Podcast (2010)
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Podcast #7

Looking at beginning of February release for Survivors Quest. Not great at scheduling. I had “implement choice encounters” for one zone scheduled as one day on my calendar, but it ended up taking about 30 hours work. Cashflow is okay for next year. Still looking for job.

Q: How does it feel being in the FUTURE?

A: Pretty good. I’m working on an online game that I love.

Q: I thought of a real question! I'm sure you've been asked a metric asston of times but how close is reincarnation to being a thing that exists? Are there gonna be any other main quests besides the survivors quest to go in before it? If not, are you gonna add others later, NS13 style? (if you do that you'd better do it before you get some hardcore complainers playing :P)

A: Reincarnation - after Survivors Quest, Oldtown and 3 more past there. In amazing miracle world, end of this year? I’d rather put out good content than fast content though. Yeah, more quests coming. When the main questline is done, you’ll be at the point where reincarnation makes sense. The reincarnation is tied into the narrative so that will go in when it’s ready. […]

Q: Could we perhaps, at the powder pouring chamber menu of the puzzle box where we get to choose from a list which powder we insert, get an indication of the amount of each specific powder we have?

A: I’m willing to say no. It would possible, but a lot of work for not a lot of gain. And would make adding any more powders a bigger pain, when it’s already a pain.

Q: Also, I've been doing nothing but resting for nearly 4 entire days worth of energy trying to get Programmed Terror. I'm doing it wrong, aren't I?

A: It is possible to do it wrong. In retrospect, if I were designing that again, it would be more resistant to people brute forcing it. Not that I mind people brute forcing it, but people are driving themselves crazy trying to get it, it wasn’t really designed to be brute forced. Need to make sure the “optimal” solution to things is not a tedious one, though it kind of fits for Programmed Terror.

Q: Vague ETA on Survivor's quest?

A: Like I said above, early February.

Q: Is it wrong that I'm trying to think of an inch-mile thing to ask for here?

A: Actually, the first question you asked [pouder pouring qtys] was kind of an inch-mile thing. The adventure with old coins now shows you how many old coins you have.

Q: The create account page with the 18-year old verification-excuse-to-get-banned-if-you-misbehave system mentions "a range of adult topics". We have drug use, drug dealing, violence, murder, cannibalism. Think you will ever put something in that deals with the (according to Americans ;)) worst kind of adult topic? You know, very awful indecent stuff, like wardrobe malfunctions.

A: Actually, I did write that with the understanding that I could put in something like that if I wanted to? The funny part is that I’m pretty sure I won’t ever. Not that I think it is indecent, but I’m really bad at writing romance. I’ve DMed a lot and not a lot of romance. It’s almost always female characters who are my girlfriend and that’s awkward in a group setting. It is weird that you can show someone getting shot, but can’t show breasts on TV. There’s another layer there, the thing that will get your rating bumped up, is not the violence but the consequences of the violence. So in a children’s show, you can sword fight but no one can get hurt, or a robot can explode. Teaching that fighting doesn’t have consequences. When you have a movie that’s aiming for a particular rating, the categories that give the rating (language, violence, sex) are largely not additive, so if you have a R movie with extreme violence in it, it’s more likely to have more explicit sex as well, and vice versa. Culture is weird.

Q: How was Christmas? (Both in real life and in game?)

A: In game - I thought went really well. Rollout when smoothly. The start of the content, when the snow fell, and everything past that was automated. Everything, including the boss unlocked at just about the right time. Some bugs were repeated that would not have been repeated if I released the content manually, like people’s weapons being replaced by Brain Staples singles. In real life - not as crazy as I thought it would be.

Q: I've noticed a lot of techniques lately that have "hidden" bonuses - like the Hammer Strike if you have a hammer equipped or the Ghoul Bite if you have the wolf mask. Are there lots more similarly undiscovered hidden bonuses?

A: Let’s see. I’d have to do a search to tell you how many, and would be spoilerish anyway. I’d say half-ish have an additional form that isn’t explicitly hinted at.

Q: Care to explain how the staring snowman's attacks worked now that Christmas is over? How does the "conflicting forces" show up instead of the 100+ damage?

A: I might end up re-using him, so you might have another shot at spading that out. The decision there isn’t random at all, there’s a variable that’s being manipulated that you might not have realized.

Q: With the survivors quest, will any new areas be introduced, or will it all play out in the areas that we already have?

A: Yes, this will play out in the existing (top-level) areas. There will be new locations within them. Eg. there’s stuff going on in Southside that’s beyond the park and the apartment building.

Q: With that, do you see Gang Warfare expanding as new areas are introduced?

A: Yeah, the design for Oldtown includes an area that’s designed for Gang Warfare. I’ll take a look at that when we get there, it might come out there. Depends how many people are active in PvP, if there are 10 people, may not be worth it, but if there are 100 then likely.

Q: What is the plan for cyberwear?

A: You’ve seen part of it, if you befriend Boris and talk to him. Most of it is in Oldtown so the coding won’t come out until then. Pretty interesting, I like it.

Q: Among the various sub-plots in Metroplexity, the savage conflict between the fairy and the fishman is one I could see going a lot of different ways. As you talked earlier about the future continuation of the sub-plotlines (IE Button etc.) How/do you see that developing further? Maybe something with the spherical egg?

A: That is actually something that gets picked up on, I know how that’s going to go. It’s a lot more tangled than what’s on the surface. Spherical egg is important, also the egg itself will be important separately once I have the pets system in. It can hatch and be pretty adorable, I even have art for it. Also the deactivated SD-micro you can find in the Midgard warehouse, will be repairable to become a pet when pets go in.

Q: So, what is the geographical layout of the different zones? Are the docks on Lake Metroplex, or some other body of water? I guess southside is in the… south, the harbor's to the east, and the slags are to the south of the harbor?

A: That’s about right. Southside is substantially west of lake Metroplex, and university is north of that group, and Downtown is further north. The city as a whole is built up along the edge of the late, so if you see a body of water, it’s probably the lake. The areas that you go to are just little snapshots, areas that are walking distance to the Metros, so they don’t explicitly click into each other.

Q: Will hacking or other aspects of the Net ever become relevant to the main (reset) quests?

A: Yeah, absolutely, that’s why they’re in there. Not sure if I’ve explained it very well, but I get a message a day that’s like “hacking isn’t very done, here’s some ideas”. And I got some good ideas from that but it’s definitely not done. Like, when you’re in Southside Park, you can’t learn every single technique there, there’s a lot of story to come. Throughout the game, there’s a thread that you can solve nearly every problem with violence, if correctly applied. And once you get to swankier areas, that also applies to hacking. So if you need to get past a locked door, you can break down the door, or find a key, or if it’s a nicer area, you can hack the building’s security system and unlock the door. So you’ll see more and more hacking as you go. You won’t have to necessarily need to use hacking to proceed, like how you don’t necessarily need combat to proceed.

Q: Do both Born of Sorrow and unearthly coins react to the same universal definition of "evil" actions, or do they perhaps operate on differing definitions of "morality?"

A: I’ll leave that one for people to spade. They both tie into existing systems, there’s more going on.

Q: How do you feel about the size of the playerbase? Do you have any thoughts about promoting the game any more than you have so far? (Which is not very much at all, I'm assuming.)

A: I’m happy. It’s growing exponentially, which you expect from word-of-mouth. Good quality players, they give good suggestions and feedback. Promotion - mostly word of mouth. Considering some advertising, but not sure if that quality will keep up. Tell your friends!

Podcast #8

Been under the weather, but back on track now. Next week, I'll be on sort of vacation, shouldn't affect the mid-March date I announced for release of the survivors quest. In other news, my old job position got re-created so and I got hired back. Puyo hasn't moved out here yet, but pretty much certainly moving here. Custom avatars coming.

Q: Do you have upper limits in mind for things like melee/ranged/etc. power and defense? Or will things just keep on scaling up linearly as more powerful opponents and zones become available?

A: I designed those from the start to scale up linearly. Unless something changes (no promises), those will scale linearly. I've been thinking about some changes to Reactive Defence works in gang warface to make those numbers more manageable.

Q: Are you planning on releasing any bits of new content before the big Survivor's Quest rollout?

A: That was asked before the big content drop yesterday [Slags Lab gets a new computer system.]. A couple things scattered through the survivors quest that people have asked for, the doctors outfit and getting knocked off the 5th floor. There's a chunk of the survivors quest, which is basically, defeat this side-quest. Which will be part of the survivor's quest, but plot-wise, it's pretty stand alone. That might show up independently. If survivors quest is looking to be long than planning, I will consider making that available early.

Q: From what I can tell of the story, we're pretty much sitting at Early Phase, or possibly even Mid Phase (We're still in the Rising Action of the story), how many more solid 'chunks' of story can we assume are still coming? (The Survivors Quest answering a lot of questions seems like it may be an Action phase, or possibly simply a narrative bridge from the rising action.)

A: I'd describe the Survivors quest as a narrative bridge. You're currently in the introduction/flailing around. The Survivors quest is an inflection point, bridges to the middle of the story, and there'll be another of those later, probably downtown, and then to the finale. Right now, you're kind of finding out the questions. The next part is answers that lead to more questions, and the next part is answers that lead to more answers.

Q: Do some of these bizarre metalshop shows on TV give inspiration on upcoming metallic foes?

A: I don't actually watch much "television" television. Mostly Hulu and Crunchy Roll, which has a lot of new anime. Nothing really calling to me for inspiration. Some interesting stuff in Dollhouse, with the Rossum/Midgard-big-scary-corporation, but don't need much more inspiration for that. I'd enjoy re-watching Darker than Black anime, which has some Metroplexity parallels.

Q: Can we expect more answers on the Etheric Sciences front?

A: If you're wondering what Argeth is talking about there, there's a really good thread on the forums, applying scientific methodology to Eclipse. When you're talking about Slags Poisoning, Midgard has been researching for years, and Lo and David have a strong scientific background, that's their future. Dr. A and Hel are in sort of different positions, they care less about the sciency part. Hel is just Hel, and Dr. A is just more concerned about what Midgard's doing. There's a little bit you haven't found yet, and there'll be more.

Q: You made a minor mention of a pet system at some early point (I think it was 'you don't want something that's a rip off of Familiars' or such), given the moderate toxicity of food in the cheaper parts of town, what kind of pets might we expect (if any)?

A: Pets that don't eat food, and pets that can handle toxins as well as humans or better. Puyo loves drawing rodents of all shapes and sizes. A lot of the groundwork is in there, I had originally planned to put it in right after furniture, but it had never been a thing interesting enough to push other stuff back for.

Q: Speaking of TV, can we maybe finally buy Cable? Or Satellite?

A: You can steal cable, that's the TV upgrade you can get. As far as other normal TV upgrades, that's the kind of thing that's supposed to progress as you proceed through the game.

Q: The Drone Signatures appear to have been cracked! …Have we found everything relating to those?

A: Well, let me check. There is an interesting note of sorts that no one's seen, some mechanics are unknown, and the actual story mysteries that no one solved at this point, although you don't have all the clues so that's just guesswork at this point. Most of the relevant stuff has been found.

Q: We seem to be boiling down to a small dedicated player crowd. Should we try advertising, print out business cards, or are we still waiting until the game is closer to done?

A: I think I gave a huge spiel last podcast, I don't mind a small dedicated player base. […]

Q: Does the system get alerted with each tool you use during net combats?

A: Not exactly.

Q: Does the alert grow in proportion to the intensity of the tool used?

A: No. There are some tools that have effects like that, mostly positive, that they dampen alert more than raise alert. Don't hold yourself back, feel free to take out defenses. Might be different in the future. There's some amount of passive alert that's generated in battles but it's not tied to the amount of ass you're kicking.

Q: Will the storyline become more personal? Currently, it's you doing stuff for others, not really for yourself. And most of the memories of and info about ourself that you can find are not (integral) parts of the main quests. The Hammer making it very clear you are a nigh immortal freak is one of the few exceptions. I'm not complaining, love all the hidden (and unearthed) tidbits of the puzzle that is our past, just wondering if the storyline will be about our character more, other than us driving it forward as catalyst.

A: There are some pretty important parts in the third act about you and what you are and what that means. As a whole, this path through the main quest, is largely about helping out the survivors. There will be ways through the game that will be largely self-driven. But mostly about your present/future. Past is will largely remain hidden, with tidbits here and there.

Q: Do enemies now have a "has pants" checkbox due to the elegantly torn pants?

A: No it's tying into something that's already there. But for now, all it's doing is saying they have pants. Not otherwise useful. All kinds of things that I haven't hooked into yet. Opponents have arbitrarily complex stats/flags

Q: Inject venom, while cool, seems a little bit… underwhelming considering that you can only make them quite late in the game when many fights are getting tougher. It does its damage after all the other actions (like dynamite, but that one you get early when you have less choices), so in order for it to be really worth using you will need to last more than at least two rounds of combat, which can be difficult at that point, especially with a technique that acts at the end only. Sure, ~15 damage each round extra is nice, but a tech that deals more damage once and immediately is probably preferable and beneficial to your survival & victory nearly always, because (one of) the opponent(s) will be out of the fight quicker, which means one less source of damage for you. Of course, future content might completely change this. Does it maybe weaken the poisoned opponent behind the scenes or something else?

A: Asking about whether Inject Venom is more awesome than it seems, and I'm going to say kind of, actually yes. There are some things that people don't know about yet. Apart from that, the fact that you are getting it after all the big fights; when you start running into fights where you are fighting tough single-enemy fights, it will be awesome, and there aren't any of those yet. It might not ever live up to it's potential, but we'll see. Maybe 5 years from now, I'll put in some boss and someone will discover that inject venom is perfect for that. Having things that apply to specific situations that might not exist right now is something I enjoy in game design.

Q: The Sell-button of the Ad-Spider makes me anxious. I do not want to press it, because I only have one Ad-Spider and getting it was not an easy matter. I'm greatly afraid of a misclick (it's so near my Blackthorn and the top where a lot of clicking happens) that will make me very sad. Is this mental torment on purpose? ;)

A: Uuuum, I don't think so. Pretty sure it wasn't. Sell links are just added to things that seem salable.

Q: (M)any mysteries in the game that we're not even aware of being a mystery? Unknown unknowns, so to speak. :)

A: Very yes. I have a habit of, whenever I need to hard code something, when it's something more complicated than giving an item fire defense or ten turns of a buff, if it's a script that would otherwise be 3 lines, I'll drop in some interaction with a particular buff for example. Eg. in hacking there's the message about craving a hot dog and then the next hot dog gives extra energy. There's a lot of them where if you have a certain flag set on your character, it'll give a hat-tip to that.

Q: Not sure if that was asked before, but can we get different housing in the future?

A: Yes, you can. Just isn't a high priority.

Q: Want to give us maybe like a one word teaser of upcoming content in the survivors quest?

A: "Projects".

Q: How are you doing?

A: Good, better at least. A lot of sickness and sofa time. [Kinak's mom sent like 15 seasons of Star Trek tapes.]

Q: Is the breakpoint where crystal strike start doing more damage (when you can "overwhelm them with Etheric Power") based on some pre-existing monster attribute, or did you go through and assign a new attribute for everyone? It doesn't seem to correspond to the opponent's etheric power or defense.

A: No new attributes. I try not to do things that adds something that I'll have to do every time I add new content, so for example the Elegantly Torn Pants don't have a "has pants" checkbox for all opponents. It is based off of existing variables.

Q: Any subtle hints on how to find the missing stuff for the puzzle box, crystal flame, or torn pants?

A: Torn pants, I'll leave out, though when you figure that out you'll probably figure out some other stuff of interest. There's a type of interaction that is relatively easy to find if you know where to look. Doing pretty good on the cyrstal flame, nothing really missing except some messages. Some parts of the cyrstal flame are not available now, like some missing chunks in item numbers you don't need to worry about yet. Puzzle box: the big breakthrough a couple months when you found the skill and such, I was really expecting you to finish that all up. And didn't quite get it. Which is fine. The stuff that's left isn't like "Oh My God", but some interesting stuff in there. If you look back on the past couple months, you might find some things.

Q: Are there any factors other than you and your opponents Reflexes in determining the chance to run away? (Except for obvious things like when the ghostly hands hold on to me.)

A: Not anything super relevant. Some hooks I put in but not connected up to anything yet.

Q: Does it surprise you that no-one has found the undiscovered avatar(s)?

A: No, not really. The two undiscovered right now are pretty vicious, not including cyborg which isn't available. This isn't helpful, but once they are discovered people will go "Oooooh". One of them, people haven't tried yet, and the other depends on a combination of factors that are unlikely to come up randomly so it's something that a player needs to specifically try. They'll come more easily once people realize that one of the factors exists, people haven't even started to look at.

Q: So when people use /me (or /em whatever) in chat, it's pretty hard to tell as just removing the colon is kinda hard to see. Maybe the names could not be underlined or something to make it more obvious? I know it's minor as all hell but I get all confused when it looks like people are asking questions without a question mark and terrible grammar or something >.>

A: I guess I don't have to have the name underlined, I feel like there is a better way to do that. I'll think about it.

Q: In other less trivial news, your game is awesome and I'm sad because my internet is too slow and broken at the moment to play at any reasonable…pace. Also sad is that I couldn't think of a better word than pace to end that sentence with. With which to end that sentence.

A: Glad you like the game. I guess I've never tried to play it on dial-up.

Q: Regarding the Mad scientist avatar; is it possible to do whatever needs to be done to get it and then still not get it due to being unlucky? And never get it if very unlucky? I ask this solely for the benefit of other people because I am concerned and kindhearted person, who has no reason to ask this on his own behalf…

A: You can't get screwed out of it just by being unlucky. I think there is a random factor in there but it's constrained. You can only get a certain amount of unlucky before it caps out. Not everything in the game works like that, I like (and most gamers) like the appearance of randomness, some of that is granted by being random, some of it is not. You want a bell curve with the tails chopped off or something like that.

Q: Any chance of Etheric hacking encounters? Seems like all sorts of amusing things could happen, although it probably wouldn't be very conducive to actually hacking effectively.

A: I see the Ether and hacking being largely distinct, for a couple reasons I shouldn't get into. There are a couple ways they can become un-distinct but for the most part they will keep separated. So unlikely anything special will happen in hacking just because you're taking Eclipse. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised to see some code or programs that might interact with Eclipse that you bring with you.

Q: You've said that you don't want to let people perm skills while the game isn't finished so they don't get a head start while things are shorter, which I agree with. But what about, er, temporarily perming (I wish I could think of a better way to put that) skills, and tying it to the leaderboard resets when new stages of the quest come out? So when the leaderboard resets people would lose any non-donation permed skills that they have. It seems like the code for having permanent skills is in place, and people would get to start testing interactions between skills earlier, rather than it all happening at once. (This comes to mind because I really want to find out what happens when you have both Ocean Eyes and Fae Eyes.)

A: My gut is to say no. If you really care, I'll just tell you what happens with Ocean Eyes and Fae Eyes. I'll give it some more thought. If there is a way to do it without having to talk to anyone about it, I would.

Q: So, high-level hacking is still very difficult, and the new enemy in the lab is made more difficult by the even more limited resources you have to fight him with(since it does not seem possible to get there without the slags ID equipped). Are there some optimal hacking tricks that we don't have figured out yet?

A: Yeah, pretty sure.

Q: Some uber powerful code we haven't found that doesn't have as many weak and status skills in them?

A: I assume so, there's quite a few programs floating around there.

Q: Or is hacking supposed to be brutally tough to get to high levels of security, such that it takes a good deal of luck to be able to do so at all? Or is it just that it's balanced for the survivor's quest content, and we don't have access to the "great" abilities and equipment yet?

A: A little bit, it's supposed to be challenging, and still challenging in the future. In general, high security systems, the systems in place are supposed to "stay green" for a while. I hope that they will still be challenging until Oldtown at least. Not super challenging, but some. There's an arc, and you're seeing much of the difficulty of that, and not all the tools yet.

Q: Have you ever accidentally put an encounter or something in the Midgard Laboratory instead of Midgard Biotech (or vice-versa) because you momentarily forgot which one was inside The Slags and which one was Outside the Slags?

A: No, because I don't really interact with them by name. Internally, they have location numbers. If it bothers people, I can change it.

Podcast #9

Getting back from being sick for a month and then vacation in Florida, and back at my old job. March donation item [feathered cloak] is pretty cool, probably my favourite since the puzzle box. Also moving to a new house. [Stories from Florida.]

Q: On a side note i cant wait for the unearthly item. Its going to be the first two coin item that ill be able to actively spade from the very beginning:)

A: Yay! It depends on the type of person, but I think people enjoy spading them. There'll be a lot of content going in there. It'll be a dozy. [feathered cloak] [More news.]

Q: Other than the 5 outfits we know of(MBR scrubs, slags suit, filthy finery, sailor suit, and (i guess) scaly suit) are there any that we don't know about still, and if not, do they have an obvious effect or is it something obtuse like "adds .5 to melee defense 10% of the time invisibly."

A: Well, they're kind of obtuse. The same way the serpent suit is obtuse. There are things which combinations of items will unlock. Sometimes obvious or sometimes not, or sometimes don't come up often like the serpent suit. There are more. You'd have a much more complete list if different stuff happened at Halloween.

Q: In Hel's building, there's a bunch of very descriptive nonocombats on the stairs detailing various rocktraps and pitfalls, that we can't do anything to. Were they originally planned as puzzles and unimplemented? Placeholders for the future? Or just ambiance?

A: Mostly ambiance. There was some consideration to be able to change those, but ended up being not worth the effort. Not enough of an effect to make it go through and code. May have originally made you go up and come back down and it might have had more interesting stuff there.

Q: On a similar note, is there anything beyond the fairly high XP for looking at the overlook on the 5th floor climb?

A: I think that's been spaded, almost positive. Check the wiki or hassle people. I think there's stuff other than the high XP that's been found.

Q: Is there, in fact, a way to do something other than fight Dr. "Sigurd" Johnson at present? (I'm sure there is, I just want confirmation)

A: Yeah, of course.

Q: Once you get the 10xp from the slags medical file, and get the same message every day(with the last bit randomized) is there anything else to do with it?

A: We're seeing the purpose of that item from different ends. The XP is gravy, the item is mostly there to show some story about what Midgard is doing.

Q: Now that I've confirmed that you can't(I think) can there be a way to give the crate of stolen medicines to the subway mutants? Or take it and become a sewer mutant?

A: There isn't any connection between those two. The squatter king talks about needing medicine for kids, and there's a TV message about kids in the sewers I think, so I see how you could make that connection. But the medicine isn't anything special, just antibiotics and vaccines.

Q: Also on that note, I found the message about eyes watching you from your skin when having the pulsating eye equipped with the Writhing flesh effect going(I think). Is this due to some nightmare fuel/destroying angel interaction? And if so, is/should there be one for the disgusting slug and/or others?

A: I think someone spaded that and figured out that it wasn't. It will become clear with spading if it hasn't been figured out already.

Q: I've been meaning to suggest a bulk discount for cooking or crafting a whole bunch at a time - and I see now that you already put that in long ago for sushi. I hope that other crafts get similar skills! (inch-mile, yes I know)

A: There's stuff like that. And there'll be more stuff that links into crafting. Crafting is an important design tenant of the game. Eg. trying to do hacking without crafting is probably going to be an exercise in pain. And similarly, high end food and drugs, a lot comes from crafting. And in reverse, there's a lot of items and skills and unearthly items that tie into crafting.

Q: I like the puzzle box's story. I'm learning all about Norse myths. It's really neat.

A: Cool. Norse myths hold a special place in my heart. […] Lo's boss was the original one to start that set of code naming.

Q: Will we see Midgard Protectors on any random sites on the net, or only on the computer systems found in game?

A: Midgard is not an IT outfit, so probably not. The main two players are Omnitech and Zaibatsu. So if you want to go into the equivalent of Walmart, you can probably get firewall software from Omnitech. If you go to a computer store, you might find a Zaibatsu firewall.

Q: Hacking PvP?

A: Hacking PvP is really really planned. I know exactly what it will be but haven't had time to implement it.

Q: It looks like the old description of the filthy pistol had a more 'humourous' or pop-cultury take on things. Did you initially plan this and move away from it? or why the change?

A: That item description and a couple others were from Alpha, before things were publicly available, and the bum was a smilely face. The game is intended to be darkly funny, Kingdom of Loathing has the pop-culture references, and they do it very well, better than I can hope to try to do.

Q: Is there a cap to how much perception affects item drops?

A: That will become pretty obvious once you figure out how it affects them.

Q: And where does the candy in pinatas come from?

A: From Alpha. It falls through the magical vortext between pre- and post-public release.

Q: How much do you imagine a "credit" as? A dollar? I can recycle a can for 5 cred though, that seems like a lot, but I imagine a can is worth more than 5 cents in the future.

A: I see credits as a dollar-ish, but most of the prices of things have changed pretty drastically with automation and polysteel and non-meat based protein.

Q: You mentioned before that there's some undiscovered sushi recipes. Was this referring to sushi chef or something else?

A: I don't remember the question exactly. Someone was saying sushi doesn't seem worth it, and I said wait until you figure out everything, including Sushi Chef. I imagine there may be some undiscovered recipes.

Q: Can you give us a one-word-hint about the next sidequest? (If it's not out yet?) Also, any hints at which currently-optional side-quests will become mandatory in the future?

A: "Continuation". There's not any that will become mandatory, but there'll be some like the Dr. Thomas quest that open up more options for the University quest.

Q: Would you consider adding more gradient levels to the fishing skill? I've been at "beyond reproach" for a while and can't tell if I'm improving at all. Or maybe, just redistribute them so that it takes longer to get up to beyond reproach? Is there any way to speed up getting an Extreme Bass Player, other than just doing a whole bunch of fishing? I tried boosting my fishing bonuses to +9 and it didn't seem to do anything. (Narratively, I guess it makes sense that holding on to a fishing pole doesn't increas your ability to play a fishing game, but Fish Empathy seems like it should help.)

A: Not going to answer anything about fishing, sorry, and nothing about Extreme Bass Player. See thread about GreaseMonkey fishing skill. If you really want me to drop everything and re-code fishing skill, I can but that will push other things back.

Q: For several extremely good reasons, new content is taking a little longer than anticipated. But I know there's still a wealth of content already in the game that we have yet to discover. So, feel like giving us any nudges towards stuff that'd be new to us that's already in and coded? >.> Like, say, the undiscovered interaction you can get with the elegantly torn pants that you mentioned briefly last show?

A: I think I said last show, you'd find it really easily if you know where to look. And that "you" is you the player, not "you" the character. [Later found hidden interaction between patch and cloth type bonuses on the character bonuses pane.]

Q: Now that we've found 18 different messages, have we finally plumbed the depths of the mysterious puzzle box, or are there even more secrets still hiding in there?

A: I hesitate to say yes, because the remaining thing is really trivial. I guess technically it has more game effect than the messages. Yeah, there is still a thing which is not really worth mentioning, but is there. And is related to another thing which is way more interesting so maybe when you find it it will remind you to look harder at something else. Maybe, though that's pretty tenuous.

Podcast #10

Should be the last podcast before a new sidequest [Missing Artist/Ghouls II]. Got the beginning done and the end done, but still some fiddly bits in the middle.

Q: How goes quest progress?

A: Still working on stuff. The new sidequest ties into Survivors a little bit.

Q: How much time do you spend commenting/cleaning up your code? Is it pretty legible for someone who's never seen it before or is it a jumble of poorly documented symbols?

A: A little of both, try to indent and some comments that make sense to me. But going from gameplay to code is hard, eg. a weapon might have a hidden effect, and the effect goes in elsewhere.

Q: How many things do you work on at same time? I find I work best with two or three programming projects going at the same time so that if I stuck on one I can move on and come back later with a fresh perspective.

A: That's what I was doing while I was unemployed, but more of a one track mind while I'm working. I'll be thinking about a lot of things at once though.

Q: What is the "Personal" section under your contacts for?

A: I think I'm going to remove it, but it was originally going to be a friends list. (Business contacts are NPCs, Personal contacts are PCs). But there are a few other tweaks I'd like to do if I'm poking around in there.

Q: Considered having anyone else join you on the podcasts?

A: Definitely Puyo when she gets out here. She'll be moving out around the 29th hopefully.

Q: Would it be feasible for the gang boss to stop using the explosive shot technique once he has used it twelve times? You don't get any explosive bullets drop at that point anyway, so it might make sense to make the fight a bit easier if someone is finding it hard.

A: Not really… I could probably fake something and swap it out for the appropriate chain. That gets a little weird. I think there is a point in the code where I could do that.

Q: How many caramel apples were actually found on Halloween? I am reluctant to eat my only one, and I haven't heard anybody else mention having them.

A: I cleared that data out before so can't check for sure, but I think there was 4 of them that were found.

Q: How long did you expect it to take for people to start figuring out how to get the crystal feathers/fights/XP from the feathered cloak?

A: Quite a while. More so to get them consistently. People are more or less on track. I get aggravated messages from people more-or-less regularly, which is kind of funny. You're making progress, but still stuff to find.

Q: Any chance of some more book IotMs? They don't even have to be skills, I just like collecting books, especially tomes of forbidden knowledge.

A: Well, yeah, definitely. Something coming up which you'll probably appreciate a great deal [Black Sketch book]. I would expect any unearthly books to be skills. For the most part, books will lead to knowledge (skills, techniques, etc.) I prefer not to have items usable from inventory like that, since it makes it harder to balance against each other. Beating Sludge Heart isn't the worst thing in the world.

Q: On the note of tomes, are there any plans for more things to capture with the tome of binding? (Or maybe things that already exist and we just haven't found yet?)

A: Yes. Very yes, actually. There's something coded in, but you can't get it yet.

Q: I know it's not something that's likely to come about in the near future, but have you thought at all about Metroplexity merchandise? I'd certainly wear a Third Eye Shirt. Some mints or something shaped like Eclipse would also be amusing, although I suppose potentially troublesome.

A: I did actually set up a cafepress store http:www.cafepress.com/metroplexity (mostly for us for advertising at Gencon). I could put some more stuff in there, but will have to get some more art from Puyo

Q: Damn, a plush Twisted Hound or Horrific Spider mascot anyone ?? Ill edit later with some comments and questions. As for the books i would love some new ones as well:) i reading trough cthulhutech books in preparation for Eclipse Phase campaign so i'm properly esoteric and non-euclidan.

A: Ooh! That would be amazing, but plushes are a giant pain. discussion of campaign settings

Q: It would be fun to get a bookcase furniture for our apartment that would show up all the eldritch tomes we gathered, and maybe confering some kind of bonus depended on the number of gathered tomes. Or a library upgrade for gang warfare with bonus dependind of total number of books gathered by gang members. (possibly an iotm or something like that)

A: That's the sort of thing that I would definitely consider putting in. Either as some sort of slot (as KoL does it), or I would just consider having something where you could collect books and get bonuses from them. Probably not an unearthly item, something that you could get elsewhere, and maybe a few unearthy books could go on there.

Q: Why does Dr. Amundsen think it's sexist that her code name was Sif?

A: She doesn't specifically think that's sexist, she thinks that it's sexist in general that everyone's codenames where divided by gender. (eg. Males named after male gods.) Being female in the IT department isn't a cakewalk either.

Q: The most reliable known method for getting a genuine owl feather to drop is to walk away from every choice adventure. Since it only seems to count when walking away takes an energy, that's roughly 100 clicks (5 walkaway to lose 1 energy, for 20 energy) per owl feather gotten/used. Is there a better method we have yet to discover?

A: I'm going to say - yes. In that, there's a lot more investigation that needs to take place before you can get into the nitty gritty like that. Doing nothing but walking away will probably get you an owl feather, but that's not the only/best way to get it. Even if you had a script set up to get it (which I don't encourage), it would still be a really terrible idea. Trying to make it so that optimization isn't terribly unpleasant. If people want to obsessively do stupid stuff, that doesn't really bother me.

Q: Is there something to do with the vicious poetry that's yet to be discovered?

A: If I say yes, you'd be right to punch me in the stomach. There's a couple small things, but nothing too exciting (eg. another level of poetry again).

Q: What do you think about KoL introducing combat macros?

A: If the question is whether I'll ever do anything like that, probably not. It's a good choice for the way that they have combat setup. [discussion] There's a number of levels that you can play a game like this at - the people who are there to enjoy the content, and people who are there to optimize on a meta-game level. For Metroplexity, ideally, there's a band of fights where you have to pay attention to the combat, and then once you get past that, it should be trivial. KoL is going a different direction. They're not really competitors, and having two games serving the same niche is kind of silly.

Q: Care to respond to the following theory about the unearthly coin that I formulated off the top of my head right now? The unearthly coin keeps track of your actions on a little morality counter: feed an orphan, you get Warm Coin, second orphan you feed, get Hot Coin sort of thing. There's some sort of stat requirement, maybe base Will, for each 'level' of coin effect. If you don't meet the stat requirement, the coin gets too intense and you loosen your grip, resetting the morality tracker. Hot? Cold?

A: Warm. I'm not sure exactly how you'd go about testing that hypothesis, but I'm sure someone could test it.

Q: Moving on, now that people care about the scrap pit (hurrah!), is there any chance we could get a general indicator of how full the scrap heap or pit is before we raid it?

A: Setting aside the inch-mileness of that request, but I'm kind of okay with it being opaque. I like gang stuff requiring a little bit of communication. If someone doesn't get what they're expecting from the scrap pit, mention that to the gang leader, and they can get it back up to stuff.

Q: Are there any undiscovered patterns in the mysterious puzzle arrangement? Recently I've superstitiously begun exploring options from the bottom up during resets, as that seems to reach the pyramid faster. Top-down seems to hit the rod more often, and I don't remember the last time I went straight from box to tablet using either method.

A: [Evil Laugh]

Podcast #11

(Kinak moved to a new house. Appendicitis. Still working on survivors quest. The Ghoul Quest, part 2 just came out. Fishing revamp.)

Q: We poked you before about the non-located gang warfare avatars, and you told us it needed to be something very specific done repeatedly. I don't think anyone's any closer to guessing what it is, so I figured I'd toss on a 'Are we confused enough to get a hint now?'

A: No, but just added two more Avatars over the last couple months. Once someone starts digging somewhere, they'll realize that this is a really good place to put a PvP avatar, and then find it. There's a pretty sizeable chuck of content related. (He might be talking about The Faceless avatar here.)

Q: Should we be on the lookout for any new holidays, or are we clear until August?

A: Don't think so. Survivors might come out by then. Might add an Easter or St. Valentines day holiday to balance out the distribution of the holidays in the year. Ideally would like 1 holiday/month.

(Kinak's friends …)

Q: Does Richard offer any assistance depending on your reward from the little black book?

A: He isn't really aware of what happens to the book after he give it to you. He gives it to you for a good reason and cutting himself off from it on purpose.

Q: So we have items, effects, skills, techniques, tools and recipes stored by id number. Presumably opponents and encounters also have id numbers but they don't seem to be obtainable in game. Are there any other things stored by id that could be spaded?

A: Contacts dialog trees, locations, sub-locations (Southside = 1, Docks = 2, University = 3, Outside Slags = 4, Inside Slags = 5, Oldtown will be 6). The way that the wiki is organized is probably right - eg. the two Charnel Houses are two separate locations, code-wise. Furniture has ID's. [Also Avatars, Sites, Recipes added or found later]

Q: How do you choose/plan bonuses for items and effects when putting in a new zone? For this new quest for example, do you plan stuff that would be useful for a player in-run or are you assuming it's someone who's retrieved their items and has an extensive collection.

A: The only place that it assumes you have an extensive collection is the high-end PvP rewards, and even that will probably be overshadowed at some point. Most things are designed for use in-run. Actually, there's one point where I was a huge jerk, which you'll know exactly why once it's found.

Q: For that matter, once the game is "done", will you envision players spending most of their time with most of their inventory locked away or will there be stuff to do after you've retrieved your items?

A: The meat of the game is the main questline, and the alternate paths that run through it. However, there's going to be a lot of other stuff. (Gang warfare, etc.) Had a discussion with Argeth about PvP balance - there's a lot of stuff that hasn't been found which could change the balance. And then Survivors will come out and change the balance again. There are some areas that I want to put in eventually (way in the future) that will be entirely for people who have all of their resources available.

Q: Is firetamer a currently obtainable skill from the problems on the docks quest? Any hints? Did you expect it to take so long to be discovered?

A: Not *really*. The code is in there, but I wouldn't call it obtainable. Expected it to be way longer.

Q: I haven't tested it yet, but I imagine that this new remembering recipes update (which is awesome!) will make getting sushi chef much easier in-run. Intended?

A: It doesn't actually make it any easier. The way it works is "transparent from one perspective and really really weird from another". Functionally, there's no change in what you have to do.

Q: I had always imagined getting all your recipes back at the same time as you retrieve your items.

A: I'd considered that. There are two kinds of recipes - recipes that are basically just interface helpers (eg. Dock Pike + Sushi Nori). If you want to make 100 sushi, it's just easier. But the other kind of recipes are ones that are gained as part of the plot line, which are separate. No reason to make you remember them yourself.

Q: Does fishing skill levels work the same way now as it did before, except without an explicit "you're getting better at fishing message"? (EDIT: looks like it doesn't. But care to explain how it used to work?)

A: It used to be, every time you fish, you roll against the difficulty check of the fish. If your fishing rank was less than that, you'd gain a point. Every five of those is a named tier (up until Beyond Reproach (50) - you could get up to 80). Now the ranks are exponential instead of linear (1,4,9,16 vs. 5,5,5,5), and a totally new system.

Q: The Christmas tree ornaments souvenirs are an awesome idea, but it would seem better if you could look at other people's trees as well?

A: I've been thinking the same thing. I'll do that at some point.

Q: If you have the Experienced Observer skill, would the game be able to remember the oil slick choices for you, like how the puzzle box behaves while under puzzle sight?

A: It's possible, but don't really want to. And it wouldn't be tied to the skill because it would be trivial if you retain skills between resets.

Q: Are there any plans for a pool skill?

A: There are no plans at the moment. Chess is a skill because it shows up a few spots, but pool won't show up more than one or two more spots.

Q: Looking back on the old devblog entry announcing the Problems on the Docks quest, I see it mentions four new skills, all of which are accounted for: Pyro, Kingly Favor, Ghoultouched, and Born of Sorrow. But that doesn't rule out the possibility that the skill could be gotten along the way in that quest, e.g. by doing something in the Lake of Fire, even if it's not strictly speaking a "reward" for the quest. I'm just saying this to amplify Al's question lest you wriggle out of things by giving a literally true but misleading answer. :P

A: I think I answered it before, but Firetamer wasn't included in the list because it's not really obtainable.

Q: Eating any of the three kinds of sushi derived from a massive tentacle gives an identical message about it being "gummy". Similarly, all the eyeless eel-derived sushi give a message about not being remotely palatable. In any other game, I'd just write that off as you being too lazy to think up unique messages and just cutting & pasting. But in this game, where your quest log differs based on whether you are carrying one, exactly two, or three or more items, it looks more like a clue. If so, is it a clue we can actually follow up now, or is it a hook for an eventual cooking system or something?

A: Yes, there are things you can follow up on there. One of those may result in people punching Kinak once it's found. Pretty neat. And there's another thing that does something similar to the gumminess because the items are less in number. Yeah, there are lots of things like, text flags, which let you know that effects are mutually exclusive or related to some central effect. Sometimes, it's invisible. (Hotdogs) There are places where I'd slip in a +1 energy or XP without saying anything. The items from the cloak of feathers, for example, increases the XP from the feather cloak. There's probably a dozen or so that are undiscovered.

Q: So I've been attempting to bash away at getting through to Dr Johnson. Without necessarily giving a hint about how to do so, could I get a hint on where to look for hints for getting through to him? Is it his various texts? His team? The computer?

A: There's only one hint, but might result in Kinak-punching. "The thing that you're missing there is time. He doesn't have enough time." There's some pretty neat stuff in there, which I'd investigate separately. He's actually there for a very specific reason, which no one has figured out. (The "time" hint is probably about waiting several rounds to get the Dr. Johnson recording, which in turn is likely the "very specific reason".)

Q: Also, is there a way to damage the statue in the charnel house before closing it?

A: [vague-man voice]There's an option there to beat on the statue, which might be there because some combination of effects might result in a different result, or it might be there to grant XP.[/vague-man voice] (We have now found the Twisting Chains skill.)

Q: Regarding the skill Trauma Tech, other than the obvious bit of needing the book equipped, is there any specific "trigger" for acquiring the skill that we should be looking for? Or is it random/semi-random?

A: I'm pretty sure it's at most semi-random. No, it's actually not random at all. Zero. A warning: things in games tend to be closed systems (an input and an output and maybe a counter in the middle). Trauma Tech is a lot more complicated than that. Going through a couple runs spading it might result in you finding out the answer, but if you mis-step, there are some pretty mysterious monkey wrenches that could throw you. A lot going on under the hood.

Still some goodies from the Ghoul Quest that people haven't discovered yet. Some are hidden jerkishly, some are hidden in plain sight. One of them, once it gets found, will help find something earlier which is undiscovered. It'll make Argeth happy. 7 new skills there. (All 7 have been found. Or have they? Pryo wasn't "new" … Also, it's not clear which is supposed to help find the earlier undiscovered thing, or make Argeth happy.)

Surprised it took so long to find the site for the fishing leaderboard.

Podcast #12

Survivors status: just finished one of the three remaining areas. Two left, but one of those shares a lot with the one I just finished so won't take as long. Then a bit of coding for the new reset mechanism. I'll tell you a week or so before it comes out.

Q: Are any items in the game based on real-world counterparts, besides the festive knit hat?

A: The Quantum Mechanics is based on my real life book.

Q: Do you have a favorite item or skill in the game, and have they been discovered?

A: The puzzle box has a special place in my heart. 2 skills; one is Stolen Artistry, and one is undiscovered. It's not too useful but cool.

Q: Would you ever consider an expensive full-gang donation item so Argeth can finally be persuaded to join the Hounds? ;)

A: I'd consider it, but is difficult to balance with the limited number of gangs.

Q: What's the word on cybernetics? Any chance that will be implemented along with the next leg of the main story quest?

A: No. They'll be added slightly before or with the next quest after Survivors (Oldtown).

Q: Any chance we could get a vague hint for some random thing we haven't discovered yet?

A: To find new stuff you have to rock the boat or if not a boat you have to rock other large heavy things which are not in any way boatlike, but might be associated with certain boatlike situations. Not very helpful but will make sense in context. (This might be a hint for getting Twisting Chains? You have to rock the statue, like a boat's figurehead?)

Q: Feel like telling us what the most popular IotM is so far? I'm curious as to what people are finding the most interesting/useful.

A: It just goes down over time, generally. Puzzle box, then coat, etc. More relation to time than actual popularity.

Q: It sure seems like there's some things to be done with Stolen Artistry and the resulting items that we haven't figured out yet, but are there still more art subjects that we haven't discovered?

A: Sort of? There are art subjects/items that won't be come relevant/available until the future. Stuff might be more useful when perming skills is available. Oh wait, actually there is at least one more thing that you can draw. [Jade amulet found later]

Q: Will there be any more people with beards showing up in the game? There's Professor Evans and… I think maybe the Eurasian guy in the VIP room. It's a little hard to tell with his hands in front of his face. Even the bums are clean shaven! (Although the friendly one looks like he's got a bit of stubble.)

A: I'm blaming Puyo for that. The only reason that Prof. Evans has a beard is because the sample art I gave her had one. Will try to get some more in the future.

Q: On the usual theme of 'so… are you gonna at least give us a fraggin' CLUE??', we've pretty much turned up dead on the various theories on the Candy Bowl… any clues that could help us solve the mystery before this Halloween?

A: Well, there is some stuff involved in the candy bowls. The majority of the reason that it's there is so that you can eat the candy and still keep the bowl as a souvenir. It does about a third of the stuff that it's coded to do.

Q: I'm about to break 1k for Curiousities (Tomorrow's Roll. Broke 1k for drugs a few days ago), and I'm more or less not expecting anything, but it brings up the 'Are there any in game 'trophy' range numbers we should be looking for?' question. Not avatars, which I suppose are the closest thing to trophies this game has, but more directly 'this unlocks Y during your current run' (like the Happy Dragon chinese restaurant food substitute ad for TV usage… although not really a 'meet a goal' type thing)

A: Not sure what the question is, but… there are flags that are tracked on the player that can unlock things when they get high enough.

Q: We found the Gym, but there still seems to be a slight lean to the Gun Slingers, what with the advanced range. Is there an advanced gym we just haven't parsed out yet?

A: That seems like a reasonable guess, right? There's still a gang hideout upgrade that hasn't been discovered from way back. [Sparring Ring found later]

Q: Slightly odd question: We never really DO anything with Amundsen's ruined office. Not searching the rubble, no hunting for additional clues at a perception limit, no eye drawing reaction to eclipse, and her room stays damaged and third eye marked even when finishing up with the main quest. I can understand nobody else coming to check on it because they don't want the order giver to know Amundsen is out (Although when they hear about the murder of the generals/Hawk giving them up they should know something's up anyway), but.. umm.. there's nothing out of the ordinary? Nothing worth collecting? Nothing unusual that must've been looted by the third eye and can drop since we recognize the void in the sun damage on a book/the familiar shape of the <item> case/package wrapper/anything? Or is the suspicious normalcy just supposed to be plot progression and nothing else? Or possibly even, we'll stake it out for other people looking for clues on 'meddling' for the survivor's quest? Or what?

A: Her office will become significant again.

Q: This might be an odder question… It's been parsed out that people cannot really survive/endure in a completely urban sprawl environment. We enjoy small plants, the 'fresher' air, trees, etc. Southside park looks like an urban center's mostly trash and scraggly green-thing laden park. Uptown probably has real/more realistic plant like things. I suppose the question is just what's keeping the pollution levels down in Metro? The sheer availability of production areas (Various supply shipments around town you redirect with hacking, the metal/flesh/gunworking the smuggler gets done), the limits on water vegetation (The Docks don't fish up seaweed, but the Slags do… which may be connected to the slags poison), the prevelance of 'pollution worn' buildings (mostly southside, hard to tell if slags buildings were broken by the event or otherwise)… I mean, how are we not choking on smog on a daily basis? Or is everyone else choking on it and we're not noticing it? Or what?

A: […] Smog is definitely a problem. The main industrial area in Metroplex was where the Slags is now.

Q: How many flags can each player have? How are they stored?

A: Effectively infinitely. Just column for player-id, flag name and value. Lots of flags that track things that aren't currently being used, but have them just in case they need for the future.

Q: Why no message for losing items/credits like there is for gaining them?

A: Because. When you're using items, it'll be normally explained in the text or the result of a choice encounter.

Q: Does all energy gained from food come in integer ranges? Or does anything give 9-10.1 energy, meaning 90% of the time the max is 10, but 10% of the time it's 11 (like in KoL)?

A: No, no weird rounding things like that.

Q: The gang chat channel seems to be ID #5 - are there four other chat channels?

A: No, you're in gang #5.

Q: We can figure out opponents' Perception, Will and Reflexes now. Is a technique that can be used to spade Strength in the works?

A: I could swear that there was one. If not, one will come out for sure. The only one that I can think of for sure might not be available to players. Might be undiscovered so far.

Q: Why does anyone ever want to learn an eleventh Punch technique aaarrrgh!

A: Maybe no body ever does but that doesn't mean that you're not going to get it.

Q: With regard to Dr. Johnson would you be willing to tell us if there is anything we can do directly to solve him, or if he is like Stone was where we were missing a key part of the puzzle to BE ABLE to solve him?

A: No, you're fine. It's not so much that you're missing something, it's a different type of puzzle. [found his recording later]

Q: Or if you aren't willing… is there, in general(not necessarily related to Johnson), a zone in particular that you feel is under-spaded, or is the community hasn't found something important in?

A: Second ghoul quest. Some skills, some items, a bunch of crafting stuff, etc. that's still undiscovered. [Twisted Chains found later]

Q: I remember not too long ago you made a comment about balancing that surprised me. I tried searching your forum posts for this but couldn't find it, so it must have been on a recent podcast. The gist of it was that somebody had asked you about balancing melee vs. ranged or something like that and you said it'd be weird to put in balancing fixes based on our incomplete understanding of the relevant mechanics. In other words, it sounds like there are still major mechanical things we don't know, significant enough to have a big impact on in-run combat strategy. Is that right? Or is it more along the lines of an extremely useful early-game technique we haven't found yet?

A: [discussion of balance. It's hard to "fix" balance issues when there is still undiscovered content. (…)]

Q: Now that we're coming up on Year Two for unearthly items, this is a good occasion to take stock of what we do and don't know about the inaugural year's offerings. Starting with one coin items, we've got:

Q: The prototype coat - Thoroughly spaded?

A: Yeah, I think so? Nothing jumps out.

Q: Urban Legends, Vol. 1 - There's almost certainly something more to the Dark Specter and its drops. Anything else?

A: Yeah, there's another neat little thing. Oh, no, nevermind, I thinking of something related to the red goggles, not the Urban Lore. Yeah, there's something more with the Dark Spectre There actually some stuff I intend to add to it, but at present that's everything. The Dark Spectre stuff is related to a different unsolved mystery, so if you figure that one out, it might help, or vice versa.

Q: Festive knit hat - Other than the precise mechanism governing the bonus XP, seems like we've got this one figured out, although it might get a buff

A: Pretty much.

Q: hungry ooze - You've said there's more to know about this one. Maybe we can hatch the egg?

A: That would be pretty adorable. There's actually a fair amount… well there's an underlying mechanic that hasn't been found, along with related content.

Q: Extreme Tackle Box - The mechanism behind determining how many and what kind of items you get from it could use some work, and there's certainly lots we need to learn still about fishing, but otherwise it looks like we've found what there is to find in the tackle box itself. No?

A: I'd say that's fairly accurate.

Q: Oh, before I get to the two coin items, a fishing question. There are several different ways to increase your chance of surface fishing, but as far as I can tell all that does is get you more soaked newspapers and the like. I guess it could be helpful as a spading tool to figure out what kinds of things are deep fishing-only. Is there some other advantage to surface fishing we're not seeing yet, or is it just in there because, well, if you can increase the chance of deep fishing it only stands to reason you could do the opposite?

A: You have no idea what that's doing so don't speculate on it. All the chance of x fishing increase the chance of getting certain items. The deep fishing isn't better than surface fishing or vice versa.

Q: Mysterious puzzle box - IIRC you said there was only one more very minor thing to be found here, but with the new powder pouring system there's probably some more. The mysterious ash is, well, still mysterious. How big of a mystery is it?

A: There are 2 new items. [mysterious ash. gold powder] The other new item [gold powder] might help figure out another mystery. The Ash is pretty mysterious.

Q: Red-lensed goggles - Dare I say that it looks like we've found what there is to find out about these?

A: There's that one more thing. Actually two more things, one of which is buried pretty deep. One is really easy to figure out if you're doing what you need to do, but the item doesn't necessary encourage it. (The easy to figure out thing was probably Considered Strike and Considered Shot.)

Q: Crystalline flame - You've said there's still an unfound technique. Are we missing something big with all the messages you can get, or is the reward for finding those narrative satisfaction?

A: Not sure if the unfound technique was with the crystalline flame or not. Oh, actually there is something. The messages themselves don't actually do anything, but you might, by watching them carefully, across multiple players, you might find something.

Q: Elegantly torn pants - Apparently there's some "kind of interaction" with these that we'd find easily if we knew to look for it. And it's not just limited to this item, right? Anything else going on here that we haven't found?

A: Yes, something there that no one has found. Not limited to this item. No, that's about the only thing. [bonuses with patch/reinforcements combos found later]

Q: Feathered cloak - I'm almost positive there's still some major chunk of content we haven't found here. The ability to use the cloak and see what your chain state is helped a lot, but now that we've tried what look like all possible chains, I'm stumped as to what to try now.

A: Fairly accurate. There's a bunch of stuff there yet. There's one thing there that I think if you really look at what you've found with it, like if you cross your eyes at the wiki page just right, it will pop out. Also, some other stuff buried in the chains.

Q: Midgard Player - Well, this one is pretty new, and the fact that you can make up a chart and the do some brute-force spading by filling it in is kind of nice, actually. Once we find Suspicious Seed, though, it looks like we'll have pretty much reached the limits of where brute force can take us. There are almost certainly some more effects to be found. I mean, the advanced "seed" effects say "seed". And a seed can't be the final tier, amirite? How much more is there still lurking around with this item?

A: Yeah, there's a bunch of stuff still. Like the prototype coat, where some stuff wasn't out yet when it was released. The brute forcing that's been done… you'll want to handle it… your data is getting corrupted. Might want to look at it more discretely. There's some content (buffs etc.), but also the mechanics.

Q: Oh, yeah, what was the method you had intended to have us use to get rid of the "gummy" message from massive tentacle-derived sushi before you decided to let us outsource some of our chewing to a ghoul maw?

A: Mysteries lost in time… The reason that I'm not telling you this is that there's a sister mechanic of sorts which is undiscovered. Once that is found, I'll tell you.

Podcast #13

(Recovering from a cold. Survivors quest just rolled out - went well. No serious bugs, but lots of them. Gencon happened, met Glass and Shard. Running a Pathfinder RPG - if there's any interest in it, I could drop details in a wiki.)

Q: Can the thing we're missing from the elegantly torn pants be done at any time? Or just under certain conditions?

A: I'm not really sure that there would be anything that's not only under any conditions. Almost everything has a trigger.

Q: Why, in the new Writing Mass combat under the Lake, does it explicitly tell you that you get one energy of Watery Grave, whereas the similar encounter on the surface silently gives you one energy of In A Pit without telling you?

A: Just coded differently. The latter was added before the ability to add arbitrary code before combats was implemented.

Q: Do all the floors of the damaged buildings have some kind of condition we must satisfy before we can cross them?

A: Well, you have to walk across them. So yes, I guess.

Q: Can the sparring ring plans currently still drop? If not, how did you plan on us to get them?

A: They never dropped. Not going to reveal the plans in case it gets reused.

Q: On all the other major quest announcements in the devblog, there are pictures, but not for the survivors. I liked the anticipation of seeing vague hints at what you're about to explore.

A: Oh wow, I totally forgot to do that.

Q: How did you make the survivors quest so awesome?

A: A lot of work, a lot of planning. There are parts that are really really old (particularly Lo's).

Q: Are monthly reset boards still in the works?

A: Probably. Going to have a conversation about that soon. Probably going to do a rotation of items in Zack's, and tie in a monthly reset mechanic with some sort of reward, on the lines of the extreme Bass fishing.

Q: Are there any new skills available with the Survivors quest?

A: Yes! Don't think anyone has found any of them. I guess that there are more skill undiscovered right now than ever before. Maybe not, right when the ghost ship came out.

Q: Which branch was your favourite to make? Least favourite? Most work?

A: David was my favourite branch(es). Least favourite was probably Dr. A, because it has not very new stuff - (Hacking was added later).

Q: What's your plan for the future of the game now that this big step is in?

A: A lot of planning for Old Town next. A lot of the art is done already. Hopefully won't take as long as survivors. Immediate plans is holidays. Maybe some hacking. There are two entire systems that need to go in before Oldtown (one is cybernetics, one is a surprise), which ties into a sidequest and/or world event.

Q: Considered showing the number of survivors resets people have done on the leaderboard, perhaps with a note saying that it won't count for prizes? All that info is out there, but it's slow to have to click on everyone's profile in the list to see it.

A: It's kind of a pain to show it on the table. The reason that it doesn't show is very munch because it doesn't count for prizes.

Q: What's the "depth" column about? My (unfounded) theory is that it's the number of times you've accumulated the all the unique skills you have? (if that makes sense) On track at all?

A: I'll leave that for people to figure out.

Q: Also a comment: You're very good at making things seem random which are in fact not random at all (eg. the shark). Well done!

A: Thank you.

Q: When you add a new limited time mechanic like the Intertwined Serpents splitting, do you justify the coding time to yourself by planning future in-game opponents which might do something similar or is it just for that occasion? Do you make an effort to add new mechanics with each release or do you want to be able to just add things to the database eventually with no special coding?

A: Something like the serpents or giant snowman are coded specifically, not run from the database. Doing staged fights like the giant snowman is pretty straightforward actually. There's a bit of trickery that no one even noticed, I think, that had to happen to make the snake work properly.

Q: Can we now get the thing that was previously not obtainable from the Midgard Player now that survivors is out?

A: Yes, assuming it's not broken.

Q: Are there any rogue AI programs in the world of metroplexity?

A: Safe to say yes. […Long discussion of AI… :) ]

Q: You hinted at undiscovered content from the University-quest content (if I recall correctly). Does this have anything to do with spectral patients? Is there anything to be done with them other than fight them?

A: They do serve a fairly interesting purpose on the item side of the game. Meh. There's not a lot going on there. They'll show up again, and maybe I'll add something more there.

Q: When asking Dr. Thomas for eclipse a second time in the day: "Either wait until tomorrow or bring me something big." Does supplying the third eye with eclipse not count as something big?

A: Should be able to still give Hawk Eclipse after getting your shipment.

Q: Is it actually possible to make it to the office in the Buried Lab without somebody activating the Omega Order?

A: The code is there. It certainly isn't easy, but should be possible.

Q: Is more achromatic stone going to be making it into the game, or are we going to have render Vholes down and filter through what's left to extract trace amounts of the powder he ingested?

A: Probably the latter.

Q: Will we ever be able to see the as yet unnamed female reporter when watching TV?

A: I guess we could add her to the TV broadcasts.

Q: If Yggdrasil was Midgard's failed attempt to go toe-to-toe with Zaibatsu, does that mean there's some Zaibatsu games out there that we might get to take a peek at?

A: Yes, at some point, probably.

[…various games discussion…]

Q: Based on what has been posted to the wiki, how did we do as far as finding all the Metroplex Day 2010 content? Was there anything we missed? If so how much was undiscovered? Will it be feathured again in 2011?

A: I don't think anyone defeated the intertwined serpents, and no one got to the grand finale. So at least two things were missed. There is an item what is lost to the mists of time. Most of it will repeat next year.

[Kinak is equally cryptic in person has he is in podcast form.]

Q: The corps all seem to have their thing; even if they make all kinds of stuff. Omnitech has polysteel and all the cheap consumer junk made from it, Zaibatsu has (more) decent consumer electronics. Before the Incident, what was Midgard's 'thing'? Speaking of polysteel, is Omnitech the biggest corp in the world? The stuff seems like the holy grail of, well, everything.

A: Midgard's primary thing is drone manufacture. Omnitech and Zaibatsu are about the same size. Other than electronics, Z has a huge share in the entertainment industry.

Q: Is XHeimdall Watson's new company code name?

A: No comment.

Q: Did Patient 2946 create the fish people?

A: I think you're missing a piece of information, and think about the light in that piece of information, you can put it all together.

Q: Can anyone create an etheric people if they have enough Eclipse pumped into them?

A: You and Midgard would both like to know that. The answer would appear to be no, in that there are a lot of people taking eclipse and a finite number of monsters wandering around.

Q: Can you give another hint about Dr. Johnson?

A: There's some text about her that might be of interest in the Survivors quest. I'll wait for people to uncover that. (Might be confused with Dr. Thomas).

Q: Is there something undiscovered about the Blown Glass Trinket?

A: Nothing leaps to might, but I also feel like I should be laughing maniacally.

Q: Is there anything you want to tell us about the Oldtown quest? Doesn't matter if it's something you may change later.

A: It's going to be the first real chance to get cybernetics. Probably another PVP zone, but no promises.

Q: I agree with the others that a map would be nice; one drawn on a napkin would be enough. I keep wondering how the Slags are situated.

A: I can talk it out, if that would help. The Slags are the farthest South you've seen so far. Southside is North and a bit West of the slags, which is partially why it's been abandoned by the upper classes. Due North of the Slags is the Docks. They're all clustered fairly close together. U is further NW to that, and Oldtown/downtown even further up.

Q: When trying to get rid of the Hammer, your character finds out he has a tracking chip in his forehead. Some ways of dealing with the Hammer get rid of this chip, otherwise it stays there and is not mentioned anywhere else. Since we're going to go muck around with Midgard, and Lo already suspects we were once connected to it, it's kind of strange Lo never checks us for something that could come back to bite us later.

A: That's open for now.

Q: This one is more a selfish content suggestion: could you somehow put in a skill connected with the mushroom people like Ocean Eyes is for the fish people? Please? Pretty please?

A: I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the content there. Won't quite get Mushroom Eyes perhaps, but stuff to find. Might get a sidequest to free them at some point.

Q: People who live in New York are New Yorkers. People in Chicago are Chicagoans. People in Baltimore are Baltimorons. (Hey, I can say that—I used to be one.) What do you call inhabitants of the Metroplex?

A: I'm sure I've used that at some point in conversation - I'll try to listen to myself and figure it out. I want to say "Metroplexans".

Q: So with the new content a couple of things that were not issues seem to have become more relevant. 1) Variability of salvage results. With the Survivor's quests, salvage is important to Lo's, and to a lesser extent David's quest. Getting the salvaging tools isn't a problem, though they're much more important to get in run now. Once you get the tools, you need to acquire some metal powder, which requires you to get the right roll on salvaging a suit, as well as a processor which either requires you to purchase CS110 to open up the lab, and farm the recipe, or get lucky salvaging your Y4. Since you got it for the quest anyways, I feel like a processor drop being guaranteed from it wouldn't be an unreasonable thing to ask for. Yes, expert salvager would help, but it's extremely difficult to get during a run (at least with our method of smash ~100 things and get it.) So… yeah. Better odds/guarantees of getting the good drop from salvages would be sweet.

A: I think you're out of luck on that. The metal powder is something that's in there as planned. It balances out getting too many tops or bottoms. As far as salvaging for a processor, that seems like a good use of your resources, but Lo's quest is all about crafting, so the intended way to get that component is crafting.

Q: 2) Sort of on the same note, David's quest. If you go ocean eyes, and bind the ghoul king, you have to either
A) Farm a crown from the ancient treasure chests (Assuming you haven't done the ghost ship already)
B) Complete the ghost ship and turn in the monarch's crown
C) Pay 100 clancash for the orb [doesn't work]
D) Farm shark teeth for the other crown?
I guess that you want us to get the ghoul king's finisher for david's quest if we bind the ghoulking, but it seems like fae side has it much easier since they can actually get the fae eggs, to communicate and do their quest.

A: As a fair warning, I'm not going to listen to any complaints that the quest is too long. Balance issues between different paths doesn't really matter at this point.

Q: 3) Also, someone mentioned this… somewhere, possibly in chat, but during the survivor's quest money gets really hard to get. Pretty much the only viable source of income is either grinding chess up to beat Watson Jr, or I guess clan warfare set to shakedown? And there's a lot of semi-required moneysinks now, as well. I guess selling gold coins works fairly well, which you'll get if you're farming up for a crown.

A: There are a lot of things are "required" for spending money, which are only the quickest way through things. Eg. you want to buy a learntop if you can, but there's a bunch of other ways to get computers. So if the learntop wasn't so expensive, the other options won't be meaningful.

Q: 4) It is my understanding that the get your stuff back trigger shows up after you've picked a survivor. Is there any real reason that it couldn't be when that's unlocked but without actually picking them, so we can spade the new contents with our full inventory easier? If this is, in fact, the case, nevermind then.

A: Yes, that's when the quest is over. It would be weird otherwise.

Q: Are you planning to implement leaderboards that are based on skill more than on obstinacy?

A: Probably will make leaderboards that are based on single run speed rather than total. [Seasonal boards] [… discusion of skill …]

Q: Are you keeping track of which survivor we choose the most at the end of the current quest line, so that we'll be able to develop a romantic relationship with said survivor once Oldtown rolls out, thereby giving a use to the mysterious "Personal Contacts" section on the contacts page? (I've been picking Amundsen, just in case…).

A: I've thought about romance in games, but it's mostly PC-PC rather than PC-NPC. The contact you chose, matters for how you want to advance later on. Eg. If you don't like crafting, probably shouldn't pick Lo. If you don't like Hacking, don't pick Dr. A. If you don't like crazy etheric stuff, don't pick David. If you don't like just killing stuff, don't pick Hel. The Personal Contacts was intended as a kind of friends list, but has been stagnating.

Q: Now that credits actually matter in-run, would you be ready to reconsider the way chemistry papers work? (to avoid the possibility of reading a dozen+ of them without ever getting the caffeine powder recipe).

A: I'm waiting until there is more basic chemistry recipes, but actually, I kind of have an idea. I'll think about it.

Podcast #14

(Short discussion of how the new seasonal mechanic works. Last 5 items + 1 legacy. If you use only 1 season's worth of unearthly items, you'll qualify for the seasonal boards, but no go if you span seasons. Earthly runs count as the current season when you end it. Items from multiple seasons disqualify you. Only count time for when you start the run to when you finish the main run, not til you reset again.)

(New sewer hideout, which allows for pacifism. Violent route stays pretty much the same, but a couple new ways to go through now.)

Q: Is there something important we haven't discovered yet about the Speargun? It seems like it should be the go-to weapon for underwater ranged combat, but using a regular gun with more Ranged Power seems to work much better.

A: Yeah, I need to go in an add a technique for that. **There's already such a high density of techniques (most of them unfound) there I wasn't sure if I wanted to add it, but I will. ** Should be easy to find.

Q: As far as I can tell, the fastest way through Hel's part of the survivors' quest is also the easiest: blunder around the Buried Lab until Thrivaldi takes notice and issues the Omega Order. Is there some benefit we haven't found yet to keeping the lab around, or is that something that will only become important later, when more content goes in?

A: Hel is kind of a blunt instrument kind of person, and the quest reflects that. There's some fringe benefits to keeping it open for a while but nothing major. Maybe minor stuff later on.

Q: A little while ago you posted in response to the point that there is (apparently) no skill that gives +2 Stealth Power. It is kind of weird that Shadowy Presence grants Stealth Defense rather than Stealth Power. Should I parse that as "Hmm, maybe I should change what that skill does" or "So you noticed that, did you? Maybe you should spade some more …"?

A: More the former. Going to add a different skill maybe eventually. Could add another skill off that branch. [Thinks about stuff.]

Q: What does the image for the Brutality technique represent?

A: A guy getting kicked.

Q: I just watched a newbie in chat floundering around with combat. Since you already start newbies out with a Cheap Pistol equipped, would consider also starting them out with a deck better suited to using it (5x Dive for Cover, 5x Single Shot, 5x Short Burst)? If they're the kind of player who reads documentation and wants to equip a melee weapon and see how that works, they're probably also the kind of player who would be able to find the "Techniques" tab and make a new deck.

A: No, don't think that will fix things. Probably going to put in an intro encounter or tutorial at the start instead. It's important that someone starting out has some interesting choices right away. Also melee already has (the reputation that it has) the short end of the stick, so don't want to cripple it more.

Q: All this "Eldest" business is just Fae propaganda, right? It sure looks like the Twisted Hounds were there first…

A: Depends who you listen to. The fish people disagree, but don't claim to be the eldest. The hounds don't talk much.

Q: How come we lose data on use? Isn't reusability kind of one of the main points of (digital) data? I can sort of see it for music and neural recordings (but even then, a hacked player would circumvent any pay-per-experience measures easily). But computer code? Maybe there is some point to having multiple versions of code for the same purpose, but losing it? Making a copy should be at most as difficult as decompiling!

A: I've gotten this question several times. If you use a book and it vanishes, no one questions it, but data is different. Also programming is a lot more modular now, like programming Mindstorms Lego. Assuming that in the dark future of Metroplexity, industry won the digital content wars. Coding in real life is not really fun as a game. (…) Alternatively, could make them all quest items, and make things built up from that, but doubt it.

Q: Are there any plans for a gang warfare specific unearthly item?

A: Not particularly, but it wouldn't surprise me if I eventually did something like a donation gang hideout upgrade (eg. target gallery). There are a couple other things (not unearthly) that haven't been found that might have a strong impact on gang warfare.

Q: Will we ever see a romantic subplot in Metroplexity?

A: I wouldn't mind doing it, but I've never tried to write any kind of romance. In GMing, all those interactions are PC to PC. If people were interested in seeing it, I would be willing to try it out.

Q: Apart from KoL, what other influences are there on Metroplexity? Books, music, games, hard drugs. Anything at all.

A: Books: Lovecraft. There's a big chuck in the game (that don't think has been found) there. Here and there from the Illuminatus trilogy. Various dystopian circles. Music: don't identify with a bunch, in general. Lain anime is kind of like "Eclipse on the Net". Norse mythology, somewhat coloured by Wagner. Games: Shadowrun is a big one. There's not a lot of games that do cyberpunk (well). (… more games …) Planescape: Torment - incorporated video-game elements into the game (eg. immortality and initial amnesia). Lots of cool options. (…) Hard drugs: not much personally, but have interacted with various people. (…) There was going to be a giant Once and Future King reference at one point, but the game kind of changed directions.

Q: Did you implement the teeth content finally with the survivors quest?

A: No but there is some more nom content with the ghouls.

Q: Why does completing two of the survivors' quests quests lock you out of the other two (if not initiated)? I get that they want to hide, but any progress you make and info you gather could still help their cause and be relayed through your contact, and leave content open for us to play with.

A: For one, it would be a giant pain to program. For another, you can complete as many as you want before choosing a survivor.

Q: Is there an (unfound) way to get to the top of the damaged buildings without killing anyone, so I can do another Pacifism run now that the hideout has been peacefully revamped (yay!)?

A: There are a couple floors you can't get through peacefully now, but that will be updated shortly.

Q: What inspired the hideout revamp?

A: There weren't really any choices. You could choose how to kill them all and that's about it. Allows for pacifism now.

Q: Is there a trigger for programmed terror that we're missing? Or just rest a whole bunch? Also, why is its picture defaultitem.jpg? A question mark doesn't particularly inspire terror to me.

A: There's a trigger, obviously. The chance of getting it increases slowly approaching 1. It's kind of the vague, ambiguous terror that the news provides.

Q: Did the concept behind the twisted hounds have any inspiration from the Hounds of Tindalos?

A: Yeah, definitely.

Q: With the game's Halloween festivities starting up before too much longer, is there still something from the mummy wrappings that we're missing?

A: Other than the hat pants and shirt, there's something very nominal missing from the wiki.

Q: Do our characters actually look young enough to be college students on our parents' dimes, or is the student selling books on the quad just not a very good judge of age?

A: The assumption is that you aren't that old. Maybe in the young thirties.

Q: Are there any game states that affect the royal orb other than location and active effects? I'm starting to run low on effects to try, and equipment hasn't been promising.

A: The question is "What do you think you need to do to get the skill?" Do you think you have to see all the sights or is there another terrible puzzle underneath?

Q: Have you thought about adding character titles? Possibly with an unlocking system akin to avatars, and then maybe the option for custom ones to be obtained somehow. (This may or may not have anything to do with being Lord of the Pearls.)

A: Yeah, it's on the list of things that can be donated for. Some unlockables in game. There's another avatar-like thing that kind of took over instead, which you'll see more of later. //(Conducts might be the "avatar-like thing".)

Q: Based on the behavior of the Southside bums alone, I’d assume that Eclipse is an addicting substance. I’m fairly certain that Eclipse is addicting physiologically, but is it also physically addictive? Would someone go into withdrawal without Eclipse and how would the symptoms manifest?

A: […] It's mostly psychologically additive but can be physical too.

Q: One thing that I’ve always been curious about never really comes up in the game, but if multiple people take Eclipse within the same vicinity as one another, do they experience the same “hallucinations” or would each person in a group experience something different?

A: Depends. There's a nod towards that in the new sewer hideout. In general, it's shared.

Q: If some people took Eclipse and thought happy thoughts for a while, could they make a certain place into heaven on Earth?

A: That's a dangerous question. […]

Q: Has Eclipse found its way into other cities (maybe without Midgard planning it to or knowing it has)?

A: Very very limited amounts of Eclipse have turned up elsewhere, but nothing on the scale of Metroplex.

Q: What are the Twisted Hounds doing in the Mushroom Cavern? They don't really fit thematically, unless they're the result of Hound Drones finding a way in.

A: Thematically, the Twisted Hounds show up everywhere that's etheric.

Q: Is Lungful of spores the way to fungal deliverance or a sign that you're doing it wrong?

A: [ha ha ha ha] It's pretty awesome. Mostly it's a terrible side-effect of inhaling something awful.


Q: Login page says "You are an enforcer and protector for local businesses".
How can I have been doing that long enough for people (Mikhail) to know it and have experienced my "unique talents", but still start the game so weak that I am comparatively much stronger at the end of the day? I mean, how come I get more powerful from a day of beating on bums than, presumably, weeks or months of beating on bums? What exactly have I been protecting the local businesses from if they still keep me as a protector, despite probably not being able to protect them from a couple of the lowliest lowlifes?

A: It's only been weeks (not months), and it's not an accident that you're growing in power quickly. Some opponents have negative stats (maybe?) so zero is just an arbitrary starting point. Protection doesn't necessarily involve shooting bums in the face, just having a presence there helps. […]

Q: So, I realize we don't know everything about the new sewer hideout yet, but it seems like you've made that zone quite a bit harder than it used to be. However, while strategical options are always good, resources are very limited at that point, so the zone feels a bit out of place complexity-wise. And even if we're missing something big about it that'll make it much easier for us experienced players, I still feel like it's going to be confusing and brutal (the 2 enforcers fight is tough with no iotm) for newbies. Thoughts?

A: I did go through and make them a bit more comparable with their old encounters. Still, it's a little bit harder than it was. Up for more tweaking if needed.

(Coming up: September item going in, with seasonal reset boards. Then Halloween, and some slight changes to the abandoned buildings. Looking forward to stuff in early 2011.)

Podcast #15

(Live from Con on the Cob, with guests)

Q: When do I get to kill that smug pansy Hawk and take his place within the Third Eye? I can’t stand that guy! >_<

A: Probably oldtownish or towntownish.

Q: The text when you try to melt the locks in the Buried Lab with a blowtorch hints that it'd make pretty good armor. Is there some way to do that now, or is that a teaser for future crafting?

A: Just a teaser. Maybe not something you can get from them, but you can get better craftable stuff eventually.

Q: Choosing to assist the doctors "treating" the Lost Son turns out to be an evil act. So the only morally scrupulous path appears to be freeing him immediately, but that apparently only yields a skill (Third Eye Technique) if you're helping Hawk. Is it really possible to deny yourself a skill reward (you can still get salvaging tools) by choosing this path if you're not aligned with the Third Eye, or is there more spading we need to do?

A: Yeah, you can screw yourself out of that path. There's no real morally acceptable path through the quest.

Q: I was a bit surprised to discover that seasonal resets seem to be ranked by daycount, skills learned, then energy used. Admittedly, things are listed in that order, but years of KoL speedruns have heavily conditioned my sense of what matters. Any other features of the seasonal reset contest rules that may run counter to my KoL conditioning?

A: Probably. I'd rather let people spade things out. Conducts are more like Nethack than KoL.

Q: Is your character's moral standing tracked long-term and/or used for anything other than healing from Born of Sorrow and coin effects from the unearthly coin? (Disclaimer: This is not a "hey, why don't you add more content to this part of the game" question. Although I think Metroplexity actually handles this better than a lot of games, I'm generally not a fan of morality mechanics in CRPGs. Someday I'll rant about it on the forums.)

A: It is tracked, but not really used for anything long term. Lots of stuff that uses that though.

Q: What are the effects of "megacorporatization" on worldwide interrelations and culture? It's interesting that there are Russian descendants and Russian speakers in Metroplex (Mikhail, Boris) - is that a leftover from before the Orbital Wars, or a more recent occurrence?

A: Somewhat left over from Orbital Wars - a lot of Midgard's plants were in Russia. The company that you belong to is rather much more important than your nation.

Q: Are those real trees on the Metroplex U campus, and how did I forget to woodchip them into 4,000 additional snowman arms last Christmas?

A: I'd imagine that they are imported by Midgard at great expense.

Q: Does Midgard run the Metro system in its governmental capacity, or is it contracted out to a smaller corporation? Are there many places in the city inaccessible by metro, and will we eventually have other ways of travelling within Metroplex borders?

A: Metros is a name of a corporation. They handle a lot of subway-type systems in a bunch of cities. Within Metroplex, the Metros will do, but might need a car for the suburbs.

Q: So there's nothing more we can do with Dr. Johnson now that we know how to get his recording?

A: I plan to add a hook later, but the recording (and his drops) are the main thing.

Q: Since last podcast I've managed to actually grow fungus in my lungs, any hints on what to do next?

A: There are some neat things that will kind of go on in there. Some mushroomy interactions.

(Laffy Taffy jokes, Erfworld)

Q: Was there any benefit or reward for getting your eye poked out by a woman made of living flame last Halloween, that we never found? The only path that really got you a reward was saving the girl, and that kind of narrow storytelling is pretty rare in Metroplexity.

A: [Evil Laugh] No, there's a fair number of hooks there. Most people chose to bow down, which will affect things going forward.

Q: Speaking of Halloween, will we have a way of influencing events (as a group, for everyone else, not just individually) like last time?

A: Yes.

Q: Are any of the people 'in treatment' in the Buried Lab actually still victims of the Incident itself, or has that become solely a cover-up for Eclipse?

A: There are still people getting slags poisoning, but much lower level than it was.

Q: Reading the description for the Lotus Map effect, it seems like it should give you an increased chance of Etheric encounters?

A: That sounds reasonable. I'll think about it.

Q: Is there going to be an unearthly item for October? (I wouldn't particularly mind if there wasn't with all the halloween activity and new leaderboards and still a bunch of stuff in the survivors content to explore…)

A: Maybe. Probably tied in to halloween somehow.

Q: Why did you decide to not let us into the lake if David is dead? Can't we still jump down the hole in the slime?

A: All the other survivors quests are similarly cut off if you don't save them. The reward for David's quest is largely the content it opens.

Q: On the leaderboards, there are symbols for different stuff achieved in run, like completing Hel's or Lo's quest. How many different achievements are there?

A: 15 or 20ish.

Q: You mentioned that there's an undiscovered thing with the Midgard Player, which was released with the Survivors quest. Does that have something to do with the Fang PDA or the Y4s?

A: Nope. (It would have been impossible to get Hidden Harmony and Ocean Harmony before the Survivors quest.)

Q: Do tracking chips do anything (yet?)?

A: Nothing other than salvage.

Q: Any word on the status of custom avatars?

A: Maybe once Puyo is in Columbus.

Q: Does the fact that there is gang scuba gear and shark hide jackets mean that there might be an underwater PVP zone someday?

A: Wouldn't be surprising.

Q: Will we ever see a true scuba gear that lets us stay underwater indefinitely?

A: The rebreather mask.

Q: Any way to hack the halloween server and check who's turned in an Emerald Gift ticket?

A: It's on a different server, so unlikely.

Q: Is there any chance the organizer girl from last year will come back to life? Sure, she was a bit of a gold digger, but I think we had something special going on. I miss her. EDIT: Wait a second. Is she Emily?!

A: Yes, she is Emily.

Q: Are we still missing something from the black sketchbook quest? I don't think we've found a use for the grisly crown of teeth…

A: Yes, still stuff to be found.

Podcast #16

Carlos and the Vigilante Recording agree that the Renegades attack convoys and people with cars. Since most people in the Metroplex who can afford cars are probably affiliated with Midgard, how come Midgard hasn't wiped them out? Are they more like guerrilla fighters than a criminal gang, receiving serious firepower from some rival corp? Is their raiding somehow beneficial to Midgard?

A: More or less impractical to wipe them out. Too expensive, despite the best intentions. Works out okay with Midgard, because they can control things better.

Q: Are there any mysteries you're surprised nobody has stumbled upon/solved yet?

A: There's a lot of stuff that people have stumbled on by accident, not surprising. In one of the dozens of forum threads, someone flat out said, quite a while ago (months or a year ago), oh, you should try this thing, and it was one percentage off from what you need to do to get a skill.

Q: Is the grisly crown of teeth in the Black Book one of those things like the dead end in the Abandoned Subway that we'll have to solve some other mystery first before we're in a position to figure it out?

A: Not nearly to the same extent. It needs a couple of moving parts, and getting one of those moving parts can be somewhat challenging, but nothing too overwhelming. (We now know about the ghoul sinew.)

Q: Mushy is a NPC that a lot of us like. Is there more content we have yet to discover with him? More to come someday? Also, he mentions that the Fae recruit by means of "books and toys". The toys we've found. Are the books out there for us to find too?

A: Not anything off the top of my head. The books shouldn't be available (they were available in the original design, but decided it was clunky).

Q: I get why the Ocean King isn't fussed when you attack him—seems like just part of fishperson culture. How come the King of the Fae is so nonchalant about your foiling his JoyTime recruiting scheme? Maybe he depends more on his servants than he lets on?

A: I wouldn't give the fae human-like emotions - so the way they respond to difficulties/successes is out there. The fae is the least human of all the races. That's part of the reason the fae leader has the girl interpreter.

Q: Is there any reward other than XP for beating the non-Etheric tests from the HKGames Helmet?

A: No, just XP, pretty sure. There's a thing which you may find which contradicts the previous sentence, but… There's an extra thing you can trigger which is separate from the normal games. Normal games are just XP.

Q: What's in the works for the next unearthly item?

A: [Emerald Gift Scrapbook] Going to be tied into the halloween content, like the crystal flame was. It's going to give another urban-lore-like skill.

Q: With things finally moving again on the feathered cloak front, I'm once again thinking about the possibility of a bird avatar. How many unfound avatars are lurking out there these days?

A: 12 of 24 have been found, minus one for cyborg, and one other that is not implemented. So 12 of 22.

Q: Will we ever get bigger/more apartments? I already have some 6 items to install (chemistry kit, protein analyzer, TV(s), tree, hanging skeleton and/or pumpkin lantern, core formatter) and room for only three…
(and enough room in my inventory to carry arbitrary amounts of all of them and more, even when I am *in* the apartment itself).

A: Waiting til it becomes irritating before adding more, when space will be at a premium. It's supposed to make you make choices. When you have to choose 4 of 8, maybe.

Q: Is achromatic equipment guaranteed to salvage into achromatic ingots?

A: Basically, yes.

Q: Will there be monochromatic masses? Bichromatic? Trichromatic? Prismatic?

A: There will certainly be equivalent awards for the survivors quest, but might not follow the same approach.

Q: Thoughts on halloween? It was awesome.

A: There was some content that didn't get rolled out for halloween proper, for a clear eclipse victory proper. Selling candy seemed to be well received. The stage building/wiring/barrels of punch seemed to work. Some content that didn't get found, which will be reused someday.

Q: What's next in store for us?

A: Taking November off somewhat. Donation item. A couple small things that might get done, a small area revamp (revamping a small area, not a small revamp). Some simple crafting stuff.

Q: Is there anything to do with the black sketchbook quest which requires stuff from outside the sketchbook? Or is it all self contained? Are there more items to be found?

A: Already know the answer to the first two questions, but there is at least 1, maybe 3, things left, at least one requires stuff from outside the book. I think there's at least one more item that would show up in the quest log list of items. All three are mean. One of them no one is close at all, which is funny cause it would have helped for halloween. One of them people will kill me for. One of them is the grisly teeth. (We have now found the jade amulet both in and out of the sketchbook.)

Q: Did you plan all the numbers out for the halloween event ahead of time or do you adjust things on the fly? Eg. what would you have done if the stage hadn't been built in time?

A: Most of the numbers were comparative - so compared with opposing factions. Not so much meeting goals but more which direction the player base wanted to go. Stage was the only exception to that - if the stage wasn't finished, it would have been a mess.

Q: How much detail does Puyo get? Do you describe the pictures in detail to her or just give a rough idea?

A: Usually a couple paragraphs and links to a couple pictures that are kind of close.

Q: What's this Z drug? Will we ever see it?

A: It's a stimulant in the upscale clubbing scene. You'll see it downtown eventually.

Q: If I recall correctly, the old Two Roads encounter (on the fifth floor) got easier for each try you did it. Is this still true or am I just unlucky?

A: That's true now and not true before. It used to have tests for the attributes, which if you tried at least once, there's another option that you can pass. Now it actually just become easier now.

Q: Any chance we could keep our simple recipes when we reset?

A: Yeah, that's a bug/design flaw. Will be fixed soon.

Q: Does the Paper Boat do anything at all?

A: Keep meaning to make it do something awesome, but not intended to be useful.

Q: Would it be too crowded to add a "date" column to the seasonal leaderboards? I'd like to be able to sort them by date to see the new entries.

A: Will add it next season.

Q: Do most of the remaining avatars require PvP to unlock them?

A: Most of them to require pvp one way or another. There's… 1 … that doesn't require pvp. Not all of them are gained in pvp fights though.

Q: By far the most common question that new players ask is "Is there any way to sell my junk items?" (I'm sure I've answered it at least a dozen times now.) Consider adding it to the FAQ?

A: Considered and rejected it. Not sure that the info page is very useful.

Q: Running out of options at the end of combat seems like it was changed to be too powerful now (automatically get beaten up). Why not make it so that if you run out of options, you get one last chance to run away, and if you lose, you get beaten up, and if you win, you get to run away? It doesn't make a ton of sense to be "dragged under" by a tiny rat if you have 100 HP but run out of moves too early.

A: If you run out of moves against a tiny rat, then you might deserve to get beaten up.

Q: For the feathered cloak and HKGames Helmet, do the encounters that appear have a random element to them or should we be looking for a more of a pattern than we've yet to find?

A: The timing of them is partially random to make sure that people don't optimize all the fun out of the game.

Q: [ShadowRun stuff…] I was wondering how you envision the topology of the Net in Metroplexity. When we jack into the Net, are we experiencing the Net in a sort of VR/cyber-friendly environment? Or is the whole hacking procedure played out on the tiny little screens of our PDAs?

A: [ShadowRun stuff…] It depends. Going in with just a PDA, it'll just be off the PDA screen. Other items that boost Code Finesse (eg. Twitch Visor) can enhance that. VR is pretty limited in Metroplex compared to most other cyberpunk settings. Eg. you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get neural recordings. I picture the hacking interface as not suffering much from being on a PDA. There's pervasive wireless, but with a physical cable backbone. Then there's some Midgard networks that rely on shooting people to protect them.

Q: Ever consider using a 25 scale party-crowed.jpg instead of the defaultitem.jpg for the Dance Music Effect?

A: Yeah, that looks okay.

Q: What's up with Sparkling Blood? Does the Effect simply play the role of a drawback/consequence of getting that much Energy out of drug use for so little Body or is there some hidden benefit that can be derived from the effect?

A: There's some tricky stuff you can do there, but more or less yes, just a drawback.

Q: Is the Metros company that makes the public transit system the same Metros that makes Metroplexity's beer?

A: Yes, though not originally planned as such perhaps. Most corps will produce most things in some form or another.

Q: What's the approximate conversion rate of credits to American dollars? As with other game systems that use a universal monetary unit (credits, nuyen, C-bills), I always wonder if that's the smallest denomination of money. Or is there a fractional credit unit like nickles and dimes that isn't featured in the game?

A: No strict conversion rate, but a lot of prices have changed relative to each other. Most food products are drone-based rather than human produced. Then there's also a lot of super rich, so luxury items have skyrocketed. Prices are all over the place with new changes in technology. There are factional units, but not used much - but might be used in banking transactions, etc.

Q: Can we get a hint or two about what we have to look forward to this Christmas? Metropleximas? More Togasmas?

A: The basic backbone of xmas is pretty well established (snowman contest), with a few new things added. Though there is another half of xmas about acquiring trees, which is either going to become more complicated or simpler.

Q: With all the drugs in game and the variety of them you'd think there would be at least one or two drugs that the body would be able to build a tolerance to, causing them to have a lesser effect with more uses, or a different effect from habitual use. Any chance that a mechanic like that will be implemented? Or is the PC's body so altered that it doesn't produce the usual drug tolerance you'd expect?

A: Yeah, there really should. There's a couple things like that on food. Probably not any long term drug tolerances, [but stuff on a daily scale perhaps]. Originally, considered the possibility of several separate counters for drugs, so if you took too many stimulants, you would get Jitters (or worse), and other interactions between them, but that's complicated. The current way offers interesting tradeoffs for using drugs to get more energy directly, or using buffs to beat enemies more efficiently, etc.

Q: Is there an ETA on when Cyberwear content might go in? As of the moment there is one piece of cyberwear in game that I know of and it's unusable at this time…

A: Should be out before oldtown, but quite a bit of stuff to add before then. There's really only one place where you can get cyberware outside of oldtown.

Q: In ancient times, the Pontifex Maximus decreed how long the break between years would be, a few days belonging to no month or season. What would you say to 1 week a year where Zack gave you all your unearthly items on resetting, and sold any that hadn't been permanently removed from rotation? The fastest resetter of the silly holiday could have the honour of wearing the Pontifex's silly hat until next year.

A: Not a terrible idea, but would rather get unearthly item rotation working quicker/better first. It could be a periodic holiday.

Q: Is there some trick to killing the ocean king? Some person reports beating him with after-run stats twice.

A: See ocean king discussion page for a bunch of people that have killed him. There's no "trick" like the intertwined firework serpents, but he's just a hard boss fight. Buff up on defense stats. AoE techniques might help, but don't think there are any that work underwater.

Q: I failed, failed miserably, several times, with all stats over 50 and every buff that's available. (It really brings me to the point of saying "screw it", grabbing all skills but the one that needs him killed, and stopping there. Cause, really… just depressing.)

A: Boss design discussion: ~three options. Traditional RPG boss - just a wall that you have to kill before you can get past; optional bosses (sidequests, ways to avoid confrontations); one-time bosses (Shard, Saber); You'll get vicious feedback from all three types - people will get just as frustrated with all three types. When the University quest was designed, it was expected that people would get frustrated with those fights. If the gang boss was a "wall" boss, it would be frustrating for people who couldn't get past him. Oddly enough, there's lots of negative feedback from not being able to win against the gang boss even though he's optional. It's important to have opponents that /are/ really hard, to recognize people that can beat them (and give skills, avatars, items, etc. rewards). Would like to avoid "wall" bosses so that the game can still be beaten with pacifism (though that might make things more difficult for you). Wasn't sure that it would be beatable when it went in - and that's okay. You might have to wait until more content comes out.

Q: What sort of data schema do you use for inventory items, and things like costume pieces in particular. Is it just a setup like name-description-effects-picture.

A: More or less, but with more fields (plural, requirements, known to the mall, etc.)

Q: Are costumes an intrinsic part of equipment, or do you just check for individual costume pieces in adventures? If not, it might be worthwhile and easier for you to change it so it is, so as you could just make requirements like "requires 3 third eye-ness" and not have to worry about re-adding new equipment to old content.

A: I can check for individual items, but prefer not to. Most often can just attach a flag to an item and check for the flag. Eg. It doesn't check if you have a tome of binding equipped, it checks of you have the tome_of_binding flag. Some outfits have interchangeable pieces this way (eg. scale suit, or scuba stuff). At some point I'll add another item or two to the doctor outfit and include various facemasks or first aid kits.

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