retroity

My Relationship With The Furry Fandom

On January 14, I made the following tweet:

So, um, I guess I'm a furry?

I mean, I really like zootopia, I like furry art, I'm a @lapfox fan, and I like anthropomorphic animals in general... so yeah.

I don't really interact with the furry fandom, but still, may as well make it official. I'm a furry. There it is.

- Posted on Twitter on January 14, 2020


I did not expect this tweet to get quite the reaction that it did. I think there's been some confusion about my relationship with the furry fandom, so I'm going to try and clear the air. No, I was not joking when I made that tweet. I am a furry. I am a furry because I like anthropomorphic animals, such as those depicted in furry art, or in films such as Zootopia. I also like other furry-related media, such as the music of Lapfox Trax/Halley Labs. These things were explained in the tweet I initially wrote. However, just like the furry fandom itself, my relationship with the fandom and where I stand is a bit more complex.

Let me give you some context about how I became a furry. When I was 12, I initially hated furries, and additionally the brony sub-fandom. I had an absolute distaste for anything furry or brony. However, over time, I matured, and gradually became less hateful, changing my stance to "neutral". Then, around 2 years ago, my stance towards furries started dramatically shifting, as I discovered Lapfox Trax, and came to enjoy their music. Then, I discovered several furry artists on Twitter, and found myself enjoying that art. Finally, I discovered the Furry_Irl subreddit, at which point it was all downhill from there. A few months later, and here I am, writing this blog post about how I'm a furry.

Let me give some more details as to where I stand within the fandom. I'm really only in the fandom for the community, the art, and the storytelling that surrounds said art. That's it. There are also many parts of the furry fandom that I have elected not to participate in. For example, while I appreciate the craft that goes into fursuits (and there are some really impressive ones) I don't intend to go to conventions, or participate in fursuiting myself. I don't intend to participate in RP. People have preferences for what  they like to do within the fandom, and those are mine.

I hope this cleared up some things, and makes my perspective clearer. This is just a hobby of mine (one that I apparently need to explain, however), one that exists alongside all the hobbies that I have. I hope this does not negatively impact how you see me, and if it does, I'm sorry that you feel that way. Thanks.

A Note on 2019 (and The Entire 2010's)

As I'm writing this, 2019 is a little over an hour from ending in my timezone. So I figured I may as well write a blog post about it, as well as look back at the decade in general.

I'll be frank: 2019 was a rough year for me. I've struggled with depression and anxiety, and it really hit me hard this year, and resulted in my mental health taking a nose dive. Luckily though, I recently started seeing a therapist, and I'm hoping to improve my mental health over time. It's for these reasons, in addition to me working on finishing up high school, working on other things, and a couple other things, that I haven't really made much this year. I haven't delivered on any of the promises that I made at the end of 2018 for The FNaF Archive, I haven't written here as much as I planned to, and most importantly to me, I only uploaded 2 videos this year to my YouTube channel. I'm terribly sorry about all of this, and I hope to be better, and make more in 2020.

On the positives for this year however, I've applied to, and have been accepted to a few colleges, I started seeing a therapist to improve my mental health as mentioned earlier, and I've made major efforts to try and be a more empathetic and overall better person. I also came to run the official OverSimplified subreddit, and then subsequently create the official OverSimplified Discord server, alongside GamersVille101. I can say that this Discord server has really changed my life. I've never had this much responsibility over something online before, so this taught me a lot.

This decade was also incredibly important. It was this decade that I started my online persona, later becoming Retroity. I started my YouTube channel, and learned video editing, photo editing, web design, etc. The Retroity YouTube channel has put me on a career path I'm still going down. It was the decade that I joined the FNaF fandom, which significantly changed my life by allowing me to meet lots of wonderful and wonderfully talented people, and a place where I could be myself and have a purpose. It's also the decade that saw me creating the OverSimplified Discord server, and meeting several wonderful people.

So here's my shoutouts for this year, and this decade:

Chase88 - Thank you for so much. Thank you for letting me be a part of Ravenger, thank you for being my friend, and thank you for introducing me to many other friends. You're the best.

Chess46 - Thank you for sticking by me, and for being a good friend. Thank you for being willing to put up with me.

Kizzycocoa - Thank you for trusting me as a moderator for the FNaFLore Discord server and for generally just being really cool.

The Entire FNaF Fandom - Thank you for tolerating me, and for using The FNaF Archive, and it's predecessors. 

The OverSimplified Discord Moderator Team (GamersVille101, SharkSideOfTheMoon, Cobra, Doc, Swagbear, Tetra, & Vultige) - Thank you all for being super cool and for everything you do. You're all the best, and I couldn't ask for a better team. To GamersVille specifically: Thank you for coming to me with a proposal to make the Discord server. Without you none of this would've happened.

Every content creator that I've watched during this decade. Your stuff is the best, has significantly inspired me, and has helped me get through this year, and this decade.

Finally, thank you to everyone that has supported me during this year, and during this decade. You're all the best. Seriously, thank you all so much.

Here's to a good 2020, and here's to a good decade. Happy new years, everyone.

Made By Google 2019 Event Thoughts

Google held another Made By Google event today, revealing many new products, most them were leaked well before hand and all of them were at least rumored. Here's my thoughts on everything announced.


Stadia

Google briefly talked about Stadia, reiterating that it will launch on November 19th. It was only a brief mention, but it was there to remind us that it's coming. To me, Stadia is the culmination of every single piece of restrictions, DRM, online-only games, and more that the industry has been pushing for the last decade. It represents a future where consumers lack any control over their games, and where access to those games is dependent not only on a fast, stable internet connection, but on Stadia continuing to exist. It represents a future where games can be easily taken away from consumers, and where the consumer is always dependent on the provider. Maybe I'm just being pessimistic, who knows. But what I've seen from Stadia makes it hard to be optimistic.

Nest Mini

The Google Nest Mini is part upgraded Google Home Mini, and part of Google's continuing efforts to integrate all of it's home products into the Google Nest brand. There isn't really much new about the Nest Mini. The Nest Mini has better speakers, improved touch controls, some new colors, and a hole at the bottom so you can hang it on a hook. It's the same price as the Google Home Mini ($49) and it comes on October 22nd.

Although the Nest Mini itself is a bit boring, Google did use it to talk about general improvements to their smart home ecosystem, and to tout the various commitments that it mentioned at the beginning of the presentation. As part of Google's sustainability push, the Nest Mini's fabric top is made from recycled plastic bottles. Furthermore, for products that use Works With Nest, Google is allowing those products to move to Works With Google Assistant, but is requiring those partners to go through a security review first. Google is also introducing new Works With Google Assistant functionality, such as allowing direct control over Nest devices, after explicit user permission. With this, Google is hoping to simplify and integrate everything into the Nest brand.

This hopefully means a future for the Google Home ecosystem that makes devices, especially third party devices, work better in the future. This feels similar to Amazon's efforts to simplify the Alexa ecosystem, such as creating a simple setup process within the Alexa app, among other programs. I sincerely hope that Google actually follows through with these efforts.

Nest Wifi

Google is redesigning the Google Wifi and bringing it into the Nest brand with all of their other smart home devices. The new Nest Wifi is totally redesigned, and works more like Amazon's Eero routers, with it working on a router and extender system. Because Google is determined to stuff the Google Assistant into everything, all Nest Wifi points are also Google Assistant smart speakers. Through this and it's design, Google is attempting to get people to put their Wifi routers in the open, and this is their strongest argument for that yet. I hope that there is an option to disable the Google Assistant for people who already have Google Assistant speakers in their home. The Nest Wifi is also supposed to work as a smart home hub, with devices connecting directly to it, and in the future devices using the Thread wireless technology will supposedly work seamlessly with the Nest Wifi for local connections.

Speaking of the Google Home app, it's getting a redesign with what Google's calling the home feed, and will also be able to control the Nest Wifi, effectively merging the Google Home and Google Wifi app.

Google is really going to have to justify the Nest Wifi's price, considering that a 3 pack of Eero routers costs $100 less, at $249 compared to $349 for a 3 pack of 1 Nest Wifi router and 2 Nest Wifi points. (the Eero router 3 pack is not to be confused with a 3 pack of Eero pros which costs $499.)

Nest Aware

One of the last Nest/Google Home updates was a update to the Nest Aware subscription tier. Google is redesigning the tiers and pricing to go from a model that is per Nest camera to one that is only one subscription for unlimited cameras. This is a significantly better deal, and the extra $1 a month (making the lowest subscription tier $6 per month instead of $5 per month per camera) is totally worth it, especially now that all cameras get 30 days of video storage with Nest Aware and 60 days with Nest Aware Plus. This makes Nest camera storage significantly less expensive and makes it way less costly to invest in Nest cameras. This is a really positive change and I'm glad Google is doing it.

Pixelbook Go

The Pixelbook Go is a new version of the Pixelbook Chromebook laptop that features a new design and less beefy specs than the normal Pixelbook. It's available starting on October 28th and starts at $649 (but has configurations that go up to $1,399). It's still a bit expensive than the original Pixelbook, but it's finally starting to feel like the pricing is somewhat reasonable.

Pixel Buds

3 years after the original Pixel Buds, "wireless earbuds" that attempted to be Google's answer to AirPods yet had a cord between them, Google announced a totally redesigned Pixel Buds that are actually wireless earbuds. They feature the Google Assistant (of course), 5 hours of continuous battery life and 24 hours with the charging case, long range Bluetooth (apparently up to a football field away according to Google's claims) and adaptive sound with a vent design at the bottom of the buds to adapt the sound based on the environment you're in. The Pixel Buds cost $179 and despite the new them being announced today, Google says that they won't be available until Spring 2020. It's a shame that they would be available for a while as they actually look pretty exciting. I'm definitely glad that we're finally getting proper Android competitors to AirPods.


Google Pixel 4

Last but not least, the Google Pixel 4 phone. We're pretty much known everything from this Phone due to a multitude of leaks, and now it's finally been officially announced. Gone is the very large (and frankly very ugly) notch, with Google instead having a bezel containing all the front cameras and sensors at the top and a much smaller sensor at the bottom. The Pixel 4 has an 1080p display while the Pixel 4 XL has a Quad HD display, but both feature a 90hz refresh.rate (so glad this is finally becoming more common in flagships). It has a Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of ram, and comes in either 64GB or 128GB storage configurations. The Pixel 4 features improved Camera software, and 2 cameras despite Google's statements in the past that 2 cameras are unnecessary as it can do more with just 1 camera. This is in an attempt by Google to get it's "best smartphone camera" crown back after having it chipped away from the likes of Huawei, Samsung, and Apple.

The main selling points however, is the new facial unlock feature, which works very similar to Apple's Face ID (and is not to be confused with previous facial unlocking in past Android phones, which was really just comparing your face. to a photo that your phone has stored) and motion sense, which is the culmination of Google's Project Soli project that we've been waiting years for, enabling gestures to be performed on a Pixel 4 without touching the phone.

Pixel 4 ships globally on October 24 and starts at $799 (or $899 for the Pixel 4 XL). The Pixel 4 is also the first Pixel to be carried by all 4 major US carriers, finally joining the likes of Apple, Samsung, and LG. In the past, Pixel phones gave unlimited original photo storage on Google Photos, however the Pixel 4 only provides 3 months of the 100GB tier of the Google One subscription. Overall I think that the Pixel 4 actually does a really good job of justifying it's own existence and the upgrade from a Pixel 3. The lack of the unlimited original quality Google Photos backup is a major disappointment however.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I quite liked this Made by Google event, especially in comparison to previous events. Many of the devices that were announced are much stronger choices than before, and for once it kinda feels like Google actually has a vision or at least some sense of direction with these products.

The Cynical Monetization of Mario Kart Tour

Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo's latest mobile game, is now available. It's an ok Mario Kart game, the controls are a bit wonky but otherwise they work reasonably well, and the game feels a bit bland but still with signs of typical nintendo polish. But the main issue that I have with it is it's exploitative monetization scheme. The game utilizes gacha mechanics, where players can use in-game currency to unlock certain karts. This in-game currency can be purchased using real money. There's also a shop, in which players can obtain items using coins, a currency gained from playing the game normally.

The real kicker however, is the $4.99 monthly subscription. It gets you some items and unlocks the faster 200cc speed. To price it as $4.99 per month, the same price as Apple Arcade, a surprisingly excellent game subscription service from Apple, is downright insulting and blatantly out of touch with reality. This game is essentially Nintendo fully indulging themselves in the manipulative monetization schemes that put monetization and profit over gameplay that have plagued the mobile games industry for so long and that in some ways, are currently creeping in on the larger AAA games market. The kinds of monetization schemes that rely on addictive mechanics, whales (individuals that spend large amount of money in comparison to other player), and preying on children to use their parents money. For that reason, I find it incredibly difficult to enjoy Mario Kart Tour, despite how much I wanted to like it.

One of Nintendo's first mobile games, Super Mario Run, was offered as a free download but requiring a $10 purchase to play the full game. Super Mario Run never did that well, likely due to it's high price and it's inability to be played offline. I see Super Mario Run as what turned Nintendo off of what could've been a relatively decent and ethical monetization, one where they player pays once to play a game. Other mobile games from Nintendo such as Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, which came along and made massive profits for Nintendo, have chartered this current path of mobile monetization that Nintendo is on.

It's disturbing to me that even Nintendo, a company that's known to be relatively ethical with it's monetization schemes, especially in comparison to the rest of the video game industry, can be lured by the massive profits of these types of mobile games. I sincerely hope that subscription services like Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass, services that charge the consumer a simple monthly subscription fee and provide high quality mobile games free of in-app purchases and ads, take off and become bigger forces in mobile gaming, ideally incentivizing companies to make better and more ethical mobile games. Mobile games deserve to be better.


Nintendo Finally Addresses the Joycon Drift Issue

After much controversy regarding reports of Nintendo Switch Joycon controllers experiencing drift issues, a memo to customer service representatives from Nintendo that was leaked by Vice Games reveals that Nintendo has instructed customer service representatives to fix Joy-Con controllers suffering from drift for free. This also removes the requirements to provide proof of purchase and for the customer to have a warranty, and also states that any customer who previously paid for a drift-related repair should receive a full refund if they ask.

I'm glad that Nintendo is finally addressing this issue after all of the controversy surrounding it. This issue has gone unaddressed for far too long and Nintendo let it become a far bigger issue than it needs to be. It's a shame that this only comes after a lawsuit was filed against Nintendo for these issues. Hopefully this applies worldwide and not just for Nintendo of America, which is the branch currently being sued.