse’s penis, thank you very much. Charred and unrecognizable as anything more than a mere sausage. Also, I did that twice, not once.

Akumako: “…Why does anybody listen to you or care about the things you do?”

Good question!

Also, my parents formally got divorced the same hour of the same day I bought my house. So that’s cool!

TSF Showcase #2023-34
Body Switched by Caleb Jones

Now this is what I call going back to the past! Like many TSF enthusiasts of my particular sub-generation, I was weaned on Fictionmania. A fiction hosting platform that was (probably) one of the first repositories of TSF media on the internet, and one of the few vestiges of Web 1.0 that remains active to this day. And by active, I mean it still gets dozens of new stories a week and still looks like it was made in 1995.

Honestly, I would LOVE to hear from an old school Fictionmania fan or writer, as I feel that a lot of the information on this site is just buried between layers of old conversations on derelict platforms. I personally only learned about this site in 2008, way past its ‘first era’ but I still view it as the ‘beginning’ because this was my first true exposure to the world of TSF.

For as much as I wish I was an avid reader of certain prolific writers, my reading abilities when I was 13 were… about as good as a 10-year-old. (They put me in remedial English for a reason, but they forgot to actually teach me things while I was there.) So I didn’t read much, and when I did read things, I often read shorter stories, stories with images, and Great Shift stories. I only read maybe 30 stories to completion, but the ones that I remembered liking the best was the Body Switched, or BodySwitched duology by Caleb Jones. Also known as the first person to ever compliment my skills as a writer, back when I tried my hand at writing fan fiction. Meaning that, more than anyone else, Caleb Jones is the reason why I’m a writer today.

Senpai noticed me!

Now that I’ve dropped that bombshell, let’s discuss our stories here today:1999’s Body Switched Book 1, 2003’s BodySwitched Book 2, and 2015’s Body Switched The Epilogue.

The premise behind the story is about as stock as you can get. 14-year-old Jason and 17-year-old Jennifer are a pair of feuding siblings. Their father is an ‘eccentric’ inventor who develops a mind transfer device. And after they both investigate the body swap pods he set up in the basement, they wind up unknowingly swapping bodies.

However, almost immediately, the story veers into a bizarre direction. The story skips ahead a few days, sees Jason use the swapping machine to switch his friend Tommy with Jenny’s friend Allison. Which, okay, twice the swap twice the fun. But that not being enough, the story then decides to introduce a body swap gun that the father (who does not have a name) just so happened to create. A gun that is stolen by the 6-year-old girl of the family, Lisa, who proceeds to go on a body swap rampage. Thus ending chapter 1 of Book 1.

The introduction is jumbled, but practically throbbing with ideas! Unfortunately, the story misses the mark with its execution… Except for when it doesn’t. …Yeah, that made no sense. Let me explain. 

The writing in Body Switched is generally broken up into two flavors. A more typical dialogue-driven form of storytelling, with occasional bits of narration to bridge scenes. And sections that are closer to outlines than they are to an actual story. With the former, I actually think the writing is pretty alright. The dialogue flows, the characters are able to form a dynamic and lay out some tension, and there are a few ‘specks of excellence’ to be found in the banter between characters. While the latter… kind of sucks

I have zero issues with long passages of a character describing their thought process or detailing a scene. If so, I would be a massive hypocrite. But when the story is describing body swapping chaos throughout a neighborhood or detailing a date prep scene, it all feels… simultaneously under-detailed and overly bloated. Like the writer had to squeeze the ideas into a strict word count. Or they wrote filler text that was supposed to be revised… but never was.

Now, all of this could potentially be circumvented if the story had good characters… and it doesn’t. It has a pretty sizable cast between Jason, Jenny, Dad, Allison, Tommy, Lisa, Frank, Ritchie, Kathy, Helen, Brad, Judy, Horace, and Susan Suzuki, but they are all archetypes. Not  in the sense that they can be summarized as archetypes, in the sense that they are just archetypes.Jason is just some 14-year-old dude. Tommy is just his friend. Jenny is just a hot teenage girl. And Susan is just a responsible, tiny “Japanese American” math teacher.

The narration heavy scenes deprive the characters from an opportunity to expand past these roles or ever really feel like characters. While the snippets and factoids the reader can gather circle back to the archetypes of the characters. Jason likes ‘boy stuff,’ Jenny likes ‘girl stuff,’ and while this could work fine in a shorter form story, this is a two-part 35,000 word story. As a writer, I can safely say that’s more than enough room

Instead, it wastes its word count on these large tangents, such as listing a series of things that happened as part of Lisa’s body swap rampage. Ideas that are literally ran past as the point of view character chases after the plot. Or a subplot that sees the prom king and queen swap bodies with a pair of nerds. It has creative energy, that’s without question, but it does not know what to do with this energy, or write the story in a way where it feels more substantial than a list of stuff that happens.

It’s all so frustrating because when looking at this story from afar, when breaking it down, it’s pretty solid

Book 1 is effectively about two feuding siblings swap bodies, only for their father to keep them that way for ‘research purposes.’ During their time as each other, they decide that they like this new life more than their original life, leading them to make the swap permanent. This is paired with two parallel stories about their friends, who are less enthused about the swap, finding it interesting, but not really loving it. And also some mid-scale body swap chaos as people across suburbia are body swapped, causing mass confusion and a microcosm of mini-stories. Do these ideas seem jumbled in their published form? Yes. Are they all good ideas? Yes! And could they work well together? YES!

Book 1 is a solid story on its own, although I would argue it only gets super interesting near the end. Fortunately, Book 2 picks up a few hours later and explores the aftermath of this chaos.The swapped siblings take on their new lives, names, and genders, they proceed to make the most of their new lives, and just absolutely kill it on all fronts. They snag a partner, have sex, form a more friendly relationship where they help each other present as their new gender, and wind up loving their new lives, despite some hardships. It is a body swap story… about two people living their brand new lives and helping each other out. That sounds like such a basic idea, but you’d be surprised by how many body swap stories avoid that. …Not mine though! I’m straight up legit!

During the latter half of Book 2, it gets a bit more squiggly when the focus shifts to the father. The CIA bought his body swap machines for $10 million, making the family rich, but as a single scatterbrained father, he needs some help not getting bamboozled. So the siblings decide to hook him up with their math teacher… by switching their bodies. This winds up working, somehow, and the two, much like the siblings who arranged this for them, decide to stay this way forever and get married.

…Which is on top of a subplot involving a nerd/popular body swap, that is woefully underdeveloped in the main text, but could fill up its own spin-off with the narrative potential on display.

While the epilogue… is just insane, and I love it for that. I don’t want to give everything away, but I will say it takes place a decade later, and involves “Cabbage Neutralizer” that managed to “[ease] the hole in the Ozone and [slow] global warming.” Also, I have no idea how this epilogue took more than an afternoon to write, as it is only 2,300 words. That’s chump change!

Conceptually, I love what this story is trying to do. I am dead serious when I say that there are ‘specks of excellence’ to enjoy here. And when rereading it, I felt the vaguest memories percolate to the surface of my mind… while still being surprised by where it went and what it focused on. 

Do I think it is a good story or particularly historically interesting work? …No, not really. I don’t like to compare myself to other writers, as that is the route to madness, but this? This is worse than my stuff by a considerable margin. Which, as someone who distinctly remembers reading this work 15 years ago— clenching my rock-hard dick between my thighs as I played out the events in my mind— is a bittersweet feeling. 

Not only am I a better writer than one of my childhood idols, but my analytical skills are a world better than they were back when I was a teen.

…Also, don’t expect me to do more showcases of longform written works, as this took me an afternoon and evening to read and write up.

Computer Game Design Vs Console Game Design
(A Half-Baked Ramble I Spent Too Much Time on to Cut)

So, I did an awful thing when preparing tax returns last week and re-watched a 213 minute long video essay that I distinctly remember not agreeing with. Not because the video essay was bad, the creator clearly did a lot of work, research, and is extremely skilled in the craft. But rather, because of the perspective shown in the video and how it presents the concept of ‘correct game design.’

Game design is a highly complicated field that, as a subhuman non-developer, I cannot speak to on a particularly high level. There are right ways and wrong ways to design something, yet what is right and wrong depends highly on the philosophy and style that is being adopted within development. Which is what this particular video got me thinking of. The ideological differences between computer games and console games.

Since the late 2000’s, there really has not been much to distinguish a PC game from a console game, except perhaps the control interface, as certain genres just work better with a keyboard and mouse. Competitive FPS, RTS, MOBA, etc. However, the broad design principles behind these games have remained largely parallel, when they used to be quite different. 

To start with a gross simplification, computer games were about decisions, while console games were about doing the correct thing. Console games of that era tended to be more linear, contained experiences. They put the player in a starting position, giving them the simple objective to defeat X, reach location Y, while using skills A, B, and C. This applies to platformers, action games, and I would say even series like Zelda and Metroid.

Computer games though? They tended to be a lot more open-ended, giving the player a vast world to explore in their own way, characters they could build, or offered a level of customization in how the game was played. This applies to RTS titles like Warcraft and Starcraft that demanded player precision. Computer RPG series like Ultima, Fallout, and even The Elder Scrolls. More open-ended ‘creative’ games like Civilization and The Sims. And the ‘immersive sim’ genre with titles like System Shock, Thief, and Deus Ex. Now, this perspective kind of falls apart when remembering the FPS boom on computers in the 90s, but… bear with me.

Why did these genres come to be? Well, the simple answer is that console games evolved from the early form of the arcades, which offered more quick, action-oriented experiences. Then, through the course of several years of iteration, developed into longer, more robust, experiences that combated the power of arcades with longer, more detailed campaigns. Games started featuring larger words, became experiences that spanned multiple play sessions, and became something distinct from their initial inspiration. But the general arcade principle of ‘do the right thing to see progression’ remained true.

While PC games… were not inspired by the arcades, and were designed as… computer software. As games for the sort of people who owned and used a computer. They were not trying to replicate the more action, score, or clear focus of arcade games, partially because, technologically, they couldn’t. But also because computers were… workstations back then. They were places where you did not sit back and enjoy media. They were boxes where you used software to create things. Documents, other programs, or input data to be transported to other computers. …Via ‘sneakernet’ or a local office network. Not via the internet, because I’m talking about how things worked in 1987.

As such, computer games were designed as experiences that prioritized giving players choices, rather than testing their performance in a narrowly defined challenge. Or, to use an imperfect analogy, computer games were like writing an essay, while console games were like taking a STEM test.

Neither of these approaches are better than the other, and are merely different ways in which games can be designed. They lead to different types of experiences, and I think it is important to bear this in mind if one is criticizing the game. While there is some value in analyzing a game based on what it should be, and what it could be, what’s more important is determining what the game is, and what it is trying to be

This seems obvious to me, but I semi-regularly encounter arguments that can be simplified as ‘games without meaningful choices are bad’ and ‘all the good games feature meaningful choices.’ Which… I wholly disagree with. While you can fit some games under that umbrella, such as a lot of computer games from the 80s and 90s and most fighting games, the rule falls apart quickly or gets stretched when applied to more genres. Such as, say, rhythm games, precision platformers, or shoot ’em ups.

Game design is complex, and different games aspire to do different things, so choosing to view them as a single thing is… bad. Games can be whatever they want to be, and anyone trying to determine what is the ‘correct’ way to design a game is like someone trying to insist that there is only one way to tell a good story. Or one way to draw a good picture. Or one way to write a good song. There are principles and fundamentals to abide by, but even those are not universal, and something excellent can be produced by going against these rules.

Akumako: “Okay, so are you going to switch over to that RPG topic you had jotted down?”

No. That was an even more half-baked idea that I couldn’t work into something perceptible despite spending an hour on it. And the general ‘point’ of that tangent was defending the idea of making a story in a world that revolves around the protagonist. But that all circles back to… if someone is making something, let them do what they want to do, and judge it based on how well they executed the idea and how enjoyable it is to engage with.

Touch Detective is Back And Localized!
(Not To Be Confused With Touch DIC)

When going on my deep dive into City Connection, Toaplan, and other obscure Japanese game publishers, I noticed that publisher Success had re-released the trilogy of Touch Detective adventure games for Switch. All as part of a collection known as Touch Detective: Rina and the Funghi Case Files. This did not register to me as anything more than a tiny publisher trying to bank on their back catalog by re-releasing older titles for a modest return. The fact they were not announced for an English release also did not seem odd to me, given the relative obscurity of the titles. 

I mean, Level-5 released Yo-kai Watch 1 for Nintendo Switch but didn’t put it out in English, even though the game was already translated. The banger 2008 tactical RPG Knights in the Nightmare was already translated, but its 2022 Switch port wasn’t localized. (Though it might be coming soon, since Yggdra Union was released in the west in July 2023.)

As such, I was pleasantly surprised to see Touch Detective 3 + The Complete Case Files appear in my newsfeed. A collection containing the previously localized Touch Detective (2006) and Touch Detective 2 1⁄2 (2007), along with the unlocalized 3DS title, Touch Detective Rising 3 (2014). In addition to this, the collection also features bonus games featuring the incredibly phallic Funghi, a music player, and an extensive art gallery. All of this sounds pretty great… but there are a few problems I have with this announcement from the outset.

One, I think calling this Touch Detective 3 is… kind of stupid. Touch Detective: The Complete Case Files is a great name for a collection of mystery adventure games. I know this is the first western release of part 3 but… this game has such limited nostalgia value beyond… maybe a few thousand people.

Two, this game is being localized and published by Nicalis. A publisher notorious for effectively taking away the Cave Story IP from its original creator, Pixel, and run by Tyrone Rodriguez. A man who was subject to an intense controversy back in 2019, citing his abusive, racist, and overall shitty behavior. They also effectively killed ’90s Super GP back in 2019, and locked it in their vault, never to be released. Fortunately, since the controversy back in 2019, their output has slowed down significantly. They had one big localization with Code of Princess EX in 2020, but beyond that, they have been mostly relegated to an indie publisher.

Now, why would any indie developer want to work with Nicalis after the 2019 controversy, which made Nicalis seem like the worst publisher to have? Because when developing an indie game, you accept whatever contract you can get. If Satan himself came up with a check, and his checks cleared, you would be a damn fool to not take his offer.

Three, this is not the first release of Touch Detective 3 in English, as a fan translation was released in 2022, possibly earlier, as the original hosting site has been delisted. And I would not put it past Nicalis to use the fan translation in some capacity.

Four, based on skimming through this livestream (that I had to fight with YouTube to find) and a let’s play of the second game, the developers did a good job with this remaster. Touch Detective originally featured low resolution illustrated 2D backdrops and pre-rendered character sprites. Two things that are notoriously difficult to update for the modern era, along with the whole dual screen interface. However, the Switch version does a lot of work to update the backgrounds and character sprites. They don’t look great, but it cleans up well enough, and it does not have any glaring signs that the game was converted from two screens to one screen. Possibly because this is based on mobile versions which… huh. The first two games are almost definitely based on the mobile version from 2011/2012. …That’s fine. I will accept mobile ports for Switch, as those old mobile ports probably cannot be played on modern phones anyway. Also, Touch Detective 3, despite coming out 8 years after the first game, looks basically the same as the first two. Weird.

So, what is my takeaway here? It’s dope that these games are getting re-released, and that the re-releases appear to be pretty good. I’m glad that part 3 is receiving an official release, rather than a more obscure fan translation. And the fact that this is a proper collection means it will be theoretically easier for the games to be ported forward to modern hardware or via emulation. DS emulation is great, but… DS games were made for two screens, and few devices offer that nowadays.

In most other situations, I would praise this as a re-release. However, I would urge people… do not support the official release here. Nicalis is a company that should not exist, and whose assets should be redistributed back to the original creators. I would urge people to pirate the localization, but buy the original Japanese version. And when importing DO NOT order from PlayAsia, because that site is run by actual fascists. Where should you buy it from? Anywhere else! Use any search engine on your device to find it!

A Crime Against Nature
(Natalie Rambles About Pokémon – Part Luminescent NEVIV)

So, this past week I heard of an intensive Pokémon Brilliant Diamond mod that added a lot of sweeping changes to the base game. The mod, Luminescent Platinum, presents itself as being effectively a recreation of the renowned Platinum engagement mod, Renegade Platinum, and an overwhelmingly better version of the game it’s modifying. 

It gives the player a bike and running shoes right from the get-go. It removes the long cutscene between rerolling the stats on one’s starter. It adds a LOAD of new Pokémon to the routes of the game, arguably too many. It lets the player grab all three starters, and an Eevee, by the 30 minute mark. It cuts away a lot of the bullcrap, replacing it with quality of life features. It gives Sinnoh MVPer Luxray an Electric/Dark typing which… YES. Also, it boosts the game’s speed by 15% in several areas which… does wonders to make the battles feel faster.

I spent about three hours playing it— when I really shouldn’t have— but most of that time was remembering why I can’t really play Pokémon games anymore without going insane

Despite growing up with oodles of support information on Pokémon with my collection of strategy guides and spending hours a week browsing Serebii, I did not actually realize how Pokémon really worked until 2012. That is when I became intimately aware of how natures, IVs, and EVs all functioned, and it sorta ruined my time with Pokémon Black 2. I was constantly paranoid about raising my Pokémon properly, and this has stuck with me for over a decade at this point.

I don’t want to think about the hours I spent EV training with the mini game in the gen 6 games. I want to forget the days I spent breeding Pokémon to get ones with a good nature in Gens 6 and 7. And I refuse to count how many duplicates I caught when building teams in… any given Pokémon game I played since then. It’s not fun. It’s not interesting or engaging gameplay. And while this variability does make Pokémon of the same species more unique, it does so at the cost of making some of them objectively worse and others objectively better.

A Pokémon with perfect Individual Values is better than one with imperfect IVs. 

A Pokémon with Effort Values that improve its strongest and/or weakest stats is better than one without 510 EVs. 

A Pokémon with a nature that benefits its strengths and/or weaknesses is better than one that goes against those strengths and/or weaknesses. A physical attacker with low physical defense is only hurt by a nature that boosts their special attack while lowering their physical defense even further.

Nature has always been the one that really bothers me, as it is staring the player right in the face from the moment they catch a Pokémon, and the math behind it is super simple. The boon of that nature is a 10% increase in that stat, while the bane sees a 10% decrease. This is applied to both base stats and the effects of EVs and IVs, so I always think it is the most important non-fixed factor in this equation. Even though… it kind of isn’t.

If a level Pokémon’s attack stat is 300 under a neutral nature, that means a nature can send it down to 270 or 330. Which is a LOT of variability, but EVs and IVs also contain pretty massive amounts of flexibility. 

IVs are values bolted onto a Pokémon’s stats, run from 0 to 31, and are multiplied by their current level out of 100. Meaning maxing out IVs can boost a Pokémon’s stats by 31 (before nature multiplies things), but most Pokémon caught in the wild will have at least some IVs. On average, it should be 15, unless the distribution formula does not abide by pure RNG.

While EVs… are freaking bullcrap. I never actually understood the math behind them until now, but EVs offer up to a 63 point boost to a level 100 Pokémon’s base stats. With the total EV point boost across all stats being 127. …That is a LOT. 

However, these 127 EV… stat point boosts (I’m probably butchering the terminology here) are going to be earned so long as the player uses the Pokémon in battles (in the base game). Meaning that these points will ultimately go somewhere. …However, that also means it is likely that Pokémon would only get 21 stat point boosts per stat. …Which is a third of what it could be if the player went out of their way to farm for these points for each and every Pokémon they wish to perfect. Ugh.

This complicated guff is why I found the shift to Effort Levels in Pokémon Legends: Arceus to be such a refreshing change. Instead of being something that players had to balance around breeding and choosing which Pokémon are battled, it just gave Pokémon starting stats, and gave players items they can use to improve them exponentially. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better and removed a LOT of busywork in exchange for just… buying the things you want. …And also the Pokémon in PLA could be made just… stupidly powerful. We’re talking about an extra 140 points for a level 100 Pokémon with a base stat of 100. Though, more likely, it would be a mere 104 points. Which is more than EVs and IVs combined, and you can do that for EVERY stat. PLA was so freaking good it makes me wish the series just… stopped.

That being said, even PLA had natures, and I would be lying if I said I did not need to capture several of the same Pokémon when assembling my team. …Even though the impact of a Pokémon’s nature was strongly reduced under this new formula, and with the inclusion of stat-altering mints that could be collected after every expedition.

That all being said… I still consider natures to be more important than EVs and IVs. I know that IVs and EVs have more of an impact… but they have been a hidden mechanic for most games in the series. EV checking only became a staple mechanic in Sword and Shield, but it was only via a hidden command. You need to press X to view the EVs of a Pokémon, and when I was playing Luminescent Platinum, I genuinely did not think that feature was implemented into the game. In Scarlet and Violet though, they make it clear with a new labels button command. But despite that improved feature (a button prompt can be a feature, I guess), those games still make IV checking an endgame reward. Natures though? Their names are ALWAYS available, and ever since Black and White, they’ve been highlighted when looking at a Pokémon’s stats. You, quite literally, cannot ignore natures

Now, you might say that Pokémon games are so easy that this does not really matter, and this stuff is only for competitive players. To which I say… This is still a mechanic in the game. It impacts the creatures you use, and can impact the results of battles. As a player, it is my job to take this information and use it.

Fortunately, the games have slowly been shifting away from this mechanical guff with bottle caps, mints, and EV training items, but… that’s more akin to a bandage on a wound. It would be GREAT if Pokémon could just learn to be good by using them to battle other Pokémon, if EVs did not have a universal cap and every Pokémon dropped three five times as many. I would love it if every Pokémon scaled up to have 31 IVs at a certain level, probably level 100. And it would be swell if instead of having these bad items, the game just allowed the player to change the nature of a Pokemon, like they can change their move pool. Maybe tie it into happiness, or make it like the move reminder and let players do it from a darn menu. Sure, have them unlock it, but don’t tie this feature to a resource.

That is all before getting into the crap surrounding the very concept of moves, which have frustrated me to no end. It actually got to the point where I have been— sporadically over the course of months— working on a WIP spreadsheet that condenses and expands the move pool into something more open. It is uncreative and lacks any character, even with its descriptions, but as someone who is obsessed with having a team with adequate coverage with moves dealing 70 to 90 base damage across every type, I think it’s better.

…Also, I added new status conditions based on existing ones and merged terrains with weather, while creating new ones. And I started assigning new secondary types to final stage Pokémon with only one type. Because I think Pokémon are better when they are multiracial.

Akumako: “Just like people!”

…Is this how I’m going to end this week’s Rundown?

Akumako: “Yes, it is!”


Progress Report 2023-10-22

…Actually, Luminescent Platinum raised another issue I have with most Pokémon games in the past decade. I’ll talk about that next week. The Rule of 200 to 250.

2023-10-15: Tax Hell, so no work was done on VD2.0.

2023-10-16: I decided to read Body Switched instead of working on VD2.0. Will it give me inspiration for later changes? WHO KNOWS! …Me. I know!

2023-10-17: I was busy buying a house, piss off, Geo!

2023-10-18: Alright! Wrote 5,300 words today, because I had the day off of work. Would’ve done more, but I got distracted by a work project I chose to do, and Pokémon Luminescent Platinum.

2023-10-19: I slept until 11:00 because my mother wasn’t home to wake me up. I spent 3.5 hours going to a doctor’s appointment and coming back home. And I decided to almost finish this Rundown before going to bed. No VD2.0 progress was made.

2023-10-20: I finally got more motivation and was able to add 5,800 words, thus ENDING the draft of Part 1 of 5 of Verde’s Doohickey 2.0. …Which itself is longer than my longest novel. Damn. Also, got started on Dragalia Lost V3 Re;Works, which… I just need to FINISH! Most of the hard work is done, I just need to write formal text and clean crap up.

2023-10-21: Oppsie doodle! I earned 8 CPE credit hours by taking an exam, then I started work on next week’s Rundown and wrote 4,000 words. By the time I was done with that and showering, it was already 21:40, so I said screw it and got another 6 CPE credit hours before going to bed. …I need to get 24 CPE credit hours a year, and I only became eligible to take them starting in September.

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

…Yeah, I’m going to need to do ANOTHER delay for this project at this rate. I’ll announce that after I move into MY HOUSE!

Current Word Count: 142,355

Estimated Word Count: ~700,000

Total Chapters: 75

Chapters Outlined: 42

Chapters Drafted: 17

Chapters Edited: 0

Header Images Made: 0

Days Until Deadline: 220

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. skillet

    Everytime a new Pokémon game comes out, I briefly consider getting into it competitively because it’s basically the only relevant, competitive, turn-based RPG that’s not a card battler (my reaction times are far too slow for anything else), but then I realize how excruciatingly tedious it would be to make even one competitive team (much less mix it up later) and I give up. The barrier for entry is so artificially high that my only guesses are that TPC/GF either *want* to gatekeep the competitive scene, or they themselves are ashamed of their mess of a system, and would rather keep all the kids in the dark about its inner workings as much as possible.

    The former would be terribly ironic given that many actual tourney-level players apparently skip the grind altogether and just hack their mons in, and the fact that there’s not an immediately discernible difference in the skill levels of players who do and don’t do so, shows that the current legit method for team building is just a waste of time.

    And the worst part is! You’re so right! PLA *did* kinda fix it! And then they went BACK with SV! Like in every other aspect! Aaaaaa!

    Sorry, I know I’m just telling you things you already know. But I can’t help getting riled up whenever I think about Pokémon for too long, and I needed to express it. While I don’t worry about the technical stuff during single player nearly as much as you, your staunch, sort of absolutist perspective on player responsibility is really insightful and something to consider whenever I fantasize about making games (I don’t know the first thing about making games).

    1. Natalie Neumann

      I played two online battles in HeartGold, and that was enough competition for a lifetime for me. :P
      The competitive Pokémon scene is one that I have not done more than glance at, and I know it has to be a profound mess. TPC and Game Freak have very rigid ideas about what Pokémon should be, and do not want to take the obvious plunge to… just allowing people to customize their teams for competitive play, so it is about SKILL and STRATEGY instead of farming. I think they should… make it the most accessible eSport, and make something similar to Pokémon Showdown in an official capacity. But TPC and Game Freak have long-since stopped doing things that make sense to me…

      “I can’t help getting riled up whenever I think about Pokémon for too long, and I needed to express it” is basically how these sporadic periodic Pokémon tirades happen. When I think about Pokémon for too long, my brain just keeps expanding with ideas on how things could be done differently! IT SUCKS!

      I worry about the single-player stuff because I view Pokémon as a single-player affair, and have gone through so many campaigns that I keep thinking about the hows, whys, and what-ifs. The many ways that the experience could be refined and made better. I do not claim to be ‘absolutist’ when it comes to my thoughts on game design, but… the flaws with this system are ones I have been chipping away at for over a decade at this point. I just want to go on a basic RPG adventure with cute living stuffed animals in a cheery simplistic world. I don’t want to worry about eugenics and how to mathematically properly raise my pets. I don’t think this is a radical perspective, but the mechanics tell me otherwise… They tell me I should be wasting my time with their bullcrap.

      Also, I already drafted a nearly 3,000 segment about Pokémon for next week’s Rundown, so… look forward for that!

  2. Tasnica

    I care about the things you do because you’re a talented person with a lot of passion, and that’s cool. You also have a rather entertaining writing style. I listen to you because you often have interesting things to say. And even though I sometimes disagree with you, sometimes strongly, I try to avoid exclusively listening to people that I agree with.