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.
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.
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.
With the clock repaired we have pretty much caught up to my first run in terms of main story progress. In fact we are a little further through since I don’t think I had any idea last time where to start looking for her where as now we have a location and a name. We need to find out where Fulsome is and if they have seen Matkina. It does look like she has spent a fair amount of time interacting with people in the Underbelly though so I am sure we can get some more information from the other inhabitants. Time to go talk to the overseers again, mostly because I like them.
On a more technical note I would really prize feedback regarding the voicework I have been doing, this episode marks the first time I have tried to add an effect directly on the vocal track so I would love to know what people think of it and any kind of tweaking they would like done. Specifically I am talking about the effect I added for the Overseer voices, I hope it helps to make them more distinct and helps to remind the viewer of the artificial nature of the speaker, it takes a bit more work but the same approach could potentially be used to help further separate some of the characters I have been interacting with. It is surprisingly difficult to create new voices for each character and then to remember them week to week, I do not know how voice actors manage.
Time to leave the reef and get to Sagus Cliffs. We will return eventually but for now there is nothing left to do here but have a bit of a scrap. Broadly this fight is pretty much unchanged from the third alpha test, though here as a primarily fighting based character my attempts at intimidating or otherwise ending the combat early fell pretty flat. I almost wish that talking was a free action because it feels pretty lame to use an action and get nothing from it, but on the other hand the same thing applies to missing a regular attack.
Once I enter Sagus Cliffs I am going to try to restrain myself from engaging with every NPC, mostly because I did that in the previous iteration of the beta and this way I both avoid spending too much time on relatively redundant content and I don’t have to come up with as many new voices or intonations nor remember what on earth I came up with last time.
Heading straight for the Cult of the Changing God in Circus Minor is pretty rewarding because we get to see what the more complete version of the clock quest looks like. I was actually pretty surprised that the conversation and choice of focus was so quick because this is the thing that flavours your character and powers most strongly, what really sets you apart from other characters of the same type. It explicitly mentions that your focus choice isn’t final and I suspect based on the layout of the rooms involved that we will slowly pick up more focus options as the story progresses. I guess this is to follow the theme of personal mutability that was present in Planescape: Torment
It does seem odd for my low intellect pool glaive to be spending so much time in mental spaces, dealing with psychic projections and attacks, a lot of this storyline feels more thematically appropriate with a nano or at least a jack with a relatively high esotery focus. I wonder if the initial storyline involving the castoff was created with a character type in mind and then widened to fit a more generic character or if this is meant to reflect more on the Changing God than the Last Castoff.
This is why it is interesting to play a semi-public beta; we get to see the content evolve over time. Last time the changes I encountered were kind of disappointing, today’s changes are pretty pleasing. They drastically shortened the time spent in the mental space, the area I think of as the initial character creation set up. As much as I loved the flavour of the initial tidal attunement, especially when you include the big long choose your own adventure section it did simply take too long. I hope that they can reuse some of that content a little later on after the player has more of a chance to get to grips with Numenera’s setting and mechanics.
It also simplifies our very first introduction to combat. The previous version had an odd fight we couldn’t win through direct combat, it makes for interesting variation but a poor introduction. This new scene is much faster and simpler and it still shows off the very basic combat system before the more complicated crisis we will encounter later.
It is interesting seeing this content sandwiched between the two parts that are almost entirely unchanged from the Alpha Systems Tests, I guess those parts have already had enough iteration for InXile to be confident with them. I still find it annoying that we pick up a numenera that is meant to drown out laughter that cannot be used when interacting with a smug laughing machine or the strange giggling numenera outside. It only really need a minor change in description, have it clear that it only impacts the holder and not the speaker for example. Its odd to have nothing acknowledge the stranger impacts of the items that you may be carrying.
On an unrelated note I have upgraded my computer! This hopefully will allow me to improve the quality of the videos I am making, certainly on a raw technological level that is already happening given this video is available in stunning 1440p at 60fps, you’ve never seen text so good.
Torment Thursday is making its return. I stopped doing them primarily because the game ran pretty terribly on my system and the beta was also pretty unstable on it. It wore down my patience especially since it currently lacks a decent autosave system and I really didn’t like having to replay the same content over and over again. Once I made my mind up, inXile Entertainment promptly decided to update the beta, revise the UI, tighten up some of the engine and mess around with the mechanics and story. So it is time to jump back in and replay all that content all over again.
The first couple of scenes are pretty much the same as it was even way back in the first Alpha Systems Test, we have the emphasis on a combination of text and a little voice and sound work, with elaborate scenes describing what your character is doing and remembering without having much if anything reflected in the visuals. It is obviously pretty limited and I still think it would be significantly improved by adding even a few static pieces of art, but I love the flavour of the memories, it is a soft introduction to the strangeness that is the world of Numenera and they have to work to draw you into the bizarre science fantasy blend.
The most significant change they have made in this version is the introduction of hitpoints, something I have to admit I am a little disappointed by. In the tabletop game of Numenera only NPCs have hitpoints, players just have their three stat pools, might, speed and intelligence. These pools are used when spending effort in checks and also when you take damage, if a pool runs dry you take penalties and if all three run out you die. This means that using your combat powers always comes at the price of making you more vulnerable. It also means that you cannot completely ignore a stat pool, even if none of your powers directly uses it as you may always be attacked. This is baked into the system at a fairly low level, for example most attacks hit might, so might is used by fewer skills and abilities. By adding hitpoints and removing this feature, might becomes less valuable unless they do further tweaking.
Colin McComb has stated on the inXile forums that this change was made with the approval of Monte Cook Games and they do have a about half a year to iterate on and balance this change, but I can’t help but feel that they are sacrificing some of the uniqueness of the system to make it easier to quickly understand for newcomers and to make overall combat balance easier. It is a trade off that it easy to understand but also a little sad.