You’ve Been Canonized!: Discomb and Myth
Welcome to this Special Edition of You’ve Been Canonized! our weekly interview segment here on Timelines . Today we have a special where we’ll be doing a two person interview today as well as some back and forth going on . If you’re new to the programme I’m your host canonized author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? and this is the programme where we interview patron authors and find out more about them , their thoughts on Timelines , and their current project ! This week , our special edition , we’ll be getting to know Discomb and we’ll also be once again meeting up with Myth one of our earliest interviewees both of whom are working on Myth's latest work Permanently Operating Factors - A Soviet LAN AAR ! Hope you all enjoy !
Part I: A New Face !
Let’s get to know Discomb !
canonized: First , it's a pleasure to have both of you on the programme . Since we already spoke with Myth in a previous interview I'd like to focus part I with you today , Discomb . Tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been active in the Paradox community .
Discomb: Hmm, I've been reading passively for... pretty much since Myth started posting himself. Every now and then I'd stop by and just evaluate his work, because that's what we do. I only registered sometime in the spring of '06 if my memory doesn't fail me, to post in our first large ARR which we did together, that being Bayonets Made of Milk. Paradox aside, I'm a graphic designer and digital artist currently living and working in China for no particular reason. I don't have a profound interest in either history or writing, except the healthy interest I have for all things in general, and for the fact that I've written 4 books myself.
canonized: So I'm curious ; how did you and Myth meet ?
Discomb: We happened to go to the same highschool in Latvia, though didn't communicate much in the first year of both being there. It wasn't until the second year that we really became friends and started LANning frequently and consistently. We're just, two completely different people in way too many respects, but our creative minds match in such an odd way that we never quite figured out how we manage to complement each other so well. We're like a duo running a relay race unable to figure out who should hold the stick, so we end up tossing it back to each other as we do several laps more than is required.
canonized: So what brings you to play HOI2 so much especially in LAN situations such as with Myth's latest AAR and do you play any other Paradox Games ?
Discomb: Initially it was Myth who discovered HoI2, and we tried it out in one of our usual LAN gatherings. It seemed to have potential so I got the disk from him and kept playing myself. It's just a great game, and we've LANned it quite a large number of times by now, with other people besides ourselves. I also play Crusader Kings, and was actually going to purchase Deus Vult tomorrow.
canonized: If you were to describe your writing style in AARs (since it's quite unique in its own way haha) how would you say it is and how does it come to you to write with such energy ?
Discomb: I'm not entirely sure. If you were to look at my works of fiction, you'd notice they are completely different in style. In fact, my life is very far removed from one that can be called normal, and this deeply influenced my personality and the way I think. I believe Myth will confirm this. My thought patterns are so distant from conventional norms, that I only know of two people who have understood even a small fraction of my latest book, and it seems very logical and normal to me in its' entirety. When I write for the AARs, however, I tend to just act. I imagine myself as a character I've built up in my mind (either Benito, or myself in the latest example) and force out all the interesting things I can, focusing only on the specific points I wish to address. This is one key element in which I differ from Myth. He adds lots of details related to setting and otherwise story development, whereas I go straight to the point, but somehow end up suggesting it rather than stating it. It's really hard to explain. I've struggled with this question for a very long time, and this whole reply to your question was probably entirely uninteresting as it's a deeply personal one for me.
canonized: No , not at all , it's always great to see artists thoughts . May I ask , as a relatively new person on the scene , what you think of AARland ?
Discomb: I've read some deeply interesting and amusing AARs, and some wildly uninteresting ones. Overall the idea of a mock history doesn't interest me. With HoI2 you can create virtually any scenario, and the novelty of the Japanese landing in Scotland just doesn't strike me as particularly absurd. I do, however, appreciate excellent writing, and there's plenty of talent on these forums.
canonized: I know from my experience with Myth that he's very steeped in research of the WW2 period ; what kind of specialty have you studied or have an interest in that helps inspire your AAR activity ?
Discomb: None. I'm simply interested in everything, without exception. History, military theory, grand strategy and operational level tactics, it's all interesting to me. I pretty much just use the game as an excuse to do some creative writing. It's never been the case that I play the next month of Bayonets Made of Milk because I couldn't write for the previous. I could have been lazy, or played a few months in advance, but I profoundly enjoy writing in general, and the game is my content. In fact, to be perfectly honest, Myth is an excellent storyteller, and he's recently becoming a fairly good writer. I am the exact opposite. My grasp of writing style is pretty advanced, but as far as telling a story goes, I'm wasting my time even thinking about it. HoI2 gives me the story, and I just have to dance around it creatively, making it into a piece of fiction. That is really helpful.
canonized: When you get DV , do you think you'll be writing something for that as well ?
Discomb: I've considered it, but probably not. We'll see how it turns out. I may or may not change my mind.
Part II: Mythic Return !
We catch up with Myth on his thoughts on the ever growing story of Timelines !
canonized: So it's been a while but another one of our oldest fans is back on the chopping block ! How has Season I been for you ?
Myth: It was quite interesting. The bad guys always seemed to be at least a half step ahead of the good guys, who half the time seem like they don't even know why they're doing things because the objects they're after are continually shrouded in mystery. It just seems to me that the bad guys seem much more informed about it all, and perhaps even more competent than the good guys in several ways, which is something of a departure from typical stories where the good guys always come out on top. This time, we see stalemate as everything is lost to both sides. It's certainly an end to the season that makes one wonder about the future of the world that has been crafted.
canonized: We were talking with Amric last week about some of the bad guys and their symbology in the Timelines thematic scenery ; what kind of motifs do you notice so far in ?
Myth: Well the one obvious connection I've seen is that the bad guys are either Nazi's, or are being sponsored by the Nazi's, in sort of proxy-covert operations. Otherwise, I'm not really sure. I understand there are many references to pop culture or other games or whatnot, but I mostly fail to pick up on those due to ignorance of the culture or not having played the games or such.
canonized: Season II's starting to gain some speed , what kind of differences and similarities do you see between the two seasons ?
Myth: Well, the whole new cast of characters, and subtle differences in the world since the end of Season I, almost throws the reader into a new world. The geopolitics have changed somewhat, the main personalities have changed and the reader has yet to really delve into their relationships. It seems that, in comparison to Season I, in history the bad guys have become somewhat more prominent and have been gaining ground, or at least there are more dangers to Spain than there were in the beginning of Season I, while at the same time in the present day the main characters seem to be sometimes even more clueless than before. It almost makes one wonder just how the saga will finally end.
canonized: Our newest main character Raul in the past is a bit of a conflicted guy as opposed to the very sure Antonio ; how has this change affected you ?
Myth: It's made his intentions seem somewhat unsure in my eyes, as if it's possible that he could be seduced to become a pseudo-ally of the Nazi's if they aid him in some way, perhaps in parallel to our world's Franco and Hitler. But, like Franco, perhaps at heart Raul is more of a mercenary type and the Nazi's don't offer enough to really make him turn against the empire to which he's pledged loyalty. He simply seems to be a darker, shiftier, character, with more surprises in him than Antonio had.
canonized: We have at least seen two individuals from the previous season - General Grubby and Metropolitan Andronikos . Although they have changed much from their previous selves - how was it for you with the mysterious gap between the two acts ?
Myth: Well, end of Season I, the beginning of Season II and the gap between them coincided with a period when I was quite busy with work at the Latvian Ministry of Defense, had a busted laptop (the screen was dead) and was traveling slightly around the world--first to the Netherlands, then to the United States. When I finally was able to pick Timelines up again, Season I ended easily for me as I was picking up familiar threads but the beginning of Season II was slightly jarring, in part due to the differences I mentioned above but also that while most of the threads were familiar, I had still lost some and I think only a complete re-read of Season II so far will allow me to regain them.
canonized: And lastly , of course , any new insights on the Timepiece and the Keys ?
Hmm...I'm not sure, really. I think I'll stick with my previous ideas until at least further along into Season II.
Part III: The Rising Red Star
Now for a special informal style talk with Discomb and Myth about Myth’s latest AAR !
canonized: First , i'd like to say that the counterpoint between the serious gameplay updates and the hilarity that is added creates a nice mix ; did you two plan on doing so from the beginning ? A tradition from Bayonets perhaps ?
Myth: Not particularly, I don't think. POF is primarily my AAR and I write most of the updates. Discomb knows how the game's gone so when he thinks he has something to contribute he writes it up and his update replaces mine for that day. It's not really planned out, it just happens--kind of like everything else we do.
Discomb: Originally the plan was to write two separate AARs of two separate accounts of the story, but I later realized that my interest in writing a serious, context-accurate work is not nearly enough to commit myself to this plan. Besides, I'd have been competing against Myth in a discipline he is more or less an unspokenly appointed diety.
canonized: Haha well Myth definitely has an aura about him doesn't he ? It's true that this is primarily Myth's work and as usual the caliber of his erudition and narrative are award winning . In this current story , however , thanks to your participation , Discomb , we also get to see the real side of Myth behind the almost general-like stature . How has this AAR been for both of you as an experience so far ?
Discomb: The writing has mostly been somewhere between fun and very very fun. I get a free hand in what sort of voice I get to use, and it's great practice for the demi-sarcastic ramble of cynicism that I'm not terribly versed in. I get to use whatever odd description I think up without any character or context constraints, AND I get to make fun of my brother. What could be better?
Myth: Well, for myself, the AAR's been a way for me to work on my characters, which (as can be seen already) are being more developed than in any of my/our previous AARs except Bayonets Made of Milk, where the entire concept was character-driven. Whereas most of my previous AARs went by month, POF goes by little dribbles of time, from an hour to a week or so. This allows me to detail characters' reactions to individual events in more detail and extend the AAR's life as well. It's also valuable preparation for a future AAR I'm planning that will be even further character driven than this one will be. And yes, it's interesting poking fun at his brother. At times he almost seems to be a caricature (or however you spell that, can fix that in editing ), he seems so inept. At other times, he can be pretty good, though.
Discomb: Pavel is a really cool guy, and an absolute genius in a number of things, such as dancing for example. Both I and he are phenomenal dancers, but he makes me look like a sand gobbling clown. Besides being a fairly intelligent person, he fails miserably at so many common things that it's almost painful to witness. Now, as for the game itself... The game was... intense. Somehow it so happened that even in the initial years, as we pummeled away at the AI, certain things happened and the game never ceased to be interesting. The whole world went to hell, completely random countries were doing things that are several brain failures on the side of irrational, and well... The final showdown was nothing short of intense. It took us two hours (I think) to play through until one of us admitted defeat, because he sucks. I'm not sure if I should say how long that took in game time.
Myth: Well, on my side, the game was also quite interesting, though perhaps not as shocking as Discomb's game. I overran some countries, saw the same illogical AI events that Discomb did. War finally came between me and Discomb and, well, as we played I ended up sweating a lot and shaking just because the pressure was on. The war was devastating; there were many close calls that had me breathing heavily once they were finally resolved. It was a difficult war for both of us, but insanely fun.
Discomb: Perhaps the most shocking thing about it is that it was really, REALLY close. Up to the point where if a battle ended one hour later than it actually did, the tide may have turned completely in the other direction.
Myth: Yes. There were several such battles, certain province names are virtually anathema to us now.
Discomb: Haha, very true. Every time he mentions the name of one that begins with S, I immediately shut off all access to my memory in fear of remembering that dreadful place. Our in-game selves probably conventionally refer to it as "Death". I can picture this exchange between two generals of either side very clearly: "Hey, I think we can make a significant strategic breakthrough if we attack Death again." -- "Oh no, don't you remember the last thing that happened at Death?" Frankly, death happened at Death
canonized: So it seems like there's an exciting road ahead and I know at least that Myth has prepared diligently updates in advance . And with a mix of narrative and tough gameplay it'll be fantastic . Speaking of that tough gameplay , as two accomplished Generals in your own rights , could you give us some comments on the tactical aspects of fighting each other ; of what kind of excitement in innovative warfare in the future of the AAR and to HOI2 in general ?
Myth: Well, in my various invasions of certain countries I tried to stay as true as I could to my interpretation of the Soviet Deep Battle Doctrine. Readers can see from the update concerning the beginning of the invasion of Turkey, the first operational phase lasts from the first border fights right up to the Bosporus and the Sea of Marmora. As detailed in the first STAVKA report, I even planned to get airborne units in on the final war, against Discomb. Well, not everything went entirely according to plan in that last war and in the most active area of the front, my specially named Fronts somewhat lost coherence in the face of Discomb's advances and my own desperate counterattacks. Any war between intelligent foes in HoI2 eventually results in a war of attrition on one scale or another (even encirclement and destruction is attritional in nature, but dramatically so--unlike, say, Verdun historically). Additionally, Discomb had his brother supporting him, which made things even more difficult for me.
Discomb: Except that didn't work out so well, for reasons related to possible humor later in the AAR. I would disagree with the fact that it results in attrition, however. Though human players are more intelligent and will prepare for a myriad of situation (such as Myth placing a garrison at Arkhangelsk to prevent me landing there amphibiously), there is still plenty of room for clever maneuver, such as for example the last time we played USSR, Germany and Great Britain. I believe that game was won mostly by clever counterattacks that tied up the majority of the German army, trying desperately to catch up to the few crazy runaway motorized infantry corps.
But yes, the last time we played such a scenario, I (as the Soviet Union) was able to maneuver to incredible effect, sometimes entirely out of proportion to the forces I dedicated to it. That wasn't quite as present in this latest game, however.
Discomb: Mostly because the fighting was heavy on every single front.
Myth: That's true. There were a hell of a lot of casualties.
canonized: What kind of world rationality or narrative devices have you employed to make this into a personal and historical narrative ?
Myth: Well, there is no historical rational whatsoever. There are no diplomatic ties binding the states of Europe, or any states for that matter, save the ties of alliance between Berlin and London. We have a massive equatorial Africa but don't explain how, and barely why (the why part being so that it's easier to conquer European countries). As for certain events within the game, well--I've figured out a way to rationalize some of them, but you'll see some of that in tomorrow's (Saturday's) update, I believe. Otherwise, it's pretty much anything goes. As for the story I/we had in mind, it began mostly as just an interaction between the decisions made in the higher command echelons and the grunts on the ground but quickly developed in other directions as well. One problem I foresee is the aging of the soldier characters, as they're all part of the army at the beginning of the game in 1936 but the war only begins in 1942. I suppose they're simply professional soldiers, though. It's a problem I hadn't realized before but that I can't really explain any other way.
Discomb: I can't really say anything. As I was playing, I was happy with every irrational move the AI was making, because I knew it would make for a more interesting read later. That's honestly all I was thinking about. That, and finally winning at least one game of HoI2 against Myth
canonized: Since we still have a ways to go before the end , instead of asking about future AAR works , my last question is this : Nuke Option ?
Myth: Nope. I didn't even bother.
Discomb: I'm all for it, and I've almost used it in a game, but we never finished that one. It makes things more interesting for sure.
Myth: I prefer straight military results, myself. The wheeling of tank armies and the slog of the infantry divisions over a nuclear blast.
Discomb: But it's certainly a great weapon in some respects. Had the war dragged on for a number of years, I'm sure nuking Magnitogorsk would have severely affected the outcome.
Myth: Yes..or Moscow. Or ‘Death’ when my armies are there. Plenty of targets, but for the time spent researching nuclear weapons and strategic weapons, I could research quite a few other, more immediately useful, technologies.
Discomb: Agreed. I didn't even begin researching nuclear weapons or the carrier technology in this game.
canonized: Well thank you both again for being with us on this special edition of You’ve Been Canonized ! It’s an honour to see Myth again and to get to know you , Discomb ! Wish you both luck ! Would like to thank our audience for tuning in again this week and hope you all had fun as well . Please don’t forget to keep all of us in mind for the AARland Choice AwAARds 2007 Q3 even if you won’t be voting for Discomb , Myth , or myself it’s always good to get the vote out ! Hope to see you all next week , we’ll be announcing our next interviewee sometime during the week ! Good fight , good night !