Gunlord’s Dissertation Saga, Episode 22 (Season 2): Review and Ideas

Productive week, my friends! Here’s what I’ve been doing:

What I spent a bit of time on:

WATCHAN:No Jojo this week. Instead, I checked out the Japanese dub of Cromartie High School! It’s one of the most well-known comedy anime, about a bizarre high school for delinquents where the protagonist is the only sane guy. His classmates are an extremely dim-witted collection of typical juvenile delinquent stereotypes, along with a robot, a gorilla, and a guy who looks suspiciously like Freddie Mercury.

It’s pretty fun–to get the most out of it, you really need to have an appreciation for the various sorts of stereotypes and played-out dialogue you see in a lot of Japanese action anime and videogames. If you don’t have that, it’ll seem a lot less funny. I do have a ton of experience with that, so Cromartie was a nice treat for me. Funny, relaxing…just very nice all around.

PLAYAN: Still playing Darkest Dungeon, though…I’m kinda dissatisfied with it. It has some great ideas, but by the end game it becomes a really repetitive grind. I ended up “cheating” and going into the enemy files to modify them to make them weaker (I gave them all 1 HP) so as to just go through and beat the game. Here’s a longer analysis I made on Reddit:

Hi there! Greetings to DD fans and the team itself. This is my first post on the subreddit, I decided to drop by when I saw a link to this post on the official twitter. I pay a reasonable amount of attention to the official channels, so you might be able to surmise I’m a big fan of the game. I bought it a while ago and started playing it enthusiastically over the past week, and I’ve already put 35 hours into it–just about 5 hours a day! So you can tell I’m being honest when I say I like it.

However, I confess I’m finding it harder and harder to push on to the end. I’m at week…66, I think, and I have a nearly full roster of 28 heroes prepping for a Darkest Dungeon run. However, I find it more and more difficult to work up the enthusiasm for leveling anyone up to 6. When I first started playing the game, it seemed incredibly exciting and intriguing, but now more progress seems kind of like, well, a grind. I’m still trying to complete it, but I’m genuinely tempted to put the game down for a while and work on other things.

Why? Well, IMO /u/msimonoff, /u/deathhamster1, and especially /u/wecaneatcereal and /u/hwmjohannes all hit the nail precisely on the end and captured my own feelings: After completing the lower-level dungeons, the game is just too repetitive.

There are a couple of new enemies once you reach veteran level dungeons (One or two “big” ones, some new common enemies, etc.), but the dungeons themselves are exactly the same–same curios, same backgrounds, same traps, and so on. The bosses were also a disappointment; they were really cool the first time you fought them, but as /u/hwmjohannes and /u/XR-17 pointed out, they were exactly the same the second and third times, just with slightly different names and hitting harder. I’d like to consider myself a reasonably patient man, but given how much time it takes to build up several parties (not just one, several!) to take on the Darkest Dungeon, going through the same stages and killing the same monsters over and over and over again is beyond me. I agree heartily with /u/wecaneatcereal; it seems like there’s only 20 hours of content you need to grind nearly 40 hours (in my case) to see.

How to solve this? There are 2 ways, IMO. First, and preferably, would be to increase content. Give Veteran and Champion level dungeons more monsters, different curios and dungeon layouts, and especially different bosses, or at least slightly modified bosses (as other users have asked for). I also think more quest options (as opposed to just kill, explore 90%, take/leave 3 objects, and boss) might be a good idea; the narrative quest ideas were really cool. However, I realize this would be very expensive in terms of time and effort, since you would have to create so many new assets.

The second option, then, would be ways of relieving the grind. Either increasing the amount of money, loot, and XP gained per mission, or making it so money and XP can be gained “passively” in town. For instance, maybe after killing the Brigand 8 pounder, you gain access to a “tollbooth” that gives you 1000 gold a week, with the number increasing when you kill the 12 and 16 pounder respectively (representing the road to the Hamlet becoming more secure), and maybe after killing the Necromancer your idle heroes get a certain amount of Resolve XP per week, again increasing with the level of the Necromancer slain. This would provide an incentive for killing the repeat bosses aside from just “getting a little more story,” and would also ease the grind somewhat.

I hope these suggestions help! Despite my criticisms, it should be obvious I’m speaking from genuine love for your game. The art style, the writing, the worldbuilding, the atmosphere, the “roguelike” gameplay, the Lovecraftian influences, and of course Wayne June’s narration make this very much an accomplishment. I wish I’d backed it during its Kickstarter, but I didn’t find out about it until after it had been released on steam, haha. So keep up the good work–my thoughts are intended to help you in that quest 😀

TIMAN: I got in touch with Gorge and he does have the required materials for the next couple of episodes of Dragonar. Hopefully work can begin again soon 😀

Dissertationan:  A good week for this! The stuff I’ve been up to:

As I promised, I went through my whole dissertation draft as well as the second draft of chapter one, both making all the lil formatting and spelling corrections my profs asked for and thinking about larger organizational issues! Here’s the email I sent to em:

“Dear All,

Hello again! This is Gunlord. I just wanted to tell you how my project was going since we last met last month.

October wasn’t quite as productive for me as I’d have liked–while I did do some reading, I didn’t make as much progress as I’d hoped. However, in the past couple of days of November, I’ve really managed to do both reading and thinking about my project that have set me back on schedule! Aside from checking out Charles Mill’s monograph (The Racial Contract) which professor A recommended, I’ve also gone through both the draft of my first chapter we discussed in our meeting in October as well as the drafts of my other chapters, thinking of how to revise all of them in light of the recommendations Professor H gave me. I think I should be able to start writing within 2 or 3 weeks, possibly sooner if you’d really like me to work quickly.

I do have a couple of questions and things I would like some guidance on, though. I have a clear idea of my most immediate objectives, which would be to focus my first chapter more strongly on theory and add in subheadings, as all of you recommended, as well as add in a little more about the role of women in Northern and Southern societies, which Professor H recommended I do and which is easy enough (many of the books I’ve already cited have information on that subject, and I can add it in quite easily). However, I do have a couple of other ideas I thought it might be good to get your thoughts on.

1: Aside from Amy Dru-Stanley and Charles Mill’s work, are there any other scholars you think I should make a particular effort to engage with that I haven’t yet?

2: More generally speaking–and this is just me being curious–I wonder, are there any books or monographs any of you would recommend that (in your view) exemplify the more-theorized approach you’d like me to take? When I was initially starting this project, I had drawn much of my inspiration of group biographies of related figures I had read (such as Professor H’s books), but now that we’ve agreed that a focus on theory would be a very effective thread to give my narrative coherence, I was thinking that reading some work which did this very well (even if in a subject completely different to mine) would give me some guidance on how to approach my task.

3: About my third chapter, the study of the family lives of my subjects: In addition to what Professor A mentioned about looking at their personal writings as a form of performance, I was also thinking–might I add in the analysis of gender roles generally and more comprehensively in that chapter? It just struck me that a lot of the anxieties Douglass, Dabney, and Hammond express in their letters about their families would reflect the sort of anxieties many other men in their societies would feel, so I thought it might be both a good jumping off point/segue into the subject, as well as a way to tie the chapter more strongly into my main thesis (the subtle yet significant differences in how black abolitionists, compared to white slaveholders, thought fathers should exercise power).

Thank you very much for your time! I might take another little break for a couple of days while I wait for a response to these questions, but within a week I should be able to start on reorganizing my first chapter and adding subheadings too, at least. If you’d like me to speed up or slow down, of course, I’ll be happy to work with whatever deadlines you’d like, you need only tell me. Thanks again for your time!



So yeah, they should get back to me in a week or so, so I think I’ll relax a little, like I said. If they don’t get back to me within that timeframe, though, I’ll take it as a sign they want me to find my own answers, and I’ll get started on writing. So, next week: A wee bit of relaxan!

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