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The aces are taking over

To the Developers of The Arcana Game:

Warning, this isn’t going to be very nice. I will keep the swearing and personal attacks off this post but this is not going to be nice. Sorry, not sorry. I am a Portia fan first, a Devorak fan second, and ‘good storytelling’ fan all around. And I am not happy.

It has come to my attention that the lead writer of Portia’s route has released a tweet begging people to play her route, saying that it isn’t breaking even and that its completion is being threaten due to low fan interest.

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It pains me as a Portia fan to say that but it is exactly how I feel. Good. I hope it doesn’t get finished, if what we have gotten the last two books is indicative of the final product.

Also, how dare you.

How. Dare. You.

I don’t even know where to begin at this point. Let’s start with this letter. You, Arcana devs, you are the reason that Portia’s route is failing, not the fans. Before the secondaries started, Portia was just as popular and just as anticipated as the boys, if not more so. You were the ones who squandered that enthusiasm. It has been obvious for books now that her route is generating less attention. That’s months and months of real time feedback. Yes, not all routes are going to appeal to all people. But. You saw she was struggling and rather than put a tenth of the attention, effort, and advertising into her that you put into Lucio or Muriel, you let the situation continue. You had options for dealing with the situation. Remember how you ignored her recent birthday? Remember how you just delayed her book in favor of Lucio’s without explanation? Remember how many posts on your twitter and BtS stuff go to Muriel and Lucio, not her? Remember how her brother is one of the most popular characters period and how you didn’t use that to her route’s advantage, either in advertising or story line? Remember how you decided to create all these extra backgrounds and new sprites when you knew she was struggling to “bring in revenue” and that she “wasn’t breaking even”?

No, wait, I take that back.

Instead of letting the situation continue, you actively sabotaged her route for the few fans who were reading and enjoying it. Remember what you guys did with the Death book? Remember that big huge twist you spoiled in random newspaper clippings less than two days before you released the book? Remember that? Let me tell you, I still do. I remember being insulted that this route, alone of all the others, was spoiled so heavily in a bid for attention. The last two books in particular have been a mess.

No, seriously, let’s talk about them. It’s very, very clear from the decline in writing quality, which went from a very thoughtful, tightly focused story on Portia and the mundane, common folk of Vesuvia to an LSD trip less coherent than Alice in Wonderland, that major portions of her story were changed or just dropped in a bid for fan attention. Don’t believe me? I have an entire 3000 word meta-analysis on Portia’s route, character, and themes up through Book 13 over here. You’re welcome.

The most obvious and egregious example of changes forced into the route for attention is the masquerade dress introduced in Book 14. Why in the Star’s name would you add that dress in that manner in that context? Why would Portia, of all people, care about a pretty dress when the palace just got blown up and her brother was still missing? Why would Nadia care about said dress when her entire family has vanished? Why is Portia actively changing into a dress she acknowledges in text is beautiful and bulky and not made for running around in when she’s going to be running around the city? And to top it all off, if you had to have her in the dress, why in the High Priestess’ realm would you not give it to her after her bath scene where it makes sense? No, seriously, think about it. Portia wearing her new fancy dress to her aunt’s pre-masquerade party makes sense, not finding it on the cottage stoop. It’s a nice contrast and parallel to the outfit she was wearing for Tasya’s bribery dinner. Portia not changing out of the dress makes more sense than Portia changing into the dress.

That is only one example. I can pick out any number of out of character moments or pacing issues from this last book especially, and oh boy I will have a huge post on that, but here, have a few little things I noticed. Why was the cliffhanger from 14 not resolved at the beginning of 15? Why did we waste a quarter of the book finding Muriel for no reason? No, seriously, I love Muriel but he has no bearing on Portia’s story, much like Portia barely features in his or Lucio’s books. Why did Lucio reappear off screen? Why did Asra’s characterization and reactions flip flop from line to line? One moment he’s worried about Muriel, the next he wants to chase butterflies? What? Why was there no sense of urgency to anything the characters did or said since Temperance started?

Also, perhaps most importantly, Book 15 is The Devil. Where was the Devil? Where? Where was Tasya? This is the rising action to the climax, writers. You know better than this. Everyone knows you know better and are better than this. We know you know better than this because Muriel’s route has a very similar scenario with damage to the palace and caring for refugees and it does miles better than Portia’s. We know you know better because this decline in quality has only appeared here, in the least popular route’s desperate search for attention, and has largely remained out of the more popular routes.

Here’s the gist of the situation, Arcana devs.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, I defended Portia’s route and explained how wonderful it was. I was so invested in her and where her story was headed. I defended it against complaints that it was boring or too similar to the primary routes or that nothing was happening in it. I didn’t care about the other routes because I was getting everything I ever wanted out of the game from her route alone. I even held off writing about my disappointments with Book 14 just in case that was a one time bump in the road. It was not. So now I speak.

I am glad that your mad scramble changes failed to generate any new interest in her story line.

I’m glad because you stripped all the character arcs, themes, and meanings from the first half in exchange for fan service and attention in a last ditch gamble which thus far has failed.

I’m glad because now, maybe, you’ll look at this situation and realize exactly where you went wrong.

After all, the Star is a card of clarity and truth.

-Mod Telos

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