Hey! It’s one of those posts where I unceremoniously shower you in various, unconnected updates, which rain down upon you like glitter and blood. I mean, just glitter. Did I say blood? Ha ha. Hah. Aahhh. Ahem.
I continue to play this game that doesn’t know I’m alive. It’s like the world in that it is a place that exists that I exist inside, but it doesn’t know I exist inside it, for it is a cold and uncaring place with little situational awareness or empathy.
My playthrough at this point has me finally, at like, level 40-something, feeling vaguely powerful. I can walk up to most mobs and wipe the rancid ruined earth with their asses. My strategy became: gallop around the world at top-speed collecting every smithing stone, golden seed, and sacred tear I could fucking find, and juice my gear to their limits. I found a Twinblade, which was a good weapon to bisect chumps with. I also learned the attack move which is called “hop around like an executioner rabbit,” or “like Mario on bloodlust and cocaine,” which is how I mostly engage with enemies. I just jump at them, shrieking, cleaving them in twain. And it mostly works. I do like that no matter how powerful you are, if you don’t pay attention, even a low-ranking mob of dickheads will put you in an early grave.
Apparently I’m also supposed to be… crafting things? I have not been. Uh?
I don’t find the game… difficult, exactly, not in the traditional sense, not in the way it was sold. I just find it distant and disinterested. As I said in my earlier post, it’s not there to help you out. Mostly it shrugs at you and says, “Good luck,” but it says it in a way where it definitely doesn’t mean it. (Here, I recommend Swapna Krishna’s very good Wired piece, ELDEN RING ISN’T MADE FOR ALL GAMERS. I WISH IT WERE.)
I think where the game is going to lose me — though it hasn’t yet, not quite — is that it so relies on you to engage with it on your terms (which is good!) that at a certain point it loses narrative urgency. There’s a threadbare narrative blanketing over what is ostensibly a merciless grind. There isn’t a story so much as there’s “worldbuilding,” and the worldbuilding is mostly a thing to be unearthed actively rather than a thing that matters very much at all. So, I don’t find a great deal of urgency to continue. There’s no mystery to solve, no plot hook to answer, no great revenge, no personal stakes. My motivation is thinning. It was, initially, exploration, but I’ve explored a great deal and at a certain point — you know, I get it. Everything is ruined, everything wants to kill you, I’m something called a Tarnished, blah blah blah be the Elden Lord, as if I want to do that.
I did kill a few bosses, though, which was fun.
Anyway, people ask me why I’m still playing, and I remind them that it’s still friendlier than Twitter.
The Real World Is Bad, Too
It’s getting fucking scary out there. There is a deep, and successful authoritarian push into all corners of this country — attacking everything from abortion rights to the existence of trans and gay kids (and adults) to the very acknowledgment of slavery and the Holocaust. It is a grossly revisionist take on people and history, attempting to erase them instead of reckon with a changing world. It’s bad news. And we’re letting it happen because we aren’t voting. I know, there’s a problematic push to “vote harder,” and I get it, and agree. Just the same, our school board locally is transphobic, antisemitic, and all-around fucking awful, and they’re making some horrific entreaties — they were against masks, they’re for banning books, they’re against trans kids in sports (and in existence, it seems), and the reason they get to do what they do is because not enough people came out to vote in the smaller elections, like the ones that help us decide our fucking school board compositions.
So, I dunno. We gotta stand up for everyone, stand against the erasure, hold back the tide of once-creeping-but-now-sprinting fascism. It isn’t just Texas and Florida, it’s everywhere. Donate to Trans Lifelife, to Trevor Project, to Audre Lorde Project, to Transgender Law Center, to Southern Poverty Law Center, to Planned Parenthood, to the ACLU (national and local). And vote. I don’t know what to tell you. I know it sucks that our choices ain’t great, but if we don’t get up and get out to work against the malefactors, they’re going to win. It’s already hard enough given how voting rights have been chewed apart. So we only get to help others if we show up in numbers big enough to bury their efforts.
Oh Yeah And Ukraine
OH RIGHT, then there’s that war going on. Fucking hell. On my mother’s side, we’re pretty Eastern-Europe-flavored — Lithuanian and Ukrainian. We still have family there. Not family I know, to be clear, but related humans. So, I dunno. Donate to IRC, Doctors Without Borders, to World Central Kitchen. It breaks my heart seeing what’s happening over there. And I try not to engage in the cruel thrill of seeing Ukranian victories happen, because intellectually I recognize that death in war is death, and it’s brutal and bloody and shouldn’t be championed, but I also… can’t help but giving a little fist-pump when they take down a Russian warship or some shit like that. I dunno. We’re complicated creatures. War is horrible, but I’m just glad Ukraine isn’t going quietly.
Hey, could the world calm down a little bit? Please? Like, a little? No? Okay.
Wayward’s Gone Wayward
So, did I mention yet that if you were hoping to get your hands on Wayward in August that you were now going to maybe be a teeny-tiny bit disappointed?
Sorry? Wayward is now coming out on November 15th.
Why is that, exactly?
Well, the reason is actually a good one — the publisher believes in it, thinks it’s really good, and is moving it to a competitive season, aka, oooh, the holidays. This is of course terrifying to me, because, holy shit, I’m a little fish swimming in deep waters, or so it feels. But I believe in the book. I think it’s actually maybe not terrible? We shall see. I hope you all like it. Obviously, the coolest thing you could do is pre-ordering it — which you can do from your preferred BOOKMONGER, whoever that may be. But I’ll note here that you’ll be able to get signed, personalized copies from Doylestown Bookshop. You can also preorder from Bookshop.org or find an indie at Indiebound.
Speaking of Signed Copies
Reminder that I’ll be on tour next week with Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson, because we someone managed to con, er, convince our publisher to give us a reason to hang out together in person. NYC, Rhode Island, and Boston-area. More details here. But I also remind you that if you want signed/personalized copies of our books but can’t be there in-person, you are free to order from those stores and we will sign the books and they will send ’em right to you.
Just a reminder that I’ll be out there in support of The Book of Accidents, out next week in glorious three-dimensional paperback. Order a signed copy from:
The Work Continues Until Morale Improves
Meanwhile, work continues apace! Wayward is in copy-edits, and I’ll have that done in a couple weeks. Meanwhile I continue to write this new book — my horror novel about, well, apples? Was originally called The Orchard, but I’m not feeling that title. Presently, at least in the draft, it’s called The Apple of Harrow, but that may change. Though I love the title quite a lot.
OKAY BUY MY BOOKS BYE