Running Commentary 7/18/2022
I watched the first couple episodes of Ms. Marvel, which had its finale this past week. I haven’t seen the rest of it. I’ll probably cover that next week, but this week I’m focussing on TennoCon.
Let’s get right into that...
TennoCon 2022 was this past Saturday. For the third year, it was an all-virtual event, and, as always, it came with a lot of announcements about big coming updates. Here are my thoughts:
- The biggest announcement came at the very end when Steve Sinclair announced that he and some of the other senior devs would be leaving their roles at Warframe to work on a new game, an action-fantasy thing called Soulframe, which, at least from the title, would seem to be some blend of Warframe and Dark Souls. As a Warframe fan, this news is both exciting and potentially concerning; I will absolutely be trying out Soulframe, and I’m looking forward to seeing what DE does with a whole new game, but Soulframe does mean that Warframe won’t be DE’s whole deal anymore. It’s not getting sunsetted; Rebecca Ford is Warframe’s new creative director, and DE wouldn’t have stuck her in charge of a dead game. Two content updates and two new frames were announced just for this year (which I’ll get into later) and DE has said they intend for Warframe and Soulframe to co-exist for years to come. But if at some point Warframe does start to run out of steam, DE will have an out. If they’d had such an out before, Warframe probably wouldn’t still be around. Indeed, if DE hadn’t run out of work back in the day Warframe wouldn’t ever have been made. But, for now, things are looking up for DE. Congratulations to Rebecca Ford and good luck to Steve Sinclair, Geoff Crookes, and the others on their new venture.
- The long-requested werewolf-frame is being made. All we know so far is what we can see of the concept art and that it won’t be built around having claws (which three ‘frames already have.) The frame will be designed by Joe Madueria of the Texan game studio Airship Syndicate, which DE will apparently be partnering with on some third game, which will be announced later.
- Before that, though, we’ll be getting Styanax, who’s slated to be the fiftieth warframe in the game. He’ll be a sort of Grecian spear-and-shield wielder, and he’ll release with the next big update. He’ll get an animated short introducing him later.
- The next two quests, “Veilbreaker” and “The Duviri Paradox” both will be following up on the new gameplay types introduced in *“*The New War”, which is an interesting move. “Veilbreaker” is coming first, possibly before the end of the summer. It will focus on the valiant Grineer lancer Kahl-175 fighting to free his brothers from Narmer’s brainwashing veils. From the looks of it, we’ll be able to kit out Kahl with custom looks and loadouts, so I’m thinking this isn’t just a new quest, but a whole new mission type where we play as Kahl. “The Duviri Paradox”, which was first announced way back at TennoCon 2020, will apparently be about the Drifter’s time before the events of “The New War” (”before” being a somewhat tricky term when dealing with the Drifter, of course.) The Planes of Duviri will be an open world, but not like the other open worlds. It really feels like a parallel game to Warframe; I’m curious to see how what we saw in the demo will tie into the main game. One thing’s for sure: we’re gonna see the biggest expansion of gameplay since “Plains of Eidolon” introduced the open worlds in the first place.
- If I were to make a wild bit of speculation, I’d say that Dominus Thrax is yet another version of the Operator. That might not be true at all, but if it is, I’ll sure seem prescient.
Bird of the Week
It’s been a while since I’ve drawn a waterfowl. It still has; this piece I drew back just before starting A Running Commentary. The Mute Swan is one of the largest water birds in the world; indeed, one exceptional male was found to weigh roughly fifty pounds, making it the most massive specimen of any flighted species known. (On average, both the trumpeter swan and the bustards are heavier flying birds.) Swans, I should mention, are larger cousins to the geese, and more distantly the ducks, shelducks, whistling-ducks, and mergansers. Like geese, they are herbivorous; unlike geese, they are not prone to forming large flocks. Mute swans particularly are strongly territorial, and small lakes are generally dominated by a single, mated pair.
Mute swans are native to Europe, where they are prized for their elegant beauty. When Europeans spread throughout the world, they eventually brought swans with them. In places like Australia, they’ve made limited inroads, but in much of North America, where the environment is more full of lakes and ponds, these birds have acclimated readily. In much of the U.S., Michigan included, mute swans are considered a problematic, invasive species, out-competing native waterfowl for food. Michigan is home to more mute swans than any other state, and our Department of Natural Resources will permit the destruction of their nests when they become a nuisance.
The term “swan” ultimately derives from a proto-Indo-European word that also serves as the source of the word “sound”. In Old English, “swan” would be understood as meaning a noisy or singing bird. Many species of swans are noted for their loud, whooping calls. Thus, a mute swan is something of an oxymoron. Mute swans are capable of making grunting and snorting sounds, but do not make full-on calls like their cousins. The loudest sound they make is the droning of their massive wings when they fly. Legends of mute swans delivering a lengthy, melodious song just before they die, the origin of the phrase “swan song”, are not based in any actual phenomenon. (The swan I’ve drawn here is swimming in the Grand River as it runs through Lansing, Michigan’s capital city. The building in the background is the headquarters of one of several insurance companies based in Lansing.)
To science, mute swans are Cygnus olor. “Cygnus” is a Latin term for “swan”, also used in astronomy to name a constellation thought to resemble a swan in flight. “Olor” is an older Latin term for “swan”.
A Visit to the Human Factory | James Vincent, The Verge
Featuring robotics firm Engineered Arts, a look at the current state of androids. Not the smartphones, the humanoid machines. These are still firmly in the R&D phase, but they’re getting more realistic every year. Engineered Arts is focused mainly at replicating human physical expression and body language.
How One of America’s Most Influential Black Writers Befriended a Pioneering American Aviator | Gene Andrew Jarrett*, Literary Hub*
An excerpt from Jarrett’s The Life and Times of a Caged Bird, a biography of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, profiling Dunbar’s friendship with high school classmate and future airplane inventor Orville Wright, with whom he briefly published a newspaper for black residents of Dayton, Ohio.
The 2022 Audubon Photography Awards: The Top 100 | Audubon
And following up on last week's winners, here are the top hundred submissions to this year's Audubon Photography Contest. Honestly, I thought several of these were better than any of the winners. (Of course, my favorite is of a duck: Garrett Yarter's portrait of a splashing bufflehead.)
A Siege of Cranes | Benjamin Rosenbaum, Lightspeed Magazine
[FICTION] When he finds his home village crushed, Marish sets out across strange countries seeking what monster could have caused such a calamity. This story was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story of 2007.
See the full archive of curations on Notion