January 15th, 2012

Review – That Cheap And Sacred Thing

The title screen

That Cheap and Sacred Thing is a kinetic visual novel, meaning if you bang on the enter key long enough, you’ll get to the ending. There are no branching paths, it’s like an electronic storybook.

What attracted me to this was the description of androids, male androids. I loves me some androids as they are uncommon compared to the gynoids that seem to populate everything. I can name very few pieces of art that have androids as a central character, but can name tons and tons of things with gynoids as a central character.

This novel didn’t disappoint me. Jude is the android in question and he’s a sex worker (or sex slave considering his status to serve humans) which is a double rarity. That’s what got me to download this as I don’t usually like kinetics.
The story is a simple one about robot love between Autumn and Elly, her MyPal that had to be destroyed. Jude comes in when her well meaning friends decide to buy her a sex toy (which is Jude’s function basically) for her seventeenth birthday.

The Good: The story was very emotional and the characters were well realized. The only one I felt that didn’t get too much of the spotlight was Rick. I liked his design the best :3 I also like the fact that nobody said anything disparaging against Nadiya and her love of AmorBots. The ending was satisfying and even the stinger wasn’t disappointing and added to the wrapping up of the story versus setting up a part two. The ending it should be noted, is quite emotional and might leave you crying or at least tearing up. So, don’t go into this novel if you want to feel happy/spunky afterwards.

The Bad: The world is very… sad. It seems even in the future men haven’t been taught to not rape people, thus women are assigned the MyPals and GuardBots. Even worse is that the male AmorBots are basically taught to rape women by coercing them into sex despite the fact they’ve already said no. Jude forcing the issue of sex. Jude does this to Autumn even go so far as to whining about it. If robots are to serve humans I would like to think that they’d program in the “No means no” and start to execute some other program. Maybe romantic cuddling, back massage or something else. It also seems the only reason Jude stops is because of the “error” that Autumn triggers in robots. This is stated in the “bonus” section of the novel. Bonus section stating that: Jude is concerned with romance and a good orgasm, so his love manifests by putting the moves on Autumn.
It’s something that seems to plague Sci-Fi novels and games, that humans can’t get over socially constructed behaviors such as that. (David Weber does it too and oh boy is it worse >.<)

The Extra: I’m wondering if the author knows about Phantasy Star Online and the CAst character :3 As CAsts are androids and TCAST and yes, my mind went there. Just an observation as I played a few CAsts in my day. (*sniff* Dannie ;^;)

The Nitpick: The music I felt wasn’t that good. At least one in particular I wanted to mute (Happy Mood). The rest were too short and the looping was a bit repetitive. Which some scenes can get a bit long. Having longer and more varied pieces would probably have been better. However the ending song was most appropriate. Another nitpick is that the sprites jump a couple pixels when they emote. I don’t know if that was intentional, but from other visual novels it seems that staying in place is the norm.

July 24th, 2011

When the Server Goes Down: Death of a Character

Recently I wanted some nostalgia, so I wanted to pick up playing Phantasy Star Universe. I didn’t know that the server was offline, but found out after it wouldn’t connect.

Dannie the male CAST on PSU that I can no longer play.

Lest to say I was sad, but it bring up a good point about MMO games. What of those characters that get left behind?

Most MMO games people pour hundreds if not thousands of hours into them and don’t even think that the server will ever get axed. Most can see it coming when the population dies down and servers get consolidated. However there’s always the “I put money into this, it can’t die.” Then find out, it does and it did.

So, what happens after the server is gone. That character that became your life is gone for good, you can’t visit them anymore, or visit the land in which they reside. You can’t get back all the frustration and accomplishments you experienced together.
Some people would want some form of compensation. “I spent X hours in here and you do this to me?” Some would beg, plead, and petition to reopen the server or to have the code transferred into a private server.

With Phantasy Star however, SEGA has usually been good about giving the server code to people so they can open up again. The GOOD thing was that in PSO (Phantasy Star Online), characters are stored locally, the offline character was the online on. In PSU however the single player and online player are different. Meaning I will never, ever be able to play THAT Dannie again. Everything I achieved with him is gone. I was also one story mission away from a complete story.
There have been attempts to create a private server, however the Japanese server seems to be online (could be offline) and the 360 servers are definitely online. The PC servers were regionally separated (which lead to the demise) while the 360 ones are combined.  Which is why SEGA probably isn’t releasing the code.
However the new private PSU server is buggy and certainly doesn’t have all the missions up yet. Which is what you have to put up with when these things happen.

Another MMO server went down for a game I played however briefly. Kitsu Saga. The difference here is that Kitsu was a Free 2 Play VS Phantasy Star’s Pay to Play Online. The difference here is that you bought items on Kitsu Saga. You can no longer now play with that item or interact with that item. It’s GONE. That thing you specifically paid for. GONE.
Aeria Games DID give refunds for prior 60 day purchases however, before that, gone. This strikes me a little differently. Before I was paying to just play the character and access the server. Here I was paying for a specific item and now that item is gone. I’d probably want compensation in the form of “points” if I bought ANYTHING, considering the attachment I would have had. However that is not to be so. They can’t make money constantly giving away free points.

Overall Losing my PSU character was a heartbreaking experience and it’s one that people need to keep in their mind when playing MMO games. That their hard work and the money put into them, can vanish at any time. It might make some people think twice about playing such games, or it might make people support the game more just to keep the character around.