A Well-Seasoned Horse

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for side quests in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Hmm.

I kinda expected more from that.

This game has done an ok job of clumping things together of a similar theme. After the Lenny bit, activating a stranger who is black seemed to be an effort to be point/counterpoint/development of point. I was looking forward to that. But, I dunno. Turned into a “shoot the bad, nasty racist” quest (and driving back a VERY slow wagon). I’m having a hard time distilling much from it.

Maybe it was the way I played it. Arthur got jumped, right? On the way back? At one point, he said “Why do you guys want this so much?” I thought, at that point, there would be an answer, a twist where the quest was more than “We’re just taking this to fuck with a black guy,” something where you assume that they were just fucking with a black guy, but it was more complex. That would have been kinda interesting. Thing is, MAYBE that would have happened, but I shot everyone pretty soon after that. Still, Arthur just gives back the wagon without saying anything like “Uhh….so what’s in there? Something else going on?” and it just ends.

So it just came down to “Bad, nasty men took this to be racist, kill bad racist Kevin, move on.”

I expected more. Did I miss something?

Then I magpied cuz I wanted to check out that abandoned village I passed through (Pleasance? I think that was it). Found a cigarette card, a barn that said “Plague, Keep out” and thought “Hmm, nice touch of realism,” then found another house that said “Ill with sin, unclean sinners” and thought “Oh, SNAP maybe there’s something more to this, that is a church there, after all,” so I spent WAY too much time investigating, looking for something interesting, found zilch. Zilch, I say!

Am I missing something?

Anyway, that was it. Two things that I thought would be more interesting than they turned out to be.

Unless I’m missing something. Am I missing something?

Feminina:

Honestly, I was hoping maybe you’d get something out of that that I missed. So…if you’re missing anything, then I am also missing it.

I looked around the plague town, found nothing. Not even a stash of sinful cigarette cards or something.

As for the doctor…yeah. I mean, it was Arthur reminding us again that he’s not racist and has no truck with people who are. Which is a platform I fully support, don’t get me wrong. And, humans being terrible, I don’t even particularly question the premise of “racist people took black doctor’s wagon to mess with him because they’re racist.” There doesn’t HAVE to be some larger plot there.

But there could have been, and it might have been more interesting. On the other hand, who says everything is interesting? A lot of terrible stuff is just boringly awful, with no deeper significance than that people suck and are horrible to each other.

Maybe the point is just that people suck, and Arthur, whatever his many and varied faults, sucks less than some of them.

Point taken, I guess.

Butch:

Bummer. Thought there would be bloggage!

I did find one card! Uh….yay?

But I was so curious I googled. Apparently, if you go at night, there are ghosts, and hints of a larger story. Strange voices. Good thing I missed it. You know how I feel about strange voices.

“First day they come….and they snatch everyone….”

Moving on.

Yeah, but I’m with you on what that doctor story could have been, and that’s weird because this game has been pretty darn good at taking advantage of the opportunities it makes for itself. When it has a point to make, it makes it. This quest was easy pickings theme wise, and they kinda blew it.

Yes, terrible stuff can be boringly awful (said the guy who just got off the treadmill….FITNESS!) but that doesn’t mean they should but it in a narrative. Indeed, it’s a good reason not to put it in a narrative.

Dammit, I was excited for this quest. Ah, well.

I find myself, post magpie, right by Caliga (not Caligula, he was a pervy emperor) hall, so I guess that’s next. I’ll try to distill some themeage.

Feminina:

GHOSTS?! Seriously?

Huh. I’m kind of surprised they went with ghosts. Although maybe it turns out to be a grizzled old prospector trying to scare meddling kids away from his claim.

When you think about it, writing “plague” around is kind of a good way to scare people away from your claim. On…that appealing bit of semi-swampland.

I’ll be sure to look into it if I’m ever in the area at night. Which will almost certainly never happen.

Butch:

Ghosts. There’s some creepy involved, like a woman’s voice saying “lovely weather” and shit like that. Also, if you look on the tombstones, they all died the same day and all, apparently, violently.

Go figure.

But then, they went there on the serial killer aspect, which also seemed a strange choice.

Still haven’t found anything new on that.

Feminina:

Yeah, me either. Not a single additional dismembered body!

It’s probably something you have to actively track down. As are, apparently, every single one of these sidequests about dinosaur bones, taxidermy subjects, cliff paintings, legendary fish, etc. etc. I have never found a single one of any of those things.

And I would KIND of like to complete those stories, to see if there’s any interesting conversation with the paleontologist, and so forth, but I’m not curious enough to spend my game time wandering around aimlessly looking for bones. Or to cheat and look it up online, which would certainly be quicker.

In a development apparently unconnected to anything in the game, I did get a “you talked to all the gunslingers [yeah, about three weeks ago], now go find the author!” message. So I went looking for him in Valentine where the quest marker was and learned that he had moved on to–obviously–the place I JUST LEFT to come look for him. Sigh.

But sooner or later, I’ll go find him.

Butch:

Yes, yes it is. Especially as that map fragment is pretty generic. There doesn’t seem to be a thing that makes you go OOOO! like face rock did when I found it completely by accident. Or the two pillars of rock. If all it is is, like, a field then fuck that noise. There’s fields everywhere!

Yeah. The game seems pretty eager to feed you the side quests that lead to some degree of themeage (last night’s aside, the gunslingers, the slave catcher, those were pretty damn hard to miss and didn’t make you wander around searching for shit), so if it’s not doing that, it’s unlikely we’ll get themeage.

Huh. It just happened? Interesting. I do wonder what’s up with that.

Feminina:

It’s true, they did make pretty damn sure you knew about some of the quests, so the ones they leave completely up to you may not have any major story. (Or maybe they do, just to be jerks. I mean…to reward obsessive completionists!)

And then there’s even that photographer who keeps showing up here and there as a wandering quest marker–he feels like something with about the same level of significance as dinosaur bones, but they make sure you know about him! I guess it would be hard to have dinosaur bones pop up in various locations and then vanish again, but they could have worked out something if they really cared whether or not we found them.

Conclusion: they don’t care. And, in this case, neither do I.

Butch:

Pretty much. Especially as they’ve stuck him way over by Strawberry, and I have no reason to go back there, like, ever.

At least I can afford train tickets now without much worry.

Feminina:

Oh, I can afford everything now. And there’s nothing I want to buy, of course, because by the time you can afford things there’s nothing exciting.

More games should have collectible fish and ship models, like ME2. I would be buying ship models like nobody’s business.

I even bought the camp that chicken coop that I was putting off in favor of the fast travel map. And the hitching post! We’ve got it all, in [current camp location].

Butch:

I got the hitching post. I had a reason though!

I somehow misplaced Roach.

Feminina:

D’oh! That clearly can’t be allowed to stand.

I mean, he’ll turn up eventually, right? Mine always does.

Butch:

I ain’t risking it. That’s my horse, man.

Feminina:

Fair. I will never argue with a man who’s just trying to look after his horse. A good horse is a precious thing.

I like the horse aspect, but think they’re kind of missing opportunities here, honestly. Your horse never seems to get hurt in all those gunfights we’re constantly getting mixed up in–and I appreciate that, because I’d feel bad if my horse got hurt, but also, maybe we SHOULD feel bad. Because in the real world in this time, horses undoubtedly DID get hurt and that was part of life, especially if you live a life of violence, and maybe we should have to deal with that.

I mean, I don’t actually WANT to deal with that, but for a game full of realism, that sure lets us off the hook and saves us from having to think about the logical consequences of bringing animals into combat.

Butch:

Dude Roach gets hurt! I usually need to give him an oatcake and a carrot to heal him up!

And he got bit by a snake last night and got poisoned! Had to give him ginseng.

Maybe it’s cuz I often aim at Kevin’s horse when I’m on foot. Reap what you sow.

Feminina:

Maybe I have my game set on “low horse difficulty” or something. I’ve run my horse straight into wagons (accidentally–my bad!) and it falls over and then scrambles back up like nothing happened. I have sometimes shot Kevin’s horse by accident, but I try to avoid it (even though it’s a commonsense tactic). Perhaps that game is repaying my attempted kindness to horses.

Or perhaps it’s random luck that I’ve now jinxed, and I’ll get my horse killed immediately on loading next time I play.

But the horse medicines…I have never used one. I can’t even figure out how to use them.

Butch:

Oh I have.

While on horseback, gun menu (l1), click over to the horse menu (r1 twice) then select it like you select a gun.

This is also the interface where you pick what to feed it.

Poor Roach.

Feminina:

Ah, OK. I will check. I always just feed my horse the last thing I picked up, whatever that was. She gets a lot of sage and oregano. Probably has very fresh breath.

Butch:

Poor thing. She’s all “can I please have an oatcake? A carrot? I’ll settle for a beet!”

She gave up on sugar cubes long ago.

Feminina:

I don’t feed from horseback, that’s the thing. I always do it from the “brush/feed/pat” menu while standing next to her, and that (apparently) defaults to whatever you last picked up that a horse would eat. Gin and canned vegetables are a no, for some reason.

Picky, picky.

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Probable Tragedy Ahead

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for young love, etc. in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Phew. Played.

So, what. I got the guy’s letter and gave it to the girl. The best part was being caught and being all “Uh….it was in my pocket guide! I’m a tourist!” Then tried to swim away and learned that this game doesn’t just let you swim for all eternity wearing boots without dying. Died. But then stole a boat and it was all good.

Left it there. Have to bring her note back. Played poker the rest of the night.

But then…just now…played AGAIN!

Did Lenny’s thing. Robbed a bunch of dudes. I kinda wish I had let him go distract the dudes, but I didn’t cuz I was worried about him. I wonder what he would have done? Anyhoo, did that. Came back, beat Tilly at dominoes, and decided to magpie back to the civil war battlefield and the church and the manor house where the raiders were. I didn’t think it would be a waste of time, because, at both places, I had a chance to “inspect site.” I’ve never done that before. Made Arthur draw a picture and everything. Can’t be a waste of time to go back! Waste of time. Found a cigarette card, some more raiders, some loot, and an empty manor. But did find a wild orchid and shot a couple of gators and a turtle.

Now I’m back in Rhodes about to talk to a stranger to get a quest. He’s black. This might be interesting.

But that’s something!

The lovers: So Lemoyne, in general, is about clinging to the past, right? Yet, here’s two lovers who think of themselves as progressive. They’re SO over all this civil war era shit. They GET it, man. I’m not finished with them, so I’m very curious as to how it plays out, but I have a feeling it will have SOMETHING TO SAY.

One thing that did stand out was the…not sure how to say this…incompleteness of her love of the future. Her “terrible place to live” was Ohio (gotta admit, laughed at that). What was in Ohio? It was her uncle who owned a factory. A factory! Isn’t industry what replaced southern agriculture? She’s not really looking towards the future. She’s looking towards a different, more modern social society, but still seems a-ok with plantations and gazebos and NOT factories in Ohio (can’t blame her).

We’ll see how it ends.

Lenny (LENNNNNYYYYY!!): Pretty standard “I love you man,” fare, but two things stood out. Lenny seems to have internalized a lot of racism. He thinks he’s inferior to the other members of the gang, and is proud that he is doing something good for them. That last conversation was like some backwards racial dynamic, the black man saying “I suck,” and the white man saying “No, man, you’re just as good or better than everyone else.”

I’m not sure if that’s very cool or very condescending.

I wish I had let him “act.”

Second, it’s an interesting narrative choice to make Arthur kinda unaware of racism in general. The whole time he’s riding out with Arthur, Arthur is all “Wait…what? Why would they treat you like that? Out west, folks is folks….”

Now, I’m not so sure that’s believable. I’m sure there was a great deal of racism “out west” in the 1890s. Also, Arthur sure as hell knew what a slave catcher was, so he had a notion that white people held black people as slaves once upon a time.

But let’s put that aside because what I find interesting is it’s the first time I can remember a narrative approaching racism with a true naif in the main role. Racism is so pervasive that we learn that it is a thing before we can read. EVERYONE knows what racism is. As much as Arthur’s naivety strains belief, having any other character in any other narrative this naive would be completely ludicrous. It’s strange and kinda interesting to have a character confronting racism with an idea of “What? Really? Why?”

I’m not sure if this is going to all tie up with the game having some degree, if not a large degree of white folk “I don’t see color” condescendsion. This runs the risk of some serious “I am a holier than thou white person” shit.

Or not. I’m curious to see.

Feminina:

You got caught delivering the letter? Man, you need to be more sneaky. I just crept around and delivered it with no one the wiser. Although it does sound like I missed some good dialogue, so perhaps you have the last laugh after all.

The young lovers are an interesting point, all right. Both utterly disgusted with their traditional, warring families, but also both very naive. They can tell what they don’t like, but they have no clear idea what the actual alternatives are, maybe. And as you say, they’re sort of disowning the past, but without any apparent awareness (or even speculation) of what the future is going to be like. (I suppose they are very young.)

I wish them well, but being Romeo and Juliet, they will likely end in tragedy. Ooh, I hope Arthur gets the role of the friar with news of the plot, who misses Beau on the road! Probably because he was too busy looting bodies.

Priorities!

I didn’t let Lenny act either. I was worried about him too! I don’t want him to get hurt!

Arthur’s lack of understanding of racism is also an interesting point, and not quite coherent since he seems to get it OK when he’s against it (he presumably doesn’t just hate the Klan because of their fashion choices–he must have some context for finding them worthy of hating). It would be easy to read his perplexity as being that sort of genuine, clueless puzzlement of well-meaning white people who oppose racism but don’t actually pay attention to anything black people say and so are against it on principle without really believing it exists: “well, that’s all horrible, but no one actually IS racist anymore!”

Except that, again, he can’t be that clueless given he’s spoken to (and been disgusted by) actual former slavecatchers, he’s hassled actual Klan members in the woods–he is not that out of touch with the reality of race relations.

I do think that there’s probably something to the idea that it was different in the west at that time–less codified, if nothing else. And there were, historically, some black cowboys, outlaws too no doubt, and there was probably to some extent less formalized racism in the west because there were fewer rules about everything, and so fewer rules about how everyone had to behave to constantly shore up the superiority complexes of white people.

So if anyone was personally ‘color-blind’ in this world, a western outlaw is about as plausible a candidate for the role as you’re going to find, and I’m willing to more or less accept that Arthur himself, raised since his formative years outside society by egalitarian outlaws who apparently accept everything, does see people as “just folks” and would probably be somewhat baffled by an elaborate system of laws and customs designed to enforce something different.

But since this isn’t the first time he’s encountered it, being all baffled NOW does seem out of place, unless it’s meant to be a sort of “however many times I see this, it still doesn’t make sense to me” exclamation or something.

As you say, it’s interesting to be looking at American racism from the point of view of someone who’s presented as not fundamentally understanding it. It also highlights Arthur’s alienation from society: he’s an outlaw in all kinds of ways, not only because he doesn’t follow the laws about, you know, robbery and murder, but also because he doesn’t even understand basic rules about who’s subordinate to whom. Being an outsider means you’re free of all kinds of constraints, maybe–both annoying rules about property ownership, and pernicious habits of categorizing other people.

Again, this doesn’t completely ring true, since he seems to grasp other social conventions (he doesn’t wonder WHY Mary’s family didn’t want her marrying an outlaw, and why they didn’t want her brother joining a cult, he greets people politely when it suits him, he understands that it’s odd Sadie wants to wear pants even though he personally doesn’t care), but it doesn’t ring as totally false as it would with a lot of other characters/settings. (Given the examples I thought of, I suppose we could also wander off here into gender, and wonder if it would be easier for him to grow up without specific ‘race roles’ in place than without gender roles…maybe later.)

Butch:

I did get caught. I was hiding behind a statue. Guy’s all “What’re you doing here?” and Arthur, fast thinking, is all “Uh…I’m a tourist! This is Braithewaite manor, right? Supposed to be beautiful! It was in my pocket guide!”

Seriously.

Did you read the letters? I did not. I half worried they were something not at all love letters. Like they were secretly slave traders or something.

And, well, but they’re not disowning the past totally. They sure do seem to like manors and gazebos and all that.

Priorities, indeed.

Wait, likely end? You’re not finished with this story line? Or are you being coy?

Race. Yeah. I mean, maybe he gets the idea of slavery, and maybe he gets that “Klan=bad,” but maybe he thinks that’s what racism is. Like, “Well, this here pardner didn’t own slaves and isn’t wearing a hood, so he must be ok with all folks….what do you mean he’s not, Lenny?”

So maybe the hatred of racists is more about his idea of hating rival gangs. If he sees someone obviously associating with a group that is opposed to the ideas of his group (confederates, raiders, klansmen) then he gets that that’s bad, but if there is no obvious affiliation with anything, then that’s just “folks,” and folks are folks who just go about their lives and are all the same. The default gang: folks.

And California and Oregon did stay loyal to the union, so there’s that. However, those places still had more than enough hatred towards Chinese people and Native Americans, so the idea of “I hate you cuz you’re different” wasn’t totally alien to the west.

And we are supposed to believe, I think, that this is his first time seeing the American south and, let’s face it, the American south did have the most extreme views of race that one could find in North America (save for that whole Native American genocide…moving on…). Maybe he’s baffled at the prevalence of it? Maybe?

Curious to see what this stranger quest brings. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Well…hmm. I’m not sure he did understand the whole “don’t marry an outlaw” or “cult” thing, at least not in the way that we do. I think he got that Mary’s family didn’t want her marrying HIM, but remember he doesn’t have a great self image. Also, maybe it was “I/they wouldn’t want Mary to go from a comfy lifestyle to sleeping in the dirt,” which he understands. Both are different from “My way of life is fundamentally bad,” which is how we feel. We would say “We don’t want our kids marrying an outlaw, not just THIS outlaw, because outlaws are immoral, awful people, dirt and stew aside.” He doesn’t.

As for the cult, at first he doesn’t really care. He thinks they’re weird, sure. Mostly, his objection is that he sees them as thieves, and THAT he gets. It isn’t “They’ll warp your mind,” which is how we’d feel. It’s “Mary asked me to do this, and they’re stealing from you.” That’s not a deep understanding of social norms.

And, as for Sadie, or anyone about anything really, his take isn’t “That person is weird,” it’s “Anyone who thinks that’s weird is weird, because it’s so obviously not weird.”

Feminina:

Yeah, that’s certainly a good point…the west may not be as obviously racist against black people (perhaps largely because there aren’t as many of them around), but oh my lord the anti-Indian racism. And given the lack of real encounters with Indians so far other than Charles, it’s hard to say where Arthur would come down on that, other than that they’re also “folks.”

But that’s unlikely to be the attitude of most of the people he meets out and about, so even if we can assume he grew up outside of formalized black/white racial differentiation, he could hardly be a stranger to the concept of a social system in which one race is considered to be obviously superior to another. In the west, folks is just folks, except some folks are Indians who are rudely trying to keep living on this land they’ve been living on forever, when we would like to do other things with it, and we obviously can’t have that.

And that’s presumably not Arthur’s personal viewpoint, but it’s the one that enabled the gang’s romantic ideal of the open west where folks can go to be free, and (Hosea’s commentary near the beginning aside) the gang’s dreams and idealized hidden spots of freedom completely fail to take into account all the people who were forcibly shoved aside to make that west so ‘open and free’ for white folks. When they’re looking for a new camp after Valentine, Dutch even says “go to this spot Micah found and if there’s anyone already there, drive them out.” Which…is exactly what “won” the west, all right.

And of course the people we found there were lily white German immigrants whom we don’t have to feel racist about ‘driving out,’ and anyway we actually wound up helping them (so they could go colonize the west some more, with their whiteness and their gold!), but Dutch didn’t specify anything like “unless they’re Indians, who have more right to the spot than we do, in which case leave them alone.” He just said to get rid of anyone who was there. Sometimes you have to push other people around when you have a grand dream of freedom!

And if you’ve already got that understanding of one race being ranked markedly lower in a social hierarchy, how difficult should it really be to grasp the same basic underpinnings of a similar system where the people on the bottom rung of the ladder are a slightly different color? “Oh, it’s a lot like how white townsfolk think about Indians” would be a reasonable leap to make, wouldn’t it? He’s not a simpleton.

So yeah, hm. Not sure I can buy Arthur’s naivety, now that I think of it.

Maybe it’s mean to be a sort of display of solidarity with Lenny, and it just comes out awkward and clueless?

“Gosh, I just can’t imagine how anyone could think any less of you because you’re black, which I barely even noticed since I just see folks–you mean other people actually pay attention to trifles like that?!”

Oh, and I did not read the letters, and I am at this point still unsure what becomes of the two lovers.

I hope it’s tragedy! No, not really. I wish them well. Unless they’re secretly slave traders. (We should have read their letters.)

Butch:

Well, we did have that one glimpse of Native Americans in the distance when everyone was coming out of the mountains way back when. Hosea commented about how tough the Natives had it, worse even than the gang. That’s it, though.

Right! The ideal is freedom…..for us so fuck you. That’s true of the gang, the USA in the west, the “free state of Lemoyne,” everyone. The ideal of “free” is a joke no matter who is saying it. Shit, even the slaver, his “freedom” to live a nice life is tied directly to depriving people of their freedom entirely. Yet, we’re supposed to hate that guy. Is he a reflection of us? I think so.

By the way…on that, you likely haven’t played dominoes with Tilly, as you are not keen on minigames. The only reason I played dominoes with Tilly (who is black), is that I hadn’t had any banter with Tilly, who did nothing but sit there waiting for me to play dominoes. I thought “Maybe this will lead to an interesting conversation or two,” and it does. FYI.

And, well…..Hmm. This may be a bit of a stretch, but Arthur’s idea of “other” is rooted in “enemy,” or, at least, someone who is actively trying to take my shit. These people are people you shoot on sight. Arthur hasn’t displayed a whole lot of difference between people you shoot (bad guys) and people you don’t shoot on sight (folk). (The fact you CAN shoot anyone is just game mechanics that make no narrative sense, so let’s ignore that.) Southern racism is different than that. Blacks and whites aren’t rival gangs who automatically kill each other, like Dutch’s and the O’Driscolls, so that’s outside of Arthur’s thinking. Americans and Native Americans did war against each other. That he gets.

Maybe just solidarity…but it sounded earnest.

He even says Lenny is BETTER than Sean. Who is white…..but also Irish. Hmm.

Oh, that stretches into Chapter four? Now I’m confused. I have two yellow quests (not counting the stranger mission, which I’m gonna do next). One is talk to someone (Bill I think?) in camp, and the other is go back to the dude with the girl’s letter. Usually you have to do all the yellow to move on, right? Not this time?

What should I do next?

Feminina:

Well…let’s just say it either stretches into Chapter 4 in some way I’ve not yet observed, or it doesn’t end. Or I somehow missed the ending. There’s more to it…go ahead and take the letter back to the dude. See where that leads. It just hasn’t so far led to any specific conclusion, as far as I’ve seen.

Maybe I’ll run into the two lovers in Saint Denis.

Also, there’s a lot of other stuff that happens before Chapter 4, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

It is true, I have not played dominoes with Tilly, but based on your advice, I shall do so. Siiiigh…even though I don’t like minigames. I’ll do it just for the conversation.

I haven’t played five-finger filet with Lenny or whoever, either. (I have ignored it so thoroughly, I don’t even know who plays it.) I suppose there’s conversation there too.

Siiiiigh. If I wanted to play dominoes or poker or knife games, you know I HAVE dominoes and cards and knives in my actual house, right? Can’t we just chat? Over coffee or something?

Heh…the implication being, I suppose, that I DON’T have people to chat with in my actual house. No offense, loving family!

Hm. Interesting thought, that maybe Arthur’s sense of society is just “folk” (whom you USUALLY don’t shoot, at least not right away) and “enemies” (with whom you usually are immediately in combat). “Are these red dots, or blue dots on the map?” (Although actually non-hostile people in this game are white dots, aren’t they?)

And if someone isn’t a red dot and deserving of instant combat, it doesn’t make sense to him that they would be considered in any way lesser than any other white dot? All white dots are the same to me, no matter their actual skin color? (And all red dots are also the same, come to think of it: he kills them without hesitation, but with no special rancor based on any personal characteristics.)

Hm. I still don’t know that I buy that he’s so unaware of how “normal” people think, even if the dot system does describe his personal social hierarchy, but it’s an interesting thought.

Butch:

A lot that happens?

What?

I’m at 41% and change, and you said that you were in chapter four at 45%.

I can’t accept that difference is a game of dominoes and a couple alligators I shot. (What? They were scaring Roach!)

Still a lot?

I won’t do the five-finger thing. I tried that dumb game and dumb game is dumb. I’ve already chatted with Lenny. We’re good.

As for the race conversation, still goes back to why they chose to do it this way. It was a narrative decision, after all, and one that I find interesting, if confusing.

Feminina:

Well, there’s the Stranger quest you just got. Speaking of race. That’s a quick bit. No doubt some interesting material that can pertain to this discussion, so heck, go do that!

Maybe some optional robberies and such at perhaps .1% each, as you estimated. Those barely count in terms of completion.

Then there’s a fair bit more Braithwaite/Gray stuff. Four or five yellow quests at .5% to 1% (my rough estimation…for a while I thought they were each about a percent, but that doesn’t seem to be consistently true, though they’re definitely worth considerably more than the white ones).

Anyway, that should about catch you up to 45% at Chapter 4.

I’m only 48% now despite playing lately. Game is long.

Butch:

I, too, have noticed the percentages are weird. I’ll do something that I think is major and it’s hardly anything, then I’ll do nothing except scan a turtle and it’s .4%.

I don’t get it.

I’ll catch up. Or not.

Feminina:

Outlook’s contribution:

“It’s not weird.”
“I don’t know either.”
“I’m not sure either.”

So…disagreement, or two different ways of expressing agreement.

You know I will pretty much never choose “it’s not weird,” so yeah, I’m not sure/don’t know either. There’s probably some formula that’s too complex for our puny brains to comprehend.

Butch:

“I don’t know either” is a pretty good reply to pretty much anything either of us ever says.

Except for things like “Booze is good” and “Needs more nudity.”

Feminina:

Good points. Perhaps Outlook will do better at writing our posts than we thought!

Butch:

When it suggests “Booze is good” and “needs more nudity” then we know it has taken over.

Feminina:

And then we’ll sit back with our booze and wait for the money and accolades to roll in.

Except that Microsoft will get them all. Siiiigh.

Butch:

I can still sit back with my booze.

T SHIRT!!!!

Feminina:

OK, still needs some work:

“I’ll bring it.”
“Can you bring it?”
“Can’t wait to see that.”

DO YOU EVEN HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT OUTLOOK?

I’ll bring/can you bring…what? A T shirt? Booze? (Granted, these are both good questions to ask about booze. T shirts…enh.)

Can’t wait to see…someone sitting back with booze? THAT IS A BORING THING TO SEE, OUTLOOK. Believe us, we can wait. (A great thing to DO! A boring thing to watch someone else do.)

The system is not ready for its blog-writing closeup.

But with our pointed and unsparing feedback, no doubt it soon will be. Just helping the machine put us out of a job here.

Butch:

“I’ll bring it” in regards to booze is pretty damn great.

Cuz life just keeps getting harder. I spent last week fixing shit. I made progress! Now, this fucking wind has blown my back screen door clean off and knocked over the basketball hoop in the driveway.

Shit’s always breaking.

Arthur’s got it right. Sleep rough. Eat stew. Carry about nine gallons of bourbon and gin.

Feminina:

Stew, booze, and a bedroll. Who needs anything more, really?

Butch:

Though, with my luck, my bedroll would break.

Feminina:

You can just repair it using pieces from another bedroll. Wait, that’s Fallout New Vegas.

Notes From the Chaos

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers

Butch:

******attention readers of play first, talk later****

*****due to circumstances beyond his control, specifically crazy assed children plus a wife who worked at home, butch has lost his mind*****

*****even if he hadn’t, he had to hide in the bedroom watching a meaningless hockey game he could’ve cared less about until 845 last night to give junior “mommy time” to placate him*****

*****seriously. Mommy time*****

*****please continue to watch this space for further updates*****

*****and send booze*****

Feminina:

SENDING BOOZE.

Butch:

Wha….huh….I’m coming to…..

Dear GOD the kids. They need to understand the meaning of “Go away. Daddy needs some time to himself.”

And yes, Mrs. McP was all “Hey, you can play and we can watch,” but this is also a sentence the four people I live with do not understand. More a word choice. Watch, when you think about it, is, well, watching. Viewing something with your eyes. To my family:

Watch (v.): To sit in the same room with while talking to each other, either about the object being “watched” or, more likely something else.

And dude, I HATE people talking when I’m trying to play. I hate people talking when I’m trying to watch (the real watch) something! I think this stems from my mother, who fucking narrates every movie and TV show she watches, sometimes to the point of repeating dialog as soon as a character says it. Seriously.

(She also reads menus to you, as if you cannot read. “Ooo, look. They have eggplant.” “Yes, mom, I see that.” Pause. “They also have meatballs.” “Yes…I see that too.” “Ooo, save room, there’s desserts on the back-” “WILL YOU STOP IT??????” Pause. “One of the desserts is apple pie-” “AIEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” )

Junior’s the worst, because he tells me what to do. “You should do the Lenny mission now.” “There’s a cottage up there.” “Hey, deer, go hunting.”

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MY GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You play YOUR GAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sigh.

I’m going to go light the white hot rage candle.

Feminina:

Yes, I can see how that just doesn’t work in terms of game time.

THIS IS NOT WHAT I AM MEANING BY ‘PLAYING GAMES.’

At least your white-hot rage was not triggered by the game itself. That will make the game feel better.

Butch:

It can’t be caused by the game itself, as I did not play.

The best was one time when my mother was here, “watching,” by which I mean talking to the kids about something that wasn’t the game at all, and, when I asked her to knock it off, she said “You can see the game. Why do you have to hear it?” I looked at her as if she had lost her mind, and she doubled down: “Arcades were loud. You didn’t mind noise when you were playing pac man!”

This really got said.

Maybe she’s right. Maybe there was dialog where they discussed the ethereal nature of existence, how, really, we live in a confusing maze where all there is to do is drown our sorrows by overeating, running from the very souls that pursue us, reminding us of our own inabilities to leave the maze, unable to do anything to stop it besides knocking our souls back to a little box for a short time, but only when they get so blue they cannot stop us, cannot bring back any color to our dot chasing, banana eating lives.

I’ll never know.

Feminina:

That was actually a very nice philosophical musing on Pac-man. Well done!

If only you’d had time to play a game with some actual meaning to it, who knows what you’d be capable of!

Butch:

I dunno. It’s been so long. I might be able to write incredibly interesting yet modest analysis, but I’d likely just come up with scents for weird candles and T SHIRTS. Hell, I’d probably capitalize T SHIRT for no real reason. Maybe throw altogether too many exclamation points after it, too.

Feminina:

I unfortunately don’t know much about Pac-man, and also haven’t really done anything recently in other games that we could talk about, so…uh…at least it’s Wednesday?

Butch:

At least we’ve got candles!

“Nostalgic Seething” Should it be plural? Candles are often plural.

“Nostalgic Seethings.” I like it.
“White Hot Rage”
“Enticing Kneecaps”

Buy now.

As Usual, It’s a Matter of Life and Death

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some spoilers for a sidequest in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

So you know the other day when we were wondering about the repossessed house and the fact people were there during the quest? Remember me saying I found this little graveyard and couldn’t figure it out?

Well, got a stranger quest last night and now I have answers.

And I really hope you do, too, cuz it was a fucking powerhouse of a quest and I wanna talk about it. I really, really want to talk about it.

Feminina:

Do you mean the guy who asks you to go find his journal and stuff at his old house that we almost burned down before?

Yeah, I didn’t want to mention that before, although it somewhat informed my speculation about squatters answering the door.

That was certainly a thing, wasn’t it?

Unless you’re talking about something else, in which case, I don’t think I did it because that’s the only thing I remember that had to do with that house.

Butch:

That’s the one. Nice job being coy.

Wasn’t that just a thing? It’s certainly a thing that I have been turning around in my head far more than any other quest I’ve played in a while.

Because…well…on one hand, yes, I’m glad that he isn’t hunting slaves any more. Arthur is exactly right that some jobs should end (now, we could, and likely will, ponder the fact that maybe a job that involves robbing trains and killing people should end, too), and he’s right that some legacies should be pissed on (again….pot kettle, here, right?). But that said…..

Even though what he was doing is unjustifiably evil, he was a product of his time. He was doing a job to support his family. There may well be a time, soon, where we look back at the harm that fossil fuels, say, have done to the world and have the same disgust for people who made their fortunes drilling oil and mining coal. And he doesn’t lament the end of his job, per se. He isn’t hankering to go back to catching slaves. He laments the end of his lifestyle, sure. His home, his marriage, etc, but there was no drooling, growling, “I wish I could chain up them slaves again” evil from him.

Also, we talked in the past about Arthur maybe finding another less awful line of work. This guy, he DID try that! We see letters where he did get jobs at mining companies and railroads and all that! He just wasn’t cut out for them. He tried to adapt to a changing world, and couldn’t.

There are a lot of people in the country today who are fearful of winding up just like this guy. Unable to adapt.

Which is why the ending was so powerful. Arthur is an angry man. He’s, at times, cruel. He was angry and mean to this guy, too. If you were like me, you didn’t mind him being mean here as much as you’ve minded him being mean elsewhere, but is that really justified? Or is that just our elitism, our “well, your way of life sucked, and if you can’t adapt to the future fuck you” liberalism?

The three best words of the whole thing were the best line I’ve seen in a video game in many, many moons: Him, on his knees, in the dirt, crying, saying “I still exist.” Not “I’m still alive” or “I’ll come back, you’ll see!” or “How could you?” or anything. I still EXIST. And saying it in a way that he was half trying to convince himself of that fact.

When it was over, I didn’t know if I pitied him or not. The fact I even had to wonder made me do some real thinking, and, after that thinking, I don’t know if I should have pitied him or not.

But what I didn’t do was shoot him. Usually, we shoot slavers in games, right? But I left him there, crying in the dirt. But here’s the thing: I left him alive to let him suffer. I figured, he deserved that.

And if he’s a metaphor for people facing that fear today, people poorer and less educated than I am, what does THAT say about me?

Feminina:

Yeah, there was a lot there, and it was a bit more complicated than just “he was a filthy slavecatcher so screw him.”

I mean…he WAS a filthy slavecatcher, and the system he’s lamenting, the one that gave him all this prestige and standing in society, totally deserved to fall. Zero sympathy for anyone pining for the days when slavecatching was a valued profession.

But it’s also true that he didn’t build the system, he was just surviving in it, doing a job SOMEONE was going to do because the demand/money was there, and it’s not really his fault that the skills of the terrible service that system paid him to provide don’t transfer well to a slightly more just world.

He’s not wrong about this much: he’s lost a lot, and it’s only human to mourn your losses.

On the other hand, it was always an option for him, as a human being, to recognize that the service he provided was a terrible one. It was always an option for a human being to choose NOT to dedicate his professional life to hunting down other human beings and returning them to lives of slavery. Maybe he wouldn’t have made as much money or had as many ‘friends’ among the gentry, but he could have chosen to forgo that. Doing that job was a choice he made, and one he seems not to regret at all, and we can and should judge that choice.

And, you’re absolutely right, we also can and should judge Arthur’s choice to continue with his career of robbing and murdering people.

So yeah…I don’t blame that dude for mourning, necessarily. He feels, correctly, that he’s suffered a lot with the coming of the new order. I think he kind of sums up a lot of the partially-legitimate grievances around race. I mean, it’s not necessarily incorrect for white people to feel that they’ve lost out on an advantage by having to compete with free black people for jobs now, or whatever.

It’s literally true: they have lost an advantage that they had, and they are worse off for it.

It was a monstrously unfair advantage…but losing it probably still sucks for that person. So, you know, sympathy for the sense of loss, and sorry these peoples’ lives are genuinely more difficult than they would have been in the old system. One doesn’t really rejoice in the fact that someone else’s life has gotten harder. (I mean, unless one really dislikes that person.)

But…one is probably not sorry enough to think that we should just go ahead and reinstate the old system that will monstrously unfairly disadvantage everyone else to make those relatively few people’ lives easier again.

So, genuine sympathy, I guess, but also, life is tough, and as tough as it is for people who’ve recently lost a big advantage, it was ALWAYS that tough (or worse) for the people who didn’t have that advantage in the first place, so…we’re all going to have to deal.

Giant social changes are hard, but they happen anyway, whether we like it or not and whether they’re morally justified or not. The march of civilization across the west, ‘changes in the labor laws’…it’s all part of the story.

I personally might not have taken such grim pleasure in burning the guy’s notebook, because whatever, he seems to have sunk low enough without me taunting him, but I think maybe Arthur’s kind of taking out his feelings about his own job there? He has talked about how the gang is going to have to pay for their sins, etc., so maybe he’s taking some satisfaction in seeing someone else paying for his as well.

Butch:

Right, though, he was SURVIVING. When I first met him, I thought “Oh, here we go. Old plantation owner. Used to be rich, blah blah blah.” But he wasn’t. He just had a little homestead, a barn we burned down, that was about it. He was just a middle class employee of the system. I got the sense the prestige he talked about losing was overblown, that the REAL southern gentlemen wouldn’t have thought he was a gentleman at all. Did you catch that the family picture (did you really think I’d try to spell daguerreotype? HA! Did it! Totally didn’t look it up. Ahem) was a gift from someone who employed him? He didn’t have it taken himself. He likely couldn’t afford it.

And, yes, his job was despicable, but it was legal and in demand, which is more than we can say for anything Arthur has ever done ever. Yet, there, at the end, Arthur is taking the high ground, pissing on Jerimiah’s legacy, and we’re rooting him on. You go Arthur! Yeah! Down with evil racists and up with….uh….moving on!

Though what do you make of the fact that it turned out he didn’t have much of a choice? He DID try to make it in other fields, but failed. He kept losing jobs. You said before about Arthur: we don’t know if he has skills that would translate to homesteading or growing apples or whatever the fuck. He certainly doesn’t think he has skills. We, with our advanced degrees, can blithely say “Pfft! Just do something else!” but it’s not always as easy as all that for people that don’t have, like, masters degrees. This guy did try to choose. It turned out the options he had were illusions. It’s pretty harsh to say “Well, you could always just choose to sleep on a bench, and you probably should.” It’s also rather uppity of us, as we will never have to have that be a choice.

And, well, no, of course we don’t want to reinstate the old system to help sad guys like this. That said, there’s also a degree of no one really CAN reinstate the old ways. The future marches on. Even today, coal mining, say, is going to become a relic. There’s nothing coal miners can do. The price of gas is too low, robots will make human miners obsolete, solar will get more popular. There’s nothing anyone can do about that. The future is going to happen.

It is all part of the march of history….but here’s us, all elite and shit, so it’s easy for us to say. The changes in time always affect the little guy, or at least the middle class guy. “Labor Laws” aside, the guy who paid for that daguerreotype probably did not end up sleeping on a bench.

I think Arthur is taking satisfaction, yeah. He also REALLLLLLLLLLY seems to hate racism. He took great joy in killing Klansmen, too. I wonder if that’s there to placate our modern sensibilities or not.

Feminina:

Wait, you thought the guy was trying to get other jobs BEFORE the war? I assumed he was trying to get those other jobs only once he lost his first job. In which case, yes, I respect that he did try other things (as Arthur will not), and it’s certainly more laudable than if he just sat around whining about how he was too good to work on the railroad or something, but considering he only did that when he was forced to, I don’t think he gets any morality points.

He kept catching slaves as long as there were slaves to catch. I mean, if he’d experienced a conversion like the “Amazing Grace” guy and decided in the middle of a hunt that he wasn’t going to do this horrible job anymore!–yeah, major props, good on you. But I don’t think that’s what happened.

I definitely agree, though, that’s he’s probably overstating (or glorifying in memory) his own prestige in the old days. Pretty sure a slavecatcher, while a necessary position, was not going to be attending debutante balls on the plantation or anything. But still, he had SOMETHING, he was known and appreciated, which in comparison to the nothing and the scorn he now has, is pretty great.

And it’s definitely easy for me to say “people have to just suck it up” from my position in a comfortable middle class (for now) job. (Librarians are looking at automated replacements too, in various ways. Our future, like all futures, is uncertain. It’s nice to assume we’ll never have to decide whether or not to sleep on a bench, but the middle class is shrinking, and we’re unlikely to be immune in the long run.)

It’s certainly easy for me to say “people gotta deal with change” when I’m not the one dealing with it at this particular moment.

Buuuuuut…it’s also true. People DO gotta deal with change. And I’m not without sympathy, and if you want to get into “we should help those people get new jobs!” or whatever, I’m all about figuring out how we as a society can help support transitions into the future (whatever it may be).

We should have followed through with Reconstruction! Coal miners should have job training!

I don’t mean “people gotta deal” in a “people gotta sink or swim, and if they sink, hell with ’em” way, although that’s often how it plays out in history. But however much we try to mitigate the ill-effects, or don’t, things are going to change, and historically it’s going to be good for some people, and bad for others, and it’s almost the luck of the draw where you wind up on that line.

Butch:

Oh, no, I think he kept catching slaves so long as there were slaves to catch, but at least he didn’t cling to it when there weren’t (unlike, say, the raiders, in their way). I see the lack of morality points.

Though what do you make of the fact that he calls his ledger his “legacy?” He doesn’t want it to remember his glory days, if you buy “legacy.” He wants it to be remembered BY. That’s what a legacy is, right? Something you can say “Hey, future people, look what I did! Ain’t it great?” He still thinks that people will be proud of him, that he’ll not only “exist,” but continue to exist in the minds of future people (in a good way). One wonders who he thinks his legacy is for. The slave trade is already long gone, we get a sense his wife has divorced him, his son has disowned him. There’s no one to look upon his “legacy” at all, and yet that’s how he looks at all of the rewards for the people he captured.

The luck of the draw… Is it though? Maybe. But it sure seems like the deck is stacked in favor of some and not others. Even in this game, we’ve talked a lot about how, in their scramble for survival, the poor are eating each other. Desperate schmucks preying on other desperate schmucks. The Leviticus Cornwalls of the world never need luck. Never will.

Feminina:

I think maybe his ledger was, to him, the only solid proof that he actually existed (as you said in the beginning, his final wail is “I exist!”), that he actually did stuff that was recognized by others. It’s the record of his work, even though that work is no longer respected–I think he’s not so much planning to save it in a “hey, look how many slaves I caught!” way, as in a “look, I did work that was valued” way. I think he’s more interested in the record of him having meant something, than in the specifics of what he did. (Again as you said, he doesn’t seem particularly fixated on the work itself. He’s not talking about the good old days when he used to be able to run people down and chain them in his basement, and that was so much fun or so satisfying or whatever. I get the sense that those things are just details to him: the big picture he’s missing is the good old days when he MATTERED.)

And it is absolutely true that being rich and connected before the big social change gives one a nice leg up on doing OK afterwards. The people who are just getting by are way more likely to get hurt way worse. But in terms of those people, if you’re the classic buggy whip manufacturer, the advent of automobiles hurts you, whereas if happen to live near the Ford factory where you can get a job maybe you feel pretty good about cars…in that sense, there’s a lot of luck.

Butch:

Though…after googling something else (specifically, what was with that bourbon bottle you could pick up and look at, couldn’t find the answer) I learned something interesting: If you DO kill him, shoot him in cold blood while he is wailing there after the quest ends, you GAIN honor. It’s unclear if that’s because he’s awful and enjoyed it all and kill awful racists or if you’re putting a man who will never matter, never be happy, out of his misery. After all, I let him live to let him suffer. Interesting, and wonderfully ambiguous, as to what the game wants you to do and why.

Feminina:

What WAS with that bourbon bottle? I wondered too. Just to make sure you didn’t miss that he’d become a drunk? I kind of got that before, game.

Interesting that you gained honor from shooting him. Maybe the game DOES think he’s just that evil. I don’t know. I mean, as I said, he made his choices to aid and abet an evil system, and I judge him for that. That was an evil decision that he made cheerfully, stuck with for years, and even now doesn’t regret. That’s on him.

But he’s pretty well suffering for it already. I don’t know if I think he deserves death for it–or at least, I don’t know if Arthur is the one to decide that he does.

If one of the people he once captured and dragged back to slavery were to come along and say “I’m going to shoot you, dude,” I wouldn’t have stopped him or her. Those are people who are in a position to decide. Not that, in a civilized society, I favor allowing the victims to set the penalty for everything. We have impartial laws for that (in theory). But is another outlaw really the person to be taking revenge for all those people’s suffering? Is that his place?

As you say, it might also be, instead, that the game finds it honorable to put a wretched loser out of his misery, but…that seems like a very slippery moral slope to go down.

“You’re hopeless and miserable, death would be a mercy!”
Not that far a step to “you’re hopelessly useless to society and SHOULD be miserable about that, death would be a mercy!”

I figure the dude himself is the one to decide if death is preferable. I mean, after all, he’s still got booze.

Butch:

Wait a minute though……

Every video game in the history of ever has given the protagonist the ability, nay, the right to decide who lives and who dies. Why would this be any different?

Feminina:

No way, dude. Every video game (with combat) gives us the ability to kill a bunch of random dudes, sure, but we only “decide whether they live or die” in the sense that we decide whether or not to play the game. Once we’re playing the game, the decision is made in-game FOR the character.

Lara Croft doesn’t weigh the options and decide that this specific random dude needs to die, she understands that getting out of this level requires killing this dude.

Anyway, combat is different. If that guy had come at me, sure, I would have killed him with barely a second thought, but he was just slouching there weeping. That’s not combat, that’s execution (or, alternatively, cold-blooded murder), and not every video game makes us choose whether or not to execute people. And when games do, we talk about it. (Like Junior!)

It’s different, and I stand by that.

Butch:

C’mon, man. Been too damn long since you played a role playing game if that’s your take.

Shit, Mafia 3 let you walk away from Sal fucking Marcano if you wanted to.

Feminina:

Sure, sure.

And true, we didn’t talk that much about it, although I think that’s because it was right near the end and kind of got lost in the flood of all-the-other-stuff-we-needed-to-talk-about. We COULD have talked about it. And we would have noted, if we’re going to talk about it in terms of “does this character have the right to decide this,” that Sal Marcano had Lincoln”s entire family killed, so, yeah, he kind of has the right to make that call (within the morality of the game). Lincoln was taking HIS OWN revenge.

The slavecatcher never did anything to Arthur personally. Arthur would be taking revenge on behalf of a bunch of grievously wronged people he’s never met, whose opinions on the matter he knows nothing about (and who may themselves not share a single opinion, if we could even find them and ask them).

It’s different. I continue to stand by that.

This will actually come up again on a future quest…we can continue the conversation then.

Butch:

Or I could just point out the bounty with the woman you could choose to free instead of taking her back to be hanged (which, for some reason, came back to mind just now…) Or any other bounty, or any other side quest in this game or any other game ever…..

But I’m tired so I won’t.

Feminina:

You’re not deciding whether she lives or dies: the law will decide that. You’re just taking her back to face justice. Probably she’ll hang, yeah, but we’re not on the jury, we don’t know.

Taking someone to jail is different from shooting them point blank while they sit at their wretched campfire. I stand by this.

Butch:

For someone who’s hobby involves slaughtering countless people in ghastly ways, you sure do like to distance yourself from violence.

Feminina:

I am in no way distancing myself from violence that I actually COMMIT.

Also, as a technical point, I’m not sure we really could have actually freed her. Yes, there’s an option to ‘release’ when you’ve got someone tied up (her, or anyone else), but is that going to end the quest, or are you then just going to be confronted with “recapture the prisoner” as your quest objective, and you have to either do it or give up and load a previous save from before you went after her in the first place?

I didn’t test it, but in this game, I would bet on the latter. I’m doubtful that “OK, you let her go and she wanders off and is never seen again, feel free to check that quest off as an incomplete” is going to be an option. That’s just not how this game handles missions.

Fast-ish Travel At Last!

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor details of Red Dead Redemption 2 mechanics, no real plot info

Butch:

Well, the project I did yesterday, painting, turns out hurts your hands. A lot. By the end of the day I could barely pick up a glass.

So didn’t play.

But as the project is done, maybe I’ll day play.

Houses. Ruining free time and finances for us all.

Feminina:

Oh, houses. Ruining everything once again.

Although really, it’s not the house’s fault you wanted to save booze money–you could theoretically have hired someone else to paint.

I played some.

Oh, what did you want to say about fast travel? I finally got around to doing it, more so we could talk about it than because I really needed it. It’s fairly limited in value, isn’t it? You can only travel somewhere else from camp, and the times when I actually find myself WANTING to get somewhere in a hurry I’m usually already somewhere else far away from camp and wanting to either get back to camp, or get to some other location without bothering to go to camp first. But still, limited fast travel is more than no fast travel.

I kind of liked the way you get this slow montage of various bits of scenery you would have been passing by. “You might not be riding there, but we’re going to make sure to show you what you’d be passing by if you were.” Also, it’s certainly faster than riding all the way across the map, but not so fast that it’s at all worth it for short distances. You definitely won’t be pulling up the map to hop into town.

All in all, meh. It was fine, a nice option to have available (maybe I’ll use it to get to the bait shop in the middle of nowhere!…nah), but I probably won’t actually use it that much.

Butch:

Hey, man. Booze money (and its vital importance) aside, another truth of home ownership is if you want it done right, do it yourself. Unless it’s outside your ability. Then don’t do it yourself.

Sadly, painting is in my realm of ability.

Mostly that second thing, is what I wanted to say on fast travel. Remember Mr. O’s observation that maybe the reason the game makes everything rather long is that it wants you to slow down, be part of the pace of the game at large? We’ve talked about how the slowness makes the faster, urgent bits feel faster and more urgent. Well, here, “fast” travel is once again falling into that mode. No quick loadscreen here. It doesn’t really take you out of that immersive, ponderous pace. I think it backs up what Mr. O said before, that the game just isn’t going to rush you, or let you really rush. That’s also probably why they made it so limited, so that you don’t just skip around Horizon style.

I also found it very interesting that you can travel FROM home, but GETTING BACK home is always going to be a slow affair during which you could get jumped by baddies, there’s peril, etc. Don’t think that you can just hop back to safety eat and heal if things get hairy. Safety, and all that entails, is never just a click away.

Feminina:

Good point about not being able to just dash off home to rest up (although after certain missions, you can choose to do that with a cutscene if you want to ride home with so-and-so instead of wandering off to do your own thing).

If you’re all wounded and your horse is hungry and tired and you just need a break, well, you’re going to have to deal with that. You’re out in the wide, unfriendly world and you have to manage on your own, or put in the time to get home.

Butch:

Right. And that’s unlike most games. It’s much more common that, when you’re all messed up, low on health, whatever, that you just desperately look for a place to fast travel from, zoop back to Skyhold or Meridian or wherever and boom. Fixed. We’ve all had that “Phew! Fast travel point!” feeling. Certainly the developers at rock star have had that feeling, too, and leaving it out of this game must have been intentional. I think it fits in this game. I think it would be frustrating as hell in some other games, though. The trade off seems to be that, yes, there is danger in this game, but it’s limited. There’s a pretty decent chance you’ll get back to camp without too much trouble. If there were the equivalent of three charger areas, a couple of thunderjaw areas and a couple of bellowbacks between you and camp each and every time, and you couldn’t fast travel, that might get old quick.

Feminina:

Oh, absolutely. It would get very tiresome if you had to fight your way through a field of enemies every single time you needed to get back to camp. As it is, it’s not usually a big deal, other than taking some time.

I mean, I’ve definitely been attacked by randits on more than one occasion, but even if they kill you, they’re gone when you come back, so it’s not a repeated struggle to get by them. For the most part it seems that if something isn’t part of a quest, it will be extremely transitory: you kill it or it kills you, the game moves on. (If it kills you, you seem to lose a little money? We’ve seen that in games before, and I’m OK with it. Gives a little bit of an edge to the loss, but not enough to be really frustrating or to interfere with your progress.)

Butch:

I also think it encourages more realistic magpie. You said it was great that they didn’t mark collectibles on the map (something that is de facto anti-immersion) because you’d be obsessed (which I believe…very much believe….), but it also means that you aren’t just drawn there and there and there. Without fast travel or map markers, you’re subtly encouraged (though not required) to explore, something I’ve found rewarding most of the time. It’s certainly more interesting going up to some rectangle on the map wondering what it is than just heading towards an icon on a map that you know is an animus fragment that you’re picking up for no real reason.

Feminina:

It’s true that not having many location icons on the map makes one explore more or less at random, rather than constantly dashing off after some shiny point over there. In practice, I think I cover a lot less of the map than I might under, say, Bethesda circumstances, where the whole horizon can be bristling with undiscovered location icons and I just have to go check them out!

On the other hand, maybe I see the parts I do explore a little more closely, or maybe the things I stumble across are a little more interesting because they’re just mysteriously, randomly out there rather than specifically inviting me to come look at them.

It’s a different feeling, for sure.

Butch:

It is. I’m certainly glad that things are marked, at least vaguely, on the map. Little buildings, anyway. Usually. I went towards a rectangle and found a little graveyard. Couldn’t make anything of it, though.

It also adds some degree of uncertainty. When you’re riding at night and see lights up ahead, you never know if it’s something welcoming, like a new town, or something threatening. Or neither. Or both. There isn’t some icon where you can say “Ah, yes. That’s a trader’s caravan” or something. You’re left to wonder, and to decide if it’s worth it to explore.

Pretty cool.

Feminina:

I found a “tiny church” in the swamp the other day. It was just a classic church building, with a steeple and everything, but barely taller than Arthur. I like how you can “inspect site” and he’ll make a little sketch in his journal, and then you feel you’ve officially made note of it in some way…and yet you still know nothing about it, really.

Because isn’t the world kind of like that?

Butch:

Weird. I haven’t found that yet. Mostly because I have spent practically no time in the swamp. I’m still traumatized by Mafia 3.

I do seem to be good at finding houses full of dead people.

And a treasure!!!!!

Look for “face rock.”

Feminina:

I saw a poster for face rock last night. Close enough.

 

Another Day, Another Murder Scene

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Hear that? Seriously, listen. Hear that? That’s silence. That’s what it sounds like when no one is here.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

Ok, played some!

Went fishing with Keiran, and, gotta say, thought he was gonna betray me. The whole time I was all “and now we get shot….” but we didn’t! Kind of a nice aside. Of course, didn’t catch the legendary bass, and he was all “We need better bait,” to which I said “HA! Like THAT’S gonna happen.” Well, not really, but I sure thought it.

Then the game faked me out, as the game does. I thought “Oh, hey! Molly has a quest! I’ll go do that! It’s likely mellow” and that lasted ten seconds and then got sucked into the shooty shooty. It’s not that that was a bad quest, but game, if you’re going to make me do the quest right when I take it, you gotta be clear as to what kind of quest it is. I wasn’t in the mood to rob a stagecoach, and I didn’t think I was going to have to rob a stagecoach.

But rob I did.

And then, because irony, I was all messed up so I thought “Oh right! I can camp and cook some of this stuff that I’ve been lugging around to heal up!” So I hit camp and, in the little cutscene where the camera pulls back when you set up camp, I saw something I recognized.

From a treasure map.

Yup. Because I thought to camp right there, right then, I found a treasure, right after saying yesterday I never would.

Even when we plan NOT to do stuff, our plans fail.

But themeage!

So the thread I see in the fishing and the stagecoach comes down to loyalty. Arthur (and I) spent the fishing trip doubting Kieran’s loyalty to the gang, despite the fact he professed it. Arthur (and I) rolled our eyes at the idea that Uncle could pull his weight with the gang (that is, show loyalty) because he’s too stupid to do so even if he wanted to. Molly, in her brief ten seconds of her quest, seemed to imply that she cheated on Dutch, right? Even SHE wasn’t loyal. All this in a gang that says, on the surface, that they are tight knit, in it together.

Seems like bullshit.

What was the icing on the cake was the side dialog I caught between Dutch and Lenny about America being either an idea or a club. Did you catch that? I won’t spoil if you did.

Not a bad night.

Feminina:

Treasure!? Jealous! But not enough to bother hunting treasure myself. Maybe someday I’ll see it by accident while setting up camp.

I agree that it would be nice sometimes if you knew what you were getting into before you got into stuff. On the other hand, as we’ve discussed, it’s just imparting the valuable life lesson “never talk to anyone.” I basically just never say anything to anyone anymore unless I’m prepared for anything from two minutes of pleasant chat to a weeklong heist scheme.

And that’s only in real life! In the game, I’m even more cautious.

Hahahahaha.

Anyway…good thoughts about loyalty. I don’t know that I got that Molly had been cheating on Dutch, necessarily. Certainly she implied there were problems between them, but if there was anything specific about her seeking solace in the arms of another, I missed it. Which is entirely possible. But yeah, all is not well in that relationship, and cheating or no, that does speak to some underlying issues with the general image of perfect unity and gang togetherness that Dutch seems interested in.

Man, that stagecoach…Leviticus Cornwall again, eh?

I also kind of enjoyed the fishing trip with Kieran. And I even thought “sure, OK, I’ll pick up some better bait…sometime…” before promptly forgetting about it. So I meant well! Sort of.

I might as well just admit right now that I will never get around to getting better bait.

I don’t remember a conversation between Dutch and Lenny (LENNNNNNYYYYY!!!!) about America. I wonder if I just missed it entirely, or if it will come up again?

Butch:

It’s a lot of money and….ANOTHER MAP!

You’re laughing cuz it’s true.

Well, Molly didn’t say “We’re struggling” she said “I made a mistake…one mistake….” I was expecting her to say she was pregnant. All the same, one mistake sounds like an acute thing that Dutch obviously doesn’t know about yet. Nothing specific. She got interrupted.

Yup. Cornwall. And I liked that, even after knowing that, they didn’t say “Uh…no hard feelings…” and abandon the robbery. They just kinda sighed all “Well, this is going to be a pain in the ass, but whatever. Hand over the money.”

Like, dudes. You had an out, there.

Nope. Net getting good bait. Especially as the bait store is in the middle of nowhere.

It was a complicated conversation, and it was one of those “They’re just chatting in camp” deals. Basically, they were discussing if America is an idea, an idea where everyone can dream of freedom, or it’s a “club” where “certain people” can define what America is all about and shit on the rest of everyone. Dutch is lamenting that the “club” (which is very much not him) is winning. Basically, he didn’t say, but he’s talking about the rich and the “elites,” really. He ends it by saying “Well, I’m always going to cling to the fact that American is an idea,” to which Lenny replies “But the club is always gonna make the rules.”

Interesting.

Feminina:

Hm. That is an interesting conversation. So the takeaway is that it IS like a club (the club/elites in power do make the rules), and Dutch is clinging to a fantasy? But…is he wrong to cling to that ideal, given that elites making rules to benefit themselves is hardly a description of an egalitarian, fair-minded land of opportunity?

He could be seen–certainly I think he sees himself–as lodging a noble protest against an unjust order with his actions. “I’m not going to let the Man get me down!”

But then, as we’ve discussed before, how noble a protest is it when it hurts non-rich, non-elites more than the rich elites? And we can go back to Arthur’s statement to Sadie that the gang “robs folk that rob other folk” and generously interpret all of their train and stagecoach robberies as hurting the rich…but all the random people going about their business that you can rob if you want? The storekeepers? The people getting their bodies and houses shot up every time you get into a giant gunfight in the middle of a town?

Most interestingly, of course, the people getting threatened and beaten up for taking advantage of a perfectly legal service, and borrowing money? Hm.

And true, Molly did get interrupted, I remember that now…interesting. And then later…hm. Have you overheard her and Dutch arguing yet? All is not sweetness and light with that couple.

She’s definitely trying to tell someone something. I wonder how big a plot point this is going to be. I mean, yeah, could be “I made one mistake and kissed another man,” could be “I made one mistake and told the Pinkertons where camp is”…hard to say.

It’s true!–I was kind of amused by that. Even the coach drivers were all “dudes, you might want to call it off, this is Leviticus Cornwall’s money, we totally won’t think less of you if you just go home now” and they all say “damn it, what terrible luck!–but hey, we’ve already come out here, put our bandannas over our faces, our horses are already running…might as well go through with it.”

Butch:

Ooo! I didn’t even think her mistake could be endangering the gang! And no, I haven’t heard a fight. I shall keep my ears open.

It’s true, Dutch is kind of waging a protest against “The club” in order to keep on his “idea.” But then, isn’t the gang a club? Worse, isn’t it a club where one dude makes the rules? No democracy or real freedom in the gang. Even loyalty isn’t enough! Kieran says “I feel like I’m Kieran Van Der Linde than Kieran O’Driscoll and Arthur pooh poohs him, all “You’ll never be a Van Der Linde.”

Maybe the game is saying more that every club thinks it isn’t REALLY a club, that it’s the people with the good ideas!

What’s an interesting twist is that the one group that thought it had the right ideas and was dead honest about initiating people into its club was the Klan, who we were encouraged to fight.

Hmm.

Feminina:

Yeah! Maybe it’s about how every idea (about human society, anyway) becomes a rule-bound club in practice, or every club is based on an idea and how you feel about that depends on where you stand.

And, perhaps, that there will always be people who seek alternatives to the existing club, and who propose their own ideas that turn into clubs.

Some of us, maybe, just live with the club the way it is, whether that works for us (Leviticus Cornwall) or doesn’t (the family owing more than the farm is worth), and others break the rules without having any higher purpose than to get some money out of it (common outlaws, not like Dutch’s gang!), and some break the rules and/or leave the club because they want to replace it with something else (the cult we rescued Mary’s brother from, Dutch). And it’s hard to say, maybe even for the leaders of these alternatives, to what extent they sincerely believe in their own ideas, and to what extent they just don’t like the existing club because it doesn’t give them the chance to be as important as they feel like they should be.

Because one certainly gets the sense, of Dutch but also of many charismatic leaders with high-sounding ideas, that they’re not particularly motivated by a concern for the system’s unjustness to the average random person wandering around out there, so much as by a concern for its unjustness to themselves. Its failure to recognize them as the serious and important figures they are.

Which is indeed a major injustice! I seethe every day at the cruelty of a world which fails to acknowledge my awesomeness! Any day now I could snap and start a cult! Or shoot a bunch of people, which let’s be honest is definitely easier.

Just kidding. I’m way too cool to care whether or not the world acknowledges my awesomeness.

Butch:

You’re scaring me.

But on institutions and selfishness, you reminded me that I found something else last night.

You find a cottage with a murdered couple? And a dead woman outside with a letter?

Feminina:

Man, you are finding ALL the murder scenes in this game!

I have not seen that, no. I’ll have to…look around more. As soon as I have some spare time. To hunt for murder scenes.

Oh, and speaking of…nothing, really, but I wanted to mention it anyway, remember a bit ago you said “I bet you’ll have a long intro sequence when you first get to Saint Denis, even though you’ve been there before”?

Yup. Got that.

I figured Arthur was just pretending to be impressed, thinking “yeah, I definitely haven’t been here before several times watching vaudeville shows and collecting bounties and having my picture took and giving money to charity. No way. It’s all so new and exciting!”

Oh, but what WAS new and exciting about Saint Denis (possibly the neighborhood I was in this time) is that I finally saw some people of Chinese descent. So they do exist in the game! Even though they were (so far) just wandering background characters.

Butch:

Yeah….you kinda got off track there. An amazing unintentional magpie.

I dunno, man! I just knock on doors and stuff! There’s interesting stuff out there! Cigarette cards to find! Cheats to not find! That sort of thing!

Ah, there ya go! New and exciting!

Even with all the murder, I haven’t found any serial killer stuff.

I’m saying that to guarantee I find some tonight.

Feminina:

I don’t usually knock on doors. The people at campfires are usually so hostile that I figure people just don’t want to be bothered anywhere, unless they’re shouting for me.

Oh, and speaking of shouting for me, maybe the third time’s the charm. The convict in shackles who wants you to shoot them off? First time, I accidentally shot him, he ran off. Second time, I accidentally rode over him with my horse, he ran off. THIRD TIME, he for some reason dares to approach again, I miraculously didn’t injure him, did shoot his shackles off, and he gave me a tip about some house I could rob.

Which I promptly did not get around to robbing, but one never knows. Maybe it will have a lot of money. And/or a map I will never look at.

Butch:

Ooo! One of those! Yeah, weird stalker guy with nude pictures gave me a tip like that!

Damned if I know where it is.

“Hey! There’s a house you could rob!”
“Where?”
“By a tree! Bye now!”
****pause****
“Great.”

Maybe all the people I could rob are dead.

There’s a lot of dead people. Though the first place I found wasn’t all that themey. Last night….sorta.

Oh, and what did you make of the fact that….ok. So remember the shootout in the barn? That burns? That I did last night in that wagon robbery mission? Remember how the bounty hunters go to the main house first and someone answers? Well, wound up back there, and went to check out the house and, what do you know, there’s a notice saying that the house was foreclosed and repossessed in 1895. Four years ago. But someone was THERE in the mission!

Huh.

Feminina:

I noticed that too! Shootout in the burning barn was very memorable, and then I went back to that place later and it was all locked up/foreclosed, and I thought…huh?

Someone was definitely there before. And maybe they were squatters, except they were acting pretty confident, answering the door with a lamp and telling the posse no one had come to the house.

Although maybe it was a squatter who recognized the sound of a posse and figured he’d better just answer the door if he didn’t want the posse to tear the house apart and possibly shoot him thinking he was a skulking outlaw. In any case, I felt slightly less bad about having been the cause of that barn burning to the ground, knowing no one was officially living there anyway.

Butch:

Yeah!

At first I thought it was just one of those fiats of game design, the whole “Ok, this place has served its purpose in the game…nothing else to see here.” That happens all the time in games, right? But this game hasn’t been lazy like that. They have no problem at least throwing an empty place with some canned peaches in. So why this, why now?

Hmm.

Feminina:

And I thought maybe it was another feature of games, the re-used environment…maybe it wasn’t really meant to be the SAME house, it was just built by the same contractor, you know? But it really seemed like the same place.

So I don’t know. Perhaps it will come up again.

Butch:

Oh it was the same place. Guaranteed.

Don’t get it.

I do like how this game is so complete that when something seems lazy we’re all “It HAS to matter!” We never say that in games!

We’d have driven ourselves crazy doing that in MEA.

Feminina:

We shall see. Or not, and then we’ll say “oh well, I guess it wasn’t THAT complete after all.”

Still Backwaters Run Deep

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Played a little!

Did what I think was your bugged quest. Moonshine? Braithwaites? Raiders? That sort of thing? I’m guessing because I was toodling through it, and got to a point where it said “Go left/go right” and immediately panicked, tried to remember which one you did that bugged it, and froze for, like, thirty seconds wildly thinking. Couldn’t remember, but whatever. No bug.

So the thing that makes me ponder is Dutch’s reaction to the whole situation. Specifically, he said “We have finally found a backwater so backwards that even we are geniuses.”

This game is being HARSH to the whole idea of Lemoyne and the raiders. Now, that could be just lazy because the game needs more Kevin. Racist scumbags who want to bring back slavery are easy Kevin, and games need some degree of Kevin. That said, Lemoyne sure feels symbolic, and, if it is, the game’s judgment of it speaks loudly.

Yes, part of that is that the game, rightly, is denouncing the ideals of the Confederacy in general. That’s easy. But if Lemoyne is a stand in for the south in general, even the modern south, painting it as a backwater filled with stupid people is intentionally playing into a stereotype, and an intentionally judgmental stereotype at that.

I’ve said that the metaphor reads, to me, as Dutch’s gang playing the part of people who (futilely) cling to the present and the Raiders playing the part of people who (futilely) cling to the past. I see no reason to change my mind. But to have one group be so dismissive of the other is saying what? Is it just supposed to be ironic? Are we supposed to think that Dutch’s gang isn’t all that far from idiots who live in backwaters themselves and Dutch fails to realize it? Or are we supposed to think that Dutch’s gang really is a bunch of geniuses compared to the raiders without any irony? Maybe a little of both?

I don’t know. That sure was a loaded line. How’d you read it?

Feminina:

That’s the one! I originally went left and that’s when Dutch and the deputy got stuck starting into space, but it probably wasn’t specifically about one direction. Glad it didn’t show up for you.

The game is extremely harsh toward Lemoyne and the Raiders. Even though, if you listen to their arguments at all, they don’t sound THAT different from Dutch’s own ambitions. Living free from the tyranny of the US government and all.

And yeah, the big difference is that they implicitly want to return to slavery, whereas Dutch’s gang is quite egalitarian, and that is indeed a significant difference, but I’m struck by how oblique it is. I mean, they never SAY anything about that, do they?

Which I guess is fairly representative of the way the whole narrative of “oh it wasn’t about slavery, it was about state’s rights! (to have slavery)” started to take hold almost immediately after the war. Maybe the game is kind of referencing the way history gets rewritten all the time (we’ve certainly seen this before in references to the mythologizing of the West), and reminding us that fancy words can be used to justify a lot of things, including slave holding, so we have to be careful of fancy words…?

Including Dutch’s, to be sure. And maybe there’s a bit there about how you can’t just go by words, you have to look at what people do… Whether that’s fight to uphold slavery, or allow people of all races equitably into your outlaw gang.

As for Dutch’s comment, indeed, interesting. It’s a bit of an acknowledgement (though in a joking manner) that maybe Dutch isn’t quite as smart as he thinks. “Even we” who aren’t that bright, look smart! And yeah, the “backwater” comment makes one think of “backward,” and that connection of people holding onto the past (reaching backward) compared to Dutch’s holding onto the fading present (reaching not quite as far backward, but certainly not forward) is telling.

I think there’s also perhaps a touch of overconfidence… “These people are a bunch of backwater hicks, this will be easy!” Hm. We’ll see whether or not everything goes as smoothly as Dutch expects. I wonder if he’s being overly dismissive of the potential difficulties, just as he apparently tends to be (always optimistically telling people that things are going to be great soon, right after whatever big thing is underway…).

And maybe there’s a subtle bit there about how widespread the stereotypes of southern hicks are, and the problems of judging by stereotypes…hm.

Butch:

Figured. There was a moment of pure bug terror, as I did not have extra time to go back and do it again.

I have not yet heard any implicit references to upholding slavery. Yes, saw Klansmen. The deputy did rather snarkily say that the Braithwaites’ fortunes were reduced by a “change in labor laws,” but no, I have not heard much about slavery.

But then, historically, the lower class Confederates didn’t really fight for slavery per se. Sure, the politicians and the Braithwaites did, but the vast majority of Southerners did not own slaves, and were too poor to ever dream of it. We certainly get the sense that the raiders aren’t the former rich of the south, so maybe they aren’t really about slavery. Still, it’s easy to lump them into “racist scum so Kevin.”

That said, the raiders REALLY aren’t egalitarian. Sure, we get a sense they’re racist and wouldn’t let the likes of Lenny or Charles or Javier join them. But, shit, they don’t like ANYONE. Even Dutch and Arthur! Dutch and Arthur are white, and they don’t exactly go around preaching acceptance as soon as they walk into town. Still, the Raiders make a point of scowling at Arthur all “This is Lemoyne territory” right off the bat. It was hardly “Welcome to white paradise, white brother!”

Dutch has many flaws, to be sure, but ultimately he wants to be left alone. He isn’t actively fighting anything. He isn’t a veteran of a war that he lost. The Raiders are still actively fighting, are veterans of a war they lost. Dutch doesn’t really see “enemies.” The raiders do.

Well, hmm. I take that back. He sees the O’Driscolls as enemies, but that seems far more personal, not so much “I must eradicate this force that is against my way of life.”

Though, what did you make of Arthur’s aside about Dutch not liking Lemoyne because Dutch was “trying to avenge his father” (who I suppose died at Gettysburg, maybe)?

As for his underestimating… Do you know something I don’t?

Feminina:

I know many things you don’t, for I am 45% done. I’ve been places, seen things, done things you can’t imagine. The horror! The horror.

And still only 45%. I’m not sure this game is ever going to end.

Butch:

Nah, it’ll end. I’ve noticed that every time I study something in my vain pursuit of a perfect rabbit I get, like, .2%, which adds up. We never, EVER get close to 100% completion, even in games we adore, so when you figure how much this game has that we will cheerfully either ignore or not give a fuck about (animals, hunting, crafting, legendary animals, cigarette cards, challenges, dinosaur bones of which I have found exactly 0 out of 30), we’ll be WAAAAAY short of 100% completion. I bet, 45%, you’re 3/4 done. Seriously. If you go to “completion,” it even separates out “story” from “overall,” and the percentage on your save is, I think, overall.

And when you figure we’ve only been playing this about six weeks, I figure you have another two, three weeks before the credits roll. Four at the most.

That’ll mean we’ll get through it in half the time it took us to play Divinity. Not that long.

I think it’s kinda Skyrimesque in that you can do a lot of it, and get through the story, in a couple of months, or, if you like, you can play forever, which is why people say it’s so big.

Even though I like it more than you do, I don’t want to play forever.

Feminina:

You think? I feel like every time I complete a yellow or white mission I get about 1%, which adds up but so…slowly….

Of course you’re right, we never get to 100%, so if it finishes the main story at 70% or something… Yeah, I guess.

I have not found any dinosaur bones either. I’d like to help that lady, but…eh. I’ve found about three total cigarette cards. No anything for the taxidermist, nothing for the guy who wants cave paintings, no clues on the serial killer.

I’ve helped the photographer a few more times, because he actually shows up on the map. I mean, I’d be all about finding things for people if there were any indication of where to look, but I’m not going to just roam the range forever waiting to spot something someone wants.

It’s a kindness on the game’s part, really. If all these things were on the map, I would be obsessively hunting them all down, but because they aren’t, my laziness can get the better of my obsessiveness, and I didn’t have to spend an additional six weeks finding mosaic shards or Animus fragments.

Thanks, game! We’ve had our issues, but you did me a solid on this one.

Butch:

Cave paintings? I haven’t even met that dude.

Did find that dream catcher. One of twenty!

So I’ll be nineteen short.

I only find cards by accident. The dude only wants complete sets, and every time I find one it’s a new set. I have one of twelve in maybe ten sets.

Dudes gonna be waiting a while. Like, forever.

I totally forgot about the serial killer.

So see? That percentage is misleading.

Feminina:

Yeah, there’s a guy who wants you to find paintings. Or I guess maybe they’re rock carvings, not cave paintings. Can’t remember. Oh, and a guy who wants you to catch giant fish for him, did you meet him? There are a lot of “finding the thing” quests in here.

I expect I will complete zero of them. So good point, the percentage is misleading. I mean, even if all those find quests are only a percent each, that’s, like 87% of the total!

I jest. But you’re right, it does suggest there’s not THAT much left. I just got to chapter four! That’s got to mean something.

Butch:

Oooo! Chapter four! Am I close?

I met fish guy. I like the idea of a “Legendary Catfish.”

“Son, when I finally catch him, I’m gonna whip up some extra remoulade and we shall eat mightily!”

I’m not catching anything because I’m not schlepping out to the bait store which is in the middle of nowhere just to catch fish. Nope. I can’t catch it with cheese, it ain’t getting caught. Even then, it’s damn unlikely to be caught.

I believe in living free, whether you’re an outlaw or a tasty catfish.

I did, once, try to find a dinosaur bone. I was in this gully, and the dirt was all exposed, and I said “That’s the kind of place that would have dinosaur bones!” I don’t know why I said that, as what the fuck do I know about finding dinosaur bones? So I looked, realized I have no idea what they look like, figured that was in character, and moved on.

Feminina:

Well, you still have a fair amount of stuff to do in Rhodes and the surrounding area, but after that, chapter four!

I would have looked there for dinosaur bones! But I didn’t. Because in-character, what does Arthur know about that?

Moving on makes sense.

All the World’s a Stage, and All the Painted Mountain Lions Merely Players

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the Margaret storyline in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Ok, phew, played. PHEW!

But, gotta warn you, if you haven’t done what I did, you may not think I played and that I’m still bonkers.

Here’s what I did: I found a dude on a hill who told me he found a widow in a home, and she must’ve liked him because she told him to go away so nicely. He rode off after “recognizing” Arthur. He left behind a tent with a lot of dirty pictures, handcuffs and a doll. (This game does have its share of creepy.)

Then I found an unrelated (I think) abandoned cottage. I kicked in the door, and found an entire family murdered mid meal. Still sitting around like everything was normal. Couldn’t make heads or tails of it, but found a book for Jack and a pen for Mary. (This game does have its share of creepy.)

And then….I swear I’m not bonkers….I did a whole quest…really, I’m not…that entailed….don’t judge…retrieving a menagerie of animals for a British drag queen.

Which had themes! And it was real! Unless I was really tired and hallucinating.

That’s what I did. Did you do that? Please say you did that.

Feminina:

Wow, you did a lot of stuff! Nice!

I have not done either of the first two things you mention, so it’s possible you’re hallucinating, but I DID do the entire Margaret quest. That was a thing, all right. Several things.

Stagecraft, for one. There was a lot about showing people what they want to see, and they’ll be happy to believe it because it’s wondrous and entertaining. And at the same time, Margaret himself is kind of seeing the entire west the way he wants to see it–Daddy thought it was a stupid idea to come here to make his fortune, but this is his land of opportunity and he’s going to be famous!

And there’s a bit about gender, although this is also about stagecraft, because according to Margaret it’s much more impressive to see a WOMAN animal trainer and so that’s what people will want…and apparently they’ll be satisfied enough with seeing it that they won’t care if it’s actually a lushly mustached man in a dress. It highlights the way a costume, almost by itself, has the power to create a character (in this case, the character of “woman animal trainer”) for the purposes of a show.

But that almost makes you think of Arthur’s “summer gunslinger” and “winter gunslinger” outfits, and reflect on how he himself, even though he IS an outlaw, is to some extent also playing the part of an outlaw, in his own mind and to the rest of the gang.

“This is how we dress in this gang…this is how we act…these are the things we do.”

Which leads us back to social roles, and how we’re all playing different parts at different times, not in an insincere way but simply based on the different contexts in which we operate throughout the day…I play a different role, and present myself in a different way, at work than at home, etc.

Margaret is playing a rather more obvious role than most of the characters in the game, but he’s here in pursuit of his ‘American Dream,’ just as Dutch and the gang are in pursuit of theirs. And in the long run, his is perhaps no more a fantasy than theirs.

Margaret is also interesting because rather than trying to show the West to other areas (like Albert Mason the photographer, or the guy who wants perfect pelts for taxidermy, or whatever), he’s trying to bring other areas to the West. He sees the west not as some uncharted wilderness to be explored and sent back home, but as someplace with an existing culture that might be interested in things that would also be interesting ‘back home.’ Like lions and tigers and fearless woman animal trainers!

Obviously, the uncharted wilderness viewpoint is willfully incorrect given that the west was already fairly full of people and existing culture…maybe Margaret actually proposes a better way. Stagecraft and dreams for peace!

Or maybe he’s just a cheap huckster who follows in the wake of colonization to sell fakery to the rubes. Reckless and dangerous fakery at that!

And speaking of danger, then there’s the matter of reality! Even when he’s not faking, he’s incompetent! People are going to get hurt!

Yes, there’s a lot there. Margaret is rather fascinating.

DISCUSS.

Butch:

Dude, it was either do stuff or madness. MADNESS!!!!!

That it was a thing with Margaret, that it was. And the two other things weren’t “doing” things, per se. They were stumbling upon things. (Shit! I forgot! I also tossed a stick of dynamite into a Klan rally and killed everyone and got…dialog. TOO MUCH TO BLOG! Later on that.) I’ve noticed there’s stuff worth finding off the road.

I shall discuss!

Stagecraft, indeed. I do rather like when art discusses art.

Yes, Margaret does have a romantic “Came here to earn my fortune” bullshit view of the west. That he does. That said, it seems he knows it, and he accepts it. It’s similar to the way that he doesn’t really apologize for being fake himself. He says, and who are we to argue, that his audience, at least at some level, knows that his show is just that: a show. We go to see Wicked on Broadway and sure, we know that the witch isn’t really flying at the end of act one, that it’s just an actress on a wire, but who cares? It’s a show! Margaret is of the same opinion both for his show and for the larger show of the American West and America in general. “Sure, America is bullshit, the American dream is bullshit, but we can know that and still enjoy it, right?” “RIGHT????” (Not saying I have an answer to that, or the game does.)

What do you make of the fact that the quest name itself draws attention to the fact he’s foreign? The name of the quest is, oddly, “Of course he’s British.”

As for your “even when he’s not faking, he’s reckless and dangerous,” yes, but I think the lion had more to say than that. Admit it: you were surprised as hell that that was a lion. I sure was. Arthur sure was. That was a hell of a good twist. After all his weary “Guys, it’s just a dog, let me in,” to those poor, doomed dudes (I felt bad about them), to that, to him being so exasperated with Margaret (“It could have been a goose for all I knew!” “I told you it was a lion!” “Yeah….but…..”). All that said, I don’t think it was there to say “Margaret was reckless or bad.” I think it was there to say “Wait a minute….even when we’re putting on a show, telling a story, looking back at a way of life, whatever, in a way that is obviously steeped in bullshit, that doesn’t mean it’s ALL bullshit. Some of it can be true. Some of it probably is. Why were you so quick to make the assumption that nothing here CAN be true?” Then it doubles down: The TRUE THING here was the ONLY thing in the whole quest that could kill you. The danger was the reality, and it was the reality that we blithely assumed wasn’t real. Shit, the danger was reality, and it was the reality we blithely assume COULDN’T BE real.

Gender sure is a thing here. I found it interesting that the game staunchly refused to call Margaret anything but Margaret. Often, in games, in situations like this, the sidekick or whoever will eventually roll his or her eyes and be all “Oh, stop it, your name is Edward” or something. Here, he’s Margaret all the way through. Even Sally calls him “Mr. Margaret.” Margaret, and the game, never broke character. Or maybe his name really IS Margaret? Why am I assuming?

I found the whole return conversation to be fascinating. Sally all “I want to be the second best female animal trainer someday!” Even she was conceding that Margaret was the best “female” trainer! What’s more, here’s Arthur all “Maybe the best female should be female..” and “You can do it” and encouraging her. Arthur is many things: sexist isn’t one of them. He has no issue with the idea of women wrangling wild beasts or doing anything else. (He’s not a racist, either. Remind me about the Klan and dynamite.) That said, the game doesn’t get heavy handed about that. We don’t get a scene (like we would in some games) with Arthur lecturing Margaret all “You know, Sally can do her own thing” and then getting mad when Margaret is all “What, a woman?” Arthur listens, says his piece, rides off.

That’s good stuff about playing a part and roles and all that. I keep forgetting this game has NPCs that treat you differently based on your hair. It’s true: gunslinger and all that. Shit, I even put on a new outfit when I go to fancy places because it’s nice and I like it and it’s called ‘The Ruffian’ and how cool is that?

But yes, I certainly see how Arthur (and most of everyone, really) is playing the part of whatever. I’ve said before: Arthur isn’t, at heart, as bad a guy as he thinks he is, or as bad a guy as he thinks he has to look like. He’s playing the part of an outlaw. More, he’s playing the part of the stone killer who is close to the gang leader, not the planner, the butcher, the whatever.

Hmm. There is a lot here.

Feminina:

I think you made the right choice. I mean, madness is also entertaining, up to a point, but it eventually takes a toll.

I stumbled on a small Klan gathering at one point, two guys in the woods attempting to raise a cross while another one ordered them around. I sauntered up to them all casual-like, meaning to see if they had any conversation or anything that we could discuss later, but I must have startled them or bumped into them or something, because I swear the next thing that happened was that the two guys somehow dropped the cross on themselves and apparently were crushed to death, and the other guy panicked (as one might, I suppose) and tried to shoot me, so I obviously had to shoot him.

So yeah. No love for the racist viewpoint. Also true that Arthur seems to have no beef with women doing whatever–he didn’t object to Sadie’s trousers, doesn’t have any negative comments about Sally wanting to train animals instead of keep house like a normal woman. Nor did he have any real concerns with Margaret wearing a dress–plenty of people would see cross-dressing as an abomination, but he barely bats an eye.

He’s quite broad-minded in social matters.

Also yeah, I was completely surprised to find that the lion was actually a lion. I thought it would be a dog like the other ‘lion’! Or, as you quote Arthur, it could have been a goose for all we knew–but certainly not actually a lion. (A touch of the boy who cried wolf, here?)

I felt bad about the dude it killed and ate, even as I also felt kind of bad about shooting it. It wasn’t the lion’s fault it was thousands of miles from its natural habitat and probably mad with the trauma of being locked in a tiny cage for years.

But I think the game is only partly saying that amid all the fakery we lose track of the fact that some things are real, and dangerous–that is definitely true, but it’s also true that some of the fakery is itself dangerous. Margaret’s tiger was ‘only’ a mountain lion, but as evidenced by the dead dog, a mountain lion is still nothing to sneeze at. So there’s something interesting in there about dressing up very real, local dangers in more interesting and ‘exotic’ colors for the sake of show…a mountain lion IS actually scary, but it’s not scary in an interesting way, so we have to paint it up for the stage.

Maybe something about how we hide real danger behind pretend danger, and then convince ourselves it’s all under control because it’s only pretend? And maybe this is part of the ‘taming’ of the west itself–dressing up the very real hardships and dangers (getting mauled by cougars or shot by outlaws IS in fact a risk) as something exotic and almost glamorous, and selling that image, and making it seem appealing that way.

I don’t know.

I also don’t know quite what to make of “Of course he’s British.” I guess…obviously British guys wear dresses? Or maybe in this time, in the popular imagination, British people are just kind of wacky and who knows what they’ll do? There’s also a possible undertone there of “oh, it’s harmless, he’s just British” which suggests that maybe Margaret can get away with being weird because he’s a foreigner–but a familiar, basically harmless variety of foreigner. It makes me seriously wonder if he even IS British, or if that’s part of the act. Certainly much of his story about coming from a fine estate and daddy not wanting him to leave, or whatever, is likely made up. And the enormous gem he pays you with–did that not scream ‘fake’ to you?

Arthur took it and was happy with it, and I donated it to camp where it was apparently worth $50, so no harm done, but a gem of that size? I don’t see how that could be genuine. Again, everyone’s happy with it, but it smacks of more showmanship.

And maybe even the fact that everyone’s happy with it is part of the theme…Margaret tells us that people want to see a certain thing and he gives it to them and everyone is happy. So, Arthur wanted to see a big jewel, and he got one, and he’s happy! And if everyone buys the fantasy, including whomever camp apparently sold the gem to, then…it IS real, in a way, isn’t it?

Its value is genuine if someone’s willing to pay for it. And that’s the same way that Margaret’s show is genuine, and maybe that’s the same way that the legend of the Wild West is genuine.

I’m very curious if we’ll meet Margaret and/or Sally again.

Butch:

“madness is also entertaining, up to a point, but it eventually takes a toll.”

T SHIRT!!!!

Ah, ok. On the Klan, I had a thing last night, really a revisit of a thing, cuz the first time I saw it I tried to intervene and got very killed. This was a while ago.

Anyhoo, it’s night, and there’s a big ol’ burning cross, and a bunch of Klan dudes all “welcoming in another brother to the fold” and having speeches and initiations and all that. Themewise, there was quite a bit of talk about how Congress was imposing their will too much on these lands, and it was up to them to keep things the way they should be blah blah blah. Yet more “America is becoming a nation of laws….” but instead of “And that’s bad cuz cowboys!” it was more a sense of “And that’s ok cuz without laws we have this Klan stuff.”

Anyway, I knew that if I peacefully intervened they’d shoot me, but I couldn’t let Klan shit stand so I chucked a stick of dynamite in, blew about 11 of them up (Dear GOD dynamite is great) and the other, well, he took umbrage, tried to shoot me, so I killed him.

And two more themey things happened: First, Arthur, with much anger, after killing the last one growls “I’ll kill each and every one of you hooded fuckers” or something along those lines. Like, it is the only time we’ve really seen Arthur be all flaming sword of justice, but he was. This wasn’t a “you messed with me, so growl,” this was legit “I hate these racists.” Hmm.

Second, on the body of the initiate, I found a letter he was going to send home (had he not met dynamite) to his father, explaining that, despite his father’s pleas he cannot ignore the science of eugenics, cannot ignore the fact that whites are better blah blah blah so he’s going to the West where he can be with people who think like he does and all that. It’s yet more “I’m going to show my parents….I’ll find a place to be me in that place out West where everything’s possible.” Instead of it being rather amusing and about dressing as a woman with animals, it’s racist and disgusting.

But, in the end, the same.

Arthur’s broad-minded in some ways, but, again, not really class matters. His eye rolling was more “People actually PAY for this? Why?” He’s very practical, Arthur.

And, strangely, honest. He’s an admitted killer and robber and criminal, but he just plain doesn’t like the idea of fooling people. Given he’s likely fooling himself, we’ll talk. Later.

I felt bad about the lion, too. Not so bad that I took the trophy that let me craft the lion talisman and get a perk. You DID do that, right?

Your take makes a lot of sense. Also explains the very dangerous, yet glamorized, outlaw having sympathy for the very dangerous, yet glamorized, cougar. Did you catch that Arthur, when locking in the cougar, apologizes to it, in a whisper Sally can’t hear? He knows what it’s like when the outsiders come to tame you, better than most.

Oh the gem screamed “fake” from the rooftops. I half expected the quest to end with Arthur yelling “Hey! This is glass!” and there being an annoying chase scene.

I don’t see how it could be real, either. I showed it to the fence that made my talisman, and he was gonna give me fifty bucks, too, but I kept it cuz it said “unique item.” It’ll still be there at the end of the game, next to other shit I could have sold.

Pretty excellent stuff. Game and bloggage.

I kinda hope we meet them again. They were interesting.

I want to say here: This was a random encounter side quest. It had themes up to and including the value of the “gem” we got as a reward. We got more interesting thought out of this one damn quest than we did out of half of Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Every single little detail was tailored to support the theme.

Liking this game yet?

Feminina:

Ah, interesting. Indeed, everyone has a different dream for the vast, open country of the West.

Some want to get rich laying railroads and establishing banks. Some want to farm on their own homesteads. Some want to live free of the crushing grip of civilization. Some want to live free of the crushing grip of having to pretend they think non-white people are human.

This is a particularly interesting note in this context, given that the entire project of westward expansion is based on the idea that the non-white people who already lived all over that country were less human and could be pushed aside or eliminated without guilt.

“Hey, oppressive civilization is making some feeble gestures toward recognizing the rights of black people in the south, so let’s head west where it continues to not give a rat’s ass about the rights of Indians!”

We haven’t even seen any Chinese people that I can think of, but let’s also not forget that Chinese immigrants built huge parts of the transcontinental railroad not that long ago in game time (trains: those mighty symbols of encroaching civilization, and also those brand new targets for outlaw attacks!), and as a friendly reward they were being treated like a terrifying menace, what with the Chinese Exclusion Act.

There’s a whole system of underground tunnels and rooms and stuff in the town of my birth, in the west, and there’s a rather cool tour about the history of it, and one of the things I remember learning was that at one point there were Chinese railroad workers in town for a while and they all had to live in this underground space and couldn’t go out at night because they’d get attacked on the streets if they were seen by the residents.

Good times. Good, wholesome times in the wide, free country of the west.

Butch:

Yup. I still am curious as to what, if anything, will lead us up to that Indian reservation in the north, there. Maybe it’s something we’re just supposed to find. I dunno. The dreamcatchers? We shall see. I hope it’s interesting.

Well, the Lemoyne raiders are a big part of that idea, right? Though there it’s not just “oppressive civilization” it’s “northern aggression” or whatever. There, again, those are bad guys. They’re almost instant Kevin.

We have not seen Chinese people, though, in my vain search for more cheat codes, I bought a paper and there was an article about the Chinese Exclusion Act. The paper seems to vacillate between providing ambiance and setting up later events, so I wonder which this reference was, but it was there, I’ll give it that.

Traditional values, man. Americana.

Admit it: You’re liking this game.

Feminina:

I don’t know if ‘like’ is really the word I’d use. I think I like talking about it more than I like actually playing it. It’s certainly very intellectually enjoyable–lots of discussion points and conversation topics. Plenty to say. Good blog-fodder for sure.

When it comes to actually playing it…I don’t know. Some things about it are fun. It’s very pretty. I get into the groove of riding around and it’s cool. Sometimes there’s entertaining dialogue. The fishing was fun.

But I also kind of just want to finish it so I can be done with it.

I skip some nights, even if I have the time to play, because I can’t be bothered to load it. Like, it’s just not worth it to me at that moment to switch the TV from Netflix to this game. Which is not a ringing endorsement of how much I like playing it.

I mean, I don’t hate it. And it hasn’t reduced me to screaming white-hot rage in a while. And as I said, I’m enjoying TALKING about playing it.

Maybe it’s just that “play first” is a necessary prerequisite to “talk later,” but “talk later” is actually what’s more interesting to me in this case.

I dunno.

Butch:

I’ll take that. Talking later is fun.

It is different, I’ll give it that.

But I gotta say, especially given the rather chaotic nature of life in the last few months, I’m kinda liking the ability to just ride around or fish in the evening if I feel like it.

And it does have mad bloggage.

Though really, if the only nudity I get is the weird, grainy pictures the guy from yesterday had, I call false advertising.

Feminina:

It does have a great deal of bloggage.

So far, I haven’t even seen that nudity, so no help there. But I’ve been to vaudeville shows in the big city! I’ve seen…[whispers]…drawers. It was utterly scandalous.

Butch:

I’ve…..searched drawers in this game.

The humanity.

I’m sitting here planning yet another trip. My parental/family/sibling thing this year looks like Miami. Looks nice. We need that travel bloggage!

Though I’m going to have that Will Smith song in my head for months.

Party in the City where the heat is on….

Help.

Feminina:

[Whispers] Ladies’ under-drawers. They did the…the can-can. I nearly swooned with the shock.

Butch:

Oh my….

Oh. My.

Now all you need is a game where brooding, bearded dudes with exoskeletons and/or heavy armor do the can-can.

NEW SENTENCE!

Feminina:

I’m going to love that game. And maybe the can-can will replace Will Smith in your head! Win-win!

Fine Points of Horses and Food

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No real spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Well, needless to say, didn’t play. I am starting to feel like myself again, though. Choked down a sandwich last night, got some sleep, no longer always freezing, etc. So now that I can safely conclude that all five us NOW have had this, I can make up for lost time gamewise.

But here’s some FITNESS!

It shows you might have a problem when one of the worst things about a stomach bug is the terrible, TERRIBLE headache you get the next day because you couldn’t drink coffee.

Now, people might think the FITNESS thing here is a tip that you shouldn’t get so dependent on caffeine that you spend a whole day suffering terribly when you can’t drink it. But please, people. We might be a little unusual here at PFTL, be we aren’t crazy.

I’m just complaining. It’s how we do.

This is good coffee right here.

Feminina:

It is how we do! I mean, all our complaints about video games could be easily addressed in our own lives by just not playing them, but that’s a ridiculous idea. Complaining is much more interesting.

Butch:

T SHIRT!!!!

This is very good coffee. I’m gonna get more.

Feminina:

Excellent. I’m glad you’re able to enjoy the delicious little things in life once more. It’s a sure sign of being nearly well enough to play and complain about games!

I played some, but we’ll talk about it later.

Butch:

Yes, later. Have to replenish my stamina core.

Gotta get some canned sweet corn.

Feminina:

Don’t forget that jar of salted offal! Always gives a nice boost.

Butch:

Nothing gets you over a terrible stomach bug like salted offal!

You know, I still have that in game, just because I can’t even bring myself to make Arthur eat it.

Feminina:

I know what you mean! I actually had him eat it the other day just because I was thinking “I can’t throw it away because I might need it for health sometime, and yet I can’t stand to look at it, so–down the hatch it goes!”

Arthur made no comment, and it gave him a bit of health, but I made a face.

It’s probably no worse than haggis, when you think about it. Which I will continue to try not to do.

Butch:

Dude, I’m not entirely over this bug. No need to be more nauseating.

Let’s stick to canned sweet corn.

Feminina:

Maybe some assorted biscuits.

Butch:

Them, too.

I can’t believe we’re talking about food, today of all days.

On game food, I want props: the best food is the oatcakes, yes? Restores a bunch of stuff. And yet, I haven’t eaten but one.

I save them for Roach.

I’m such a softie.

Feminina:

I like to save them for the horse, too! Apples too. Because I love my horse.

Right now I’m working on bonding with a new horse, just for a change and to give my last one a break. I’d been riding that pinto that you pick up at the very beginning of the game, but then I found this other horse that originally belonged to a guy I met on a debt collecting quest, and I rode it for a while until it became mine, and then stabled…uh…’Tennessee Walker’ the pinto (have you found out how to rename a horse that you don’t buy, just acquire somewhere?). Who, incidentally, I don’t believe is actually a Tennessee Walker, unless there’s some special trick to unlocking his trademark gait. But hey, I can’t be bothered, and he’s still served me well and deserves a break in a nice cushy stable while I ride ‘Morgan’ around. Also a breed name, but I figured one that Arthur would be naturally drawn to.

I tried to get a ‘Shire’ (one of the big carthorses) last night, but couldn’t seem to get to a point where I could brush or feed it to induce bonding, and then there was a cutscene after which I was back with Morgan. I just kind of wanted one of the big ones! In case I need to plow some fields, or ride into battle in full plate mail! Another time.

Butch:

Roach LOVES sugar cubes. Those are for special occasions. Like surviving a gun fight.

I think you can do everything horse in the stables, including renaming them. I don’t know. I haven’t looked into it, as Roach is perfect the way he is.

And it is a he.

Only thing I’ve used the stables for is retrieving Roach one time when he got lost. That’s handy.

Feminina:

Are you SURE it’s a he? Does Arthur say “whoa, boy” and the like? Because that expensive horse was definitely a mare when Mr. O’ bought it.

Not that it couldn’t be coded to be randomly one or the other, given it makes no real difference in gameplay.

And not that I care one way or the other, really. I believe there’s a long history of depicting great generals and so forth on their favorite horses and portraying the horses as stallions even if they weren’t, because it’s so much more manly. So, you know, hallowed tradition, family values, etc.

Butch:

He certainly says boy all the time. Every time.

Maybe Roach’s very long tail is confusing him.

Feminina:

No, no, I believe Arthur. He undoubtedly knows more about it than either of us, so if he says ‘boy,’ it’ll be a male.

My first two were ‘boy,’ but Morgan is ‘girl.’ They’ve all served me equally well.

I mean, aside from the fact that Morgan did kick me to death when we first met. I don’t hold it against her–I was a total stranger after all. And now I can feel confident she will also kick to death any random stranger who tries to steal her from me. At least until they hit square to ‘calm’ a few times and feed her some apples.

Butch:

You’ve done the tame thing? I have not. Every time I see a wild horse I think about it, then I can hear Roach being all “Don’t even think about it.” So I feel guilty and give him a beet.

Feminina:

Yeah, this was the first time I did it in a sustained enough way that it actually worked. I figured ol’ Tennessee Walker deserved a break, and there was this other horse all abandoned…not ‘wild,’ exactly, I’ve never captured an unsaddled horse and made it mine, but this one…let’s just say her master had fallen prey to an unfortunate accident and would not be needing her anymore.

And I may have been right about Tennessee needing a break, because when I took him to the stable the guy was all “have you even been feeding him?!”

To which I indignantly responded “of course! Well…sometimes. When I have a handful of sage available.”

It’s not my fault, I ran out of biscuits a long time ago! I brush him all the time, though.

Butch:

Oh, that’s cold. Implied horse abuse.

Just go off trail from time to time and load up on wild carrots. Roach loves them. Not as much as sugar cubes, but loves them.

Feminina:

Yeah, that accusation cut me to the quick. I know I don’t remember to feed Arthur enough, but neglecting his horse? I would never!

Not on purpose, anyway.

Butch:

Not your fault. No matter what, the food in the old west had no calories. I’ve been actively trying to beef up Arthur and nothing. All the stew, chocolate and catfish on earth can’t do it.

You got no hope if all ya got is carrots.

Feminina:

So true. It was a hard time. Their chocolate bars must have been the size of postage stamps, and/or as much sawdust and candle wax as food (this was, after all, before the advent of food safety regulations).

You couldn’t get fat if you tried! And you did!

Butch:

I had, like, five plates of catfish at that place in Rhodes! And nothing!

Small portions, I guess.

Maybe I should just camp and eat all my meat. If that doesn’t work, what will?

Why are we talking about this today? I’m still not 100%.

Feminina:

Outlook’s suggested responses:

“I don’t know.”
“I will tell you later.”
“It’s a mistake.”

I actually kind of like all of those!

“I don’t know” is quite true, “I will tell you later” suggests I have a sinister motive that will be revealed (suspense!) and “It’s a mistake” is also true and an all-around good answer to many things.

Make Arthur have a nap. Maybe he’s just tired.

Butch:

Those are good!

I still don’t get suggestions! I wonder why.

I always forget to sleep.

T SHIRT!!!

Sorta like pomade. I think I might do some pomade before checking out the Grays. Wanna look legit.

Feminina:

I usually forget to sleep too. No wonder we can’t gain weight! We’re running ourselves ragged here!

I usually also forget to shave. But I did find some hair pomade! Doesn’t make a lot of difference considering I’m always wearing a hat, but it’s a nice thought.

Butch:

Well, Mrs. McP is home and has decided to make kimchi fried rice. If I can survive that smell, I’m ready to play.

Feminina:

A sound test. Good luck to you.

Butch:

And brownies. At the same time.

It’s an interesting combination of smells.

Feminina:

That’s…that’s very interesting, all right.

Good luck to you.

Butch:

She’s arranging M&Ms in straight, neat rows on top. Like a mosaic.

She saw it on Pinterest.

Feminina:

Of course she did.

She didn’t read our previous posts about that, did she?

Butch:

No. But I told her about what is her likely epitaph and she laughed. Then paused, and said “Yeah…..”

And the thing is, she makes me finish all this shit! She has to leave to read to Meatball at school, and won’t be able to finish her mosaic!

She’s even taking pains to make sure the M’s don’t show!

Feminina:

Wow. She is deep in the grip of Pinterest madness, that one.

Do you care to comment on your own dedication to making sure no M’s show?

Butch:

Sure. I’ll comment.

a) When Mrs. McP is happy, the kids are happy, and I am happy.
b) If I didn’t do it, she would do it when the kids were here, thus not spending time with the kids, thus making the kids unhappy, thus making me unhappy.
c) If I didn’t do it, Mrs. McP wouldn’t be happy, as she asked me to do it.

One must weigh the pros and cons. Sure, when you’re making sure each M&M is the right way up, you’re a little cheesed, but it saves much angst later. If there’s angst, I can’t play.

When you’re a stay at home parent, you gotta play the long game.

(I considered, for a brief moment, putting one M so it showed. Just one. Then I realized that would lead to even more angst. Might have been worth it, though.)

Feminina:

I respect your calculations, and the conclusions you draw from them. When you put it that way, yes, putting all the M’s facing down is a fair price to pay for angst-free game time.

Butch:

Long game, Femmy. Long game. Foresight.

It’s my job.

Feminina:

This is also prime relationship advice!

The secret to a happy marriage–both partners equally devoted to certain key projects. (Possibly for entirely different reasons, but whatever.)

Butch:

You know, our plans would likely come to fruition far more if we looked at them not as plans, but as strategies to quell rage. Or at least to quell rowdy disquiet.

Or not.

Feminina:

Hmm. This is an interesting thought. We’ll try it next time we’re tempted to plan and see how it goes.

Science!

Butch:

Yes! Science!

The science of rowdy disquiet.

Those Health Points Really Make a Difference

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Really no spoilers

Butch:

Ok, so you know how I said that we all had this awful stomach bug last week? I take it back. I apologize to the universe. THEY had it. What I though I had was, I dunno, forgetting to take a prilosec. THIS is IT. This shit right here.

Last night was terrible.

Luckily it hit after I played! (I was hungry! I had dinner in the damn oven! It smelled good! And then…it didn’t…..)

Didn’t do much, though. Robbed some dudes with Sean. The take on race is an interesting one.

I found some dreamcatchers in the woods, and found it interesting that it said “Find more to unlock their secrets.” What secrets? There was a stranger by them, but I couldn’t do anything because of my “recent crimes.” I’ll come back.

I’d have more to say, but I wanna go to sleep.

Feminina:

Oh, dude. I’m sorry.

Sleep.

I don’t have anything to add to the discussion on dreamcatchers. I haven’t seen any.

I’m…trying to remember if I robbed dudes with Sean, I might not have done that either. I played!–but apparently, all the stuff you didn’t do.

Butch:

It wasn’t that exciting. Just a little shack with, like, four dudes. Mostly it was there for the banter on the way.

I think. I don’t know. I’m tired beyond the capacity for rational thought.

Feminina:

Oh yeah…I think…yeah, the cabin, and then you threatened the last dude to make him tell you the hiding place for the loot? In the hole in the wall or whatever?

Yeah, I did that. I can’t remember the banter, though. I’m sure it was witty!

Butch:

That’s it.

The banter was interesting. I’ll tell you all about it when I can think.

Feminina:

I’m in a long presentation anyway, so it’s a good day for limited discussion.

Get some rest. Are the kids at least done barfing and out of the house?

Butch:

Oh they’re done barfing.

But it’s a half day on Tuesday! Just thinking about it is pain.

Feminina:

Oh right! The glorious innovation of your town, which mercifully has not spread to my town!

Good luck, man.

Maybe you’ll feel better tomorrow in time to face it.

Butch:

I’m doomed.

Feminina:

I fear so.

May the barf gods have mercy upon you. Perhaps we will meet again in some happier time.