This is an index page for my assorted index pages, to de-clutter navigation.

First up: the King's Bounty series.

King's Bounty: The Legend analysis. The first game in this modern... revival, I guess? It's not like the original King's Bounty ever took off. In any event, The Legend is, like so many first efforts, a great idea whose execution has rough edges. It's still shockingly good.

King's Bounty: Armored Princess analysis. The second game in this modern iteration, and like so many efforts it polishes those rough edges to a shine. It also switches to a female protagonist, with some interesting results.

King's Bounty: Warriors of the North analysis. A sequel that takes a while to look like a sequel in narrative terms, Warriors of the North is very experimental, especially its Ice and Fire expansion. I like it a lot, but there's some rough patches I feel the need to warn people about, and it's not as clear an improvement as I'd prefer.

King's Bounty: Dark Side analysis. Dark Side is the unfortunate member of its series, developed by a team that clearly weren't given time to get used to the engine, rushed out the door in an extremely incomplete state, given almost no patching after release even though it desperately needed it, its translation quite shoddy, and it doesn't even have its own forum section! The sad thing is the devs of Dark Side were trying to do several interesting things and have some nice ideas, but most players have trouble wading through the bugs, uneven tuning, overly-tough early game, and general state of being obviously incomplete, so most players never get to see what good there is.

Next up is the modern X-COM series.

X-COM: Enemy Unknown analysis. A modern remake-slash-sequel to a unique classic, it... fails to live up to the original.

XCOM 2 analysis. This is... long. XCOM 2 provides a lot worth talking about! It's the sequel to the immediate prior, and surprisingly is actually extremely good.

XCOM 2 Just For Fun index. As one might've guessed from how many analysis posts I have on it, I actually enjoy XCOM 2 quite a lot and do a lot of variant runs and whatnot. I tend to try to approach such in an experimental way that can be fairly educational, and I ended up deciding to log some of the interesting elements of such runs. They don't really fit into the analysis posts, so they get their own index.

XCOM: Chimera Squad analysis. An experimental interquel between XCOM 2 and whatever XCOM 3 is going to be.

More recent is FTL.

FTL analysis. Space trucking gameplay meets Star Trek trappings, in short.

I've also done Let's Plays for a few different games.

Let's Play Sacrifice. A little-known game that is very unique and does some things extremely well, but also has some incredibly cringe-y collections of decisions embedded in it that generally aren't obvious if you don't play the game very thoroughly. The Let's Play itself is a combination of videos with no commentary and text posts going over mechanical options and also talking about various elements of the narrative -usually elements I find problematic, but there's a decent amount of praise here and there, as the game has some genuinely great bits to it.

Let's Play X-COM Enforcer. Possibly the least-known entry in the X-COM overseries, Enforcer is a third-person shooter set in the days of the original X-COM where you're playing a robot -the Enforcer named by the title- produced by a single random scientist that then goes off on an arcade adventure killing a lot of aliens. It doesn't make a lot of sense, no, and it's far from perfect as a pure gameplay experience, but overall it's surprisingly fun, and there's some mildly interesting bits here and there.

Risk of Rain. Risk of Rain is an indie Kickstartered game that's... actually really good. Really, really good. As yet I haven't done everything I'd intended to do in terms of Risk of Rain Vigaroe content, and am uncertain whether I ever will get back to the rest of it, but at least now it's organized a bit.

Fire Emblem: Monster Quest. A romhack of Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones in which most playable characters have been converted into monsters, most bosses have been given buffs, the Sacred Twins are awesome staple tools instead of a way to break the endgame but otherwise dubious to use, and prepromotes are mostly worth actually using! I like it a surprising amount, and have fun playing with the narrative/poking at canon narrative issues.

I've also done stuff that isn't my usual big analysis series and isn't in a Let's Play format. They tend to be more like my big analysis sets than anything else, but if you feel they're basically just opinion pieces I'm not going to argue the point.

Aliens And Predators Index. I like the Aliens and Predator franchises, and they get crossed over a lot, so they get one index to share.

'shock Series Index. The System Shock and Bioshock games are very influential on the gaming industry. Unfortunately, this is most true of the entries that are most poorly-made... I honestly don't understand why.


  1. I've recently finished your Monster fanfic and I wanted to comment but don't feel like making a SB account and your blog doesn't have a general section so sorry for putting this in the wrong place.

    While I enjoy the stories, especially your fixes to canon discontinuities (i.e. Cauldron), I confess I do not understand the ending of the fic, or at least I cannot interpret it in any way that doesn't give Taylor & co crew idiot balls.

    Once Taylor discovers the existence of the Nilbog's plague in her confrontation with Bonesaw she recruits the girl and coerces her into working to fix it.

    Makes sense so far.

    From there the necessary next steps have to be
    a: Ensure that Bonesaw has a lab/can work as quickly as possible
    b: Ensure that the cure can be distributed as wide as possible. If the Protectorate sees a yellow cloud spreading from Bonesaw's location their first thought won't be "It's probably harmless," so you need some sort of logistics solution.

    Now, the lab can be built anywhere, although if I were the one choosing the location I'd probably pick something like Michigan City for it's closeness, or Detroit/Cleveland as the next closest thing. After all, the sooner you get off the road the sooner you can get started.

    Taylor, however, decided to trek to Boston of all things to set up shop there. Alright, fine, that actually makes sense, she probably wants to contact Accord because of his reputation for planning and to convince him to use his existing network to help the cure distribution by appealing to his heart. (Which he presumably wants on the inside of his body.)

    What I DON'T understand is the timeline of events and why it apparently takes more than a week for them to get to Boston. You're not hacking through a bamboo forest here, it's a two day driving trip. The four of them have a working truck, and if they don't have a working truck they can get a new one easily because Taylor understands priorities and savingpeople>theft. I can perhaps buy that Cherie is only one who knows how to drive and so the trip takes longer, and for some reason they don't want to conscript a random trucker on saving the world mission, (because I guess Taylor can't think of our bad things as a solution to any problem unless someone shoves her face into it,) but even so, it is one thing for the Nine to be leisurely traipsing around the U.S.A. on a lark, and another for them to be a time-critical mission where Taylor herself has specified their speed to be their top priority.

    Perhaps I am being needlessly nitpicky, as none of the plot needs to fundamentally change from moving the dates around, but I suppose I'm the kind of person for whom these things are fundamental to immersion. Although thinking on it some more, what really got to me more so than the number of days, was that I did not feel any sense of urgency from any post-nine interludes from the writing. Taylor was browsing PHO for threats as usual, Cherie wasn't running rugged from driving, Piggot wasn't even aware there was a problem even days after The Wild Hunt set up shop in Boston... perhaps there is an explanation for why the events of chapter 6 interludes are halfway to approaching canon Cauldron levels of reasonableness, but if so, I have not found one.

    P.S.: Funnily enough, none of the above has anything to do with me being more excited for more Bakuda S.I. than the continuation of Monster.

    1. tbh the primary answer is that I didn't think to look into what a drive from Chicago to Boston looks like. I went with a week primarily as a 'safe' number: if Chicago to Boston was a shorter drive than I was intuitively-without-checking expecting, then readers can assume the process of sneaking around, wrangling the Nine members, looking into where to go to get a lab, and so on, was what led to the delay (There's a reason I didn't ever write that Taylor immediately settled on Boston -the audience can assume she drove away from Boston for a couple of days before something led to the decision to go to Boston, or whatever), and if it's a more reasonable drive the audience gets to assume things went fairly smoothly in regard to all that.

      It's also worth pointing out that Cherie *was* being run ragged. It just doesn't look any different from usual because Taylor running Cherie ragged driving is the default, and Cherie tries to hide how crappily she's doing as a default. That's part of what the canon omake serves to communicate, even if a given reader hasn't bothered to read How I Met Your Monster, where the topic is illustrated fairly extensively.

      I'm not gonna deny weirdness to the end bits, though. That was the point of the story where we were past my reasonably-plotted-out elements; that's one of the reasons The Wild Hunt still isn't up, because my plans past Chicago were much, much vaguer and I've been busy hammering that stuff out. I'm sure there's other elements that don't entirely add up.

    2. Thanks for the reply, it does clear things up.

      "tbh the primary answer is that I didn't think to look into what a drive from Chicago to Boston looks like. I went with a week primarily as a 'safe' number:"

      Perhaps this website would be helpful in the future?,+IL/to/Boston,+MA

      "then readers can assume the process of sneaking around, wrangling the Nine members..."
      "It just doesn't look any different from usual because Taylor running Cherie ragged driving is the default"
      "the audience can assume she drove away from Boston..."

      Note how much the readers have to assume things in order for things to make sense. I can not say that it is objectively bad writing to style things like that, (even though subjectively I dislike it,) and most readers won't care, but it is not YOUR style and a significant shift from earlier.

      What I do believe is the result is that you have this video-game type disconnect between "We need to do this quickly! The pandemic will everyone!" that should push everything into overdrive and the reality of "business as usual" that it reads as.

      Please take it as constructive criticism, but I do hope the post chapter 6 sections are heavily edited when The Wild Hunt comes out. Otherwise they will stick out like a sore thumb, weaken the future narrative, and nothing about this mess is unfixable YET. I will now pick on a few things that stand out to me.

      "something led to the decision to go to Boston"
      It's Accord. I mean, we know it's Accord.

      "It's also worth pointing out that Cherie *was* being run ragged."
      The interludes are from the perspective of Crawler and Bonesaw, who haven't traveled with the Co before. Unless they're just myopic at reading people, it should stand out to them.

      "I'm sure there's other elements that don't entirely add up."

      Piggot not knowing about the threat. That's the big one, and honestly the one that's most plot significant.

      Taylor has zero reasons to keep quiet about the plague. Yes, she is [EMOTION NOT FOUND] about her actions being the cause of this, but the fact that there IS a plague will come out sooner or later. Now, I can buy that she doesn't go to the PRT immediately because she's afraid they won't let her go, or because she doesn't think they'd give Bonesaw a chance. And she may not trust them to figure out a solution either, so why bother informing them. All awful shit reasons for keeping vital information from the PRT when you can use a burner phone to give them a heads-up, but in like with her character.

      However, the point at which Taylor goes to Armstrong to collect the bounties it is already known that she has Bonesaw, and she is already risking contact, (now that I think about it, the part where Taylor has to be convinced to risk exposure would make an excellent chapter,) and so there is no reason for keeping this vital information. (Especially again, PRT resources will probably be used to distribute the cure.)

      At the risk of overstepping my bounds, my suggestion would be to put Piggot at something like four days post S9, have her ruminating on things, at which point she receives an urgent message from Armstrong letting her know that Monster has just come in to claim the bounties and OH CRAP.

      Hope any of this was helpful.

    3. I mean, Crawler and Bonesaw are the exact last people I would expect to have a clear sense of whether Taylor and Cherie are acting with appropriate urgency or not. Crawler has no reason to care, and Bonesaw spent a few years as a normal ignorant child followed by however long she's been a Nine member. Neither of them has strong reason to be concerned about the plague, personally, either, so there's no reason for them to feel this is an urgent issue that needs to be fixed quick-like.

      (And frankly speaking, having seen how people reacted to an actual-factual real-life pandemic since writing the chapter, I have trouble taking seriously 'they didn't act with an appropriate sense of urgency!' as a criticism. COVID has been very educational about how blasé people can be about a virulently infectious, worryingly lethal disease)

      I'm also not entirely sure why you think Taylor would think she'd be taken seriously if she tried to warn the PRT about the plague, and even less clear why you think the PRT WOULD take her seriously. As far as they're concerned, she's a prolific serial killer that's been lying to them from day one, successfully getting said lies past at least one superpowered lie detector, and now she's killed her way into leadership of the Nine. If they thought she wasn't lying about there being a plague, they'd probably assume she was threatening them with a Bonesaw plague, and honestly that's exactly what Taylor would expect them to think given how they've treated her from her perspective. ("I don't understand why the PRT dislikes me! It's not like I've done anything wrong! That they know of. If I discount all the murders. But seriously, I don't get it!!")

      I will readily admit the PRT's exact (lack of) knowledge of the Nilbog plague is one of the fuzzier, weaker bits of that chunk of the story, in part because the PRT's strategic-scale awareness in canon is largely not touched on by actual canon and then WoG bounces back and forth between 'the PRT has precogs and Thinkers and Tinkers and so on who are dedicated to predicting/finding such threats' and 'the PRT is completely unable to track a single prominent cape with no protection from precogs/Thinkers/Tinkers, even if the cape is operating for years and ought to become a priority at SOME point'. (eg Heartbreaker, where WoG paints Heartbreaker as having kept operating for years not because he was too low a priority to bother bringing such resources to bear, but because he's Really Tricksy And Clever) I did make SOME efforts to address the topic -the Panacea Interlude in part serves to show that Panacea didn't tell the PRT, and show the audience her mindset for why she'd do that even though it's not good decision-making- but no, it's not really all that adequate. The Wild Hunt is intended to address this to at least some extent, though.

      Also, it's not Accord. Now that you've laid it out like that I can see how someone might arrive at that logic, and it's entirely possible Accord will end up being relevant once I'm done plotting things out (This really is the exact sort of situation Accord would WANT to be involved in, you're right), but it's not what I was thinking for why Taylor decided to go to Boston.

    4. "I mean, Crawler and Bonesaw are the exact last people I would expect to have a clear sense of whether Taylor and Cherie are acting with appropriate urgency or not..."

      Sorry, I was referring specifically to Bonesaw noticing Cherie's rugged state, not to the plague. From her perspective, she is a captive, she is a their mercy, and may well be tortured or killed. She is constantly gathering information on Monster&Pride, psychoanalyzing them so she can adapt herself accordingly, ...well, you get the idea, you're the one who wrote her.

      If one of her captors/bosses is visibly running ragged it can lead to such things as increased aggression, erratic behavior, and loss of judgement. All things to look out for even if Cherie specifically doesn't exhibit those issues. After six(I think) years of seeing S9 victims' psyches torn down Bonesaw would be keenly aware of such things.

      With Crawler... frankly, I was reaching a bit.

      "I'm also not entirely sure why you think Taylor would think she'd be taken seriously if she tried to warn the PRT about the plague, and even less clear why you think the PRT WOULD take her seriously....."

      Okay, I guess that's another point where I was approaching with a perspective completely sideways from yours. The point isn't to convince the PRT that Taylor is an upstanding citizen, or that they should totally give her a lab because Bonesaw is cute and cuddly now.

      The point is that
      1: The fact that plague exists is going to come out sooner or later. And if it then comes out that The Wild Hunt knew about the plague but didn't tell anyone that's another nail in any possible relations or cooperation with them. Taylor has given up on not being seen as a villain, yes, but she still wants to do things like help in the Endbringer fights and be seen as at least somewhat of a reasonable actor.

      On the other hand, giving the PRT a simple heads up throws the ball into their court. They can bend over backwards, laugh at her, ignore her, but they cannot say after the fact say she maliciously kept silent.

      2: Once Bonesaw manufactures the cure, depending on how it is done, the PRT will be aware The Wild Hunt have just released SOMETHING. And presumably the Taylor doesn't want them to go "OH SHIT, Nuke'em now!" so she needs some way of getting across that Bonesaw is NOT in fact releasing a plague but a cure.

      Now honestly, that is one of the trickier parts of this whole mess, and I can fully buy that Taylor doesn't think she can convince the PRT that Bonesaw is doing something benevolent. But it is an issue that kinda HAS to be solved, because the moment S9 escalates from torture&murder to plagues Taylor can fully expect a full crackdown. (Especially without the Siberian to tank and rip through everything.) Consider that Bonesaw's plagues are the main deterrent (+Siberian) to a full crackdown, and if the PRT believes The Wild Hunt have just released them anyway they no longer have a reason not to throw everything on them. And Taylor can't afford to let The Wild Hunt be destroyed right now because

      3: The cure will need another cure. According to Taylor's parameters there are going to be a bunch of mutated griblets wandering around, some unknown portion of them mindless, and they will be relying on another cure to return to eventually return to normal. (Discounting Panacea, but that's OOC, Taylor wouldn't think of that.)

      So unless her plan will be to be making the cure 2.0 while in a high speed chase the silent treatment is probably a bad idea.

    5. "If they thought she wasn't lying about there being a plague, they'd probably assume she was threatening them with a Bonesaw plague"

      That is a strange statement considering Nilbog's plague is already in people and environment, and I'd hope Bonesaw isn't the only Thinker who can detect it while looking for it. If you're just saying that they won't believe it to be a Nilbog's plague but think it to be Bonesaw's instead, then Taylor is still informing them of what happened BEFORE Bonesaw joined up with the crew.

      Now, to be fair, Taylor IS planning on releasing a Bonesaw plague, and needs to somehow convince the PRT not to nuke 'em, but that a separate issue from informing the PRT of existing problems.

      "I will readily admit the PRT's exact (lack of) knowledge of the Nilbog plague is one of the fuzzier, weaker bits ...... The Wild Hunt is intended to address this to at least some extent, though."

      I ... wow... Just... It says something about the world that I didn't even consider that the PRT has Thinkers that should have sounded the alarm even irrespective of what The Wild Hunt does. It's always Tattletale OR Panacea OR Bonesaw OR Dinah OR DeusexMachina. I'm curious how you will handle that. Maybe Contessa went "Path To Not Go Insane From Stress" and got every thinker not appearing in the story together in a room and out drunk them all. She's now nursing a massive hangover and can't be dialed.

      I will say I liked the Panacea interlude even if there WAS the question of how she intended for HER cure to reach everyone outside of Brockton Bay, but nothing that couldn't be dealt with a bit of handwivium. (I am sorry everyone who moved from Chicago to Texas or went on an extended business trip. Your sacrifices were completely unnecessary because the protagonists are teenage girls with mental issues.)

      "Also, it's not Accord"
      Well, I admit to being wrong.

    6. That's a point about Bonesaw, but Cherie has years of experience hiding rough condition from family she'd spent years living with, and Bonesaw has known her for a matter of days. I don't see that as inconsistent.

      re: 'taking Taylor seriously', I wasn't at all thinking of Taylor getting PRT help. I meant that she has no reason to expect that they'd act on the claim, and that inevitably when the plague came to light they'd probably decide this is the prophet fulfilling their own prophecy, rather than info delivered by someone in the know but not at fault. (At least from Taylor's perspective) Your points about how the PRT might react down the line are better, but fall pretty squarely in in-character judgment call territory: it's a lose-lose situation where Taylor warns them and gets blamed, or doesn't warn them and gets blamed, and which she speaks is characterful rather than straightforward optimization.

      PRT Thinker-wise, wrangling the 'top-level' stuff -policy, capabilities, how they get used- of the PRT is one of the biggest reasons The Wild Hunt is coming slowly. Canon didn't touch on this stuff much, and what it and WoG did touch on is, as I noted earlier, contradictory, so I've been slowly hacking away at what broadly makes sense, and what fits with how Monster has gone. (ie there has to be SOME reason PRT Thinkers didn't identify the Nilbog plague sooner, whether that's because no Thinker on staff quite fits to that capability, or the plague is 'hidden' from precog/Thinkers/etc, or whatever, or else Monster can't have happened as it has)

      It's a headache.

    7. "That's a point about Bonesaw, but Cherie has years of experience hiding rough condition from family she'd spent years living with, and Bonesaw has known her for a matter of days. I don't see that as inconsistent."
      Ok, that's actually a good point. That slipped my mind.

      "re: 'taking Taylor seriously'....."
      Dialing distrust up to eleven, eh. That is a terrible, immature, and most importantly self-defeating way of looking at things that both attributes inherent maliciousness to the PRT and ignores basic evidence such as the timeline of plague's spread contrasted versus The Wild Hunt's own movements, inevitably leading to the relief groups spending more time blocking each other than doing anything about the plague.

      It makes sense now when you explain it. But please take it at face value when I say that this wasn't obvious, and if that is Taylor's perspective it should find it's way into the text in some way. And back to the chapter 6 interludes... even if you explain all these things in The Wild Hunt itself I am still going to side-eye these interludes as the weak link.

      On the PRT Thinkers: Kudos to you for being seemingly one of the only fanfic authors willing to expand on this mess of the world instead of heading to the Leviathan graveyard. I blame the lack of originality on Wilbow's powers design actually. Instead of giving people interesting and situational powers that could tip the flow of a fight, he chose to give almost everyone relevant to the story a gigantic conceptual sledgehammer that made designing capes outside of Brockton Bay to be next to impossible. Instead of designing a world where people have powers, he fell into the trap of distributing the most interesting powers among the main+secondary cast, leaving no allurement for the places outside.

    8. I have doubts I'll overhaul Arc 6 a second time, but we'll see.

      I disagree on the power thing, as a big part of the appeal of Worm is that a lot of early powers *are* interesting... but that comes with the qualifier that it's absolutely true several plot-critical powers -like PtV- are gigantic conceptual sledgehammers whose very nature makes it very hard to work with or around them.

      Thanks for the compliment, in any case.

    9. I think that if you consider that archetypal concepts from which a power can be derived: invisibility, flight, time manipulation, body modification, restoration, insight, et cetera, you can see how Wildbow took all of those he found interesting, dialed them to a ten, and gave them to the characters on a first come first serve basis.

      Clockblocker's time manipulation is both direct and absolute, Glory Girl's forcefield can apparently tank one his of anything, and I'm not getting into the bullshit that Bakuda, Imp, Coil, and others bring to the table. They may make for an interesting story, but with this approach one will soon exhaust the easy and strong concepts, and then will either have to steadily make things more esoteric and complicated, or have many out of sight characters just carry weaker takes on the characters already encountered.

      It all comes from the question of whether the world with it's capes and powers is created first, and then modified to fit the story, or the other way around. You ask yourself if BB's capes powers would look remotely the same if Wildbow has to design 100 Capes per continent first, along with 10 American cities, and only then chose BB as where the plot happens +put plot required capes like Tattletale and Panacea there.

      I won't say that would've made for a better story, but it probably would've made creating areas outside BB easier.

    10. I don't entirely disagree, but my issues are focused elsewhere. The increasing focus on concept hax powers and whatnot is bad to me because the story wants to have things like Bug Control Girl Bullies God To Death as a key part of the plot, and that kind of plot beat requires the story really be committed to 'it's about using what you have well' or similar, rather than persistently making the straightforward, brute-forcedly-powerful powers center-stage, with the protagonist conspicuously and somewhat arbitrarily an exception.

    11. I wasn't aware it wasn't a competition, lol.

      No, I totes agree with you those are a problem, I just didn't consider it worth the time to expand upon. We've all had those arguments before and tldr; I agree with 99% when it comes to Cauldron and the like.

      So I just wanted to touch on something a bit less obvious; The way Wildbow's world design unintentionally made difficult breathing life into places outside BB. Not something you can make an issue of really, just work around. Your powers generator isn't half solution for that btw.

  2. "(And frankly speaking, having seen how people reacted to an actual-factual real-life pandemic since writing the chapter, I have trouble taking seriously 'they didn't act with an appropriate sense of urgency!' as a criticism. COVID has been very educational about how blasé people can be about a virulently infectious, worryingly lethal disease)"

    I was going to shrug because bringing real like politics into fiction is always meh, but on the upside the I don't have to be concerned with the mods. (Since you are the mod here :) ) Still, I'm putting the response separate because derail and it has nothing to do with the story:

    You may or may not be making an enormous false equivalence between the two things. Because when you're talking about "people" let us be clear about who are we talking about here. Are you talking about the regular people on the street?

    Because what CAN you do about an endemic disease? You pretty much just have a choice between continuing your normal life as usual and hoping the disease mutates into a more transmissible but less lethal strain (like what happened with Covid and Ebola) and for the herd immunity to kick in, or you can don a Hazmat every time you interact with anything forever. The winner is of course choice #3, which is where you put on a cheap cloth mask you then don't wash properly and perform a few occult-style arbitrary rituals designed to make you feel better and at most slow down the spread of the disease. (But don't actually stop it and effectively give it more opportunity to mutate into something more lethal.)

    Okay, actually, yeah the panic responses and the mob-think where people go from holding hugging parties in chinatowns to bootlicking is pretty fucking disappointing. And Covid isn't particularly lethal or scary compared to Nilbog's plague, so I'd expect a full on exodus zombie-plague style.

    But to be fair, both of a lot of the initial blase attitude (which was scary, because Covid could've been a lot more lethal,) and the current fear mongering (actively detrimental at this point because Covid has long since become an endemic disease, the lockdown measures have been shown not to work, and it's lethality is low enough for people without core morbidities that it has become a joke, to say nothing of the economy and small businesses) are actively driven by politically motivated organisations, media, and experts who don't exactly have the concerns of the common people at heart.

    So if you're talking about the regular people, I'd actually expect the response to be more appropriate (even if the actual consequences are magnitudes worse) because the institutions responsible for providing information to people actually do their job and provide helpful advice in the Worm world. Small mercies, but living in a crapsack world leads to better crisis management skills, and for all her faults Alexandria doesn't want people turning into monsters.

    And if you're not comparing the normal people but people like The Wild Hunt, Panacea, or random PRT biotinkers to real life doctors then there is can be no comparison. Not in their action, and not in disease.

    Real life treatments take months or years to produce.
    When they come out they can cause unknown side effects, and testing for those can take an indeterminate length of time.
    These treatments are made by teams, and require a network of specialists for to develop.
    And when you develop the treatment, it can be a success if it help in 40% of the cases, which you then can get to 60% in practice because of placebo and people misdiagnosing themselves, and then you write it down as 75% because your competitor is touting the 70% treatment and you have good lawyers.

    1. So in real life? Development treatments is a job. Possible stressful and with tight deadlines, but a job.
      Going five days without rest isn't going to bring an epiphany and let you find the final piece of the puzzle.
      The logistics of how fast you might get to a lab aren't an issue because the speed of the disease might be faster than your driving.
      And you won't get targeted by psychopathic villains for daring to disrupt their masterpiece or just for kicks. ...well, unless you have incriminating information on the Chinese Party or Hillary Clinton, but even then, they not suiciding because you're working on a cure.

      So when talking about how much urgency people (who matter) can/should have regarding a bioplague, it has more in common with army communications during the pre-telephone era than it does with any real-life plague. You're not trying to get grants to sponsor a research team while trying to maintain a possible quarantine and minimize spread. You're trying to get information from A to Z, pray that Zeta do what they need to, move troops into position to take advantage of any relief, and cross your fingers that things work out before everyone horribly dies.

      Sorry for the ramble, and I hope our possible political disagreements don't actually impede communication.

    2. I meant the Hunt members themselves, where only Cherie and Mimi have immediate personal reasons to feel threatened, and only Taylor and Mimi have emotional investment in vulnerable people to get upset over. Mimi was very deliberately Not Shown in those Interludes, and her behavior not addressed. Taylor has a longstanding habit of trying very hard to not think about upsetting things and keep acting as if it's business as usual. Cherie has a longstanding habit of laughing off stress -shown explicitly in one of her Monster ?Interludes- and pretending very successfully to others that Everything Is Fine, Nothing To Be Concerned About Citizen. So none of them visibly behaves as if this is an urgent, stressful situation.

      (This *is* making me aware that my current drafts for early Hunt chapters really should involve Mimi being more stressed. It didn't ever occur to me that she should be worried about the infection getting into Labyrinth, even if I assume she has no family she cares about)

      The comparison to real life was mildly flippant, but the thrust of it is that I've seen real people in a real plague largely behave as they always have (Aside wearing masks, but then a lot of people don't modify their behavior to ensure the mask is USEFUL...), even when they should know many of their behaviors are unnecessarily dangerous, so 'real people would treat a viscerally dangerous plague as an urgent threat demanding radical action!' is clearly false as a premise.

    3. "only Cherie and Mimi have immediate personal reasons to feel threatened,"

      "and only Taylor and Mimi have emotional investment in vulnerable people to get upset over"
      with Taylor arguably no longer even capable of being emotional over things

      "Mimi was ...... Nothing To Be Concerned About Citizen."
      all fair

      "So none of them visibly behaves as if this is an urgent, stressful situation."
      Ah, but one need not act emotional to modify their behavior.
      If I were to myself into the shoes of Taylor and ask myself "What would I do there?" I imagine I'd spend my time looking for the nearest good lab location.
      I'd study the geography of the Great Lakes region and irrigation systems to wrap my heads around where the plague is likely to reach.
      I'd believe time to be of the essence and be trying to cut down travel time as much as possible, using whatever strategies I can.
      Try to figure out what sort of organizations exist and might be helpful. There's the PRT... but they're incompetent. The Empire is fairly large... but they hate us. Maybe the Dragonslayers can!... no wait, we murdered them. And so on.

      None of this requires an emotional reaction, but it does require me to modify my behavior, and I'd be trying to speed things up whenever I could however I could. This isn't like hunting the Nine where there was dick to do except twiddle trumbs till murderfest. Solving a plague is a complex problem with many logistical issues. Now to be fair, Bonesaw may not know exactly what Taylor does on the tinkertech computer, so there's that.

      Honestly, fix the driving times and none of this is a plot hole, it's just a question of how much you want to show, and how much you want to excuse with Bonesaw being too unused to Monster&Pride to draw conclusions from their behavior.

      "so 'real people would treat a viscerally dangerous plague as an urgent threat demanding radical action!' is clearly false as a premise."
      I disagree with you about how dangerous Covid is specifically, but I agree with your premise so far as the common denominator is concerned. None of your main or even secondary characters are exactly average though, so... feels like a moot point.

      "my current drafts"
      Glad to help. Now, will Mimi feel safe enough with the crew to reveal a vulnerability that she cares about someone to reveal Elle's existence to make a phone call.

    4. tbh most of the non-emotional stuff falls under 'Bonesaw isn't seeing what Taylor is doing when everyone is asleep', among other things. It obviously didn't make it into the Interludes, but one of the backgrounds bits I've long had in mind is that Taylor and Cherie would certainly have done some talking while everyone else (Bar maybe Crawler, who it's not clear whether he sleeps, but he wouldn't stay in a hotel room with them so whatever) was asleep, and been able to pull this off reliably because Cherie's power is absurd and lets her know with a high degree of certainty whether someone is asleep, falling asleep, faking being asleep, etc.

      Hm. I may be editing Arc 6 one final time after all, pain though it is, to cover this element somehow or another, among other things, simply because I'm not sure I can have it organically crop up in The Wild Hunt itself and it's the kind of thing a lot of readers wouldn't guess on their own.

    5. "tbh most of the non-emotional stuff falls under 'Bonesaw isn't seeing what Taylor is doing when everyone is asleep', among other things."
      Huh, so Bonesaw actually sleeps. Well, what do you know. Ghoul King, upending my understanding of Bonesaw one insight at a time. (I'm actually not joking here. Taylor and Cherie having secret talks is something I've assumed, but that Bonesaw still does the sleepy thing comes as a revelation. For some reason.)

      If you do, I'd suggest posting the revised version along with The Wild Hunt itself when it finally drops. Some people will be doing a reread anyway, and that way you wouldn't be getting people hopes up when they see an update.

    6. Any rewrites would be posted and signposted before The Wild Hunt went up/alongside it, yes.

  3. If I may put forward my own idea on the PRT Thinkers incompetence: Because the PRT Thinker agencies is a pox-infested flea-ridden mess infiltrated by every faction worth note, schismatized between the different egos, some outright villains spending most of their time in a clock and dagger schemes that only become more convoluted with every additional participant. It is a ruthless and dangerous place not incomparable to the worst of Brockton Bay, that only nominally serves as the PRTs actual Thinkers resources, but much more as a containment where the innumerable egos can grind their plumages against each other and not everyone else.

    Powerwise, it does not make sense for all of them to be magnitudes below Tats and Dinah, but as far as trust and loyalty is concerned? I'd imagine that for every one who wants to sound the alarm there is a Yangban sympathizer willing to discredit them as they think nothing of letting the U.S.A. collapse. That for every Thinker CAPABLE of detecting something is off there is a schemer hiding their true power because information is key and you don't want to reveal you can do more than what you've shown.

    So while nominally the PRT Thinkers are supposed to give the PRT regular reports, what happens in practice is that when the directors need something they call up their favorite Thinker directly, usually covertly and under the table, and then cooperate with them OUTSIDE of these Thinkers regular environment. Even better, the PRT directors often, (again, covertly,) try to employ the Rogue and even Villain Thinkers (and Dragon) explicitly because they aren't involved in that convoluted mess of personalities and so are much easier to work around.

    Now, originally the agency was founded to work against villainous thinkers and ensure the stability of the U.S.A., but you know how these things go. No one expected it to remain uninfiltrated, but the sheer insanity that followed took everybody by surprise. Now, no one is their right minds is even contemplating cutting funding to the facility, but over the the last few years the PRT has been developing coping strategies trying to work around the issue. Establishing contacts with the Thinkers outside PRT umbrella, as well as trying to keep the new PRT Thinkers on the outside of this mess. (Looking at you Dinah and Tattletale.)

    One of the bigger recent victories for the PRT was in fact Accord's successful exit to strike out of his own. After getting himself successfully framed for a proposal that at the time he pretended wasn't written by him he was successful in unsuccessfully arguing to his bosses that he shouldn't be dishonorably kicked out on his own. Unknown to him the precogs have actually foreseen that his life would in fact be shorter if he left the organization, and so went along with the ruse while keeping their smugness to themselves until he left the premises. Irregardless of any of that Accord can actually now be called on for disaster management in the real world instead of being hampered by every other Thinker at every turn.

    Of course, we never see any of this shadow war because it is a shadow war and nor the focus of the story.

    My favorite part of that entire head-canon is that none of it involves either Simurgh nor Contessa. In fact, let's take it a step further for the benefit of our Bakuda S.I. The whole facility is a giant black hole for every Thinker out there INCLUDING Simurgh and Contessa, and the reason they do not feature in the original Worm is because Abaddon couldn't path dick regarding them, Khepri didn't even notice them at any point, and for that matter neither did Scion.

    So, what do you think, any of it helps you out with any ideas?

    1. I think that could be an intensely funny story in its own right, but I wouldn't want to use it as a 'realistic' canon to a serious story. (eg Monster, and while people find Exploding Canon hilarious it wasn't meant to be crack so not it either) It makes a lot of sense, but in that crack-y 'canon doesn't make sense UNLESS one uses my Patented Insane-Sounding Explanation' sort of way.

      The kinds of headaches I've been thinking of have been less about 'power scale' issues (Worm is mostly pretty good about staying away from that, honestly, aside a handful of glaring exceptions like Contessa) and more a byproduct of Worm showing a lot of power creativity early on, with WoGs tending to stay true to this general idea. Like, when it comes to Nilbog-connected WoGs, Wildbow has laid out a scenario in which the PRT doesn't bomb the area not because they get concrete info from Thinkers like 'it will release a plague', but because they have Thinkers saying how terrible an idea their power rates it. ("Black!" where that apparently means something like 'unacceptably bad idea', for example) And he's been pretty consistent about that when it comes to describing strategic-scale Thinker feedback. And for Department 64, he showed us a precog who scattershotted precog scenarios, where they saw a bunch of possible futures at once, but some of them had to be ignored because they were actually impossible scenarios premised under present conditions having certain things true that weren't (Where this wasn't necessary obvious to her and anyone she explained her visions to), and you could only mostly-reliably count of broad consistencies to probably be true. (So if she scattershotted, and her power insisted HQ was going to be attacked in the next hour in every future she saw, probably it was going to be attacked in more or less an hour)

    2. All of which means I can't just come up with a core set of rubrics and abilities the PRT relies on and treat them as universal truths stretching back decades. Realistically speaking, I have to generate at least SOME specific strategic-scale Thinkers so I can then connect details to what actually happens. (Which I've been putting off in part because I was hoping reading Ward would give me some canon ones to steal... it didn't, incidentally) And since Worm powers can be VERY strange, just using Worm canon+Monster canon as a base does a lot less to help than you might expect; I don't get to narrow things down to a relatively small list of possibilities via deduction and then pick whatever I like best out of the ones that are plausible, because the field of possibility is simply too large and too strange. And the strangeness MATTERS; an esoteric power can allow the PRT to arrive at an answer you'd think they couldn't arrive at, especially if they're an experienced Thinker who, like canon Taylor did, has worked out how to leverage 'implied secondary powers' to get even more info out of their power than their power is really 'intended' to provide.

      All of which is exacerbated by the fact that Thinker powers in particular is one area Worm canon was, unfortunately, not very creative. Tattletale is just a WoG-vender pretending to be a power. Dinah is an oracle whose only real limit is not being able to see things the Entities don't want her seeing, and she STILL gets to know Scion is going to kill everyone in twenty years, she just doesn't know it's SCION doing it. Contessa is 'I win', as excused by precognition. Number Man is 'I win', as excused by MATH!!!! Accord has an interesting-sounding description, but canon never really follows through on any of the possible implications of 'smarter the bigger the problem he's pointed at', and indeed kills him off during the Behemoth fight instead of using it as an opportunity to show how he actually WORKS. And so on; we never actually see a Thinker power with the kinds of fiddly, quirky details seen on a number of more physical powers.

      I have a system for creating capes with powers relatively quickly and painlessly, but it's not suited to making Thinker powers, and canon doesn't provide a good mental starting point for thinking of possible Thinker powers...

      This is the kind of stuff I'm talking about being pained by.

    3. To be honest I wouldn't have wanted to use my own explanation wholesale either, but I do genuinely like the idea of active infiltration and sabotage by the Yangban going on.

      And yeah, sorry, if that's main issue are good Thinker powers ideas then I don't have easy solutions for you that you haven't already considered.

      Perhaps... Take a mundane procedure, like collecting evidence at a crime scene, or replacing a pipe, then deconstruct the procedure into small concrete parts. Fling a dart into one of those and have your Thinker power 'ping' off that in some way.

      And instead of rolling your normal table you're rolling a set of traits:
      Time Limit (future, past)
      Distance Requirement (can look at data/needs to be at location/has to touch/taste/needs to sleep in a location)
      Power Control (do you control what you're looking for or not)
      Endurance (how quickly do the headaches come)
      Reliability (how fucked are you by Thinker interference/other factors)

      You won't be making any Number Men with this, but... maybe that's a good thing.

      Sorry, that's probably not anything new to you, but outside of straight up designing these Thinkers for you I'm not sure how to help. Good luck with that I suppose.

    4. Yep, it's a pain.

      And thanks for the sentiment, regardless.

  4. Hello. I would like to know when King's Bounty II analysis will be available.


    PS: Sorry for the double posting, but I can't find my last message.

    1. Now I'm supporting your work. You deserve recognition and, in my opinion, feedback from your readers.

    2. I don't know when it will be feasible for me to do a King's Bounty II series -I'm reasonably confident my current computer couldn't run it at all, and I don't know when that will change. It's something I'm very likely to do when I can, though.

      And glad to see a new patron!

    3. Great! About the chances to run the game fine, have you tried Lossless Scaling?

      PS: Happy to contribute.

    4. Huh. I did not know that was a thing, and having had Alien: Isolation magically run fine when not full-screen, I have evidence that might actually help. I'll need to test with one of my current PC-not-like games, see if it improves their performance. Interesting!

    5. Haven't gotten to it yet, this week has been a mess. Should be getting to it very soon, though.

    6. Preliminary testing with AvP 2010 (A game my computer can run, but with period chugging, especially during some of the gory bits that are apparently especially graphically-intensive) and actively upping graphical settings to try to strain the computer resulted in a surprisingly amount of improvement, at a sufficiently small loss in graphical fidelity I'm not sure I would notice if I wasn't looking for it. It did also cause the menu to not accept mouse input, though, so that could be an issue depending on how King's Bounty II is set up.

      I'll next be trying to test something I've given up playing entirely due to chugging and see how much it helps/if any new issues arise, but this is promising-if-imperfect.

  5. I can't wait for your results and analysis! Remember that there's another program, Magpie, which does the same than Lossless Scaling but generally better and for free. (Lossless scaling is 4$ I think)

    1. Turns out King's Bounty II is also usable on Geforce Now, so that's another possibility for getting around the graphical load.

      Not sure when I'll have the cash to spare on King's Bounty II itself, but these possibilities certainly bring it into more realistic reach.

  6. Hello again, Ghoul. Fancy the Kings Bounty 2 analysis, now? I'm thrilled to read your impressions and reviews!

    1. This has unfortunately not been the kindest few months to me, so I haven't had the opportunity to get to it. Injured myself, finances not got room for it, etc. And I should note that my process is such that even if I bought it today (Which admittedly I just checked and it's 50% off right now, so if my finances improve enough in the next few days I ought to jump on that), there'd still probably be a few months before posts started going up. Especially since I'm not fully recovered from my fall and it's directly impinged on my capacity for writing; staying on schedule-ish successfully-ish in recent weeks has been due largely to a respectable buffer of mostly-complete posts.

    2. At last things have stabilized enough that I have grabbed King's Bounty II. No idea when posts will start going up, mind, but figured you'd appreciate knowing the process has actually started.

    3. Yeah, at last. I totally love to see the process has begun. Hope you has a smooth experience with the game performance. Cheers!


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