Podcasts 2018

50

Q: Heya Kinak! Hope 2018 is treating you well so far.

A: Start of the year has been pretty rough, but been doing some contract writing for table top RPGs. Lack of updates has been slightly because of that, mostly because winter = depression. Anyway, been doing that, and money wise, that has been doing well, and discussions of advertising makes more sense now and for the foreseeable future the money coming in from Metroplexity/Twilight Heroes can be turned over into advertising to them. Medicating/therapy/Vitamin D/etc. Less worries about eating etc that will have good effects.

Q: We've got some undiscovered skills that have been around for a while, but some of them have previously been noted as not actually being obtainable. As things stand in currently, has anything changed with those? Thinking specifically of 13, 65-67, 72 and 73.

A: Let me look at those [kittens …] 13- probably the same, very difficult to get, may not be able to get with current capacities but the code is there. 65-67 and 72-73 for quests not implemented. 13 is challenging even when you know what you are looking for. May not be achievable now but pretty confident it will be available once next main quest line is in.

Q: Looking to the past… what would you say was your favorite thing to happen in Metroplexity in 2017?

A: I actually really liked the interlocking unearthly items and would like to play around with that space a little bit more, and the actual rollout of that over a long period obviously wasn't great, but another attempt could make that click together more; as I'm sure I've said I was originally planning a single 3 coin item, […but maybe would have been an 8 or 9 coin item…]

Q: And continuing to look back over 2017… I've been very lax about keeping up with the unearthly item buying guide, but I can still manage to wrangle up a review of the past year's items. Though with the combined narrative, there's a bit of overlap with several of them this time around.

Q: The dusty clipboard. - I think we might actually have a handle on most of the encounters from this, although there could still be some more Easter egg type results for things like getting past the shelter door. The Sheltered Woman, though, we haven't been able to make much progress with, even bringing in some things from the other items like the draught of immortality. Is there some standalone resolution to this, or does it require chaining the different items together? Something like saving the king, then bringing about peace between the nationals and the corps and then doing… something… was the idea that jumped to mind.

A: Between the three items, in addition to the game structure, there is the underlying narrative structure which may not be entirely apparent, there is her relation with the narrative/her fate, and the narrative that shows up there may actually become clearer as more quest chunks come out because more than most unearthly item it has a very canonical place in Metroplex. Possible to jump there now, easier in future.

Q: The orbital watch. -We've found a bunch of stuff with this one, and I personally found the mini-games for winning the war to be pretty fun. There's still some confusion about what variants of Cutting Crossfire there are for having "friends", as well as about the exact trigger for learning it, but other than that are we missing anything significant here?

A: Most of the stuff for that is the mini games and how stuff from the pans plays into the games. Some pretty weird stuff not 100% sure people have found all of most of the stuff there.

Q: The wispy hospital pants. Still a whole bunch of open questions here.
A: Yeah, that maybe should have been 3 coins, but maybe needed a little more for 3 coins.

Q: Any chance of confirmation if there are 'victory' scenarios for the alchemist or the beggar? Something involving the alchemist does seem the likeliest approach for finding whatever it is that crafts with dragon blood.

A: There should be alchemist territory, there's enough stuff it's possible it broken. There's quite a bit you can do with the beggar but not a good end you could say.

Q: The fact that we've found techniques for the charmed shirt, coronation crown, princely sword and princess bloom but not the cap of fools also seems suspicious. Have we just not been cavorting with the fool enough?

A: There are several techniques with the fool. Several may not be the right word, pretty sure there's at least one. At least one technique that ties in.

Q: Also, a minor thing, I was slightly disappointed that I couldn't check my pockets for some expired medication, but of course requiring the spacious cargo pants to get stuff from this wouldn't be very fair.

A: I feel like I added or should have added a special message. I always as for a warning for doing a roundup of unearthly items and then there was a long gap when I could actually podcast. Kinak's residence getting remodelled.

Q: The bloodied coat. This one might just be straightforward. It provides a bit of healing, is the only shirt with ranged power, Bloodied Dodge is useful against some enemies and Bloodied Draw is a pretty powerful ranged technique under the right circumstances. I think we may not fully understand those circumstances, since the description implies that range plays into it, but other than figuring that out, do we have any more secrets to wring out of it?

A: I really like bloody coat ringing in Janapese almost horror movies, but it's pretty straightforward. Maybe little interactions that people haven't picked up on. There's a thing I like to do I've mentioned, if there's something I've made a minor theme that hasn't been figured out for a while, I like to add another thing, not to explain it but to add to it and give people a chance to poke at it.

Q: How are things?

A: Pretty good overall. Picking myself back up after winter, didn't get a ton done in Jan/Feb. Probably out of snow. In general, was actually a very good winter for me.

Q: Halloween wrap up: Do we get earlier access to the party set up area with more donations for the room?

A: Yes, absolutely, that's the mechanic there. At the rollover where the amount of money donated crossed with the amount of time left to unlock, the room unlocked. That's been for the the last two? years. I ended up having to make some adjustments at least to the language to make it clearer what was going on there.

Q: What was up with the Mirror Man at the halloween party?
A: There were some choices and development that made him much more relevant. So he didn't get his time in the spotlight but still wandering around a bit.

Q: We got mirrored glass and mirror tile with no real known use. Are they for future content or something we missed?
A: That was… the mirrored glass in particular was tied into that thing. The mirror tiles less. Didn't quite get to the stage.

Q: We got a couple cane weapon items from halloween but I couldn't figure out how to learn a Cane Strike. Is that possible?

A: Yes it is, a little tricky but confident you can learn that. (Cane has since been found.)

Q: When helping out the Hipsters, sometimes you build monstrous snowmen and sometimes you build tiny snowmen. Is there any way to control that?

A: [Searches] Those encounters are more indicators than something you need to… not counting x number of small snowmen or large snowmen. Letting you know when flags go up.

Q: We can see the giant mole on the surface of the construction site if we are Etheric, but don't see the BigDig when we are sober. Why is that?

A: May be a lack of imagination on my part, but if you can't hack into it or interact with it, you just walk past it and it's possible that would work better as a noncombat as "hey there's a bit equipment here, gain two perception or will" and if that bothers people enough, I guess I'm talking myself into including a little something. Not like there's a big mystery there.

Blood Rose Amulet seems to trigger on specific opponents. Why Dancer but not Drunken Dancer? Why Filthy Bum but not Insane Bum? I can't see a pattern for it.

A: I feel like you may be seeing a pattern where there isn't a pattern. The trigger doesn't go off 100% of the time right, but when it does it should be obvious. Drunken Dancer it should 100% for sure. Possible I messed something up.

Q: In the dusty clipboard/orbital watch/hospital pants, how much of remaining undiscovered stuff spans across from two or all three of those items?

A: A fair amount, actually most of the undiscovered stuff, other than the deeper patterned of the mini games, eg. As far as the macro level items, techniques, encounter branches.

Q: How did those items change from your original design of one giant 3-coin item?
Any big chunks of content we have yet to find from Oldtown/Downtown stuff you would like to tease?

A: The giant item was just going to be the pants basically. Instead of 3ish encounter areas depending on item, you always had to get through it. You also had a much much deeper set of connections between the areas. Eg. you had to the castle area to get to the war, so your choices in the castle area made the war. There was a little vignette that made the war which was part of the transition and your choices ………

Q: For vague or possibly useful information, how do we 'use' the seasonal sparkles in the mirror? So far it just seems that we can trigger them to show, but not actually do anything. Hints for that?

A: Not sure what you are talking about.

Q: We have a lot of late year holidays, but not very much, well, now. Do we need/want something? Should there be other things going on?

A: Having some other holidays would be nice in that I am always kind of wiped out this time of year. Like Valentines day and Twelfth Night and the vast expanse of summer. Would be nice to spice things up. I would like to add more, particularly, there's a very different idea of the holidays in Metroplex vs Twilight heroes and would be nice if some could just flip on.

Q: We've been getting quieter lately. How are we looking on active players?

A: I honestly the last couple months I have not been tracking it. Don't follow super closely anyway, it's easy to read things into that in dumb ways. When I was tracking it closely which I did for years, there's a) a lot of noise, and b) a lot of seasonal trending, eg. when it's nice out, fewer people on computers, or some people play more on summer vacation. It makes a very complex layer underneath it. So any actual change you are making is swallowed by the noise. Unless I have a specific reason for checking out the data, you start seeing patterns that aren't there. I know we're not doing amazingly maybe but and there's the natural drop off. Games don't normally hold on to people that long. I do need more frequent updates, do need more advertising, and both those things are looking better. Hopefully those numbers are starting to pick up.

Q: The recent Halloween matches up with things I've run into before, where stopping the Eclipse party is actually more a punk supporting thing than a plain party supporting thing. Are we 'supposed' to be triggering more terrible Halloween things?

A: No, typically for the Halloween stuff there's several axes going on and they are related. Eg. Security axis related to the punks and Eclipse. Decorating axis which is opposed to the punks very seriously. How that plays out varies, and there will sometimes be other punks thrown in. If you are just going for anti-Eclipse, you end up in a weird spot, supporting both the punks and the guards. Similarly, if you wanted things to go as awfully as possible you'll be making similar choices. And if you really just want to see the world burn, other choices. If it seems like the punks are the only option, that's me not making it clear or providing the right options. Normally the people going along with Eclipse are the people building the room. If you look at items that nobody has found in halloweens, the biggest common factor is they come from the security faction rewards. People just aren't choosing it or aren't making it their priority or I'm not selling it properly. That faction doesn't tend to get a lot of love from the user base. This can play into the choices too, eg. if there's an encounter where security are patrolling and the choices are support the security or support the punks, how exactly that plays out over the people making the choices can really effect — especially considering Midgard's approach to security — eg. eventually encounters can start changing eg. if all the security dead. So sometimes the choices you want to be taking are precluded by previous choices.

Q: Whatever happened to the Avatar of Flames? The Emerald Gift still seems to be hanging around, but we don't hear much from them either.

A: There's a bit of back and forth in the themes. Halloween is not necessarily an ongoing plot, but she'll be back.

Q: What would you say is the most vital thing to running a game?

A: Canned answer is just make it fun. [didn't transcribe whole answer]

51

Home renovations going on, staying with a friend for a couple months. New Metroplex Day content, a lot of which wasn't found, and also released the first of the Downtown proper adventure locations, the cathedral. A lot of stuff going on there, some of which worked to varying extents when it went live. Plans to add a bit more there and various chunks around Downtown and getting surprisingly close to Midgard proper.

Q: Heya Kinak! Happy Metroplex Day! You may have already started off the podcast with this, but any general thoughts on Metroplexity hitting its tenth anniversary?

A: Yeah, didn't expect for it to last nearly this long, got a crew of people very interested in it. Made a lot of progress, some cool content, and a ways to go. And I've had on more than one occasion, I don't want to say step back, but take a little breather, which will probably have to happen again. Excited to wrap up the main quest line and see some other content.

Q: And for some other long term stuff… Of all the mysteries we've not yet managed to solve since the game started, can you tell us anything about your favorite?

A: There is a, obviously quite a few refereces to Matsuo the Demonslayer. There's a bit more to that than just callbacks to a cool show, and I think people will be very pleased when they find that. [The Demonslaying Blade technique has since been found, but not clear this is what Kinak had in mind here.]

Q: Do you have a favorite among the mysteries we have managed to solve (or mostly solve)?

A: This one holds a special place in my heart, not because it was the most complicated, but because it was so early and so interesting, I have special place in my heart for the mysterious puzzle box. And I think a tiny bit hasn't been figured out from a story perspective at least, or there's a tine mechanical thing that has some story implications at least, that hasn't been figured out.

Q: Of all the in-game events that have happened, are there any that particularly stand out for you?

A: The early Halloweens before people really figured out that I was serious about coding everything in and letting it go were sort of special in that people were like "there's no way that we could - oh what the hell did we do"?

Q: Some other more general Metroplexity questions: It looks like we only managed to find three new things this Metroplex Day, and failed to trigger the finale, which means this year's trophy may be lost to the mists of time. (Or at least, it doesn't sound like anybody managed to trigger it.) For items that are very specific to a particular event and won't be back in the future, is there any way we might be able to see them to be able to record them on the wiki for posterity? Maybe they could be added to your in-game collection.

A: Not a bad idea. A not small number of halloween rewards that have never been handed out. Mostly just items, don't have a lot of code sunk into them. Might be good to drop some of those.

Q: The Legion tracts have a special result when using one causes you to gain a point of Will. Are there any other items or encounters that use a similar mechanism?

A: Let me check that item. There are definitely a number of items that have secret deeper triggers. Trying to think of (ie. look up) the trigger for that one. The mechanic where you get a special result from getting a point of Will does show up in a few places, probably half a dozen or so.

Q: There are some things in the game, like getting Art Appreciation, Programmed Terror, or the mushroom spade that require doing something repeatedly without visible updates past the first step or two, until you've done it enough. Are there many things we're missing that use a similar mechanic? Anything in unearthly items?

A: Generally, I don't do a ton of stuff like that, but it is a really good place to hide things. Definitely a few, trying to think of any unearthly items. Don't think any undiscovered in unearthly items. Wouldn't surprise me if there was something in the set from last year with the clipboard and orbital watch, just cause there's a lot of hidden counters and tracking in the background there.

Q: With the addition of eggs, flour and dry rice, is some of the groundwork for the cooking system being laid down?

A: Yes, it definitely is. As more of the Zaibatsu store opens, one of the stores will have a stone oven and you can start cooking up a storm.

Q: Been a while since we asked about the good old charnel house. I somewhat recently noticed a message we hadn't gotten onto the wiki before, which made me wonder. The containment suit guard wandering around down there asks for help if we just walk away, and will believe we know the way out if we try to lure him to his doom, but if we actually sincerely offer to help he doesn't believe us. Are we perhaps missing something, or is it just because he's mentally unstable?

A: He's in pretty bad shape, as I recall. And may or may not, I guess… well his responses being illogical would fit with the situation. But there is still quite a bit of stuff going on undiscovered, in both versions of the charnel house, more in the latter.

Q: There have been a bunch of neat unearthly items with multiple encounters, with the latest being the whole overarching dusty clipboard/orbital watch/wispy hospital pants story. Those are fun to poke around in, but with the hospital pants in particular the nature of the encounters means that you may spend a lot of energy trying to get the one you're looking for. Any thoughts on the possibility of some future encounter-heavy unearthly items being in self contained areas, like the antique floor mirror?

A: Yeah, absolutely. Depends a lot on how much goes in there. Requires a certain density of content. Never really planned for the three of those to be a separate area, but if they were all together, it could have been. But for things like the mining helmet, it needs enough content to make it interesting. I would prefer, in general, having it out and about and integrated with the rest of gameplay. Wouldn't surprise me if there are more. There are some tricky things with that set of items that may help you get through those in one day, since I know energy is a little tight there.

Q: With Halloween coming up, I'm wondering about the status of some of our long-running NPCs. I think last we ran into her, Emily was working for Midgard and putting her vampire mind powers to use for them. Chuck may or may not have been turned into a belt, and the last time we saw Janet she was already working to contain the situation in Halloween 2015, so there was no opportunity to chat. Think we'll end up seeing any follow-ups to these characters in the next couple years? Janet has offered some very interesting bits of lore, so it's always great to be able to talk to her.

A: I would not be surprised if some of those folks to show up. I mean, you are downtown now, pretty easy for Midgard folks to pop their head in. Getting art requests in. Narrow window for the October art this year, because Puyo is taking her test to get American citizenship, and then her good friend is coming over from Japan, and weddings.

Q: And some non-Metroplexity questions: Have you ever played either of the La-Mulana games? They seem to have an approach to in-game mysteries that's in line with your style. Often cryptic hints to puzzles, or having to gather information across multiple areas to figure out a clue. (La-Mulana 2 also has its own interpretation of Norse mythology… which may be leaving me with a grudge against Jormungandr and Ratatoskr.)

A: [20:00-25:00 Norse Mythology backgrounds]

Q: Any interesting tabletop stuff going on to talk about? I ask because I just got back into it myself, starting on a D&D 5E Curse of Strahd campaign for some friends.
Thanks for all the years of fun!

A: [25:00- 31:00 D&D stuff]

Q: Happy Metroplexiversery! Congratulations on ten years! If you were transported into Metroplexity, which survivor would you side with?

A: That's a really good question. Hel scares me. Baldur is a pretty good dude. Dr. Amundsen. Probably Dr. Amundsen. Though to be fair, I'd probably just stick with Lo, once I meet someone I don't tend to branch out too much socially.

Q: What are "salvaging tools" exactly?

A: Just a sack of tools to pry things apart. Think of a reverse sewing kit. A pair of pliers and a seam ripper, some screw drivers, that kind of thing.

Q: Does Reactive Defense ever apply outside of combat?

A: Huh. I don't think so. Let me check. It totally should, don't get me wrong. Let me just write that down actually.

Q: Does your Perception, Reflexes, Strength or Will ever help you in hacking?

A: Not in the same sort of hardcoded way like it does in regular combat but there are a few cases where it does come up.

Q: How do you design opponent's chains? Are those all manually coded?

A: Yeah, they are manually coded, just long handed and then copied over, which is why sometimes you get a technique that's way off.

Q: Judging by id numbers, there are over 2700 technique forms now, which is an insane amount. How do you keep track of those all?

A: So, you've probably seen this from bugs a couple times, all have names associated with them. There's base form, like "Punch really hard", and then branching forms which are "Punch really hard (with knuckles)" or "Punch really hard (with higher strength)".

Q: Have you written yourself any tools to make implementing Metroplexity easier?

A: Not really a lot. There's an old truism in software design that a software designer's tools are the worst. I have a couple diagnostic things that I use now and again, but there are things that are like, I do this once a month, and it takes me ten minutes, so whatever. As opposed to writing a tool taking me 20 minutes and saving time over the years. If I had more of a crew, folks that were a story person or technique person, I probably would have written some tools but it's just me.

Q: Have any new Etheric techniques been given Blood of the Ancients updates? It's a little weird how only techniques under ID 800 are effected by it (or we are just really sloppy about testing it, which I'm sure we are). I really like the Blood of the Ancients idea, I wish it were not unearthly, or could be re-introduced in a new unearthly item as an excuse to update it.

A: I believe, well, so, it's entirely possible that some were missed but not all etheric techniques are supposed to have it. Ones that aren't aligned with another power source. So like if it is an etheric technique from another unearthly item it generally won't have it. Or if it's tied to a different mythos, you could say. Part of that is, the ones that it applies to is a little sparser, and you missed some, or I did. I always planned, even when creating the puzzle box, more ways to get Blood of the Ancients buffs, and it's relatively easy to code. It wouldn't entirely surprise me to add more, though it was always intended to be on the unearthly side.

Q: The only known techniques that prevent running away are NPC-only; so are there any PC techniques that can hold opponents? And have you thought about any opponents that attempt to run away?

A: I've thought quite a bit about opponents running away. There are a number of opponents that really should bail. That's a question of coding it and going back through and and applying it. Having some kind of morale system adds a lot to the enemies. Makes their AI a lot more interesting. I don't believe there's code in there to hold opponents in exactly the same way. Right now for NPC opponents it is coded as "who is holding you".

Q: I've been digging into opponent's flags lately. Any hints on the following Dynamite immunity seems to trigger on some but not all puzzle-bosses, flying creatures and other one-offs like the Spearwoman or Pile of Secrets. Specific flag or something more general I can investigate?

A: There is a tricky bit of code that is really kind of hacky in how that works, and I'm not super happy with. Probably a better way to implement dynamite than how it is right now. Keyed into something that, what it breaks on the backend, so it basically if it breaks something on the back end, it basically doesn't work. May get changed in the future, eg. have it go off at 6 instead of at the end, but not if you are killed, to make PvP work, etc.

Q: The "Taking Eclipse" flag make sense for a lot of human opponents but some etheric opponents also trigger that like the Painted Woman, Force Beast, Winged Hunter, Skull in the Flames. Why do those etheric creatures trigger it but not your random ghouls or specters?

A: There are a couple different flags that may not be applied entirely correctly, because I split them up at one point. Let me check out Winged Hunter her real quick. There's two separate flags, one of which is this person is taking Eclipse, and one is this person doesn't need to take Eclipse? Fixed up those, let me know if you find any more.

Q: Eating opponents triggers somewhere on a 0 - 2 scale of evil "morality". Eating humans seems more evil than eating other creatures, but how do you distinguish eating lake serpents as more evil than eating giant maggots? Is there a specific opponent flag there?

A: Seems like there should be a specific… oh, I see your question there. Okay. Yeah. There is a weird thing in how the, well I take that back. Some extra stuff going on with the fish thing, which will make sense eventually. Most stuff should be zero. You're seeing an interesting thing in the fish case.

Q: Happy tenth anniversary, Metroplex! And us players and the admin of course. General anniversary questions. What is something current you would tell you of ten years ago?

A: In Metroplexity sense? Probably tell myself to just keep on going, because people will be interested. Also when to invest in bitcoin and such.

Q: What do you consider the biggest changes in Metroplex?

A: There's certainly been a number of rounds of giving deeper interactions and more interactions. Looking back at the original version of the Southside Park quest, there's not a lot going on there, and future stuff has become deeply interconnected.

Q: The best changes?

A: The same thing there. Just in generally, it's something I'm very excited about there.

Q: What are some things we, playerbase and content creator can do to make it better?

A: One of the things I have been thinking about, more often, is having some more official round table-like stuff, of some small number of players who don't mind getting a fair number of spoilers, nothing big story stuff but like, hey, I'm going to be putting in food. Is there anything obvious I should put in? Or you'll be breaking into Metroplex tower, what techniques should we see? More like what we have for the dev team in Twilight Heroes. Some stuff I think I'd be doing a diservice by talking about but doing stuff making sure we are on the same page. Might be something we can do a bit more off. Maybe some little contest, like come up with a new enemy, we did in Twilight Heroes. It's been ten years, Metroplex is my baby, but it takes a village, it's really all our baby. Expect to see a little more solisitation. Some suggestions from people to switch over from unearthly items to Patreon?

Q: Gameplay-wise: Way back when there was some talk about a pet system and a cooking system, and, of course, the still under construction dorms. What would you say are the hardest parts of creating that kind of content?

A: It's really all just time and energy. Well, sometimes it's that it's waiting for the right place in the schedule. Pet system's never been a priority. Cooking has been waiting for Downtown to come out, cause that's where I wanted to put cooking. Some things have been extremely delay, which thankfully I haven't promised anyone there. There are things like I could knock out the other half of the cathedral or put in the groundwork for pets and put in one or two pets. Especially when I've been kind of sparse on updates lately, if it were four updates a month, I'd throw one of those at pets absolutely. If it's an update every four months, definitely not pets. Not hard exactly, except everything is hard when you are dealing with depression or anxiety. Sometimes it's the idea you had was not that great, and for the dorms, if I needed to fill them in, like if you needed them to get to the next quest, I could but it's a side thing so not too worried there.

Q: Has Twilight Heroes influenced your ideas here?

A: I don't feel like it has particularly. My design ideas have evolved over time. Forgot to plug, a few Shadows over Vathak PDF books coming out with my byline at least. [Mental health affects productivity.]

Q: What are some events you would have liked to have seen that got complicated by us players?

A: There was a halloween where there was a event that there's a breakpoint between, not going to say between good and bad, but two different kinds of badness, and the breakpoint was 30. It was really down to the wire, the day before halloween it was at 24 or 25, and it ended up on 29. And I don't necessarily want things to go bad, and there's no blinking red signs, literally one more!

Q: Could we get a calendar of some kind in our comm? While most of us know all the big holidays it's not always obvious something is coming.

A: That's a good question. I'll think about that.

Q: And of course, thanks for putting in your time and effort to the game. Hope we can make it enjoyable for you as well.

A: Thank you, and I do enjoy it. I've stuck through it through ten years, through good mental health and bad, and it is something I do enjoy and plan on continuing to do. Little things I've scratched down to update: like I said, second half of cathedral should be going in, I think people should find that interesting. Cooking should be going in at some point, I have the art and stuff, need to decide how to code it, might have a bit of a conversion about it. At some point, before halloween likely, I need to do some major software updates, well maybe a few dozen lines if I'm lucky or a lot more if not, but at some point I need to just flip the switch and some stuff will break, I'll give some warning. I'll be very happy if I get those things taken care of, and then halloween. And some other small updates I've been hoarding art for, some old fashioned weapon-type updates, or some of the stuff I was talking about earlier like enemies running away, PvP rewards, etc. Ten years, still feeling pretty good.

52

Q: Any general thoughts on how Halloween turned out this year?

A: It definitely was interesting. There's always something that people do that's unexpected but there was a lot of stuff during the set up that was at least somewhat predicated on people taking the easy choice encounters; but everyone was 100% on hard mode encounters. Some stuff which would have been very simple to unlock, and I was assuming someone would crank through it and unlock, that either didn't unlock at all or took way longer than I thought it would, because everyone was focused on more difficult aspects of that encounter.

Q: Did the blood fountains just require more work on the maze encounters, or was there something else going on there? Emily's mention of the plans being worked on let us know they weren't ready right away, but left it unclear what the trigger might have been.
A: Yeah, what I was talking about, there needed to be enough, welll, the fountains were related to space being cleared and walls going in and space being cleared, no body did that. Not sure how much that was not explaining clearly or, well, I definitely don't explain some things on purpose, which is part of the charm, I hope, but did explain some things better this year. Might run into those again in the future.

Q: With the titles like Stone Wings and Bat Whisperer becoming unavailable and then completely dropping away after a year, is there any chance you might let us know what the requirements were, after the fact? Or is there a chance some of them might get re-used in a future Halloween?

A: The way that those titles work is kind of interesting. There's still some questions on my side about how I want those to work. Code-wise, what ends up happening, whenever someone gets a the exact same title in the new year, it wipes out the old title. So for Metroplex Day for example, a lot of those titles didn't end up rotating because no one got the new titles for 2018 because there was a lot of new content and didn't complete all of them to the extent that they needed. I ended up deciding to clear some things out manually. Made some small changes so they were better in line theming this year, and maybe too aggressive about that. And I think I put some back in manually.

Q: How do you feel about how Patreon is working out so far?

A: I've been very happy with it. We've got a couple things that are requested, with cooking and etheric guns, both are pretty close to done. I need to double check, the items are in but need to go through and make sure they are all usable. Etheric guns are a little ways out still but I've got an outline for that. Hopefully going to get those done "this month", ie. before December stuff rolls out. Hope people have been happy with the avatars coming out. Would like to get unearthly item out; November has always kind of been my post-Halloween coma.

Q: What do you think about the idea of some way for attackers in gang warfare to spend energy/gang profits/items on debuffing gang warfare clones? Applying increasing penalties to a power or defense score, for instance. It would be less efficient than simply taking defenders on straight on if you can, but it would help to narrow the gap against extremely entrenched defenders. Sort of an offensive version of fortifications, I suppose.

A: Yeah, there's definitely going to be… exactly how it will work is an interesting question. Debuffs, depending how it works, eg. if it's like fortifications that trigger at the start of a fight, then should be fine. There's some difficulties code-wise giving longer debuffs because of how the data is stored. I'd like to go in and do some gang warfare stuff. The rewards could use some shaking up. Adding either some more things to buy with old coins and some new places that could work, the construction site and the Downtown place isn't open yet. Could expand that a bit and new systemic elements.

Q: Any hints on snow snakes? I'd really like to actually see them one of these years.

A: It's just counting something that's fron a direction that's a little different from the rest of the snowmen, and there's rewards off the beaten path and that's why they haven't been encountered yet.

Q: Looking through some computer options, I saw a reference to a Midgard Y7 in the refitted Y4 description. Think we'll be seeing any of those?

A: Almost assuredly, that seems like the kind of things that you'd see in the Midgard HQ or otherwise downtown. Could have included that in the Midgard middle-manager perhaps. Like the refitted Y4 itself, there's some IT folk that have systems that work based on glue and bailing wire, and upper management stuff that work by throwing money at it.

Q: Did anyone get the sweet canes that the vampires were wielding this year?

A: It should have been possible to get a couple different canes.

Q: On a possibly related note, were the vampires intended to drop bloody sludge and not something else?

A: It's possible, there I say likely. It's possible the most common cane got replaced by bloody sludge. There's a couple other canes floating around out there.

Q: Is it possible to learn that cane strike technique that some enemies use, or are we just too poor?

A: Barring any bugish thing, should be possible. Not the easiest to learn.

Q: Will we find out what the wolf echoes do later?

A: Sometimes there will stuff that does stuff that didn't get unlocked. So either it will be a collectors item later or will be re-introduced, or sometimes it is used as a duplicate or more effective way to do something; eg. if you could use bound twisted hounds instead.

Q: All this talk about cooking's got me thinking: Where does the non-fish meat in Metroplex come from? Are there traditional farms somewhere or is the meat mostly synthetic?

A: Yes. There are traditional farms, there's a little bit of discussion about this, but it's mostly background stuff. A lot of the people in places like Southside (or were living in the Slags before it became the Slags) are living in Metroplex because there was an extreme economic collapse outside of urban areas. Midgard and Omnitech have gotten drone technology to the point where one drone technician can take care of an army of drones. Meat does tend to be pretty expensive. Eg. tending a field of soybeans takes a lot less energy/AI to produce. You may never run into these, but Midgard does have product lines where you can herd cattle with drones or the like. But it is a luxury, crops just got way cheaper at a faster rate than animal products. […]

Q: [34:50] Oldtown questions: will you be adding more mysteries to explore in the Oldtown Vault?

A: It is very likely that I will at some point. It's one of those things that things have been going slowly enough with Downtown, I'd like to keep my eye on the target so to speak. Although, adding that to the list of things to vote on for patreon.

Q: Is there a possibility of entering the Oldtown offices proper via the back door through tunnelling to the vault?

A: Yeah, there's no reason that shouldn't work, going from the vault to the offices. Generally speaking not a super useful thing for quest progression, I'll have to play around with some quest flags there to see how we want to do that. I'd rather not have that sort of encounter come up a ton, eg. oh you want to go backwards in that quest. In the same sense that the stairs in the slags quest it doesn't generally throw stairs at you if you are trying to go up, but if you stick around on the floor for long enough, you can go down.

Q: We've figured out how to infect the BigDig with code to turn it into a Giant Mole; and we can feed it centipedes, but even when it "seems happy" and with a tome of binding, it seems unwilling to do our bidding. Any hints on commanding it?

A: You've figured out more or less everything it is willing to do. I'll have to dig into that a bit, there's sort of an end of the line with the mole, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to trap it and the like once it's done digging, or even before you get into the vault, which would be fine, there's plenty of ways in.

Q: Understanding the specifics of hacking the drive control on the BigDig has been difficult; I imagine it uses a similar mechanic to downloading the files from the Vault Records; except it doesn't show the percentage and we can only test once per reset. Can you confirm that we are on the right track?

A: Let me take a quick look. [Kitten stories] Yeah, it's a little tricky to suss out the exact numbers. There's definitely a way; there's a few different messages, which are not exactly equivilent to numbers, but there are two that are relevant to getting progress, and one of them will always be better than the other, and substantially so. It will take quite a bit of testing to see exactly how much, because there's a lot going on in there. A is always better than B but exactly how much it is varies on a few factors. But if you know what you are doing and get a little lucky, you could churn through that pretty quickly, maybe even one encounter, depending on software loadout and such. Roughly on the right track but fair warning the bonus mode, exactly how much is difficult to know.

Q: Are there more areas we can infect with vines other than the records office?

A: I would like to expand that, it's sort of a question of appropriate habitats, and you haven't found any others there yet.

Q: Judging by id numbers, we've found less than half the available avatars out there. Are all 49 currently available? Are they just really hard to get or is there a "trick" that would help us get a bunch more if we understood it? Any general tips?

A: A fair number of those (setting aside new Patreon ones, 48 and 49, which should be obvious). 47 isn't available yet; the rest of them are? Possibly one more I didn't push out for whatever reason. And I'd say it's about 50/50, which ones are PvP based, and that varies from using a certain type of weapon, to using techniques, different things, all the way up to, have this incredibly specific hard to get outfit, combination of skills and outfit, super non-obvious. Generally speaking, for those, they will be offense based. You'll normally be getting those as attacker rather than defender. Don't need to be super successful in gang warfare, just need to be doing stuff in gang warfare. The other half or so are tied into specific donation items. Generally speaking those would be 2-3 coin items. So yeah, there's a fair chunk on each side; I feel like the gang warfare ones have more of a "go into gang warfare with this set of things you need"; the ones for donation items tend to be more like once you fully mastered the item, that will generally speaking mean you've gotten all of the pieces together, eg. found all 10 techniques and understand how they all work together. Not all of them have an avatar; eg. some have a skill at the end, or some of the smaller items have a chain of techniques or chain of item drops. Generally, the hints will stay in the newspaper / TV news system until you have completed the item, including getting an avatar if there is. Eg. if it's like the Rag Man's cloak where there's a boss enemy, if you go into that fight with all the techniques it grants, and only techniques it grants, and you win the fight, then maybe an avatar shows up. (Though pretty sure the Rag Man's cloak does not give an avatar.) So yeah. Looking more closely over the list, there's one or two that may not be available, but the vast majority are. 31 is possible it's not coded in, (no one has it), hahahahahahaha, you totally can get that. That is not an easy one. For what it's worth, that's one of the PvP avatars, that requires not just wearing a specific outfit, but doing something specific. That will probably come up at some point. For some of them it can be an ongoing process like the Pusher avatar, for doing something a number of times. Some of these are pretty great. Man, yeah. By an large, not intended to be easy, it's one of those places where I can not feel bad about cutting loose. It's not like there's anything that will be thrown off balance if people can't get them. Some of these are pretty ridiculous, I'd be surprised if anyone ever gets 24 and 43, but a lot of the others, if the item rotates back in and someone new pokes at it, or someone takes on a specific theme. There is at least one in here that's related to PvP rewards than the fighting in PvP, more about the items that people haven't seen.

Q: The Fae Dancer in the Cellar Door club uses Fae Leap but not etheric version; can we feed her Eclipse?

A: She does do the wings version, right? I think that's actually the main thing that was going on there. At present, I don't think there is anyway to feed her Eclipse.

Q: Do you feel like you've painted yourself into any corners with any mechanics?

A: Good question. Not particularly. I was feeling a little down I guess about the old hacking system, but I replaced that. I tend to think that restrictions breed creativity. So unless there's something that is just bad, I'm okay with it. So there probably are a lot of places I've painted into corners, but I'm happy just sitting in the corner.

Q: The wiki has been throwing search errors a lot lately; do we need to be worried about the future of wikidot? Is there a backup of wiki data anywhere?

A: I've noticed that too, I need to shake them and see what's up. I do actually give them some money to keep it ad free and the like. It is possible, they have a very open-sourcey community, there may be a better version that someone has made.

Q: The unearthly coin triggers on four levels of evilness to give you different effects; but we recently discovered that there's a fifth level of evilness that is somewhere between 0 and 1 evil. Is there a reason you decided not to just do 5 levels for the unearthly coin? Any hints at other mechanics that we should maybe be looking at at a finer granularity?

A: The way that it's recorded on the backend, I can go from MAX_INT to negative MAX_INT, and you'll very rarely go over ±20; and each 5 is one of those stages. So I don't think there is anything useful in game that you could use to figure that out and the vast majority are at those 5 point intervals anyway; but there are a few places where I'm like, that's a little nice, or that's a little douchy, doesn't even quite marit a [coin trigger]. Some fine adjustments I can do there; the coin is probably the most useful/consistant you can use; there's a couple places where maybe there's a random roll between 0 and amount of Evil/Good, and if that number is more than the number of techniques you know, you get another copy of it; or something like that. A lot of techniques have a random element where something needs to be higher than the number of instances you know; or you need to have all of them in your deck, just so there is a reality check on how many of those techniques you are getting. Not that having 100 Dive for Covers is gamebreaking or anything, but it's just sort of annoying eg. if every time an enemy used Brutality on you, you got another copy, it's just cluttered.

Q: I left when Oldtown first launched, and would like to hear a summary of how things went, and what major updates or changes you have made in the past 2 or so years. Any big moments besides the community events, like Halloween?

A: Depending when you left, there was pretty substantial event and revamp about the hacking system, where the old hacking system is dead, long live the hacking system. Maybe that was longer than two years. Cybernetics came in at some point, Oldtown itself, a couple of halloweens, Christmas and Metroplex Day which continue to get more content. Some little revisions to areas, new Third Eye and Families stuff. There's a full list on the wiki.

Q: Have you had many "harder to work on" areas of the game?

A: I would say, there are definitely places where the tools I have are more or less complicated, and I end up doing more things by hand. Eg. most encounters, I can do those in sort of a short hand which gets interpreted instead of coding everything directly. Eg. assign 2 more Perception XP and add it all up. There are some places where there is less of that automation, or the stuff that's going on is so very different it's difficult to do automation, and hacking is definitely the one where, there is some level of similarity between them but not enough that I can boil it down like that. It's a lot easier to spade stuff when they are rules instead of guidelines.

Q: Things you wanted to add in that were just too complicated? Did you simplify them or put them aside?

A: There's some stuff I've been looking at and it's like this is something I don't really want to do. There was a donation item I wanted to do not long after I started doing donation items, a training dummy basically, where you could eg. trade in 10 melee techniques to get a melee technique from the training dummy. But the way the rhythm you learn techniques it didn't work out, maybe you'll see something like that again later. Fix the rest code, it's kind of a mess, and pets. Not a lot I have permanently put aside.

Q: Have you been enjoying any games recently?

A: [1:25:30] [Been trying to play more games; board game nights; Slay the Spire; Sentinels of the Multiverse; playtest of Pathfinder 2; Monster Prom ]

Q: Are you working on any other medias that aren't games specifically?

A: Had a board game entered in a contest, I'm looking forward to trying to see if we can get that published. Will need to get some art put together (will see what Puyo can do), and if that comes in will do some more testing/polish. If anyone is interested, I can send them some more information. Working on some Pathfinder/Starfinder with Lyz, mostly under her name. Shadows over Vathak. [More D&D talk to 1:51.] A little bit of coding.

Q: You've mentioned before that you calibrate the amount of money we need off the money that's available to active players. Is that going to be kept steady? Lower?

A: I have found that generally keeps pretty steady from year to year. I should at some point write a script which takes into account fungible items. Not this year, but there was a previous year where people gave 2-3 million credits to halloween and the amount of liquid credits in the economy increased by a 100,000, and looking into that, I found that people had been holding on to a bunch of sellable items.

Q: Since we all seemed to be running on fumes by the time the party started, were you doing the same sort of calibration for 'amount of energy required' for getting the party set up?

A: That one is kind of interesting. I don't necessarily - well I want the energy choices to be choices and that involves a bit of back and forth where - I mean, it's not so much energy so much as it is person days. Like measuring credits, if I had a one day event it's less about measuring how much energy is available. Eg. if someone has a bunch of sushi stashed, but don't have the skill to use, etc. It ends up becoming more a question of person days, or active-player days. There is quite a bit of stuff that didn't end up being done for a variety of reasons, and optimally what I should be shooting for in theory is if you have a line down the middle where you have exactly enough energy to get everything I have coded done. And that is perfect as far as efficiency of my time, which is valuable obviously. And everything to the left of that, where there's not enough content, that's bad, and gets worse the further you go. If end up burning through all the content and have days left, that's bad. But there's a second question where; well there are two layers of choices with Halloween. There's choices that affect the setup and choices that affect the final results (and some that do both), but for choices that affect the final results, eg. you put up all the bats but no spiders, so you get a bunch of bats. Or you put up mostly bats so you get mostly bat themed stuff. But for those choices to matter there needs to be content there that you don't see. But also for the setup choices to matter there needs to be stuff in the setup that you don't see. But it's possible that's something we just don't want to do (obviously it would make my life easier), and they were in there this year, and have tended to be in the previous years, though some more this year (and last year), so some different stuff didn't end up happening. For those sorts of choices, you need more content than time, or some sort of teeter totter mechanism. Eg. (and this was not how it worked), if the mirror maze and the brick maze were conflicting for space, and every chuck of mirror/brick you break would open up more space for the other. And there was some of that stuff going on, just not that specific example.

Q: Would there be any way we could help troubleshoot triggers/events before the event? I don't think there's an easy way to do that, but mini-events or micro events to test triggers might be valid?

A: I mean, I don't think realistically there's a way to do that. I will say, the main thing that locked out this halloween was not a bug but a choice that I just expected way more people to take. Which is the magic of Halloween, I was broadsided by it. I don't necessarily think it made for the most enjoyable halloween, which is a problem, but it was not what I was expecting so I didn't have a backup plan in the content which I normally do, eg. if people don't find a specific item there is another less effective way, or this is gated behind a specific item so it isn't load-baring, but this was out there in the open so I expected at least a few people to take it. (I think it was 250).

Q: So far as I could tell, everyone received the same prizes this year (The hardhat and claw.) Were there any further hidden prizes we just didn't get to?

A: Those prizes are almost always based on the choices that you made. Pretty much every year - well, I rearranged the prizes a bit because there was a choice that basically never got taken. There was a choice in 9 years that was handed out maybe less than 9 times, I only noticed it handed out once, and that was surprising to me when it happened. But what ended up kind of happening, and this got biased a bit by what happened that I was talking about, most people ended up taking the same choices. I feel like there are actually a couple people who got other items but it's possible they didn't report them. There were two sets of 3 prizes, if you're talking about the big item prizes. It's possible, well I would not actually be surprised if everyone got the hardhat. The code on that is pretty simple, I can check into it. Some of the choices that would have made it easier for the other people wanted were not available, which is problematic, sort of.

Q: Was the Bat Spy (who totally was not the vampire frat boy) meant to be permanently suppressed on shoo away?

A: So - a lot of the choices are such that, and this is something that I put in the last couple years to address complaints, where the amount of effort put into things determines the amount of times something shows up, rather than not necessarily it not showing up, (which hasn't actually stopped the complaints, and the old way was easier for me, so I might actually just go back to having things not show up at all). For a simple example, the number of gargoyles you could interact with last year was indirectly determined by the number of gargoyles installed, a very linear sort of basis. It's entirely possible, you should have been able to get rid of him by the end of the day, either killing him or shooing him, or just limited number. And similarly in the maze.

Q: Is this our new 'university pumpkin' encounter? At least for a few years? (That would make 'shoo' the equivalent to 'smash the pumpkin')

A: I don't think so.

Q: I didn't get to even see the empty fountain. Was it meant to be suppressed while under a halloween spirit threshold, or did I just get unlucky RNG?

A: You might have gotten unlucky? There's an encounter, it may have been that one, and there's usually something like this every year. There's an encounter that gives you halloween spirit if you are out of halloween spirit, both to make sure you have halloween spirit and sort of an energy tax if you are not eating the halloween food and doing halloween food.

Q: Is this new Patreon stuff going to make things easier as far as Christmas? Less fancy? More fancy?

A: Christmas, I wouldn't expect any substantial changes. I do intend to ask patrons if they want any changes there. I do expect to add more snowmen, more snow related rewards. And people will discover some percentage of them, maybe find snowsnakes this year, or some of the other things that have been scurrying around the edges. Or maybe add something more robust if that's what the patrons are asking for. I mean, I like Christmas, it makes me happy but if people want more christmas, I think that's actually better, because if people want a big snowball fight, it will show up for every Christmas, rather than one-off Halloween.

Q: Otherwise, how are things holding up on your side? Any cool costumes from trick-or-treaters?

A: I probably mentioned last time, we're remodelling the house. Lyz is in an early music group called the [www.theearlyinterval.com The Early Interval]. [Werewolfs]

Q: I'm back. Did you miss me?

A: I did!

Q: Should we expect sight link to do anything during novos hacking?

A: That idea has come up, I don't think I've used it but I would expect it at some point.

Q: Why is that stealth, evasion, melee, ranged and etheric all have techniques that change form when following techniques of other types, but Fire mostly seems to be left out of that loop and only interacts with itself?

A: Thematic, to some extent. Fire kind of begets more fire; so there's some space, eg. planting bombs on people. We just haven't hit it yet.

Q: Are there any adverse side effects to Eclipse besides the hallucinations? Something more pharmalogical in nature?

A: You've met some of those people. The primary effects of Eclipse are the hallucinations, along with dizziness, drowsiness (because everything causes drowsiness), some synesthesia which goes along with the hallucinations. The amount of Eclipse you need is pretty small to get the effects and pretty fast acting. I would expect more issues from the hallucinations.

Q: In a threeway fight between the Yakuza, Omnitech Special Forces and the best of Midgard Security (not counting special projects), who would win?

A: Oooh, good question. I would expect Omnitech Special Forces to win in a small fight I would. With the exception, if we are talking the best of the Yakuza as you are with the other two, in a small team squad, the best of the Yakuza could probably pull it out. But Omnitech Special Forces is pretty serious. Midgard Security would not make a good show of it, unless you get into Special Projects.

Q: Three of the unearthly hacking-related items (mascot adapter, mysterious coat and midgard player) I feel are a couple notches above what we currently have available. As more areas and content open up, will we eventually see earthly hacking equipment that can match their power?

A: Yeah, I would expect to see some pretty good hacking stuff from Downtown in general. Hacking equipment more so than weapons and armor, although those are tied to wealth, I would expect to see some more stuff as you go up the chain.

Q: Do you ever worry that people will discover and then never use low-power techniques and equipment that are difficult to obtain, thereby never learning their additional content?

A: Not sure worried is the right word. It's certainly possible. There's a couple skills tied to something people have overlooked, possibly for that reason, possibly because they think they've found all its content. I would rather there still be stuff out there to find where someone could roll in today and find skills for literally years that no one has. Doesn't bother me too much but it is something I am aware of - things have to be pretty clearly mysterious, or have an obvious use, or be high powered enough that people are just going to use it until they find it.

Q: I've always felt it was odd that the metroplex day smoky dragon requires special techniques to defeat, but most of these techniques are unearthly content. There are only two exceptions that can be obtained before defeating the smoky dragon: necrotic vial and fire serpent. Are there other smoky techniques hiding within earthly content, or are we just stuck with these two? If so, any hints on where to obtain them?

A: There are some, well I don't necessarily thing you need smoky techniques. There are a couple of others you can get through Chemistry and the like. But I think there is another way to beat it that's not so smoke intensive. Let me check. Oh, yeah, hehehehehe, I'm the worst person. Yeah, there's definitely another way which will hopefully make sense in retrospect, does not require smoke per se. Okay, there are a couple of sneaky additional ways to get some smoke as well. So one thing that I will hint, the smoke is not tied to a technique as a whole, eg. Necrotic Vial is always smoky, but there may be some cases where specific forms of a technique are smoky if that helps, and there's an entirely independant way that you could take that would make a very broad set of techniques able to harm the dragon. So you can do it with smoky stuff, or there's another way to make a lot of stuff smoky, which is a little more puzzley, may take some time to break down. There's at least one more useful one you could get that's sort of buried, but a specific form of it is smoky, and one more I'm not even going to tease you with because it's part of a technique that's been undiscovered for a long time. And there's a puzzle in that fight, which would let you maul the dragon pretty badly with the right set of techniques.

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