Podcasts (2011)
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(See bold text for potential spading ideas.)

Podcast #17

Q: Eclipse Free is superseded by Just Say No, which is superseded by Closed System. Are there more conducts that are subsets/supersets of other conducts?

A: Yes, at least one more, and some other that are mutually exclusive in other ways. There's a fairly limited number of conducts that you can get in a single run (6 or 7?) (The Eclipse Purist conduct was later discovered.)

Q: How difficult is the most difficult content you've implemented? You don't have to say what it is.

A: Survivors had the most content to it, with many chains (especially David). Hacking has a lot of hard coded stuff and special cases.

Do you think you'd implement sex changes, and will there be a conduct for getting 30 of them in a run? KoL jokes aside, what I'm really wondering about is changing gender.

A: Planned to be included with cybernetics. Most of it with oldtown, fairly soon.

Q: Why don't donation skills rotate with the rest of the unearthly stuff?

A: They're flagged separately in the code. With reincarnation, there will be options for {only/no} unearthly skills. More interesting with more skills, more options.

Q: When will season two end?

A: With the next unearthly item. [The mirror] is becoming pretty immense though, so a little while.

Q: It seems like the best survivor quests to do in a speed run are Hel and Dr. Amundsen. Was this expected? Is it something you see as good, bad, or irrelevant?

A: It was expected. There's always going to be one that's quicker. Can try to balance them, but it's hard to do. Going in, I'm assuming that it's not going to be balanced, so wanted those two to be quickest, because those are the two that result if you end up botching the university quest. Might be more interesting as the opposite, but *shrug*. David/Lo gets cool skills/crafting stuff as bonus to compensate.

Q: Do you have any stories about mechanics you considered implementing, but then decided against?

A: Body was going to be much more complex originally. Maybe track types of drugs taken so if you take too much stimulants result in jitters, etc. Instead, offload that idea to chemistry. Problem with that is that adding new stuff becomes exponentially more complicated. Some other stuff that are back-burnered. Neat donation item (first one I came up with - before Puyo was even doing art) eventually came out as Midgard Player, second one designed hasn't been added yet.

Q: Any truth to the rumors of upcoming "left shoe" and "right shoe" equipment slots? Seriously, in real life I wear shoes way more often than I wear hats or offhand items. Metroplexity is all about realism, right?

A: Thought about footwear. Decided there's not much going on there. Only thing is you can't fish up mis-matched boots to wear.

(Christmas: didn't get as much new content as I wanted, but then thought, "what can I add that would be interesting/new?". The meat of the xmas content is already pretty well set, so not much to add. So focused on viral carols and end boss instead.

Q: Can we fight a giant etheric turkey next Thanksgiving? :)

A: No. No turkeys. The temptation is there, but I think we'll stay away.

Q: The butterfly snowman was an awesome final touch on a fun Christmas week. Did we miss much of the content, eg. if the scariness had gotten up higher?

A: There was some content that was missed out. Giant snowman was encounterable, with a new drop. Nothing really important.

Q: The Christmas and Halloween content is always some of my favourite in the game. Unfortunately it also always corresponds to the time when I'm busiest in real life too. Not to be selfish, but what are the chances of doing a cool event not centered around a holiday? (Okay, that does sound kind of selfish. Nevermind.)

A: There is a plan for something cool in the early part of this year. Needs to work around upcoming deadlines.

Q: Were you planning the underwater zones from the start or did you have to go through and add the underwater attack texts afterwards? Are there any other new regions that will involve similar changes to most techniques?

A: Was planned from the start, but did have to go through and add the techniques at the time. There's a couple bugs introduced with that (eg. serpents attacking from underwater). Similar stuff will show up later. A couple ideas for really weird content that isn't worth it, maybe near the end of the main story ark. Don't count on it.

Q: Why are there so many more gaps in the techniques-by-id table than the other ones? Obviously some of those can be accounted for by opponents techniques, but are we missing a whole bunch or is something else going on?

A: Ids don't just count the main form you put in your deck, but also include other forms of the same technique. Eg. Evil Eye has three ids - one with eclipse, one without, one with blood of the ancients. Additionally, there are many undiscovered techs, and also enemy techs. Some enemy techs have multiple forms but you'll only see one form (eg. closers) for the most part. [25:30] Some techniques have 10 or more forms. (One that hasn't been discovered, one that has just the surface scratched.)

Q: Can we still get spherical eggs? I don't think I have seen that encounter since Survivors went in…

A: Should be able to. [checks] Looks fine.

Q: Do you prefer being called Kinak or Mr. Winkler?

A: Probably Kinak, or Landon is fine.

Q: Will our heroes ever be able to craft a catapult? Perhaps as an alternative means to get into the Slags?

A: Don't foresee a lot of catapults.

Q: From what I gathered in chat and the wiki, this year's Abominable Snowman Contest started a bit later than last year's. Was this a deliberate choice of yours or was it delayed despite your original intentions?

A: Wanted to give people a time to work out viral carols in advance. Started tracking stuff before viral leaderboards actually went up. Daylight savings time interferes with rolling out content somewhat.

Q: How come the Festive Knit Hat wasn't in season for the holidays? It seemed like a good time for it.

A: Rotation is going to stick to the order it was released, but because months have been skipped, it gets out of sync.

Q: Two main methods of gaining Christmas Trees were documented: the Gang Warfare method and the Massacre the Guards method. Were there any other methods of gaining a Christmas Tree that went under the radar?

A: If you include distributing the trees to ssp or quad through pvp, those were the only two ways.

Q: How would you have felt if nobody figured out how to increase their Caroling or Crushing scores?

A: Fine with it. Okay with content not being discovered, a bit less so with limited time content though. Try to reuse is if undiscovered.

Q: What are typical spading blindspots?

A: See earlier comments about how to get xmas tress (through gang warfare). Most designers separate pvp from pve content. Kind of bullshit. If you're going to have it in the world, and only have it with pvpers fighting against each other, there's not much point. Feels like an appendage in MMORPGs. Other blindspots include: eg. if multiple items use the same line of text in them (eg. primordial seas msg). Also, if an item with *no effects* is put in with, people will play around with it to find hidden bonuses, but if an item is put in with crappy bonuses, people don't generally play around with it much. Also, madness definition: to try the same thing multiple times to get different results. Eg. do something 12-15 times with no intervening feedback. Eg. mushroom farmer giving you a spade. Lots of other things like that (many way simpler) that haven't been found.

Q: The after holiday snowman encounter is pretty neat! Was this encounter inevitable or were there conditions that had to be met?

A: Pretty much inevitable. Cool thematically.

Q: Also, it is rather nice touch how the Summer Coin has a buff that is in opposition to this snow beast's debuff.

A: Don't think that will work. Empowered takes place before other modifiers. Percentages kick in last.

Q: Will the adventures of Metroplexity ever lead our heroes outside of their city?

A: Towards the end of the main quest line, you'll probably get to visit one of Midgard's facilities outside of Metroplex proper, but no travels to Hong Kong or whatever.

Q: The Old Family Ornament and its description got me going O_O. Wow. How deep does the rabbit hole go?

A: Goes pretty deep. How the interactions between different Midgard departments, the fae, Third eye, other groups, etc are all planned out far beyond past what you'd ever really directly see. Eg. you'll probably never see choice encounters with hounds. There aren't many people in the know with Midgard, most people are thugs. There's actually an interesting answer about the hounds buried in something people are trying to spade right now, and if they thought about it really really hard, they might figure it out. Or might just confuse them. [49:00]

(Things like the codes that Midgard uses leads into very specific things, which leads into what the frat guy said at halloween, etc.)

Q: Did you change the way infecting sites worked midway through the event to avoid the weirdness of crusading virus crushers first having to infect all the sites themselves, or was there some mechanism there all along that it took us a while to find?

A: There was a mechanism that took a while to activate, and didn't get activated.

Q: Now that it looks like viruses will be endemic on The Net, is there (or will there be) a way for us to find or make some anti-virus software less rare than the security trial and less drastic than a data scrubber?

A: [vague-man voice] Hmmm, hmmm sounds like something someone might be working on.

Q: Will we have more chances to see if we can make the hypothesized "Coin of the Four Seasons" without having to combine unique items from several players into one "now whose turn is it to use it?" item? I seem to recall on some previous podcast you saying that the rewards for Seasonal Resets would change from season to season.

A: They will change, but not every time. Either when everyone gets board with them, or with oldtown. Probably with oldtown.

Q: Any other tidbits about seasonal resets we might not know?

A: There's some neat conducts that people haven't found, and some conducts that people are thinking about too… literally.

Q: Are agenda encounters affected by Chance of PvP Encounters?

A: Agenda encounters are pvp encounters, yes.

Q: This game seems to engender a lot of collaborative spading. Is this a deliberate meta-game design goal, or just a happy accident?

A: A little of both. There was a jerk thing that was going to do with the achromatic powder - each time it was used globally, it would give a different piece of a puzzle. Might reuse that some day. Still lots of achromatic stuff to find. On one level it's a single player game, on another level it isn't. Covers all Bartle archetypes. Diamonds are the most obvious (trying to beat your PB, get on leaderboards, etc.) Lots of spading - single player spading leads to wanting to get acclaim for it (which is kind of multiplayer), and also for knowing it for yourself. Also, working as a team to spade things. Clubs are traditionally pvp-focused. Then there's the underrepresented type of player that just wants to blow off steam. [Pvp as stress relief.] Underapprciated single-player Heart contingent - making NPCs happy, etc. Eg. durning down Mikhail's reward. See it more in dating-sim games.

Q: Any chance we could get a way to view our stored items pre-retrieval?

A: Don't think so, unless you really really care, a lot. If it's really pressing.

Q: Midgard Player - It looks like it'd take a lot of record-keeping and trial-and-error to get reliable benefits from this. Would it be significantly easier to use if we understood it better, or is this a job for Greasemonkey?

A: Need to understood it better. Greasemonkey doesn't hurt, but won't help it much until you understand it better first.

Q: Do some of the undiscovered features of this thing have in-run applications? So far it looks like it can get you +4 to a stat or maybe +2 power to the combat style you're using if you don't feed it any (expensive and/or hard-to-get in-run) code modules.

A: It is not primarily intended for in-run use. Things are *too* hard, once you fully understand it. Intended to be usable in run, but largely it's function is based on hacking, which is still pretty limited in run. Will me more useful with oldtown, perhaps.

Q: Zalian Defense Tool - I'm tempted to say that we have this one figured out apart from the mechanics behind when it changes form and grants techniques. Or are there more features lurking there among the many unlabeled buttons and switches?

A: More or less figured out. Neat stuff behind the scenes.

Q: HKGames Helmet - Having the test encounters take energy really takes the wind out of the sails of this item for resetting purposes. Any chance you'd be willing to re-think this? A few XP is a smaller benefit than a feather from the feathered cloak, which doesn't take a turn to get.

It looks like we're pretty close to being able to beat all the non-Etheric tests (which will presumably unlock something neat) if we can just figure out how to get to the high rings in the Ring Test. Any hints?

A: Encounter's shouldn't/don't take energy. Ring test: don't try so hard? It's balanced a bit differently because of fewer evasion techniques. Text labels are labels. Not sure if you can get the highest one currently, but that's not how it's balanced at all.

Q: Emerald Gift scrapbook - So help me, this one also looks to be pretty much figured out. Am I drastically wrong, or only somewhat wrong?

A: Pretty straight forward. Wouldn't be surprised if there's something hidden. A neat interaction or two, but nothing earth-shattering.

Q: Is there a way to reliably get sharkteeth from the shark?

A: A few ways to get shark teeth, and a few things to avoid, so the optimized strategy is fairly complex. But the ways in there aren't very unreliable once you figure it out.

Q: I know a long time ago you had mentioned a blind legion quest related to the book. Did that ever go anywhere, or are you still waiting for us to crack the mechanism to "legitly" get the book?

A: Don't really expect anyone to figure it out. Someone will find it eventually. Just waiting for enough copies of the book for it to be worth while.

Q: Can you give us a single, arbitrary, context-free hint that might help us find something cool?

A: Um. […] "Order matters." That's totally unhelpful.

Q: Have you thought about adding new chip memories/abstract sketchmemories?

A: I think I did add some more, but maybe not. More chip memories maybe when more recordings go in.

Q: Any hint on the remaining undiscovered skills?

A: Quite a few buried in Survivors content. 4? 5 maybe? Probably one of the oldest undiscovered skill is linked to one of the survivors ones, kind of as mirrors of each other, so once you find one, you'll probably find the other. Both pretty neat though. Specifically, check out things that does something, but is terrible - it might be worth looking at.

Starting work on January's unearthly item. Starting on a neat world event. Small sidequest to be added, cybernetics, oldtown. That's probably a year.

Podcast #18

Q: Can we get an update on the number of active players? Around Christmas last year there were 175 accounts logged into that month. How does it compare a year later?

A: 213 last month.

Q: Does wikidot give you any data on the number of visitors to the wiki? Do know at all how many people use it (compared to the number of players)?

A: A couple pages of users, no specific count.

Q: Are there any skills we're missing from the Lost Son quest? As I recall you said that all paths result in a skill, but if you release his bonds, and fail to join the third eye (sell Anthony's watch before giving it back), I don't think you can get a skill. Or have we just missed it?

A: Haven't missed anything, but there might be an alternate way to join the third eye.

Q: Is there an constant number of sites to be found? Eg. if one goes out of business, does another one get created to take its place? Or do a certain number of new ones get added every day? I estimate there's currently about 16,000 sites on the net - am I far off from the real total?

A: Closer than I thought (increased recently). No details for how sites are created.

Q: Is petitioning the Unknown Function for information a futile idea? What about bribing it with My Little Idoru dolls?

A: Entertaining, but unlikely to trigger a response.

Q: Do you read through chat logs much? The 05cleaner seemed to start making wry comments about there being no leaderboards right after people in chat were complaining about there being no leaderboards.

A: No, that was added in advance.

Q: This is a just a friendly reminder to order some giant etheric turkey artwork, so that we can fight giant etheric turkeys next year.

A: Duly noted.

Q: Thoughts on net pvp? Why patch sites when you could attack the infectors directly? I only ask because I'm wondering what good finding the name of your opponents is if you can't attack them? :)

A: [Monkey's paw]. Your question will be answer shortly, but not in the way you are imagining.

Q: I've been finding a lot of tougher opponents than I've ever seen before (eg. Omnitech Autodefense or Gatekeepers with five processors). Did you change the hacking opponents for this event or have they always been there undiscovered/undocumented?

A: Only new stuff was virus stuff - other programs remained the same.

Q: Any comments on how you chose NearlyFreeSpeech.net? They seem to have an interesting service plan. How does it compare price-wise to other services?

A: Way cheaper, good mission for a safe haven for stuff that might be controversial. Very security conscious. Only drawback is no cron jobs.

Q: It seems this 05cleaner is the Dr. Amundersen of OmniTech. Assuming an appropriate end to this virus event, would there be a plotline later about hooking the two up?

A: There might be some kind of romantic plotline some day, but we'll see. 05Cleaner might show up again. [This was before he disappeared]

Q: As I'm sure you are aware, people tend to like it when the skills they gain have interesting interactions with other parts of Metroplexity beyond their stated effects. But, as the number of skills increases and Metroplexity becomes filled with more content, this will be harder to do. Some skills will almost certainly be left on the wayside. How do you feel about this?

A: Some skills I shot myself in the foot. Eg. the handmirror skill, and stuff gets added there whenever possible. Then there's Stolen Artistry, where it's (way too?) expansive, (lots of undiscovered stuff), but also self-contained. Puzzle box is a different direction - many things you can put in to get a limited number of results.

Q: There is currently a rather intense discussion going on in chat concerning events. Some people prefer fewer events with more Contact dialogues, others prefer more events with fewer Contact dialogues, and others prefer to not voice their opinions in fear that the extra pressure put on you from knowing their sentiments will remove the magic from Metroplexity. I was wondering, how do you prefer events to be created? Feel free to elaborate on your preference as much as you like.

A: Contact dialog is a ton of work, so we can either have more dialog and fewer events or vice versa. Easy to break quests, tedious work.

Q: Has the ability to acquire the cracked baseball bat before clearing out the Fangs always been there or was it added later. If it wasn't, what got you to include that new variant in?

A: It was added with the sewer revamp to enable the peaceful path through on the melee side. It's an interesting little thing to stay in southside for a couple extra energy.

Q: When I managed to sneak into the Sewer Hideout via the Faerie Guide with the cracked baseball bat, I was sorta hoping for some sort of epic buildup towards a climax where you faced down the Fang gang boss with the weapon of their old nemesis. Reality was, sadly, indifferent to this path of the cracked baseball bat. As a game developer, how do you deal with the hopes of your gamers hope to be able to pull off something amazing. Even if only from a narrative perspective?

A: It's challenging, in that everyone has different opinions about what's awesome. For example, the fang's boss response to that is because he wasn't involved at the the time. […]

Q: Have we dismissed the Waterlogged Handcannon too soon? Should we give it another look?

A: There /might/ be some terrible secrets hiding in any item in the game. Don't think there is anything, but wouldn't be surprised.

Q: Should we look into uncovering the secrets of the Buried Crown?

A: There's already a couple uses, it's pretty neat item.

Q: After defeating opponents, sometimes the amount of credits you receive as loot appears below the items you've gained. Other times, above. Why is that?

A: Just shows up in the order that they are granted. Used to be a bug where if fighting multiple opponents, you would only get the results from one.

Q: The first time you have the Friendly Bum show you some moves, he always teaches you 5 instances of Lash Out. How come you decided to make it like this?

A: Balances out the extra short bursts you get at the start of the game. A long time ago, it was switched over from melee to ranged to start out with, because you started with a gun.

Q: I'm puzzled by the description of the Quick Scan program: "You should attract less attention when searching for files" It doesn't give a (stated) bonus to Incognito or seem to reduce the rate at which alarm increases when you search files. Have we just not figured out what it does yet, or did you originally intend the program to give an Incognito bonus and then change your mind without updating the description, or what?

A: Not intended to give incognito.

Q: It's great how the seasonal reset leaderboards let you click on column header to change the sorting. Would it be possible to do something like that with the target list for The Net? I'd be a real convenience if we could sort by access level and have all the "no access" sites show up at the top of the list. (Bonus points if the "full control" sites were sorted in order of total access levels so level 6 sites showed up grouped together too.)

A: That might be a good answer to something someone else I was asking about. Or they could always show up that way. […] Will think about it.

Q: Kind of following up Elliotbay's question, I'm interested in how well player's actions correspond to your carefully laid plans. On a very broad level, is the virus event progressing like you had anticipated?

A: It's taking longer than expected. For example, there was a period of a ~day where the viral messages didn't give any sites, as a result of things taking longer than expected. People have been pretty far off the tracks.

Q: More generally, does the playerbase generally respond to events/new content like you think they will? Have there been times when you've been delightfully surprised/annoyingly derailed by brilliant/oblivious players?

A: I don't expect people to find out all of the content. Intentionally designed so that there is enough secrets, enough going on so that I'd be pleasantly surprised if people found all of them. Makes for a richer world. It's cool when a new player comes through and finds something that's been buried for years.

Q: About the Virus Event: could you make the goals more clear. Right now, it's really vague and it's hard to stay excited about it if you don't even know if what you're doing actually matters.

A: The next stage will be much more obvious. If you're on 05Cleaner's side, and if you're confused, I'm not sure how much I can help. Should be obvious. If you're big into the virus, I /think/ it also should be pretty obvious, but we'll see.

Q: On a more backstory related note:
How is the Earth doing? Is there any rainforest left? Are there still fossil fuels to burn?

A: Earth isn't doing so great. Overall corporatization hasn't been kind to natural resorces. […]

Q: Can you describe our character's "comm" a bit? Also how did we pay for it, if we're completely broke at the start of the game, did Mikhail give it to us?

A: Comms are like the future version of the iPhone. For the most part, even poor people have one. Sort of like having food and water and electricity nowadays, it's kind of considered a necessity to be a functioning member of society. Most money interactions are comm-to-comm or comm-to-website, mostly only the poorest use cred chips.

Q: Is there a corp specialized in health care? I'm guessing OmniTech sells over the counter stuff, but I can't imagine they're that good in more complicated drugs/procedures.

A: That's about accurate. They also provide "over the counter" cybernetics. Eg. the bum in southside could probably get a cyberlimb if he had a bit more cash. Enhancements start in the middle-upper class. Omnitech has a lot of stuff there, but still "department store" class. Higher executives might have sub-dermal armour or whatnot. Higher end drugs/cybernetics come from several mid-sized companies (ie. Midgard sized, not Omnitech sized). Questions of how human the upper-scale execs still are.

Q: What's the status of Oldtown? When can we expect to explore new areas, fight new baddies, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes?

A: Quite a while off. It's outlined, a few art assets collected. Wouldn't be surprised if it took forever, also wouldn't be surprised if it took a couple weeks of hard work.

Q: Should more spading be done in regards to the virtual pet bass? Or rather, is there more to be discovered with the VPB?

A: There is a fair amount of stuff in there. Not going to say that it's gamebreaking, but it's awesome for awesome's sake. [this was before the avatar was found]

Q: Do you need to log in each day when you're infected to get the extra sites?

A: Only one way to find out (try it).

Q: Would it be possible to eventually combine the many processors we can build into a furniture item in our house and have an exceptionally strong home computer?

A: There's the upside and downside of that. Downside is that it would be a lot of work to have people break into your house to hack things. It's easier to avoid detection with a mobile device. No immediate plans.

Q: When the Oldtown update is finished, would it be possible for there to be rewards for playing the game for a long time in addition to completing multiple runs? Just a thought.

A: Problem with that - the rewards for playing multiple runs are there to encourage people to test the content. Eventually (years from now) there will be more content in the different reset paths than at the end, so encouraging people to loop back through will be more meaningful. Having a general reward might encourage people to not reset. Better to encourage people who don't want to reset to reset, rather than the opposite. There will be individual rewards (eg. pvp and other things) that will take longer than a reset to get.

Future: virus even still going on, next phase soon (tomorrow?). Donation item out before leaving for Australia.

Podcast #19

Q: Hints on acquiring Item #1170?

A: Don't worry about it too much - one of those things that is probably going to stay undiscovered for a while, so start on other stuff and something else will take you there.

Q: Now that the avatar has been discovered, is there still more to be discovered with the Virtual Pet Bass? Could I get a quote on its placement on the scale of awesome(ness)?

A: Awesomeness is not really gamebreaking amazing, there is some stuff that hasn't been discovered (story, adorableness, etc). Nothing game changing. If someone really sits down and plays with there's some neat stuff, but nothing optimal for fishing.

Q: Is there more to be discovered with the Viral Model, are there other mediums of art for it? Scale of awesome quote?

A: It's more or less self containted. Awesomeness is on the fact that you can craft it side.

Q: Is there any hidden content with the viral eavesdropper? Scale of awesome quote?

A: Something fairly significant that hasn't been discovered from that. Actually, nevermind, it's one of the other viral programs. That's just neat. Nothing big.

Q: How far out is it until inactive SDmicros can be repaired and made active?

A: Part of the pet system eventually, aways off. Also, spherical eggs, and one other (less obvious) item so far. Not all pets will come from items (or items that are available now).

Q: Any chance of there being an interaction in the future between the children's paint set and Stolen Artistry?

A: Unlikely. Paint set will have some expansion at some point. [added October 1st, 2011] Stolen Artistry is already so big that it seems unfair to add more to it. There comes a time when you just have to spread out the content some. Still a lot of stuff to find under Stolen Artistry. (Not at the base level, but more interactions).

Q; Is it possible to get ocean sight and fae sight going simultaneously? I only ask since Puyo has both skills.

A: Originally from a bug to get both. It's all coded to work, but not (supposed to be) available.

Q: Any chance of there being an interaction in the future between the Lotus Map skill and the raiding database?

A: Not a bad idea, but the raiding database is referring to places outside of metroplex, so not easy to get to.

Q: If a season lasts more than 2 months or so, would you consider starting a new season anyway, even if there's no new unearthly item? Just to shake up the leaderboards a bit and maybe switch up which items are pullable from Zack? Especially so if changes in the game make some runs early in the season unassailable.

A: Very unlikely, it would require a lot of coding, or result in weird gaps in the item rotation. More likely to just try to get items out on a more regular schedule.

Q: Care to share any narrative justifications for how Golden Chip people recognize you between incarnations?

A: Instinctively choose the same username and password each time. Didn't want to punish people for resetting; wanted a high cost to get into it but not worth it each time.

Q: Any comments about how the virus event played out, and what's planned for the future of net pvp?

A: Took longer than planned, which was fine. Spikes of bug reports slowed things down. It was neat, rolled out some cool stuff. It's hard to strike a balance between mystery and enough information to make decisions and enough options to make decisions. I think I was too far to the obscure side. It's important to have a fairly clear idea what flavour your actions are doing, who you're helping. Designed to be sandboxy, which was frustrating for some people. Ironically, as soon as someone started to complain about it, the next stage started. I guess that means that it was timed well, or timed poorly. Felt like the pacing was off a bit, but otherwise, everything was great. There will probably be another world event coming up, not sure if before or after Oldtown. For the future of net PVP - basically what you see now but with svn testing.

Q: How's The Mirror progressing?

A: Rough draft, art requests are done. Pretty complex. Lots of item interactions, crafting etc.

Q: Will there be any rewards for any conducts other than the fastest four survivors?

A: Nope. Well, sort of take that back, but mostly not. Conducts aren't intended to be things that you do to get rewards. The survivors, you have to get one of them, but the others are separate. No rewards intended for the conducts, but some rewards for doing the things that result in getting those conducts. Eg. doing all four survivors quests will unlock more options in the future, but the conduct itself doesn't mean anything.

Q: Do you have to have the Trauma Reference equipped continuously in order to get the trauma tech, like you do to get feathers from the feathered cloak, or results from the HKGames helmet?

A: Ish. You have to have it equipped to get the skill.

Q: Does having other sources of First Aid in addition to the Trauma Reference prevent or impede you from making progress towards the skill?

A: Doesn't impede/prevent it.

Q: Al and I were discussing the chronology, since it looks like the Trauma Reference was available before the Slags quest appeared. Is it possible to get the skill without having access to Outside The Slags/The Slags?

A: Yes. There's a drop location in the Midgard Warehouse for the trauma reference.

Q: I'm curious about the geography of Oldtown, since we now know about some skills whose bonuses depend on that. Will there be (m)any zones there that are: On the shore? Underwater? Underground? Caverns?

A: No shore/underwater expected for Oldtown, but there is always a chance of stuff underground. Oldtown is not near the lake. Any underwater would be subterrain or weird dream sequences.

Q: What are your long-term goals for the game? There's so much content already, and you're ever-expanding it. I know there's the oldtown quests coming, and you have plans for an ultimate end to the main quest line.

A: There's cybernetics to get out before Oldtown. There's another block of content that could be rolled out in a world event. Maybe Oldtown before that. Still 3ish stages in the main quest after that (downtown, ??, ??). Downtown might end up being 2 quests. Final reincarnation stuff eventually. Then more paths through the main quest line, eg. option to kill Hel, etc. More net stuff, pvp stuff, going after other people that you don't have to go after to complete the main quest. Bringing people to justice. Also, two little zone revamps [southside park, abandoned sewers?], but not tied to anything else.

Q: Also, what would you say is the single eartlhy item with the largest amount of stuff left to discover?

A: It's something under the stolen artistry. One of the "branches". Several branches have stuff but this one is massive. (On a later podcast Kinak confirmed he had the jade amulet/Winged Hunter content in mind here.)

Q: Which of our contacts is/was your favorite to write?

A: Vigilante. Enjoyed the recording, changing personality as he discovered things. 05Cleaner is cool too.

Q: Is fishing xp random, or do you "get better at fishing" when you hit some hidden value (total points value of items caught, number of times fished, etc) or is there some combination?

A: Works like the attributes, where there's the XP and the rating (good, expert, etc), which is tracked. It's not truely random, it's related pretty deeply to where you're fishing. Different areas have caps. There's a lot more to find out in that, but there's not a hidden counter there.

Q: Is there anything you've done in Metroplexity (item, design decision, event, etc) that, in retrospect, you think you could have done better? Or wish you hadn't done?

A: There's always room for improvement. I wish hacking had been a bit more rigourous. That is to say it's a lot of special cases and doesn't draw from the databases as much. Easier to break the code. Also, the Vig quest brick wall led people off track.

Q: Is there anything more to discover about the replica sword?

A: Yyyeeeees. Nothing too exciting but I try to give it a nod when I can. (Later discovered to give extra XP when using a Matsuo Finale with it equipped. The Demonslaying Blade technique was probably added sometime after this podcast.)

Q: Any hints as to the use of the preserved cell culture?

A: It interacts with some of its kindred.

Q: Any hidden content regarding the massive assailant sketch?

A: I think that's been found, mechanically. What that implies story-wise is to be seen.

Q: Is there any real use of the Slammer Bottle?

A: Grants some pvpness, some other exciting things. [typing] Actually, that gave me a good idea. [sound of Kinak updating the database] Something really obvious that the broken bottles should have had that they didn't have when they were put in there. Not intended to be the most amazing this, just an easy way to get +pvp or powdered glass.

Q: Any chance of implementing etheric lego bricks we can use for fun?

A: Not surprising to get something like that eventually. Modular designs are cool.

Q: Will we eventually gain the option of paying to expand the size of our apartments?

A: Yes, that's one of the many things that are on the 'whenever I have time' burner. Currently 3 slots. Before you can upgrade to 4 or 5 slots, I want it to be a meaningful choice, so we need more furniture.

Q: Are you planning on adding non-sushi food crafting options (aside from occasional specific chemistry combinations)? There are probably some deep fryers that could fit in our apartments, and if county fairs are any indication you can deep fry anything. Can't be much worse for us than Eclipse.

A: Yes, actual cooking is planned. Need actual cooking ingredients first though, so not much available in the lower-classes areas that we've seen so far. More to see through the main quest line. Oldtown will be a step up (though by no means fancy), so maybe then, (or shortly after).

Q: Can I stop watching the Subversion Testing board already? My eyes are starting to hurt.

A: Should be up and running again in a day's effort, but that would push the mirror off by another day.

Q: Will there be a source for more comm dish cores?

A: That seems reasonable.

Q: Also, I like that deep frying idea. A deep fryer sounds like a must for a greasy, run down apartment.

A: I'm not sure how many greasy run down apartments have deep fryers, but I would expect them as an addendum to cooking.

Podcast #20

Q: Are the hungry ooze, crystallized flame, mysterious puzzle, festive hat, torn pants, and other classic unearthly items still on Zack's rotation?

A: Yes, until a "reasonable amount" enter the economy (~500+). It will rotate in 12-item blocks.

Q: Will we eventually be able to craft Hawk's ore into something for ourselves?

A: Intended to, but turned into something different. Might be able to work it into an upcoming project?

Q: Is there more to discover with the toxic octopus eye, toxic crystal and venomous angel? Are they all interconnected in some way?

A: Off the top, there's something that's important with one of them, which will send ripples out for other stuff that's pretty ignored. (Interactions with the Withering Gaze technique and techniques that leave poison discovered much later.)

Q: Is there more that needs investigating with the shrunken head or headless voodoo doll? Can we duct-tape them together?

A: Not related. (it's weird thematically.)

Q: Could I get a hint on how to do the winter forest lake minigame? I have no idea what I'm supposed to do to get an empty shard or how to do it beyond having diving gear equipped.

A: None of the options are wasted, you will have to use every single one (probably). Maybe not every single one, but close to all of them.

Q: Does the Live Wire technique always deal shocking damage? I only ask because the closer form mentions electricity and doesn't say shocking like the standard use. The underwater form also omits the shocking and says it shorted out. Does that mean it deals regular melee damage instead of shocking?

A: Just flavour text (just melee damage)

Some stuff related to T.H.White in game. (sidequest never got added)

Some stuff in hacking, that no one has found, spun off from the [central theme]

Q: Is one of the new conducts, by any chance, "don't get beaten up"? :)

A: Yep.

Q: Do all references to The Four mean Lo, Hel, David and Sif, or is there another organization called The Four too?

A: Can't say anything about the ramblings of madmen, but I don't think you've run into any other groups of four people. […] It's more of a "3+1" to "get the symmetry to work right" but no one's found it. Well, maybe someone's found one of them. But no one's gone back and found the other.

Q: Anything left to find with the list of names/urban lore skill?

A: Nothing huge huge, but some small huge. Eg. a game object. (The Smoke Talons technique was later found. Not sure this is what he had in mind.)

Q: Do the Midgard Player recordings drop with a particular trigger or is it random? The interval between recordings seems very variable (sometimes it takes 2 fights, sometimes 40+).

A: As with most things in the game, it's partially, but not entirely random. eg. a check if (stat > random(10, 50)) then (reward). (Not easily spadable, but makes it harder to optimize all the fun out of the game.) If Kinak remembers correctly, the random factor is pretty small for the recordings and is repeated with each check.

Q: If I'm remembering correctly, you said that parts of it are not fully obtainable when it launched - we needed stuff from content yet to be released (with the survivors quest?). Is it now obtainable, and is the thing that wasn't released been found yet? It looks like we're missing some base code parts still.

A: Yes, and had been found. Pretty sure we're not missing any base code parts. Hm. It's possible no one's tried it, but pretty sure it's been found. (The protein database was the thing.)

Q: Do the high level s-seeds (suspicious seed, sniper seed, etc.) lead to anything? "Seed" implies it would, but I haven't been able to find anything.

A: Yes, they are not the top level. For reference, there are 35 music buffs in the game, most (~half?) of them related to the player. A lot are pretty cool!

Q: How many messages/bug reports do you get on a regular day? How many on a day when new content rolls?

A: 0-3 normally; 5-20 on content days, depending on bug testing.

Q: Is there a way to switch zones in the mirror once you've picked a contact (short of resetting)?

A:(thinks if he wants to tell us…) The usage of the mirror in/post run is very different, so yeah.

Q: Would some kind of quest to receive omnimall access in-run be out of the question?

A: Yes, no omnimall. (Abusable) Probably never going to add a "casual" path though metroplexity.

[I asked for Omnimall in run access because, I reset a few days after the mirror came out (to get a different mirror season), but wanted to continue trading shards with people in other seasons to continue spading the mirror. I realize that it would be overpowered for the other parts of a run though. Mostly just wishful thinking. :) ]

Q: Is there any gameplay difference for intimidating or rushing Saber?

A: Yes.

Q: I think the idea of skills or items that you can only get by reseting a few times is really cool. Currently, the twisting silver blade is the only item I can think of that uses this mechanic though. Any plans for more? Any out there we haven't found?

A: Yes, there is one that haven't been found (not technically a skill or item though). And maybe a couple more floating around. Something coming out tonight? [cybertech lab] More stuff once (non beta) reset goes in.

Q: Has it been long enough to release another hint for how the elegantly torn pants work?

A: Use some of the patchings.

Q: strange ore + protein analyzer + empty injector = strange new skill?

A: Don't think so, but he does like putting weird stuff in the empty injector.

Q: Was the context-free hint "order matters" that you gave a couple of podcasts ago a hint about how to get the Warrior of the Seas skill, or did you have something else in mind?

A: Don't remember, but it certainly could have been.

Q: Also, when you mentioned a couple of podcasts ago that one of the discussion pages was only a few percentage points off from how to get a skill, were you talking about this post about light on the royal orb discussion page or something else?

A: Much older one, about a different skill that hasn't been found.

Q: Is the Firetamer skill realistically obtainable now, or would getting it require resources that don't really exist in-game yet?

A: Kinak would be pleasantly surprised if anyone could get it, don't think anyone is trying to do what they would have to do to make it work, but even then, don't we have the tools yet. A lot of stuff has been added recently though that might help.

Q: Any chance Zack could have the address of the subversion testing leaderboard (only—not the rest of the Golden Chip site) along with your unearthly items when you reset? It'd be nice if we could keep track of how that's going in-run…

A: Rather not, planning on adding this info to player/gang profiles instead. Maybe, but low priority. Planning on having it like the reset leaderboards. [added Aug 16, 2011]

Q: I notice The Claw has changed to type: Cyber (Cyberarms). Does this mean that cyberware is getting implemented soon?

A: There's another change for the claw too.

Q: I see that I have "Home: Southside" on my character sheet now, which I think is new. Are new furnishings and a house elsewhere in the cards soonish?

A: Isn't really that new. [I never noticed it either.]

Q: Was the series of new armory recipes culminating in the tinker's pistol mostly in order to introduce a base item to craft into the mirror-handled pistol, or is there still unfound content in there somewhere?

A: Mostly just to balance against ranged crafting.

Q: What were the possible endstates of the Virus Event?

A: A range of options, but svn testing and comm dishes were the end goal. […]

Q: Is the Ghoulish Crown and any products thereof the only thing associated with the Grisly Crown Of Teeth?

A: Kind of sure, but each of the items in the book only has one effect outside the book.

Q: Considering that aqua regia is made up of 1:3 parts ratio of nitric and hydrochloric acid respectively. Which would mean fuming acid and powerful acid have to be hydrochloric acid or nitric acid. Which one is which?

A: Fuming is a particular type of nitric acid. Powerful = HCl

Q: Will there be any real future use for in-game aqua regia? Presently it is only usable for playing with gold powder (pretty much useless) and changing around achromatic masses (also useless unless more appear), the only known really good use is to make cracked spores.

A: There is another use, not terribly important, but will add more. Considered it as a technique, but decided not. Needs more code to work. (You can also use it to break down the Coin of the Seasons, Solstice Coin, and Equinox Coin into their component parts.)

Q: What is the purpose of the tracking chip item?

A: It's broken (intentionally), flavour.

Q: Is there any existing use for a paper boat?

A: Will add something adorable.

Q: Why cant we eat destroying angels? Wouldn't a massive debuff and damage be more appropriate or would our character actually die if they were able to eat it?

A: Hilarious, first of all. Most things that debuff you have hidden secondary functions, but the angels don't (currently).

Q: Will there ever be a Gloves equipment slot? Any other equipment slots for that matter besides cyberwear?

A: No to gloves. Vehicle slot eventually.

Q: Any real use for empty champagne bottles? nuts and bolts? Polysteel supports?

A: Souvenirs; flavour to get steel; has uses - comma dishes (respectively)

Q: Is there more content to discover for the polar cable? The haunted bat? The Hammer's sledge?

A: One of those has minor stuff

Q: Will Oldtown be a town by the water? If so then is it salt water?

A: No, and no salt water.

Q: I know it is really early but what are your ideas for the next unearthly item? How can us players help you with it (that is if you want anyone's help in the development process in the first place)?

A: Next month is set. Always welcome to send in ideas.

Q: If we kill enough turrets and salvage enough parts from them, could we eventually be able get our own turret at our apartment as a furniture item?

A: It's a pain to code large complicated crafting stuff, but it would involve a bunch of ingredients, etc.

Q: MK9?

A: Midgard Kinetic 9. MK10s coming soon.

Podcast #21

Shield of scales just came out, working on September unearthly item, polishing up oldtown design, halloween. A couple small content updates, nothing huge. Well, a couple things could be considered biggish, but nothing on the scale of Oldtown.

Q: Is my nutcase plan to get Warrior of the Seas in-run going to prove in any way different from getting it out of run beyond being egregiously difficult?

A: Don't believe there are any skills that change in acquisition for pre/post run. Obviously some will be easier with more gear.

Q: Are any additional cyberware categories planned?

A: No, that is all that is planned. Obviously more items to go in, but those are the slots. Might have another 1 or 2 eventually, but no immediate plans.

Q: Any undiscovered methods (ones that are substantially different, not "talk to X instead of Y for skill Z) of completing required quests? non-required quests?

A: There are a number of skills that haven't been found, most of which come from quests. A lot of branches that haven't come up yet. None(?) on the main quest line. Sidequests are better suited for branching-tree structure with lots of skills. Hard to split it on the main quest line.

Q: How will the oldtown cyberclinics work? Will it cost credits to install or will the installation itself be free but the cyberware cost?

A: Wait and see.

Q: I just failed at a concerted attempt to find a No Evil conduct. Did I mess up somehow, or is there no such conduct? If so, what are your thoughts on adding one?

A: No such conduct, and probably won't add one. The eventual plans for that are at odds with tracking it for a conduct.

Q: Is skill #37 related to the Ship of the Damned somehow, or is it just coincidentally in the same block of skills?

A: No, it's purely coincidental.

Q: On the last podcast you mentioned that there's a sidequest that nobody has found that has been around for a long time now. How many other sidequests are all coded up and implemented but still unfound?

A: Wow, I can't remember that. There's quite a few things that aren't "sidequests" but pretty substantial blocks of content. For example, a fairly substantial block that has two skills associated that no one has even looked towards. (This very likely refers to the nightmares-in-a-jar and the two associated skills, Lord of Nightmares and Slave to Nightmares.)

Q: If you had your druthers, what would you want a leaderboard for a reset season to look like in order to feel comfortable starting a new season? Are you mostly interested in number of runs? Run times? Other factors?

A: Up to the players mostly, but mostly number of runs. Going to be much smaller than season 2 in the future. ~20 runs or so.

Q: As more of the main quest line gets implemented, will cybernetic implants eventually become important enough and easy enough to get that a "no implants" conduct would ever make sense?

A: Might actually get to that point, along with a purity of essence conduct equivalent to the just say no. Not sure how much it will be, but maybe around downtown if not later. If 90% of runs aren't using them, then no. If 90% are, then yes - needs enough to make it a challenge.

Q: Is there some way to control or at least predict which season it will be in your antique mirror in-run?

A: Absolutely. (Pretty sure this is solved. Fractured Reflection zones based on how far along you are on the main questline)

Q: Is there some way we don't know about to speed up the time it takes to charge the Zalian defense tool or Zalian defense system to an upgraded form? If not, would you consider adding one and/or outright shortening the time while it's still in Zack's House of Coins? Right now it's possible to have the item equipped for every fight on day 1 of a reset run and still not have it upgrade.

A: It is neither purely random or purely time based, so yes there are ways to speed it up.

Q: Are there any Easter eggs hidden in the game? (eggs of external references or literal eggs)

A: Considered putting in a literal egg because it would be adorable. Not sure anyone would have found it. Not a ton of references, compared to KoL. There are a couple literary references here and there, but that's about it. Holocaust coat. A lot of projections of current technologies into the future.

Q: What's the back story on the scaled shield?

A: In game, there's a little bit of info from Zack. From a design perspective, the shield-block stuff just went in, and grew from there. It grew in a way that you might find out eventually.

Q: What is your favourite way in the game that we get killed?

A: Probably when the Hammer kills you, wish I could explain more but you'll see eventually. Also the missing hand from the mirror.

Q: How far out is cooking in relation to Oldtown?

A: Not set on what's going to happen there. Not surprised to see it with oldtown, but also not surprised to see with downtown or maybe in between. Generally, the less processed the food is, the better it is. Eg. fresh fruit is good. Either going to do it as an upper class person (kind of as a hobby?) or someone working for an upper class person.

Oldtown status: design pretty much set, about half the art done, going from having eg. a quest log to having specific encounters, opponents, enemies. A ways out still.

Q: Will we ever be able to just kill Mikhail and take over/rob his store? This could be a -very fun- way to get the cooking skill.

A: That would be hilarious. Argeth suggested something for him a couple years ago that I've been meaning to add. Eventually, I'd like everyone to be killable, but not soon.

Q: I know the "direction" the snake will turn at each step, but not necessarily the starting position. I heard there is a reliable way to get to the end of the run (at least the "final step") — if this information is true, then… Is there a way to prevent the poison from getting into your system, or at minimal, stop it from slowing you. Alternately, is there a way to keep the snake from successfully biting you (specifically, an item) Is there a way to predict which direction the snake is actually moving other than improving your perception to 200+ ? IE: is there a hidden pattern I haven't been able to discover, subcomment: Does the first move the snake makes determine the second? the third?

A: You should be able to make it through without getting poisoned. There are definitely patterns within the snake's entire run.

Q: Is there a specific item that will help improve the player's ability to determine the direction the snake is moving?

A: Don't specifically remember, but wouldn't surprise me.

Q: Have all the reflected items been found yet?

A: I think? so. Quite a bit of undiscovered stuff, but reflected items are meant to be pretty easy.

Q: Lastly, Does the "Stand your Ground" option do anything EXCEPT get you killed? Is there an instance in which "stand your ground" will do somthing, or is it just an escape option?

A: Just an escape option. For a while it was bugged.

Q: A recent discovery by Mag about the warrior of the seas showed us just how important and intricate tiny messages can be in the grand scheme of things… namely, the order of certain events… The mirror clearly takes place in 4 seasons and possibly 4 different times. So. Does Order Matter?

A: It can matter. I wouldn't take that as a huge thing though. It matters in one fairly narrow case, so I wouldn't sculpt your life around it.

Q: Are you considering any alternative donation methods, e.g. a discounted subscription rate for automatic monthly donations? I ask because I really want the mirror but I'm not playing the game right now and am having trouble fooling myself into purchasing it.

A: Problems with irregular schedules - if an item is going to be late, I'd rather it late than rush it for people who have subscriptions. Adds overhead to something that doesn't need it. More likely to consider something like if you donate more than x, you get an extra unearthly coin.

Q: Any thoughts on giving out reset rewards on day-turn-skill basis as well as day-skill-turn? (Either giving out 2 of each coin per season, or introducing a separate system of, um, reward dice?)

A: Turns is mostly included as a tie breaker. This allows people to make decisions like if I should craft this or that, and day-skill-energy encourages that. Less focus on avoiding playing the game, more focus on exploring the game. However, I'm open to other types of contests. Like how Happy Yeti had a six conduct run, which is cool. Considering making a tribunal that chooses one run each season that's cool for some reason or another. Purely subjective.

Future: expect one or two more small zone revamps before halloween. Don't expect oldtown til after Christmas, but it's possible to come out november or december.

Podcast #22

Q: Are giant etheric turkeys coming this year? That would be really really really awesome!

A:Spade away!

Q: Urban Lore and Emerald Meditation share the same counter for eclipse consumption. Will there be other skills that share the same counter once skill perming goes in, like the Path of War/Path of Peace for example?

A: Not necessarily those but definitely some others, eg. Stolen Artistry. Also, some skills work really well together (undead scourge and mercy killer).

Q: (Halloween Schedule?)

A: We'll see Emily, Arthur, other old people revisited, other new people. First phase starting very shortly (but no worries if you finish your current run before the 20th), then "halloween-themed" content and unearthly item in the middle of the month, and then dorm doors open 25thish. It'll be the coolest yet with long lasting effects on the game! Designed using the new SBDS (skink-based-development-scheme).

Q: Will panacea pills have more drop locations in the future? Their usefulness makes me want to never use Emerald Meditation. Or, more items which remove negative effects?

A: There's already lots that remove *some* bad effects (eg. broken bone). Maybe Urban Legends Vol 2 someday. As we reach the wealthier areas, more medicine will be available. Designing pants is hard.

Q: Is trauma tech obtainable within a day's worth of energy, if you knew exactly what to do?

A: Yes, well pretty easily, well maybe not, well maybe not if you're from a fresh reset, well maybe. Kind of like Quantum Mechanics - there's a short cheaty way and a long way, though they interact a bit.

Q: Will the oldtown quest consist of four separate quests (depending on the survivor chosen), or will the other contacts come back into play eventually?

A: There will be some overlap, but I wouldn't count on seeing them anytime soon. Eg. several ways to break into the next facility.

Q: Will we see more of the third eye who makes you steal a watch? Will we find out if his name is really Anthony?

A: Could add something there, and will probably see him again.

Q: Will we see more of the Herald of Fire this halloween?

A: Up to the players. (As it was last year!)

Q: How far off is anything going to happen in the webbed building? Creepy spidery awesomeness!

A: Still just placeholder. Maybe for when a future quest makes you go back to the slags, or maybe as a sidequest. Probably the single creepiest piece of art in the game is pending.

Q: Any ideas from Twilight Heroes you want to steal for Metroplexity? Any Metroplexity ideas you want to steal for Twilight Heroes?

A: K likes a lot of their mechanics (eg. wandering villans). (etc.) A lot of the development tools might be useful to share, etc.

Q: Any hint about how to get the Gunslinger conduct? I've tried using a bunch of different ranged techs, using a bunch of different ranged weapons, getting a whole lot of +ranged power, doing a whole lot of ranged damage and nothing seems to work.

A: We might be approaching them like achievements, but keep in mind they are conducts, net-hack style. It's definitely not about doing x damage or something; conducts are more like not doing things.

Q: What could possibly be cooler than the Winged Hunter?

A: One of my favourites - top four or five. Designing more bosses now. Favourite (non-holiday) enemy for a while. K recently added something that's even cooler. (There was code last halloween that involved the hunter - might be reused this year.)

Q: Is the cyborg avatar currently available?

A: Yes!

Q: Is is possible to reduce one's max body to 0?

A: Not yet, all cyberware has not been found, but all slots have been. Still some leaving breathing room to expand.

Q: Is it irrational to hate a tree, or believe that said tree is smug and therefore deserves the righteous burning it keeps avoiding?

A: No, totally rational.

Q: Aaaah! Halloween! Must prepare!

A: Yes, some preparation might be useful. Some liquid credits and high stats and some items stockpiled might be useful.

Q: Anyway, if it hasn't been suggested yet: what about an etheric equivalent of cyberware? Like tattoos or even replacing body parts (like replacing your eyes with squid eyes)? They could even lower you max hunger. (Hmm, this sounds a lot like Planescape Torment, but I swear I didn't just steal it :P)

A: If there were an equivalent to cyberware, it would probably be cyberware. But having weird things like squid eyes is in line with the tone of the game, but probably not before the main quest is done.

Q: There are encounters that are both etheric and choice/non-combat/combat, does the etheric tag take precedence or do effects that give more chance to get a certain kind of encounter stack? So, does, for example, having +etheric and +combat increase the chance for combat, etheric and etheric combat encounters? With the latter getting double the effect?

A: Yes, but might have to take K's word for it. [See Chance Of Encounters for more spady info].

Q: Are people reacting to the Halloween content in about the way you expected?

A: To the extent that it's been released so far, pretty much.

Q: I can pretty safely say that eating an insane number of everything dogs doesn't grant any special benefits. What led you to this wrongheaded decision?

A: There is some code [from sports blog?], but not a ton of content for hot dogs. Hot dog conduct!

Q: Will the Art Museum be open this Halloween?

A: There are plans, but not for halloween. Soonish but take that with a grain of salt.

Q: Will there be potential for multiple factions to 'succeed' this Halloween?

A: More or less, yes. (…)

Q: Will the tome of binding ever be available through an alternate method? Will we find more cultists and libraries in Oldtown or elsewhere?

A: At one point the asylum will open for another quest, and possibly other locations in the city.

Q: Is there currently a way to access the Cyberlab without talking to Boris?

A: No, not yet.

Q: Will new gang warfare areas be differentiated in some way from the existing ones? An area where you can recruit allies to add copies of them to the queue could be quite fun, for instance.

A: K doesn't think it'll be fun/work out. The next (oldtown) pvp area is planned and will be differentiated by bonuses for controlling the area, etc.

Q: Techniques currently care about the type of opposing techniques (e.g. evasive techniques, Longarm), but what about techniques that care about the opposing techniques' distance (i.e. number)? For instance, Longarm is worse against melee, but really it should be bad against Kidney Punch as well. Too complicated?

A: Sure, but not coded yet. Stuck on terminology, but will be trivial to add eventually.

Q: I would recruit so many war-dolphins to defend the underwater gang warfare zone!

A: Underwater pvp planned, but long ways off.

Q: Hardened plastic and ballistic plastic seem to be part of the same "tier" of armory components. But one is almost impossible to get and the other is relatively easy to get. Will you be adding more sources of hardened plastic?

A: Yes, both from the "oldtown" tier of stuff, so more will be seen.

Podcast #23

Halloween: some stuff that I'd wish went better, some stuff I liked, some stuff that went undiscovered.

Q: Are the strange lights in the basement of the dorms something that will come into play before next Halloween?

A: Yes. Not before xmas, probably, but soon. You'll see the events set in motion there before next halloween.

Q: Can you tell us about the things we missed this Halloween? No need to be really specific.
Was there anything you were surprised we didn't find, or came really close to finding?

A: This year there was less of a one side wins, or other side wins. There was something (don't recall if it happened last year) that was 1 or 2 energy away from happening that would have resulted in a very different outcome. Holograms don't do a lot right now - might have to wait a bit. Two ways they could have worked, but didn't quite trigger either. There's always some stuff that you miss, that's just the nature of halloween. Eg. running out of funds, punk stuff, guards dead, "something related to the gates that didn't get triggered", other trivial stuff. The first halloween had 3 parties, and we just chose one. Second one, there were more options, but still interactions. This time, it was very granular - wasn't perfect, but the seams don't show to bad, I think. A few things that I should have made a little clearer.

Q: Have the Incident and the resulting developments hurt or helped Midgard in ways the rest of world would have noticed?

A: Outside of metroplex, it's not a huge deal - lots of major industrial accidents. Eg. like an earthquake here. Used to be a lot more multi-corporal before, but Midgard took the lead after the incident.

Q: I jumped the gun last time, so here it is again: did Halloween go like you anticipated? Did we jump at the right time and dig in the proper directions?

A: Expected one of two things to happen with the holograms, and neither happened. Maybe another world event in early 2012.

Q: I wouldn't dream of asking for specifics, but can you spoil the number of "ending paths" there were? Or are the story effects grouped more like individual events in your mind?

A: First time: 3 endings, Second time, ~18 endings, this time, ~1024 endings. Lots of individual variables. Eg. not quite half of the punch was spiked, which results in the type/amount of punch available at the party.

Q: Do you have any exciting plans for allowing players to show off their neat loot/weird collections? You've mentioned certain mechanics (like the pumpkin bonk attack) were designed to cater to bragging rights.

A: There will eventually be a display case mechanic, obviously with a metroplexity spin. More in-world. Several wide-ranging dependancies that need to go in first. Maybe early next year, maybe early 2014…

Q: I mean, we could do it ourselves the old-fashioned way, but an in-world mechanic (TV program or website) would be more fun — and possibly more annoying. (Gang cultural/fashion warfare… Hmm…)

A: There's actually something that I was thinking about is, (custom avatars and) gang logos for pvp. Logos on gang jackets and whatnot. Not til Puyo is there in person.

Q: Someone said that you had added diminishing returns for food, so that if you eat too much of the same thing, eventually you'll only get the mimimum of the energy range every time. Is this true?

A: Spade it! Nothing has been changed recently. Last thing that's been changed was tracking food consumption for conducts so if it is, it's been there for a while.

Q: Did Janet have a recuperation time after being killed at the party, or did we collectively imagine that the rng just made her not show up for long periods of time?

A: Yes, she didn't show up right away.

Q: Are there any opponents with reactive defense out there? My spading for Janet's defense stats seemed kind of screwy - which might be explained by that.

A: Don't know about Janet specifically, but any stat that the player can have, opponents can have as well. Reactive defense, when unopposed, wolf-mask, etc.

Q: Will we see opponents similar to Janet's level of difficulty in the main questline eventually, or will super hard fights be left for only holidays or optional content?

A: Not be surprised to see a fight roughly that difficult near the end of the main questline. There are going to be people that you might want to kill (but don't have to kill), because they are your enemies. Janet isn't the Ace of Midgard, (not the deuce either). Probably a six or seven.

Q: Care to discuss the plan for reincarnation mechanics? I had assumed that it would be like KoL, where you can perm 1 skill per run and keep it forever, but your recent comments indicate that there might be runs where we can choose specific skills to take or whatnot. How do you envision this working?

A: If there is a mechanic to remember skills (details fuzzy), even if there was a casual (unlikely), you'd still be able to opt out of skills. More likely you'll have runs with a slate of skills chosen for you. Not randomly, but more like the seasonal reset rotation. There are skills you won't necessarily want to have every run. Eg. there's one skill that no one has found that interacts badly with other skills (that people have found). There's also the torso awareness issue from KoL, where permed skills can be detrimental.

Q: Do we need to use hacking at all with the Midgard Player equipped to upgrade the sniper/stalking/etc seeds? I'm still stuck on that! (Though I did find some cool hidden tools!)

A: There's a lot of hacking you have to do, but don't need the Midgard Player to hack.

Q: Can we make tentacle leather? (Argeth's idea) Tentacle Gang jackets sound pretty much like the best thing ever.

A: That is cool… but we might need bigger tentacles. Woven tentacle jackets are not as cool. Might get to fight some huge tentacles one day.

Q: Will larger apartments be available in oldtown? Will this be something we get automatically when we get there, something we have to buy once (like subversion testing), or something we'll have to buy every run?

A: There will be multiple options for housing, some of which won't be purchased. Probably most of them won't carry over from run to run, unless maybe there's some crazy end of reset housing once reincarnation goes in.

Q: Is octopus ink currently craftable? It's a chemistry ingredient, but we can't find anything…

A: Relatively confident that it is craftable. At least one of the recipes might not be what you would think to try. [checks] [evil laugh] [fixes bugs]

Q: Last podcast, you said that there aren't any more planned categories for more cyberware slots. This clearly contradicts your earlier promise of adding a teeth slot with cyberware for the dentures of awesome power. What gives? :)

A: Cyberteeth will live on in our hearts.

Q: It seems like the buried lab has potential for lots of content we haven't found yet. Are we missing a bunch of stuff from there? (Like one of the 4 or 5 missing skills promised from the survivors quest!?!)
A: I think people are looking entirely the wrong place for those. Need to be thinking sideways. Buried lab needs a revamp at some point. Art request needed. Unless you're talking about the buried lab before omega order, then there is some stuff to find.

Q: Some antique mirror questions that have been bugging me for a long time: Is it actually possible to climb the blooming tree in spring as the text suggests?

A: It is definitely possible to climb the tree… not sure about spring.

Q: Is there any way to switch which mirror zone you are in without resetting? If not, would you be amenable to adding some way to change mirror zones while remaining in post-run?

A: No and no. It's not intended to be a choose which one you want everyday thing, it's intended to be set.

Q: On character history: how different does the character look from before he or she was an unkillable possibly cybernetic possibly etherically powered murder machine? Just enough so that someone who knew them before and after wouldn't recognize them, or that even super Zaibatsu face scanning software wouldn't pick anything up, or is it all the magic smoothing everything over?

A: That is not very answerable on a broad level. For the most part, people would be recognizable, but not a sure thing. If you know why people are that way, you'll understand the vagueness now.

Q: Is Janet an earlier or later model? She's obviously tougher than The Hammer.

A: She is stronger than the hammer in the same way you are stronger than the hammer - better toys, more XP, etc. She doesn't hold any kind of high position in the hierarchy. She's no super-prototype.

Q: Will the old subway come back?

A: Probably not. It's as much a revamp as anything else. More new stuff eventually. I actually could, but no reason to.

Q: Is the wolfskin belt intended primarily for resetting, or is there a bunch of aftercore-related stuff we have yet to discover about it?

A: Intended primarily to be awesome. One coin stuff is utilitarian, two coin stuff is awesome and has a bunch of content. There is some cool aftercore related stuff in there, but not really designed to have a specific purpose.

Q: The VIP Third Eye in the VIP Room "pauses, seeming to expect a specific answer from you." Is it possible to learn and give him the answer he's expecting, or is that text just for flavor?

A: Wow. (I didn't notice this for a while, but most of the books have the spine on the right side.) I don't think there's any way to know what he's expecting (yet), and wouldn't do a ton if you did.

Q: Is there any way other than using a panacea pill to get rid of the exceedingly nasty Rasping Teeth effect currently implemented?

A: I'd not be surprised if there were. There are a lot of things that remove various buffs and de-buffs. Not very well spaded in general. Rasping teeth is not in a category that is easy to remove, but if there was somewhere that was appropriate, I'd add it. Belongs to a "class" of buffs (like ruptured organs) that are only removable as a whole with the panacea pill, probably.

Q: How did The Mick cross the transludic barrier to enter Metroplexity as Big M?

A: […] In the main questline, you'll probably meet Big M in person. Probably not someone you'd want to take down in a fight. He's one tier down from the highest-end near-unkillable bosses. There might be encounters like that where there are super hard fights eventually. [Thoughts on monster level progression in roleplaying games.]

Q: Is there special content for the other Abandoned Subway gear, like with the Ancient Timepiece?

A: There is some content left to be found. Stuff in the subway as well.

Q: Chuck: Is he belts?

A: It's an open question at the momement. No one has seen him since about when the belts came out. If you guess that he's related to the process somehow, that's pretty reasonable assumption. It will come up eventually.

Q: In the event that you must invoke the powers of Vauge-Man on that one, can you at least tell us if we missed content relating to him?

A: Not… much. There's a very minor thing, but no face to face meeting.

Q: It occurs to me that we know next to nothing about what personal networks or gang networks do. If you have a comm dish they probably give better feedback about what goes on in gang warfare. But that is information you can get if you take a look at the logs, without any cost of energy. They probably give better results when using programs like Unstable Integrator or Integrated File Scan. But those haven't been in the game for too long. I think we are missing something fundamental.

I put together a few questions which might help us spade it in the next decade or two.

First, do we have a chance to find anything without…

…having the biggest personal network? A: Not required.
…having the biggest gang network? A: Not required. More data points = better spading.
…being the player who is listed on the Subversion Testing page for being the most active on the previous day? A: ditto.
…having said player in your gang? A: ditto.
…having one or more hubs? A: ditto.
…having control or full control over one or all areas in normal gang warfare? A: ditto.

Next, what to look for?

Bonuses or modifiers showing on the character's bonus page
Bonuses /not/ showing up on the character's bonus page
Some undiscovered encounters or items
Unknown skills or effects
Something Net related
Something not Net related
Something in normal Gang Warfare
Something in Net Gang Warfare or GTST related
Now to some more or less unrelated questions:
Do we have found everything about the Integrated File Scan?
Is the Integrated GangFinder a digital personal comm dish or does it have additional functions, too? Not that we really know what a comm dish does….
Do holograms or projectors have any function outside of Halloween or Halloween preparation?

That is a good list of stuff to look for. Doesn't work very well to have things like "+1 perc for each % of the number of site you have" mechanically.

Q: Do we have found everything about the Integrated File Scan?

A: Some more stuff to be found, and other related things.

Q: Is the Integrated GangFinder a digital personal comm dish or does it have additional functions, too? Not that we really know what a comm dish does….

A: It's pretty cool. Might never be spaded.

Q: Do holograms or projectors have any function outside of Halloween or Halloween preparation?

A: They will. Situations weren't right on halloween for them to stabilize. Leaving that open makes halloween more interesting, and potential for more plot points later.

Some small changes in yesterday (with doctor suit), little things here and there. Oldtown unlikely this year. Christmas coming up. Event coming up early next year, "like the virus event but better managed".

Podcast #24

A: Is Kinak evil enough to taunt us with a fishing area you can't actually fish at, or is Kinak evil enough to make some super complicated way to let you fish there. Either way, Kinak is evil.

Q: Is there a base code for the Midgard Player that hasn't been found yet?

A: Everything has been probably been found. New stuff is added periodically, but nothing that interacts with the main puzzle.

Q: Is there anything hidden in the homemade laser / dual laser?

A: Nothing yet, but it would be useful to have one on hand.

Q: There doesn't seem to be any interaction with Poltergeist Spark in the Squatter's Refuge. Oversight or intentional?

A: I don't think there is the right type of encounter there (so likely intentional).

Q: What happened to the student that transformed into the Herald of Fire at the 2009 party? Was she one of the people that died that night? Was her body ever found? Did she get taken to the Utgard facility like Emily and Chuck? Something else? Does anyone know?

A: The toga girl is reported dead/missing, as far as official records go (assumed dead), though no body was found.

Q: Do strange eyedroppers have an unlock requirement, or are they just very rare?

A: Has a couple of requirements, nothing too weird. Mostly just rare.

Q: I'm still stuck on gunslinger conduct. I tried not doing a bunch of things (not equipping any non-ranged weapons, techniques, etc.), and still no luck. Am I any closer to getting it?

A: I'd have to check, but I'm pretty sure that they are all not doing things. Don't think too mechanically.

Q: Do Crude Ganger Maps have any use once you've found your way into the hideout, other than paper mache?

A: Don't think so, at least not at the moment.

Q: A lot of people in the game are described as being attacked by invisible etheric phenomena that they can't see (for example the mushroom man can help you attack the gangers invisibly). How come players never seem to be attacked by similar things when we are sober?

A: Not really going to get into it. (It's not that you're not being attacked by them, it's more that you can see them.)

Q: Are the earthquakes on the docks related to the settling of the dorms at all?

A: Yes, but not as you expect. Eg. the dorms aren't built on unstable earth.

Q: Will conducts listed in our profile carry over with Oldtown? - for example, making "Survivors Conducts" and "Oldtown conducts" lists? Mostly wondering if I should be trying to get all the conducts before Oldtown rolls or if I can continue to add to the list afterwards.

A: Probably just leave them as is, but rather undecided.

[Game design discussion <3 ]

Q: Can we intimidate Saber with something we currently know about? Or is there some unknown effect or item required to intimidate him?

A: Should work now.

Q: Should you check for underwater zones for when the Rag Man should show up? I'm not sure how many dark alleyways there are in Lake Metroplex…

A: Might be broken, but he's not supposed to show up underwater. Should be fixed now.

Q: About how much longer till Old Town is ready to be released for testing by your player base?

A: A ways off. Encounter areas are in the process of being worked out, getting art requests, etc. Maybe early next year, but that's total guess. Spending a while to make sure it's quality.

Q: What do you think about the idea of implementing something for your players to do when they are all out of energy? Like a minigame of some sort or something?

A: Probably not. If it has any in-game benefit, definitely not. The energy system is designed to allow you to be on an equal footing with other people, even if you can't play for a long time.

Q: Sometimes I get into chat where there has been a big conversation going on. I try to scroll down to get what I missed only for my scroll bar to move on its own all the way back to the top. So then I have to scroll back down again to try to find the place where I last left off. Why is this a necessary feature of the chatbox?

A: [Chat will be re-coded in ajax someday…]

Q: How will the rewards work for when Old Town is released? Will there be a separate reward for how will a player does on each category: Unique Skills, Depth, Total Skills?

A: There will be a series of rewards, similar to slags rewards. Both based on the amount of effort you put in, and also your placing, probably the same order as the board is. Probably better to drop depth to get more unique skills.

Q: In David's survivor's quest, it is possible to trap the King of the Fae, kill the Ocean King, or even both. Do you foresee doing each of these options as having an effect further into the game?

A: At least one will in Oldtown, and the other could come back to haunt you too.

Q: Why don't the scientists in the second floor of the damaged building within the Slags leave the damaged building? It doesn't seem like a very hospitable place, and it sounds like their experiment has gone to shit by now.

A: The Slags is pretty toxic, and they are pretty sheltered there, so content to stay put.

Q: Not sure if you would remember this, but last year I tried hard to find a non-gang warfare method to getting some fake Christmas trees peacefully. There wasn't such a method last year. Will there be one this year?

A: Still being designed. I consider gang warfare to be a legitimate part of the game so don't rule out that solution. Choices have consequences.

Q: Is there a way to rescue one of those containment suit dudes inside the second iteration of the Charnel House?

A: I don't think so? They're there for a reason, but don't think so.

Q: From what I hear, there are skills to be gained pertaining to each survivors quest. But, I don't recall any skills connected with doing Dr. Amundsen's quest. Is there a skill out there from her quest?

A: There are still a bunch of skills from the survivors, but they are not evenly distributed. For example, one might have 7, one have 2, the others have none. No guarantees that all survivors have skills.

Q: Anything special to be uncovered about the Antique Dueling Pistol or Cabling Nest?

A: Don't think so. The cabling nest is going to be a pet someday.

Q: Obviously, not all items in Metroplexity are going to make "sense." I also imagine balancing equipment stats to be a tricky process. But, I have to wonder, why does the Idoru Nurse have the same Melee Defense rating as the Shield of Scales?

A: Not a big deal, more or less. Too much stuff to compare everything without going insane.

Q: Can something be done with the Unscathed Sketchbook besides totting it around for fire defense or turning it into a Living Sketchbook? Can something be done with the Living Sketchbook besides turning it into the Black Sketchbook by returning it to the artist?

A: There are some things that work off of those; might be some secondary interactions.

Q: Since it came up recently during Quantum Mechanics spading, have you read The Illuminatus! Trilogy? If so, what did you think of it?

A: Yes, one of my favourites.

Q: Any chance we'll be seeing Janet again before next Halloween? We had a lovely relationship, full of lasers and violence.

A: A decent chance.

Q: Also on the topic of Janet, any chance we might eventually be able to learn her Icy Shadows technique? It was painful enough to deal with that it seems like it'd be nice to have.

A: You may already know her icy shadows technique. Ohhhh! You could be using it right now. (Yep. It's Lethal Resolve.)

Q: Does the chance of learning Ragged Dodge go down as you learn more instances of the technique? I started out getting it almost every time, but lately I haven't been getting it at all, from either the bum or the Rag Man.

A: Most techniques have some sort of diminishing returns like that.

Q: Any hints on just how ancient the ancient notes are?

A: Pretty old - paper doesn't crumble to dust very easily.

Q: Who confiscated all the projectors we made for Halloween?

A: We don't know yet… Janet might have them?

Q: Do you ever sit down and play through a complete run? How fast do you go?

A: On occasion, but don't have a ton of time/interest to play.

Q: Is the fast, cheat-y way to get Trauma Tech as much of a shortcut as the fast, cheat-y way of getting Quantum Mechanics? Is the way to do it as, uh, nonlinear? Are there any other skills that have a fast, cheat-y way to get them?

A: Depends how you measure the speed. It is way less non-linear, but you're probably less likely to find it. It's maybe not the way people expect. Some of the undiscovered ones are tricky to get.

Q: The new premium neural recordings seem to be intended to address complaints about power level imbalances in gang warfare. Do you have other changes planned, or do you want to wait and see how things shake out now that there's a mechanism for people to catch up a bit to the long-term unreset?


Q: Have the arguments against skill perming made you think twice about putting it in eventually?

A: Not sure that an increasingly large list of skills you can take would be good for the game. (Not decided.)

Q: Shaman staff and its derivatives seem to give XP in exchange for Body. But if you used that Body instead on drugs that give energy, you could generally get much more XP from fights or playing around with the antique mirror or something. Is the apparent underwhelmingness of these drugs (and the tantalizing mentions of remembering past lives in the use text) an indication that we should spade harder, or do safe XP gains look better from your perspective than from where I'm sitting?

A: Yes to all of those. Some stuff is not great and some stuff is going to be better. If stuff were buffed to the point where people liked it as much as energy, it would be broken. Safe XP gains do have some value, but even if it gave many times the amount of XP you could get from energy, people would like energy. It would be easier to compare them to anything other than energy.

Q: Was it a deliberate design decision to have some of the bonuses from using the elegantly torn pants only show up in the "Bonuses" tab of the character sheet, or was that mostly a coding issue? In the latter case, is that something you've managed to find a way around now? I notice that the bonus from A Reflection of the Path Before You changes dynamically in item descriptions.

A: Not really a coding issue, in that I don't feel that there is a great way to show that. Eg. if it showed the bonus on the patches, what happens when the bonus goes away?

Q: In either case, any hints on where else besides the pants and achromatic gear we might find similar almost-hidden bonuses?

A: There are about half a dozen places, going back quite a ways. Look for item sets.

Q: Do any of the unfound skills have other skills as prerequisites? Or, for that matter, do any have the lack of certain other skills as prerequisites, Vassal of the Seas style?

A: Nitnicky, but it doesn't actually check for skills, it checks for flags which get set when you get the skill. At least two of them are mutually exclusive with other skills you've already found. A bunch of the others are in an entire quest-like group.

[Twilight/protagonists discussion]

Q: I was looking through old devblog posts looking for clues to unspaded content recently and I realized I miss those bugfix/feature roundups. And of course the shoutouts to typo-finders. >.> I know you do podcasts now, and I wouldn't want it to take time away from actual development, but do you think you might do some of those occasionally? It's fun to look at the devblog and see how the game is growing and evolving.

A: Didn't do them during the business that was halloween, but will start again.

Q: Ever plan on making (implementing) some dance-move attacks (techniques)?

A: Perhaps as an unearthly item, martial arts, or something like that.

Q: Do you keep note of everything that we haven't found?

A: Not well, but there are somethings that I nominally keep track of. Some small things get added to the wiki and slip by.

Q: Are you going to make a small new thing appear each day of December? Advent calender style?

A: Things tend to be interrelated, so it's hard to add small stuff. There are going to be some new stuff for xmas though. If anyone has any art that they find out of place, feel free to let Kinak know so that they can be updating with Puyo's much improved art style.

Q: Who is your favorite npc?

A: Like writing Zack's monthly notes. Also Vigilante. Some new people that aren't in yet are probably my actual favourite. Lo is next after Zack.

Q: Animals mainly come through items, or they seem to be robots. They come as small birds and fish, they also come in monster flavors while being etheric. Wildlife still exists outside of the metroplex? Is there (illegal/non-illegal) animal testing?

A: Metroplex is very much a urban area, so the animals you find there are as you would expect (rats, etc.) Seems like there should be some feral cats and dogs. People tend to feel way worse about killing animals than killing humans. Outside of metroplex, almost any natural area is farmland. So you'd see more rats and stuff, probably fewer deer. On a macro scale, a pretty large loss of bio-diversity. Though cloning is much more advanced than it was.

[short discussion of pvp. The high barrier to entry to start pvp is okay; more of concern is getting back into pvp after resetting.]

Q: one university tradition that seems to be absent at Metroplex U is sports: is there a football field, underwater competitive eating pool, or dino-chess arena hidden near campus somewhere?

A: There's probably athletic facilities on campus (which could give a holiday event perhaps).

Q: Are there any plans for meeting more professors? The guy who teaches node-poetry could provide some light-hearted content.

A: Already a ridiculous number of doctors in the game… Wouldn't expect a whole lot of more time on campus until right before the end of the main quest.

Q: Don't remember how often this has been mentioned, but a /count command would be a godsend. I fairly regularly skip choice encounters because I don't remember whether I have enough of a particular item to spare.

A: Don't think it's been asked before, should be possible.

Q: Also sorry if I brought this up before, but what's the status of religion in this setting? We've got the Blind Legion and the Third Eye, who both seem to practice pretty marginal religious activities, but there's no sign of more mainstream religions (despite all predictions about its decline turning out to be completely false up through 2011 at least). Is this intentional setting design, avoidance of a controversial subject, or just one of the multitude of topics you haven't had time to address yet?

A: In general, it doesn't really affect your day-to-day interactions with others. Unless/until it comes into the main quest line, it won't really come up. Not an intentional aversion to it. The effects of eclipse on a highly religious person might be interesting. Might get a bit more about the Blind Legion before xmas.

Q: Is there a reason the wandering student says "Z?" as he drops a castor capsule in your hand? If so, are there clues in the game that allow players to guess at the reason? Y the Z?

A: I think you could probably piece together what that means. You'll run into that at some point in the future.

[more discussion]

Next up: Christmas

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