ASCENDANT on Arktoons

As promised yesterday, for the next six days leading up to Impact Day, we’re going to announce two of the launch comics every day. We’re very pleased to be able to announce that the first of the lead Thursday comics will be ASCENDANT: Star-Spangled Squadron from Autarch.

Ascendant is inspired by comics like Watchmen, The Boys, Squadron Supreme, The Authority, and Invincible. The world of Ascendant  doesn’t begin to diverge from that of our real world until 2012, and the first superheroes did not go public until the Battle of Atlanta in 2018, creating a new and original superhero universe. It features heroes such as Aurora, Stiletto, Helen Killer, Warp, and the world’s first ascended manitee, Levitee.

To back the Ascendant superhero RPG, go here. To subscribe to Arktoons, go here.

Classic Collector’s Edition


2021 will bring the long-awaited return of DIVINE RIGHT, the strategic fantasy wargame originally published in 1979 by TSR. The cover, which is an homage to the original cover by Kenneth Rahman, the co-designer of the original game. For more information about the Classic Collector’s Edition, visit DevGame.

Upping our game

For the last 17 years, I’ve done my best to keep my professional game development work separate from my political writing and my blog. But now that the SJWs have invaded and politicized my beloved game industry, there is no longer any need to keep these two areas of interest apart, in fact, one can reasonably argue on the basis of Castalia’s success in the publishing arena that my own uncloaking in this regard will tend to inspire others to do so, and may help establish sizable niche markets that are capable of not only surviving, but thriving.

The approach of a major milestone here inspired me to think about what has made VP successful over time when so many other blogs, even very popular, well-trafficked blogs, have disappeared. So, I’m going to increase my posting at DevGame and I’m also going to recruit other high-quality game developers, game reviewers, and comics creators to contribute regularly at both Arkhaven and DevGame. Comics writer Jon Del Arroz has already agreed to begin contributing posts at Arkhaven, and I’ve just put up my first post in a very long time at DevGame, which is an article published 13 years ago in DEVELOP magazine called The Art of Imitative Design.

Why does one game succeed brilliantly while another game vanishes into obscurity? Why is one game an absolute blast to play while another, very similar game, simply isn’t that much fun? It is often easy to understand why a game fails, but it is usually more difficult to ascertain why one game becomes a hit when another does not, epecially when the hit does not feature better features, prettier art, faster performance, or a most distinctive brand than other games in the same genre.

In most cases, success comes down to superior game design, by which I mean the use of game concepts and mechanics that provide the player with a more enjoyable gameplay experience. Game design should never be confused with game development or with production, as it is the aspect of game development that consists of conceiving and articulating ideas that are subsequently turned into functional reality through the process of production.

There are four types of game design.

  • Original
  • Evolutionary
  • Synthetic
  • Imitative

Read the rest at DevGame, which I would very much like to see gradually evolve into something more like a digital version of Computer Gaming World or a Gamasutra.

ASL: the answer

I mentioned that there was a little trap in the previous post that mentioned ASL. It was actually contained in this sentence: Consider, for example, the procedure required to calculate the correct Firepower (FP) total while conducting an Overrun attack on exposed infantry by a vehicle.

The underlined word was the sperg bait, since infantry don’t need to be exposed in order to be attacked by Overrun. In fact, it’s even possible for the vehicle to destroy the infantry during the Bog check by collapsing the building as it drives into it, as per the AFV Overrun order of resolution:

  • The AFV declares OVR
  • Bog check is first (note the EXC: list at the end of D7.1) The OVR MP expenditure must be announced as a combined expenditure with that for entrance of the hex as the vehicle enters the OVR hex, unless that hex contains only unknown enemy units (A12.41). … [EXC: Bog DR, and Defensive First Fire other than Reaction Fire (7.2), prompted by that MP expenditure (or by the MF expenditure of accompanying Infantry using Human Wave {A25.23} and Armored Assault {9.31}) are resolved first].
  • Then DFF against the AFV.
  • Then OVR.

Lauren Southern goes after Patreon

Patreon’s problems are rapidly metastasizing:

Lauren Southern revealed that she is taking the first steps into suing Patreon for deplatforming her. Earlier this week, Patreon lost a lawsuit against fans of Owen Benjamin, who was kicked off the platform due to allegedly violating their policies on hate speech, inspiring Southern to take similar action against the platform.

Southern, the Canadian investigative journalist, was one of the first prominent conservatives to be removed from Patreon in 2017. Southern went on to crowd fund documentaries without the help of the platform.

Speaking to National File, Southern revealed that she is speaking with attorney Marc Randazza, the lawyer who handled the cases of the Owen Benjamin fans, on Friday “to see what steps we can take going forward with Patreon.”

“After the initial case was won this week, I tweeted that any former donors of mine should get in touch if they want to join us in an action against Patreon,” Southern told National File, before acknowledging that “While the initial judgement declared that ‘Patreon changed the rules in the middle of the game’ by changing their Terms of Service, this may not apply to our case.”

Southern continued, “If you have logged into Patreon and accept the new ToS, then you likely will not be eligible to join this action. However, anyone who has deleted their account since the ToS change, or simply not logged in, would not be affected by this.”

As it happens, she’s incorrect. Every single user of Patreon has a very strong, virtually open-and-shut legal case against Patreon, as its deceptive practices are literally written into every single version of its Terms of Use, including all three enacted in 2020. While its true that Lauren’s supporters will have additional claims related to her deplatforming, the media coverage considerably underestimates the vulnerability of Patreon’s position due to its lack of knowledge of California law.

Which lack of knowledge it clearly shares with Patreon’s outside counsel. The amusing thing is that it was Patreon’s attempt to strike back at the 72 Bears that led the Legal Legion to the analysis revealing what in retrospect is an absurdly obvious self-destruct button that almost anyone can press at will.

Sadly, this excludes me, as I am not, and I have never been, a Patreon user. I just like to read rulebooks. Frankly, if lawyers knew anything at all about wargames, the first questions they should ask an opposing disputant is if they play Advanced Squad Leader and for how long. If the answers are “yes” and “more than 10 years”, immediately advise the client to settle.

The intricacies of case law and legal theory are like retarded child’s play compared to the ASL rules for everything from routing to vehicular attacks. Consider, for example, the procedure required to calculate the correct Firepower (FP) total while conducting an Overrun attack on exposed infantry by a vehicle.

7.11 FP: The FP base for an OVR is one FP for an unarmored vehicle, two FP for an AFV, or four FP for an AFV whose MA is manned and functioning and is not a MG, FT, MTR, ATR or IFE-capable. The FP base is modified by adding to it the tripled (TPBF) and halved (Bounding First Fire) FP of all manned and functioning MG/IFE armament on the vehicle [EXC: RMG do not add to OVR FP]. CE armored halftrack (only) Passengers can add one-half (and the Passengers/Riders of other vehicles can add one-fourth) of their printed FP to an OVR, but this too is subject to TPBF. All FT FP is added normally with no TPBF/halving adjustment. The total FP of an OVR is halved if the vehicle becomes Immobile or destroyed before it can resolve its OVR (in addition to any halving vs a concealed target; A12.13), but combat results vs Passengers/Riders after an OVR declaration do not affect the OVR FP. The halving of FP for Motion/ Non-Stopped Fire does not apply to OVR FP. 

Of course, one can’t blindly apply the rules as written, as one has to keep in mind the game’s equivalent of case law, which consists of the expert exegeses, the examples and the errata as well.

The IFT DR will be on the 8 FP column, with a +1 DRM because all of the Tiger’s AF are equal to or better than 8. This +1 DRM is found in Note 3 on the AFV Destruction Table, and also in Rule 7.11. Note, however, the typo at the end of Rule 7.11: it should read ‘+1 if all AF are greater than or equal to 8.’ 

Wait, what typo? That doesn’t look right! (checks rulebook version) Oh, never mind, that reference to Rule 7.11 refers to C 7.11 TK# DERIVATION rather than D 7.11 FP, so no +1 DRM.(1)

Now are you beginning to understand why Terms of Use and legal citations are so easy and relaxing to read by comparison? And in not-entirely-unrelated news, the Daily Dot updates its hit piece on Big Bear:

Update 8:35am CT, July 31: On July 30, Patreon lost the suit in California state court. The claims will now be arbitrated individually.

(1) Of course, as is my wont, I left a little trap for the first ASLer tempted to sperg about this. 100 points to the first non-ASLer who can spot what it is. -100 points to the first ASLer to fall for it. If you play ASL and you see it, keep your mouth shut and see who doesn’t.

Game design interview (2015)

You may be familiar with long-time blogger, game designer, science fiction writer, and gamergate supporter Vox Day. He recently did an interview in Russian with Werta Best at where he shares insider information on how he has been designing games for over two decades. Currently he is lead designer for Alpenwolf. Below is the interview in English.

When and how you started your activity in the development of computer games?

My interest in game development began in 1989 when two friends and I formed “Screaming Tortellini Software” with the idea of making games. We never did anything substantive, but one of them co-founded Fenris Wolf with me in 1993. My first serious professional activity was coming up with the concept for a 16-bit, 44 Khz, 16-channel sound card in the spring of 1989. An engineer at my father’s company built a prototype for me and we had it working perfectly, but I could never convince anyone at the company to take it seriously, including my father. This was two years before Media Vision released its Pro Audio Spectrum, an 8-bit, 2-channel card that was a massive success. I should have dropped out of college and started selling it; that is one of my bigger regrets.

Why did you decide to call your team “Fenris Wolf” after a hero of Scandinavian epics?

I grew up in Minnesota. My partner Andrew was Scandinavian and we were both steeped in Scandinavian mythology. It was a fairly natural choice for us.

What was the main idea in Rebel Moon book which you wrote in collaboration with Bruce Bethke? The “Rebel Moon” – it was the “Book based on PC game” or vise versa :)?

The game design preceded the book. In fact, it was the game tie-in that first interested Scott Shannon of Pocket Books, since we met at CGDC. I brought Bruce in because it was my first attempt at writing anything and I figured I’d better have a co-author who knew what he was doing. I learned a tremendous amount from him. He’s a great writer and one of the very few genuinely funny writers out there. Scott was the first publisher to be aware of the importance of game tie-ins; he published the Doom books, Rebel Moon, and he even arranged it with Blizzard for me to write the Starcraft novels. However, I subsequently, and rather stupidly, declined to write them, since they just wanted generic cackling villain stuff and I wasn’t interested in that.

Did you have some feelings in those years (1995) that using of Creative Labs 3D Blaster hardware maybe a cause of low popularity for Rebel Moon game (RM).

We knew from the start that we would never sell a single copy of it at retail because the game was tied to the Creative hardware. That didn’t bother us. It gave us the foot in the industry door we were seeking.

Who was the first member in your team who proposed the revolutionary idea to use the beautiful color lighting in the developed RM game engine? Attention please, it was before Unreal release! Did your team perform an overview of the graphics capabilities for other first person shooters published before RM?

That was my partner Andrew’s idea. We knew Marc Rein and the guys at Unreal very well, in fact, our audio guy and housemate is now their audio director. Because we came from a high-resolution graphics background, we always looked to push the envelope in one way or another. Expanding the color depth was something we wanted to do as soon as the hardware could handle it. The problem was that you were still limited to 256-color palettes in the textures due to memory limitations.

Why didn’t you release the updated version of Rebel Moon on the Windows platform after you upgraded the graphics engine for Rebel Moon Rising (RMR)? This was quite possible, whereas for both games formats in level maps were almost 99{105b5945f2a7891a3dd860d3a09046b26c32f8a07d097b566642738deee8841e} fully compatible!

The thought never even occurred to us. We were never in the habit of looking back at what we’d already done. All we were concerned about is how we could most effectively make use of the new and better hardware that was coming out.

We couldn’t found in the Internet any CD-covers of the Rebel Moon game. Apparently, this game came out only in the collection from Creative Labs disc, and the separate disk of the Rebel Moon game never was published?

That’s correct. It was only available in a CD envelope included in the 3D Blaster box. The sleeve cover was a painting of a rebel LDF solder sitting down, holding a pistol and staring up at the Earth.

Unlike the previous game, the Rebel Moon Rising was created without of any book basis. Who was the first who proposed the idea of continuation for Rebel Moon game series called Rebel Moon Rising?

I think it was our lead artist, Brett Hawkins, who came up with the title. We’d always intended to continue with the lunar rebellion narrative. If you’ve read the novel, then you know that everything from the continuation of the war to the jump to alien D-space was planned. Old school fans will probably be interested to know that my Quantum Mortis series is the Rebel Moon narrative expanded into the very far future.

What’s in your opinion was the reason for poor commercial success of Rebel Moon Rising – is it because of previous game has low popularity (Rebel Moon, 1995) or due to low resolution of sprites used in both games?

One word. QUAKE. Rebel Moon Rising got pretty good reviews and was well-regarded by other designers, but once people had a taste of 3D, they didn’t want to go back to 2.5D. It’s not like that surprised us. After all, I was the one who originally trademarked “3D Blaster” years before and I’d spent a lot of time out in the Bay Area as a Transdimensional Evangelist trying to convince Creative, Hercules, and Diamond, among others, to adopt 3D acceleration long before Jensen Huang got Nvidea going. We knew 3D was going to be big for the shooter market, but we didn’t have time to write a 3D engine on Intel’s schedule. And more importantly, we discovered that the graphics bus was too slow to let the MMX properly support 3D at the higher resolutions we originally intended to support.

The original MMX was actually four times faster than it was able to deliver, but the limitation was the bus, not the chip’s performance. We were the ones who discovered the problem; Intel was absolutely horrified when we proved it to them by blitting a 2-bit black rectangle. Commercial success was always an afterthought, as our Intel relationship guided most of our decisions and generated most of our revenue.

We were very pleased with effects for varying of gravity on some level’s maps – it was one of the most original gameplay ideas in both Rebel Moon games. Has anyone used same method for walkthrough of levels in other games published in 90s? Who was the author of idea in your team?

I don’t know. I asked Andrew and he doesn’t recall either. Our culture at Fenris Wolf was always one of pushing things further. We created the first escort mission in a shooter, we were the first to support MMX, the first to implement speech recognition in a multiplayer game (you could switch weapons and send predetermined messages using your voice), and we also introduced a number of smaller innovations like in-level variable gravity. Given that the game was set in space, the idea of blowing up a gravity generator and then having it affect the gameplay would have seemed pretty obvious to all of us at the time.

The net game levels walkthrough in RMR is more interesting than single player maps. It seems that RMR game originally was planned as a coop game only and single player levels are just the secondary product from net levels. Is it right?

No, it’s precisely backward. The problem with single player was that Intel’s testers simply weren’t gamers. We created the first two levels, which are borderline retarded and come complete with arrows on the floor pointing GO THIS WAY, rather late in the process because the testers couldn’t manage to complete levels that any competent gamer could play through in minutes. So we had to dumb everything down. We didn’t even do the multiplayer stuff until the retail release with GT, but because Intel wasn’t involved with those, we could design them for proper gamers. That’s probably why they are more interesting.

In our opinion, for Rebel Moon Rising game very effective way was used to a sharp change of the game environment – teleportation to another planet (in alien world). And it was made one year before popular Half-Life! (teleport to Xen…). This significant jump was originally planned in the RMR game scenario as well as concept art?

In light of the fact that we were using an expanded color depth for the first time, my decision to set the storyline in space, on the Moon, was a very, very bad one. I thought it would be visually impressive to have these rich jeweled tones of the lasers and lights contrasted against the grays of the environment, but the effect was just too subtle. And our artists, while smart and talented, were all very young and hired straight out of art school with no computer or 3D experience. We should have done something more wild and garish like Unreal.

The decision to shift the focus to the alien environments allowed us to bring in more color and interesting visuals than was permitted by an environment mostly filled with black space and Moon rocks. The jump was definitely planned in the design document and it was always part of the story, but we did end up putting more of the levels in the alien environments than originally planned due to the desire to incorporate more interesting graphical elements.

The RMR game has one interesting level – mission with task to liquidation of woman. She was commander(!) of Earth special(!) forces(!). Do you afraid of strong hate from feminist organizations now about such mission goals :)?

No. Couldn’t care less. We weren’t making a political point. It wasn’t our only assassination mission anyhow, I think there was one in the original RM as well.

What the creatures were as prototypes for two alien races in RMR: Estrons and Shoggrans?

The alien races were original creations. The Shog’grans were industrial and took advantage of the less advanced Estrons by turning them into slaves that were horrifically mutilated imitations of the Shog’gran Interregnum, the poor Subestrons. We didn’t base the races on anything in particular, we just wanted some reason that the LDF fighters would find sympathy with the very monsters they fought and killed at the end of Rebel Moon. So Shog’grans and Estrons were primarily created to meet the demands of the narrative.

When you began to plan one more continuation for RM series? Was the Rebel Moon Revolution (RMRev) originally planned with absolutely another gameplay format (command tactical shooter)?

Yes. I was playing a lot of Advanced Squad Leader at the time, so the idea of having a 2D strategy game connected to the 3D tactical game was very attractive to me. However, we made a fatal mistake in deciding to rely upon two levels of artificial intelligence and giving both friendly and enemy squads near-complete autonomy within the mission parameters rather than going with a heavily scripted approach.

There were three ways to solve the problem, we took one with Revolution, Half-Life took another, and later, Combat Mission took a third. Obviously, Valve’s solution was the best. But even today, no one has AI as good as RMRev had, because it is very hard to do well and even companies like Kynogon were much more focused on the purely tactical aspects. In addition to designing the Strat and Tac AIs, we brought in the guy who did the AI for Enemy Nations, which at the time was considered state of the art. But we definitely bit off more than we could reasonably chew with a team that size.

Why did you decided not to use sprites in Rebel Moon Revolution game? After all, the well known publisher GT Interactive has released two 3D shooters in the 1998: NAM and WWIIGI, with more poor quality of sprites and sounds than were used in RMR. Why you decided to create a new game entirely in 3D-graphics?

We would have done the original RM in 3D if we could have. We always wanted to do 3D and write our own engine. GT Interactive even offered us the use of the Unreal engine for RMRev; we probably should have just accepted it and figured out how to add some decent AI to it rather than insisting on writing our own Revolution engine. The root problem was that we never had enough programmers to achieve our vision, we never had more than four and two of them were entirely devoted to AI.

If your team members began to create from scratch 3D-graphics engine and AI engine for Rebel Moon Revolution game, did they fully understand all complexities of this path? How hard it was for you and for your friends on this way?

What we didn’t understand was that you can really only do one major new thing and two minor new things at a time. We were trying to simultaneously break new ground, at least for us, in four major new ways. We were writing our own non-Euclidean 3D engine, we were developing two tiers of advanced AI, we were developing a launch title for an new console, and we were trying to wed a 2D strategy game to a 3D tactical game. It was completely insane in retrospect. We were too young, and we’d had too much early success, to grasp our limitations.

The crazy thing is that we still would have pulled the larger part of it off if it hadn’t been for both Sega and GT going down in flames at around the same time. We had an incredibly smart and talented team at Fenris, we found jobs for every single employee within weeks after we decided to shut down. Most of them are still in the industry, or eventually left it on their own terms.

To be honest, though, since both Eric and John, the two AI programmers, were diagnosed with cancer and subsequently died not very long after that, it was hard for any of us to feel too sorry for ourselves. We may have missed out on becoming something akin to Epic, but there are worse fates.

Without going into details of legal trials, please say, what was the main reason of the publishing abolition of this in all aspects revolutionary (Rebel Moon Revolution) game? Maybe it was the usual competition of the game developers?

GT Interactive was running out of money and as far as I can tell, they cut every game that wasn’t scheduled for completion within the next six months. The problem is that they didn’t actually cancel the game, which would have permitted us to take it elsewhere, they simply refused to pay an already-approved milestone. They ended up having to write us a much larger check two years later, but by then the damage was done. We couldn’t take the game, or even the engine, to another publisher with that hanging over our heads. When Sega of Japan shut down Sega of America around the same time, the one-two punch was simply more than one small company could take.

And now one of important questions for me about canceling of Rebel Moon Revolution. In 1999 before publishing “The War in Heaven” game your team has an almost completed engine (REV Engine v.0.9). Why did you not to compile a simple 3D-shooter with 3D models, levels from RMRev project, simplified AI and without any voice control? It would be a little bit another Rebel Moon Revolution than originally planned. For example, it would be like a Terra Nova: Strike Force Centaury (1996). What you can say about it?

We didn’t have the clean rights to use the engine, it was tied up for the following two years in the ongoing legal dispute with GT. That didn’t affect either The War in Heaven or Traveller because we already had specific permission from GT to produce those games with that engine. I tried very hard to get GT to cancel both RMRev and The War in Heaven (since they were trying to defund the former anyway and the latter was dead on arrival due to changes at Walmart), and let us use the technology to do a WWII 3D shooter, but they said no one would be interested in that sort of game. That was futile, in retrospect, but I had no idea they were in so much financial trouble at the time. Of course, it was their inability to see opportunities like doing a WWII 3D shooter years before CoD or Medal of Honor that contributed to their failure.

Can you tell us something about another your cancelled game project called “RPG Traveller“? What the engine was planned to use in this game? What the story used for game?

That would have been a legendary game. Julian LeFay of Daggerfall fame was a friend of ours, and he left Bethesda to come work with us on Traveller for a Sega of America launch title. We were using the Revolution engine adapted for the Katana (later renamed the Dreamcast), and we had an excellent story that Marc Miller and I were putting together. It was a very open RPG in the Bethesda model, a sort of Privateer set in the Traveller universe crossed with a giant Zhodani conspiracy to blow up a star prior to launching another invasion of the Imperium.

Unfortunately, Sega of Japan abruptly decided that it couldn’t trust American developers and shut down Sega of America as well as every American-developed title. They were both secretive and stupid; the former Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske talked about it here. Needless to say, we weren’t surprised when the Dreamcast failed.

In files of RMRev demo I found an example of Vietnamese-like level, M-16 weapon model and unfinished US soldier 3D model. Did you prepare some reserve variants of planned on REV Engine games about Vietnam war or other? It would be very good to publish such game before NAM in 1998.

After we failed to convince GT to let us do a WWII game, we thought we might be able to convince them to do 3D Vietnam since we knew about the 2.5D NAM. So, we put together a quick level with an M-16 to show them. They shot that down too, of course, due to their financial troubles. Remember, at the time, we had no idea why they were suddenly refusing to continue with projects that they had been publicly bragging about only weeks before.

How do you feel about fan-made translations and Win-ports for good old games?

Love them. Very happy to support them in any way I can. If anyone enjoys bringing our old code to life or making use of our old art and music, I love to see it and will freely grant permission for it upon request.

Have you any plans for remakes of your old game projects? Do you plan now some new game projects?

We are in the process of doing some very interesting and significant stuff in the 3D miniature and combat management spaces. It will be as ground-breaking in its own way as RMR and RMRev were. It’s called First Sword and I’m applying many of the lessons I’ve learned over the last 20 years in designing it. I hope old fans of Fenris Wolf will consider backing the First Sword Kickstarter that Alpenwolf will be doing in the April-May timeframe. We’ve got a great team of very smart new guys combined with very experienced older guys. Those who are interested in it can sign up for our Game Development newsletter here.

What you can say about wide popularization and free distribution of legacy games published in 90s years?

I’m all for it. I’m glad to see Kickstarter making so many great retro projects like Star Citizen and Shroud of the Avatar possible. Of course, the fact that they’re not called Wing Commander and Ultima shows that the publishers are still a problem and a major pain in the posterior of the developers.

Do you play in modern games? And how you can estimate the quality of many modern computer game hits with a super overdone 3D-graphics? Have we any chances to look “new old games” with breathtaking gameplay, at all?

Yes, I play a fairly wide variety of them, although I don’t play as deeply into them as I once did. I’m very disappointed with what most modern games have done with all of this incredible processing power at their disposal. While they’re pretty, many of the current games are somewhat dumbed-down from previous games; for all the bells and whistles they’ve got, the core shooter gameplay hasn’t improved much from Team Fortress.

I think considerably more development effort should be placed on AI rather than graphics; I’ve been beating that drum for over a decade now. Multiplayer has proven to be somewhat of a letdown, and since we can’t make the players any smarter, more cooperative, or more interesting, we desperately need to give designers a way around their intrinsic limitations.

Disrupted transmissions

It’s been fairly obvious to most game developers for years that in-game communications are a relatively secure system for communications, simply because they have a sort of code built into them. And since terrorists and other bad actors have been known to use online games as a communications platform, it should not be surprising that the Deep State has too.

If Q is correct, one game being used for that purpose was Star Wars: Commander. Certainly some of the in-game exchanges there appear to be unrelated to the game nominally being played. So, it may be significant to note that it is being shut down as of June.


We have come to the decision to shut down Star Wars™: Commander on June 12, 2020. As of March 13, 2020, all in-game purchases have been suspended. Star Wars: Commander will remain playable until 11am GMT on June 12, 2020.

I would expect that there is also a considerable amount of money-laundering taking place in the case of some of the more inexplicably successful online games.

Last day for Ascendant

Ascendant is a superhero RPG system that provides the mechanical basis for the upcoming Alt-Hero RPG. I backed its Kickstarter campaign, and if you’re into RPGs, you will probably want to do so as well.

Comic book RPGs tend to be sub-divided into “descriptor-based” and “effect-based” games. “Bolt of Fire” is a descriptor, while “Ranged Attack that deals 50 points of damage to one target” is an effect. A descriptor-based game prioritizes the descriptor over the effects. An effect-based game prioritizes the effects over the descriptor.

Ascendant strives to be neither a descriptor-based nor effect-based game. It is, rather, a physics-based game. The game mechanics are intended to be the physics engine of the game world. Powers have both descriptors and effects. Some effects are precluded by the logic of the descriptor, and some descriptors inevitably entail certain effects. The mechanics are elaborate and detailed (as in an effect-based game) but they are also broad and universalized (as in a descriptor-based game). Players are expected and encouraged to use their powers in whatever manner makes sense within the physics of a comic-book world, but not in ways that don’t make sense.

If a descriptor-based system aims to let players experience a comic-book story, and an effect-based system aims to let players play a superhero game, our physics-based system aims to let players simulate a comic book world. To do so, we have created logarithmic chart-based universal mechanics, a style of design that has not been widely used in the last two decades.

The designer is not only a personal friend, he is one of the best in the role-playing business. Which, of course, is why I asked him to design the Alt-Hero RPG.

The ultimate wall of text

Humanity may have reached Peak Gamma with this DOOM speedrunner’s response to being caught red-handed and accused of cheating.

You humour me greatly with your arrogance and contempt, a flood of accusations born from the poison of envy and smite of disrespect. I feel both disappointment and flattery these thoughts would originate from another player who has demonstrated one of a kind talent and has accomplished the impossible, yet is apparently immune from judgement owing to their reputation, do not think your words hold more credibility just because of who you are, being more well known and what you have accomplished in breaking world records and setting ones never previously accomplished, such as with TNT and Plutonia Nightmare. With that being said I will divulge my thoughts on the serious accusations you have set forth.

I won’t address the individual gameplay scenarios you’ve highlighted, as the foundation of your argument arises from jealously, this is clear when you contrast my success with your failure, being deluded into thinking you should have surpassed these trials yet cannot absolutely comprehend how someone else can claim victory on a consistent basis, instead I will address my playing ability. You know nothing about who I am or my history with this game, I am exceptionally talented not only at Doom, but other oldschool FPS along with videogames in general. I make speedruns and partake in Ironman out of passion for the game, it is a personal challenge in testing my playing ability to overcome arduous odds, I play for fun, it’s about me vs the game and I hold no strong competitive urge or desire to be known as the best, reputation and status are not important to me but having fun is essential.

Are you serious when you can’t believe someone can beat an Ironman consistently? It’s just playing the game without saving or loading, do you not have a fundamental understanding of the core gameplay and how to the play game correctly? Am I the only one who can play aggressively, with an intuitive and innate ability to bend the game to their will and not panic when in a dire situation, but with tactical genius aware of my surroundings and dexterous reflexes can act in the heat of battle and overcome arduous odds? When you highlight cases of RNG, I honestly don’t think about it that deeply, I’m confident in what I’m doing, I’ll make a risky move and hold strong with faith. I laugh at your baseless accusations of slowdown in reference to Stardate, I’m sure other skilled players such as Mrzzul and Nevanos could playthrough Stardate casually withour prior practice or saving and get just as far. Also bear in mind that I have died in several Ironmans before, do you honestly think their was demo manipulation there?

You also demonstrate your ignorance very clearly when you admit you haven’t watched my Ironman demos in full, and by watching I do mean actually studying them and assessing each scenario, bearing in mind my experience and ability at Doom which is extradonary, not skipping to a random moment and making up fabrications based on your own failures thinking oh it’s impossible, their is no way any player could accomplish that. I do make mistakes, sometimes crucial ones, this is also reflected if you studied my speedruns which are far from perfect and have flaws such as missing shots, awkward movement and poor dodging, however a key skill I have is not panicing when low on health or when the circumstance is dire. Well guess what, I’m one of a kind, no one can play the game like me, every talented player and speedrunner has their own strengths and weaknesses that make them stand out.

I am deluded when you suggest someone must have prior knowledge to stand a chance of victory at Ironman. Well look at Demon of the Well, he’s not a speedrunner but is known for making FDAs both blind and familiar, he has an exceptional ability at conquering maps on his first attempt, the most prominent example I can think of is rdwpa’s MuMe.wad. Does that mean he cheats? Certainly not, he’s a talented player who obviously has a high level of playing ability. You also have j4rio and 0xfooba who have accomplished amazing demos that haven’t been set before, with the former tysons that should be impossible and the latter UV-Maxes on some the hardest maps devised and speedrun movies of Sunlust. So why would you think my speedruns are cheated, when their are fellow speedrunners who have demonstrated extraordinary playing ability, do not stream and have surpassed my demos? As I certainly have never accussed anyone else of cheating, but respect their accomplishment and admire their tenacity at conquering very hard maps and goals.

I have not shown jealously or malice towards fellow speedrunners who have surpassed my demos but silently congratulate and admire their accomplishment, in some cases publicly such as when Ancalagon went back and re-ran Combat Shock in response to when I beat his old runs. I do not look at speedrunning with a competitive eye, thinking I must have the record and surpass my competitor, instead my view is a cooperative one, it’s us speedrunners against the game, building on one another’s ideas and talent when a new record is set, complementing each other’s unique strengths and weaknesses.

My question would be why are you accusing and targetting me specifically? I can see from the depths of your arrogance, you believe with absolute certainty you are correct and I must be a cheater with any form of rebuttal being null and void. Well let me state clearly I have nothing to gain, why would I cheat at Ironman when I have pubically stated previously I do not care about winning or if a fellow player surpasses me, this is just fun to me. For speedruns, what would be the purpose in cheating as it’s a personal challenge to me, I want to demonstrate to myself I’ve got the skill and talent to conquer very hard maps, it’s about me against the game and I don’t feel jealously at a fellow speedrunner who has beaten my record. I make speedruns out of passion and love for the game and not for admiration or self flattery, as long as Andy accepts the demo for DSDA that’s all I care about.

I am not going to stream as I do not care for an audience and am not influenced by the accusations of an envious stranger. I only streamed briefly for a short time in the past out of curiosity, but it does not interest me nor do I feel passion for it. I haven’t watched Twitch in over a year, I was drawn to it in my spare time during the short period prior to my first full time job after finishing my studies. My life has changed a lot in the past two years and their are far more important aspects in life which draw my attention, I have little free time as well. Also you must be very self-conscious if you honestly think one has to stream their demo to demonstrate they aren’t cheating, that just indicates your disrespect and distrust towards other players with exceptional playing ability, you’ll never be a talented survivalist like me ?

Let me make it clear I don’t give a damn what you or anyone else thinks of me, when I am passionate about a subject I will speak my mind truthfully even if it means being brash at times, both online and in real life, I won’t be intimidated by anyone and will confront them with assertion and confidence. I’m here for fun, making speedruns and commenting on subjects once in a while which capture my eye.

Thank you for revealing your true colors, seething with jealously and enveloped by arrogance, you’ve lost what respect I had for you. If you’ve come to your senses you will offer an apology, take a good luck in the mirror before you make such a disgusting accusation against a fellow Doom player, who has not caused strife and discord but shows humility and respect with a care free attitude, or will you continue this charade and repeat history, replicating the case of Okuplok? If you do continue to accuse, it will be solely for my amusement as I will not take you seriously and will likely ignore you. Choose wisely.

As a general rule, anyone whose response to criticism involves attacking the critic and his motivations is likely insecure about their position and attempting to defend what they know to be indefensible. I’m not talking about simply ignoring the critic or refusing to regard the criticism as relevant, I’m talking about posturing, asserting superiority, and attempting to discredit the critic.

No one is fooled by this sort of thing, which is why I find it strange that so many people are inclined to respond in such a suboptimal manner. It was also interesting to see how the YouTuber noticed the extraordinarily similar attitudes exhibited and even phrases utilized by the cheaters, which is a strong indication that the cheaters were Gamma males.