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Tycho / 2 days ago

Gabe sent over the strip with the subject line “Is this too much?” and I told him it’s virtually impossible to tell things like that.  I didn’t suggest, though I will suggest now, that I’m not the best person to ask for information of this kind.  I’m something of an “advance scout” when it comes to conceptual territory.  I’m not saying I’m right about things necessarily, just that I tend to range in the zone where the reproducible and the reliable give way to the untrammeled abstract.  I mean, look at that sentence.  It’s like Exhibit A.

YouTube’s “adpocalypse” continues simmer behind the cool, glass facade of the platform, the newest ghostly manifestation of which is them altering the deal further for the smallest creators on the platform.  They suggested that ninety percent of people at the level of performance they foreclosed were only making $2.50 a month, which is kind of a dick thing to say though maybe it makes sense to them.  As someone who has made a living - and made a living for others - off my creative work, that’s only their first $2.50.  People routinely frame their first dollar.  It’s more than money.  Mike and I used to click our own ads back in the day, just click them and click them.  That was the first time we ever made money at this shit.

What I’m saying is that this is a pretty aristocratic maneuver, all told.  After they got kicked in the teeth for their first announcement, they trained a Markov chain generator with a corpus of history’s worst apologies and had it excrete this phrase:

Our recent changes to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) are designed to curb bad actors, stabilize creator revenue and provide greater assurances to advertisers around where their ads are placed.

“Greater assurances around where their ads are placed” is really the only functional part of this, the only portion which has any material substance.  Everything else is simply attached to the root concept with layers and layers of brown packing tape.  They have one goal, and I’m not even saying they shouldn’t have that goal.  Just say it, though: say it out loud.  You’ll punish thousands of people to protect those who have threatened the very existence of the platform.

You can’t make the case that these smaller-scale YouTubers are the problem.  By definition, these smaller broadcasters aren’t being seen.  Not by many.  The people who are actually abrading the entire model have followers in the eight figures.  Those are the articles and videos I’ve seen - YouTube’s poster children.  People who become a millionaire - again, or for a third, fourth, or tenth time - every month of the year.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 5 days ago

Out here, up in the Game Spire, where we buy games and then play them, Public G is a big deal, if not the biggest deal.  But a lot - and I mean a lot - of people play Fortnite.  To give you entre into a world you may not be aware of, the Youngs play Fortnite almost exclusively.  It doesn’t cost anything.  That’s, uh…  that’s a pretty good price.  There’s nothing even approximating a Queue on the PC.  Once you’ve decided you want to play, that’s it.  And from the sounds of it, that kind of community support is having an effect on their other titles.  Weirdly, it’s even having an effect on the PvE side of Fortnite, which you might recall was its original incarnation.  I think that’s temporary, though.  I hope so, anyway.  There’s a path through this where the two halves inform each other.  At this point, I think they’re still reeling from the shock.

I grabbed Fortnite on PC because I was convinced that, like The Division, wherever else the game might appear it was fundamentally a computer game and I was right.  But you can install and run Paragon from the same launcher, so of course I threw it on there.  A lot has changed; one of the main ones is that there are a ton of new heroes that I think really elevate what they were going for - the voice is much more certain than it was.  There’s like thirty-seven of these motherfuckers.  I like the weight and feel.  And, as a tech showcase, it’s fucking bananas.

They have some big challenges with their on-ramp.  I guess technically this is in “open beta,” at least it looks to be, but I’m not a dumb person and it still warped the expectations in some weird ways.  In addition to your build order for abilities, one of the ways you customize your playstyle is to grow your stats in certain ways so as to be able to leverage equippable cards.  No, come back!  This part isn’t bad.  It’s just different.  In the way that Final Fantasy XV looks like an action game but isn’t, this looks like it might be a shooter but isn’t - not really.  You have to have your head on straight to get what they’re going for, and even then it might just not be for you.  I have had many conversations with Devs during one of the many, many PAX shows I attend, and one of the scarier ones I have is about the fact that even if your game is great there’s no guarantee it’ll matter.  It’s not an appeal to embrace Chaos, it’s simply a recognition that we have arrived at a point where we have a global communications network, anyone can talk to anyone, and concepts like “merit” didn’t port.

I mean, it’s just awful; they’ve clearly murdered themselves making this thing.  They love this game.  And another game made by the same company is eclipsing it, not because of some skullduggery, but because it found the kind of success in this crazy, Hail Mary pass that you hope you’ll find every time you launch something.  What a kick in the fucking head.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

My flights were cancelled many, many times, both on the way into hashtag PAX South and out; while I was writing today’s strip I learned that I’d lost the reservation I’d made to account for the previously lost reservation.  It flipped several times during the next hour until I was able to get a flight that would work - sort of - provided I could get there in the next twenty minutes with my wife and moist larvae in tow.

Traffic generally might have been an issue, but there was essentially nobody in San Antonio that would willingly drive anywhere because the same weather that fucked up the skies as a mode of travel was busy fucking the Earth also.  I’m from Spokane, where the extreme distance from the Face of God creates an oppressive, preternatural cold; sleet can make every window of your car opaque in seconds.  Everybody still gets home somehow.  Rain was hitting the road down there, individual drops, and they collaborated in the formation of an impromptus ice rink.  From the hotel to the airport, I saw five cars.  This is not an exaggeration for effect.  We were were one of the five cars.  Our cabbie crossed himself as we hit the on-ramp.

There’s around six hours of Acquisitions Incorporated games out of PAX South in total, currently all available in Twitch in smaller pieces, but we’ll get it all up soon in the other formats you expect.  The main takeaways are that Saturday’s AcqInc game is apparently the best one, and the Acquisitions Incorporated: The “C” Team game - the premiere of Season 2 - has inaugurated the next chapter of that story.  It continues Next Wednesday, 4-7pm PST every week.

It didn’t really hit me until I was on stage saying it, but we’ve delivered four PAX Shows in five months - five, if you count PAX Dev.  I don’t think that this is something just anybody can pull off, and I’m not complimenting myself there.  I’m recognizing the efforts of the people I work with at Penny Arcade and the unstoppable Enforcer corps that enables “conventions” that move beyond “events” and into the realm of true cultural practice.  That’s not something we can do - it’s only something we can try to enable.  It’s something - as I have said before - you bring with you.  I’m at the part after PAX where the disconnection from the hive is most keenly felt; I suspect I’m not alone in it.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 1 week ago

I’ll talk to Gabe later about changing the first i to a capital I, but since it’s in the original script I suspect it’s gonna have to be something I do myself with tools I fashion from wood and stone.  Sometimes I can convince Kiko to do it in secret.  I might be getting him in trouble, there.

I have to admit that I’ve been quite startled by the viewership on Twitch for a few recent events, but this is what happens when a piece of content floods a new viewership into the platform.  When I saw the OWL running on Wed - didn’t see the new one on account of PAX - it was consistently over three hundred thousand viewers.  Then again, notorious digital satan loltyler1 had around that, and he is a single person with no shirt on.  The times we’re living in are fucked and if somebody claims an ability to reckon the future of this, they can’t.  Not really.

My fascination with these numbers continued when I heard that Critical Role - a D&D show, but of course you know that - had over a hundred thousand live viewers.  That’s a much, much bigger audience than I thought existed for the form.

I’ve spent most of the morning trying to figure out how to get home because my flights out of San Antonio were cancelled, a fact made somewhat more complicated by the fact that I’ve got Brenna and the Larvae here.  We had canceled flights on the way in also, if you’ll recall.  Everything around the show was whatever the opposite of a candy shell is.  Everything in the show was delicious nougat.

PAX South was a PAX - and it was the most recent PAX, which means it is also the best.  That is the ancient law we are all bound to.  I don’t know that I’ve ever had a Saturday like this one - virtually every minute from the time I hit the show was spoken for, so I might have been difficult to find if you didn’t make it to the Pin Trading or the Acq Inc signing.  And I was on two - fully two! - Acquisitions Incorporated shows, which you can find here on the PAX Twitch archive.  And there’s no Acquisitions Incorporated: The “C” Team this week because we’re coming back, but the week after you can tune in for luxurious new episodes on our own channel every Wednesday, from 4-7pm PST.

I want to give a shoutout to Omeganaut Rugpisser, who is by this point a core part of the PAX South mythos, having come in second place at every PAX South Omegathon.  We threw him and Cookie Mom of the hallowed Cookie Brigade into Hidden Path’s Brass Tactics, a VR RTS, and it was fun to watch Gabe be delighted by it - I love that team, and I’ve been keeping up with the development.  It was futuristic “af.”  But it was finally time for Rugpisser and his yellow-robed acolytes to have their time in the sun, and he pulled it off with aplomb.

(CW)TB out.

Tycho / 2 weeks ago

I think it’s kind of funny to be doing Division strips this long after the fact, but that’s where we’re at.  A PAX is typically sufficient to break the habit for a game, ironic though that may be; there’s a kind of radius around the shows that absorbs all conscious attention.

I hope it doesn’t happen this time, but if anything I’ve been more intrigued since I hit the level cap.  I don’t know the last time that happened in a game of this sort.  There are multiple endgame activities with distinct contours, and a couple with their own levelling structures altogether.  My current armor set reloads any weapon I switch away from, and since I use light machineguns with custom clips, each of which holds over two hundred shots, I never reload - there’s just a slight pause every couple hundred rounds.  We call this Operation Infinite Fire.  It’s no longer a stream of individual bullets and is closer to a coherent beam.  But because set pieces can drop at any level of quality, good upgrades are always around the corner, even if I like what I’ve built.

So I’m always worried about breaking the habit - and in a game like this, letting people down because I’ve allowed myself to get outpaced gear-wise by the group.  I think the hooks are in pretty deep, though.  I mean, look at that last paragraph.  Motherfucker sounds like a crazy person.

The last couple days have been exciting, in quotes.  My connecting flight to San Antonio was cancelled, and the standbys fell through, so I’m writing this in a Dallas hotel Thursday night with an early morning flight into San Antonio which should technically be in time for the show.  I have the family with me, too; if you see a redhead at the show somewhere, there’s a good chance that they are either my wife or someone whose manufacture I directly participated in.  The Three Day passes are gone, but there are a few individual day passes still available.

(CW)TB out.




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