• Member Since 12th Feb, 2015
  • offline last seen 10 hours ago

Petrichord


Have you any dreams you'd like to sell?

More Blog Posts106

  • 4 weeks
    JINGLEMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS 2021!!!

    Yeah, I know, I'm like a week late with this announcement. I'm aware that I've been getting more and more scarce on here, but that doesn't mean that I'm not interested in some Fimfic events from time to time - and this is certainly, certainly no exception.

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    1 comments · 39 views
  • 12 weeks
    Commissions are closed

    I was in a strange mood yesterday, forgive me for that.

    Still don't know what I really want to do with my writing anymore. Still struggling.

    Sorry about this, y'all.

    2 comments · 56 views
  • 12 weeks
    Open for Commissions!

    Need something to kick my butt into gear, and I figure this is the best way to hold myself accountable.

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    5 comments · 56 views
  • 13 weeks
    A Brief Break from Brief Histories

    Went to start touching up my Brief History of West-Equestria before posting it.

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    3 comments · 53 views
  • 13 weeks
    A Brief History of Ost-Equestria

    Depending on how you define it, the history of Ost-Equestria is either very short - a mere twenty-four years - or quite long indeed, a saga spanning back since the dawn of ponykind. The races of Ost-Equestria tend to take the latter interpretation; in other countries on Equus, the former interpretation is generally considered the correct one. But, whatever the case may be, the causes leading up

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    0 comments · 56 views
Jan
19th
2021

This video game compels my negative urges and I love it · 10:13pm January 19th


Unrelated Gallus, but Gallus is great so here you go anyway

This isn't entirely a blog about video games. The site gets a lot of those, and they aren't necessarily fun to read - if nothing else, they're self-indulgent.

Neither is it entirely a blog about politics. The site gets a lot of those, and they tend to inspire lots of vitriol, justified or not.

Neither is it entirely a blog about how simulated wanton violence feels viscerally satisfying. Saying that wouldn't be saying much, and again - video games and etc. etc. etc.

And yet I'm going to be talking about all of that to a certain extent. I'm going to talk about things i do when not at work, taking care of other life business or am at a point in time when i generally feel unable to function. It's going to be about a video game i've played a lot recently - specifically, a mod for a video game that's called The New Order: Last Days of Europe.

And I can safely say that this mod is one of the best video games I have ever played, among all genres. And that is not hyperbole. And, yes, even when my general impulses are benevolent, it encourages me to do morally compromising things in ways that justifiably make sense.

And that's brilliant.

So what is TNO about? Well, the core game it's based on - a game called Hearts of Iron 4 - is a wargame set in WWII, which gives you the chance to play one of dozens of countries and try to battle for control of...whatever you feel like. It's WWII. The mechanics are fairly simple once you've got the grasp of them, there's some variety and it's not a terrible way to kill time. But, after playing some of the mods for it - mods which go above and beyond to completely restructure the game itself - I can't imagine ever playing the base game ever.

It also has a mod called Equestria at War, which is probably more relevant to fimfic in general. EaW is one of those mods that's got so much content in it that the devs for the original game admitted that it's better than their own and very fun indeed. If you're gonna start with a mod, consider starting there.



So what's TNO about, then? Well, it's a Cold War-set game, for starters: No real direct war happens between the major powers (proxy wars still exist, though) due to the fact that global thermonuclear war would inevitably happen as a result. It's also set in an alternate history universe where due to a series of factors starting back from about 1920 onward, the Nazis actually end up winning the european front of the war - as a result, the AU's set in a cold war between the Grobgermanisches Reich (Nazi Germany and its various subjugated territories,) the Co-Prosperity Sphere (Fascist Japan and its various subjugated territories,) the Organization of Free Nations (the United States and...honestly, they might as well be called subjugated territories) and all the other various countries caught in the crossfire as a result.

There's a lot of detail that's gone into the backstory and the game's setting, and the developers have made it very, very clear that our world - or an alternate version of it - would have to be pretty crappy to actually enable a nazi victory, and that nothing good could come out of a nazi victory even for the nazis; a government as thoroughly inefficient and unable to engage in progressive policies or societal structures as nazi germany wouldn't be able to last longer than a few decades of peacetime before collapsing under its own weight, if that. The earth of that universe is one that has a very clearly defined evil - one willing to engage in absolute repression, a slavery-rooted economy and the institutionalization of xenophobia and violence - and that there is nothing about Fascist governments in the game's timeline or our own timeline that could possibly be considered good.

And yet, the opposition of such absolute evil doesn't become good by default. And this crops up not even in obvious methods - though some obvious evils exist - but in subtler ways encouraged by morality and game mechanics themselves and that can be hard to step back from and realize until the game's been shut off and idly thought about a few hours later.

Core to this is the game's concept of Focus Trees. Think of them like the Technology Trees in other strategy games, but for governance: They give you bonuses (and sometimes maluses) and highlight the ways in which your country shapes itself. In the base game, focus trees are fairly simple and cover clear-cut and large-scale differences, like seeking patriation from a dominion or enforcing national programs. In mods of the game, and particularly in TNO, they get more interesting.

Want an example of an obvious evil in a culture tree? Let's take a look at the Nixon Presidency - in game, he wins election in 1960, and since the game starts in 1962 the impact of his legacy so far is represented by a few of his decisions having already been made for you. Like so:

Note: "Toe the middle line" means "Remain noncommittal and hope the problem resolves itself." Which, demonstrably, it very much doesn't. And Nixon gets the opportunity to flat-out veto the civil rights act in order to preserve his voting base in the deep south and maintain Dixiecrat support. Good going.

But what about Subtlety? Well, let's take a look at another one of his confirmed decisions, and where to go from there:

I'm not going to argue whether or not Containment theory is inherently good or inherently bad - that's not the point of the blog. But what is the point is in the best way for America to resolve the issue of "Where the heck do I go from here?" Because while arguments can be made for the character of the USSR during the cold war, there's pretty much no argument that could possibly made in good conscience for Hitler or any other supporter of his system.

So what can you do? Well, you can do nothing, if you don't mind Germany taking a better shot at stabilizing itself or pulling itself out of its death spiral. Or, y'know, deciding to invade or plunder more countries in order to sustain itself for a little longer. Why stop at europe, when they could push further eastward and lap up the resources that the horribly fractured remnants of what used to be called Russia couldn't possibly hope to defend?

Or America could try and take the fight directly to a nuclear power. Because that would totally end perfectly nicely without any repercussions whatsoever.

Or you can help other, smaller countries out with their general idea that "Yeah, Nazi Germany is pretty bad (and so is fascist Japan)." Bolster them up a little, stabilize their economies, help them defend themselves better. If Germany decides to plunder them even harder, well, at least they'll be able to slow them down a little more - hell, maybe they'll even be able to convince Germany that continuing to fight them isn't worth the resources!

And before you know it, becoming the Arsenal of Democracy makes a lot of sense. Emphasis on "Arsenal."

Take a look at the tree again. The "Smashing the Crested Wave" options? That's for making sure that Japan's repressive and exploitative empire doesn't grow further out of check. "Cracking the Steel Curtain?" That's trying to make sure that Germany won't try to start expanding like a cancer all over again. But, again, directly attacking nuclear powers isn't an option - you've got to try and get other governments, or the population of other countries, to be your friends. Friends that are willing to fight for freedom. Fight for you.

And that's when it makes sense to bolster your potential friends in Europe. Any chance of occupied England having a resistance willing to throw off their nazi shackles and reclaim the country? They're gonna need guns. They're gonna need key individuals supported in the right places. They're gonna need contacts in the black market to help them get more of the above in case your shipments start getting screened.

And Africa? That place where large swaths of the country are overseen by Reichskommissariats? Well, as long as South Africa is free(-ish,) they're going to need to have their economy propped up, too. They're going to need to have procedures in place to get help from the yankees in case the tenuous peace between them and Reichskommissariat Ostafrika gets shattered when the already-heavily-rewarded Hans Hüttig decides that he needs even more of the African pie. They might even need advisors.

India? Trade ties to get a potential ally in the pocket, for when Japan inevitably starts courting them. Indonesians opposed to the Japanese regime? They're gonna need butter and guns for when they invariably decide that enough is enough. The Phillipines? The more destabilizing influences, the better; a small shake-up might not bother Japan too much, but a big one might actually disturb Ino Hiroya's detestable reign.

But that's still not going to be enough. If you don't keep the pressure constant - subtle, but constant - they might actually withstand the test of their overtaxed empires and come back stronger. If only J. Edgar Hoover and his boys could help out!

Oh, wait. Nevermind.

Every country gets focus trees, after all - but that's not enough. So when you need a little something extra, you make room for a little extra. A little national debt never hurt anybody - especially not compared to a modern kingdom founded on genocide and supported by brutal repression.

Serbian rebels are going to need arms, too, and the right networks to smuggle them in there. So are Polish insurrectionists and Hungarian dissidents. What about the far east? Well, Korean people on the whole are obviously not going to be happy about being puppets to the Dai-Nihon Teikoku. And good lord the chinese aren't, either - especially not in the kingdom of nightmares that Kishi Nobusuke's running in Manchuko. Angola's got its fair share of freedom fighters down in africa, too, and Egypt's always a crapshoot when it comes to Alliances. and what about Iran? Who's going to look out for Iran if not for you?

And eventually you realize that at least arms dealers are giving away weapons of destruction for money. At least profit is their incentive. You? You're paying time and resources into shipping weapons all over the globe and preparing dozens of countries for war. Because the alternative isn't an option.

And encouraging the player to be an accessory to virtual violence on a global scale - but doing it on their own terms, for logically sound reasons, while reminding them that their promotion of warmongering is for what they can tell themselves is the greater good given the options set out before them?

That's delightfully devilish. And it's not the only thing that I love about the game, but it sure as hell is one of them.



I'll stop gushing for now. But I'm always up for gushing more elsewhere - a future blog or the comments section, or wherever else folks might like it. I'll make sure to answer questions and take screenshots, too. Lots and lots of screenshots.

Comments ( 2 )

Hey, I'll quote someone I know
"Nothing wrong with gushing."
I've never played, but you make me want to. Maybe we can play together if there's multiplayer, I have no clue!

Huh, that sounds fascinating. I have a friend who plays Equestria at War; I’ll have to ask him about this mod

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