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The adventures of Rusa in Toontown (the second instalment)

I started today’s adventures with being reminded of the goofy things that Toons do with their pronouns:

Sarkitty

Transcription of the Toon info window in the above image

[brown cat Toon]

name Sarkitty
District Zapwood
Location Toontown Central
Toon ID TTID-GKNG-KTSB
Pronouns ey/its/her
laff 104⧸104

Here, ey /⁠eɪ̯⁠/ is a gender-neutral third-person singular subject “Spivak” pronoun (actually due to Elverson 1975), formed by the apheresis of they. But here it’s used for its resemblance to the homophonic ay (which may be spelt lengthened as ⟨ayy, ayyy, …⟩, or even with the pronunciation spelling ⟨ey, eyy, …⟩), which is probably from the apheresis (but also consider aitch-dropping) of hey as an interjection, meaning “cool!; all right!”. This usage seems to have emerged in the 1970s (for a more recent usage, see e.g. ayy lmao), & mustn’t be confused with ay /⁠aɪ̯⁠/, an alternative spelling of aye “yes”, or its own interjection “alas!”. Also not to be confused with ey (also ⟨ay, ’ey, hey⟩) in ey up (also ⟨ayup⟩, etc.) /⁠ˌaɪ̯ˈʌp⁠/ [ˌɛɪ̯ˈʊˀp̚], a Northern Englishism that’s actually from high up in spite of its spelling.

The result is ey/its/her as “(h)eyy, it’s her!”.

I also got a new Cattlelog, so I went home to check it out. I don’t have many beans, but I went ahead & spent some on a dumb SpeedChat phrase anyway:

The “My phrases” submenu of the SpeedChat menu: “Oh, my!”, “Ouch, that really smarts!”, “It’s time for me to turn into a pumpkin.”, “I think this place is haunted.”, “Trick or Treat!”, “You’re outta here!”, “Hmm.”.

Hmm. Well, who doesn’t like having some unique SpeedChat phrases to throw out there?

O, Oscar…!

But it’s time to get down to business. I need to get the rest of my Toon-Up animation frames, which means doing a number of randomly-generated ToonTasks. Yes, not every ToonTask is a bonā fidē masterpiece, but the random ones can be fun too.

However, if I want to task efficiently, I’ll need to be able to carry more than just one ToonTask! That’s right: Toontown quests are unlike their MapleStory counterparts in that only up to a fixed number of them may be active at any given time. ToonTasks can also generally not be stopped to make room for others, & then later resumed, so that’s that.

Maybe Sharky Jones of 14 Karat Goldfish at the end of Loopy Lane can help…

14 Karat Goldfish

Rusa at the entrance to 14 Karat Goldfish. The name is a pun on karat (also ⟨carat⟩), a measure of the purity of gold. 14⁢ karat corresponds to 14⁄24 = 58.333…% gold by mass. Goldfish is the vulgar name of Carassius auratus. The specific name auratus is from Latin aurum “gold”, calqued from — ultimately — Late Old Chinese 金魚 *cim qiu*/⁠kim ŋju⁠/ “copper [Cu] fish; metal fish; gold [Au] fish”.

The dastardly Cogs have kidnapped (fishnapped?) Jones’s five goldfish, so it’s my job to rescue them… by any means necessary.

rusa aiming a gun

Yes, this is a stickup. Gimme all your goldfish!!

I admit I did a little dilly-dallying on this ToonTask. But for good reason! I’m tryna soak up the gag XP from the low-level Cog invasions that I can find. So there was a lot of spending two or three rounds to kill a Cog solo, repeating that until I run out of relevant gags, restocking, rinsing, & repeating. In many ways, this is Toontown’s early-game version of “grinding”: gag XP is XP, & I can farm it up by just fighting random bad guys over & over.

It is repetitive, but in many ways, can be more relaxing — or at least, a different kind of relaxing — than MapleStory-style grinding. Because of the turn-based nature of the grinding, & because of the time spent waiting for animations & their associated sound effects to run their courses, there’s a lot of breathing room. Although MapleStory grinding can be (& not infrequently is) reduced to precious little more than holding down the attack button, it’s still a very real-time, active, “always-on” experience. Conversely, the Toontown equivalent often has me without my game client on the screen at all; the many-second interim periods can be filled with anything! With sound effects on — & my own hard-wired intuition for the pacing of the game — I know when it’s time to do something in-game.

When I say that the “interim periods can be filled with anything”, I mean mostly crying. MapleStory is sticky, wet, & it gets everywhere, so I less frequently (albeit certainly not never) have opportunity to cry whilst playing the game. Toontown gives me more room to cry, & also to do other stuff like jam tf out. You know.

Vanishing Cream: going fast!

The vanishing cream sells like hotcakes these days. Personally, I bathe in the stuff.

And eventually, the grind paid off. In the previous instalment, we saw Rusa attain level 4 Squirt with the Seltzer Bottle (a.k.a. Seltzer) gag. Well, it was time for my Throw to catch up, with the Whole Fruit Pie (a.k.a. Fruit Pie, or even just Fruit, where context makes the meaning clear):

Rusa unlocks the Whole Fruit Pie~!

The Whole in Whole Fruit Pie contrasts it with the corresponding level 2 gag, Fruit Pie Slice.

Impractical Jokes

Impractical Jokes on Silly Street, operated by T. P. Rolle. A pun on practical jokes, with the shopkeeper’s name referencing the practical joke of TP-ing.

In the previous instalment, we saw Rusa take on a one-storey Cog Building alongside Dippy Dot. Well, now that I have access to both level 4 gags of my current tracks, I thought that it was time to try one on my own…:

Rusa takes on COGS, Inc.

This building was a “COGS, Inc.” because it resulted from the takeover of a Toon Building that had no name. In any case, this was in a Yesman invasion, & low-level Bossbots hit kinda like wet sox. However, unlike with the Flunky invasion last time, Yesmen are tier 3 rather than 1. I’m not gonna lie; I didn’t think that I would emerge victorious…

Level 6 Yesman: I’m the boss.

Gulp.

Really, I was just doing this for funsies, figuring that I could get randomly super lucky & have something to brag about in my diary. But I got randomly super average luck, & as a result, I… went sad

Rusa goes sad…

I forgor to record audio for the above clip, but all you need to know is that the “going sad” animation sounds like this.

Going sad is somewhat humiliating, & indeed, if you go sad in a street battle wherein you were the only remaining Toon participant, the Cogs in the fight start hopping in circles on one leg whilst putting their thumbs in their ears & wiggling their other fingers in the air. Rude. But it’s okay; I gradually regained my laff & then re-bought my gag loadout…

In any event, although I didn’t recover any goldfish from the Cogs, I did recover a receipt for the sale of one such goldfish. Typical Cogs, with their receipts… However, Jones couldn’t read it — it was written in Cogspeak — so I took it to Professor Wiggle of the House of Giggles to decipher. Prof. Wiggle indicated that the goldfish had been sold to a Flunky, so I headed to Donald’s Dock (a.k.a. DDock, but not *DD because there’s a separate playground called Donald’s Dreamland) to find one of those. You see, each street’s Cog population has a fixed distribution of Cog departments; for TTC, these are:

street Bossbots Lawbots Cashbots Sellbots
Punchline Place 10% 10% 40% 40%
Loopy Lane 10% 70% 10% 10%
Silly Street 25% 25% 25% 25%
total 15% 35% 25% 25%

I’ve bolded the best street for each department. In the case of Lawbots, Loopy Lane is great. For Cashbots & Sellbots, Punchline Place is pretty good. For Bossbots… well, they make up just 15% of the total Cog population of TTC, & your best bet is Silly Street — but only because that street gives 25% to every department!

This means that, although Bossbots do naturally (that is, sans Cog invasions) occur on all three streets of TTC, you’re not all that likely to come across them. Worse yet, Flunkies only make up a bit more than ≈⅓ of the Bossbot population of TTC, because there are Pencil Pushers & Yesmen too! So, although it’s reasonable (again, sans Cog invasions) to do this ToonTask on Silly Street, it’s honestly way faster to just run to the end of Punchline Place, which brings you to the end of Barnacle Boulevard. Although the Cogs there are higher level, it’s only one (1) level, & the department distribution ensures plenty of Flunkies: 90% Bossbot & 10% Lawbot!

But once I arrived at Barnacle Boulevard, I found myself right in front of one Star Sweeper Meepmeep, who was about to solo a one-storey Bossbot Building. After greeting her, I awkwardly agreed to join the Building as well:

Star Sweeper Meepmeep & Rusa successed it!

Transcription of the battle summary panel in the above image

Star Sweeper Meepmeep

ToonTasks

Phewf! That went much better than my solo attempt!!

Plus, I recovered one of Jones’s goldfish! However, on my way back to 14 Karat Goldfish, I got a little distracted by the knock-knock doors on the sides of the Toon Buildings…

Transcription of the knock-knock joke in the above video

[door]: Knock, knock.

Rusa: Who’s there?

[door]: Auto

Rusa: Auto who?

[door]: Auto know, but I’ve forgotten.

Auto /⁠ˈɔ.toʊ̯⁠/[1] as [I] oughta /⁠ˈɔ.tə⁠/ (= [I] ought to).

There are a ton of these knock-knock doors, so I’m sure there are plenty of better ones out there…

Oh, right. The fish.

Sharky Jones: Oh thank heavens! You found Oscar — he’s my favorite, but don’t tell the others.

O, Oscar — thou art a fish after mine own h(e)art. After all, Oscar is from Irish os /⁠ɔsˠ⁠/ “deer” + car /⁠kaɾˠ⁠/ “[to] love”. 🦌🧡

Jones spoke with Oscar, who said that his four golden brethren managed to escape to a local pond. So I fished them out! Reunited at last!!

Footnotes for “O, Oscar…!”

  1. [↑] More appropriately for this pun, /⁠oʊ̯⁠/ is also transcribed /⁠əʊ̯⁠/, although the latter is mostly associated with English English. Transcriptions of Australian English (& other Southern Hemisphere Englishes) may use /⁠əʉ̯⁠/ or /⁠ɐʉ̯⁠/. Less appropriately for this pun, transcriptions of North American English may use /⁠o⁠/. All represent the GOAT vowel.

The wonders of teleportation

Soup Forks

Soup Forks on Silly Street, operated by Dan Dribbles.

In addition to the random ToonTasks, I had some not-so-random hand-crafted ToonTasks to get out of the way, like Woody Nickel’s ToonTaskline for a 50-jellybean jar. Although a Toon’s piggybank can always hold up to 15k beans at any given time, the Toon can only take with them as many beans as their jar can hold. The jar’s capacity thus needs to be expanded so that restocking gags is, at the least, less painful.

I headed to Woody Nickel’s Funny Money Savings & Loan on Silly Street & ended up with a ToonTask to defeat some Cashbots. But thanks to Jones’s ToonTasks, I could now start another ToonTask concurrently! So I walked further down Silly Street to Mary’s Go Around Travel Company to speak with Mary herself. She had some things to teach about teleportation:

Mary: Why, you can teleport to your friends using the Friends List, or to any neighborhood using the map in the Shticker Book.

Mary: Of course, you have to earn that!

Of course. I couldn’t say no to TTC teleport access, so I accepted her task to help Tee Hee of the Laughter Hours Café on Loopy Lane. Tee Hee was losing business as a result of the contemptible Cogs stealing her recipes, so I set out to recover them.

The magical fruit

Speaking of recovering things from Cogs, this is a common pattern across many ToonTasks in the game. For my 50-bean jar ToonTask, I would have to recover Adding Machines from the Cashbots:

Rusa | Items Recovered | Adding machine

When you finish a Cog battle — be that a street fight, or the very end of a longer Cog building or other Cog facility — there’s a little song & dance where all Toon participants are given an overview of the battle’s results. One part of this is what “items” are “recovered” by each Toon, as seen in the above screenshot. In some cases, the recovery rate is 100%, so that “recover n of item from Cogs of type t” is effectively just “defeat n Cogs of type t”. In the majority of cases, however, the recovery rate is less than 100%, so it’s very common to see “Items Not Recovered” instead of “Items Recovered”…

Billboard advertisement: Buoys and Gulls Nursery School; Seaweed Street

A billboard (hoarding) advertisement for the Buoys and Gulls Nursery School on Seaweed Street of DDock, operated by Professor Plank. A nautical pun on boys & girls: buoy is usually homophonic with boy (although it’s instead /⁠ˈbu.i⁠/ in some lects), & gull is homophonic with girl in non-rhotic lects that have the HURRYFURRY merger[1].

Footnotes for “The magical fruit”

  1. [↑] Although this is probably unlikely, given that most non-rhotic American Englishes — in spite of their otherwise non-rhoticity — do realise the /⁠-R⁠/ in the NURSE vowel (in particular, as the [ɚ] typical of American English). If gull & girl are homophonic for you, let me know!!

A most wild, most unexpected, & most dangerous adventure

As I was rather busy with these ToonTasks, running around the TTC playground to collect Ice cream cones so that I could go fight more Cogs, I got a whisper from Star Sweeper Meepmeep. I agreed to help out with a Cog Building, and hurried to recover my laff & my gag loadout. Unfortunately, the Building was in Daisy Gardens (a.k.a. DG), a place where I’d never before been! This meant that I couldn’t just teleport to Star Sweeper Meepmeep via my friend list, & instead had to walk to the end of Silly Street in order to uncover DG on my Shticker Book’s map…

But I made it there in time, & found myself in a party with three other Toons! The Cog Building in question was a three-storey Lawbot one. Oh, my. Three whole floors?? Lawbots that are known for hitting hard (presumably because they hit with the unparalleled pain of reading legal documents)??? 😱

Spin Doctor: The doctor will see you now.

A Spin Doctor, the tier 6(!) Lawbot species.

Mind you, I was not exactly getting my little Toon tushie carried here. Although I did have the lowest maxlaff at just 25, our other maxlaffs were 33, thirty-something, & 46 respectively, & noöne had particularly good gags for their maxlaff…

The good news is that three floors is enough to see what a middle floor of a Cog Building looks like:

Wide shot of a middle floor of a Cog Building, showing the repetitive pattern of hundreds of office cubicles

I know — terrifying. That’s more drab cubicles than I’ve ever seen IRL, that’s for sure. You can also see that, at the end of each floor, everyone has to get to the elevator within 90 seconds, to get to the next higher floor.

Speaking of the next higher floor, that would be the third floor in this case.

Design of the top floor of a Cog Building, showing the large staircases, pillars, dramatic lights, & large Cog statues, all in monochrome

On the left-hand side, you can see a giant statue of a Telemarketer, & on the right, one of a Bottom Feeder. Fun fact: those staircases have no hitboxes! In general, you aren’t supposed to be able to get to the stairs — nor move anywhere voluntarily, for that matter — but if someone’s lagging after the victory dance completes, then there’s a brief time (or a long time, if the latency is particularly bad) where you can move somewhat freely along this top floor.

Regrettably, however, the main reason for doing this building was to get a Legal Eagle for Purple Cat, who needed it for the ToonTaskline that grants teleport access to DG. I think it’s fair to say that this particular ToonTaskline is somewhat infamous, as it’s one of the major ones in the game that really attempts to challenge the Toon. I knew perfectly well that Legal Eagles were unlikely or impossible to be found in a Cog Building with only three floors (without a Cog Invasion, of course), but I wasn’t informed of what they were looking for until we were already partway through the Building.

Four storeys, four Toons, four stories

I suggested that they needed a ≥4-storey Cog Building… & so we found one. A four-storey Lawbot Building, right there on Maple St— reet. Maple Street. However, one of our party members had to leave, so I warned them that we wouldn’t make it through a four-storey building in one piece — & likely not at all. Meepmeep did some recruiting by just going to the DG playground & asking if anyone could help, which is how we found Roger Tinkertail the 43-maxlaff red rabbit.

To our delight, we did find a Legal Eagle in this Building, on the second or third floor!

Legal Eagle: There is no limit to my talons.

A pun on talents, from /⁠-nt⁠/ cluster reduction.

Yet again, none of us had particularly good gags, so it was really taking the teamwork of all four of us to get through this thing. This would be a good time to introduce two Toontown game mechanics that are particularly relevant here.

When it comes to Sound, Throw, Squirt, or Drop gags, two or more of them of the same track, aimed at the same Cog, in the same round produce bonus damage if they hit successfully. This means that, for example, if we have one big chunky guy that we want to take care of ASAP, then it behoves us to all (or almost all) aim at that guy with the same type of gag — either Throw, or Squirt. This bonus damage is displayed in its own distinct yellow colour, which is why it may be referred to as yellow damage (as opposed to orange damage, which we don’t care about yet). It may also be referred to as group bonus damage or similar.

The magnitude of the group bonus is basically one fifth of the total raw gag damage; that is, one fifth of the sum of all damages dealt inherently (i.e. with no bonuses[1]) by the gags that are participating in the group. This is pretty simple, & good enough in the majority of cases. However, there is a slight wrinkle: all HP, damage, & laff values in Toontown are integers. This means that there’s no such thing as e.g. *“10.8 damage”. Thus, for the actual group bonus to be calculated, some kind of rounding regime is necessary.

Deeply regrettably, the rounding regimes for Toontown are shrouded in some level of mystery, as a result of one or two longstanding bugs inherited from TTO’s slightly sloppy implementation. Nevertheless, the rounding regime is basically just the ceiling function (denoted 𝑥 for some real number 𝑥).

Of course, exact damage values only truly mean something to us if we know how much HP the Cog has. Luckily, in principle, this is easy: we just need to know how much HP the Cog starts with, & from that we can subtract any damage that it might’ve already taken. We can define a function cogHp that calculates how much HP a Cog starts with:

cogHp ( level ) = ( level + 1 ) ( level + 2 )

This formula actually only applies to Cogs of levels 11 or lower, but that’s okay for now. For instance, a level 9 Cog has ( 9 + 1 ) ( 9 + 2 ) = 10 11 = 110 HP to begin with.

I say this is easy “in principle” because, in practice, Cog HP values are never exposed to players. For ✨⁠reasons⁠✨.[2] Still, keeping track of Cog HP manually can be important, so getting this kind of knowledge from out-of-game is necessary. There’s also a vague indication of a Cog’s current HP (as a portion of its mysterious maximum HP) that is shown in-game:[2] if the circular light on its chest is green, then its HP is roughly ≈100%; if yellow, its HP is yet lower; if orange, its HP is middling; if red, its HP is low; if red and slowly blinking, its HP is very low; and if red & rapidly blinking, then its HP is at most zero (i.e. the Cog is dead/dying).

Speaking of level 9 Cogs & of dying, we were faced with a level 9 Spin Doctor at the perilous peak of this four-storey Building:

A level 9 Spin Doctor Paradigm Shifts the party

In the above image, we’re being hit with the Spin Doc’s Paradigm Shift attack. As we’ll hopefully see much later on, Paradigm Shift — which is notably also one of The Mingler’s (the tier 7 Sellbot species) attacks — is one of the, if not the, most fearsome Cog attacks in the game. I can’t count the number of times that seeing Paradigm Shift come out has made me Paradigm Shift my pants, & this was certainly one of them.

Thankfully, we did have some Toon-Up with which to patch ourselves up. Here’s Purple Cat using a Megaphone (the level 2 Toon-Up gag) to Toon the rest of us up:

Purple Cat uses a Megaphone

Although the Megaphone may be a modest level 2 gag, it’s definitely one of the coolest of all gags. Every time you use it, you get a different little joke! In the above screenshot, we have: “What do you call a duck that robs banks?” / “A safe quacker”. Amazing.

Unfortunately, recovering a bit of laff from low-level Toon-Up gags only gets you so far, & we were still getting the beat-down from these very rude & very scary Cogs…

Rusa has 1 laff remaining!!

Oh, my!! I have one (1) laff remaining!!! That was a close one. 😅😅😅

You can see Meepmeep in the above image getting a bit thwarted by the aggressive SpeedChat+ filter. Unfortunately, rusa is not on the whitelist, so she tried splitting it up as ru sa, but to no avail. I guess sa isn’t a word, or whatever. Because the English possessive -’s is on the whitelist, one way of saying my name is ru 's a. Because the whitelist is case-insensitive, some manipulation of case can be used to encourage the reader to omit certain letters. For example, my name could instead be rendered as rusE a, or even CrusaDE! Also note that each contiguous sequence of censored words is replaced by a single italicised onomatopœia that is random, but that depends on the species of the speaker: as a cat, Meepmeep may produce “mrow” (as in the above image), “mew”, etc.

Both Purple Cat & Roger Tinkertail came to my aid. Here, we can see Tinkertail using the level 1 Toon-Up gag — the Feather — on me:

Roger Tinkertail uses a Feather on Rusa (Star Sweeper Meepmeep: no one left behind lol)

In the end, although I was rather thrillingly reduced to just a single laff point, we all made it through this Building in one piece! And Purple Cat got that Key to Daisy Gardens from the Legal Eagle!! Nice… 😌

Footnotes for “A most wild, most unexpected, & most dangerous adventure”

  1. [↑] Counting organic damage as part of the raw damage, rather than as a bonus. But we’re not there yet.

  2. [↑] This is an area where Toontown is similar to MapleStory, but for entirely unrelated reasons. In addition to both always showing damage numbers (whether dealt to PCs or to enemies), both satisfy the following matrix:

    PCs enemies
    max HP explicit implicit
    current HP vaguely indicated as a portion of max HP

    In MapleStory, the vague indication is a tiny (or large, for bosses) health bar. In Toontown, it’s the colour (& blinking frequency, in some cases) of a circular light. But in MapleStory, each damage instance is random in magnitude (excepting unusual cases), & is dealt in real time. In Toontown, on the other hand, a given strategy & an absence of misses implies a very exact amount of damage that is not random at all, & that can furthermore be strategically important on a turn-by-turn basis.

    The asymmetry between the left- & right-hand halves of this matrix is particularly strange in Toontown’s case: everything about the PC’s HP is indicated explicitly at all times, & yet that same HP is mostly — excepting healing (e.g. Toon-Up), of course — manipulated by the battle “strategy” of the Cogs. On the other hand, the HP of the Cogs is the thing that the PC has much more direct control over, & yet that HP is almost entirely unindicated! In other words, if I know the exact current HP value of a Cog, then I have a very good idea (again, apart from the indeterminism of missing) of how I can or cannot directly defeat that Cog; by contrast, knowing my exact current HP value gives me only a vague indication of my ability to survive in the immediate future, because the randomness of Cog behaviour is much more opaque & uncontrollable to me.

Courier career

Now that I was back to ToonTasking, I had one very special ToonTask in particular. For final gag training, I headed to the absolutely iconic Toontown Postoffice on good ol’ Loopy Lane:

Toontown Postoffice

Postmaster Pete sent me on a wild goose chase looking to recover & properly deliver a package that had been stolen by the Cogs, & that had its recipient label smudged in the process. It’s a little bit annoying that only the “Dr.” part of the name was legible, considering that there are quite a few “doctors”… But eventually I got the intact package to Dr. Pulyurleg of Dr. Pulyurleg Chiropractor on Punchline Place:

Dr. Pulyurleg, chiropractor: You may now carry and use “Toon-up” gags.

Whoa! I have Toon-Up now!! Especially considering my experience with those rough Cog Buildings, I’m feeling pretty good about this.

Rusa’s first Toon-Up gag!

Transcription of the info boxes in the above image

You will get a new Toon-Up gag when you get 20 more Toon-Up points. 0⧸20


Feather
quantity 5⧸10
Accuracy Medium
Toon-Up 8
Affects One Toon
Skill Credit 2

Hopefully I get the chance to train my Toon-Up soon! Ta-ta for now!! 🧡