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This man is the best at dealing with Michael Scott, “I’m going to stop you right there, and leave.”-iconic. But, he also shows up if it matters, he comes to casino night, does the fun run, and gets Michael Scott Paper an office. He is responsible for pretzel day. The real OG: Billy Merchant.
Reading through some of the posts I can see how a lot of newbies have FOMO (fear of missing out). Post after post of losers making huge returns. Everyone is getting rich but you. Boofuckinghoo. The smart investor realizes it’s all hype. Some of it works, most of it doesn’t. To be successful you need to be able to recognize the difference and to do that, you need time, knowledge and practice. Here are ten tips that can help you along the way. Tip 1 - You don’t know shit You’re going to lose your money. Don’t get suckered by reading posts about guys who made 1000% return in 5 minutes. For every one guy that posts his massive gains, 100+ suckers have lost their money. The first lesson to realize is that it’s way easier to lose money in the market than to make money. Tip 2 - Understand how money flows in the market Money moves from the idiots to the knowledgable, from the impatient to the patient. Any dummy can make money short term. But to make money long-term and truly grow a portfolio, you have to be armed with knowledge and a shit ton of patience. Tip 3 - Play for the long term The most important rule you need to follow religiously is NEVER FUCKING LOSE MONEY. Print it big, tape it to your wall. Your top responsibility is protecting your capital. YOLO is a stupid play. 99% of you are going to bet at the wrong time with the wrong stock. Calm the fuck down and work on a long term strategy. You have decades dummy. Tip 4 - Time is on your side, but not much else The market never stops. The machine just churns and churns. Rich to poor, poor to rich, it just keeps on turning and turning. There are ALWAYS opportunities. Another IPO. Another MEME turd. FOMO is for fools. Miss a run? Big fucking deal. There’s another one around the corner. You have plenty of time to learn, test, and grow your capital. Tip 5 - Paper Trading Paper trading is a simulation. It behaves exactly like a real account with real active data but it’s all practice. No real money exchanges. It’s a great way to learn, to see how shitty you’re going to do without losing a penny. DO THIS FOR TWO YEARS. Take whatever capital you have right now and buy some long term ETFs or solid ass stocks with minimal risk. Keep adding to it EVERY paycheck. Build up some capital for when you’re ready to trade for real. Take two years to learn how to trade, watch your paper portfolio go to zero a couple dozen times, read and follow the news, WSB, Stocktwits, etc. Ask questions, test out your strategies. You’ll thank me two years from now. Tip 6 - Understand taxes Big difference between short term and long term capital gains. Uncle Sam loves you short timers. Paying taxes is for suckers. Tip 7 - No one knows shit There is no crystal ball, no one has the “inside track”, and only believe 10% of what you read. Be very fucking skeptical. About everything. Social media, analysts, CEOs, news, all if it, be fucking skeptical. It’s all manipulation. Don’t even trust Buffett. You are the guardian of your capital. Everyone wants to take it it away from you. Understand that and you won’t get suckered so easily. Tip 8 - Learn to read fundamentals and understand valuations As much as the market today feels like a casino, the underlying foundation of the market is investing, not gambling. With every stock you buy you’re buying a piece of a business. Learn to read fundamentals. Do they make money? Are they growing? Do they have debt? How are their competitors valued? Do they make more money today than they did 5 years ago? How will they make more? How do they return capital to shareholders? And on and on and on. Learn motherfuckers. Earnings per share. P/E rations. Intrinsic value. Net income. Figure out formulas for valuing stocks. Is TSLA worth over 250x earnings? Is WFC undervalued at 13x earnings? Investing blindly because big_dick_loser said so in a post is beyond idiotic. Just burn your money, you’ll have more fun. Tip 9 - Get rich schemes are for suckers Remove the bookmark for Ferrari. You ain’t getting one anytime soon. Play fucking smart. Go long. Think in decades, not days. You’re not smart enough to day trade and beat the system. Not long-term anyways. Most of you won’t beat the market over 10 years. So be fucking smart. Paper trade until you can consistently prove gains month after month. When you’re ready to trade for real, dip in slowly. Fuck FOMO. Fuck YOLO. Remember, time is on your side. Compound that shit. Tip 10 - Discipline and dedication Like anything in life, to be successful you have to fucking work at it. Easy money never lasts. Dig in, learn, practice, rinse and repeat. Be motivated to learn how to invest, take the time to study, read, test and constantly improve. Be disciplined with your money. It’s fucking hard to make, easy to lose. Protect that shit. -- For those of you this resonates with, you’ll be fine long term. Do the fucking work. For those of you who love chasing the fantasy, good luck, I mean it. It’s a tough fucking pill to swallow watching your account get dwindled down to zero. Nothing tastes worse that losing all your money. Peace.
I was asked to make a post about some stories within the Casino grounds so I thought I'd share. I have many so I'll do my best to pick the better ones. Some back information: I've been a Casino Dealer for 11 years, I've been a supervisor for five years, and I've been a Surveillance Operator for one year. I've worked at three properties, none of which are connected or owned by the same company. I've worked on : Government/Private/Native American owned casinos.
From Hero to Zero.
At my first Casino, I was one of the first group of people who were trained to deal Roulette . After 4 weeks of working 6PM-3AM then doing roulette training from 3AM-8AM (Not paid) , I actually really enjoyed the game and after about six months I became extremely quick at the number game and the pace of the action was steady with very low margin of errors. Young man walks in, cashes in for $500. He buys in for $2 chips and just loads the board. After a few spins and pretty decent hits, he then changes his chips from $2 to 5$ then to $10 and racks his winnings up to $10,000. It was then, five spins in a row, he loaded the board with some pretty gross bets, and every spin I would hit the ONE number with either NO CHIPS on it, or maybe 1 chip , He lost all $10,000 in a matter of minutes. He leaves , and I go on break. After my break I was going back to the same table and wouldn't you know it, the same young man walks in and cashes in another $500. He tells me he just sold his car outside and this is all that he had left. So we do the same deal, buys in for $2 chips, then slowly starts betting $5 chips, $10, $25...and he makes $10,000 AGAIN. Within the next 25 minutes it was straight agony. Every spin, same thing, he would bet $2500 in chips, and win only $250, $400, and after about a half hour he lost it all . Never saw the guy again. 2) Man down At this property, we are 24 hours for table games. It's currently 5AM , and I'm dealing some $25 Blackjack to this guy. He's probably early thirties , heavy guy. He's sober as can be, but right away I can tell he's been losing. We know how much you've bought in for, how much your down, or up, and I could see he was down $2000+. After about twenty minutes of pure losing, his temper starts to flare.At this point I now have two other guests at my table. Drinking coffee, not saying a word, just losing their money. After losing hand, after hand, this guy looks me straight in the eye, seized up, starts shaking, he can't move. He tries to punch towards me and smashes his stack of chips all over the place and falls backwards to the floor. I call for security, we cannot touch him due to liability . I can't move from my table because, well, liability / casino cash property, all I can do is try to talk to him. As I'm doing so, these other two woman who are sitting at my table just look at me and one says "OK, dealer, cmon lets go " as she taps the table telling me to start dealing and forget about the guy having a stroke on the floor. As security takes him to the ambulance out front, I had to stay behind for a couple minutes and give a statement. I go on break. I come back, and 45 minutes later, he comes right back in with a oxygen tank and keeps gambling for the remainder of the morning. 3) You get a dildo, and YOU get a dildo! On a late summer Saturday night, we had a large event for these massive muscle guys/strongman competition type thing. After their show, I'm at the roulette table , and five of these boys come over to play. They were absolutely hilarious. They were feeling pretty good, cashed in somewhat large amounts and I could tell this was going to be a fun time. After about a hour of dealing to these guys, it's almost midnight, everybody is pretty hammered , I spin the ball, and all five of these guys take out these god damn (what I can only tell was) two feet purple dildos from inside their pants, and wiping them around in the air. The ladies were just loving it, one of the dildos landed in the roulette wheel and we had to shut the table down to re-calibrate the wheel to make sure nothing had been changed. I just remember that night was so much damn fun, I couldn't believe what I was seeing and I would never forget it. 4) Full Moon On this day, I was actually training dealers / supervising them on small games like Three Card poker. We opened the table at 10AM, and this older man came and sat down . He played all day. The jackpot was $21,000 and that was pretty high for this table. He played, and played and played. He's one of the players where you know he's wearing a diaper because he's been drinking coffee/pop all day and hasn't moved in eight hours. As the day went on, this man never moved from his chair. Getting closer to midnight, he was aggravated and said "I need to go have a smoke, I'm getting killed in here". He left, and the very next hand, the lady beside him was dealt the jackpot . He didn't say much, but you could just tell he just hated life at that very moment because had he not gotten up, it would of been his hand. The man calmly took his cane , his hat, jacket, coffee, and left. The next morning I found out when he did leave he drove his car straight through his bank and was arrested. 5) Slick Robber I actually give props to people who can actually pull this off. This story may confuse you so I'll try and explain things as best as possible. A lot of casinos have machines as soon as you walk through the front doors. A man walks up to one of these machines and sticks in HIS $100 bill. He doesn't gamble it, instead he hits the cash out button and gets a $100 TITO ticket where he then takes the ticket to the ATM machine to get his $100. Now remember, his Original $100 is in the slot machine. He then takes the $100 from the ATM and goes back to the same machine, and repeats this process over a hundred times. Essentially he's taking money from the ATM, and loading up the Slot Machine . Now he knows he can't do it too much because if the slot machine gets full of money, the machine will shut down and the slow attendant will have to take all the cash out. So he deposits over $10,000 , then has a small crowbar, he cracks the machine open and makes a run out the front door. To my knowledge he was never caught . But damn, that was pretty smart . EDIT: 6) Mental Health is a thing. 10PM man walks in to play some high limit BlackJack. This guy knows the game and played well. Dressed nice, drank juice/tea , a little bit of a attitude, cashed in over $10,000. When this man was half way down his buy in, he said something a long the lines of "If I don't win here tonight, I'm going to go set myself on fire." I wasn't sure if he was serious because when people are down, they tend to say a lot of nonsense. I actually left early that night, and from a third party was told he did exactly that in the parking lot. The next day it was clear something terrible had gone wrong in the parking lot . EDIT: 7) Nothing good happens after midnight After a busy Saturday night, I was dealing a mix of games, and during this story I was in the middle of Blackjack. I had one young kid (probably 19) sitting in the middle, one older male probably in his later 40's sitting beside him on his right, and I had a really nice couple in their 20's sitting together at the other side. This young kid wasn't playing just sort of watching, and ever time the old man won he would give this young guy some of his winnings. The older man, was a wine drinker, and he had black between all of his teeth, I'll never forget. He's a little drunk but nothing terrible. As the night goes on, the older man goes and uses the washroom, at which point the couple asked the young guy "Oh was that your dad?" and the young guy says "Hah, no I wish!". The couple and I just looked at each other. This old guy, was in complete control over this kid. Absolutely disgusting. The night ends, and I find out the couple called a few of their friends, and they all waited outside by this old mans truck and beat the living hell out of him. 40 years old, sleeping with a 19 year old, completely brain washed . Very weird. 8) That one co-worker where you just wish they would quit. One of our co-workers, nice guy but had a very big ego and we as employees just sorta left him alone. One day he had enough of the atmosphere and quit. Now usually when you quit, you cannot come back until you paperwork is finalized. How ever, HR was in that day, and he was given the paperwork the very next day. He came in, cashed in $1000, and made $50,000 in about a hour at the Baccarat table. My manager, was extremely annoyed, because now this guy is just mocking the casino and having the time of his life (Thanks for the big tip by the way :) ) and so he decides to call it quits. He wants to ban himself and he wants $50,000 in cash. The casino says Nope, we are going to give you a cheque. Now here's the thing, most business people will take the cheque, how ever you CANT CASH the cheque until the following monday because it's on that day where the funds are available. The casino on the other hand will cash their own check in anytime , because they want you to play. So this guy pretty much said go to hell I want my cash, and he called the police. Police show up, and management promptly gave him the cash.I though it was absolutely hilarious . 9) No good deed goes un punished I was dealing Three Card Poker, and the jackpot was around $17,000. This old man (a regular) was sitting there all day grinding it out. Super nice guy, always a pleasure to deal to. Well, after hours of playing, he stands up and says "Hey john!, can you come here for a minute?" so his buddy John comes over. He says to John "I need to go take a piss real quick, can you play my card until I get back?" John agrees . John takes the chips and I stop him and explain he can't play his friends chips, he needs to cash in and play his own. And he does. Welp, second hand out and bam, doesn't he win it. The old man comes back and is so happy, he can't believe it. John, took his $17,000, didn't say a word to his "buddy" and walked away. I never felt so much hatred in all my life. Didn't give him a dollar, not a thank you, nothing. The old man sits back down again, the progressive resets to $2500, and he sat there grinding away again. 10) The Top Knot I had this player , young guy, who was born into a fortune. One of his relatives passed away and left him a pretty big sizable amount of money, so he played poker every single day for the rest of his days. I will add, he IS a good player. I did not enjoy his company just because of the "Know-it-All" attitude, but he was good. We'll call him John. John is 5'10, and well build, with muscle. John also decided today was the day to show off his Top Knot. (google top knot if you're not sure what I mean) So he sits down, and he's absolutely KILLING the table. Every hand, after hand, after hand. And because he's in such a good mood, he's playing any two cards, calling any $500 bet, and he's just dominating. This one guy at the table decided he had enough. He got up, without saying a word and left. A moment later, he comes back in, walks behind John, and takes a pair of scissors , and cuts off his Top Knot. I for one couldn't believe it, dying laughing inside, and it just turned into one big brawl. That was a good day. 11) That one bad seed One of my best friends who I haven't seen in YEARS ended up being part of the crew. Was kind of nice to catch up. We never really got along as we grew up because he has a very high picture of himself . He wanted that 10/10 woman. A mansion, and a new Corvette. So every month or so we would all go up to the other casino to play. I myself would bring no more than $500, but I couldn't understand how this guy (we'll call him Kyle) was spending THOUSANDS of dollars at the tables. So this wen on for a few months. Well, one day, as we're closing the casino, he and I are in the High Limit room and we're getting ready to close the tables. We are told to take the chips out, count them, put them back, sign this piece of paper and that's it. Well as the supervisor was locking the tray, the piece of paper fell to the floor, so she asked Kyle to grab the piece of paper. As he bends over, a great big $500 chip falls right out of his sock. Kyle was fired immediately , but it all made sense. They offered Kyle a deal where if he replaced all the stolen chips they would not make it public. Not sure how that turned out. 12) If I ever decide to write a book, this will be the last chapter: <3 After working at my first Casino for five years, I met a Indian woman who was visiting from another part of the country. During this time I was explaining a game to her, which honestly I don't think she even cared. She explained she was visiting and sight seeing , and that was that.Well, two years later I ended up moving to the other side of the country and transferred casinos, and low and behold she worked there as a Dealer. We got married , and it's been 5 years. 13) The Tip One of our tables that we've had for a couple years had a progressive jackpot that had reached $100,000. The dealer at the table was sitting pretty lonely. Nobody really played the game because people knew it was extremely difficult to win the jackpot. My memory is a tad foggy, but you somehow needed to flop the royal flush. This young guy sits down and says to the dealer, we'll call him John. "John, if you pay me that jackpot, I will tip you $10,000" Well John started dealing, and about a half hour into his shift, he F*cking did it. He dealt him the royal. And you know something?This young lad, kept his word, and he made sure there was a audience, and he tipped exactly $10,000. That was a moment right there. That pay cheque was real nice. I think we all got about $500 more than usual. The moment that jackpot was awarded they got rid of the table because the money it was making was not near what the casino wanted. I'm sure there have been bigger tips at other casinos, but that was something special . 14) The Lawsuit Now this story I'm going to have to beat around the bush a bit due to the nature of what happened. I can't won't answer any questions that you may have on this topic other than what I have to say because it had a lot of publicity . The waitresses at this casino had to wear very thin sexy clothes. Not borderline legal, but it was noticed. One day they called all the waitresses to come in and explained they were changing their outfit to something even more sexier. Now these new dresses were very very borderline legal . The staff said No way. We're not wearing that.So , friday night comes, and the staff work their whole shift, then at the end of their shift were called into a meeting and were all fired. Welp, one of those ladies father was a pretty big time lawyer. Brough the casino to court and won. They won big. Good for them. We had no waitresses for a couple days haha. Thanks for reading along, I have many more I can add as the day goes on, those were just some off the top of my head. Feel free to ask any questions of the Casino industry. I don't really have many stories about the surveillance department because that's the one area where I can't really say a whole lot due to its privacy and contracts I was and still am under.
Why NY and not just NYC would be a unique, interesting, and fun FO5 setting
To start, this should be a single player game. If Bethesda/Obsidian/MS can make it so I can play with 1 or 2 friends, I want that but understand it's not that simple. So why it should be picked: First, NY has an amazing history when it comes to Pre-Revolution, Revolution, the Civil War, and beyond. Major events like the battle at Saratoga (which is considered the turning point of the Revolution), the 1980 Miracle on Ice, and Woodstock (along with a whole lot more) all took place in upstate NY. So the rich history of the area is ripe for pro American stylizing and propaganda that gives FO it's unique take on American Atom-punk. That along with more modern history of things like the Native Americans (The Oneidas) actually taking back their land and forming their own sovereign nation (basically they have their own gov. Pay no state taxes, and self govern with police, fire, and allow gambling which NY does not). So their modern government would not only be some great lore, but I honestly believe could be a basis for the main quest line. Things like their unique tribal leadership, philosophy, and gambling (hello 10 luck) could bring a very grey area to fallout that was kind of missed in FO3 + 4. Plus their mythology would make for a great weird scene that fallout has at least 1 of every game. Also, for those who don't know, upstate NY is very country with major cities pocketed about. (Utica, Albany, Syracuse, etc). So if you liked NV style of wandering the wastes, or 3s style of city wandering, we've got both. Also, we've got two mountains areas, one in the Adirondacks and the Catskills are the other. That said, one of the most important parts of fallout are the locations. Where can we go? For that I have a list: Major locations: Lake Placid Winter Olympics training facility - the winter olympics world be held in 2078 and if they still exist by then and to play into the game, LP could be the location of those games. Again, the miracle on ice where American Amateurs bested the Communist Russian Pros, was held there. The "Better dead than Red" sentiment would be full force. Not to mention one of a few great locations for a possible vault (80, in this case to house winter olympians). Plus, the weapons could be cool too. Hockey sticks, hockey skate blades on gloves, a goalie mask for armor, you name it. Cooperstown Baseball HOF - Now when you think Americana, Baseball is one of your first thoughts, don't lie. Cooperstown is baseball central and very pretty. Another great place for pro-american styles and fun gear like baseball base mines, softball helmets (because fuck you "A League of Their Own" style pro-baseball league in FO sounds awesome), and of course bats and baseball grenades. Also a baseball Vault (Vault 4, 5, 7, or 9). Not my idea, but in this vault, there's 32 teams of mens and 32 teams of womens baseball (or coed teams, idk), all of whom are pro players. Vault tec test is simple, winner gets food and drinks, loser gets steroid infused food and drink (but they don't know it has steroids obviously). The idea is, test how good at baseball people can be if given monster amounts of steroids for generations. I'll make a separate post about this in detail if desired. Canastota Boxing HOF - Another unique area for America. Canastota is pretty boring and empty, but for those of you old enough to remember Rocky when it came out, it basically revived Boxing as a major sport and also had a moment where America bested the Red Menace (Rocky IV). Maybe a spot for a vault or to learn unique unarmed moves. Pugilism Illustrated anyone? Albany - NYs capital and an easy big city area along the Hudson. A great location for corporate greed, governmental corruption, and side quests. Can't say it'll be the focal point of the game since its very near the eastern border of it, but a good location for exploring and lore. Buffalo/Niagara Falls - Ya ever gone over the falls in a barrel? Do ya want to? I think using Niagara Falls (which has an American and Canadian side, Canadas is the U-shaped famous one) as Fallouts first "Non-American" location would be fun. First, the falls are beautiful and are a major source of hydroelectric power. Second, in FO, America annexed canada, so it's technically still America! Third, right across the "border" are casinos! More gambling! Third and a half, it's another big city and buffalo is where the buffalo wing was invented (God bless buffalo wings). Besides the cool lore opportunity about the annexation and the city location, the falls could be a major location for the story if the main conflict was about powering the area, similar to NV. Syracuse - NYs (literal) center city. The Salt City as it was formally known is a big city with some great old and new style. Again, not much about the city to say, but a great opportunity for corporate BS. The main attraction would be the Syracuse Dome (formerly the Carrier Dome). Due to its location and style, it's perfect as a central trading hub for the major cities and people. Think of Great Green Jewel style, people living, bars, shops, etc. BUT the really interesting part is what's right next to the Dome. SUNY ESF (Environmental Science and Forestry). This college is special because (A. I went there) it has very unique programs and with some future tech thrown in, could be a great location for a Fallout 3 Harold or NV vault 22-esq quest. The college already does experiments with major chemicals, evolution (FEV anyone?) and breeding plants for unique purposes. Again, I have a really cool idea for this area, but that can be a different post. Fun fact, ESF is actually working to bring back the North America Chestnut that went (nearly) extinct! Also, some asshole releases the fruit flies the genetics lab work with every year and it sucks. NYC (Empire, 9/11 memorial, Statue of Liberty) - Yeah yeah, you can't have NY without the City, but frankly there's so much here to explore and deal with, I'd leave it to the pros to really do it justice. Turning Stone Casino - Gambling, a hotel/restaurants like in NV, and a good spot for the main quest line. Fort Stanwix - A real revolutionary war fort. HQ or major area for raiders. Safe, well protected and with plenty of history. Fort Drum and Griffis Air Force Base: Two major bases that could be packed with guns, nukes, and power armor. Heavily guarded by turrets, robots, and security gates. Main Quest: Without too much detail, I figure your character will be hired to figure out the future of NY. You'll be brought to the Turning Stone which is currently the HQ of the Oneida tribe. Your job would be to either work with the other tribes in the former Iroquois Confederation (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora [added later]). (Quick note: in my AU, some time after the bombs fell, the IC came to power because of their knowledge of living off the land and attempted to rebuild society. After some time rebuilding and establishing a post-war society, the tribes do the thing all humans do and bicker. Around 2200 the IC broke apart but the tribes retained power in their areas. They fight, trade, yadda yadda but no one is in control of everything. Throughout your quest, it turns out that what is holding everyone back is a lack of power for things like lights and running water. Your job will be to determine where to get that power (Nuclear power plant in Oswego or the falls in Niagara?) And where to give it (one tribe? A few? Or all?). But that's not all, the tribes can't decide who should be in charge. One tribe wants to remain independent, don't help the outsiders and rebuild society in their image within NY, another wants to help others but would need to sacrifice their own people's safety and seclusion. Maybe another wants to be imperialist and expand their borders throughout America through way of force and fear while another agrees with taking land but wants it done through offers of protection for taxes. And each tribe has its own opinion on bringing the IC back together, staying separate, or taking over the tribes for themselves. It's up to you character to decide who to help. Do you work hard to try and bring all tribes together under one banner or choose a side and execute their will as a paid mercenary/ambassador? Other choices would be chaos by siding with raiders, or maybe a BOS path to take out all the tribes, idk, haven't thought it all out. Again, not a writer. Mechanics: So personally, I like the idea that if you choose to go with a single faction, there would a battle/war mechanic where you and an army (or alone if you really wanna try) take over and lay claim to areas similar to Nuka World where you fly the gangs flag. Nothing complicated, normal fallout fights, don't die and kill the leadehis troops to win. Karma is back. You will garner good or bad rep with each tribe depending on what you do. I'd like an armor system like in NV but I can live without it. There is an ending. Once you beat the game you can continue doing side quests for armoexperience/ammo but only for the tribes left in power. Occasional rebellions will rise up as random events that need to be put down. Settlements are limited. Like skyrim, but a plot and build. No need to build one everywhere and you don't even need to do it if you don't want to. Radio host? Gimme a Mr. New Vegas type guy. I don't want an eccentric 3-dog, I want a smoothed voiced person wishing me lady like luck. Also, smarter AI. Otherwise, typical FO mechanics. Weapons degrade, can upgrade weapons and armor, etc. Main problems with NY: No real borders to the south. Invisible walls would like be necessary which is stupid. Same to the East, but the Hudson could theoretically be used as a border if you put crazy strong mirelurks or something to kill the player if they tried to cross (or more invisible walls) Don't want to disrespect the tribes. This is an issue with using each tribe as a possible faction. You're bound to piss off or disrespect one. So it'll be a task to make sure it's as limited as possible. What to do with the city? It's a huge area that can be used for so much, but as a part of NY it's actually pretty seperated. It's a commercial hub now, but there's nothing there that would really be a reason to go down there. So do you make it one or do we just make it a glowing sea type area that's completely decimated from the bombs? That's my personal choice honestly, but it's a tough one to please as many as possible. Conclusion: NY is rad. I'll be taking questions as long as they do not involve Canadian trivia. Thank you.
This chapter was a labour of love, heists are hard. Big thanks to u/eruwenn for helping tidy up this bag of snakes. First / Prev / Next
“Ranjaz K’Lua, you thieving scumbag!” the Kah’Ree in the purple suit exclaimed loudly as he spotted them across the busy room. “As I live and skral, I never thought you would have the Jolos show your face here again!” Two J’Rami in suits detached themselves from the lobby wall, walking towards the Kittran and his friends. “Alfor, my old friend!” Ranjaz smiled broadly. “No need for the welcoming party, I’ve got your credits” —he gestured to Cygna— “and a sweetener, for all the trouble I caused last time.” Alfor paused, lecherous eyes assessing the Fae’Dan. “You know I have a thing for purple.” He chuckled at his own joke and waved the guards back to their posts. “How about we have a drink, and discuss your forgiveness.” He pointed to Thor and Eruwenn. “Brought your own security, or are these Gal. Fed. goons? Everyone knows about your probation.” The Kittran gave a broad grin. “I got a Tulseria-damned pardon, a new ship and a very lucrative opportunity.” The Kah’Ree smiled. “How’d a thieving cat like you get a pardon?” He gave Ranjaz an appraising look up and down. “Oh? Now, let me guess, you need something from me and my brother?” Ranjaz fired his finger guns. “You were always the smart one Alfor, that’s why you run the casino floor.” The Kittran stepped in close. “The item, do you still have it?” Alfor tilted his head back and away from Ranjaz. “Your little guarantee?” He looked back down at Ranjaz. “We have it somewhere safe. Had some unusual people come by after you got caught. Asked a lot of questions. Made a lot of threats.” His face contorted in anger. “We got audited thanks to you.” The Kittran smiled. “If only they knew you better, they could have simply paid you for the information.” “We give nothing for free.” The Kah’Ree gave a sinister smile. “House rule.” Ranjaz walked forward to put his his arm on Alfor’s back. “Let’s go see your brother. Have a few drinks, maybe gamble a little, and discuss our future riches.”
Ripley stood in the shadows of the staff shuttle bay, watching as the numerous employees of assorted races came and went. Loud laughter caught her attention, and a very strangely dressed Niham broke away from a small group and walked towards her. Ripley tried to maintain her low profile as the scantily clad female strutted towards her in long black boots with pointed heels that clacked loudly with every step. Deliberately avoiding eye contact the Awakened tried to will herself into the wall but it was too late and a voice called out to her. “Hey Darling! You must be the one I’m looking for.” Ripley shook her head. The Kittran had said the contact was an Ashi pirate captain, a master gambler and expert in procuring the unusual. “I don’t-” “Listen cutie,” she interrupted, “you’re the one lurking in dark corners drawing attention to yourself. I’ve got your security card. You tell that fluffy little stud he owes me. And more than a bottle of Fae’Dan wine and a good time, if you know what I mean.” She held up the card between her fingers, just a little out of Ripley’s reach. The Awakened considered the phrase ‘fluffy little stud’ and decided that, despite her hopes, this was probably her contact. “You’re Captain Whiplash?” The Ashi laughed genuinely, the jiggling of tightly squeezed breasts bursting at shiny black restraints making Ripley nervous. “Oh, Darling! Only my little pets call me that! You may call me Sho’Na.” Ripley was momentarily confused. “So, you aren’t a pirate captain?” “I’m anything they pay me to be.” She smiled at the silver-haired woman's naivety. “You really are new to this.” Ripley, caught off guard, simply nodded, then replied, “I’m a quick learner.” “Good for you, Darling.” Sho’Na handed over the card. “Just make sure you get paid up front, and don’t use your real name with clients. Ruins the mystique.” Ripley was unsure of what was being said. Turning the card over in her hands she saw that the holo-image on the front was of a male Arkellian. “This isn’t me?” “Honey, I was given half a cycle to get you a level three security card. Just be glad it’s a biped.” Sho’Na looked Ripley up and down. “Our mutual acquaintance told me you were some sort of master of disguise who could even trick Selva Blaster.” Ripley paused, then smiled. Her appearance had become such an integral part of her identity she had forgotten that it was entirely optional. “It won’t be a problem.” She looked at the card again. “Unless the owner comes looking for it.” Sho’Na gave another bosom-trembling laugh that threatened to spill out at any moment. “Oh, don’t worry, he’s tied up at the moment.” The Awakened considered the risk. “Hmmm, but for how long?” The few strips of shiny black material that comprised Sho’Na’s revealing outfit strained under her amusement. “Don’t you worry, Darling. He paid for the whole night.”
Eruwenn had reassessed her opinion of Ranjaz many times since meeting him. The criminal. The loyal friend. The lazy trouble-maker. All were true, but now she was seeing something new. He sat opposite Toran, the brother of Alfor, in a game of dalcho she wished she could have taken part in, but was equally glad she did not. At first she had thought the Kittran was outmatched, a few reckless mistakes costing him dearly as the Kah’Ree deftly selected his tiles. Toran was clearly a seasoned gambler, using a blend of the Remee Le’Bow Gambit and the Kowals’Kee Analysis she hadn’t seen before. It seemed to be dismantling Ranjaz’s tiles before he could even prepare his cards. A few fortunate dice rolls and he had taken a strong lead from the outset. The Kittran appeared desperate, playing any tile available to try and slow the defeat. It had all been a ruse, she saw it; Ranjaz had saved his best tiles and carefully thrown hands to manipulate the cards. In just a few rounds he would be able to dominate the board and raise the stakes, recouping his losses and changing the course of the game entirely. She had encountered few players who could manipulate the game so deftly, using memory and layers of strategy to corner their opponent. It was magnificent. Eruwenn couldn’t tear her eyes from the board as she stood beside Thor. The Awakened had shown no interest in the game, studiously watching the opposite door as Toran’s staff came in and out. When a waiter entered and began preparing drinks at the small private bar in the executive gambling room, Thor coughed. It was a strange thing for an Awakened to do, and Eruwenn finally looked up from the table. “Are you ok?” Thor nodded. By the time he had looked towards her, she had returned her attention completely to the game. “You don’t seem concerned about your friend?” he asked. The Anatidae watched as Ranjaz used a blind double feint, and the sheer audacity of such a move made her swallow hard. She didn’t look back to Thor, but mumbled a response. “I’m very confident in her abilities.” The waiter was methodically placing drinks by each of the players, but when they stood behind Ranjaz the Kittran surged to his feet, shouting, “Hey! No cheating Toran! Getting your waiter to look over my shoulder? That’s a dirty move I’d expect from your brother!” Thor had reacted faster than Eruwenn, pinning the arms of the Arkellian waiter in a vice-like bear hug. Toran slowly stood. He was big, heavily muscled, and the veins on his neck bulged as his anger rose. “Don’t accuse me in my own place.” He cracked his knuckles and glowered down at Ranjaz. “I run a straight game.” Fearlessly the Kittran walked right up to the Kah’Ree and stared up into his face from waist height. “Don’t try and intimidate me, you son of a Vogel.” Ranjaz puffed out his chest and began pushing the burly casino owner. “Nobody cheats me!” The blow caught Ranjaz across the cheek and sent him sprawling across the room. Eruwenn winced at the impact, but maintained her composure. Toran laughed. “Watch your tongue or I’ll add it to my collection.” He walked round the table and kicked Ranjaz in the stomach, glaring at Thor and Eruwenn, daring them to act. “Know your place trash. You’re at this table because you put credits up front. You are a dishonest thief, begging for scraps, and cosying up to me any my brother to get your little trinket back.” He returned to his seat. “Why would I need to cheat against the likes of you?” Ranjaz stood, brushing himself off. “Fine, fine.” He waved a hand and Thor dropped the Arkellian. Ranjaz tapped him on the chest. “My mistake.” He sat down and picked up his cards once more. “You’re right Toran, you run a clean game. I’m just a sore loser.” He shuffled the order of the tiles that were still face down on the table. “To show my sincerity, how about we double the buy for the rest of the game?” Toran snorted. “Double?” He looked at the Kittran, scrutinising his opponent. The game was already over; he had control of the board and his tiles occupied the three prime positions. Was the thief trying to buy his favour, he wondered? How much was the trinket he wanted truly worth? He decided it was worth testing. “Triple, and I’ll forget you dared touch me.” The Kittran swallowed hard, his ears flat to his head. Toran momentarily worried he’d pushed for too much but a decision seemed to be reached. “Fine. Triple.” The look of defeat was delicious to the Kah’Ree.
Cygna had done her part and lured Alfor to a private room away from his security. She had danced, skipped and side-stepped his groping hands so far, maintaining a playfulness that ensured he complied. This sort of thing was not new to her; she had spent time undercover in the past. Fortunately, there had been little call for it since she had joined forces with Eruwenn. Alfor’s eyes scanned her body once more. “The Kittran has very good taste.” He licked his lips, a small amount of drool escaping and running down his chin. He wiped it on his sleeve. “Now, I brought you somewhere quiet. How about you show me how sweet you can be?” The Fae’Dan smiled coyly and continued her dancing just out of reach, glancing to the doorway where Alfor’s two guards stood watching her. “With an audience?” She raised her eyebrows expectantly. With a sly grin he waved the guards out of the room. “Now come here and let me satisfy you like only a Kah’Ree can.” His eyes wandered over her body once more. Cygna smiled, her own eyes moving from the Kah’Ree’s hands to his shoulders, then up towards his neck. An interesting fact about the Kah’Ree was the thick blood vessels on the side of their neck. They often bulged when a Kah’Ree was angry or excited, like Alfor’s were as he leered at her. She danced closer. Another interesting fact was that their brains were not as efficient as those of other species, hence the requirement for additional blood flow; more oxygen per limited thought. He leaned forward, his eyes locked to her swaying hips. Cygna turned slowly, and his head tilted to appreciate her assets. The third, lesser known, fact about the Kah’Ree was that an interruption to the blood flow while they were in this excited state caused them to lose consciousness rapidly as their brain burned through the available oxygen. “My eyes are up here.” She smiled as he looked up at her with his head still tilted. He sneered. “Who ca-” The Fae’Dan struck the side of his neck with the edge of her hand, targeting the throbbing blood vessel with a powerful blow. The interruption to his brain's oxygen supply worked perfectly and he fell face forward onto the ground at her feet. She let out a sigh of relief and looked down at his unconscious body. “Thank you, that was particularly satisfying.” She walked over to the door and peeked out, finding the guards standing either side. “He said to order us some drinks.” One of the guards nodded and immediately put his hand to his lapel communicator. Back inside the room, Cygna used her foot to roll Alfor to his back and began searching his pockets. She came up empty. Her eyes caught a glimmer from his collar and she found a heavy gold chain, at the end of which was his security key. She removed it just as a knock came at the door. A deep voice from the other side called out. “Your drinks, boss.” The Fae’Dan quickly messed up her hair. Using the back of her hand she smeared her lipstick sideways, and then pulled the strap of her dress down off her shoulder. She opened the door and, to her surprise, was faced with an Arkellian waiter. The bodyguards noted her dishevelled appearance and shared a smirk, and she said, “Oh, I wasn’t expec-” The waiter pushed the trolley into the room. “Don’t keep the boss waiting, lady.” Before Cygna could reply they were inside and the door closed. “Relax, it’s me.” Ripley’s voice sounded bizarre coming from the male Arkellian form, and Cygna’s eyes went wide in shock. Her sharp mind quickly adjusted to this new information. Of course the Awakened could change their physical appearance; she had just never seen it. They all seemed quite attached to their chosen human forms. “Neat trick.” She held out Alfor’s key. “Did you get the other one?” Ripley nodded. “The Kittran played his part well. I didn’t see him take it, and didn’t feel it when he placed it in my pocket. Now that was a neat trick.” The Fae’Dan smiled. “I think I’ll pass on that dalcho game.” The Arkellian Ripley smiled. “Probably wise.” Turning, she slipped the key into her pocket and headed back out of the door.
Ripley entered the elevator to the owner's private offices on the top floor. Thanks to the distractions downstairs, the two large desks in the centre of the room were empty. She walked straight past them to the large leokas painting on the wall and swung it forward. Behind it was a Fae’Dan safe; she took out the two keys and a small homemade device the Kittran had given her. Attaching the device to the bio-lock and standing before the safe, she elongated her arms to reach both key positions at once. There was more than one reason she was the one chosen for this task. The device beeped twice and small lights above each lock lit up. She simultaneously turned both keys, and there was a satisfying clunk. She raised an eyebrow. The device had worked. The heavy safe door swung open and she began her search. Ranjaz had been very specific: while there was one item she had to get, she was to grab as much as possible to obscure their true target. Quickly grabbing as much as she could she retrieved the keys and ran back across the room towards the elevator.
Cygna hauled Alfor back onto the seat, putting him in a more natural position and messing up his hair. She looked away as she began unbuttoning his clothes, pulling his trousers around his ankles and opening his shirt up to bare his chest. From a secret pocket inside her dress she pulled out a lace thong, setting it on his head like a bandana. She also had a small box which she opened, inside of which was a replica mouth with lipstick that matched her own. Cygna carefully applied kiss marks all over his exposed skin before popping the fake lips back into the secret pocket. She took the Fae’Dan wine and partially filled two glasses, making sure to take a long drink from one and leave more lipstick marks. The rest of the wine was poured into the ice bucket. She heard the sound of voices outside the door. The guards were arguing with someone, refusing them entry, but when the name Toran was mentioned it was Ripley who entered, still in uniform but now looking much like her usual self. She smirked at the Kah’Ree in his derobed state. “I can see you had fun.” The Fae’Dan chuckled. “That’s the idea.” She looked at the Awakened in her true form. “You look… better.” Ripley cocked her head. “It would be strange if the waiter came back to deliver a message.” She tossed the necklace key to Cygna, who replaced it on Alfor’s neck. Reclining on the sofa and picking up her glass, Cygna took another long drink. “Get the other one back to Ranjaz quickly. This one won’t be napping much longer.” The Awakened gave an almost Ranjaz-like grin. “You could always hit him again.” Before the Fae’Dan could reply she had ducked back out of the door. She caught the eye of one of the bodyguards and gave a head tilt back towards the room. “The boss is really enjoying himself!” As the suited pair chuckled, the larger of the two got a message in his ear piece. “Hey, silver hair.” He grunted. “Boss has an important guest. Meet them in the foyer and bring them to the dalcho room.” Ripley was relieved – she needed a reason to get into that room. “On my way.”
Toran was seething as he watched as the Kittran flipped his final tile. Why would he have waited so long to play the Wings of Tulseria tile? His stomach sank, and he couldn’t hold back his anger any longer. “Damn you!” Ranjaz gave a full-fanged grin. “Looks like my luck turned at just the right moment.” “Luck!” Toran’s tile snapped between his fingers. Why had he let the damned cat goad him into constantly increasing their bet? The cycle had started with him owing the brothers a million credits plus interest, and now the infuritating Kittran had won nearly forty times that. “Nobody is that lucky.” “Woah!” Ranjaz held up his hands. “I would never cheat, well... certainly not a second time. After you caught me, I’d be a fool to try.” “Hmm.” Toran looked at the two behind the Kittran. The big one would be a problem, but the Anatidae looked to be nothing special. “How about I give you back your little trinket and we call it even?” “My trinket?” Ranjaz shook his head. “I had to convince you it was worth the million I owed. Why would you think I’d trade it for thirty eight million credits? I’ll pay what I owe, take my trinket and my winnings and leave.” Toran folded his arms and looked across the dalcho board at Ranjaz. “And why would I let you do that?” The atmosphere in the room changed as the two security guards changed their stance. “Transfer the credits back to the house.” Ranjaz dropped the grin, replacing it with a defiant glare. “What happened to you running a straight game?” “The game was straight. You won, didn’t you?” He leaned forward, his eyes cold and hard. “You’re just in no position to collect.” The Kittran was about to argue when the door behind Toran opened. He looked up as Ripley entered, and his eyes widened in shock. She wasn’t alone. “Toran, you bastard! You sold me out!” “For ten million credits.” Toran stared hard at Ranjaz. “Care to make a better offer?” Eruwenn’s eyes blazed with anger as the grey-suited Niham pulled up a seat and sat down beside Toran. “Now, now, you lied to me about having the item before. Don’t double cross me.” Sentinel Krast placed his hands together on the table, interlacing his fingers. “I’m not somebody who forgives easily.” He looked directly at Eruwenn. “Isn’t that right, former Councillor? A little far from your new Ambassador position, aren’t you?” Ripley stood back against the wall. She had no idea who the newcomer was, but this most definitely was not the plan. The golden green Anatidae walked forward to stand behind Ranjaz. “Oh, I had a little vacation time saved up, and decided to spend it with my good friend here.” She placed a hand on the Kittrans shoulder. “And what brings a Sentinel here?” Krast’s lips curled in what might approximate a smile. “I’m also acquainted with Mr K’Lua. In fact, we go back a very long way.” He turned to look directly at Ranjaz. “Now, return what is mine.” Toran looked from Ranjaz to Krast. “Yours? You don’t look like the tiara wearing type.” The Sentinel didn’t turn his head. “Ah, so you hid the data chip inside some shiny bauble. As inventive as ever, Mr K’Lua.” The Niham finally acknowledged Toran by looking at him. “Bring. It. Here.” The Kah’Ree sucked air through his teeth. “Well, seems like we have something mighty important, and two very interested parties.” He stood and walked to his two security officers, who drew their weapons in unison. “Now then, I believe you” —he nodded to Krast— “offered ten million. How about it Ranjaz, old friend? What’s your counter offer?” The Kittran had been sitting, silently seething at his double cross being double crossed. He looked at Krast. “Were you the one?” Toran was surprised at being ignored, but before he could reply Krast answered, “The one?” Ranjaz’s eyes narrowed, his ears alert, his tail swishing aggressively. “The one who took my friend!” he snarled as he felt Eruwenn’s hand holding him back gently. Krast’s eyes glittered as he saw the impotent rage in his opponent’s eyes. “Ah, the poor deceased human?” He smiled his mannequin-esque smile. “And if I was?” Toran snatched a pistol from one of his men and fired a blast at the ceiling. “Your quarrel can wait. Let’s settle our business first and you can kill each other after I’m paid.” He paused, then added, “but, not in my casino. Body disposal costs extra.” Eruwenn’s hand gripped Ranjaz’s shoulder harder, and he braced himself. In one smooth move she both threw him backwards and to the right, and kicked the dalcho table up and forward into Krast's face. The Sentinel fell backwards as a blast from Toran struck the table, but Eruwenn was already on the move, sidestepping left and ducking forward into a cartwheel. Toran's gun had been following Ranjaz, but as her leg swept down it knocked the weapon from his grip. Once she stabilized, her fist, already primed with momentum from the cartwheel, struck Toran below the ribs and knocked the wind from him. The guard, whose gun the Kah'Ree had been holding, lunged forward to grab Eruwenn but she simply deflected his hand, pairing his forward momentum with her rising elbow to swiftly render him unconscious. The second guard had just begun to raise his weapon when a huge fist struck him in his chest, sending him careening backwards into the wall. Thor loomed over him, shaking his head as he retrieved the energy pistol. “Too slow.” Ripley helped Ranjaz to his feet as Krast pushed the table off his chest. Toran was coughing and struggling to breathe as Ranjaz pressed the retrieved energy pistol to his forehead. “Double cross me?” He dragged the Kah’Ree forward. “I want to see the item, then I’ll pay what I owe.” The two of them awkwardly made their way back towards Krast, so Ranjaz could point the gun in his face. “Then we can talk about your body disposal fee.” Krast stood, and his phony smile was gone. “You can’t kill me. The Sentinels will tear this place apart, hunt you down and kill you. You think I came alone? My ship is in orbit and waiting for my orders!” Ranjaz grabbed him by the jacket, pulling him down to his level, and struck him in the face with the butt of the pistol. Thor cooly kept his stolen pistol pointed at Toran and the one conscious guard. By the third blow Krast’s face was bloody, his nose broken and he began to struggle against Ranjaz’s assault. A muted boom caused everyone present to stop in their tracks. Alarms began to sound and Toran swore loudly. He pulled out his communicator, ignoring Thor’s pistol. “What the hell was that!” He held the device close as he listened. “My office?” He patted his pocket. Finding his key in place, he looked to Ranjaz and then Krast. “Seal the casino! And where is my brother?” Ripley suddenly understood why the Kittran had told her to leave his device on the safe door. After a brief further moment of shock, which she kept from showing on her face, she realized that she had been carrying an explosive without being told. If they survived, Ranjaz was going to need to explain himself. Thoroughly. Eruwenn, Thor and Ranjaz had backed away to the opposite side of the room, standing by the door. Krast stood alone, holding his profusely bleeding nose. The opposite door soon opened to reveal scrambling casino security, with Toran and his guard standing nearby. The unconscious guard was carried out without comment, and the Kah’Ree turned to Ripley. “Why are you still here?” She nodded and slipped out of the door, leaving one less concern for the remaining three. “Alright, which one of your skrolg-licking bastards broke into my private safe?” Krast spat blood onto the floor, pointing at Ranjaz. “He’s the thief. You and I had a deal.” The Kittran smirked. “I’m a better thief than blowing up a Tulseria-damned safe. If I wanted to steal it, I would have done just that. I would not have announced my arrival and sat down to a game of dalcho.” Toran looked between the two of them. “He’s got a point.” One of his men handed him a pistol, and he continued to talk a little distractedly into his communicator. “Well, check everywhere!” Ranjaz stirred the pot. “He’s the bastard who double crossed me, why would he honour your deal?” Eruwenn nodded. “A government agent can’t be seen working with criminals.” Krast's face contorted in rage. “Don’t be a damned fool, Toran!” He pointed at Ranjaz. “This is clearly some convoluted distraction.” Toran shook his head. “They had the upper hand. You were the one getting your face ruined.”
Cygna watched nervously as Alfor began to stir. Things were taking a lot longer than expected. Finally, her signal came; it was not as subtle as she had been led to believe. As soon as the explosion went off the two bodyguards quickly came into the room, glancing from Alfor’s sleeping body to her. She staggered forward, wine bottle in hand. “We need more drinkshh!” The guard ignored her as he saw the condition of his boss. “Not again,” he groaned. “Toran will kill us for letting him get like this.” The second guard stepped out into the corridor. “I’m not dressing him! Last time he tried to kiss me!” Cygna paused, not having expected it to go this way. The first bodyguard walked out as well. “He pissed on my new shoes the time before that. I’m not moving him.” Their communicators went off and their faces became more serious. Bodyguard two spoke first. “Damn it. Toran wants him.” The first turned to look at the increasingly bewildered Cygna. “You!” He smiled. “You got him undressed. You can dress him.” Cygna spotted Ripley running down the corridor towards them, causing her confusion to grow further. The Awakened shouted one word. “Sentinels!” The Fae’Dan’s mind raced. The plan was clearly blown, and they had to get out. Fast. As the guards were now facing Ripley, she took the opportunity to kick one in the back of the knee. He fell forward, and as the second turned he was met with the upward swing of a wine bottle. The first guard discovered first-hand the shocking truth of how hard the knee of an Awakened could be, and both were unconscious by the time they hit the ground. Cygna smiled at Ripley. "Thanks." The Awakened gave a swift nod of acknowledgement. “A Sentinel turned up, so Ranjaz set off the diversion he promised. The other brother is busy trying to figure out whether it’s us or the Sentinels robbing him.” Cygna took on board the new information quickly, knowing she needed to help the others. “I have an idea. Lie over there and look dead.” She ran back into the room, where Alfor was groaning and starting to move. She slipped the chain from his neck and dropped it into the ice bucket, where it sank out of sight below the dark Fae’Dan wine. She began to slowly shake him. “Huh,” he grumbled, and slowly opened his eyes. “Wha.. what happened?” Cygna clung to him tightly. “Oh thank goodness! I thought they killed you!” “Killed?” Alfor’s head was pounding, his memory blurry. “Who-” He caught sight of his downed guards in the open doorway. “What the hell happened?” He began pulling at his clothes, and swiftly checked that his trousers were dry. “While we were.. You know…” He nodded; he was buttoning up his clothes. He didn’t remember, but he knew. “Some scary men burst into the room and shot you! I was so scared.” She hugged him tight, pressing herself against him. He put his arm around her. “What men? Be brave, and tell me what happened.” She looked up at him, trying to make her eyes as big as possible, adding a lip tremble to really sell it. “I don’t know! They wore grey suits. And one of them took your necklace!” “My necklace.” He clutched at his chest where it should have been. “Damn Sentinels! I told Toran we couldn't trust them!” He stepped into the corridor, where Ripley lay on the ground with a terrible energy weapon burn on the side of her face. He pulled out his communicator. “Toran.” He instantly got hold of his brother. “I didn’t answer because I was knocked out. Damn Sentinels took my key, killed some of our guys.” He looked around. “Nobody important, just some waiter.” He finally pulled the underwear from his head. “I’ll go to the security room and look at the video.” He ended the call and turned back to Cygna. “You stay here.” She smiled. “Sorry, we can’t let you check the security footage.” “Wha-” Ripley struck him from behind and he crumpled to the ground, her fake burn melting from her face. The Awakened looked around, rechecking that all was clear. “I think that’s all we can do; we should get out of here. Come with me, my shuttle is in the staff bay.”
Toran closed his communicator and motioned to a guard. “Search him.” Eruwenn wished she had some way to capture the look on Krast’s face when the remote detonator was pulled from his pocket. She'd have to hug the light-fingered Kittran later. The Sentinel grit his teeth. “That’s not mine.” “Sure, sure,” Toran agreed, while simultaneously shaking his head at the Sentinel. “Looks like you really didn’t come alone.” Krast was furious, yelling, “I’m telling you-” He broke off when Ranjaz shot him in the leg, falling to the floor. The Kah’Ree pointed his pistol at the Kittran. “Can’t let you kill a Sentinel in my casino, even if they did just rob me.” Ranjaz was surprised the Kah’Ree had believed them so easily. “What about us?” Toran sighed, lowering his weapon. “Take your winnings and get out. If you stole the thing once, I’m sure you can steal it again.” Eruwenn and Thor both made to leave. Ranjaz paused, knowing he might not get another chance. “And him?” The Kah’Ree looked at the Sentinel holding his wounded leg. “We’ll send him back to his ship. As much as I hate it, the Sentinels are untouchable.” Ranjaz raised his pistol. “He took my friend.” “And we’ll get him back,” Eruwenn said softly. “Then we’ll all deal with him, and the rest of the Sentinels.” Krast sneered and spat blood once more. “Your human is dead.” Ranjaz fired. Krast screamed and grabbed his other leg. “You bastard!” Toran and his men raised their weapons as the Kah’Ree yelled, “Get the hell out of here!” Ranjaz turned and followed the others out of the door, but just as it was about to close he poked his head back in. “Oh, one last thing.” Toran could be seen looking up just as the Kittran fired again, but he ducked out of sight before the true outcome of his shot could be seen. The shrieks of agony, however, followed the trio down the corridor as they broke into a run. Eruwenn spared a glance down at Ranjaz during their retreat. “What did you do?” The full-fanged grin had never been larger. “Made sure we’ll see him again.” On the floor of the dalcho room Krast was screaming in agony. He turned over to stare at the closed door. “I’ll kill you! I will hunt you down and kill every last one of you!” Toran spoke into his communicator. “Tell the Sentinel ship to come get their man. And, bring a doctor. A really good doctor.” He nudged one of his guards and finally let out a chuckle. After all, the Sentinels had just robbed him. “You double-crossing scum always get what you deserve.” The J’Rami guard raised an eyebrow. “Not sure anyone deserves getting shot in the balls.”
We're all familiar with the Hotline Miami's, Hollow Knight's, and Celeste's of the world. These are some of the indie games that hit the big time. Of course, for every one of these games, there's 100 other indie games that have been glossed over, relegated to a spot in a digital store few people will ever find themselves in. I wanted to bring attention to some of these lesser known indie games. I'm going to order them according to Metacritic Critic Ratings. Some of the games at the bottom have pretty low critic ratings. I personally disagree with the low scores of these games, but it's only fair that you hear from more than just me. Keep in mind that games with only one or two User Ratings on Metacritic will not show the score. A game needs at least three User Ratings on Metacritic before the score will be shown. This is not the case for Critic Reviews. Price will contain the U.S. PlayStation Store link to the game. 1. Hayfever
Description: Hayfever is a precision platformer that revolves around a mailman propelling himself using a number of different allergens that act as power-ups. A lot of the platforming is aerial and typically has you catching allergens mid-air to perform maneuvers in quick succession. It's not an easy game by any means, but it has oddly relaxing music to accompany the rather intense platforming. There are also letters to collect in each level to steepen the challenge and some secrets to discover too. It takes an hour or so to get used to the aerial platforming, and this is one of the few 2D platformers played better with the analog stick rather than the D-Pad. But letters that seemed unattainable to me at the beginning of the game became much simpler by the end, as I had mastered the controls and physics of the game. I don't expect everyone to love this game, but I have to agree with the one other guy who played it that gave it a 9/10. After putting 25+ hours into it, I am still eager to replay it soon.
Completion Time: ~8 Hours
Extra Content: It'll take another 8 hours or so to collect all the letters and probably about 6 hours or so to beat the Hard World, which features an additional 28 remixed levels. There are also secrets to uncover, but they don't net any in game progress and only work towards your trophy completion. Finding these secrets will probably vary more in time because they are hidden, but expect them to take a few hours to find. Just to clarify, letters are an expanded test of your platforming skills and are all in clear view of the screen, while secrets are a test of your observation skills and take a little more digging to find. The platinum trophy is a fair and rewarding challenge that took me about 25-30 hours to get.
Description: Valfaris is one of the best run & gun games I've ever played. You play as Prince Therion who returns to his home planet of Valfaris on a quest to kill his father. It's themed around a fictional planet and has a gross alien vibe coupled with heavy metal music. The music doesn't override the other audio in the game, and it does a nice job of upping the ante when you're fighting a boss – of which there are many. You're equipped with a primary gun, a more powerful mana-based gun, a sword, and a shield that can block with mana or parry. There are a number of weapons to acquire throughout the game, and the guns in particular do a great job of feeling different. You’re able to upgrade your weapons with Blood Metals. Some Blood Metals are found in plain sight, others are rewarded for defeating a tough enemy, and some are given for going off the beaten path. These upgrades typically just up the firepower but will sometimes introduce a secondary move to your weapon. There are checkpoints every two minutes or so, and most bosses will have a checkpoint just before them (only the weaker bosses come after a gauntlet of enemies). The game is a little hard at points, but overall it strikes a nice balance of feeling accomplished for overcoming the challenges without getting overly frustrating.
Completion Time: ~8 Hours
Extra Content: There are a few secrets to find throughout the game that are off the beaten path, though I was able to find 2/3 of them on my first playthrough. I found all but one weapon as well. The replayability comes from New Game+, which allows you to take all your upgraded weapons into a harder version of the game. Since the weapons all function a bit differently, this can be lots of fun. Getting the platinum trophy is somewhat difficult.
Description: The premise of the game is a fusion of side scrollers and oldschool fixed screens that teleport you to the opposite side of the screen when you pass through one side - think Pac-Man, arcade Mario Bros., or Balloon Fight. You will find obstacles in your path that are impenetrable in a typical side scroller, but can be overcome by holding a button to turn the screen into a fixed screen that allows you to pass through one side and out through the other end. This is a totally unique take on a puzzle platformer I haven't seen before, and all five worlds bring something new to the table. For example, World 2 will flip you upside down when you pass through a screen, allowing new types of challenges as a result. There's more emphasis on the puzzle elements than the platforming.
Completion Time: ~2 Hours
Extra Content: There is a New Game+, but from what I could tell from the beginning it wasn't a whole lot different. Still, there's a trophy for completing New Game+ and some other fun trophies. Unfortunately, like many early generation indie games, this one has no platinum trophy.
Description: This game revolves around using two square characters who fling themselves from one end of the room to the other to reach an exit. You must position yourself in such a way that you use each character's body to get around the level. Each world introduces a new mechanic to keep things fresh. The whole game is played only using the two analog sticks (the d-pad and face buttons work, but the two analog sticks are best, in my opinion). It can also be played in local co-op, however with how often you have to fling yourself around, coordinating the correct movements to the other player would be exhausting, and it is easier to experiment yourself.
Completion Time: ~3.5 Hours
Extra Content: There's really no extra content, but $4 for what's almost a 4 hour game isn't bad. There is an easy platinum trophy however.
Description: This is actually a sequel to the Steam exclusive Horizon Shift, which sports a different aesthetic and isn’t quite as good from what I’ve read. Horizon Shift ’81 mimics the look of a fixed screen shoot ‘em up from the early 1980s but comes with a few twists of its own. Your ship is positioned in the middle of the screen on a horizontal line rather than the bottom, and you have to flip between sides to deal with enemies coming from both the top and the bottom. The line can be broken in different places – leaving a gap where you can fall to your death – by asteroids and certain projectiles. This is where the expanded moveset comes into play: you can jump between gaps and also over enemies who attach themselves to the line. Enemies on the line can also be taken out with a horizontal shield bash that regenerates after a few seconds. There is a boss after every five stages, some of which will actually bring the line down to the bottom of the screen, while others retain it in the middle. Horizon Shift ’81 has a number of customizable settings that change everything from the aesthetics, to the difficulty, to the checkpoint/lives system, to the speed of the game, and more. The two main modes are a choice between three lives with a checkpoint before and after every boss, or a checkpoint at the beginning of every level but only one life.
Completion Time: ~3.5 Hours (Normal Mode on Arcade Style)
Extra Content: There are a number of ways to customize your future playthroughs, and there’s an unlockable boss rush mode after finishing the game. The few trophies are relatively easy to obtain. There is no platinum trophy for this game.
Description: Daggerhood's main hook is the use of its sword teleportation mechanic. You throw your sword with a button, and you press the same button again to teleport to where the sword is. While this is a mechanic that has been seen in some Metroidvanias, I haven't seen a tight, linear 2D platformer make use of this mechanic before. Each level has a number of collectibles and some small side sections as well, but for the most part the path to the finish is clear - it's just the execution that's the tricky part. Add in teleportation portals to make things even trickier.
Completion Time: ~2.5 Hours
Extra Content: As this is a Ratalaika Games published game, the platinum trophy only takes about 1-1.5 hours to achieve. You can get it well before you even finish the game, which is a shame because the game had all the makings for a fun platinum trophy. There are tons of collectibles in each level, and each level records your time. So there is a lot here to extend to the playtime.
Description: Usually with Metroidvanias, I expect a long, difficult game that's difficult to navigate. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight is a counter to those ideas while still maintaining the exploratory nature of the sub-genre. The plot is pretty simple and doesn't feature a ton of story, but there are a few NPCs you talk to throughout your quest. The combat is also fairly simple, but the boss fights you engage in are all great. Without much weapon customization, it's stripped to the basics of dodging enemy attacks while trying to get a hit in. It makes for a game that's easy to get into and instantly start enjoying. All of the areas are visually appealing, some more than others, and each of them lasts shorter than you'd expect. The game is only around 3-5 hours, but it feels like you've played so much more in that time. Some games only really start to take off by the time this game finishes.
Completion Time: ~4 Hours
Extra Content: Getting 100% map completion should only take an hour or two of cleanup. I did miss an optional boss on my first playthrough. There are also items to discover, and the trophies give fun challenges to extend the life of the game. Unfortunately there is no platinum trophy for this game. One cool thing I liked was that beating a boss without getting hit at all gives you a useful item. It also features New Game+, allowing you to carry over most of your items, making the game more difficult, and changing up enemy placement.
Description: Ultra Hat Dimension follows Bea through a series of rooms in a palace on a quest to undo the magical spell that has made the mythical Spluff creatures want to attack one another. There is a little bit of backstory via one sentence thoughts from Bea in between levels, but nothing major here. The gameplay revolves equipping four different types of hats and using them to evade or push Spluffs around to retrieve the key and reach the door. Each Spluff dons one of four different hats which effects their behavior towards other Spluffs and you. You will be punched one tile back by every Spluff unless you’re wearing the same hat as the Spluff. Spluffs interact with one another differently depending on what hat they’re wearing in a rock, paper, scissors kind of way – they may punch a Spluff back one space, get into a scuffle that allows you to get close to them without wearing a hat, or they may temporarily disable them in a way that allows you to access the space the Spluff consumes within eight moves. There are undo and reset buttons included that allow you to quickly rewind mistakes. There are some clever puzzles accompanied by catchy tunes and a charming pixel art aesthetic. The difficulty is about average.
Completion Time: ~3 Hours
Extra Content: Since this is published by Ratalaika Games, getting the platinum trophy can be obtained after only clearing 2/3 of the levels. There are a few custom maps on the PC version of the game but no additional content on consoles.
Description: Remothered: Tormented Fathers feels very old school in its design philosophy - no weapons outside a few self defense items and distraction items. You go back and forth in the mansion and have to learn the layout and where things are to proceed. You have to manually select the key item from your inventory to use on triggers (but a key icon is still shown to guide you a little). The sounds in this game do a great job of evoking tension, and I appreciate that the stalkers don’t seem to teleport, so if you can get away from them, you’ve earned your freedom for awhile. This is the first game in a loosely connected trilogy, with the second one due later this year.
Completion Time: ~6 Hours
Extra Content: There are some collectibles you can go back for, but not a whole beyond that. Unfortunately there is no platinum trophy for this game, and you'll probably get most of the trophies - if not all, except the collectibles one - on your first playthrough.
Description: Reverie is a mix between Zelda’s gameplay, Earthbound’s aesthetic and humor, and a New Zealand folktale – the legend of Maui and the Giant Fish. Instead of the more traditional sword and shield style fantasy, Reverie instead opts for items and tools a modern boy is more likely to find in his possession, like a cricket bat, a yoyo, and a nerf gun. Similarly, the first dungeon is grandpa’s basement, where you’ll square off against a giant hedgehog and a tumble dryer. That said, the game does get more fantastical with the last two locations, particularly the last one. It’s a relatively easy game overall, though the fourth and especially fifth dungeon offer up a moderate challenge. The indie scene has produced a lot of Zelda-like games in recent years, but this is the only one I know of that isn’t your standard medieval fantasy.
Completion Time: ~5 Hours
Extra Content: There are feathers to collect, mini games to play, and a combat focused bonus dungeon to beat. That said, a lot of this stuff is easy to stumble upon in the main quest, so you’re probably looking at about two or three hours’ worth of content after beating the game to complete everything and get the platinum trophy.
Description: Inertial Drift's distinguishing characteristic is its employment of the right analog stick for drifting. This takes a little getting used to, but it feels great once you get the hang of it, creating some exhilarating moments when perfecting corner turns. The game has 10 unique tracks + 10 reversed tracks, 16 vehicles, and four separate story arcs. Each story arc is only a couple of hours long and features a different protagonist with a different vehicle. Since you’ll be racing on the same track a few times, there are a few gameplay variations that differ from just reaching the finish line at the end, such as racking up a certain number of points that are acquired through longer drift times and other means. There's quite a bit of dialogue between races, and in the races themselves characters will frequently dish out positive commentary on your performance in the form of text in the top left hand corner of the screen. The game's aesthetics are a fusion of anime and synthwave. I've heard many fans liken the game to the manga Initial D, though I'm unfamiliar with that series myself.
Completion Time: ~3 Hours (for 1/4 Story Arcs)
Extra Content: There are a number of different modes including a Story Mode, Challenge Mode, Grand Prix Mode, Arcade Mode, two player Split-Screen, and Online, as well as a Tutorial. Completion of challenges in Challenge Mode allows you to unlock new vehicles for the other non-Story Modes. Grand Prix Mode allows you to race using different characters/vehicles through a connected set of challenges, while Arcade Mode is for one-off races. I wouldn't recommend this game for online play as the user-base is pretty small (hence it being overlooked) and you're unlikely to find a match. Getting the platinum trophy is fairly difficult.
Description: This is an action platformer that emulates arcade games from the latter half of the 1980s, but it is probably most reminiscent of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts. The creator, Locomalito, states that the soundtrack uses the true arcade sound of the YM2203 chip. The game is hard, but the checkpoints are never more than a minute or two apart, and the lives' system/continue system has no penalties outside of locking you out of trophies. This is a very boss dense game - in the ~4 hour run-time it takes to complete the game, you fight 19 bosses. The handful of weapons and items you pick up helps lend variety to the combat, and no two boss fights feel the same.
Completion Time: ~4 Hours
Extra Content: The game has two endings. Most players will get the bad ending the first time around and be locked out of the final stage (which is the longest stage in the game). You do have to play through the game again to get the good ending, but you'll likely do it in half the time. If you want to see all the major content on your first go around, I recommend looking up how to get the good ending before you play the game. As far as trophies are concerned, the platinum trophy is very difficult to obtain. If you like an extreme challenge, this one's for you.
Description: Pato Box follows an anthropomorphic duck boxer on an adventure through a stylistic noir comic book world. “Pato” is a Spanish word that translates to “Duck” in English (the game was developed by a Mexican studio). The boss fights are heavily inspired by Punch-Out’s gameplay, but there are levels outside of these fights to help differentiate it. Most of the levels can be selected in any order you choose and typically serve as a leadup to the boss fight. Bosses are usually introduced by a cutscene followed by some dialogue taunting Pato Box. The levels play entirely differently from the fights, but the themes of the level match those of the bosses. The levels will employ various elements of evasion, stealth, exploration, and a few time-based mini-games. The casino level, for example, will have you walk around the casino looking for chips and punching the slot machines to earn enough to pay entrance to the fight, while the food factory has you evading stompers, sawblades, and butcher knives as you work your way through the level. There are variety of things to find throughout the levels: tokens for decorations in Pato Box’s room, backstory on the boss of the level and the world, and tips on how to win the upcoming fight. The fights themselves lock Pato Box in the middle of the screen, allowing you to block, juke left or right, and perform a low or high jab to the left or right. The game foregoes a HUD in favor of a visual representation of your health via scars on your body, which I thought was a nice touch. While the levels and bosses play pretty differently from each other, they’re weaved together by a dark and intriguing story that follows Pato Box’s quest for retribution against an evil corporation.
Completion Time: ~7 Hours
Extra Content: There’s an Arcade Mode that lets you replay boss fights and some collectibles to find in the main campaign. The trophies are very difficult, and many ask you to beat a boss without taking a single hit.
Description: The Count Lucanor’s story is very fairy tale-esque – more like a classic fairy tale as it can be pretty dark and grotesque at times. On his 10th birthday, Hans chooses to leave his mother in a quest for wealth. After some walking and conversation with NPCs you find along the way, you stumble upon a large mansion and find that the count of this mansion is looking to pass his wealth onto an heir who can prove himself worthy – “worthy” in this case being the one who can figure out the count’s name. From here, you are tasked with adventuring through the mansion and solving environmental puzzles in a nonlinear way to acquire the letters that spell the count’s name. There is a survival horror element to the game, as you are unable to attack the enemies in the mansion and instead must crawl under tables and find other ways around them. You can place candles around the mansion to light it up to help you better evade enemies, but your usage is limited (though you can find more).
Completion Time: ~4 Hours
Extra Content: There are five different endings and some puzzles/rooms you don’t even have to do. This could double your playtime – maybe even more if you don’t use a guide. The platinum trophy requires every ending and a few other things but is pretty easy to get if you use a guide.
Description: The Bunker is an FMV point & click adventure, meaning it features real actors and environments just like a live action movie. Many of the actors involved have been in high profile movies/TV shows as well, including The Hobbit, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Penny Dreadful. The game takes place in a fallout shelter and follows the last survivor as he tries to find a way outside following the death of his mother, after living 30+ years in the bunker. The gameplay has you solving puzzles and finding ways to proceed to the next area. The story is the focal point of the game though, and it frequently switches between the past and the present to tell its story. There’s a good juxtaposition between the lively past and the lonely present that makes you question how the protagonist ended up as the last survivor. There’s only one narrative choice to make in the game, and it comes at the very end. The game also works in handheld mode with touchscreen functionality if you'd prefer to play it that way.
Completion Time: ~2. Hour Completion Time*
Extra Content: You can replay the game and try to find all the collectibles. Most of them give more background on the story. You can trigger the ending you did not choose the first time around by simply reloading the last checkpoint, so there is no need to play through the whole game again to unlock it. Getting the platinum trophy is fairly easy.
Description: A Tale of Paper takes direct inspiration from Little Nightmares, sporting the same sideview camera angle and minimalist narrative. It’s a little less creepy and has the interesting twist of transforming into a variety of different origamis on the fly: from a little alien creature, to a frog, to a ball, to a paper airplane, etc., all with the push of a button. You’ll use a combination of different origami shapes to overcome the obstacles in the area, and you’ll be accompanied by some gorgeous sceneries in the process. The gameplay is pretty easy in both its platforming and puzzles, making it an easygoing, movie-esque kind of game. While the story is minimalist, it results in a satisfying conclusion, and it really feels like you’ve been through quite a journey even with the short runtime. The game evokes the feeling of being a tiny specimen in a larger-than-life world – Toy Story 2 is probably the most apt comparison I can make. Outside of Little Nightmares, I haven’t played another game quite like this.
Completion Time: ~1.5 Hours
Extra Content: I got seven of the eight origami collectibles in my first run-through. The trophies also only offer a few extra things to do, but I’d recommend reading the list of trophies before you play the game if you want to get the relatively easy platinum trophy.
Description: If you liked Detroit: Become Human or Until Dawn, Late Shift will be right up your alley. This game is a bit different from both those titles in that it's an FMV, with the gameplay solely consisting of the choices you make. You receive prompts at key moments in the story on what you want your character to do next, and this effects the outcome of the game. It plays more like Black Mirror's Bandersnatch, though this game came before it. The story follows an everyman who gets tangled up in London's criminal underground just as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Completion Time: ~1.5 Hour Completion Time*
Extra Content: There are 180 choice points and 7 different endings. There is a platinum trophy, and I only got 4 out of 21 of the trophies on my first playthrough. There are a number of different routes to take with the game.
Description: SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption is a Soulslike boss rush - there are no levels and only small area before each boss to practice your moves. There are eight bosses, the first seven allowing you to fight in any order, each representing the seven deadly sins. You are equipped with everything the game has to offer from the beginning (except for the New Game+ weapon they give you), and instead of becoming more powerful, you gradually lose things with each boss you defeat, hence the “sacrifice” in the title. It’s like a reverse RPG. Each boss has a different sacrifice associated to it – one may deplete your throwing items’ usage, while another will deplete your health and stamina. Picking the best order to fight them in adds a little strategic thinking to the game, as you may be more dependent on your large health and stamina bar more than your throwing items’ usage, for example. The game is fairly difficult, so your victories over each boss feel very gratifying when they do come.
Completion Time: ~5 Hours
Extra Content: There is New Game+ that offers you an additional weapon. The trophies task you with a few things you have to pull off in battles, and the platinum trophy is pretty easy to obtain.
Description: Verlet Swing’s aesthetic is as intriguing as its gameplay: you are tasked with grappling and swinging yourself across these vaporwave styled levels without hitting anything. The levels are all very short, but you’re likely to play many levels dozens of times before even finishing it… just to get a 1/4 rank. The ranking system is actually very cool, in that it encourages you to find alternative paths or sometimes just building up more momentum to get to the end faster. Most levels do seem to have a set path, but at the same time, with the proper grappling of the mechanics, you can forge your own, which is a game in itself.
Completion Time: ~7 Hours
Extra Content: There’s an in game challenge menu that mostly recycles a lot of the base game content – though there’s a particularly funny one that switches the perspective to third person to play as a knockoff Spiderman. You can also go back and try to get the best possible time for each level. Getting the platinum trophy is extremely hard and I believe is at 0.1% completion.
Description: Neon Drive is a challenging rhythm game with a synthwave aesthetic and appropriately matching music. The objective of the game is to evade the obstacles coming at you by transitioning between four lanes at the right moment using either two of the face buttons, D-Pad, or shoulder buttons. Personally I found the shoulder buttons worked best. The game will occasionally transform you into other vehicles that mix the gameplay up a bit - one notable example is when you turn into a plane and transition between eight lanes in a 360 degree orientation. There are only eight levels that are all about three minutes in length if you were to beat them with no deaths, with two checkpoints and two health points that regenerate between checkpoints. While this all sounds very generous, most of these levels will still take you dozens of tries, though the life reset is almost immediate so you can get back into the action right away.
Completion Time: ~3 Hours
Extra Content: There are two harder difficulties, an endurance mode that sees how long you can go without dying, a free run mode that allows you to play through the game without reset (only unlocked after beating each level), and online leaderboards. The trophies are very hard to get, and there is no platinum trophy.
Conclusion My top 5 on the list in order would be the following: (1.) Hayfever, (2.) Valfaris, (3.) Cursed Castilla: (Maldita Castilla EX), (4.) Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, and (5.) Bleep Bloop. Have you played any of these games? What are some other overlooked single player indie games? If you’re looking for more indie games to play, see my post here:
I never thought my work injury would cause me so many issues in PSO2 socially
The biggest problem I've ever had with MMO's? The other people. I started playing PSO2 back in May. Found a work around for getting the game here in the UK early, and what with being on furlough due to the current pandemic, I sank a lot of time into it. I'd played Phantasy Star 2 on the Megadrive and a little bit of PSU back in the 360 days, so was excited to give it a go. However, there was an issue... Last year I sustained an injury at work (an accident involving machinery...) resulting in my index finger and middle finger on my right hand being semi-paralyzed. Basically, I can very slightly move them sometimes, but I wouldn't rely in them to do anything. Occasionally my thumb seizes up too, so I can't exactly rely on that either. If I attempt to use any of those digits extensively, I get bad pains and cramps along the back of my hand. Isn't permanent nerve damage fun? I've had various physio sessions and am on a repeat prescription for painkillers, but I will never have full use of my right hand ever again, and yes, it was my dominant hand. It's an ongoing struggle to not let it rule everything I do, but obviously I've had to make a lot of lifestyle adjustments. The most relevant one here being how I game. I'm very much a console gamer. Turn based JRPG's are now my best friend. Classic Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Pokémon remain very much unchanged, just at a bit of a slower pace. Everything else... When I booted up a new game, usually the first thing I do (if the option is available) is to crank the game up to the highest difficulty. I just find games more fun if there's a fair challenge. Let me... try my best to describe how I use a controller now for the longest and easiest gameplay. I rest the whole controller on my thigh. So left hand, as you'd expect, left hand is fine. Right, I use the palm of my hand to control the right thumbstick (thankfully most games, just the camera). A thumbgrip on the stick makes this easier than you'd think. My ring and little finger do all the rest, so on an Xbox controller that's A,B, X, Y and the two R buttons. I'll use my left hand if I need to use the Menu button. It's really not easy, and whilst I'm learning to get used to it, it is still a struggle, and my days of hardest difficulty are long over. Now back to PSO2... There's many different ways to play and enjoy the game. Explorations and ARKS quests are no real issue for me, Casino sessions are a ridiculous amount of fun, I love the story, and fashion... DAMN, I love CASTs. Urgent Quests... For the most part, I'm actually OK with it. Mining Bases and Gone With the Wind and Rain were my first few UQs at max level (75 at the time). I play Braver. Initially this was because in games where you can choose a class like this one, I've always favoured bows and quick melee weapons. Braver appealed to me. I stuck to this class because Morning Mistreaver combined with the Katana Combat invincibility is very forgiving for my ailment. Dark Falz Elder I remember being the first one I died a lot in. I majorly ticked off my alliance at the time with how badly I was doing. I decided to explain my injury in the alliance Discord, hoping they'd just keep it in the back of their minds when they played with me. What happened next... My alliance basically split in two with me. Half I expected, the other half I didn't. So one half did exactly what I feared an shunned me. Wasn't allowed in any triggers, was never invited to the UQs, wasn't even allowed to come along for VHAQ and SHAQ's which I had no real issues with. I was sad but I can't expect serious end game players to bring along a player with a handicap. What bothered me was that people who I had banter with in the lobby now would no longer even talk to me. That hurt. The other half... I became a charity case, or maybe a challenge? People would take me, but encourage me to just be there. I was being prompted to be carried. UQs would come along, not even Elder, and alliance chat would have people telling me they don't need a 4th so I can 'tag along and watch'. Also, some people started talking to me in layman's terms, or over explaining things, talking to me as if I had a mental disability. No offence to people who do of course, but my disability is physical. I know how to augment and I research the market and drops to see what gear is best. I don't need someone telling me to 'imagine your weapon is a pet. You want your pet to grow big and strong, don't you? So you need all these vitamins to feed him to make him the best he can be! So get these other weapons with the vitamins you need, and you can get an even better weapon for yourself!'. I wish I was exaggerating... as I sat there with my Nemesis Cougar with 6 augments I did myself including ARKS Max and Apprentice Soul (which if you remember back then was a big deal). I left that alliance, switched the blocks I frequent and moved on. I joined a new alliance and told myself I wouldn't tell anyone else about my hand. I'd rather have people just think I was a bad player. I ended up just joining randoms for the boss UQs from now on. It stayed this way for a long time... until the Fellwyrm. Before the first time it popped up, I was already chilling with fellow alliance members in the lobby. My plan was to break off when the emergency announcement went up, but received a party invite from an alliance officer before I could. I decided what the hey and accepted, figuring I could play it off as a new UQ and that I'm not sure how it works if I died a lot. I made the mistake of saying as a joke 'Sorry if I die, new UQ, gotta learn it! XD', to have the officer say they're a JP vet, explaining the basic outline and giving a few tips. It was genuinely quite helpful, and I only died twice! Then I learned it was a 2 part quest... Yes, I had attempted Deus Esca with randoms before this one, and yes, I was responsible for 4 of the 5 deaths (2 of the people in the party blocked me afterwards). I told myself OK, not going to burden anyone with part two any more, that's unfair to others. I tried to back out of my party before the second half, saying I didn't want to do it, I'll make us reach the death limit, to be told there wasn't one. I left the party to be re-invited into it... So because (I thought) I got on well with the officer, I decided to go for it. We... ran out the timer. Granted, not just my fault (another member of the party wasn't fantastic either), but I got singled out by the officer for the blame on it as they noted I was pretty much just using one photon art (Morning Mistreaver. It does good damage and helps with aim and gap closing, genuinely so helpful) and rarely if ever used my bow. I met the ugly side of this officer and was asked to give a public apology and an explanation for my actions, as I had now 'deprived 3 members of the alliance a proper experience with the Urgent Quest'. There was even talk of me compensating them with Meseta. I tried to plead my case that I did say and try to leave (with one party member thankfully taking my side in that one), and even contemplated explaining my condition... but instead just logged off. I was pinged many times in Discord, but muted. When I logged into PSO2 the next day, I was no longer a member of the alliance, and had a Discord PM from the leader (who was offline during this UQ) saying they heard I had purposely gone out of my way to deprive my fellow members of a good experience, with logging out (to escape abuse) apparently solidified I did it out of spite. I decided to go at it as a solo player, and told myself I'd never do another UQ. I changed blocks again but... This time I found it hard to socialise with anyone. If people would chat to me, I would go quiet, bolt if asked to join anyone for stuff, and often pretend to be AFK and just lobby watch, forever torn between wanting to join the fun and not wanting to spoil it. I also made an Alt as Summoner class in hopes that maybe that class would work out better for me, and honestly it probably does but I find it such a dull class to play. Just a personal preference. I do log into this game everyday. That can be a full session, or can just be 15 mins or so to knock out the daily missions. One day whilst I was lobby watching in a popular block, I actually jumped on a conversation when people were talking about Phantasy Star 2 on the Megadrive. There's lots of players who have been playing Phantasy Star since the Dreamcast, but it's less common to find people from the old bit days. Turns out the people in the conversation were in an alliance together, one of which being the leader. They invited me to join. I hesitated at first, telling them I hadn't had much luck with the social side of things. They told me they were a chill alliance, and a bonus is the leader and a lot of members were UK based, so no problems with time zones matching up. I went for it... However I still had issues socialising. I often still lobby watched. I think subconsciously I didn't want to build up more social connections to have them severed again by my abilities. Honestly I'm not bothered about going to UQs, I'm more upset that the social aspect of the game is being hindered because of my ailment. We were in the second or third week of Halloween events when I joined this alliance, making Trick or Treat my first UQ since the dragon. It was a pretty easy one too, had a lot of fun with that one. This alliance liked to have characters of NPC players too, spurring me to make one and try out ranger class. As much as I love my braver, Ranger class actually works stupidly well for me too, and honestly I don't know why I didn't try it sooner. And yet despite this, I still couldn't find it in myself to properly be social again. I'd see events in Discord and say I was going to join in but then just didn't. I tried joining in with more NPC shenanigans but... It was like my mind was telling me to back off before I was shunned again. We had a lot of alliance drama completely unrelated to all that recently. It involved a rift in the officers and the leader leaving and taking most of the other members with them. To my dismay it was pretty much all the UK players that left, meaning I'd now often be logging out as all the alliance events were happening. I wasn't scouted for the new alliance. I guess I wasn't social enough, but to be honest I don't think I would've joined anyway due to my views on how the ordeal went down. I want a 15* fancy weapon, so I've been braving the Persona UQ. To be honest I think I'm definitely getting used to it all, I'm managing to get through it with no deaths on both my Braver and my Ranger. I even decided to run with the alliance again... which got me invited to a 4 man trigger. Yes, I died a lot, but I needed that void stuff. To be honest, the alliance reacted very well to it, not bothered at all that I was down a lot. I took myself out of the equation for future 4 man triggers, but was pleasantly surprised that there was no backlash. The only thing that's bothering me is I'm getting advice on skill trees and tactics that I can't pull off, but that's nothing major. Hope they're not expecting to see any improvements. This now small alliance is so different to the others I've been in. Maybe they'll react differently to my ailment, and I'm concerned that if I don't say anything that I may get pushed out. Should I tell them? I'm contemplating confiding in my alliance leader first and then seeing how they react, but then if they react negatively that could affect my position. I don't want to switch social blocks again, I'm enjoying the social atmosphere of the game again. Maybe I'm overthinking it, and these bad experiences I should just disregard as isolated incidents, but then I think of how well I got on with people in my previous groups before they found out about my ailment and/or how bad I was at the game. What do I do? I genuinely don't know any more. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't treat people badly for not being great at the game, and remember that the social aspect can be taken separately to the core game. You never know what your actions will do to people long term.
I figured this was the better place to post a semi-review of the game, y'all seem more chill. I just finished the game, played as a Corpo, got the secret ending where I stormed the HQ with Johnny, and got The Sun ending, where you straight up rob a space casino. I'll put the TL;DR here, for those of you who're just scrolling: the game is a masterpiece. One of the best I've played in years. CD tried to do a lot here, more than the Witcher, and while not everything stuck the landing, the hate this game is getting is ludicrously over the top. I don't mean to diss, but games like Fallout 76 and Anthem didn't get this kind of shit, and they deserved it 10X more in my opinion. Hey, at least this game doesn't have any damn time savers or Verizon themed pre order outfits. I'm gonna get into my main points now, starting with the positives:
The soundtrack. It's amazing, from the theme at the main menu to the combat music. the radio stations are all Preem too. There's a little of everything.
The voice acting is really solid, I played a male V and he really sounded like Jon Bernthal and Frank Grillo mixed together. Keanu is of course Keanu. Something I also really enjoyed and I hope more games adopt, which I haven't seen mentioned, is people speak different languages. Like not every character speaks perfect English. There are Russians, Japanese, and Spanish gangs and they all speak their respective languages. I dug that, and it's easily explained cause you have translator tech.
Similarly to something like Mafia 3, the face models are really out of this world. Character creation is pretty extensive too, I liked being able to give my V crossbones for eyes.
Night City itself is drop dead gorgeous at times. When you're driving around North Oak, that long highway just outside town, the city is like something out of Blade Runner.
Each district feels really unique, Pacifica and Heywood being favorites of mine. All the fixers have their own shtick, and the gangs are nice and varied. Padre and the Voodoo Boys are great.
The combat is solid, and there are a lot of options for different play styles. I kind of opted for a jack of all trades type build, and had a lot of fun. Granted, there's a lot more systems then there need to be, but I'll get to that later.
The story itself is gripping, I never lost interest, even when I was off doing side quests I was still thinking about a conversation I'd had with Johnny. Speaking of which--
Johnny. I've seen this before, with Handsome Jack in Tales From the Borderlands and the Joker in Arkham Knight, but Cyberpunk really takes a new spin on it. Johnny doesn't just spout off random bullshit all the time--though he does sometimes and it's often great stuff, like him talking about his 'impressive cock'--but he does actively challenge you and get into real discussions with you. He's got a lot of layers that are fun to peel back, and he's a genuinely tragic character. Johnny is written beautifully.
The rest of the cast is superb as well. Goro, who really broke my heart when in the ending phone calls he told me to 'Rot in Hell', even though I deserved it. But Julie, River, the guy that wants you to nail him to a cross--they all find a way to stand out.
The mission design too I enjoyed, especially in the side gigs. You could be covertly infiltrating a penthouse looking for a priceless guitar one minute, to shooting up an underground nightclub the next. There's the cyber-psychos and all those NCPD crimes, and holy shit, reading those shards was straight up heartbreaking at times. There's story packed in everywhere of this game.
But I've blown the game enough now, time for some constructive criticism.
Obviously, performance wise I think we're still a few patches away from being smooth sailing. I've had a few crashes, but mostly I have issues with my controls just freezing up, like not being able to jump or shoot while aiming.
There's a disparity in the economy I find, and I haven't seen this mentioned yet, though I could be wrong. The rewards for certain quests, like the amount of credits you earn can be really low. The amount of EXP too. I think these need to be doubled at least, because 1,300 credits for a gig that I was told was 'Very Hard', doesn't check out. It's something to give thought to at least, because right now, unless you abuse the money cheat, getting cash early on can be a little tedious. There could be reward scaling too, based on your level or the area you're in.
Combat wise, there are a lot of options, which is good, but at the end of the day blasting people with a revolver that does 1,200 damage is easiest. Melee weapons are fun, as are your cyber hacks, I just feel as though there needs to be more incentive to use them.
That brings me to the skill trees. The reason I stuck with handguns is because trying to level up all those individual skills at the same time became almost impossible. Especially certain ones like athletics and engineering. I think a good change here could be either an increase into how much EXP you get form doing certain actions, a reduction in how much EXP you need, or both. Crafting needs this especially when making a legendary item only nets 300 EXP and you need 55,000 to level up.
With regards to the life paths, outside of making the intros a little longer, I'd say a more meaningful quest later on would be a nice reward. Using Corpo as an example, the opening ends before you really have a chance to do anything. I think being able to actually complete the hit, or try to and botch the job, would set things up nicely. Also, actually being able to go back and stick it to Jenkins, instead of dealing with that guy who has one conversation with you. I don't need a grand overhaul, just really those two things would do it for me.
So that's really it, I mean I can talk about this game for hours but I know no one has that kind of time. To really wrap up, the response to this game has just really left me speechless. CD isn't perfect, we learned that, but they didn't burn down an orphanage for the blind. When you have companies like Konami that charge you for save slots, and EA--nothing needs to be said about them--it's worth looking at all they get right here. Visuals can be fixed, as can performance issues. I'm playing on an Xbox One S and I think I've got my $60 worth and more. At the end of the day, if your core game isn't good, then all the patches in the world can't fix that. Here, the core story and game is fantastic, so in lets say a month, I'll be ready for a second play-through no doubt. The hate train is already starting to loose steam, which means hopefully more people will get to experience Night City and all it has to offer. I appreciate anyone who took the time to read through all my rambling. Keep fighting, Samurais, city won't burn itself!
DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKNG) - Deep Dive Research - Part 1
This is Part 1 of my two part deep dive on DraftKings (Ticker: DKNG, I will refer to the company as “DK”)
This first part introduces you to (1) me, (2) the company, (3) my thesis on the company, and (4) digs into how they make money.
The second part (already released, you can read it here - but get through part 1 first :) ) will go in depth to explore the question “Can we 10x from here?”
DK is an exciting, disruptive company working to change how we experience watching sports and make it better.
I am not a financial advisor and this is not investment advice. These are just my opinions to help facilitate learning and discussion.
Hello, welcome to my first deep dive write up. My name’s Mark and I’m an accountant with a passion for investing. About two years ago, I used to work as an auditor at a public accounting firm and have been behind the scenes at many different publicly traded and privately held companies in the U.S. My goal is to bring my unique perspective from that past experience, my current experience working in a new role at a large corporation, and my understanding of accounting to help break down some of the most exciting growth stocks on the market today. I’m a long-term investor. I am focused on finding great companies and holding them for a long time. I’m willing to endure volatility, crazy price drops, and everything that comes with this approach as long as the facts that led me to originally invest and believe in that company have not changed. If you want to learn more about this approach. I recommend reading the book “100 Baggers” by Chris Mayer. Introduction I think it’s fitting that my first stock pick has to do with sports. Sports has been a part of my life since I could walk at the age of 2. First with baseball and soccer, and then later in my childhood with golf. I’ve always played American football and basketball for fun as well and have always been an avid fan of all the major sports in the US. I started playing fantasy sports (mostly just fantasy football) about 6 years ago and have always enjoyed it. Traditionally, with fantasy football you draft a team at the beginning of the year and those are your players for the rest of the season. If you have a bad draft, oh well. You can try to improve your team with trades and free agent additions but it is tough. Leagues usually consist of 10-14 teams (each managed by an individual) and there’s obviously only one winner at the end of the season (about 4 months after the draft). This can lead to the managers of the lower performing teams losing interest as the season wanes on. I believe DraftKings’ (DK) founders saw this issue and saw an opportunity. Enter, daily fantasy sports. Now, with the DK platform you can draft a new team every week. Or if you want, every day. This allows fans of fantasy sports to engage at whichever point of the season they want and at varying financial stakes. The Thesis Statement For every stock pick I make, I want to provide a quick thesis statement that can serve as a reminder for why I’m buying and holding that stock for the long term. I’ll always aim to make it just a few sentences long so it can easily be remembered and internalized. This helps during times when the price may sporadically drop and you need to remember why you’re holding this position. The thesis statement I have come up with for DK is as follows: “DraftKings: The leader in allowing fans to engage financially with their favorite sports, teams, and players. Having money at stake makes the game a lot more interesting to watch. The era of daily fantasy sports games, online sports betting, and online betting (outside of sports), is just getting started and DK is as well positioned (or better positioned) than anyone to capitalize off of this trend.” Notice how I said “allowing fans to engage financially” as the first sentence and not necessarily “allowing fans to gamble”. There’s a reason for that. According to US Federal Law, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) contests have specifically been exempted from the prohibitions of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). DK has always been, and I believe will continue to be DFS contests 1st, sports betting 2nd, and other forms of gambling/entertainment 3rd. It is noteworthy that states at an individual level can still deem DFS contests illegal if they so wish, but as of this writing (11/26/20), 43 of the 50 US States allow DFS contests and DK, accordingly, is offering DFS contests in all 43 of those US States. I’ll try to clarify the difference between DFS contests and sports betting real quick: DFS Contest – Pay a pre-set entry fee to enter a contest. All entry fees go towards “The Pot”. “Draft” 9 players to be on your “Team” for 1 week. Enter your “Roster” into a contest with other players (could range from 1 other person to 1,000s of people, the DK user can choose). Whichever “Roster” amasses the most points for that week out of all contestants wins. The winner will get the highest payout, and depending on the nature of the contest, other top finishers will receive smaller payouts as well. Sports Gambling – Team A is considered a 10 point favorite to defeat Team B. This means that Team A is expected, by the professional gambling line setters, to outscore Team B by 10 points. This is known as a point spread. You can bet on the underdog or the favorite. If you bet on the favorite, they have to win by more than 10 points for you to win the bet. If you bet on the underdog, you will win the bet as long as the underdog keeps the game within less than a 10 point defeat. These are just a couple simple examples to help you see the difference. Sports Gambling (the 2nd priority of DK) is a very lucrative market just as the DFS contests are. However, in the US, Federal Laws and regulations are a lot stricter on Sports Gambling than they are on DFS. As of this writing (11/27/20), 22 states (including the District of Columbia) out of 51 possible allow sports gambling. DK is still in the infancy stages of getting their sports gambling business going. In the 22 states where they could potentially operate, they currently have a sports gambling offering in 11 of those states. The sports gambling business model for DK can be broken into two main offerings – mobile sports betting, and retail sports betting. Mobile sports betting means you can place a sports bet online from the comfort of your own home, while retail sports betting means you must go to a casino and place a bet with the sportsbook in person. I personally believe mobile sports betting is the real potential cash cow for DK out of the two types of sports betting offerings due to the convenience and ease of access. DK is currently working on and encouraging customers to lobby their state lawmakers to legalize sports gambling in more states. How DK makes money At the very least, before you invest in a company, you better understand how they make money. In Chris Mayers’ excellent book, 100 Baggers, that I mentioned above, he continually references top line revenue growth as one of the main common indicators of a possible 100 Bagger. This isn’t to tell you that any stock I pick will be a 100 Bagger just because it has great top line revenue growth, but if I am looking at a growth stock to hold for the long term, revenue growth is one of the first things I look at. For DK, their means of making money is quite simple. I already went into detail above about DFS Contests and Sports Gambling. In DK’s latest 10-Q filing with the SEC (filed 11/13/20), revenue is broken out into two main streams: Online Gaming and Gaming Software. Online Gaming (82% of Total Revenue for 9 months ended 9/30/20): Online gaming is the true core business of DK and includes the aforementioned DFS Contests, Sports Gambling and additional gambling (non-sports) opportunities. DK refers to their additional gambling (non-sports) as “iGaming” or “online casino”. For the 9 months ended 9/30/20, Online Gaming revenue totaled $239M, up 30% YoY from $184M in the same prior year period. Keep in mind, that this is an increase that happened during a COVID-19 global pandemic that delayed and shortened many professional sports seasons. Online gaming revenue is earned in a few ways that are slightly different, but very similar overall. In order to enter a DFS contest, a customer must pay an entry fee. DFS revenue is generated from these entry fees collected, net of prize payouts and customer incentives awarded to users. In order to place a sports bet (sports gambling), a customer places a wager with a DK Sportsbook. The DK Sportsbook sets odds for each wager that builds in a theoretical margin allowing DK to profit. Sports gambling revenue is generated from wagers collected from customers, net of payouts and incentives awarded to winning customers. The last form of online gaming revenue is earned in similar fashion to a land-based casino, offering online versions of casino games such as blackjack, roulette, and slot machines. Gaming Software (18% of Total Revenue for 9 months ended 9/30/20): While the Online Gaming revenue stream mentioned above is a Business to Consumer (B2C) model, the Gaming Software revenue stream is a Business to Business (B2B) model. The Gaming Software side of the business was born out of the acquisition of SBTech, a company from the Isle of Man (near the UK) founded in 2007 that has 12+ years of experience providing online sports betting platforms to clients all over the world. The acquisition occurred as part of the SPAC driven IPO in April of 2020 that combined “the old DK company” with SBTech so that they now are “the new DK company” listed as DKNG on the NASDAQ. SBTech is a far more important part of the story than just being 18% of today’s revenue. The reason for this is because DK will eventually (planned mid-late 2021) be migrating all of their DFS and gambling offerings onto SBTech’s online platforms. Currently, for DFS, DK uses their own proprietary platform but that will move to SBTech with the migration. Currently, for online gambling, DK uses Kambi, the same online gambling platform that services Penn Gaming (PENN), a DK rival. But that’s enough about the software migration for now, back to the Gaming Software revenue. The Gaming Software revenue stream for DK is essentially a continuation of SBTechs’ B2B business model. DK contracts with business customers to provide sports and casino betting software solutions. DK typically enters two different type of arrangements with B2B customers when selling the gaming software:
Direct Customer Contract Revenue: In this type of transaction, the software is sold directly to a business (casino for example) that wants to use the software for their own gambling operations. This revenue is generally calculated as a percentage of the wagering revenue generated by the business customer using DK’s software and is recognized in the periods in which those wagering and related activities conclude.
Reseller Arrangement Revenue: In this type of transaction, DK provides distributors with the right to resell DK’s software-as-a-service offering to their clients, using their own infrastructure. In reseller arrangements, revenue is generally calculated via a fixed monthly fee and an additional monthly fee which varies based on the number of gaming operators to whom each reseller sub-licenses DK’s software.
As mentioned above, SBTech was an international company based in the Isle of Man before being acquired by DK. Thus, the majority of their business in their first 12 years of operating independently has always been international and outside of the United States. This has helped DK, which has historically been US focused, expand it’s international reach. A perfect example of expanding this international reach occurred recently during October (technically Q4) in which DK’s B2B technology (powered by SBTech) helped enable the launch of “PalaceBet”, a new mobile and online sportsbook offering from Peermont, a South Africa based resort and casino company. The deal was headed by DK’s new Chief International Officer, Shay Berka, who previously spent 10 years working for SBTech as CFO and General Manager. Mr. Berka took on the role of DK’s Chief International Officer upon the merger in April earlier this year. I think this deal shows that DK has integrated SBTech and it’s business very well into the larger business as a whole. They are not wasting any time using their newly acquired resources to expand their reach and bring in new sources of revenue. This is the end of my first article about DK. My goal is to drop Part 2 later this week. The focus of Part 2 will be an in depth answer of the question – “Can we 10x from here?” Disclosure: I am/we are long DKNG. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
My 1 Year Anniversary of Full Time Day Trading. 3 Years In The Business. What I Wish I Could Tell Myself Years Ago.
This industry has a lack of transparency so I'm more than happy to say I will provide lots of that throughout this post with screenshots. There are LOTS of imgur links to back what I say so it's not just words on a post expecting you to just believe what I'm typing. This post I suppose is "Part 2" my post back in April, "After 2 years of Daytrading. 7 months full time. Here's my advice". I'm doing this to update everyone who came/comes across this in the future. Yes, it is possible. No, it won't be easy. You will pay homage to the rite of passage into this career. I'll also provide some examples of styles of trading so for the newer aspiring traders, there will be some things I rarely see discussed on forums. So here's to 1 year of Full Time Day Trading TL;DR - You'll become desensitized to trading. Stubborn to other strategies (There are biggebaddemore lucrative strategies. Don't chase them. Why fix what's not broken? I know what works for me and I'm content with it. No strategy is better than another. It's a personal choice. ). Losing individual trades won't faze you, they're inevitable. Profiting certainly feels better. After a while, you won't be as enthralled to trade every morning, it'll become just another part of your day). Trading is just managing your money through a statistic and the medium to execute it is trading on your platform. Think: "If. Then. Because". Your trading plan should be that black and white. Ask "Why" for everything you do and use. If you can't answer it with documented results, drop it. I get a bunch of messages all the time from people asking - . Out of those who follow me and chat me seeking further tips through my previous posts. I'll be answering the FAQ's and addressing things I see frequently in this sub as far as trading axioms Disclaimer: I won't sugarcoat anything. I'll share my experiences and add pieces of advice I'd give to those who are currently experiencing the same thing becoming a full time day trader and what day to day life is like, the occasional distress, (DRAWDOWNS). Some of you follow my Twitter for the past few months where I post my daily watchlists with a snippet that reveals my DayTradingBuyingPower. I do this not to brag but to demonstrate that the account does yield growth, I pay myself, and there are days where the balance does not move because there was no edge. I also do this since nobody else shows their account performance. (Yes. You, Mr. YouTube gurus and wannabe gurus). We do this for income, the numbers on our accounts are real. Treat it as such. Get your initial capital out of your account THEN try to "Scale your account" with your profits AKA The Market's Money. I'll go over: •FAQ's that I get in my inbox (I'm still welcome to further questions if I don't answer here) •Decision Fatigue (You will experience this) •The previous year (2019-2020) of ups and downs •How to use my watchlists that I post on Twitter in the morning to your advantage •The pivotal moment that changed my trading career (NFLX 10-17-19) •The road to becoming a full time trader. (It won't be fun unless you're handed the money) •You'll have a better grasp of my strategy (Between ProTip 4 and 5. ProTip 8.) There are 10 "ProTips" throughout the post that I wish I could tell myself years back and I'll periodically throw them in here as the post goes on. I make posts long in order to segregate those serious about this business and those who will just become another statistic in the failure rate of this business. At the end of this post, I'll go over the frequent questions I receive such as: (Answers to FAQ at bottom of post.)
"How do you prepare for a trading day?"
"What would you go back to tell yourself?"
"Books?" (The most abused question, but I get it. I could start a public library with just trading books I bought over the years)
"What is your background?"
"What is a normal day for you?"
"How did you discover your strategy?"
"What did you do/How did you get started?"
"What is your % return?" (Not a fun question since a trading account is not an index or investment account. Intraday traders do not measure performance in %. Most are measured in "R".)
"Is enough to start trading?"
"Why do you need so many monitors"? (This one is rarely asked but I do see it discussed on platforms and people trading on mobile phones love giving flack to anybody who trades on multiple monitors. Hint: Everyone's different. Whatever works for the individual. There are no rules in trading. The only rule is that it works.)
Background: I heard about daytrading during the 2008 crash while in high school. We all want to make more while working less. I entertained day trading from time to time but always realized I never had enough money. Horrible mindset because I could have still researched WHILE saving money to put into my trading business. 2015 -I opened my first trading account with Scottrade while in the Marines. Apparently if you have a net worth of over $1,000,000 you can get out early (Biggest rumor ever). I frivolously bought crap penny stocks. In short - I was a hair away from gambling. What made it NOT gambling was the fact that at least I owned something tangible (Securities of a company) and anything can happen. Buy low sell high was my strategy. Didn't work obviously. No idea what I was doing. I'd buy and hold hoping to wake up to the stock price being way higher and it never happened. •ProTip #1 : If you hold a trade overnight... It is not daytrading. Stop turning into an investor because you can't admit a minor defeat. 2017 - I started taking this business seriously while working in the oilfield as a Logistics Planner (If you're wondering what company since I am asked this from time to time, Google: "World's largest oilfield services company"). No kids, girlfriend/wife or financial obligations. I worked 10AM - 7PM CST and would trade the open from home for roughly 1 hour. Later I was offered to be a Data Analyst... Only downside was... I couldn't trade since I had to be at work now at 8AM CST during the market open. In the moment of signing the offer letter, I was bummed thinking, "No more trading," That wasn't the case though. You can still build your trading business with a 9-5 and while never making one trade. The data is there. •ProTip #2 :We all see the same data. It's there forever. Many strategies show their edge both live and in hindsight the same. (Especially if you trade patterns). You CAN build your business as a trader without even taking a trade. You CAN build your strategy while working a 9-5. Just because you're not trading, does not mean you can't build your business through research. You won't know how you'll react to the losses but at least you can diagnose the raw data with a large enough sample size for assurance and confidence. If you have a 9-5 and want to go fulltime into this business. Stay for a bit, save, live so far beneath your means that it is almost miserable, (depending on your expenses, area you live, family etc) and get a few hundred sample sizes of your strategy! And for your PTO/days off... trade the open. I sacrificed my vacation days to trade. After 2 years in corporate America, eating cheap food, never going out, saving relentlessly, I made the decision to just do it and resigned. I went straight into the ring of fire known as trading. That was on: September 23rd, 2019 ""(Sound familiar?) When you hear these types of comments.. your response should be: "Nobody put the time I put into this. The 90%+ who fail, don't have it all written out, computerized backtests, manual backtests, statistics, SOP manuals, JUST like the job I have which is a business, I'm just another cog in their wheel. I'll just be wearing all the hats in my trading business. Instead of Oil&Gas, it's just for trading". One thing I see here a lot is people saying to trade X amount of months/years or make X. •ProTip #3 -Think in man hours, not calendar. Example: Trader A puts in 1 hour of study/work/research everyday for 1 year. (365 Hours) Trader B puts in 12 hours of work every day for 4 months. (~1,450 Hours) Trader A lives in a major city while Trader B lives in the middle of nowhere. (Think cost of living) 2 totally different living expenses and 2 different calibers of dedication. I'd put my money on Trader B because he put in more man hours. (~1,000 more hours on the clock to be more exact). ProTip #4 - Have a cushion in your account AND your personal bank account. Having a strategy is great but you won't know entirely if you can fulfill and execute your plan until you experience the ups and downs both short and long term. A strategy is constant over long periods of time... there will be days, weeks, and perhaps a month here and there where you aren't making much money. We hear all the time, "Trade like a casino". Casinos don't make money day after day but the odds are in there favor over the long haul. Month 1 of full time trading was great: Immediately after going full time, the first month (September 2019 to October 2019), I did super well. Business as usual. No stress. Everything going as planned. No turbulence. At least not like I had ever experienced... The 2 prerequisites I had before resigning was:
Show consistency in returns. Consistent Sharpe Ratio.
Make a 4 figure trade (I achieved this while short 100 shares on ROKU September 20th, 2019 and even made a victory post if you scroll down my profile's posts.)
First life-changing trading lesson learned as a full time trader: That money printing spree ended on NFLX October 17th, 2019. Less than 1 month of being a full time trader. Deviating and going against my plan I actually made $500 in a matter of 4 minutes. If you follow my watchlists on Twitter, I always trade with the direction of the gap. If I notate, "Long Watches" that means I will only trade it IF (and only IF) I see a long biased pattern. Likewise I will only be looking to short my "Short Watches". Plenty of times I'll call out a ticker and it immediately goes the other way. No harm no foul because there was no long biased pattern to confirm my thesis. On 10-17-2019, I went against my plan and it worked.. NFLX gapped up to resistance and I went short when it tanked off of a short pattern.(This is known as fading). The market gave me a free lunch and then some. So now I'm walking on air in my mind: "I'm an absolute unit" "I'll do it again and clear another $500 to make it a 4 figure day before 9:30AM Central" "Should have quit my job way earlier being this good." Within 30 minutes of the open. I gave all $500 back. Yes I wanted to trade it back. Never have I had the desire to smash anything but I do understand those who do! Yes I stood there and felt like each passing second was wasted opportunity. The next 24 hours were long! ProTip #5:It's circumstances like that that help you in the long run. FunFact: I never once deviated from my plan since. Not ever again. "I could have paid for my groceries and electric for the month after 4 minutes of trading if I just took the free pass the market gave me" I felt dumb but in hindsight, I'm glad at what happened. It was this exact instance that married me to my strategy/business plan. The next day and the 7 trading days following. I didn't make 1 profiting trade. My longest ever drawdown - 11 straight trades. While researching I found out this was Decision Fatigue (I'll go over this shortly below) Put yourself in that situation... You have bills and your income is strictly trading. I don't care how much a robot you think you are or how strongly you believe in probabilities, when you were in an office less than a month ago making almost 6 figures sitting in an air conditioned office knowing direct deposit is on its way every other Friday no matter how well or poorly you performed at work.. Now you're in the hot seat. Its a bottomless feeling. Now all of your friends and families words are ringing in your head. But just like a boxing match.. you gotta take a hit to get a hit. Win some, lose some, shake hands and get back to normal life. Water under the bridge. Mind you: •No guaranteed direct deposit every 2 weeks. •No more medical/dental insurance. •401K retirement is no longer being matched. 11 trades is nothing. You only require ~5.5 trades at 2:1RRR to make it back OR 3.5 trades at 3:1RRR. It's nothing especially in your research because you can easily just scroll a little more and see, "Oh that's just a drawdown. No big deal". How will you react in real time? Will you buckle or choke? But the thing is, I was skipping trades out of fear and JUST so happened to be picking all of the unsuccessful ones. (Decision Fatigue) Think about those 2 weeks of being in a drawdown. Half of the month. You're not just stagnant, your account is bleeding slowly but surely. Next time you're looking at your spreadsheet/backtest/predictive model/research.. try to put yourself in those days of drawdown. It's not just 11 boxes of red with "-1R" or "Loss" in them. The screenshot above on Imgur is just a recent example. Think about your daily routine, going to the gym, hanging with friends, grocery shopping, cooking, going to bed, waking up, doing a routine, then losing again.. and again.. and again. Try to think of life during those 300+ hours (Weekends too) of, "I haven't made money. I've lost money. And I still have bills. After paying them, I'll be closer to my set Risk of Ruin". Here's a lesson you won't learn before going fulltime but I'll do my best to emphasize it here: Pick a strategy. And stick with it. It can literally be anything. Don't spread yourself thin watching 20+ tickers and be a jack of all patterns/tickers. Be a master of 1 pattern and master of 1 circumstance. There's this real thing called "Decision Fatigue" which explains exactly why what happened.. happened. The article explains that the 2 outcomes of this mental strain known as "Decision Fatigue" is:
Sound familiar? Does it kind of make sense now? As a new trader you have YouTube, Facebook, StockTwits, Twitter, "gurus", books recommended on Amazon, all throwing their ideas/strategies around, the market has opportunities littered all over.. Decision Fatigue is inevitable for the unprepared. Decision Fatigue happens in every profession. If you mess up at your 9-5, its just a blunder, your paycheck will remain the same. Just a slap on the wrist and move on. With trading, you make a mistake.. it's less food on your table, lights don't stay on, and/or water isn't running. That pressure adds up. No wonder so many fail... The signs of Decision Fatigue: •Procrastination. •Impulsivity. •Avoidance. •Indecision. When you find what clicks with you AND its either statistically or performance proven, have the courage to risk a healthy sum of your capital into it. There are strategies/patterns/styles of trading littered all over the internet: Very broad example: "IFcircumstance happensTHEN"Execution". Stoploss is XYZ. Target is XYZ.BECAUSEover a series of Y trades, I will make $X,XXX.xx". ProTip #6 :Strategies are all over the internet. It's your account/money, backtest it. People share their strategies here all the time and although I don't agree with them because I know what works for me, it's something to chew off of for you newer traders. YouTube is a harbor with people who give just enough info to figure their style out.You will lose trades. Sit for some screen-time and pay homage to the edge that you discover. All in due time. Insert key metrics and find correlations. This is how you create checks and balances to create/formulate a black and white trading plan. When I first started doing this, my spreadsheet(s) had so many columns it was annoying and would kill my desire to continue working. You'll find things that are imperative and some that are unimportant. For a lack of more colorful terms: "Throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks"Trim the fat. Rinse and repeat.
Here's some things I used to remind myself of and perhaps it'll ring some bells for you:
•Surrender your capital to your edge. If you truly accept the risk and trust your proven edge, losses don't feel like anything nor do profits. Although we're not here to put on losing trades and yes it does feel nice to profit. I still from time to time will excited when I hit target after a series of multiple profiting trades depending on my mood. •If you're nervous or your heart starts beating quicker when you hear the sound effect of a trade getting entered/filled. Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you're truly accepting the risk. •Things you can't take to the bank:
Number of trades.
"This one great trade that I hit target in less than 30 seconds and I got filled better than expected"
All of these are integral metrics. But you're trading to make money. It's up or down, green or red, profit or loss, TRUE or FALSE. So with that said, find what works flawlessly and is easy to follow. Checks and Balances. Then allocate a good sum of risk into it. I read it here all the time, "Don't risk too much" and that's great and true for new traders. But don't sell yourself short. Push yourself over the edge and admit that you know your stuff. Think of Trader A and Trader B. If you've put the time in.. don't sell yourself short. You've built enough courage to learn a business so many fail at. This business has such a negative connotation. But remember that not everybody can handle meritocracies and that's exactly what the market is. Don't try to be the best, just work harder than everyone else and the output of your input will be relative. ProTip #7:YouTube trading ads from gurus... they're subconsciously making you think you're a novice trader.It's in their marketing. They study marketing psychology. The EASIEST things to sell:
People that are desperate for those things are the most vulnerable and these "Traders" marketers are fantastic at portraying all 3 of those things at once. •ProTip #8 (Broken record alert) :Write a business plan. Your strategy shouldn't take longer than 4 sentences to explain to another trader. When you have a plan that's proven through a statistic and WAIT for it to happen, you feel100Xbetter taking the trade. You don't even care too much when it results in a loss. Because that was your plan, you accept it much better, and you know it was just an expense for a winning trade. Want my strategy? "I scan for stocks with a market cap of over 250M, 10k shares premarket, gapping to support or resistance, priced over $10, and I look for a pattern biased to the direction of the overnight gap. It isn't rocket science. Check my Twitter, look at the dates I posted, and you'll notice the gist. Yes this is an edge but not the entire edge. How fast can you sift through 15 time frames? How long does it take you to fill out your order ticket? Your Fibonacci time extensions with 5 EMA's and Bollinger Bands aren't helping you. They're lagging. If they work for you, great. In my experience, they hindered my visibility. Pro Tip #9: Yes statistics are highly applicable to trading. Patternsdowork. All patterns do is tell you WHEN to enteexit, and how many shares. Humans will never think differently of money. Be the frontrunner of the market's emotions. Nobody remembers the indecisive leader. Risk taking is a commonality amongst leaders. Trading requires courage and it's O.K. to show a bit of confidence as long as you also have the humility to admit when you're in a bad trade.(Notice how I didn't put, "wrong". You're only "wrong" when you deviate from a proven strategy.) ProTip #10:Risk management is 24/7. I've never heard anyone mention this but think about it a little bit. Having financial obligations can become stressful regardless of how you earn your income but its far more stressful while running a business. Not just any business, but a business where you can go to work on your A-game, do every single last thing right, trade without emotion etc... and still walk away with less money than what you came to work with. Meanwhile somebody who JUST started trading made a 4 figure profit not knowing what the heck the difference betweenETB, HTB, or NTB. Think of it like this, a JV high school baseball player can hit a homerun off of an MLB pitcher once.. but how will he fare at the end of the season? Traders don't predict stock prices, traders predict the outcome over hundreds of trades. People chat me asking what TO do rather than what NOT to do. You don't learn labor intensive jobs or how to fly a plane by what to do.. you learn what NOT to do to stay alive. That's all I have. Once you have a trading plan underway and you're executing it, you don't have much time when your hobbies are cheap but I still do respond to chats/messages. I do get asked from a previous post when I'll build a website and to answer that: I'm learning how to build a site on rainy days. Can't put a definitive date on it. I will say that its coming, if you don't give up on this business in the next year or so, you'll see it. What I plan on putting on there:
Position size Calculators
Dictionary with examples
I just don't want some generic WordPress site. I want my website to be stellar and a great resource for aspiring traders. Something I didn't have learning this business. I want it to be something I'd consider a staple in a trader's resources. Perhaps one day it will be referenced on this sub frequently. FAQ:
"How do you prepare for a trading day?" I get behind the computer about 20 minutes before the bell. Reason being: "If you study long. You'll study wrong". If the chart isn't grabbing my attention and gets me excited, then I flick to the next ticker. I don't even know the companies I trade half the time nor do I care about a news report some journalist wrote. Also there is no magic news outlet that lets you know about "Major events that affect stock prices". If there was, I wouldn't be here because we're all subscribed to the same edge nor would I be trading my style.
"What would you go back to tell yourself?" Get more data. Save a little more, your hairline and sleep schedule will thank you. Take only perfect trades and don't feel forced to trade. There will be days you don't touch an order ticket. And days where you are busy and have tunnel vision. Next thing you know its time to shut it down for the day.
"Books?" - I try to humble myself when answering this but off the cuff, they're all mediocre. Andrew Aziz's was ok, definitely get it, it's only a few bucks on Kindle. Just don't expect it to give you strategies BUT it will give you ideas. If you're brand new, it is good as it will teach you the common vernacular of a day trader. Mark Douglas was interesting but his YouTube seminar recordings are much better. No book, Facebook group, YouTube channel is going to be the end all be all perfect strategy. Expect losses. Don't be a one hitter quitter after suffering a few tiny losses/paper cuts. Stick to it. Most books will help you familiarize yourself with the common vocabulary amongst traders and will hint ideas. It's your job to formulate the strategy and template for research.
"What is your background?" I was a logistics planner for a major oilfield services company. Later I then became a data/buyer analyst so yes, data analytics/research was a 2nd language for me entering trading. I did have that upper hand and did shave off months if not years for me.
"What is a normal day for you?" I'm always done trading after 10:30AM Central. I will hold onto a trade until right before the bell if it hasn't hit either target or StopLoss by the time I leave the house but it is absolutely closed in entirety by 2:55PM Central. After I trade, I enjoy the day. No I'm not riding around in my Lambos posting IG/Snapchat (I have neither) stories of my profits with my private jet waiting on a runway trying to sell an $7 eBook or a $100 membership (HINT HINT). I grill/cook, read, workout, ride my motorcycle, attack my other sources of income (small businesses I'm building), hit the driving range, shoot guns, etc. I live in Texas. Life is cheap and fun here.
"How did you discover your strategy?" I bought TradeIdeas premium, went through all of their computerized backtesting patterns, tested them. Then did what I mentioned earlier... Tried to find correlations in metrics. It distilled the trades to a strict criteria and here I am. I post on average 4-5 tickers on my watchlist. 7 max. I do not like spreading my attention thin across multiple tickers. I do not recommend buying TradeIdeas, it does have lots of bugs.
"What did you do/How did you get started?" Was a data analyst, was good at research and applied it to trading. My incentive was, "I could have made more money trading rather than sitting in 2+ hours of roundtrip traffic and 9 hours in an office. The data is there. Everybody sees the same charts all over the world. There are ways to make this possible"
"What is your % return?"(Not a fun question since a trading account is not an index or investment account. Intraday traders do not measure performance in %) I trade to make money AND pay myself, so my equity curve will look like a small loss or small gain after I pay myself. % return? I measure my account's performance in Sharpe Ratio and Risk Units. My Sharpe Ratio is ~1.85. While I yield roughly .8 - 1 R per trading day. Some weeks I make 10R. Some weeks I lose 2R. Yeah one week I might make $2,500. But the next week I might lose $300. The following week my strategy will yield $0 and the last week I might make $1,000. Some weeks suck. Some weeks are great. But overall. Just shy of 1R per trading day. Some days I'm super busy taking trade after trade. Some days I'll shut it down after 5 minutes without even filling out an order ticket. Some days I won't even see the open because there is no edge for me.. Keywords... "For me".
"Is enough to start trading?" Depends on where you live. Are you restricted to PDT? If not then how much are you obligated to expenses? I live in Texas. Things are cheap here. If you live in NYC or The Bay Area your expenses will be astronomical compared to mine. A $30,000 account is totally doable for a single Texan with low monthly expenses. Now if you're in California or New York? I'm sure you'll fall below 25k if you have 1 bad month. Also depends on if you have other sources of income or a full/part time job. I encourage every trader and aspiring trader to have multiple sources of income, don't rely solely on trading. Not just for the sake of mitigating pressure but also for sanity. If you have a family to provide for, I don't know what that's like, you never know when Little Johnny is going to randomly pick up Trombone lessons for a school program/play while little Suzie needs transmission work in her car because a simple solenoid went out. $1,700 later.
"Why do you need so many monitors?"I use 3 for trading. The 4th is for music. The other 2 are useless while trading. That's for trading though. When I made the decision to go full time, I knew I was about to go off the chain with research. And sifting between spreadsheets, a platform to see multiple timeframes for a pattern to backtest. My attention span is short, I'll lose my train of thought before I open the other tab to input data. But the main reason was for research. It's such a time saver and is a headache repellant when doing research while everything is laid out in front of you. Now that I have a system. I'll most likely be treating myself to 2 ultrawides for Christmas.
As always, thank you to everybody who takes time out to message me and letting me know some people read these and show appreciation. I would say, "Good luck" but there is no luck in trading. Just statistics. Remember that! In conclusion: Yes. Full time trading is possible, depending where you live/monthly expenses and obligations. You're more likely to become a profitable trader than a professional athlete. There is a level of uncertainty each day, perhaps each week, doubtful each month, and definitely not each year. If I ever want a raise, I just consult my business plan and financials, then decide if I can handle it mentally. If you have medical issues, get a part time job for the benefits. If you're healthy, just be careful. All the best! -CJT2013
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