I have mentioned this on Twitter, but then I remembered that the thing that puts my Twitter posts on my site hasn’t worked for like three years, and the site is supposed to be my actual repository of PDR knowledge, so I should be mentioning it here. So now I will.
I am, as always, going through financial difficulties. The solution is that I will be going through bankruptcy. While the process hasn’t officially begun yet, I’ve been working toward it for a couple months now. At some point I decided I would start a “bankruptcy beard” which I will not shave until I am through. It has been about a month so far and this is what it looks like.
This is about the longest I’ve been with facial hair in my life, and I will soon be entering uncharted waters. I’ve got about ten months left to go, so lets see how far I can go. And maybe having a beard will probably make the wizards who control the universe like me.
I have had Thoughts on the making of a Superman video game before, but that hasn’t stopped me from having more. In most of the games these days, you don’t get to start at your full power level. It allows for a feeling of progress as you get more powerful as you go. That’d work for a Jimmy Olsen game too (which, as I have said, would be the best game for the franchise to have right now), but I don’t feel like it’d be the best way to go with a game starring Superman.
I think it’d be important to make a person playing Superman feel powerful right from the start. I’d want players to be able to sit down and immediately start flying around Metropolis, I’d want them to be able to do so without having to play an hour to get from jumping to flight. But does that mean the game would lack a sense of progress? Well, I don’t think it has to. What if, instead of upgrading Superman, the player upgrades Metropolis?
The work you put into superheroing actually has a positive effect on the world around you? That sounds like an ideal for the genre to me. I’m thinking that, as you get your experience points or whatever you want to call them, you get to spend them on various causes and groups and such. I can already picture an interface for this being represented by charts and graphs on a Daily Planet website or something.
It could have multiple effects in the game. Maybe at the start there’s a lot of randomly generated street crime, but as you put your Experience Points into the various neighbourhoods of Metropolis, there’s less of that. Upgrade it further and there’s none. Instead of getting additional powers that help you go through areas by beating up the enemies quicker, you can just remove the annoyances altogether. And it would have to have a visual effect too. Empty lots and terrible slums would be replaced by youth centres and affordable quality housing. Litter and hateful graffiti would be replaced with nice plants and beautiful murals. Here’s a flaw to this part of the plan: You’d essentially have to have (at least) two versions of the city. One for the bad neighbourhood version and one for the good neighbourhood version. And you’d have to make the good version more appealing. It wouldn’t be easy, but it could be done.
But I also mentioned upgrading groups in the city, or at least upgrading your standing with those groups. This is harder to spitball, given that I don’t know the story of this hypothetical game, but let’s pretend we’re playing as a Superman who is still relatively new to Metropolis. Maybe early on in the game, while you’re fighting crime, the police still don’t trust you and will attempt to interfere or arrest you. That’d be annoying, right? Well, when you move up in the world you could throw some experience points at the Police and they’ll start trusting you and not interfering. Upgrade it further and maybe you could even issue orders to Police NPCs so they’ll help take out non-supervillain thugs and save innocent people while you’re fighting the bigger threats. Then there’s scientists. Metropolis seems to have a huge community of scientists. If you put points into upping your standing with the general public, maybe they’ll be more likely to help you with information during journalistic-based missions. Maybe if you put some effort into impressing the academic community they can help you by making gizmos or scanning or something. There’s plenty of options here and each type could also open up new side missions to keep things fresh.
But one option I’d want to include is putting points into gaining the favour of Lex Luthor. Doing so would actually open up new powers, with Lex agreeing to make you stronger if you work alongside him. But the catch is, spoilers for a game that will never exist: If you fully go down the Luthor upgrade branch, you get a bad ending where Luthor betrays you, kills you, and uses what he’s learned to steal your powers.
Anyway, I still think the Jimmy game is the best option given today’s technology, but this was fun to think about nonetheless.
The story of Honeystoker appears in a series of Youtube videos by a person named Kruggsmash who makes narrative fiction by playing a game called Dwarf Fortress, to which he adds drawings to the videos that makes the Dwarf Fortress graphics tolerable. Say what you will about the Youtube algorithm, it was absolutely correct when it suggested this to me.
Honeystoker (or Stetargusgash in the native tongue) is a Dwarven stronghold with an important detail: the dwarves living therein are beekeepers! Now, I am reluctant to give away most of the story details for this one. The thing just ended a week or so ago after all. But I will focus just on their beekeeping and see how they rate at the job.
Honeystoker’s dwarves were not that type of apiarists who come from some long lineage of apiarists who have been refining their skill for generations. No, at the founding of this fortress they were complete rookies. They only became beekeepers because the rich patron paying for them told them to (and he had ulterior motives we need not get into here). And admittedly, it looked bad when it took two years for them to make their first jug of honey, but they got better in time and embraced beekeeping with gusto.
They did all the standard things a colony of beekeepers might do, such as making honey, mead, and wax crafts (the latter of which they encrusted with gems to increase their value), and they had cool stone hives shaped like dwarf heads, which is pretty great. But they would also go beyond the standard beekeeping stuff in other ways, such as when they decorated their walls with honeycomb designs and bee statues, as well as one particularly awesome bit of beekeeper-inspired bit of architecture: the hallway pictured above, which is full of stinging spike traps to foil invaders. Definitely the kind of trap a badass beekeeper unit would design.
It has to be admitted that as the fortress grew, they diversified into other industries, so not all the dwarves living in Honeystoker are active beekeepers. But some are. Most notably Zutthan Avuzelis. Zutthan was the dwarf who first discovered the wild bees that began the fortress’s colonies and remained on the job much longer than her companions. She was described as meek and compassionate, but quick to anger, which sounds like a classic case of Beekeeper Rage to me. Zutthan would eventually go on to join the military of Honeystoker and, while not being the kind of unstoppable fighting machine I like to see in a beekeeper, she served well until being wounded, after which she returned to easier tasks, presumably including beekeeping. If everyone in the fortress had given up on beekeeping, they would rate much lower, but Zutthan was true to the job which counts for a lot.
Everything I have described so far could work even for a normal beekeeper, but these dwarves live in a fantasy world, so surely they must have some supernatural talents, right? Certainly! Even before they became successful beekeepers one of them managed to calmly carry 18411 bees by hand, which is mighty impressive. The dwarves also seemed to quickly grow accustomed to being stung by bees, possibly even becoming immune to the venom. On an occasion when a flood filled the part of the fortress with the hives, the bees seem to be barely affected. All of these are minor but important examples of possible supernatural beekeeping. But there’s a catch: the dwarves of Honeystoker absolutely check the box for supernatural for another reason. But, beyond making them better fighters, that reason is not related to their beekeeping, so I won’t discuss it here. Just rest assured, they fit the bill.
Ultimately the story of Honeystoker is one of dwarves trying to survive in a world that was dangerous. In the process they became pretty good beekeepers and fought to carve a place for their kind in that dangerous world. What more could beekeepers do?
4 Honeycombs out of Five.