IntPiPoMo: The End

It’s the end of November, which means it’s the end of IntPiPoMo. I said at the beginning that I wouldn’t have any problems making the goal of 50 pictures, since screenshots count. Well, unfortunately I almost never post from the computer where all my screenshots are, so I only count 29 entries in the past! Can I do 21 in one post?

Of course I can. Should I? Probably not! But I will anyways!

I figure most of these will come from Star Trek Online, not only because it’s the game I’ve played the most, but because it’s one of the most screenshot-worthy games I’ve played. Well, at least for the purposes of IntPiPoMo: I have a bunch from, say, ESO, but most of them are just of amusing dialogs, so I don’t really count them.

Just two admirals shooting the breeze…and the poor adjunct that has to stay and watch…
Ah, the good ol’ Placeholder Nebula
Some people have interesting names for their ships.
Found some ERPers on Old Risa, and I decided to have fun too!
The mission creator was pretty limited, but with some creativity could still create good art.
Need a big guy for those big chairs
Don’t talk to me or my son or my son’s spider ever again
Too early to celebrate?!
Revenge on the tentacle monster?
This really deserved to win the screenshot contest, if I might say so myself.
Even little ships look big from down here.
Put in time-out for being bad.
No one could insert any innuendo into this picture at all.
Whew, close fight!
Kinda want to know what happened here, kinda don’t.

There we go, that should make 50, and then some. Kinda sad I had to make a make-up post like this, but on occasion it’s fun to go through the old screenshots to see what I was thinking about back when.

Some days it just be like this.

Friday Thoughts

-Black Friday is kinda a disappointment. I was hoping to get a PS4 or Switch on a big sale, but no dice. Still sad I missed them last year. PC game sales seem similarly dire. Though I still got two games: Star Traders: Frontiers, and City State. And I’ve actually given the latter a play (verdict so far: I don’t really get it)

-No Granblue Fantasy anime review this week. Not because I didn’t watch it, or that I don’t feel like reviewing it, but because there’s nothing much there. I didn’t even take a single screenshot. The Ferry arc is finished. Gran falls for the headspace attack despite explicitly being warned (and repeating that warning himself); I think the mirror match should have been Djeeta instead. More Gran/Lyria shipping. We get a tiny bit of backstory to Ferry, and Drang.

-Speaking of GBF, the new event is great. Whoever did the writing for this should really get into sports announcing – it’s very hype. Lyria is cute as usual, but also very, very dumb. I’m glad the new kid wasn’t some miracle wunderkind type. While I think it’s great that events are using more already-established characters, I think they went just slightly overboard this time (like, Cathrine wasn’t strictly needed).

Not that I’m going to complain.

-MegaMan event in Dragalia Lost is really lame. I mean, I get that the early games were rather…limited in the scope of the story, but they could have done a bit more here. And just rehashing the dragon fights is super lame.

-World Flipper is pretty fun. I don’t think it’s worth spending any money on, but it’s a fun diversion. I think it’s the first Cygames mobage that actually fulfills the idea of “spend a few minutes here and there playing”. But it’s definitely the D-team here: no co-op lobbies, no quick-join, not even voiced main stories. And of course, not compatible with my Chromebook. Good thing it has cute girls, or else it wouldn’t be worth even downloading and rerolling. But still, fun gameplay. Though I don’t think mixing pinball and bullet hell is the most obvious choice.

Granblue Fantasy S2 E7 Review

Nothing much to say here, because nothing much happened. Lots of walking around. Not much dialog for all that walking around. And then it ends before anything actually happens.

This is just a filler episode, of the worst sort: making things up without adding anything new to the story, just for the sake of having an episode. Not to say that the actual episode itself was bad or anything, but it was just kinda there. (I suppose “worst sort” is a bit of an exaggeration: it’s not a clip show, or something along that line.). It is not necessary at all: this island was only a short stop in the game, so while fleshing it out makes some sense, I don’t think it needed three episodes, like Vira’s story did.

In fact, it almost seems like this episode is literal filler. A lot – but not all – of the character art looks like CG with cell shading – kinda like the gemstone anime from a year or two ago. Things were a lot more consistent scene-to-scene than the season has been in the last several episodes (which I’ve commented on several times). The shading looks different from what I’ve been used to seeing. But sometimes it’s all normal. Makes me think that they split up the last episode into two, and filled in the rest with CG. Maybe I’m just seeing things though.

I guess they did need to fit in the “Lyria befriends Orchis” stuff in there somewhere. In the game it happened in the Lumacie part, where we meet Rosetta and Yggdrasil, which was in the last season. Except that they completely skipped all that, making that part into some business with Lyria getting mindbroken by Pommern, then fixed with the power of love (and Yggdrasil). (Also, Pommern is less maliciously evil in the game, and more of a “ends justify the means” villain.)

But still, doing it like this wasn’t the way to go about it, I think. And it takes away from Ferry’s development – she’s supposed to be the point (and, as will surprise no one, is Drang’s point in being there). Ferry, in the game, is a lot more hostile and bitter, actively keeping the party away from her (siccing monsters on them while running away), because she thinks thinks the whole situation is her fault – she wished Celeste there, so she takes the blame and everyone hates her, etc. The doctor still is there (as Drang points out, it’s silly to think that a primal beast came because a girl was lonely), but Ferry didn’t know about it, let alone had gone through all his books. As such Lyria also did her thing, trying her utmost to befriend Ferry (since no one else was too inclined to be nice to someone attacking them), eventually getting through to her, and everyone was happy, the end. And I wonder if the show will have Ferry join the crew, or if it’s going to completely make up the ending to the arc: in the game, for various reasons Ferry has no reason to stay on the island, so goes on the Grancypher.

And that’s it. Nothing too exciting, for good or ill. Just a middle episode to fill out time.

I can’t believe Io is dead!

The End of Atelier Ryza (For Now)

(I think from the title you can gather that there be Spoilers here.)

So yah, I finally beat it. Actually it was several days ago, but I’ve only now found time to write this little update. As I said previously, I was really hankering to get back into Cities: Skylines, and I figured I was pretty close to the end (they had that “go meet up with everyone important” that often precedes the end bosses in these games), so I decided to run for it.

My gear at that point was pretty good, I thought. I’d gotten some things to 999 quality, and even if I couldn’t get everything there, I could get pretty high up there. I didn’t bother with reforging my gear though, since a lot of the best stuff is apparently post-game materials, and I didn’t want to have to bother with the entire process of remaking things later. On top of that, I just went with the accessories that I had equipped as I was going through the game: they hadn’t made that much of a difference at that point, so I figured I was strong enough to just use what I had, and went for the final boss.

Well, I was wrong. My weapons were strong enough, but the armor wasn’t good enough. Considering I wasn’t even close to the top tier there, made sense. So I went and made some new armor (at a higher tier, but I didn’t bother min-maxing it, since I was playing on Normal), and then went back and tried again.

Back when I did Atelier Lulua, I had quite the difficulty with the final boss. I think I beat it the first time, but it was by the skin of my teeth, after a significant amount of preparation, I thought. This time, I went in with little direct preparation, and while I didn’t get it the first time, I did get it the second go pretty easily. Well, it was also close. I didn’t anticipate the second form, so that was a fun deflation from the feeling of victory after I defeated the initial form. (And I expected it to get back up after the final victory, the way the camera hovered over the boss for a bit.) I think it was more that the Lulua boss had a bunch of annoying mechanics, and that I wasn’t nearly as effective with alchemy throughout the game as I should have been. But also there was that anticipation I had, reading the guide online. For Ryza, there was (and at the time of writing, still is) no boss guide, so I just went with whatever.

That didn’t take too long, so I was excited to move on to the next game. But we weren’t done yet! I expected that the resolving the last conflict (restoring the island’s power) would be a pretty simple deal, over in just a little bit. But no, there’s actually a whole new quest dealing with that. And, while this wasn’t quite the post-game, the first step to end-game crafting came at this point, with which the unlimited gem engine could begin (duping red stones, then using those to make philosopher’s stones, then reducing those for gems for a very high gem profit).

But, all things must come to an end. And the ending to this is rather sudden, at least for Ryza. Everybody decides that they’re moving on after this, literally. Empel and Lila of course are travelers, and since they’ve accomplished their goal here (sealing the portal), they are off to do the next one. Lent is going out adventuring, which was always his goal. Surprisingly, Tao and Bos are leaving together to go to university, to better understand the ruins and all that. And of course Klaudia is moving on with her dad, now that the business deals have been finalized. Which just leaves Ryza: the one who wanted to leave home the most is the one that ends up staying.

Well, at least for the time being. After all, we have to leave room for DLC, and a sequel. Scuttlebutt is that the next game in the trilogy will be another Ryza game. This game has been, by far, the best-selling Atelier game, and obviously Gust wants to capitalize on it. And unlike all the other protagonists, there is just a lack of finality to this story. A lot of “well, goodbye…until we meet again!” moments in the ending. And while there’s a lot unresolved with the island, which is Ryza’s nominal reason for sticking around, it isn’t anything that couldn’t be resolved off-camera between games. So there’s no story reason to not get another Ryza game.

The game feels pretty short, to be honest. I beat the game with 37 hours of play time, which is less than all of the other Atelier games on my Steam account (the next-shortest, Atelier Sophie, was 42 hours). Granted, I did no DLC content at all (since none had come out until today), but that’s still pretty quick. And I also spent a lot more time (I feel) on alchemy and getting good at that.

I think part of it is that it’s so easy to avoid combat and just go with alchemy – I wasn’t even at the final combat level of 50 when I beat the last boss, which, from what I gather, is not common, since it’s easy to grind combat levels. The new system with the alchemy bottles means that you can get materials from gathering that you would normally only be able to get from monster drops. That just makes things go a lot faster. And combat in general is just faster-paced, with the ATB-like system: turns out a lot of time is spend going through menus in battle in these games, which you can’t really do here.

And in general the story seems a lot more fast-paced than the previous games. Here it almost seems to happen in one season: at the beginning of the game, there’s talk about how it’s almost drought season, and at the end it’s a race to beat the boss before said season (because the enemies hate water). But the events of the game can’t logically fit in that time period. Just Ryza’s growth on its own puts a lie to that notion: she goes from nothing to great alchemist during the course of the game (as usual); unless she’s Alchemy Jesus, there’s no way that’s plausible. (And she’s not – Empel praises her for her talents, but in no way does he indicate that she’s anything particularly special, unlike Sophie or Totori.) I think it’s just that the feeling of urgency in the game makes the game seem to go by faster.

Speaking of DLC (we were?), the first batch dropped today. The standard extended music selection (with music from all the Atelier games, and some of the other recent Gust games), some weapon skins, and Lent’s and Tao’s side stories. Also being sold is a season pass, which gets the above, character stories for the rest of the main cast, a beach episode, a new super-hard zone, and swimsuit costumes. Each of the side stories (except maybe the beach episode) will be $6, so I’m thinking I’ll do that instead of the season pass (which is $55). No sign of new characters yet, and I don’t recall seeing them on the Japanese road map.

Overall, a good game. I’ve said many times that I don’t like paying full-price for a game, or even close to full-price, but this was worth it for me. It was a change to the formula, but I think it was for the better. I look forward to seeing the new games in this series.

Granblue Fantasy Anime S2 Ep. 6 Review

Last week there was no review, because the episode was a “rerun” – it’s from last season, but wasn’t showed. Halloween episode, all that. Didn’t really feel the need. But it did spoil Ferry, for the few people that watch this only on TV and don’t play the game.

But this week we’re back to the main plot. Honestly, it was kinda meh to write about, just set-up for the next episode or two. There were some funny moments, some characterization, and slightly moving forward with the plot, but otherwise not much there.

The story starts out with the Grancypher being pursued by an Imperial ship, which has somehow been upgraded to LAYZORS weaponry. Normally this sort have thing has never been a problem – the crew is hunted by the Empire, but the Grandcypher’s whole shtick is that it’s really fast, so as long as they’re traveling, they’re safe from other airships. But whatever, they end up hiding in some misty island, crashing (as one does), but otherwise OK. The Imperials don’t pursue, because it’s CURSED! No one that goes in ever goes out…

The adults in the crew go to fix the ship, while the others go into town to get supplies. Somehow, this isn’t seen as even potentially a bad idea; Katalina feels that Gran is enough to protect Lyria, after all. There is some very small bit of light shipper bait between Rackam and Katalina, like in the game actually, but after the huge yuri bait the last few episodes you’ll not be surprised that this is nothing and goes nowhere. Lyria et. al. end up in the spooky haunted town, which is inhabited entirely by zombies, much to Lyria’s initial dismay.

Turns out the town was experiencing a plague a century ago, but then the ghost ship Celeste showed up and everyone died and became zombies. The island became covered by a mystical mist which makes navigation out impossible – this is what broke the Grancypher, and this is keeping in the other recent arrivals, Sturm, Drang, and Orchis

This is apparently the place Drang wanted to go after the last episode. Well, now we know that it’s because there’s some treasure here that Drang is after, or at least that’s what he claims. How he heard about it, nobody knows. And, he somehow knows that Celeste isn’t a ghost ship, but a primal beast, which makes it pretty fortuitous that Gran and Lyria are on the scene.

Despite the absolute fishiness of Drang’s story, they all go out to look for some doctor who might have a clue about it. Lyria tries to befriend Orchis, just like she always tries with the weirdos, but Orchis isn’t having any of that, putting on her best emotionless doll impression. But then Lyria finds another weird girl, who only she and Orchis can see, who is totally not a ghost (SPOILER: she’s a ghost). As soon as Lyria reaches out to her, everyone can see her, which is apparently quite shocking. This being, who Drang names Ferry, doesn’t remember anything about herself, but has been to the location of the doctor they’re all looking for. The doc isn’t in, but all his books and such are, all of which Ferry has read in the past century.

Turns out this doctor came to the island a hundred years ago to do something with Celeste in the hopes of immortality. As these things tend to go, it involved human sacrifice, and turned out different from how the doctor thought – the spooky ghost ship look for Celeste should have tipped him off. Ferry is on the case – she’s been looking for the human sacrifice – a girl and her father – and won’t stop looking even if it takes a hundred years more! Oh, and all this exposition apparently was boring Celeste, who takes this moment to attack.

As I said, pretty much setup for what’s to come. I don’t know if this arc has enough meat in it for more than one more episode. MAL has this show listed as 13 episodes, but I don’t know if that counts last week’s episode, and I don’t know if it counts the inevitable Djeeta episodes that probably won’t air, but will be in the blurays. But next week we have the big fight with Celeste, and more stuff about Ferry.

Friday Short Thoughts

Me too.

I just don’t know what to think anymore. With all the paid shills, bot shills, and blind fans, mixed with blind haters, counter-shills, and general cynicism of the internet in general, I can’t figure out what to think about most any game, but the new Pokemon main games in particular. I wasn’t fixing to get them or anything – I don’t even have a Switch, for starters – but there’s a whole lot of opinions out there, with completely contrasting views. Some are easy to get – Pokemon has been getting more casual lately, which is somehow possible, so I get those complaints with those games. And I get the graphics complaints, and general cut corners complaints seem to be almost universal. But whether those matter, in the end? I can’t figure it out.

It doesn’t help that people in general compare the Pokemon games to other Pokemon games, and not contemporary games in general. Some of that is, again, understandable – people who’ve liked previous games in a series want to know how new ones stack up to what they know. But even general purpose reviews do this too, for their final analyses, which are what the marketers and general audiences actually seem to base their decisions on.

I’ve never actually used her at all.

It greatly amuses me when people get all mixed up between fictional characters (especially cartoon characters) and real life. Recently, GBF got a new playable character, Kou. He showed up in an event last year, and he was pretty popular with certain segments of the fandom, for various reasons. Of course, as an anime boy, he’s portrayed with a certain attractiveness, like 99% of all non-joke anime characters. He even has a somewhat sensual artwork (which I’m not going to link because I don’t have a proper screenshot I made, and it’s an IntPiPoMo post), with a potentially provocative implication behind it. So far so good, right? Well, with these new characters comes a profile, which often includes the age. And Kou is twelve! The twitter/reddit fans got all sorts of indignant, claiming how gross this all is, etc. As if liking this one picture suddenly makes one a pedo or something. And it isn’t as if that hadn’t been Kou was about that age from the first event, let alone this one – his look and actions fit a lad about that age, in both events, even if he is a bit more serious than usual. But no, now it’s unacceptable, as there’s a number.

Get the same sort of reactions, from the same sorts of people, whenever this happens. It’s just a cartoon mate, no problem (especially if there’s no porn). Same thing with any other anime character. Ryza’s age was recently revealed to be 17, and some wag went on /v/ to see if they would react the same (never mind the fact that “she has to be 18 or it’s pedo” is a very California/New York thing, not even true in most of the US, let alone the world). Of course, it being /v/, that bait was not taken, but instead reversed: what an old hag! can’t like her anymore! etc. That’s the proper seriousness with which one should take their animu waifus.

That’s why you wait until you’ve seen them, duh.

Man, I really want a pizza. I’ve had maybe one pizza since my surgery back in September (I can’t actually remember), when I used to have one about once a week. But what I want is a Detroit deep dish, not just any pizza. There aren’t any places around here that do that, at least not that I’ve seen, and not at 10pm for sure. Well, there’s Little Caesars, but that’s it, and understandably not what I’m rally going for here. But I guess it will have to do. There used to be a place right by my house, that was pretty cheap, actually pretty good, and had a good variety, including this style (though I think most people call it “pan” pizza, but that also seems to mean different things to different places). But that place got bought out by a more boutique joint (which I think went under itself, since there’s a new name). What I really would like is a Shakey’s around here – I know people are down on it, but I like that style. Obviously not a pan pizza, but it would be a frequent stop of mine in general, if there happened to be one around here.

I also see that I already have a Pizza tag. Nice.

Scale in Vidyas: A Rant

One of the things I enjoy in life in general is knowing the scale of things. I’m a pretty visual person, so that allows me to get a better grip on things, and allows me to play with it in my imagination. It’s one thing to know that X ship is Y meters long, but knowing how it looks next to other things helps me to get that picture in my head.

And, when scale is established, in whatever sort of art, I like it to be right. If it’s something that uses an already-established world, I like things to be consistent – one thing I have against all Trek after 2009. Another thing I dislike is how some things are stated, but the visual evidence is counter to it. Mostly what I’m talking today about concerns city stuff, especially in city builders.

When a game has negative achievements.

It grinds my gears more than a little when a place in a game is said to be a great city, a small town, or anything in between, and we don’t see it. Open world games are generally quite guilty of this. Now, I realize that, until fairly recently at least, having a realistically-sized city was practically impossible, for several reasons. A big city, or even a small town, with proper NPC’s, would be very taxing on bad hardware (consoles), and crafting that would be hard on the devs even taking that out of consideration; procedural generation is a possibility, but that’s boring for the player (see Daggerfall). That consolization is a big issue: both Oblivion and Skyrim were heavily impacted by having to fit to X360 and PS3 specs. The Witcher 3 is the best about this, but even there there is some small scaling down in most places.

And then we get to the city builders themselves. Again, there are hardware limitations that we have to consider – for older stuff. But it’s always bugged me that I can’t really make a proper city in something like Cities: Skylines or SimCity 4. I think it might be somewhat possible with SimCity 4, but you have to build it piecemeal, and not have it be one continuous city, with all the gameplay limitations that come with that.

Sounds like a nice place to live.

Cities: Skylines has other issues. Look at the above picture: on the right, there is “low-density” housing: one- or two-story dwellings, with some sort of lawn maybe. On the left, there is high-density housing: skyscrapers and such. If you look closely, those both have the same footprint, generally. That’s crazy. More on that in a bit.

And, if you look on the bottom, with the stats and such, we have 84k people. Obviously, a city of this level of development would have many, many more people. And, if you follow the in-game progression, this is supposed to be a major city; my city irl feels like a mere town, and yet has 100k people. This is something I’m more willing to look past, though: simply add a zero on the end, and it ends up being much more believable and appropriate for the scales the game can reasonably run at.

My bigger problem is with the scaling of space. The devs have given out a scale for this game: 8m per side for a square. That means we can build cities from real life into the game. At least in theory. The above is the main part of my hometown. Each buildable block is 2km x 2km. Thus, the main part of my small town fills almost an entire block, since it is one mile square, which is about 1600m square. Above, you can see the difference between the layout of my irl town, in the right and center, with the normal density of buildings and roads for the game, on the left. Way different. So different, it breaks the game to try to be real.

And, at 8m squares, you get buildings with small footprints. The growable buildings here (the ones the game builds itself) are I believe up to a max of 4×4 squares, maybe 5×5. That gives up to 40m a side, for buildings that are quite tall. Up to, because they tend to have a plot around them. There are plopable buildings (player-placed) that are much bigger, which is ok, but those tend to be limited.

For me, it’s so immersion-breaking to have these huge, hyper-dense cities. I want to be able to rebuild the towns and cities I’m familiar with, to see how traffic breaks, or if the place could survive as it is, in-game. But I can’t. And it bugs me. Oh, how I wish for a city-builder with proper scale! But I doubt it will happen anytime soon, not until the console goes the way of the dodo.

Saturday Short Thoughts (and Pictures)


I discovered something about myself lately: I only have the mental energy to be excited for two, maybe 2.5, games at a time. Since I’m currently playing five or six, I have a problem. I mean, I guess four can go into maintenance mode in my heart doing dailies and such, but what really happens is that I can barely handle five of them, and even the dailies get half-hearted. I mean, I don’t even play Dragalia Lost at (or near) reset anymore, GBF has been just login for the login bonus (not even doing the daily hards or arcanum or any of that). Even in ESO, it’s either going full-tilt into adventure, or barely summoning up the will to finish the daily writs; fortunately the weekend is almost here (I get Sunday and Monday off), and I can dedicate more time into this game. Of course, Ryza gets all my love right now.

I wonder who made those.

For some reason a Cities: Skylines video was suggested on Youtube. I started watching. Then another one. Then a challenge series. Man, now I want to play that game. But Ryza isn’t done yet…no, I have to be strong. This is why I never finished Atelier Lydie and Suelle, because I got distracted! I mentioned in one of my previous posts that C:S might be my game after Ryza, and I think that got a lot more sure.

Smaller ones. Maybe Tao’s doing it.

Speaking of Ryza, I think I’m at the point where things start to really open up. Not only are the enemies a lot harder (I’ve started dying to normal mobs sometimes, again), but I’m opening up more and more advanced recipes. I’ve now gotten all of my gathering tools combined, so I can use all at once. I do need more stuff to actually upgrade said tools to usefulness, but it’s a start. It’s slow going though, because now that I have access to everything I need to spend time doing everything. Good place to be.

That RPG feeling.

Some doofus I follow on Twitter got to go to Japan. Looking at some of his pictures, it looks like the kind of place I’d want to go. Not too foreign, but still a bit different from what I’m used to. (I’m more than a bit of a homebody, so the familiarity is comforting.) But then I see all that Japanese writing, and I’m back to being quite content with reading comics. On a scale of 1-5 descending in Japanese fluency, I’m about an 8. That, and I remember that it’s something like 13-hour flight, and I Nope right out.

Having said that, I’m starting to get that wanderlust feeling again. (I’m a deep and complicated fellow.) This summer, I had to go down to SoCal for my brother’s wedding. Going down, it was hell. I hate traffic. I hate getting delayed by cars going the speed limit – or even slower! (Three lanes on major arterial freeways should be mandatory.) I hate having to push the brake pedal for cars going 1mph slower than me! Argh, so impatient. And it was even worse going into California, because that’s when it got dark and boring. Coming back was still hell in California (actual traffic, even in the desert). But after leaving the state I went off the usual route, taking some more minor highways. Talk about a difference in stress! I think I passed maybe, maybe ten people in total (of course I passed them all); there was a stretch of maybe a hundred miles where I saw nobody going in the same direction (and like one or two in the opposite). That changed my whole perspective on travel. Trouble is, travel takes time. Time I don’t have. Well, I do have, but that takes time away from vidya! Oh, what a wretched state I’m in!

Part of the problem of IntPiPoMo right now, for me, is that of all my games I’m playing right now, only one is on Steam. These I have access to wherever I have my laptop, too, because Steam has a Linux client, and Chromebooks can do that. Not so with my non-steam stuff. So that’s why there’s a lot of Ryza pictures, and not much else (though I could have sworn I uploaded a lot of ESO pictures to my google drive recently…but I guess not).

The Hazards of Buying a New Game

As a general rule, I don’t buy new games. I don’t like paying a lot of money for a game that hasn’t been thoroughly vetted by hundreds or thousands of people, especially anons. That, and I just plain don’t like paying a lot of money for any single game – a decade of Steam sales and used games that give me just as much enjoyment as if they were new doesn’t help me see the point in paying the full asking price of anything. Plus, add in the usual “Ultimate Editions” these days, that tend to have all the DLC, expansions, bug fixes, etc., it makes me really not want to buy a brand new game.

And that last bit is basically the thrust of it. I really don’t like buying incomplete games, and then being asked to pay for the privilege of having the whole thing. I can get behind using DLC as a way to extend the life of a game – more of a good thing is usually better, particularly after there’s been time to fully appreciate what was already offered. A good example of this DLC usage is The Witcher 3: the base game was a whole and complete experience from day one, and then stuff is added to it (and it doesn’t hurt that what was added were pretty much complete games on their own).

Of course, what set this off is Atelier Ryza (after all, it’s one of the few new games I’ve bought in recent memory, and certainly the first within the time of this blog). As previously chronicled, I got this as soon as it was available. As you might expect of a game these days, there is DLC planned for the future. Unfortunately for me, it’s the sort of thing that should have been in the game in the first place.

Some people think that there are going to be more endings added. I don’t think so. I think this is going to be like Atelier Sophie, which only had one, single ending, in a series where one of the few claims to fame was the varied and sundry endings possible, with often ridiculous requirements.

No, what I’m thinking is that there are going to be character stories and playable characters added. There game just feels kinda incomplete with the amount of characters we get: six total. And they’re all “main characters” too – they’re all significant parts of the story. In games like this, you tend to have other side characters that can be part of the party as well. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that there’s plenty of room in the UI for additional spare party members…

But even worse is that it’s pretty obvious just who these DLC party members would be: Bos is the first one, since he all but joins the party at a point in the story (no spoilers needed for that: it’s obvious from the second or third interaction). Then there’s Pamela, who is dressed like an adventurer this time around. Agatha is next because we need a traditional protector/knight type, which is strangely missing in the cast. Last likely candidate is Kilo, for both story reasons, and because she’s the last one that doesn’t have full-NPC-face (if you’ve played the game you know exactly what I mean) and isn’t an old man. (I’ll discount Lumbar, both because he isn’t involved too much in the story, and because he looks like a regular NPC.) At least it’s not as bad as Atelier Lydie and Suelle: one of the major characters, who definitely should have been in the party (since she goes on all the adventures with everyone else) is only playable as DLC.

(An aside: I like how this game hasn’t tried to be cute with, or pointlessly localize, the character names, like so many Japanese translations do. All the silly names are kept intact (like Lumbar), while the names are not changed to be even more “silly” (like Esty Dee…). So often low-quality translations will change the names, just because the translators didn’t think they “sounded right.” Making names more “realistic” or familiar to the Western audience, when that isn’t necessary. Dragalia Lost does this with almost every name: for an extreme example, Rejina, Rojina, and Rujina are changed to Rena, Ramona, and Renee; but even things like Lucas being changed to Luca, or Najaf(u) to Naveed.

However, one strange thing was having “Moritz-san” and “Lubart-san” being translated as “Mr. Brunnen” and “Mr. Valentz”. Normally, it makes sense to translate “-san” as “Mr./Mrs./Ms.”. However, I think it’s pretty significant that people, even prestigious important people like Moriz, or prestigious, important strangers like Lubart, are refered to by their given names, rather than their family names as is usual in Japanese (and Japanese games). So it wasn’t even an east/west culture clash thing, but a whole thing about translators missing the point.)

Not to say that having extra DLC characters is bad or anything, but just that having obvious story characters excluded, either because of lack of time or intentionally just to make more money, is. It’s selling an incomplete game for full price. Same thing with possible game systems. I can’t think of anything here for this game, fortunately, but I’ve seen other games sell whole mechanics as DLC (like ESO selling whole classes).

Now, remember that I said the problem of buying new games. Well, all these obvious DLC’s aren’t even available yet. They almost certainly won’t be by the time I’m done with the game, considering they aren’t out now even in Japan, which had several months lead time. So, do I come back and play a game again, without so much as an alternate ending? No, don’t think so. I rarely ever replay games, especially long, linear jrpgs. No matter how much I like it, I doubt I’ll be coming back to Atelier Ryza after I beat it. So all that DLC effort, which I want, and am missing, will be wasted. Sad!

This guy at least has a unique face, so maybe he has a chance too.

Time For Pictures

Over the past several days, I kept seeing stuff about this NaNoWriMo thing on blogs and Twitter and whathaveyou. I’ve never seen this before, but there are a lot of these sort of promotion things. I figured it had something to do with writing, since it was up on blogs and author Twitters, but I wasn’t sure what it really is. Another sort of blog writing thing (didn’t we just have Blaugust?)? A generic writing thing? I was too lazy to just google it, though, so I just left it at that.

Well, I came across something else somehow, and learned what this stuff is. It’s for novelists. That explains a lot. But it definitely isn’t something for me. Not only is 50k words alone a big NOPE from me, but a novel doubly so. While it may be true that everyone has at least one story in them, it’s definitely not that they have a novel in them. Including me. I can write competently, but not in a terribly interesting manner. Or rather, not in a way that would make a book interesting; I’m much more for short-form, informational stuff, in an informal setting. Maybe; you be the judge of that.

So that’s a bust, but there is something I can do: IntPiPoMo! When I saw that, I thought it was another nice thing…until I saw that screenshots count! It’s like a blogging festival made just for me. Screenshots are a thing I do.

And the best part is, I don’t even need context! Not that that’s ever stopped me before, but it has slowed me down a tad, since I generally try to post stuff that fits first, before going to the random stuff just to break up some paragraphs. So, let’s get the show on the road, with some screenshots by Yours Truely:

A related aside: I’m a bit bummed that Steam took away that nice feature that showed a pop-up after you closed a game, where you could put your screenshots from that session on the cloud. Now it has to be done from the Screenshots section of your profile, manually. Which means I have to remember to do it.

I still use Althemia over Gleo, because many of her bones are indeed alluring.
Ok, an actual original picture: That time I forgot I didn’t have a pizza cutter, even though I was sure I actually had one.