The Other Pokeauthors, Part 89

“I also thought [past tense] was normally how people wrote their stories… But you know, the people in my writing group are published… so I just didn’t say anything, because they were published and all big and mighty, and I am just a small fanfiction writer. Like this is an example they yelled at me for:

My writing: She swung her axe with a mighty roar, colliding with her enemy and bashing into their armor.

Their example: She swings her axe roaring loudly, hitting her enemy as it broke their armor.”

o_o

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Downtime

Yo, I’m aware the site went down. Overnight there was a massive CPU spike that used up our bandwidth for the whole month (!!!). I’m trying to figure out exactly what happened — hopefully it was a rogue plugin and not a vengeful fanfic writer.

FYI.

edit: Found the rogue plugin, should be good now.

Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Shadowrun: Hong Kong

You know how long-running horror franchises would inevitably have an installment set IN SPACE in a desperate attempt to cling to life by introducing a superficial new element that doesn’t actually fit the genre? Well, Shadowrun is an old TRPG that can be accurately described as cyberpunk but WITH MAGIC. In 2012 magic came back, a large percentage of people turned into various fantasy races, many animals mutated into mythological beasts, people learned to summon and bind spirits of nature, dragons awoke from their millennia-long slumber and decided that running corporations is a good substitute for hoarding gold. Meanwhile, technology advanced in a classic cyberpunk fashion: prosthetics enhancing your abilities beyond human limits, cybernetic implants allowing full-immersion link to cyberspace inventively called the Matrix, etc.

These events resulted in a weakening and sometimes outright collapse of governments, with corporations essentially taking their place and running the world in an orgy of wild capitalism.

The game takes its name after shadowrunners, the presumed PCs, who are essentially freelance black books operatives hired by various corporations, organized crime syndicates and individual clients as deniable assets to do various shady jobs.

Honestly, my knowledge of the setting is rather limited, and I would appreciate someone chiming in on it. From what I’ve seen of it, it feels that sometimes Shadowrun strikes gold in its design (like how it has literal lizard people dragons – a classic metaphor for greed and malice – essentially running the world through corporate proxies) and other times it’s content to just throw “awesome” concepts together (Magic! Cyberware! Matrix! Samurai!) with little regard to creating a thematically-coherent whole.

But anyway, apparently there are three relatively new RPGs set in this setting, and I’ve decided to check them out. They are… pretty solid, actually.

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The Tenth Line

I am, as ever, a moth to folly’s candle.

The Tenth Line is an RPG by the creator of The Reconstruction and I Miss the Sunrise, and represents the developer’s first foray into commercial gamemaking. It is better than its predecessors in some ways — it has a self-contained plot with an actual ending, for one thing — and worse in other ways.

Here there be spoilers, so if you want the abstract: The story is an absolute disaster. I routinely found myself getting lost from line to line in cutscenes, because nothing anyone said or did made the slightest bit of sense. I really hoped that the poor character writing in the last two games was just because there were too many characters to manage, but here there’s a much more condensed cast and scenes still consist of characters chirping out their one character trait and then bending over backwards for the whims of Plot. I’m finally starting to understand people who say game stories take themselves too seriously. This is very much a video game plot, with the story being little more than a vehicle for cool fights and shocking plot twists with little vision for any coherent whole, yet the game clearly seems to be trying to say some deep things about prejudice, religion, and fatalism, despite not being able to deliver. Conversations also go on forever — I’m someone who normally eats up every line of dialogue, but here I routinely found myself saying “Yes, we get it, can we move on please” when talking to NPCs. But even aside from that, the story just felt… really bland, ultimately. The Reconstruction and I Miss the Sunrise may have executed their ideas poorly, but they did have interesting and original ideas. The Tenth Line does not — it’s a very standard fantasy world and fantasy RPG plot, and none of it really stuck with me.

Is it still worth playing for the gameplay? That depends, I suppose. I personally found the system simultaneously overdesigned and lacking in strategical depth. Battles tend to be extremely repetitive and drag out just a bit too long, with most of the strategy revolving around pre-battle setup and very difficult action commands. You can burn items to give your characters bonus strength that slowly degrades, and the game seems to expect you to keep them topped off after every battle but I just can’t be bothered. The platforming puzzles were generally nice; every character has their own jump physics and special abilities they can use to do stuff in the world, and this usually leads to there being multiple ways to progress through the area for each of them. However, there are tons of environmental hazards that serve only to waste your time by knocking characters all the way back to the start of the (rather large) areas. I definitely found it getting pretty tedious by the end, and I didn’t bother with the postgame grinds despite normally being a completionist. My recommendation would be to look at a let’s play and see if it’s something you think you’d enjoy.

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NaRe 2018 Romance Pokeauthors, Week 4

“The person I wrote this story with wanted us to use master when referring to the male character and I had no objections. It has jack-shit to do with power-play or the like and the word was simply used as a means of not having a name for him. It was either master or owner, and my partner thought master sounded better, end of story. Whether or not it’s creepy is a subjective issue that varies wildly from person to person.”

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