Thursday, June 11, 2020

A Thousand Words: MTAP

I wrote about a thousand words today, explaining why I'd like to be posting more about My Time At Portia but I'm not. It all turned out a bit blogging-about-blogging and I think we probably had more than enough of that during Blapril so I canned the lot. I might end up posting it at some point but for now it can sit in that draft folder we also talked about far too much a few weeks back.

Instead, here are some screenshots with commentary, kind of a shorthand version of what I was trying to say, only with a lot less navel-gazing. You know what they say about pictures. If that was true, this would do until the end of the month, or very nearly. It's not, of course. If it was I wouldn't need the commentary, would I?

Portia has four months. They're called Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Portia has four Seasons. They all have twenty-eight days. I'd like to see someone chart that planetary motion.

The game starts in Spring. I didn't notice a huge difference when Summer came. The crops grew. It stopped raining so much.

When Autumn rolled in there were big changes. The leaves turned red-gold. There seemed to be more shadows. Maybe I imagined that part.

It was about this time that I worked out how to take widescreen shots without the UI. I turned off the quest tracker. It was that simple. I still have to crop the hotbar and the mini map from the bottom of the shot but that doesn't disrupt the composition much at all.

It's easy to tell which shots are which. The ones where I remembered to go in and unpin the quests look like Cinemascope. The ones where I forgot and had to crop the right hand edge are more like Academy Ratio.

My house/farm/workshop whatever you want to call it is coming along nicely. I'm aware that to be efficient I should have banks of machines in there mass-producing materials night and day but screw that. Maybe when I save up enough money to buy the plot next door. I'm working on it but money is hard to come by in the post-post-apocalypse.

Projects that looked overwhelming a week ago look manageable now. Commissions that seemed tough seem trivial. This is what we call "progression". You'd think it was a good thing but is it? It might just be the harbinger of an all too-familiar future.

I made and installed this streetlamp. It was extraordinarily satisfying. I happened to notice while I was looking up something else on the wiki that you can somehow change the color of the light it casts. I've already forgotten how. I strongly suspect there are a lot of things you can do that aren't documented in game. It's a balancing act, holding on to the mystery and not missing out altogether.

Day of Memories started out unexpectedly seriously. We all stood in the town square while Mayor Gale explained it was based on an ancient celebration known as Memorial Day. The "ghosts" we saw all over town represented an idea meant to cheer everyone up but which ended up being responsible for the death of the man who came up with it. Shot by trigger-happy survivors who believed they were real. Then we all stood with our heads bowed for what seemed like half an hour.

After that I went and had a bit of a sit down and a think. Then we all ran around for five hours chasing ghosts and grabbing badges. There was a competition and I came fourth. Actually I came third equal but I think the tie-breaker was who got their badges first. I didn't take any pictures. I was too busy jumping off buildings and firing my ghost gun.

At the end of the day we all went down to the water. Everyone in town came. We let go dozens of lanterns. I sent up four of the biggest ones, each one symbolizing an emotion. Everyone seemed to like that a lot and they liked me for doing it, too.

At this point you might have noticed I seem to have slipped from third person reportage into first person narrative. It's easy to lose track of who you are in Portia. The immersion factor is very strong. As much as I wish this was an MMORPG, I'm not sure it would be as affecting or effective, not with people goofing around all over the place, like they do. NPCs always stay in character, especialy when they're scripted as well as this.

Remember that lost dog poster? It did turn out to be a quest. I thought it might. The dog's name is Scraps.

I found him eventually. Completely by accident. I was climbing about on a crumbling wall over a polluted lake and I fell off and there he was, hiding under what looked like an abandoned display cabinet. If I hadn't been doing parkour I can't see how I'd ever had spotted him.

He ran away but Polly said I wasn't to worry. He always did that. At least we know he's alive.

...and I'm back in character again! It so easy to slip into it. Maybe that's the solution to the problem I was wrestling with, all those thousand words.

It's a thought but let's close with something objective and analytical. In every other shot my character has her eyes wide open. I hadn't noticed she could close them or even blink. In this shot, though, she seems to have her eyes shut. Compare it with the picture at the head of the post, taken just a moment before.

Is it a glitch or did I just happen to catch her blinking? There are some things pictures can capture that words can't, after all.

And on that important note...


  1. Honestly, I don't know if the characters' eyes blink, but you did capture it so....

    I think it's safe to say that you're smitten.

    1. Last night I took the trouble to watch for it and yes, they do. And yes, I am.


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