Podcasts 2017

47

Q: As usual, can I ask for a general update on how things have been, and plans for the upcoming year?

A: Aside from being sick and being January, I've been doing a lot of work with Puyo getting the art together for Downtown. A lot of art and a lot of Downtown, but can start moving forward on that. Lyz has been editing for Paizo. I've got a few third-party pathfinder credits out there (Zenith Games). Big thing coming is Downtown, I won't promise that it'll be done in 2017 but if it's not started something has gone terribly wrong. Should be starting up fairly soon. I don't want to promise before spring but at the same time it would not surprise me to see soon. I'd also like (and said this last year too) to get unearthly items out on a more consistant basis. Not going to be off to a good start on that. The first on the docket is rather large one, probably going to end up being a three coin item, (or two coins if I couldn't get it done). Most other stuff will tie into Downtown one way or another; cooking, more hacking, various side quests. And outside of Metroplexity, more roleplaying game writing, more Twilight Heroes (new PvP), visiting Seattle for PaizoCon, and likely going to Japan.

[11:05]
Q: Does the squatter king have any involvement in the waterfront smuggling operations?

A: That's an interesting question. I don't see him as being a big part of that no. More about protecting his little squatter community.

Q: You said the docks smuggling quest is only partly released. Is the rest waiting on Downtown or something else?

A: Rest just waiting on me pushing that out. Rest part takes place in Oldtown and sort of hooks into some Downtown content. Should be showing up soonish. The rest of the Family quest should be out before Downtown.

Q: We've seen the Families now; what's the next faction to introduce?

A: Interesting question. Next that has been teased is the Yakuza. Some other "factions" that has not been teased to the same extent which might show up first, that the Vigilante never really had interactions with. Assuming Downtown goes remotely as planned, there's a lot of interplay with the factions there, which is why you are seeing a lot of faction stuff now. Yakuza don't have much outside of Downtown. I might have to double check.

Q: You had discussed a First Aid revamp at some point — is that still on the books. (I'd be all for a system that requires less equipment switching to rest optimally).

A: Yeah I really should do that. That had kind of fallen off my radar. Might be as simple as making First Aid not apply to resting, which sounds kind of terrible but might be some alternatives. May roll that into a general resting revamp. Resting is horrible spaghetti code. Easiest way to handle that would be to move over to a new resting code base that didn't have that tie-in with equipment.

Q: Looking into the various voice recordings to log into the Slags lab: the refugee recording gives "Welcome Doctor! Records Access Granted." while the lab recording gives just "Welcome Doctor!" However I can't find any difference in access. Just a holdover from Oldos?

A: I mean the text is assuredly a holdover. I want to say that there is supposed to be a difference in access. *checks* No, looks like those are the same. Let me make the text actually the same so that's not confusing [needs checking]. One of the other encounters does give more access.

Q: The voice recordings are also usable for small amounts of XP. Are there additional uses for using them?

A: Gotta dig deep into the memory banks here. I would guess that they're just usable for XP for extras- ah, there is some tricky stuff going on. There's a little hidden usage under the surface there.

Q: Is there any difference in equipping electrical kits or salvaging tools for getting special drops from opponents? (Doesn't seem to be.)

A: I don't believe so. I'm pretty sure they use the same flag for that. I certainly could make them work differently. The thing I'm normally checking is the same flag and the drops are checking that. It's also entirely possible that some are say, if you fought a colossus and that wouldn't necessarily drop chucks of stone with electrical kit; salving kit gives above and beyond what the electrical kit does.

Q: Since 2016 is over, this podcast seems like a good time for the end of year unearthly item spading round up. Shifting maze - Thanks to Valmo's dedication on pushing through to the avatar it seems like we've probably gotten most of the stuff out of this. But the big question we haven't been able to answer is what the unstable draught crafts with. We're missing two items in between the clear draught and the unstable draught, which could be the other ingredient and the result… do you have any hints on what we should be looking for?

A: Actually, I dug into that and the unstable drought is not supposed to be chemistry ingredient, but maze fang is. I'm sorry about that. Should be able to make some fangy stuff.

Q: Trick top hat - It seems like either we've got a pretty good handle on this, or we're just completely missing something. You've said it's not actually possible to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but are there any secrets to this that we are missing out on?

A: I requested an illustration of a rabbit coming out of a hat, but didn't think to make a rabbit! There is actually a pretty big thing that is being missed with the trick top hat. Sort of moving one hand and distracting you from other thing. There's maybe 40% content undiscovered.

Q: Moodlight glove - There's clearly something going on with the jellyfish encounter, but we haven't been making any progress on that. Any hints? Also, I haven't checked recently, but after the change to techniques following other techniques I started having issues with the version of Emotional Grip following Moodlight Blinding, and couldn't seem to learn Emotional Glow anymore, which has caused some spading issues. Is there anything going on there?

A: The tweak with techniques following other techniques changed things; you can technically make it work but it's not harder (unintentional nerf). I went back through and any succesful use of Moodlight Blinding should chain into Emotional Grip. I dug into the jellyfish encounter and got code errors (fixed). Definitely things there, maybe bugged before. Try it again. If you are getting the encounter, especially if you are getting it regularly, it should be fairly obvious. I'm assuming some pile of weirdness, there are a couple requirements there that are maybe a little tricky but it's stuff I'm assuming you probably tried.

Q: Mascot adapter - This seems like another one where either we understand it pretty well, or there's something we don't even suspect is lurking in it. Any thoughts on how well we understand this guy?

A: A fair chunk of stuff not figured out. It's an interesting sort of… well the thing that you need to unlock is a bit more out of the box. It's the sort of thing, once you read the requirement to get the thing, it's obvious that's how that would work. Pretty sizeable new thing, one the lines of what's going on with the trick top hat. Not like a whole new zone or anything, but sizeable within the scope of a 1-coin item.

Q: personal tree - We don't even have a full understanding of the basic mechanics of this one, though it seems like we at least have enough to have some control of which "peer closer" result we get. The biggest question seems to be what's going on with trimming, though. It seems like it may cause the tree to not consume food and water on the next rollover, but only sometimes? And Argeth managed to get the Green Shot technique from it once, but trying to duplicate his approach as far as he was aware hasn't worked. Can you give us any horticultural guidance?

A: Digging into this, there's a lot going on with the personal tree. Totally forgot Green Shot technique, thought Argeth was making it up at first. But it does exist. There's a couple of things going on there. Not crazy difficult to get one, but not surprised it took a long time to get one. Takes a leap of faith (or happy accident) to find that there. Need a very different view on it which might take a happy accident. With a lot of techniques, it gets harder to get additional copies so if Argeth did exactly the same thing again, may not get it. There's a lot in there though, it's pretty hard, maybe harder than it should be, might be a mistake on my part or maybe it's a metafore for difficulty in finding inner peace.

Q: blood rose amulet - We don't quite understand what makes an opponent qualify for charging this, or if there's a way to control which form gets unlocked, but it feels like in terms of general content we may be okay here. Any thoughts?

A: You've basically got that one. Not something you can perfectly control (some degree of randomness), but got it largely down.

Q: While looking over the unearthly items, I looked at the description for the blood rose pants, and saw a mention of "the Cellar Door". And a wiki search showed that Julia mentioned it at one point, as well. From context it sounds like a club of some sort, but can you tell us any more about it?

A: Yeah, it's a club in Downtown. It's probably the biggest counter-culture club in Metroplex. They require you have non-human cosmetic cyberware, I think Julia mentions this. From elf ears, cat eyes up to full body modifications. Most of the big corps (Midgard, Omnitech, etc) won't employ the type of people with those modifications so it's a lot of nerdy/criminal/etc culture. That is one of the things on the menu to complete in Downtown.

Q: Any thoughts on future item class updates, like when knife weapons became a thing? A lot of stuff has been covered, but I think pistols could still get a bit of love.

A: I would tend to agree. *writes down* I'd like to go in an do a couple smaller ones too, and a few other blocks of stuff. Maybe Oldtown will have some pistol stuff, or maybe I'll get sick of Downtown and just add it.

Q: For last Halloween, would it have been possible to get combined results at the party if there were sufficient amounts of different music types queued up, or was it a winner take all setup?

A: There were some interesting interplay there. I remember very clearly the answer from the previous Halloween but the 2016 was structured a bit differently. 2015: The answers got ranked, and the more Eclipse that got in, the more encounters got unlocked. (Boar, tropical, etc). Something similar but more complex in 2016, I feel like it might have just needed a ton of Eclipse to start trickling down in each category. There were the decorations, music, separate competitions. I don't *think* that triggered. Assume that it was winner take all, the top one will always get in.

Q: Any plans on the opening of the Oldtown Apartments?

A: That will either be part of housing when that goes in (talking about revamping rest stuff earlier, that would probably be tied in)… The other side of the coin, if I ever need an encounter area in some apartments area, I could drop it in there (unlikely).

Q: Back in October, in one of the fundraising categories, Crypto (I think) raised 5,000 credits and then I raised 5,000 credits but the message still said "thanks mostly to Cryptodynamic". How are ties handled in the code? Player ID?

A: If I didn't code in anything in particular, it would be handled by the order in the sql database; [defragmentation / database discussion].

Q: How much are we missing in the Mushroom Cavern?

A: Fairly well figured out. It's kind of a side side side area. Not a ton hidden in there, but it's not hit a lot. At least a couple small things hidden there.

Q: Is there any way to get that Spear technique that the Mushroom Scout and a few others use?

A: There's the basic Spear technique ("Spears the target for x damage"), not available for the player and not very interesting. Oh yeah, all sorts of spear stuff, overwritten to some extent by Spear Hunting. No way to get that technique.

Q: So those unearthly rave gloves. Anything cool about taking them out raving? Can we expect anything special from those sorts of activities?

A: Man, I'd like to say there's a cool interaction but not entirely sure if you've found the raving thing. Not sure if there's any changes in the Happy Hour partying. I don't think I thought about or coded that. There's an interaction but not the obvious one.

Q: I found it curious you should mention during Christmas that you only liked adding content for currently available unearthly items. Was one of those hidden snowdudes related to an unearthly? Or any of that new Christmas content unearthly related?

A: I think the reason that came up, someone was asking about wearing the knitted hat with sweaters, and I didn't want to add that because the hat was not in season. None of the new snowmen were unearthly related. Something I hadn't been counting before I started counting, and the petrol stuff, and some old stuff people haven't figured out.

Q: When you were making the personal tree what was your inspiration? Did you have trouble taking care of azaleas? Or were you thinking what Metroplexity really needed was Tamagotchi? Can we expect anything special from managing the legendary task of managing a house plant well?

A: There's been the fragments of a pet system hanging in my head for a while, and this was branch from that. I take care of our dirt/compost. I do like tamagotchis, which got rained on.

Q: I have both plants and unearthlies on the mind now: so this next question is perfect. The designer vines. You said to discover the mold golem's content needs a skill of some sort. Nothing new yet has been discovered to this. Have you anything else to say on this subject?

A: Oh, I'm pretty sure I know what skill it is. Now the question is has anyone found that skill. Yes, they have. Someone can dig in to that in-run or after.

Hopefully you are all looking forward to Oldtown, hopefully getting that out soon, depending. Maybe some advertising coming up. TV Tropes bring a surprising amount of eyeballs, if anyone is on there, would like more on there, one more way to help the game out.

48

Q: Heya Kinak! As of this writing, I just a few days ago hit my 8th anniversary with Metroplexity, so here's looking forward to another good year!

A: Absolutely. I think we'll be seeing some pretty cool stuff this year.

Q: How're things looking for the trip to Japan? I'm thinking that might be a good time for me to work in getting in a Closed System run. :)

A: That's probably a good idea. Meeting lots of Puyo's friends in Japan. We'll be out there about 3 weeks. Will have devices which will allow me to keep up with bug reports but not expecting to release stuff. Then PaizoCon in Seattle.

[12:00]
Q: Will The Phoenix be where we eventually learn to cook, assuming our taste buds survive the experience?

A: Some of the stuff from the Phoenix will be useful in cooking, but the item that you can put in your apartment will be available above Downtown.

Q: Do you think the proprietors of The Phoenix would pay us to take out Happy Dragon delivery drones?

A: Probably not, they have a bit of a different sideline already, which there are some pretty subtle hints which will become more apparent when cellar door opens.

Q: In the picture of the discount cyberdoc, are the things behind him specialized cyberlimbs? Is it possible for cyberware in this setting to provide functional limbs that are in addition to the normal ones, not just replacements?

A: They are and yes. Generally speaking they're better for decorative purposes. It takes a lot of training. Replacement limbs are a lot easier to replace and train up (even with current technology). If you are eg. giving someone limbs who was born without, it's doable but harder. Adding more external limbs can be both decorative and utility. Would be weird to see an office worker but when you see heavy labour jobs (eg. mining) extra cyberlimbs might be useful. A lot of the heavy jobs have been replaced by drones in Metroplex though.

Q: Any hints on what might be next on the list to open up Downtown?

A: That would be the Cellar Door. Not happening while I'm out of the country.

Q: Halloween somewhere Downtown this year, perhaps?

A: That seems likely enough. The dusty clipboard was released yesterday. There may be other donation items which hook into it (not required but do have interactions) to tell that whole story. There's a pretty substantial narrative arc that goes through that. It would have been a 6 or 7 coin item if I did it all. A lot of work that is on another chuck on the story. That sort of disrupted Cellar Door work. I'm super excited about the Cellar Door. One of the very first places in Metroplex that got created in the original design documents. As far as visitable zones go, it's maybe the second one. The quad, the Cellar Door, then another one you won't get to for a while. Have some great art from Puyo, oh my god.

Q: Is the mite carapace from crawling mites a really rare drop, or is there a trigger to get it other than the sampling kit?

A: Sounds like there is something you are not quite 100% on, but even if you did understand it, it's just rare. Not a special dance you need to do or anything.

Q: With the main quest line completed in Oldtown, do you think we'll be getting a special intro for the first time taking the Metros there, like the older zones?

A: Oh! Yeah. I should have actually put that in quite a while ago. (Noted)

Q: How are things looking with the next unearthly item?

A: I should have waited for my ramble until now.

Q: Is any of the stuff the guy who rants on public access tv talks about actually just crazy conspiracy theories? We've been able to map a lot of his topics to real things, but there's some stuff we don't seem to have seen in-game… yet.

A: There is a bit of a question there, of cause and effect. What things he talks about because they are out there and what things are out there because people believe in them. Even setting aside the Eclipse thing, we've been expecting rogue AIs for 50 or 70 years now, but haven't had a robopocalpse even in Metroplexity's timeline. Maybe would make him look a little less crazy but at some point you have to wonder if we made it turn on us.

Q: What exactly is My Little Idoru? There's clearly a line of toys and at least one TV show and it seems to have a decent fanbase, but we've only seen the edge of it.

A: You'll see a little bit more of that Downtown. I see it as something like Idolmaster or Cinderella Girls I think? It's sort of like imaginary American Idol. Zaibatsu runs it obviously; they will have basically a roster of synthetic idols. [… xx:xx-46:40]

Q: I've been trying to draw people into the game, but often running into issues at the first hurdle; telling people what the game actually is. How would you describe Metroplexity to a potential new player, who may not have played similar games like Kingdom of Loathing or Twilight Heroes?

A: It depends a bit on where the conversation is coming from. I say a text-based story game with combat elements but you can also solve things non-violently. Can talk about setting, retro-futurism or cyberpunk or dystopian. Dark near-future cyberpunk setting, corporate corruption and subversion of human rights, and some more fantastic elements under the surface; how the corporations and people end up interacting with that. Oh, and when I'm talking to people about roleplaying games: I started doing Metroplexity because I can't GM for everyone, and wanted more places where you can get an experience like a good table-top RPG without needed a GM. Always things to discover, can go off in directions.

Q: I'm interested in your thoughts on daily tasks in games like this. We've got some, like using the personal tree, or getting red flakes or personal serum, but I find in Kingdom of Loathing that there are so many things to do daily that even with chat macros to cover a lot of it I find it's frequently too much hassle to bother.

A: I don't like… Well, the personal tree is on the edge of this. If they don't have cost associated with them. It ends up being to be optimal you need to do this laundry list. If there is a cost, even a pittance (eg. a turn), then … it still may end up being optimal (always worth a turn) but I feel that it's very different opting out of paying that cost. As opposed to just clicking. The personal tree is a little on the edge of that where the real cost for that one is the slot it's taking up, a little more passive. Something you have to be careful about, giving things away for free. It seems like it should be good but…you reach a point where those things start to wear you down. That point is different for each player, someone might be okay with half a dozen, someone might be okay with 1, or 20, etc.

Q: How much control does Midgard have over the basic utilities of Metroplex? How hard would it be to get Eclipse into the general water supply?

A: Midgard could very easily do that, assuming they have the appropriate amount of Eclipse on hand. Which brings over the question — they haven't either they don't have enough Eclipse (possible, but unlikely) or they don't want to for some reason.

Q: How self-contained will the Downtown quest be? Will we have to wander back through old areas to complete it? Is this the end of the main quest line?

A: There are little strands that go out into other areas but generally all Downtown. Not like the Survivors quest, more like Oldtown, or Docks quest. You might visit outside a little bit. It's not quite the end of the main questline, there's one or two stages left. It's probably the biggest remaining chunk, a lot moving parts.

Q: A lot of unearthly items introduce a new mechanic trigger, a lot of which haven't been used elsewhere. Is there anything that depends on ascending vs. descending chains other than the lens focused on the unknown techniques?

A: I don't believe so.

Q: Is there anything that checks chain position other than Sudden Adaptation from the Harvest Dreams?

A: I mean, Opener of course, which is the flip side of Sudden Adaptation. Other than that, not a lot that depends on absolute chain number.

Q: Not unearthly, but is there anything that checks the positioning of the opponents other than Leaping Flame?

A: That actually should at some point, and I've been planning to do this forever so it might not happen for years but I'm planning re-coding area of effect attacks so that they are actually area of effect, so the target and adjacent targets or maybe larger ones. Among other things, there's a whole bunch of stuff that needs to change on the code side.

Q: The wings from the Downtown cyberclinic are awesome, whcih make me wonder — will we ever be able to fly?

A: I would not be surprised if you eventually got that ability.

Q: As far as I can tell, only the basic Punch counts for unlocking Pugilism. Would it be reasonable for all barehanded techniques to work there (Crushing Punch / Brick Punch / Jab / etc.)?

A: Generally for those sorts of things it is really one Technique that ends up carrying the burden of learning. I don't think that's necessarily inappropriate, and also don't want to start spreading that out and giving people the wrong idea as it relates to figuring out other things.

Q: Any hints at more title unlocks? Are there titles to find other than seasonal- or conduct-related stuff?

A: It sounds weird because I coded them recently but I don't think so? I had some ideas for some things that were pretty weird but I don't think they snuck in. So I guess we'll see.

Q: Eclipse seems to rarely affect hacking, even when hacking the shipping drone/flying eye network. But we can "infect" the burrowing drone to turn it into a Titanic Mole. Any hints about what's going on there?

A: I believe there is a fairly substantial game, in the code itself, but there's definitely a … I mean the hint in the game is a blinking sign for the right question, it gives you the answer. It short-circuits you up the chain of questions, give you and answer and then a new question. I think even without that you can probably put together what's going on. But there's a very specific thing going on there.

Q: I've spent weeks trying to hack the Security Hub on backbone relay sites. It seems to be expecting Novos System Updates but it "still thinks I'm an intruder", even when I have control of the backbone. Is there a trick there we're missing or a bug?

A: Let me pull that code up. There's definitely some tricky tricky stuff in the code there. I don't want to tell you all the lies. Or truths. Yeah you definitely can do that. Not necessarily easy, by which I mean the difficulty varies based on some other factors and even if you know what you're doing can go from not to bad to dear-sweet-god hard. At least glancing at the code, it doesn't look bugged. And yeah, you'll still get that message even with control of the backbone.

Q: The Security Hub seems to dissapear sometimes on the Southside hub only. Is that related to player actions or something else?

A: There's no… hm. I would be more concerned if you are seeing it on the southside relay. If you do, let me know but you shouldn't be. Because it's not there. It is on the other relays and not there.

Q: Do the Eurasian Report or Waterlogged Handcannon have anything going on more than meets the eye?

A: Obviously the Waterlogged Handcannon is part of the quest chain there but other than that not terribly deep. Don't think either do.

Q: The anniversary pocket mirror seems to give an extra bonus to the sword hilt weapon; almost no other item is enhanced like this. Is that an oddity of the anniversary mirror or the sword hilt?

A: The sword hilt has a number of special interactions but that's more of a question of how the sword hilt is seen than a magic about it.

Q: Has the static TV been updated recently? I couldn't find any messages from any of the newer skills, though it seems intentional not every skill has a message.

A: It is intentional. It hasn't been updated super recently. There might be some that are worth adding. Yeah, there's definitely some of the more recent ones that need to have effects added. (Noted)

Q: Glittering Ecofuel seems to be just straight up worse than Smoking Ecofuel — is there something more to that one?

A: One of them is filled with glitter, obviously.

Q: Is there any way to cure Blurred Eyes? (Unlike other cyberware-related effects, it does not seem to be cured by means other than installing new eyes.)

A: Hm. Yeah, that's probably fair. I could put it in its own category that should be cured. They category it's in now, I'll break that out. It wouldn't entirely surprise me if there is some other way to cure it that just hasn't come up. Doesn't look like it.

Q: The Panacea Pill is the only known cure for some effects (Dark Smoke, The Jitters, Chest Wound, Parasitic Vine) — do these belong to a general "negative effect" category, and/or are there other ways of curing those?

A: I think those are in a couple different categories. Panacea pill covers at least a dozen categories, some of those are in the same categories, some are different. Just because something is in a category doesn't mean that there's a cure for it. The Jitters is the one I'd be most surprised to see a new one for.

Q: The 'Noxious Mist' technique enhances Nitro but only seems to be available to NPCs. Is there any way to learn that or any other gas-based techniques that chain with Nitro?

A: I don't believe so offhand. Looks like it's just that one. Wouldn't be surprised if you learn it eventually or run into other techniques that chain into Nitro but at the moment I don't think that one is learnable. Doesn't have an image.

Hope everyone has a great month while I'm out. I'll try to keep on top of bug reports but the meat of development won't start up until back in the states. Coming up: more unearthly items, Cellar Door then probably the surface of Downtown, and there's some pretty cool stuff on surface, including the Midgard towner (HQ). Probably many months worth of downtown content before that quest can be done.

49

Q: How were the trips to Japan and PaizoCon?

A: Great. [Jump ahead to 28:00 if you only care about game questions]

Q: Think we'll be having Halloween in Downtown this year, or is there not an appropriate place opened up yet?

A: If necessary, there is code in place to open the upper parts of Downtown, and if necessary I can flip that switch and that make that happen. That may very easily end up happening, but I do plan to have Halloween downtown at a new location, it may have shown up in flavour text a couple times.

Q: Do you think any cyberware crafting will venture into Armory territory? Metal reinforced bones or the like?

A: Yeah, that's very likely you'll see something along the lines of dermal plating. I wanted to get the fundamentals in but you might see the occasional also with chemistry; don't really see sushi-cyberware. Might show up as a small update like [Cryptodynamic's] golem-hearts idea. Wouldn't worry too much about that for the time being.

Q: A bit of a long one, to give context. Argeth recently found that counterculture cyberware can prevent you from peacefully entering the front doors of the Midgard records vault, and I assume that will affect other corp buildings, like the Midgard one downtown. Since Ocean's Touch also counts for that purpose, you have something doing that which can't be removed. For now a reset will do that, but eventual skill perming might make that a problem. I know the Kingdom of Loathing devs have said it's a design decision in that game not to have skills that will hurt people if learned permanently; what are your thoughts on that?

A: There are definitely some situations where you get into interesting results once you get into perming skills, but someone with Ocean's Touch will want to poke around a little more carefully there but shouldn't be too concerned.

Q: It's still a few months away, but any chance of some clues on finding snow snakes this Christmas?

A: Um. Yeah! It's sort of, if I recall, going a little orthogonal to the normal thrust of the things you are counting at Christmas. Not a new thing that is being counted, just a different thing that is being counted, and just hasn't gotten to the levels needed. I have full faith you'll get there.

Q: There are a number of different methods controlling the rate at which techniques are learned, but it feels like lately for a lot of techniques as long as you meet the trigger condition and have all known instances of the technique in your active deck, you have a 100% chance at learning a new instance. Do you think this is likely to continue to be the case going forward?

A: It depends on exactly how that technique is going in. There are quite a few different approaches; that one; a semi-standard one where there is a technique and if you use certain weapon with it you get a sort of improved version of it; and then ones where you get from taking Eclipse in certain circumstances, etc. There are actually enough undiscovered techniques in some places that you won't necessary see all the patterns because I think you are missing a lot of the puzzle pieces, both because I am a jerk and because there are different patterns that are applies with varying degrees of consistency and that will fall into place. No great mystery, just different feels I'm going for.

Q: Normally skills and techniques learned are permanent, until a reset. But in order to learn Starry Gaze you have to trade in instances of Evil Eye. And to learn Stellar Appreciation you need to trade in Art Appreciation. And it's a bit different, but there are the Time skills from the orbital watch. Do you have any ideas in mind for other things that will use similar mechanics, where skills or techniques might be traded in for other things?

A: Yeah, definitely. I don't think we're going to see a broad basis for that where you trade in 5 techs for a new tech but maybe trade in 5 punches for a sweet karate punch thing. I don't think there's anything outstanding that hasn't been discovered. Particularly with techniques, I think that's an intersting way to have those change and evolve with your experiences. Something that wouldn't surprise me if I went back and did that with older techniques as well, eg. if Crushing Punch actually upgraded Punch; no immediate plans but very much looking forward.

Q: Downtown questions! Are some patrons in the cellar door "immortal" or do they just happen to be a bunch of people identically dressed like spiders or demons?

A: Those do actually represent multiple people. There is some text that may or may not have been uncovered to explain why the spider ladies are like that. The bouncers I don't think exactly explain themselves, but there's a background reason for that as well.

Q: Is there any way to stare down the rude spider lady successfully?

A: There should be; always possible it's not working.

Q: No hacked signal to be found in the Cellar Door yet — is that something that is coming?

A: Yes very much. I may have been smart enough to not mention them in the text yet but there is another organization in the celler door that will get rolled out at some point (likely not before halloween) and that will involve hacking. The celler door is to downtown what the lot across the street is to oldtown, ie. the largest and most involved area there.

Q: Slags questions! The 4th floor of the damaged buildings is the only place where twisted hounds show up when you are sober. Is there something significant about this floor specifically we will be able to dig into later? We are close to the Source of the Incident obviously but why 4th floor and not 1st or 2nd?

A: I mean, keep in mind that to some degree it's a question of where the hounds are, but there is certainly some special stuff with that building and what's going on there and it's relationship to things; but I wouldn't expect to dig into the 4th floor specifically.

Q: On a global scale, how big a deal was the Slags Incident? International-news worthy? Did Midgard try to hush it up and how successful were they?

A: Yeah, definitely international-news worthy, well, the sort of thing that would depend what else was going on, but along the lines of when a chemical processing plant in Texas exploded or a mine collapse. Midgard took a very different tact on it, rather than hushing it up, they turned around and poured a lot of resources into it, eg. building the wall around to contain it.

Q: Dr. Johnson only shows up on the 5th floor if you are told about him; is that building big enough that he could reasonably elude detection if you weren't specifically looking for him, or does knowledge of him somehow reveal his presence?

A: It's a pretty big building. Yeah, it's not surprising, it's pretty easy to avoid people if you are not evading/hunting them.

Q: Other questions! It seems we've made less progress with the dusty clipboard than the orbital watch; are there further rewards from the clipboard, and can we find them without the watch?

A: There are definitely some interrelationships there, but nothing that requires tying them together. I would have to dig into what you've found with the clipboard, but at very least there's quite a few techniques with the clipboard and last I saw not all were found.

Q: Oldtown resets take me a week or more; this can be frustrating when new content comes out the day after I reset but I can't explore it for another week. Thoughts on: Giving a vague heads up when new stuff is expected shortly? Allowing dropping to "casual mode" where you can access all your stuff but forfeit rewards for that run, to quickly get to the end? (KoL offers this)

A: I can try giving a heads up with the understanding that I will try to do it when I've sort of been on break for a bit almost; when I'm releasing little chucks of something like Downtown at the pace I want, it's every week or two, and those are hopefully those are close enough together that it's wouldn't be particularly informative, but after I haven't done anything for a while, I'll try to let people know. Creative endeavours often take a wide right turn.

Q: Can you describe the process of creating an unearthly item or content release from vague idea to finished product? Eg. do you use pencil-and-paper, post-it notes, excel, others? How fleshed out are items before you input them in the database?

A: There are times when when I use pen and paper if I am at a "design retreat" (eg. at a cabin), but most of the time it will go into evernote, which syncs between my laptop and phone, and I do a lot of stuf like daily design exercises (eg. it's morning! let's design the basics of a card game to get the juices flowing). For coding stuff, I'll get a very general outline and then move over in to Text Wrangler to code in php, or for more complex database stuff like techniques and choice encounters, I will generally outline them in the language I use for interpreting them; so when you use a technique from your deck and has to decide what to do, there's a string of specially formatted text to decide what it does, eg. reacts because it's an opening, or following another ranged technique. Those I'll often type out the entire flag string. Items themselves I'll usually just drop it in there straight into the database. Techniques or choice encounters, I'll plan out in advance. The overall theme of the item gets planned out a lot more, eg. thinking I want to do a a dancing hut, and morter and pestle and baba yaga and counting knuckle bones, and get a very basic outline there. And break out art request to Puyo, which normally takes two weeks or so. When I get the art back, I'll really start digging into doing it, and that will take a while as you've seen. But that's when I'll burrow down into the technique and blow it out into the pseudocode I use and dump it into the database. You'll probably see in counting techniques there's a lot of forms, where there's a base form and subforms which need to be unified and planned for.

Q: And if you haven't mentioned it already, any hints on plans for the next month or two coming up?

A: The last organization in the Cellar Door coming up, halloween, maybe a little bit more cyberware, then ground stuff (not immediately Midgard HQ). Likely Halloween first, then other Cellar Door faction which may get broken out into a couple steps, and oh, next donation item almost done which is the last of the trilogy. Which was way too big, it was a good idea, but even the big idea getting split down into three smaller ideas, each of those is still to big; need to get donation items out there a bit more frequently. Both so I can pay for things and get rotation going a bit quicker.

Q: What has been your favourite Halloween?

A: Good question. The safe choice is probably the first one because it set the precedent everything went to hell. I do have a fondness for one (and I guess there have been a few where there were close calls) that was basically one choice on one choice encounter away from being a very different halloween and that was pretty cool. 49 instead of 50 that would have kicked off the even worse ending. I'm not going to say that they equal, that they landed the same way, and not going to say that's the price we pay for player-driven choice content, and there are more things I can do to make even the "boring" content more interesting, but when there are cases where I'm making "eight" endings (more complicated than that), some will be better than others. There are a number of them that I really do like a lot. And a lot of them that I wouldn't mind sort of figuring out some content for a greatest hits or going back to old areas and pulling in dropped threads.

Q: Any hints you can give us for old undiscovered content?

A: I think I said something earlier, can't remember now.

Q: We've hit downtown! This is the source of the infection Eclipse! The suppliers for the Third Eye! I mean, we haven't gotten upstairs yet, but still! How challenging is it trying to build a somewhat lively part of town compared to the earlier more sparsely populated areas?

A: There's some challenges with art, but Puyo has improved a lot certainly, at far as the actual design it ends up being fairly similar, but the related problem of there being just a bunch of interesting things downtown.

Q: We're getting more at odds forces into the town! So many gangs for NPCs. How many more are we planning to be able to interact with?

A: At least two more, that are pretty relevant. Or maybe one more. Some questions about how I'm going to handle the content after Downtown, may be related to the main quest line or after quest content.

Q: Who do we have to bribe to get bacon and eggs in this dystopian future?

A: You'd think Lattes! could get you a bacon and eggs wrap at least.

Q: Fishing seems to be pretty popular on the outside edges of town, especially with Extreme Bass Pro. Shotgun Saints is popular with college kids. What's the major game played in Downtown?

A: Don't think you'd see as much gaming downtown, primarily business. Don't be shocked to find a pachinko parlour. Maybe more AR games or played in a browser like Metroplexity.

Q: Could we get some kind of monthly hint system that just gives us a few more clues relating to missing content each month until we actually find something?

A: I mean, that's sort of what the news system is. Granted, it doesn't filter in new stuff or turn off on a global level. But what I will say, even when I'm not doing a podcast every month, as long as I'm putting in new content every month, new stuff will hook into old content and might reveal.

Q: Fighting the ghost inmate in the asylum with a paper opener (which is supposedly silver) doesn't seem to cause anything different. Obviously there's a different story aspect here than there was with the ghost ship, but is there anything hidden that we're missing?

A: The ghosts on the ghost ship don't follow precisely the same rules as other spectral entities.

Q: Speaking of the asylum, how far off is that previously discussed rework?

A: On one level it won't take that long and I should just do it, and on another level I just want to get the main quest line in. For reasons that will become apparent, I might want to get it in just after or around the same time the main quest is done.

Q: Also, we've moved away from holograms and dorm crushing machinery the past few halloweens. Usually there's a newer thing added in, like the music system last year. Cybernetics seem the obvious choice this year… but obviously not every single student is going to be using cybernetic limbs. Especially since it's a pretty permanent body mod. How common are 'decorative' cybernetics like what the Fangs had?

A: It depends a lot on social class and that signalling. The very disadvantaged (low gang members), and people who what to signal that they are outside of the normal social circles, some of which do not much, some are useful as seen in the Cellar Door, and you can also see the extremely well off getting decorative mods.

Q: Also, How are you holding up? Life sounds busy.

A: I've a number of writing projects offered and done, with pathfinder and starfinder. Check the About Us which links to Board Game Geek with various links. Amount of work I get done isn't normally capped by time but per project, by the amount of energy and interest in those project, and it seems I've collected enough projects and not just wasting time on social media. So that's good, not expecting to take on any more streams other than Metroplexity, Twilight Heroes, Shadows over Vathak, other Path/Starfinder stuff, which keeps me busy.

Q: We seem to have a very limited number of resetters right now. I admit I haven't been doing it much as well, and with halloween coming it's obvious why most people wouldn't be doing it. Is that a sign of the current health of the game, or are we still heading along with a steady core?

A: Yeah, honestly, the main "health of the game" is on me; like I was talking about earlier; biting off more than you can chew, or three times than you can chew; and more than causing problems with the resetting cycle, was hoping to do some light advertising. Now, donation item certainly not going to come out in September, in theory in October, leading up to Halloween, although only tangentially related, and hopefully smaller items for November/December. Thanks for all your support, I love you all. Talk to you next time, likely with a spooky Halloween postmortem.

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