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Hi everyone, and welcome to Kyksie's Dojo, where all the cool kids come to learn the latest martial arts moves and hang out. Except that we won't be hanging out, we'll be reviewing the latest offerings from Architect Entertainment! And it's not a "dojo", it's more like "the lobby of City Hall". Actually that's exactly what it is. Dojos cost money.

 

Anyway, I'll be using this space to post reviews of arcs that don't have their own thread, like those mentioned on the Architect channel on Discord. Feel free to send a message to me on Discord as @Kyksie, although I generally check that only every two or three days. I'll happily review any arc that has some semblance of a story. I don't review farms or "Challenge" arcs. If it's a 'farm with a story' I'll review it solely on the merits of the story.

 

Edited by Kyksie
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39590 - Revel For He Shall Return

 

This is a nicely done one. Coyote (you know, the guy from the old tutorial) tells you that the Hellions and Skulls in Perez Park have worked out their differences and are now putting on a performance of Hamlet over at the amphitheater, or something like that. The player conducts some pugilistic interrogation and discovers that Ishmael of the Lost is behind it, so we delve into the sewers for more pummeling.

 

This is a very well written arc, with lots of references, a deep knowledge of CoH lore, and several sprinkles of humor. However, it gets bogged down in the first mission:

 

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That's a total of twenty enemy groups you need to pummel. The player is reduced to level 14, and in addition to that, the Kraken is there, forcing the player to run and hide when he sees you. That's about twelve groups more than the story requires. Then, in the last mission, Ishmael is an EB, who not only throws ambush waves at the player, but has a Final Form as well. Yep, you're still reduced to level 14. With the first mission toned down and Ishmael nerfed a bit (or maybe just a 'hard boss' warning) this could be an epic arc.

 

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@Take One asked me to take a look through his stuff, so I jumped in and hit a few buttons at random:


Murders in RWZ Morgue - A fun, quick detective mystery. Very little combat.

 

Clockwork Uprising - A 'retelling' of the Synapse task force. Not bad, but not remarkable. If you're in the mood to pummel wind-up robots, you might as well slog through the real TF to get credit for the accolade.

 

Clockwork Romance - I liked this one. The Clockwork King has kidnapped Penelope Yin (again) and it's up to you to rescue her... or not. A very well written story. My only suggestion would be to make it clearer exactly what you're doing in the final mission; I wasn't sure what I was doing until after it was over. Granted, I was halfway through my second Marley, making Penny appear as a young Margaret Cho doing a bit about her father's grocery, so I dunno.

 

War on Christmas - This one is my favorite. Working for Weston Phipps (as a villain), you formulate a plan to kill Santa Claus, or maybe just kidnap him, I forget. You hack a reindeer to obtain the security codes or something, then go clobber Santa in his North Pole fortress. Lots of well written dialog and injokes. Interestingly, the description tells you to play it with archvillains turned on... but Santa was still an EB.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Kyksie said:

Interestingly, the description tells you to play it with archvillains turned on... but Santa was still an EB.

 

No idea what happened there. Maybe you have to play at a higher notoriety setting, like x4 players or something, I don't know.

 

Thanks for playing and thanks for your reviews! I'm glad and a bit surprised that you liked the Clockwork Romance the most. I don't suppose you tried out both endings? Which one did you pick? Did you save Penny or did you leave her for the Clockwork?

 

Oh and the Synapse TF retelling was mostly to see if and how the entire TF could be condensed down into a more reasonable number of missions, if it was to ever be remade.

Edited by Take One

Check out my stories in the Mission Architect. Just search for "@Take One" or "SFMA" to find all my stuff. Here are some enticing titles: The Murders In The RWZ Morgue, The Tangled Weave, Project Dragon, Fear And Loathing On Striga, The Warburg Connection, The War On Christmas, A Clockwork Romance, Is That A Club In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?, Evolve Or Die, A Taste For Evil, Et In Arcadia Ego, Faultline By Night, Arena, West Libertalia Born And Raised, The Doctor Returns. More to come...

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1 hour ago, Kyksie said:

I led Penny out, which I think meant giving her to the Clockwork King? I'm not sure.

OH THE HUGE MANATEE!

 

Ahem.

Edited by Darmian

AE SFMA Arcs: Dark Deeds in Galaxy City: Part One. (Arc id 26756) | Dark Deeds in Galaxy City: Part Two. (Arc id 26952) | Dark Deeds in Galaxy City: Part Three. (Arc id 27233) 

Darker Deeds: Part One (Arc id 28374) | Darker Deeds: Part Two. (Arc id 28536) Darker Deeds: Part Three. (Arc id 29252) | Darkest Before Dawn: Part One (Arc id 29891) |

Darkest Before Dawn: Part Two (Arc id 30210) Darkest Before Dawn: Part Three (Arc id 30560) | Bridge of Forever ( Arc id 36642)*The Cassini Division (Arc id 37104)*The House of Gaunt Saints (Arc id 37489)*

 

*Pre War Praetorian Loyalist.

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Digging in the Dirt - 39785


Kyksie receives a call from Detective Rogers at the PPD, telling her that one Mitsumoto Hagashi has been stealing girders in Boomtown, hoping to build a new Outback factory there or something; Countess Crey has been giving him financial backing, so obviously he's up to no good. We head to Boomtown and discover that the Council are conducting the thefts. After some kicking, the Archon spills the beans about some infighting within their ranks. Then, we go to the old Hero Corps building in Faultline, fight some 'Hero Drones' and find a video of the Countess and Rebecca Foss photocopying their butts or something. Finally, after more punching, we discover that the new Hero corps building in Baumton was built on the site of an old 5th column base, so Kyksie busts in, rescues three hostages, shuts down a time portal and defeats the EB boss, Panzer.

 

This is another well done arc, with good dialog and lots of clues and mob chatter. My only gripe is the last mission, which reduces the player to level 19 and then throws an EB at you. Arc writers need to be very careful when reducing the player's level; many characters will have lost access to key powers. Granted, I was actually playing this with a Dark/Elec Sentinel, who is unable to deal damage at any level, so it didn't matter.

 

On the one in a million chance that the devs here are actually reading this column; Sentinels are a pretty cool idea, but they need a lot of love. The basic concept of "A blaster but not quite as squishy" is a sound one, except that we already have that: Soldiers of Arachnos. A Crab Spider can deal blaster-level damage with tons of AoEs as be quite sturdy at the same time, plus they also have pets, improved Leadership auras, and awesome looking spider arms. Bane Spiders don't deal quite as much AoE damage and don't have the cool arms, but they can still do a respectable amount of damage and be sturdy as well. All Sentinels can do is... be reasonably hard to kill. Their damage is so bad I feel that my Dark sent is merely glaring harshly at her foes. The word "Vulnerability" pops up over their heads once in a while, but as far as I can tell this merely causes mobs to question whether being a minion is a worthwhile life choice, because it doesn't make them go down any faster, except for those few who burst into tears and run off to get counseling.

 

With their damage improved by about 25-30%, and their inherent ability given some sort of boost, Sentinels could become a valid option. Oh yeah, Digging in the Dirt is pretty good too.

 

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Mynx's Big Adventure - 39792

 

Perched atop a Skyway City overpass smoking a doobie, Kyksie receives a telepathic message from her good friend Penelope Yin, telling her that the Circle of Thorns have kidnapped her other good friend Mynx. She follows the trail of booster wrappers to a high tech lab, kicks some mages, and finds Mynx imprisoned in a force field. She tries to lower the field, but the Circle have cast a spell making everyone extremely stupid, so she can't figure out how.

 

Their other other good friend, Azuria, tells her that she can make an anti-stupid potion using some rare herbs. Kyksie finds the herbs in a cave guarded be DE, then spends an hour drinking Natty Lite, scratching lottery tickets, and watching Fox News while Azuria brews the potions. With her brain fortified against the stupidity field, she breaks into the lab again, kicks the mages a second time, lowers the force field and frees Mynx. They escape back to Skyway City, but Mynx has to pee real bad, so Kyksie kicks away some trolls so Mynx can go in a garbage can.

 

Mynx's Big Adventure feels like someone's first arc: the dialog is rather simple, with not many clues or mob chatter. Still, there's no real faults beyond a few spelling errors. With a bit more attention to detail, this could be a worthwhile addition to the "Mynx takes a leak" genre, along with Bad Kitty! and Vindicators Pit Stop 1, 2, and 4. (I'm not going to mention 3, that one was terrible).

 

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39828 - Storm and Stars

 

I was reluctant to review this at first, given that two of the three missions have the dreaded 'defeat all enemies' objective, the bane of my existence. However, the second map is listed as medium and the last as small, so hopefully it won't be too time consuming. My afternoon was free because everyone in my Goosebumps book club just died of covid, so I poured myself another martini and dove in.

 

This arc opens in media res, with the player telling the "PPD representative" (no contact bio) about how they want to take down the guy who killed Atta. It feels like the sequel to a previous arc, but there are no others by this author. The contact warns that said person is 'scum', but the player is driven on by their relentless drive for justice or something. We boldly venture into a warehouse, kick some Tsoo and find a shipping manifest.

 

Now to the office to find the assassin. It's the Praetorian Office set, and this "medium" map consisted of three huge floors packed with Tsoo. Tsoo were doing katas in the reception, Tsoo played Mahjongg in the tside offices, Tsoo watched tsentacle porn in the restroom. After fifteen minutes of Tsoo-tsomping, we clobber the boss and find a tshipping manifest.

 

Now, to capture the assassin. We take a boat, and... the "small" map is the cargo ship. Eighteen cavernous rooms packed with Tsoo. No thanks.

 

Arc authors: do not, I repeat, do NOT use the 'defeat all enemies' objective unless the plot requires it AND the map is very small. If I'm playing an AE arc for the story, I want to read the story, not get bogged down by tswarms of foes. I realize that some people will be playing your arc with a sub-50 who can use the XP, and some other people enjoy the repetition of defeating mob after mob... after mob... after mob after mob... you get the idea. But, by pushing the defeat all button, you take away the player's choice and force them to tslog through a bunch of random dudes before continuing the story. Don't do this.

 

But, just so this isn't a total wash, I ran to the back of the huge cargo ship to encounter the assassin... an Electric Armor EB, who not only has the end-draining Lightning Field, but the godmode Overload power, which makes him invincible for 90 seconds. My incarnated Crab Spider could have punched through that fairly quickly, but oops, I'm down to level 40, no Incarnate powers.

 

Storm and Stars fails on almost every level imaginable; no contact bio, player is dumped into the story, breaks the ocelot rule, multiple time wasters, overpowered boss with the player reduced in level.

 

Edited by Kyksie
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Ah, a caveat perhaps is in order. Storm & Stars is actually part of an ongoing set of stories for an RP SG and has a "window" of shelf life before being taken down and replaced with the following "episode".  The arc is designed for that entire team to play together and so on who already have all the info they need backloaded before they begin. 

 

No, it's not mine and not my SG but AE writers do talk to each other 🙂 So right now my suggestion would be that exact caveat in the description for future episodes.

 

Edited by Darmian

AE SFMA Arcs: Dark Deeds in Galaxy City: Part One. (Arc id 26756) | Dark Deeds in Galaxy City: Part Two. (Arc id 26952) | Dark Deeds in Galaxy City: Part Three. (Arc id 27233) 

Darker Deeds: Part One (Arc id 28374) | Darker Deeds: Part Two. (Arc id 28536) Darker Deeds: Part Three. (Arc id 29252) | Darkest Before Dawn: Part One (Arc id 29891) |

Darkest Before Dawn: Part Two (Arc id 30210) Darkest Before Dawn: Part Three (Arc id 30560) | Bridge of Forever ( Arc id 36642)*The Cassini Division (Arc id 37104)*The House of Gaunt Saints (Arc id 37489)*

 

*Pre War Praetorian Loyalist.

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Youth For Eternity - 39817


The contact is Agent Amara Fox, who is a fox. Not a fox in the 'hot chick' sense, but an actual fox with a tail and pointy ears. Except that she is a fox in the hot chick sense too, smartly dressed with a cigarette dangling from her lips, gazing across the room with a cool yet assertive stare... you get the idea. This looks like a vanity arc for one of the author's alts. From previous experience, I've learned that vanity arcs are not always bad, just usually. Fox tells me that she works for Crey, but nevertheless she's hiring me to spy on Crey, because that's the way they do it at Crey I guess. Maybe they don't allow people to schedule vacation time, you have to hack the secretary's computer and insert yourself.

 

Kyksie arrives in the Manticore's Mansion map, which normally can be problematic for people who don't know where the secret door is, but here we rescue a hostage, Yukiko Fox, who both gives us a clue telling us where the door is, but needs to be led to a glowie, which gives us a waypoint. Yep, she's a fox too. Not in the 'hot chick' sense, but... you get the idea. The mansion is guarded by Crey 'elite troops'; some of them actually have names and bios. There are also loads of non-required glowies as decoration. The level of detail is amazing.

 

 

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We have learned that Crey is doing a fun new research project which combines science and magic, and nothing bad could possibly come out of that, right? I'm kidding, that always goes sideways. We need to infiltrate an office and grab some files. The office is the Praetorian one, which is under attack by... Dark Elves??? Yep, see, this is where things go wrong. Mixing high tech stuff with magic results in elves every time, just ask Keebler. They're another custom group, with names like "Dark Elf Katana Ichi" and "Dark Elf Archer Ni." I can only assume that 'ichi' means they wear wool socks, and 'ni' means they say nasty things to old ladies.

 

Here, we run into the arc's main problem... spelling and grammar errors. The text blocks have only a few errors, suggesting the author ran them through a spell checker. However, everything that isn't a dialog block has a lot of spelling errors, and I mean a LOT. Like, here's what happens when I find the files...

 

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"Cabinet" is misspelled in two different ways. Now that's dedication.

 

We've learned that Crey has been breeding young kitsune in a lab to serve as maids, or maybe spies, I dunno. The lab is super fortified, so Agent Fox summons a Demon Lord to break the walls down so that the PPD can swarm in and apprehend the Crey forces. Kyksie arrives, and discovers that a demon lord has smashed through the walls and PPD forces have captured the Crey ones. This is probably the best use of a map and decorative NPCs I've seen.

 

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Kicking our way through the lab, we rescue six kitsune maidens, including Yukiko Fox ("visual age: early teens") and lead them through a conveniently placed magic portal. The demon lord is there too as a rather tough EB, although I suspect he wasn't a required defeat. I tend to just plow in and kick everything I see. After returning, I discover that Agent Fox has taken all the kitsune except for Yukiko, who lies on the floor panting "Kyksie, I need your help...", sweat dripping from her brow and pooling near her heaving... you get the idea.

 

Youth For Eternity is very hard to rate. The writing is excellent, although it's clear that the author really, really likes kitsune, huh huh huh. The level of detail here exceeds that of any arc I've seen on Homecoming so far: loads of clues, dozens of decorative objects, two full custom groups, and plenty of NPCs with bios. But, the whole things is soured by the many spelling and grammatical errors. It's like going to a Michelin restaurant, and having filet mignon with oysters and Chateau Maison, and you're out on the terrace with sailboats sailing and strolling violinists strolling by... and your plate has a chip in the edge and a crack running down the middle. Your food is still exquisite and the strolling violinists are still strolling, but you'd think that with all the effort they put into the oysters, they would take a second to make sure your plate was intact. This picture sums up the arc perfectly:

 

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Given that the author is no doubt the founding member of an SG named League of Extraordinary Yiffers or Well of the Furries or something, I'm sure a few of his flunkies could swing through and mop up the errors, at which point this would be prime candidate for Devs's Choice.

 

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"Visual Age: Early 20s. Actual Age: 26?"

 

Um...why the differentiation when the perceived gap is so small? (this just strikes me as weird...is there something about the genre I'm missing?"

Looking for SFMA content over multiple arcs? Search for the following arcs under "cranebump."

Ordinary People [3 parts]=1. Standard Operating Procedure, 2. Hope and Bullets, 3. The Last Full MeasureInvestigation of a series of thefts leads you deep into a vengeful plot that threatens all of Paragon City. Will you and Kings Row's "ordinary" heroes be able to stop it?

Leviathan [5 parts]=1. Hollow Pursuit, 2. Hollow Ring, 3. Hollow Victory, 4. Origin, 5. Mantle:  The  assassination of a local politician with national aspirations sets off a media frenzy among everyone's favorite reactionary network, NewsAnon. But the bigger issue is, who's behind it is all? All signs point to the one and only Hollow Point. But, as you soon find out, signs can be deceiving.

Coming soon: 38S-1: Special Forces: A prison break from a facility no one has ever heard of, featuring villains thought long gone, pushes The.38 Specials into action to thwart the insidious, multi-layered scheme of Paragon City's latest nemesis.

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