A Precedent For Ring The Gong

Have I found examples of the human body withstanding, during the course of a sporting event, multiple examples of climbing up-and then being knocked down from, a large pit, as per my fictional sport of Ring the Gong?

I have, in the form of the infamous Mick Foley vs. The Undertaker wrestling match.

Basically, here’s what happened. Instead of being in the cage, they climbed on top of the cage. Foley was tossed off and hit the announcer’s table (in a clearly planned move) that still knocked him out. Getting off the stretcher and resuming the match, he was slammed through the cage and knocked out again (with a chair landing on him for “good measure”, but got on his feet and somehow finished as intended.

(Whether or not the second fall was planned is debated-Foley denies it altogether, and Terry Funk insists it was supposed to be gradual but ended up being sudden. I have a feeling it was “planned somewhat but ended up being more dangerous than anticipated”)

What this says about Ring the Gong is twofold:

-That a person can indeed survive drops from a high altitude in a sporting match.

-That they could not continue in a legitimate sport.

Now, I could handwave it away by “padding”, or I could say that falling is indeed a death sentence for Ring the Gong players, depending on how violent I want the sport to be.

 

The Gameplay Reason For A Soviet Iceland

Having mentioned the common trope of the Soviet Union launching an amphibious attack on Iceland popularized in Red Storm Rising, I was playing another Command scenario set with that premise when I saw something.

I can see the reasons for a Soviet invasion of Iceland being so common in potboiler fiction, regardless of the real (im)plausibility. Attacking Iceland is dramatic by itself. To have the invasion initially succeed also gives the “heel” (wrestling villain) the credibility they need to be more than a “jobber” (constant loser) so that the “face” (hero) can have an earned victory.

(Sorry, VGCW has inserted pro wrestling terms into me 😀 ).

But as I played, I saw the gameplay advantages an Iceland base gives. It makes sending aircraft to the North Atlantic far easier than it would be if the AI had to stage them from Kola, even with the refueling changes.

So at least for Command, gameplay reasons may be another (sometimes unintentional) reason for the popularity of the Soviets taking Iceland.

My favorite VGCW matches yet

What have my favorite matches in VGCW been?

Favorite One-on-One Match: Chief Arino vs. Ridley.

 

Why: Because of the pure spectacle. This is a monster movie fight, and the Ridley CAW is brilliant.

Favorite tag-team match: Shadow Ball Valley vs. The Dragons

Why: This requires a little more explanation. See, the Dragons (the protagonists of the Double Dragon games) had a long winning streak. This was not entirely due to their own capabilities, and more due to their opponents 2Kuality-ing out.

So, it was good that they were dethroned in a “legitimate” victory.

The Mystery Of The Plant Location

So, I have a dilemma about the location of an auto plant for one of my fictional endeavors. This illustrates a problem with trying to be too detailed.

Car plants have been everywhere, but note the emphasis on the past tense. It’s no secret that, in the US, the remaining factories are clustered in either the Midwest or Deep South. Proximity to the gigantic number of suppliers that any plant depends on is a crucial factor, as is an existing auto industry.

But for this particular plant (which, like many, has seen better days), the criteria is:

-It’s a foreign transplant, so probably not in the Michigan area.

-At the same time, I don’t want it in the countryside. The reason is…

-This is the main issue. The plant I want to be located near/in a large city. One that is so big, diverse, and inherently healthy regardless of the national economy that closing the plant would, while still being painful, not be a crippling blow. In fact, among many locals, the factory would seen as a clunky anachronism, and it should just hurry up and close so that the space can be used for something more productive and profitable.

I could use a fictional city, but it wouldn’t really work if it was that size. (A small town I can easily make up and put anywhere, but a city that could absorb one to two thousand job losses-not so much).

Or I could just be vague, but a part of me likes weird details.

The Ramshackle Mess Of 2Kuality

In VGCW, there is a phenomenon that (partially) explains the goofiness. The long name for this can be called “Watching designers push a rushed yearly wrestling game to its absolute limit.” The short names are “2Kuality” and “THQuality“.

Using WWE 2k14 had an additional problem-kind of. Once support was pulled and the servers shut down, they were stuck with the current rosters. (However, I must say that the nature of the show means the roster’s at its appropriate size anyway-adding more would devolve back into gimmicks).

2K15 had very limited customization. 2K16 is better, but still isn’t up to 2K14s, and, most importantly, lacks the “create a story” feature. (You’d have to prerecord the matches and make the story in Ren’Py or something similar, edit them, and then broadcast, compared to the existing smooth livestream).

I do want to see a 2K16 trial run, with a ton of new characters to shake up the matches. I fear the existing cast is too well known.

But the existing VGCW, jury-rigged as it is, is still enjoyable.

A Simulation and A Scenario

One of the best things about Command is that it can be both a what-if simulation and an enjoyable experience at the same time.

So I designed a scenario, intended as an exercise (a favorite of mine). In this case, the exercising nation was Iran, and the goal was to see if its air force had any offensive capability whatsoever. Hordes of shah-surplus and ex-Iraqi “reparation planes” face against the best approximation of the Gulf States’ ultra-modern hardware-F-14s, modified I-HAWKs, and a Tor missile battery.

A combination of feedback and my own trials answered the question. “Nominally.”

Over two dozen aircraft were lost in the full playthrough in exchange for moderate damage to part of the target airbase. Enough to win the scenario (which was only asking if they can get anything on the target at all, regardless of cost), but in real terms, not cost-effective in the slightest.

Against a force with better missiles than the AIM-54, they’d have fared even worse.

The scenario is available under the Steam Workshop as “Iran Airbase Attack Drill”,  and has been submitted to the community pack. Making it was very fun-the concepts of both the player being qualitatively inferior and forcing them to take heavy losses are ones I’ve been interested in, and I’m already entertaining ideas for using a similar force mixture in a “real” battle scenario.

The SaltyBet Resort

Watching a considerable variety of matches on the infamous Saltybet, the natural fanfic concept is to imagine a resort where the hundreds and hundreds of men, women, monsters, memes, cars, contraptions, and whatever else the MUGEN designers have made rest between their matches. Saltybet is too varied to provide any coherent concept, but the thought is still amusing.

The Smash Bros. fandom has set a precedent with the so-called “Smash Mansion”, where instead of turning back into trophies, the characters stay there between matches and interact in fics that tend to be bad even by the standards of Sturgeon’s Law.

Of course, since the long, official name is “Salty’s Dream Cast Casino”, my headcanon imagines another resort, where the interdimensional elite view and bet on such matches for their entertainment.

So maybe I’m just too bored when I see a Saltybet match and think “Hmm, what about ____ relaxing after the battle”.

Or maybe it’s just my sense of craziness that leads me to make fanfic ideas merging a cutesy RPG and a technothriller.

Bad Fiction Spotlight: The Big One

This is one of the first bad fiction series I found out about online, read for myself, and then criticized. So it’s kind of special-in multiple meanings of the term, of course.

This series is called The Big One. Written by a naval analyst named Stuart Slade, they’re both the most uninteresting (badly written with not a hint of excitement in the battles, obvious chapter-by-chapter webfiction turned to self-publishing with only a hint of the battles), and strangely interesting (the whole mystique around it).

So, first an examination of the “what.”

The timeline begins in 1940, with Lord Halifax seizing power from Churchill in a parliamentary coup. Then he makes peace with Germany, who then deploy “guards” to England, in a prelude to a Crimea-style taking of Britain(!). The US enters the war, fights on the mega-Eastern Front, Stalin is killed and the USSR reverts to Russia, and the war drags on until 1947, where a huge fleet of B-36s easily nukes Germany into utter ruin.

That was the “sane” part of it. The work had originated from a what if forum post, and turned into a sort of mix. Part of it was showing off the power of the early Cold War nuclear bomber fleets, and part of it was debunking the “wehraboo wunderwaffe” exaggeration of WWII Germany, showing that if the US enters the war, it will just be nuked even with artificial advantages.

Then things get crazier and crazier.

With Russia turned into a cuddly, fuzzy, Britain Special Relationship-level teddy bear, the opposition is dubious. First you get the holdout Germans who’ve managed to keep their logistical state in southern Russia going for a bizarrely long period before taken out in a final Russian ground offensive. They flee into the Middle East-

-And ally themselves with an anachronistic “Caliphate” that is blasphemous to any form of Islam, given that Stuart simply copy-pasted the Taliban organization over everything, and made things even worse by making Khomeini the “first among equals”. The goal is simply to turn a region that’s a decades long-puzzle of complexity into a pop-up bombing target that in terms of competence, makes the 1991 Iraqis look like aces in comparison.

(This was written around 2003-2004, for historical reference)

The other opponent is “Chipan”. A mix of the lazy “China absorbs its conquerors” pop history-gimmick and plot device, it’s a mix of China and Imperial Japan. Yes. The goal is to A: Neutralize both, and B: provide a “Cold War” against a state that has all the USSR’s weaknesses but none of its strengths.

One guess if it succeeds.

The US itself is a min-max army of nothing but nuclear bombers, aircraft carriers, and Marines for the obligatory ground battle.

All the books beyond the original suffer from being a sequence of events, where Stuart simply takes a snapshot of everything happening in the world and stuffs them all together in a way that makes sense for a posted-one-at-a-time forum work, but not in an actual novel.

The characters have no characterization. At best they’re one-note stereotypes, and at worst they’re just unit names. The battles-well, for anything American, it’s going to be an effortless victory, and for anything non-American, it’s a dull “LP-esque” description that makes the battles in The War That Never Was seem gripping.

The few recurring characters are a mix of forum member self inserts (one particular one being a “C. J. O’Seven”), and the immortal Mary Sues that make sure the timeline goes right. The leader is known as “The Seer”, and I’m sure it’s a coincidence that one author username was “Seer Stuart”.

These magical realist immortals have the historical lineup of presidents, to make sure the right decisions were taken. Of particular note is Robert McNamara, who is viewed as an evil man for cancelling the B-70 in real life, and thus is to be taken out-not just written out, but put into office so that he can be shown how wrong he was.

The books themselves would be a small diversion.

What’s more interesting is the internet drama around them.

Stuart was a massive panderer, which is why the hard-right cold warrior was able to stay at left-wing Stardestroyer.net for so long. By downplaying his views and presenting himself as the True Expert in a board that loved “true experts”, he stayed.

This sort of “true expert” phenomenon led to a weird condition where the books as written were obvious forum-pandering works. However, after they were completed, they turned into Serious, Important Works that had to be defended. Why, that book wasn’t a stompfic, it was a story of people trying to minimize the damage from an unavoidably bad outcome! It wasn’t celebrating the Massive Retaliation doctrine, it was criticizing it! The Seer wasn’t a self-insert, he was based on other people in “the business” Stuart knew! Honestly!

Then came the Salvation War series. These featured a seemingly un-mess-upable plotline: a Doom-esque struggle of modern weaponry against literal demons. (It was no coincidence that SDN had a reputation of being incredibly anti-religious).

Stuart messed it up.

The humans win easily with boring battles, then win slightly less easily in the sequel. That’s basically it.

At that point, SDN turned on him. First, people began openly criticizing the work, in a place apart from the main thread where it would be drowned out by cheers. Second, the true ‘horrors’ of the tiny board he had been based on became known, and his reputation as an unorthodox but still powerful “expert” dropped there. Third, there was the Publishing Incident.

According to Stuart, he was in the process of getting a huge advance from a publisher to legitimately set the books, but then someone posted the story on the internet for download, and the deal collapsed. That someone was an insulted religious fundamentalist.

No one believed the story, and Stuart ended up being outright banned, his works treated with mockery thereafter in the declining SDN.

Was there any lost potential drowned out by the sea of sycophancy? In the original The Big One itself, a tiny bit. But very tiny. It’s at least more focused due to fewer plotlines, as opposed to later events where, between a bomber being shot down over the Middle East (thanks solely to McNamara’s evil intervention, of course), and the response to that, the reader gets an unrelated chapter including a long infodump on the politics of arms sales to Taiwan.

So, probably-not.