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.
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.
I have some rare, actually prescheduled streams coming up! You should check them out over at twitch.tv/ranneko.
I am an excellent builder of bridges
On Thursday afternoon, starting at 16:00CET I am going to stream the indie puzzle game I am currently slightly obsessed with Poly Bridge. You may recognise it from the incessent posting of bridge gifs over on my twitter feed. I am pretty keen to try out its twitch integration which allows viewers to give suggestions to help me build new and terrible constructions that sometimes get the job down without collapsing catastrophically.
Then pretty much all day Friday I will be streaming Sunless Sea: Zubmariner, basically recording in bulk the next several episodes of Ranless Sea. I am itching to really dive into those stories again and Failbetter Games just made the previously kickstarter exclusive content available to everyone. Plus at the moment they are trying to promote the Sunless Skies kickstarter and they say they will be trying to drop into as many Sunless Sea streams as they can so hopefully they will be around for some of it to answer questions. I will kick off at about 10am CET and try to go for pretty much the whole day, with the occasional break for food, drink and other vital bodily functions.
Even after those streams are done you should remember to follow my channel, I sometimes stream the recording sessions for my let’s plays but unfortunately I don’t have a consistent recording time which makes it hard to have a consistent stream time. If you follow me you will get notifications when I go live!
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 may have picked this game based purely on the name. How can you pass up a game with the ridiculously long title Schrodinger’s Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark. It has everything, Indiana Jones references, physics, cats, how did this game not set the gaming world on figurative fire? I don’t even know what kind of game this actually is. Let’s dive in and find out.
I don’t remember where I first ran across images about this unconventional stealth puzzle game but I was interested from the start. I mean you get to steal art in broad daylight during a galleries operating hours. That is pretty cool, some might even say Marvellous.
As far as initial impressions go, the Marvellous Miss Take is clearly a relatively simple game intended for multiple platforms. It’s options don’t even include a volume slider, merely a few discrete options for how loud you want your music and sound effects to be.
It is focused around mouse control but I found that it was much more fun using keyboard controls I find it a lot easier to get where I want to go without making strange pathing choices or reacting too slowly to changing circumstances.
I like its focus on high speed distraction based stealth rather than a slow methodical one. The gadgets I have encountered so far have been focused around either ranged distraction or adjusting that movement speed, it will be interesting to see what new elements they throw into the mix as the game progresses.
I am looking forward to playing more, hopefully you can join me in the audience. Once the series is over I will put up a post looking back on what I thought worked well and what dragged the experience down.
The Marvellous Ran Take runs every Wedensday on YouTube until Ranneko finishes up this game, if you want to buy it for yourself, check out the site for the game here.
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
While Ninja Blues was down I took the opportunity to take the conceptually charming little title Beyond Eyes for a spin. It was an opportunity to perceive the world through the senses of a young blind girl, not exactly the focus of a typical game.
It starts off fairly well with a quick dip into the tragic backstory of our heroine followed by a stroll around the garden playing with our cat. Unfortunately the hook of the game proves to be its downfall, understandably a little blind girl tends to move very slowly and uncertainly which makes exploration a pain. She also doesn’t know about obstacles until she is very close to them and the controls are awkward enough that you often end up stuck in small corners you have no way of knowing about until it is too late.
It results in a tedium that often overrides the wonder and beauty that the concept and art style otherwise would invoke. I literally had to stop myself from falling asleep in some parts of the second episode.
It is a real pity as the game sounds like the kind of different experience that I am often after when I look for new games.
Site outages are inconvenient especially since I find it difficult enough to keep up on my posts at the best of times. I should remind you, dear reader, that my YouTube channel was regularly updating even while Ninja Blues was down.
In the five episodes that have gone up since the last post an unsurprisingly large amount has happened.