I am on holiday. The trip actually only kicked off yesterday, but understandably I’m not exactly able to keep updating and recording videos while I am away. As I have mentioned in the posts for the previous weeks it has taken a fair amount of preparation but at this point, the channel should pretty much just play itself. Videos releasing at midday every day, automatically tweeting out and adding themselves to the appropriate playlists. The marvels of the built-in YouTube scheduling and playlist systems.
This week I finish Ranless Sea and put a pause of Pillars of Ranternity, that means next week you will see some changes to the schedule. In the Monday/Friday slot I will be fighting the alien overlords in The Ransistance (you can sign up to become a soldier here. On Wednesdays I revisit my favourite game from 2015 and play through Massive Chalice for the first time since I wrapped up my Massive Tips series.
Working with a buffer can be hard but very rewarding. I am currently getting ready for a trip at the end of the month. I won’t be gone for too long, just under 2 weeks, but to do that I need to ensure that I can extend the buffer far enough.
Generally speaking, I do most of my recording on the weekend, but vacations generally take up weekends on both sides of the trip, which means I not only have to cover the period I will be away, but a little longer until I can find more time to record. This means a 2 week trip needs a minimum of a 3-week buffer.
Somewhat unhelpfully, the trip also falls on the changeover points for 2 of my series. At the end of this month Ranless Sea will wrap up and Pillars of Ranternity will be taking a well-deserved break. This means that I need to try to prepare 3 weeks worth of each of the new series, along with prepping the title screen and ideally outros. At least if some of this falls behind I can try to get a little done during the trip.
At the time of posting this may be a little bit late, but one of the new series will be titled The Ransistance and will be an XCOM 2 Let’s Play. If you want to join up please fill out this form. (NB: the only thing you absolutely HAVE to provide is a name, everything else is optional)
In terms of viewership the channel has not changed much. I am still seeing very low engagement with my longer running series, Pillars of Ranternity and even Torment: Tides of Ranmenera is barely getting any interest. Worse still I am losing motivation to play Pillars of Eternity and so, in the absence of any written or vocal feedback I have decided to take a break from Pillars. In my recordings I have reached the end of the White March Part 1 and that seems like a suitable stopping point. I will return to it eventually but I think some separation will do me some good.
At this point I think I will start an XCOM2 Let’s Play to replace it. That game stole a week or so from me just after it released and I would like to go back to it now all the DLC is out and the mods are more mature. Let me know if you are interested in being recruited and if you have any mods you would recommend I play.
The backlog itself still in a state of flux, on YouTube I am only solid through to the 18th, but I have raw footage that will see me through to the 26th when Pillars wraps up. In general, 2 weeks feels like a pretty good buffer, but I have a trip coming up at the end of the month. If I don’t get some extra recording done it will be hard to keep up the same consistency of output in June.
My buffer is shrinking disconcertingly quickly. I now am covered for daily episodes through to the 15th of May with only a small amount of unedited videos to help extend things. I need to find the motivation to sit and record more. What doesn’t help is the complete lack of feedback on the new schedule. My attempts to get it so far have proven unsuccessful and the only other metrics I have to go on aren’t exactly ideal. Since the release of Torment: Tides of Numenera my view count has dwindled dramatically and many of my new videos are being almost completely ignored. I would love to know why. Are the games just no longer fresh? Am I putting out too many videos? Should I take a break or change the format. I really need some human feedback here, not just numbers without much context.
The daily schedule seems to be working for the moment, how long it lasts will depend on how well I maintain my buffer. Currently, I have videos uploaded and scheduled through to the 11th of May, with weekends covered significantly longer. In fact, one of the major motivations for moving to a daily schedule was to have an outlet for some of the videos I had already recorded but not had a time to release them. I would really appreciate some feedback on this though. Does the new Ranneko Plays schedule work for you? Is it too much? Which is better fewer games with more episodes each week or more games with a greater chance I am playing one you want to know more about?
It’s been a while since I posted, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. In fact, right now I have new videos on my channel every single day. Unfortunately, it has proven… difficult to post regularly on the site because my update system wasn’t really intended to cope with this kind of volume. Plus some of my regular series have gone on long enough that it is difficult to avoid repeating myself. The plan from this point is to weekly summary posts so regular readers can keep up with at least the broad strokes.
Pillars of Eternity has a serious problem with backer content. You can see this in pretty much every discussion about it online. The backer NPCs and memorials basically exist as filler that doesn’t fit with the story or often the world. Obsidian clearly knew this was an issue, but were obligated to put in all this content because backers paid for it and were promised it. They never seem to answer questions about this but I feel pretty confident that if they kickstart another game either the will completely cut these kinds of perks, severely limit them, or move them to much more expensive tiers. The sheer number of backer memorials and NPCs they agreed to put in is pretty staggering, based on their kickstarter page I think they had more than 3500 backers entitled to memorials and more than 100 NPCs to include.
It was a serious challenge that Obsidian Entertainment completely failed to live up to and the way it was handled let down both their players and their backers. The player perspective is the one I see most often discussed, for example the NPCs are generally regarded as a delivery vehicle for overwritten vignettes and are otherwise completely useless. The only possible interaction with a backer NPC is to walk up to one and view a soul memory, you can never converse with a backer NPC, you will never be asked to get some information from them or discuss their story, they never have a task for you and you can’t ever discuss the information from one of these memories with anyone else. The conversations with Grieving Mother make it clear that viewing her mind is unusual despite these hundred NPCs whose memories you can’t help but examine. So the NPCs serve no story, lore or mechanical purpose. The only concession is that these NPCs have a different name border so once you learn they are useless they are easy to avoid.
The memorials are even worse, there is an order of magnitude more of them and they are significantly less curated. In fact as far as I can tell Obsidian did the bare minimum with these, I am pretty sure they filtered out memorials with swearing or slurs but they appear to have made no checks on grammar, language or fit with the world. They then implemented them in a way that provided them with no control over the placement of individual monuments, as demonstrated by the incident where they replaced a problematic memorial meaning that even memorials that were intended to fit with the world can end up in completely unsuitable locations.
This trains players to ignore backer content, it teaches you quickly and effectively that this basic backer content is separate from and significantly lesser to the rest of the game and is effectively marked to allow a player to easily ignore all of it. Which is why it fails backers, not all backers to be fair, but certainly the subset of backers who actually cared about their contribution, those to whom the memorial or NPC was important in some way. I am one of those backers.
7 years ago my youngest brother passed away, it was sudden, it was tragic and one of the reasons I backed a number of crowdfunded games at a high level was because they had memorial options in them. It is my way to keep him alive, my vague hope was that maybe one of his friends would serendipitously encounter it playing one of these games, that it would remind them however briefly of their school friend and help them remember him. This won’t happen if the game teaches you not to look at backer content.
I know I am not unique in wanting my memorial seen in the sampling of memorials that I have read I have seen people memorialising past adventures, friends, families, even at least one business slipping in an advertisement. It could have been done, they could have curated the memorials, had someone spellcheck them and correspond with backers whose memorials could use improvement. They could have then matched memorials to vaguely appropriate areas rather than the current purely algorithmic approach. They could have had a task or quest that involved information gleaned from a memorial or two in a given area or vital information from a backer NPC. Heck they could have just randomised the order each run so statistically everyone’s memorial will turn up in the first few people are likely to read.
Remember each memorial represents a minimum of a $500 contribution to the game, each NPC $1,000. How much does it cost per backer to have someone check memorials for spelling and grammar and sort them into lore friendly and unfriendly categories?
Given this treatment there is no way I would ever back an Obsidian game at a similar tier again.
I have been meaning to finish Obsidian’s kickstarted old school roleplaying game for quite some time but other games and some offputting handling of backer content really hampered my drive. The success of Torment Thursdays however has shown me that some people are actually interested in my handling of a text heavy long roleplaying game and I thought it would be a great opportunity to rekindle my interest.
The truth is I remember having a lot of fun playing through the start of Pillars, the setting is an interesting variant of the standard medieval fantasy. You have strange races an interesting focus on souls and sorcery and a lot of time and effort is spent making sure you have the ability to reflect little choices your character has made.
The plan is not to try to do a post per episode or even a post per chapter. I will try to post whenever something crops up in game that I feel would justify me spending a few hundred words expanding upon. I have a feeling that with the way I play this game, this series will end up going even longer than Ranonauts did.
The Pillars of Ranternity runs on Ranneko’s YouTube channel every Monday and Friday until Ranneko either finishes the game or is driven off by some maddening feature of the game