2023 Retrospective

This year, I learned that the best writing space is the quietest place in your home. Anything else; trains, planes, hotel rooms, those only count if money isn't an immediate concern, and you don't need to worry about your next destination.

I can only assume that YA fiction author who suggested taking a cruise ship to write a novel never, ever had a bad experience on a cruise ship. That's impressive.

In the first half of the year, I got the most writing done despite being frequently overwhelmed, perhaps because it was an escape. For the second, I was focused on non-fiction tasks initially on fears that more potential sources would disappear. From Fall to the remainder of the year, it was simply easier to follow existing leads rather than try to come up with new ones.

Devil Children

The Planner Q&A article got the most attention in the past year, initially on account of playing through the PlayStation version of Red Book with Raindare, later as more leads were found between a nexus of Wayback Machine preserved fansites, Mixi, credits from YouTube videos and websites, and Twitter.

Initially there was the problem of decoding the planner's tweets when he uses shorthand frequently to describe events in game. For instance, "Black Courier" refers to a minor character at the beginning of Black Book who delivers Setsuna's summoning gun, or how Ringo and Tsubomi aren't described as mothers until a response to a follow up questions begins "why is my mother buried in Sand Land". What ends up really tying these bits together is the Devil Children manga, which for all its tonal deviations from the game, leans on the planner's version of in-game events more often than not.

Once finished, I was curious about following up on loose ends in a manner similar to Marathon's Story speculative posts. The connection between Persona 3 and Devil Children from a devil design standpoint wasn't something I realized until between Yogiri's tweets and the credits it became clearer that one of the creative leads didn't even have their name spelled correctly in the in game credits until the lesser-known Game Boy Advance entries. Life of a contractor, I suppose?

Eventually I had enough notes about goings-on that didn't make sense to put in the Planner Q&A article to create something new, leaning more on the content of tweets themselves than summarizing and linking as sources, which became the Hideaki Fujii article. There's a story there about creators interacting with their fans, and fans giving back in return, that I really wanted to surface. I'm pretty proud of how this turned out.

D2 Megaten

This is in an odd state where I regularly write material here on bits that I don't think are well covered elsewhere, but it's also the most time consuming section to contribute stuff to.

Case in point, each of these story/quest transcriptions take at least a full day of transcribing to finish. These aren't data mined, these are literally coming from me opening up the game, tapping through screens, and determining if the dialogue options change when I make different in-game decisions. And that's assuming that we're looking at about ten "chapters"; the quests frequently exceed or approach thirty.

I've assumed that someone else on YouTube might be documenting these bits as well or better than me, only to find that one of the major sources was taken off YouTube in the past month. Well. I guess that's the nature of digital material. Easier than ever to copy, though it decays faster than anybody expects.

I suppose if the game has a shutdown notice I'll be trying to capture more of the highlights before the game goes down for good. The game's solid, known pitfalls of "free to play" business models included. It's just an ephemeral experience that we can only do so much to capture before it's gone.

(The Cancelled) Princess Maker 4

Another spinoff from the Devil Children material.

Do you know how hard it is to make any kind of sense of Gainax's spinoff businesses, and just how poorly most of the internet documents or adequately sources this space? Even the documentation around the 2000s Evangelion games feels like a hot mess.

Dates are frequently wrong, major bits of information lack primary sources for citations, sometimes the primary sources claim knowledge completely different than what's written in the wikis themselves (including Wikipedia!), and the few bits captured from ancient blogs on the Wayback Machine often directly contradict what's treated as fact on Fandom and Giant Bomb wikis. It's a mess, I'm sorry.

I'd blame it on bits being lost in translation, except the Asian internet that remains doesn't even do a good job of distinguishing between CyberFront (RIP) and Gainax matters. So it seems, like all things software, the written record is inadequate worldwide.

The best sources I've found are social media musings from former rank-and-file staff. This isn't new or even exclusive to Gainax. It does recall something from journo-days past where the best knowledge comes from folks who aren't public figures, who aren't laser focused on selling you a product.

Somewhere in there is the beginnings of an article chronicling Ninelives, LLC. I'm not sure that I'm the one to write it or that the right location is here, as a good part of it in its latter days leans on adult software that's a direct extension of Gainax's early days in PC games. I'd be interested to read it, if it ever came about.

Fan Fiction Again?

The first work that Raindare and myself did was a series of shipping fan fiction based on a pairing from a commission we received.

While we've redirected efforts since then to do more original (fantasy, uplifting) post apocalyptic content that resembles a certain setting, we couldn't help but notice that Yogiri the Devil Children planner is extremely supportive of derivative works.


Source: Yogiri

Along with his thoughts on magic systems and cross cultural exchange, that's formed a basis for a set of Devil Children fan fiction that takes place some time after Hoshigami re-awakens, avoiding too many specifics of whether this is "game continuity" or "manga continuity". The only bits certain are that this isn't in the same world line as White Book GBC, and it does feature a set of characters who look much as they did in the last pages of the manga.

We'll eventually move beyond Devil Children. The thing is, it's a bit hard not to on account of a friendly and still persevering fanbase, a very supportive mangaka and planner, and the general dormant state of the setting proper. A fairly unique situation compared to Black/Matrix, Myth, or other properties that are effectively dead and no longer have new fan works.

Let's see where this goes.