Rundown (11/19/2023) So Long Old Home! + The Big Verde’s Doohickey 2.0 Update

  • Post category:Rundowns
  • Reading time:49 mins read
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This Week’s Topics:

  • Saying goodbye to my childhood home
  • The much-needed update on Verde’s Doohickey 2.0
  • A possession fiesta for all the boys and one girl
  • A slightly squirrelly acquisition
  • NetEase’s 11th new studio
  • Meandering musings of a controversial topic
  • Oh shit, Class of ’09 really blew up
  • The Last of Us is back…

Rundown Preamble Ramble:
So Long Old Home!

Hello everybody, Natalie Neumann is here for yet another unedited Natalie.TF Rundown introduction video! The second of its breed, and marking my first filmed appearance in… crap, has it been a year and a half already? Maybe I should do these video introductions more often. But I’d need a webcam…

Anyway, I’ve got not one, but two preamble topics this week, because both of them are pretty darn important. But first, let’s talk about my personal news. I am moving out of my childhood home! Yes, I talked about how I became a homeowner last month, but this upcoming week, I am finally moving into my new home! Meaning this is the last opportunity I will have to film in this bedroom— the only bedroom I have ever known.

There is a certain melancholic feeling that comes with leaving a place like this… but I’m also ready for a change. I have lived in the same darn room for so dang long, and looking out the same damn drafty window. So, naturally, there are a lot of little things about the layout of the old home that annoy me, and are fixed in the new home. 

For example, the placement of my desk, angled next to the door like this, kinda sucks. I won’t need to walk downstairs to use the secondary bathroom or access the laundry room. The kitchen layout is way, way nicer. And my bedroom will be significantly bigger, complete with a walk-in closet… that I will put an exercise bike inside of, because where else is it supposed to go? The insulation and build quality is also just… better, because the building is over 40 years newer than the old house.

And as a location… it’s in a pretty ideal spot. Suburbia is a trap that forces people to be dependent on cars, but if you live in the downtown of the suburbs… you can at least get most of what you need just by walking. I can finally fulfill the un-American dream of walking to the grocery store, pharmacy, post office, and bank…

However, I know I will still miss this place. It is ingrained in my memory, it is home within my mind, but I’m 29-years-old— it’s actually my birthday when I’m filming this— Happy Birthday Natalie! And it’s time for me to move on with my life. 

…And here I originally wanted to promise a recording of me in my new home next week, but the move date got delayed so… look for that before the end of the year, I guess.

Rundown Preamble Ramble:
The Big Verde’s Doohickey 2.0 Update

I rushed to make relevant outfits sprites just for this header, and stopped before adding another six characters.

Oh gosh, why did I promise this in the same week as the filmed Rundown…

Verde’s Doohickey 2.0 has been my big project this year, and one that I have been making strides with periodically. Production began on February 4, 2023 when I first started creating the outline, and for the first month, I was on a roll with it. I wrote over 65,000 words of outline of various chapters in about three weeks. And I wrote 50,000 words of character background and lore within 15 days back in June! With progress like that, I established a pretty good tempo for this project!

…But then I kept working on other projects. This includes narrative projects, reviews, the time vampire that was Dragalia Lost V3 Re;Works, and expanding Rundowns with the introduction of weekly TSF Showcase segments.

Because of my many other Natalie.TF priorities throughout this year— culminating in over 400,000 words of published writings— I have not been able to give Verde’s Doohickey 2.0 my full attention. Additionally, this project has also been subjected to a rather extreme example of scope creep. Before I had an outline, I thought the story would be about 100,000 words— a pretty reasonable length for a novel. 

But since then, the project has ballooned into a 5-part 500,000 to 700,000 word saga. Of which, I have only drafted the first part, which is a resounding 142,000 words. Furthermore, I have only written full outlines for about half of the chapters, need to prepare dozens of header images, and need to edit everything! And not with my usual proofread and grammar check edit. I’m going to need to text-to-speech the entire bloody thing.

I previously assigned myself the publishing deadline of May 29, 2024. That is the day I need to start releasing this story,  one chapter a day, in order to tell this massive story in real time. As of the publication of this Rundown, that gives me 192 days to do everything… and that is simply not enough time. Even if I wrote 5,000 words a day, which is not sustainable for me, that gives me only 80 days for editing, outlining, art production, and everything else

As such, I am going to need to announce a delay. Verde’s Doohickey 2.0: Sensational Summer Romp – Act 4 and Act 5 will not be released until July 18, 2025.

However, Verde’s Doohickey 2.0: Sensational Summer Romp – Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3 will retain their original release dates, and will be released starting on May 29, 2024. 

This means I will need to write approximately 280,000 words, edit 420,000 words, outline 6 chapters, write an additional 30 of 47 total chapters, and create 52 images within 192 days. Do I think I can do that? Oh, totally. No problem, dude! It’s not like I have shit else planned for Natalie.TF in the first half of 2024. (I actually don’t. Expect this site to be a ghost town.)

Some might be wondering why I need to get everything done by May 29, 2024. My true deadline would be the day of the last chapter, August 15, right? Well, yes, that is technically true, and that would afford me an extra 78 days. 

But the math there still doesn’t add up, and I have another project that MUST be released starting November 5, 2024 (Election Day). That project is my much anticipated Psycho Shatter 1988 (Working Title). Psycho Shatter 1988 is still in the ideas phase, has no outline, and would require additional research into the racial dichotomy of America during the late 1980s to write the story properly. There is absolutely no way it could be written in less than three months, especially during tax season. Five months though? Yeah, I can do that.

I hope everybody understands my decision. I want to make as much quality work as I realistically can, but I made the mistake of lending myself unrestrained creative control, and my ambition got the better of me. I have filled Verde’s Doohickey 2.0 with some of my favorite ideas of all time. Even in this unfinished form, I am confident in saying it is an amalgamation of everything I have learned and loved in my first decade of writing fiction. And I would love to give it to you sooner, but… these things take time, and somebody needs to talk about inane TSF bullcrap! 

…Speaking of which…

TSF Showcase 2023-38
P(ossession)-Party by Asagiri (ts-complex2nd)

Okay, let’s see… the TSF well has been pretty dry regarding hotness I want to talk about. Either it is too long for me to really justify going through for a segment in a Rundown, or I just aren’t finding new stuff that I want to talk about. Which is partially my fault, as I just have not been scouring for TSF comics, like, at all. So… let me dig into my vault again, try to avoid any of the standby artists for the time being, and— Ah drats, this is another oldie! It started in 2009, which is not that old, but I operate on the idea that something becomes retro after 10 years.

P(ossession)-Party is a 187 page four chapter series by Asagiri of the circle ts-complex2nd, which has been consistently releasing TSF comics, mostly possession and bodysuit works, for 15 years. I probably could do some sort of broader retrospect on them if I really wanted to, but not all of their works are translated, and this series alone is pretty bulky, so… let’s get started.

The comic follows a group of three high schoolers: Ryouta, Kazuma, and Shoutarou, who inexplicably have the ability to possess people, without the use of any fancy doohickeys or magics. But rather than use this power to amass riches and shape governments to their liking, they use it to go on weekly “P-Parties,” which simply stand for possession parties. As part of these parties, one friend acts as the ‘Hostess’ by preparing a meeting place for their sexual festivities. The other two act as guests, who are just along for the ride until it’s their turn. And everybody possesses a woman of their preferences, derogatorily referred to as a ‘dress.’

While possessing these women, they show zero regard for who they are, their reputation, or whatever their lives were. They flaunt their bodies as they see fit, use them for their own sexual gain, and spend all the cash they have in their purses on sex toys and fancy food. They aren’t necessarily malicious— they don’t try to ruin their lives— but they are inarguably a bunch of selfish and indulgent boys. Ones who only care about drunkening themselves on the wanton bliss of experiencing such highs in such a variety of bodies. And like a bunch of drunkards, once they are sufficiently satisfied, they take off their dresses, return home, and make plans for their next party.

This is seen in its more typical form in the first chapter, which sees the boys ‘capturing’ a couple of 20-something-year-old ladies they see walking down the streets in fly winter fashions. They banter about, scoping out bodies to their liking, and have a few cute interactions before reaching their destination, a private restaurant room— I think it’s called a koshitsu— and engage in sexual antics aplenty. It’s a good introduction of the concept, illustrates a night in these guys’ lives well, and has a strong, reckless energy to it, without ever feeling too gross.

This is partially due to the artwork, which I’m not entirely sure how to describe. To me, it looks like a combination of a more ‘standard’ manga art style, but combined with a blobbiness that became more common with the rise of digital art in the 2000s. It makes every character look a bit less real, a bit more cartoonish, and like if you were to touch them, they’d feel squishy. One of the most extreme versions of this can be found in the original ‘potato’ sprites for Higurashi. While Asagiri’s style is far from that example, I could see why the style might be a bit off putting or seem a bit… amateurish. And there are more than a few instances where the artwork does look rough. Faces distort and shift in style, proportions squish, the environment and general perspective of the world range from admirably ambitious to looking… sorta half-assed.

None of which is helped by the fact that the manga uses low resolution pages. Depending on the chapter, they’re 593 by 828 or 595 by 842, and in conforming to such a small canvas, certain details were lost or understated, which is before getting into the text… Thank goodness for Manga Reader.

However, that’s all just the first chapter. Chapter two begins by following the main, or at least the most emphasized, of the three boys, Ryouma, as he captures a female teacher’s body. He uses it to have sex with his unconscious original body— because that’s a normal thing to do— and to steal a few test answers, showing the boys aren’t just not just perverts, they’re cheaters too! Afterwards, the story cuts ahead to Ryouma getting lost on his way to the P-Party and possessing a ganguro gyaru for some train exhibitionism.

These scenes are fairly superfluous to the main story, but the flippant and careless way Ryouma uses his powers like this both gives him some character, and emphasizes the freedom and power that come with possession. The ability to command respect, to act without fear of consequences, to ignore so many social cues and standards, and be seen as someone else just by existing. They capture a sort of thrill unique to possession, as not only can Ryouma be anyone… he can just go ghost and bail on them whenever he feels like it.

20 pages in, we get to the main part of this chapter, where the possession boys— or P-boys as I’m gonna call them— invade a ‘pajama party’ of four girls from their class. As a group of three, they cannot possess everyone, but that means they can use this opportunity to tease the crap out of Yukiko. A brazen and playful girl who was curious about the P-boys’ ‘P(ajama) Party.’ And by ‘tease,’ I meant… basically just rape. They possess her girl friends, act lewd, kiss Yukiko on the lips, molest her for the lulz, and start fingering her while she tries to sleep. Then, at the height of her confusion, the P-boys reveal their powers and identities to her, shocking her… only for her to immediately give into the temptation and join the foursome.

Yukiko is wrapped in bliss, falls unconscious, but rather than just assume it was all a dream, P(ossession)-Party makes the inspired decision to… treat the possession power like an STI. By having sex with the P-boys in her normal body, Yukiko gained the power to possess others, and is positively hyped to join the P-boys on their next P-Party.

I absolutely adore this idea. Yukiko is just as wild and playful as any of the other P-boys, does not think possession is gross or indecent, and is excited to do things like possess a guy, which is super rare for a possession story. She is a gleaming beacon of potential in this story, and represents a promise to make future chapters a bit more daring and bold in the sexual havoc they render.

…Too bad the potential goes untapped.

Chapter 3 is largely themed around a hospital/nurse fetish, seeing Ryouma getting injured and hospitalized for some time, only for Shoutarou and Kazuma to possess some nurses. Wait, sorry, they possess some random women on the street, infiltrate the hospital, and then cosplay as nurses to fuck their friend while he’s recovering. Because that’s definitely something a sane person would do for a friend.

Now, I very much am not a fan of the hospital fetish. The only times I’ve ever gone to a hospital for anything more than an appointment were for a circumcision, and to ‘achieve an intersex state’ via bottom surgery. They simply are not a sexy place to me, and are filled with so many old and sick people that… it’s like the opposite of erotic. 

As such, from a premise alone, I’m not feeling this chapter… and then they throw in an intersex child character with developed breasts and a penis who they call a “futanari.” Normally, I would just pass this off as culturally dumb hentai authors playing into tropes, but the hospital setting only makes this decision all the more uncomfortable. Intersex people (often) have more medical needs than, uh… endosex people, and seeing them fetishized as a feature of hospitals is… just gross.

There’s also the fact that Yukiko is barely in this chapter, abandoned by the P-boys and only coming in near the end, where Ryouma decides to steal her body. There is something to the ideas here, but the execution… sucks. She does not get to play a meaningful role in this chapter, and it almost feels like the creators didn’t want to include her in this story.

That would be the end of things… but then, in September 2021— almost 10 years after the release of chapter 3— a fourth chapter was released! Unfortunately, it has not been translated into English, meaning I can only read the panels to follow along. I could try using an OCR text recognition tool, but with JPGs this small, I doubt it would work. And just from a cursory skim through… I don’t think that there’s much to this chapter. 

It sees Ryouma still in Yukiko’s body, who attracts the attention of a new teacher at the school that moonlights as a miko/exorcist. She is really excited to exorcize the evil spirits out of Ryouma(Yukiko), but right as she celebrates, she gets possessed by Ryouma, who goes to join a P-Party with Kazuma and Shoutarou. …Who just so happen to be in familiar bodies from chapters 1 and 2 as a nifty callback.

They then decide to go out in cosplay, attracting a lot of attention, before heading to the new teacher’s apartment for some beers and sex. The new teacher… resists Ryouma as he starts masturbating in her body (I think), they break off into an orgy, and Yukiko’s spirit shows up to join in on the fun.

The chapter then ends with everybody back in their own bodies, the miko teacher happy with her ‘successful’ exorcism, and some brief epilogues showing that the gang is still a bunch of perverts.

Overall, I think the latter two chapters aren’t anything special… but the first two are. They are indulgent, shameless, prioritize antics and play more than sex, and as someone in the early stages of planning a possession story (that won’t be written for a long while) I found myself taking many mental notes. 

P(ossession) Party captures and executes the idea of a… possession party about as well as I could expect a comic like this could. Its simplistic TF mechanics are a strength that keeps the story fixated on its fantasy. And while I wish the P-boys had more character to share between them, it’s still fun seeing them goof off like a bunch of teenage boys in a power fantasy. It’s an oldie, a goodie, but lost the plot in the sequels.

Also, if you are wondering why the TSF Showcase number just jumped up to 38 this week, I forgot to count the TSF Showcases featured in Rundown (3/26/2023) One Year After Body Swap Terrorism Incident is DOPE! and Rundown (3/19/2023) Natalie Watched A “TSF” Playlist. You would expect an accountant to be good at keeping lists of things, but now when I’m using a darn Word doc…

Annapurna Bought 24 Whole Bits!
(Annapurna Interactive Acquires 24 Bit Games)

Another week, another acquisition, and this time publisher Annapurna Interactive has acquired 24 Bit Games. You all know the drill by now, so let’s go over who these companies are, why this acquisition is happening, and whether or not it’s a ‘good’ acquisition.

Annapurna Interactive is an independent game publisher that aims to be, well, the video game publisher equivalent to its parent company, Annapurna Pictures. A publisher that aims to put out a series of high quality games of some variety of prestige.

Some of their most noteworthy titles include the 2023 puzzle adventure title Cocoon, which garnered oodles of acclaim. The deck-building speedrunner shooter Neon White. The cat game, Stray. The single room timeloop game that people liked until they actually played it (because cowards hate incest), Twelve Minutes. The time-shifting genre-bending narrative adventure game, What Remains of Edith Finch. And the game that people recommend by demanding people play it, Outer Wilds. Not everything they put out hits, but they have a super good track record.

…Well, kinda. 

Annapurna Interactive has a bad trend of bringing on creators who… abuse their developers. Back in March 2022, video game journalists (and no, I don’t mean reporters/bloggers/news writers) People Make Games did an exposé on three developers with a relationship to Annapurna. And when confronted with this fact, Annapurna’s response was to… side with the abusers, more or less.

Meanwhile, 24 Bit Games is a South African game developer who has been quietly acting as a support developer and porting studio for the past decade. They’ve worked on quite a few acclaimed games in their time… but many of them have been published by Annapurna Interactive. 

This is something I’ve seen more than a few times before. Annapurna has a good relationship with a support studio, and needs a support studio to help developers finish games and bring them to every relevant system. It would be better for them to have a developer they own, trust, and control than it would be to go looking for other skilled support studios to help developers. While 24 Bit Games wants to grow as a developer, and the best way to do that is… to sell themselves. They could have tried gambling their fate with a venture capital or private equity firm, but instead they went to Annapurna.

Do I think they’ll be a good home for 24BitGames? Well, so long as nobody at the South African studio isn’t being an auteur or emotionally abusive… actually, no, that will happen. This is the games industry after all, and abuse is so common it’s a wonder why anybody wants to work in this damn industry. …If only video games weren’t so darn cool.

NetEase Still Won’t Stop!
(NetEase Establishes New Studio Worlds Untold)

…And now it’s freaking eleven

Since 2020, NetEase has established WAY too many studios. These include: Sakura Studio, Nagoshi Studio, Studio Flare, and PinCool Inc in Tokyo, GPTRACK50 in Osaka, Jackalope Games in Austin, Jar of Sparks in Seattle, Anchor Point in Seattle and Barcelona, Bad Brain Game Studios in Montreal and Toronto, and the remote studio Fantastic Pixel Castle.

That not being enough, NetEase established the Vancouver-based Worlds Untold this past week. A studio led by Bioware writer and creative director Mac Walters, who was originally attached to Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, but left the project earlier this year. Presumably because NetEase gave him an offer to start up a new studio, a big bag of money, and the ability to leave the winter wonderland of Edmonton. He made the reasonable decision to say yes to the giant tech company, and is working on “AAA action-adventure games with an emphasis on narrative and worldbuilding, creating franchises with endless possibilities.” So, basically another Mass Effect or Dragon Age. …But based on their website, it’s gonna be a Mass Effect.

At this point, my thoughts on these new studios have become routine, so let me boil down my three main points. I’m glad that new AAA games studios are being established, as more studios means more jobs and more potential employers. As a big Chinese tech company, I do not trust NetEase for many reasons. And while I would like to comment on how these studios are run or managed, none of them have produced anything public beyond a studio announcement trailer.

**** The Children
(Natalie Rambles About ‘The Child Question’)

…Okay, this week was super light on news, so let’s discuss something that has been bopping around my mind for a while. 

As a creator, I tend to operate under the idea that nothing is off limits in the world of fiction, and write pretty much whatever I want, with only two major exceptions. One, don’t make anything hateful toward a minority group, which I think is a pretty reasonable call. The language could use some workshopping, but I like to give myself the wiggle room to write stuff like Weiss Vice.  And two, don’t depict minors having sex, which, again, is a very reasonable call.

Well, I say reasonable, but the second one is… kind of an odd rule considering the sorts of things I talk about. For as much as I love Press-Switch and Student Transfer… those games have a lot of scenes where high schoolers have sex. And for as much as I love talking doing TSF Showcase, a lot of the works I’ve covered involve underaged characters in sexual situations, such as the one I just featured a few paragraphs ago..

Now, some might say that if they are high schoolers, they aren’t underage. Which… is a pretty bad argument. Using the Japanese/American standards, students turn 18 during the final half of their final year of high school. Unless the age of every relevant character is explicitly stated, or implicitly stated by certain events, such as graduation or senior prom, then… no, I’m sorry, you did a child porn.

I say this while acknowledging that the idea that someone just becomes okay to have sex with at age 18… is kinda dumb. But nobody has come up with a better system, and this is widely seen as good enough. Besides, nearly everybody who seriously supports the ‘mental age’ or ’emotional age’ arguments is a pedophile at worst and a nomap at best.

…Also, following the 18+ rule means that I only ever did a child porn once, which I addressed by changing around a few numbers and words to fix the issue. And when I eventually get around to the Maple Loves Senpai remake, you bet your ass the story’s going to take place on graduation day. Also, I’m probably not even going to read the original story prior to doing the remake.

Anyway, the topic I actually want to discuss here is how I am against depicting a minor having sex in my stories. Per my own rules, I am not allowed to depict anything where a child character gets fucked… but I can depict a child character getting killed. Which… is kinda dumb when taken to its extreme, and I have in the past.

Scene 03: Seed and Fire of Weiss Vice: Glory Unto Genocide, begins the protagonist in the aftermath of being raped by a pair of government employees, which happened off-screen but, for some inexplicable reason, she is still wearing clothes. After thanking these men for raping her (I promise it makes sense in context), she is then shot in the head, and her body is sent to an incinerator, where she is burned into ash. …Also, the prior scene has children line up for public executions before getting shoved into a garbage truck.

In Bout 11 of Psycho Bullet Festival 2222, one of the antagonists of the story— Peatrice the Genocider— orchestrates an elementary school shooting by brainwashing one of the students. While the shooting goes on, Peatrice masturbates to camera footage showing the brutal deaths of these children.

In Psycho Shatter 1985: Black Vice Re;Birth— my best novel— A child eats a charred penis. The pedophile protagonist eats a child alive. A child eats his mother and then becomes her through a magical flesh cocoon. The pedophile protagonist has truck sex with a child turned adult character off-screen. And a bunch of children die in an inferno of napalm.

This… is really freaking stupid. The fact that it is somehow okay for me to write a story where children are murdered by the dozens— by the hundreds— but I can’t write sex scenes featuring them, is just kinda dumb. Because while any sort of sexual action toward a child is… horrendous, killing one is and should be seen as a bigger and more serious crime. But despite this, the American cultural miasma that I lurk within is one where children… can just be killed in mainstream media, and the death of one is not infrequently used for shock value. But, under no circumstance can they be shown having sex… Well, unless it is done ‘tastefully’ or they are teenagers being portrayed by adults.

Now, I know why all of this is seen as normal. Because the mushy nebulous ‘Christian’ values that have been used to dictate American culture for years have always viewed violence lightly, but sex harshly. Despite violence against other humans being a generally bad thing, and sex being one of the greatest pleasures that life has to offer. …Or so I have been told by the lore.

That is the simplest answer, but it is also deeply… unsatisfying to me.

Akumako: “So, you’re saying you want to write some fuck-shit involving kid characters?”

No, you little devil’s advocate! I just feel that this dichotomy is wrong, as I have this downright terrible habit of lumping violence and sex together, because those are the most commonly derided ‘mature’ subjects. Even though the cultural rules for how they can be presented are vastly different, and it bugs me when systems are inconsistent like that.

Akumako: “Okay. Is that seriously your conclusion? Is that it? Is this just another one of your pet peeves that you bring up every few years?”

…Yeah, I guess so.

Oh Shit, Class of ’09 Really Blew Up
(Natalie Looked At Her Site Stats and Found a Surprise)

The morning I was getting this Rundown ready, I decided to look over my site stats, where I noticed a significant uptick in traffic about three weeks ago. A spike largely driven by my reviews of Class of ’09 and Class of ’09: The Re-Up.

I, naturally, searched the games to find out why that was the case, and found that the games sorta blew up this past month thanks in part to an animated short that garnered over half a million views. Also, a playthrough of The Re-Up saw nearly as many views and… wait, the person who did the playthrough used my header image for the thumbnail. Now, all I did with that image was combine a CG and logo from the game’s files, but that’s still pretty weird to see.

Anyway, this also coincides with the announcement of a Kickstarter for a full-length Class of ’09 anime episode, which… would be pretty dang dope to see. While I have some criticisms about these games, they are mostly hits, extremely funny, and it’s great to see them garnering a larger audience, rather than being something niche. The same thing could be said for a lot of SBN3’s stuff, as this dude has been doing great work since he was… I dunno, 19 or some shit. He should have hundreds of thousands of followers at this point, but algorithms are kinda a bitch sometimes. Copyright too. I know for a fact that not enough people have seen Heaven Ain’t Hard to Find, because that shit got paywalled.

The Least Surprising Remaster Announcement Happened at 6:30 PM on a Friday
(The Last of Us Part II Remastered Announced)

Goldarn it. Just when I thought I was done.

The Last of Us Part II has had a remaster hanging over its head since… it was released basically. And right after the end of the Friday workday in most of the US, Sony sprung a surprise announcement on everyone.

The Last of Us Part II is a game that… I really don’t have the energy to talk about in detail. Not because I played it— I don’t own a PlayStation console— or because I watched a playthrough. But rather… because I dislike the fact the game even exists. I previously discussed my personal grievances with The Last of Us before, but the most recent time was in January 2023

I think the message of its conclusion is downright terrible, and that any continuation of this story is a wrongful continuation. And from everything I heard about the game… it’s just a story about how revenge is a bad thing. How different people have different perspectives. How heroes and villains are a matter of perspective. And… how murder is bad.

I won’t claim that any individual elements of the game are bad, whether it be the script writing, the performances, the visual design, the fidelity, the audio design, the underlying game feel, or the general game design. Because I don’t think they are. But the whole thing— purely conceptually— goes against my principles for storytelling.

Akumako: “…You wrote a story where a cannibal pedophile becomes a god.”

Yes, and any sane reader realizes they are a bad person from the get-go, and they remain a bad person throughout the story. There is no moral ambiguity there to mislead people into thinking that saving their family is worth committing genocide, which is the ultimate moral message of The Last of Us.

Akumako: “Just talk about the remaster, you fucking idiot.”

The feature list for this enhanced re-release are as follows:

  • New roguelike survival mode featuring different playable characters.
  • New mode where the player can jam out using a guitar and other instruments.
  • Incomplete lost levels with creator’s commentary, explaining what the developers were aiming to achieve, and why these sections were cut
  • Creator’s commentary mode across campaign cutscenes
  • Improved resolution and framerates
  • Improved load times
  • DualSense controller features
  • New accessibility features

Overall, it’s actually more than I would expect from a remaster— that roguelike mode would normally be paid DLC for any other game, and I think the inclusion of lost levels is… actually super dope. I love it when developers are allowed to share their creative process like this, and knowing how much polish Naughty Dog put into their titles, I’m sure that this alone would be enough for some people to buy the game.

On that note, The Last of Us Part II Remastered is launching for PS5 on January 19, 2024. Owners of the original game will be able to digitally upgrade to the remaster for a reasonable fee of $10. Also, I would not be surprised if a PC release is announced at The Game Awards. It seems like something Sony would do. It’s a good way to show one of their biggest games to 80 million people.

Progress Report 2023-11-19

This past week, Lachlan Snell of Lached Up Games (developer of Max’s Big Bust) sent me an email saying that his latest game, My Mad Scientist Roommate Turned Me Into Her Personal Robotic Battle Maiden?!? was complete. I bought the game back during launch to support him, but wasn’t sure if I was going to review it. …But when a developer sends me an email asking me to check out a game, and it looks like something I’d enjoy, I’m gonna review it. …Eventually! Even if the UI is… whatever the heck this is.

2023-11-12: 5,100 words written for TSF Series #018. Meaning the story is about 50% done at just under 11,000 words. Like most Sundays, I spent a good chunk of time watching a movie with Cassie and writing a bit for a movie Ramble. Also, I built a stool, screwed up something, and had to reassemble it.

2023-11-13: I threw in a bit over 3,000 words to the 2023 ramble, because I needed a silly reprieve, and wrote 5,100 words for TSF Series #018. The climax is over, but I need to write two smaller chapters to cap things off. Also, I wrote 1,200 words for the Rundown for good measure before going to bed. Hey! That’s an over 9,000 day!

2023-11-14: I did the 1,700 word TSF Showcase— and I chose P(ossession)-Party because I wanted something brief… And then I did 1,800 words for TSF Series #018, nearing the ending, but having concerns about how it should play out.

2023-11-15: Finished the draft for TSF Series #018 by adding another 1,400 words. It was hard finding the right ending for the story, so I wrote two. A main ending and an epilogue. Then I deliberated if I needed to make artwork for each chapter… and said yeah, I should. 

2023-11-16: Today, I worked on this Rundown, adding in the three core topics, making three sprite images, and I also made 5 of 7 chapter images for TSF Series #018.

2023-11-17: I spent the morning and early afternoon working on the video for this Rundown, including subtitles. I also lied about it being unedited, as I thought the phone audio would sound bad, and it did. So instead I swapped in the audio from my microphone. Finished the 7 images for TSF Series #018. And edited all of TSF Series #018. Also, I decided to release it yesterday, instead of December 20th, because it was DONE and was meant to be a birthday present for me.

2023-11-18: My entire afternoon was dedicated to cleaning up my new house, and I was super tired after dinner. But I did read the subject for the next week’s TSF showcase and worked on the 2023 Ramble. I rewrote 1,500 words of faffing into 500 words and added… okay, it’s hard to gauge this, as my progress is non-linear, but I found a bunch of topics I wanna talk about. Also, I’m doing the 2023 Ramble BEFORE I start on VD2.0. Why? ‘Cos I feel like it. Current progress is 11,300 words on that document. It’s maybe halfway done.

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

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: 192

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. skillet

    Adding onto the part about Class of 09: I definitely came across it a few times recently in my Twitter and TikTok feed before the animation came out, and that played a big part in making me wanna play it. So I assume at least *some* other young’uns found out through similar means, which makes the release of the animation seem, to me, like a case of lucky timing in order to really help it blow up beyond a few “haha what is this game!?” posts. Naturally, the next step was to look into your coverage of it.

    1. Natalie Neumann

      Ah, I guess it makes sense why I didn’t know about it though. I stopped using Twitter a few months back and don’t use TikTok. I’d make some comment about the youths and their ways, but I was never ‘with it’ even as a middle schooler. :P
      It strikes me as a bit odd that Class of ’09 blew up after the release of the successor, rather than the original, but I guess Wrath Club’s publishing efforts might have given it a stronger social media push.
      By the way, congrats on starting HRT. Welcome to the club, girl! :D

      1. skillet

        Yeah, it all looked organic enough at the time, but in retrospect, maybe it is a little too conveniently timed to be *just* luck… or maybe not. You’re bound to get a good roll eventually if you’ve been doing it as long as Wrath Club has.

        Also, thank you! Some of your posts have proven really insightful regarding the topic. And they’re just fun to read!

  2. Tasnica

    Regarding fictional sex and violence regarding young characters, I completely agree with you that there’s a huge cultural difference in how they’re treated. And that said difference isn’t necessarily coming from logical, well thought-out reasons.

    Personally, I’m fine with both existing. I think that, like with other forms of fiction, sometimes they’re done very tastelessly. And sometimes they’re purely catering to cheap thrills or taboo interests. And sometimes they genuinely add something to the story, creating something unique or even insightful. In other words, you have your trash, you have your “guilty pleasure” trash, and you have your diamonds in the rough.

    That all being said, you can call out a societal double standard, and/or be cool with something existing, without engaging with it yourself. And I’d encourage you not to, if it makes you uncomfortable. It’s totally fair to draw whatever distinctions you want in your own works and interests, however arbitrary they might be. Indeed, personal taste often is arbitrary, from an outside perspective, and that’s one of the things than make people unique.

    1. Natalie Neumann

      It’s the fact that there is not a logical reason for this cultural difference that annoys me to no end, and is part of the reason why I fall down this mental quagmire every few months…
      On the receiving end, I have a very hard shell and something needs to be really gross and tasteless before I find issues with it. Which should be no surprise considering some of the things I talk about on this here site. Is it trash, a guilty pleasure, or a diamond in the rough? I dunno, as those are pretty subjective measurements in my opinion.
      I’m pretty comfortably with my stance of ‘I’ll read and talk about stuff featuring minors in sexual situations, but I’m not gonna make any of it.’ I just never will fully get over this double standard implemented in society…

      1. Tasnica

        I spent much of my childhood asking “Why?” regarding all sorts of social/cultural things that just seemed to be the way things were done, as opposed to having a highly relevant logic behind them. I eventually learned to just roll with whatever the first answer given was, as pushing further rarely achieved any productive results.

        Consequently, I’ve kind of just… gotten used to not getting why various things are the way they are. On the bright side, this also tends to make me rather patient and understanding with people, as the things they do that make no sense seem no worse than the things everyone else is doing that make no sense.

        And of course I dive down the occasional rabbit hole from time to time, just to keep that part of my brain satisfied, though that usually just results in me knowing some highly specific details about a wide variety of topics, while having a poor broader understanding of said topics as a whole.