Wherein I discuss a halcyon habit, the death of a doll’s dream, another acquisition, cycling cyberpunk controversies, and a place of painful memories.
If you are an avid reader of Nigma Box, you may be familiar with anecdotes about how, for much of my teenage years, I was very much enraptured in the more fetishistic end of the TSF/TG community. Not in the sense that I didn’t appreciate a good story or works that aimed to take the concept to a higher level. But in the sense that I mostly used this stuff as a masturbatory aid, as it was the only thing that appealed to my warped and confused teenage libido.
And because masturbation felt good and filled my teenage brain with happy juices, I did so regularly. My memory is a bit foggy, and I did not keep track of these things, but I think I masturbated, on average, 2 times every 3 days. Or to give a more usable figure, ~.67 times a day. And whenever I did so, it was almost always right before going to bed.
I did this because it was the only time during a weekday when I knew my family wouldn’t barge into my bedroom after giving me a two-second notice and because it actually helped me get to sleep faster. Now, this really only persisted from 2011 to 2014, or back when I was 16 to 19. Where I would routinely end my days perusing jolly old TG caption sites, the cesspit of Writing.com, or shuffling through my old DeviantArt favorites. Then, sometime in 2015, when my gender dysphoria started kicking in something fierce, I stopped masturbating for the most part but continued to hold a strong fascination with TG and TSF media, as I am not the sort of person to ever fully grow out of something
It was a bit of an adjustment, and the hardest thing was suppressing my still active libido by denying it satiation and enduring a few restless nights, only for it to steadily die down from my continued neglect, before becoming basically non-existent after I started HRT. And during the rare instance I tried masturbating since starting HRT, it has been a largely hollow and unsatisfying experience deprived of the high I once felt upon climaxing. Because that’s what a lack of androgen and influx of estrogen will do, I guess.
For clarification’s sake, I by no means like or want my penis or related parts, and I am taking the steps needed to get rid of them. However, I do sometimes have this wistful nostalgia for the carefree halcyon days where I could just masturbate, be gross, and be happy about it. But now I hold myself up to a higher standard. Where I only talk about masturbating, instead of actually masturbating.
Seeing as how this was the week before an international holiday and the week after The Game Awards, things were naturally on the slower end of things, with the biggest and most prominent piece of PR sanctioned and scheduled news pertaining to the breakdown of Sephiroth in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Which naturally showed off the edgy bishonen sword boy in great detail, but it also revealed new Mii Fighter costumes, bringing in Aerith, Tifa, and Barret into the fray to represent the initial roster of Final Fantasy VII, even if it meant giving Aerith a sword.
This was not unexpected, but what was at least somewhat surprising, if not disheartening, was how they also revealed the return of a Mii Fighter costume for Geno, who the Smash community has wanted to see get a slot since 2008. And him receiving a costume basically discredits any claims that he is coming into the base game. This was honestly the only thing I was personally hoping for in this season pass, as it would be ‘the big memes’ and I would love seeing the hissy fits that this would thrust people into. Instead, we get one of the most iconic video game antagonists of all time. Fair enough!
In more pedantic news, back in early November, VGC reported that Codemasters, the UK developer/publisher of the racing game series Dirt, Grid, and F1, was in talks with 2K Games over a possible acquisition. I voiced my disapproval of this, and how this would only make the industry a smaller place while giving more power to greater corporate conglomerates, but after accepting this as a done deal, a swerve ball was thrown my way instead, as it was announced that Electronic Arts has agreed to acquire Codemasters to the tune of $1.2 billion.
This is not necessarily any better or worse from my perspective, as both publishers have a poor rap sheet, and the ultimate effect here is the same as all other major acquisitions of this sort. The industry is becoming more consolidated, a lot of people are probably going to lose their jobs, and executives are going to receive a hefty sum for negotiating this deal. It’s sad that things need to go this way, but this is simply how modern business works, where little guys are acquired by bigger guys, and the bigger guys control everything.
Truly, this is the beginning of our very own cyberpunk dystopia, and on that note… boy howdy did CD Projekt Red screw up the launch of Cyberpunk 2077!
This honestly came as something of a surprise to me due to how the developer has been handling the reveal and public perception of the game. Cyberpunk 2077 was announced in 2012, simulated gameplay was revealed in 2018, it was reannounced in 2019, and they have been trickling news out while delaying the game back further and further from April 2020 to September to November to December.
Based on this hype cycle, and the fact that CDPR’s last major game wrapped production in 2015, it should have been reasonable to assume that they’d finish the game by 2020. Instead, the title released to a plethora of technical problems on all platforms, and a positively piteous performance on home consoles. CDPR tried to douse the flames by promising patches… but that is not what people wanted to hear. They manufactured so much hype for the game, seemingly pushed it back so long, and still could not truly finish it. It makes me wonder how the hell they ever thought the game could have ever been shipped 6 months ago, especially considering how terrible the PS4 and Xbox One versions are.
The console versions were bad enough to warrant a Metacritic score 30/100 points less than the PC version, and CDPR’s response to this was to tell players to request refunds if they did not want to wait for the upcoming performance patches set to release in Q1 2021. Unfortunately, because console manufacturers don’t want you to refund games, players’ efforts were unsuccessful at first, and CDPR had to reach a special agreement with Sony and Microsoft after they told people to request refunds. This resulted in Cyberpunk 2077’s removal from PSN, along with the introduction of a PS4 refund portal, while Microsoft is offering full refunds for all Cyberpunk 2077 purchases, both on the Microsoft Store and on the Xbox storefront. Curiously, the game was not delisted from Microsoft’s storefronts, possibly due to a marketing deal CDPR facilitated with Microsoft.
I look at this terrible situation and need to ask who was the manager who so grossly misunderstood the game’s state, what their team could do, and did not have the decency to delay the game further. Or at least until the end of the fiscal year. Because this is something you don’t really recover from. This will not be forgotten about, this will overshadow the launch of their next game, and this inspired the most toxic members of the gaming community to spew bile like no other. Well, that’s not true. This sort of bile is actually quite common, but this rendition was especially potent and harmful.
However, this somehow wasn’t enough bad PR for CDPR.
In the middle of the ongoing kerfuffle with Cyberpunk 2077, developer Red Candle Games announced that their first-person psychological horror title, Devotion, would be distributed via GOG, CD Projekt’s storefront, later this month. For those unaware, Devotion is an infamous game that was pulled from stores following the discovery of a placeholder art asset that mocked China’s current president, Xi Jinping. The developers have struggled to sell the game since then, and GOG would have been a great platform for the title. Then, after news sites picked up on the story, and mere hours after this announcement, CDPR changed its mind and canceled the Devotion’s release.
This is definitely one of those “this would be funny if it weren’t so sad” types of stories. Because CDPR needed to know this game’s history if they were going to bring it to GOG. Somebody had to gauge this business decision. And if they decided not to distribute the game outright, if they told Red Candle that they would not allow the game on their storefront… nobody would really care. Nobody would know about it.
If there is anything this past week has shown, it’s that CD Projekt Red is not a trustworthy company. They are not the good guys, they are not an underdog, and they don’t actually respect their audience or even their artistic vision. Because if they did, they would have pulled the lever and stopped this train before things got this bad. They thought a shoddy console port of their major next-gen level experience wouldn’t piss people off. They deliberately avoided showing the port and lied about its quality before launch.
I normally like to give developers the benefit of the doubt, but… this was all their doing, this was their game, and this is all their fault. Management screwed up, the game should not have been released, and now everybody is angry. They made a negative contribution to the world when they could have made a positive one, and while the game could get WAY better in the next year, this bad launch will still linger within people’s minds.
This isn’t even a No Man’s Sky situation, where the developers had plenty of good reasons to not meet the unrealistic expectations of fans. CDPR controlled the message, they had the luxury to delay the game as much as they wanted, they had plenty of funds to make it, and they had resources to make a AAA game. But instead of pushing the industry forward, they released a game that epitomizes the controversies seen this past generation. A game that hypes people to a fever pitch and fills their minds with unrealistic expectations… only to ship a game that is fundamentally unfinished.
…Yeah, that’s too bitter of a note to end things on, so let’s talk about the Nintendo theme park. After some delays, Nintendo and Universal are finishing up Super Nintendo World, a theme park set to open up in Tokyo on February 4th, 2021 (which is laughably idealistic considering the ongoing pandemic). And in order to advertise it, they sent in Mario’s dad and Bowser Jr.’s mom, Shigeru Miyamoto, to show off some attractions and confirm that, for a place called Super Nintendo World, it really should just be called Super Mario World.
The attraction’s biggest appeal, as far as I can tell, is its recreation of the modern Mario aesthetic, with every block, statue, and tiny detail conforming to the Mario universe. To the point where the entire place almost looks like somebody is superimposed into a video game at a glance. It is an impressive work of craftsmanship, but seeing the park up close like this and with a person inside, I can’t help but get an uncanny vibe due to the park’s commitment to the aesthetic and its chosen scale.
Super Nintendo World is a walled environment, where the city skyline is obscured with tall walls meant to make the attendant feel as if they are immersed in the Mario universe. But this universe, from the perspective of a park-goer, just looks… wrong. The blocks are huge, the statues and models are massive, but the park itself is tightly compressed. A lot of the physical space is occupied by visual displays, and the walkways and attractions alike look so narrow or tiny that I doubt they could comfortably support a wide influx of patrons.
Overall… This video successfully reminded me of why I don’t like theme parks, amusement parks, and carnivals. Like at all. As in, they are one of the few things in my life that I have exclusively bad memories of. I visited these sorts of places fairly often as a child, but literally every time I can recall, I forced my family to leave early because I started crying or panicking from the unwanted stimuli. Huh. Now that I put it that way… I hate everything parks like Super Nintendo World represent, and I’m glad that I never need to visit some place like this ever again.
Header image comes from Forever Summer by Moonlly. It is a crossdressing and forced feminization 3D comic that I checked out due to pure curiosity and have been enjoying due to its long-form storytelling and a surprisingly grounded approach to a forced gender transition. I mean, besides the fact that the protagonist has a naturally feminine face and can access female vocal ranges after a day of training. Which most cross-dressing stories tend to gloss over because… it’s just easier to feminize a femme protagonist.