TRUMPETS

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some vague early spoilers for Divinity: Original Sin 2

Butch:

So went to Nugget’s thing last night. There are, count ’em, 130 kids in fourth grade band throughout the district. 130. 60 play trumpet. It was good, but DAMN it was loud. I love the band directors, but they must be mentally ill to want to do the job they do.

So, needless to say, got nothing.

So how much more have I got, timewise? Kara’s off to the border. I’m there. An hour? Can I finish in an hour?

Feminina:

That’s…a lot of trumpets. I salute you and your hardworking ears.

There’s…maybe an hour? Not that much more than an hour. Wait…when you say Kara’s off to the border, you mean from Rose’s house? Or, uh…this other place?

If you’re just leaving Rose’s house, you’ve got a bit more than that. Interesting stuff! But more stuff.

Butch:

I am just leaving Rose’s house. I am there. And I have a living Markus.

So more than an hour?

Shit. I really want to get DOS2 at least started before you finish it.

Feminina:

Dude. We are not going to finish Divinity. We didn’t even play last night. Sometimes the two-schedules thing interferes.

Butch:

How is either one of you busy at night? What’s this “social life” thing of which you speak?

Feminina:

Calm down, no one said anything about a social life. He’s taking a class. Something related to certification. Sometimes he has to do homework.

And you, you plan to take Pet Pal. Tell me what that cat wanted.

Butch:

Homework? Lame.

But at least it’ll keep you from rushing.

Maybe the cat was Arhu. Remember him? Sorcerer? Sometimes cat?

It’s gonna take me a while to remember the lore.

Feminina:

It could have been Arhu! But he was white, and this cat was black. It would be nice to see him again, though.

Butch:

Man, this is gonna take a while.

I assume it’s in the same universe, at least. Cyseal? Source? Source Hunters? All that?

I kinda forget why we were hunting source…..wasn’t source, like, magic? Which was bad or something?

This is gonna take a while.

Feminina:

Yeah, we’re having to refresh our memories. But yes, source, and ‘sourcerers’…if I recall, it was kind of like in Dragon Age, where uncontrolled magic/use of source can leave people open to possession/turn them into demons. So there’s a lot of mistrust of source/magic, but it’s very powerful and some people who use it DON’T turn into demons, so maybe that’s all exaggeration!

At the end of the last one, we basically uncovered that history that said the original source was a divine power and useful for good, but was…what, twisted by someone?

Man, I don’t even remember the details. We could re-read our blog posts on it: https://playfirsttalklater.wordpress.com/tag/divinity-original-sin/, that’ll fill us in.

Wow…we talk a lot.

Butch:

I don’t have time to revisit my previous thoughts.

BEST T SHIRT EVER!!!!!!

Though I do like the opening bit of that first post.

I’m sure it’ll make perfect sense once I start playing.

Feminina:

It will. It’s gonna be great.

Just like that T shirt!

Butch:

Or not.

Is it voiced again, this one?

Feminina:

It’s pretty much exactly the same, stylistically: the narrator’s voiceover, the subtitle/script for all the dialogue, the way NPCs are voiced but PCs are not. You’ll immediately find it very familiar, but at the same time very “what the heck is going on in this world again?”

You’re certainly not meant to be required to have played the first one, the storyline seems almost entirely independent.

Butch:

Wait, the PCs were voiced, I think. Scarlett was the same voice as Evelyn (DAI, remember?). I think.

Feminina:

I don’t remember that. Hm…I think yeah, the PCs do have voices, but I feel like not all the time? I’m just thinking back to some recent conversations with NPCs and it was all dialogue choices and then I’d pick one and they’d just respond to the written words, there was no character voice. I feel like it was that way with the first one too. Unless the single-player version was different.

But the PCs have some background comments from time to time, like if you click on a locked door they might say “it’s locked” or whatever.

I really don’t remember clearly whether this was different in the first one. I don’t specifically remember having a voice for my dialogue choices, but there was one for “I need a medic!” moments or whatever.

Butch:

As long as there’s something.

Though they likely aren’t named. I hate coming up with names.

Feminina:

They do have names, just like Scarlett and Roderick did. You can change them, but you don’t have to. I kept the one it came with because I remembered you said that made some kind of difference? But Mr. O’ changed his. So we’ll see if we notice anything different.

Butch:

Ah, good. It’s a man and a woman again?

Feminina:

That’s what we’re playing, but you can pick–we could have had two men or two women if we wanted.

I think. Not that we tried.

Butch:

Well……

Let’s just say there’s a lot more than an hour of Markus didn’t die. WHOLE lotta Markus.

And Todd.

Moral: if you want to speed through a game, kill all the characters.

Talk to the Cat

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Detroit: Become Human

Butch:

MADNESS. But I did play! Fast talked a cop, held a peaceful riot. I liked the riot bits. Nice balance of stealth and, well, rioting. Thought “We have a dream” was a little cheesy, picked it anyway. Spared the cops. The public is now supportive. This will likely backfire. I’m sure you did the same. Unless you blew it and got arrested and killed and shit.

I took some umbrage that North didn’t like getting smooched.

But…….

OK, not sure she’s an android, but if Alice is an android (totally didn’t notice she wasn’t eating and turning down food, and what was that with the android who’s lover died?), which I’m not sure she is, I totally, TOTALLY didn’t call it and props, game. Props.

Don’t spoil.

Feminina:

Dude! I also fast talked the cop (even though I missed concealing the evidence that was the ad for Kara’s model on the table), but…I totally blew the riot. It was peaceful, I refused to fight, but I also refused to leave, and maybe I picked the wrong chants or something, because the cops opened fire and killed a ton of androids, including Markus. Public opinion was in our favor!–much good it does with North being all militant and “let’s kill people.”

I’m curious to see how your story turns out. Mine was kind of a mess. I didn’t reload, because I didn’t, but I didn’t have a great feeling about Markus being dead.

Butch:

Jeez, I’m glad I played a little more last night, as that wasn’t the riot I was talking about. I forgot you turn into Captain Spoilerific when you start a new game before I’ve finished. Been a while since that happened.

The riot I was talking about was the one after you bust into cyberlife and you have all those choices to destroy/tag, hack/turn off, etc. I kinda loved the mechanic where it showed you how peaceful or violent you were being. I, of course, was peaceful. Unless you count driving a truck through everywhere.

So played three more chapters. Met Kaminski or whatever, the weird dude with all the Chloes. Man’s got a type, I guess. Didn’t shoot Chloe. Hank seemed to like that.

Then did the march that ended so badly for your Markus. This game, when it’s good, is very, very good. That whole long, long march, swelling music, pointing at androids as they join you, the crowd getting bigger and bigger, the shot wider and wider….I really did feel very triumphant and optimistic! So when the cops came and trashed the whole thing, that worked. Very, very well. Absolutely perfect emotional storytelling.

I did not die. I stood my ground for a couple choices, and then it said “Attack/sacrifice/run away.” I knew “attack” was not gonna happen as I’m playing Markus peacefully, and figured that he’d do no one any good dead, so I ran. This saved Markus, but I got down arrows from Josh and North, and a BIG down arrow from Jericho. We’ll see where this goes.

Then I did the bit where Hank and Connor get taken off the case, and Connor has five minutes to go to the evidence locker and figure out where Jericho is. I did. That, too, was pretty awesome, having to figure out the puzzle based on your choices before and what you found before. I know for a fact that I solved it differently than you did. I activated Simon, recorded Markus’ voice, and tricked Simon (felt kinda bad about that). But the way I activated Simon was taking a part from the android that got shot on the roof in the fucking tutorial. Your android did not get shot on the roof in the tutorial. So how’d you do that?

Or really, did you do that? We’re now officially in the “I’m playing chapters you never did” phase, unless Markus came back from the dead or something. Have I already played some chapters you didn’t do? Or vice versa?

Because, what, did your game end at this point? You got Kara arrested, Markus is dead, what was going on with Connor? Did you see credits after the march?

Cuz I’m still going.

And when loading screen Chloe asked if you were friends, what did you say?

Feminina:

Oh, dude, sorry. Yeah, I was thinking of the march, not the riot. (Bad me! Unconsciously conflating peaceful marchers seeking civil rights with rioters! I’m clearly a tool of the human establishment.) I think it’s just because Markus’ death has been weighing on me for so long, I leaped at what I thought was the chance to confess it.

My game went on, but with North (angry, militant North) taking over as the leader for Jericho and the movement.

I did like the march scene, though. As you say, the wide shot, pointing at androids to free them and having them join you, the chanting…and then the menace of the cops showing up…it was effective.

As we’ve already established, I had my Markus stand his ground, and he was shot and killed. Public opinion was very favorable towards the androids, since people apparently thought it wasn’t great that a bunch of peaceful marchers were gunned down in the streets, but without their peaceful leader…well. We’ll talk later about how things eventually turned out and how that’s different since your Markus is still alive.

I also didn’t shoot the Chloe, which Anderson approved. We’re practically pals at this point! And I did the 5-minutes-to-get-evidence bit the same as you, I think–the robot from the first scene was there so I could take a spare part from him, and I copied Markus’ voice from the recording. (I also felt bad about fooling Simon. But it’s the job!) I died pushing that android off the roof, but he was smashed to bits by hitting the ground, so apparently they collected him as evidence just the same.

And I never said Kara got arrested! My Kara was not arrested. No one was arrested. Who said anything about being arrested?

Butch:

But maybe you did the right thing! Jericho did not approve of running.

Interesting. Did you control North?

I got public support, too. I think it went to sympathy, like how Selma got the attention of a lot of people who had been sitting on the civil rights sidelines. I’m up to “supportive.”

Very good scene, that.

Evidence… Ah. But…this is odd. So the flow chart had “had sufficient evidence” unlocked for me, of course, and there was an alternative that led to an “end chapter” bit on the flow chart. I’m gonna assume that the other option to “had sufficient evidence” was “Didn’t have sufficient evidence.” If the bot from the tutorial was there anyway, how could you not have sufficient evidence? The statue didn’t do much, Markus’ voice was going to be there, and what was with that diary? Maybe we would have gotten more out of it if we had caught up to the running guy?

Oh, and, on Markus and clues…I was so into the idea that Connor saw Markus’ name and that he was a gift from Kamski to Karl, and then kept that information from Hank. That was an interesting thing. But yesterday, Hank is calling Markus Markus as if he knew everything anyway. When did Hank find this out? Is it because I got seen by a drone in the riot chapter? But, if it was, how did they know that I was the skinless android?

I don’t get it.

Oh, you said you left evidence out as Kara. Thought that meant it went poorly for you.

I do wonder though what would be going on if we had gotten to this point with Markus dead and Kara dead. I’m assuming that there were ample places for Kara to die or whatever. Shit, WAY back when Kara goes deviant in the first place, you could choose not to. Only 97% or something of people picked “Kara became deviant,” and that, if you didn’t, end of chapter. I think you could have missed ALL of Kara’s storyline.

So what? I wonder how early the game could’ve “ended.” Though I guess Connor could have kept coming back. He did seem to realize that there were multiple Connors last night.

Feminina:

Oh, yeah, that’s true–I did leave a piece of evidence out, but he just kind of glanced at it and moved on. I think maybe you had to leave multiple things to get his attention? Anyway, he left without incident, and then we bolted. It was tense, though. Another well done scene. And Rose’s poor kid there, not wanting to disappoint his mom, but not wanting to get involved either…legitimate concerns.

And I suppose Connor would keep coming back, yeah…that’s the way you can finish the game even if you get everyone killed as often as possible! There’s always another Connor!

I could not make heads or tails of the diary, but…hm…yeah, I don’t know how you wouldn’t have sufficient evidence. Maybe there was some way you could wind up without the tutorial robot? Maybe there was a way Simon could have escaped or been completely destroyed so he wasn’t there?

I did not control North. At this point, I was pretty much just watching the Jericho story unfold, with minimal opportunity to influence it.

Butch:

It was very well done. This game has done quite a bit right.

But it will end in a QTE fest, won’t it? Don’t answer that.

There is always another Connor. Though, at least for me, it’s not established how memories get transferred. Or if anyone else knows there’s another Connor if this one breaks. Hank doesn’t seem the type to keep that sort of thing a secret. When Simon was shooting at us, it was Hank who held Connor back and said “You’ll get us both killed.” If Hank knew there were multiple Connors, why couldn’t he have said “Yeah, go, if you get shot, I’ll make sure they download all the good bits of our friendship in your new body?” He likely would have reacted that way.

But he MUST know there are multiple Connors, because it was very possible to get shot at the end of the interrogation chapter, in front of Hank.

Damn. The more I poke and prod, the more plot holes I find. I guess if you’re going to be this non linear, it ain’t gonna be perfect.

I think maybe we had to catch the guy I didn’t catch, that chase after the pigeon apartment. You didn’t catch him either, did you?

Huh. That’s interesting about not controlling North. This game, more than most games, takes a sledgehammer to the fourth wall. We have to open car doors, everything. The damn load screen comments on our home decor and pranks us by telling us our save file is corrupted (that wasn’t nice, Chloe). But when you lose a character, it puts that fourth wall back up. Makes you watch. Removes you from the “Detroit experience.”

Interesting.

Feminina:

Very interesting.

Oh, and I told Load Screen Chloe that we were friends, because…enh? We’re playing this game together? But interestingly, she never told me my save file was corrupted. Hm. I wonder if her commentary is random, or is somehow based on choices you make in the game?

Did you take her little survey yet? Also interesting. Really, that whole aspect of having an android talking to you on the load screen was pretty interesting. Some intriguing ideas here.

Butch:

I did take her survey! And found the other responses interesting.

Yeah, one time, she went deviant. LED turned red and she’s all “I…don’t know how to tell you this…but your save file is corrupted…..” Long pause, LED turns blue, “Just kidding.”

Very intriguing ideas. And, I admit, I kinda liked Load Screen Chloe. Being welcomed back, having someone (other than you) comment on what I did, that was…kinda nice. I hate that I feel that way, because it’s a fucking load screen with random dialog clips. But it was…I don’t know…somehow better than just the usual “Press X,” “Looking for content” and “menu.”

I’m not sure it would’ve worked in a game that wasn’t about androids. From the minute you install this one, you’re thinking “androids,” so the fact that your PS4 is talking about your decor is within the context of your brain thinking “androids.” If RDR2 had had, I don’t know, a barmaid welcoming us back, or ACO had had Barnabas or something, I don’t think it would have worked like this. It would’ve been cheesy as hell. Chloe isn’t cheesy as hell.

And I don’t know if that’s because “game about androids” or it’s just really well done or both.

Feminina:

Yeah, so true–it worked very well in this particular context, but would not have worked nearly as well in…really any other game I can think of. As you say, a barmaid saying “welcome back to Red Dead Redemption 2!” would just be…meh. Cheesy and weird.

But this, because as you say we’re already thinking about androids, and in that context we’re already thinking about ‘smart’ technology and devices, it’s not really that big a leap to think “maybe the PS5 WILL welcome us back and comment on our choices,” and to find that both kind of creepy (my console is spying on me!) and kind of cool (I can befriend my console, which understands how cool games are and wants me to play them!).

It was an interesting touch.

Butch:

In a game full of them.

Gotta say, Heavy Rain was a disappointing game at best, offensive at worst. Beyond was interesting, but also a scattershot mess. I’m not sure why those two games put David Cage on the map as a great visionary in gaming. Maybe Heavy Rain was so very unique at the time, I don’t know. We played it years after it came out. But, even so, Detroit is a very creative, very well done game. Not perfect. Still a tad self indulgent, still too many two dimensional bad guys, still a lack of subtlety way too often. But man, there were a lot of great moments and, more importantly, great moments that ONLY would’ve worked in a video game, and no other media.

MAN I love those moments.

And this had enough of them that I can say “OK, fine. David Cage is pretty good at this video game thing.”

Feminina:

Heavy Rain was an interesting mess. Some really nicely done tense bits, and then just…so many odd mechanical bits and moments that made me cringe.

Beyond was also interesting and, if you missed some of the cringey bits, not a bad story. Some nice creepy parts, tension, some thematic musings…I mostly enjoyed it.

This one is probably the best of the bunch (which is promising, since it suggests that David Cage is developing his craft), and the one I’ve been most tempted to actually play through again.

So yeah, based on this progression, I will certainly put whatever he does next on the list to play. He really does do interesting things with the medium, which I have found worth exploring.

Butch:

I mostly enjoyed Beyond as well, but the ending made no sense and the bits where you had to squish monsters or pull them apart of whatever was just plain odd. Remember that shit? Weird.

I’ll play his next thing, too. Especially as they usually put these for free on PS+. That’s always a good reason to play them.

Feminina:

That’s always an excellent reason to play them! PS+ has been good to us.

Butch:

I should play more but damn I still have this fever Nugget gave me and I need a nap. I hate that. I have to stay strong here cuz Nugget’s first band concert of his life is tonight and I have to, you know, stay awake.

Feminina:

Oh, first concert! Exciting!

Rest. Stay awake. Chloe will keep the game for you. You’re quite close to the end now anyway.

Butch:

Well, am I? My very much alive Markus might mean I have longer to go….

I’ll miss Chloe.

Feminina:

Hm…that’s true. Well, you’ll have to let me know. But even if there is extra material, it will probably only be one chapter. You’re probably still pretty close to being done.

Butch:

Try not to finish Divinity in the meantime.

Feminina:

We’re not going to come anywhere close to that.

Speaking of Divinity, my one tip so far is, get Pet Pal immediately. Like, immediately. There was a cat that was following us around for a while at the very beginning, and I’m sure it had a story, but by the time I got Pet Pal and could talk to it, it had wandered off. (We are level 3. Don’t worry, we have not covered enormous amounts of territory yet.)

Get Pet Pal and find out what that cat’s story is. I must know.

Butch:

Dude, you played the first game! You should know to get pet pal! Pet pal is KEY!

Feminina:

I did know! I meant to get it soon. I just didn’t think I needed to START THE GAME with it. Obviously, I was wrong.

You’ll know better.

Game Time is Cancelled

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No real spoilers

Butch:

So it’s HALF DAY TUESDAY and Nugget has an 103 fever and Junior had a total “I’m a seventh grader” breakdown and Mrs. McP is home so I got nothing.

But it’s cool cuz I’ll catch up tomorrow because Nugget gave me his 103 fever and Nugget and Meatball are both home cuz it’s a professional day at school.

Sigh.

Try not to finish DOS2.

I’ll play some today. I hope.

How’s Divinity so far?

We’re just sitting here staring vacantly at Arthur.

And I did a little research on Markus. Apparently he’s played by a famous actor who’s been on this thing called “television” for years on a show called Grey’s Anatomy that people seem to like. He’s a rather outspoken activist in real life, which is kinda meta. Ethnically? His father is African American and his mother is Swedish.

So we were both kinda right. Interesting.

Feminina:

A “television” actor, you say? Hm. This must be an artistic medium with which I am not familiar. Ha.

But I can see that.

It’s pretty interesting so far. Some plot hooks we’ve picked up. Some fights we’ve gotten into. Still getting used to the combat mechanics again, that whole turn-based thing, but it’s kind of a fun change.

Butch:

Just don’t finish.

Ha. I think.

Feminina:

Very much ha. We’ve barely scratched the surface.

Butch:

It’ll still likely take me two weeks to catch you.

Feminina:

Just remember, you wound up finishing the first one before we did. It’s still anyone’s race at this point.

I mean, if we were competing to see who could finish fastest. Which is what games are all about!

*I* Will Watch the Watcher

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Detroit: Become Human

Butch:

Well, Mrs. McP is home cuz conferences, which is too bad cuz I played some blog worthy scenes.

First, chatted with Anderson as he drank at the riverside by the bridge. Still can’t get him to talk about his son (though, lemme guess, android killed him. Trope!). But I did have Connor show fear of dying, and now they’re friends.

What did you get in that? I had a rather large chunk of Anderson wondering why I let the Tracis live, but you never did that.

Then I did the whole give a speech on TV bit. Left Simon alive on the roof. Did you do that?

That came THIS close to being a hell of a scene. The speech? Loved it. The news coverage afterward when you saw the public opinion meter change to show how well you did? When each network had its obvious spin as if it were CNN or Fox? Brilliant. But I have a knock and a serious question.

Knock: Mr. Cage? Please. Your work is good when it’s good. Trust it. Do not interrupt good narrative momentum by an extended bit where you beat me over the head with eye rolling metaphor. Climbing up the building, over a side that said “Support your team! RISE!” made me laugh out loud, which broke the mood. Dude. Really.

Question: So what did you make of Markus taking off his skin to do the speech? We talked about race (that is, skin color) the other day, so “remove skin” is certainly a loaded thing before that speech. I can kinda see why he did that, but then we’re left with an android in a way we’ve never seen androids, and a character speaking with a different voice than we’ve heard. That was Markus but….not. I can’t tell what point Cage was making with all of that. Skin doesn’t matter (in a game about civil rights)? That’s either naive or offensive. You need to be the real you to be seen as equals? OK, but seems an odd time to show the player, who has been controlling androids the whole game, the “real android” now. Did you still feel like this was Markus? Or did you lose that player/character connection?

I don’t know what I felt about it. I’m not sure I liked it.

That’s what I got. I’ll try to play some today, but, you know…..

Feminina:

It’s a professional day at O’Jr.’s school, so I’m home too! Scheduled O’Jr. a dentist appointment, because what better way to take the joy out of a random day off than to go to the dentist? Sorry, kid…but if I had to take the day off, we might as well do something I’d have to take time off for anyway.

Besides, he loves a free toothbrush.

My Connor also became friends with Anderson. We talked about stuff, I didn’t push too hard, he didn’t tell me about his son. It was kind of nice, though.

The android skin thing was interesting. We’ve had occasional reminders throughout that androids don’t really have human features–their hands always fade to their white plastic surface when they touch to exchange memory, Kara faded to change her hair color and cover the space after she removed her LED, etc.

So the featureless plastic could be seen as more their true selves…except if that were so, why don’t they revert to it when they’re hanging out in Jericho and there are no humans to hide from? The fact that they keep up their human faces suggests that these features are actually part of their identity and how they see themselves as people.

I thought that Markus reverting to plastic was partly a statement–this is who we are, we’re androids–and partly for disguise so his human face wouldn’t be recognized later. (Which raises another interesting question about their programming and whatever it is that gives them the human features in the first place…apparently they’re not able to just swap faces at will? Which would encourage the idea that the face they have maybe is perceived by them as their OWN face–even though there may be many others with the same one–because they can’t just pick and choose.)

But, talking about race and which features we perceive as belonging to which race, we could talk here about the idea of ‘passing’…some androids remove their LEDs to pass for human, but many of the ones in Jericho haven’t bothered to do this, even though as we saw, it’s apparently very easy.

Maybe the LED, too, is part of their identity for some of them, and they refuse to make that attempt to ‘pass’ as human…maybe because that would feel like a denial of their true android nature?

Markus, who removed his LED but also made a speech on national TV in his naked android skin, kind of plays with this…passing (both racially, in at least my case, and compositionally, if he is assumed by humans to be biological rather than mechanical), and then not passing according to the situation.

So yeah…there’s a lot of interesting stuff here, not all of it perhaps entirely successful, but…he’s working with ideas, anyway.

Butch:

What did you talk about? He didn’t ask you about the Tracis. Weird.

And yeah, see, this is one of the problems with doing the speech this way. There’s all this tacit understanding about how androids are, and then this at a vital point in the story. I completely agree that faces and names are so much part of their identity, so this makes no sense. Shit, one of the better moments of this game (which has a lot of very good moments) was Markus, upon leaving the junkyard and taking off his LED, saying, sternly, “My name is Markus.” He was claiming his identity as his own.

Which, of course, begs the question, if that is his identity, why take it off at that time?

Science fiction makes up its own rules, sure. But a story has to play by its own rules, and this one didn’t at a very important time.

But he is working with ideas, and at a deeper level than usual in his games.

But this….I’m not sure it worked, which is too bad because so much of the scene really, really worked.

I think that Cage got too much in love with the visual of it all. It sure was a striking image of the robot on the big screen, on everyone’s TV, on the news, etc. That whole montage as the news is picking it up, etc., was very visually striking. I have a feeling that someone got the idea of that scene in their head very early in the process of writing the game, maybe built the whole game around it, and, by golly, that scene was going to be in the game that way no matter the fuck what.

Even if it didn’t work all that well. Which is so annoying because there was SO MUCH GOOD STUFF in that scene.

OK, I’mma go play.

 [later]

Well, that was odd. Investigating the crime scene of a crime I just committed as another character. Weird.

So I guess I role played? I found myself role playing. Is that Connor “becoming human,” because I am personally imbuing him with human motives?

Cuz, see, first I started by actively playing a part for Amanda. I didn’t want her suspecting Connor of being unstable, so I picked the confident, yes, sir options. Then, when investigating, I didn’t go interrogate the android accomplice (?) who ignored the camera (didn’t see that coming. How’d they get an accomplice?). Then, when Simon (my Simon stayed behind) attacked, and Connor was all “But we’ll learn nothing if he’s destroyed,” I figured, “Good enough,” and stayed put.

Which were really my decisions based on a) how I want it to play out and b) how I think Connor would be thinking. After all, he figured out Markus was Markus and didn’t tell Anderson (odd that the game didn’t give the player the choice to say so or not).

So I stayed in character. I’m going with that.

Cool scene. How’d you do it?

Feminina:

That was kind of an interesting scene, investigating the crime you just played. Kind of a cool option of the multiple character story.

I also tried to convince Amanda everything was fine, but she was not very happy with me at that point because I was so terrible at my job.

Then I did interrogate the accomplice (yeah, how did he come in?) but didn’t get very far because my Connor is terrible at his job. Because I was role playing a character who is having doubts about his mission, OK? I’m sticking with that.

All right, at the dentist, back later.

Butch:

So what happened with that? And how’d your Simon turn out?

Feminina:

Oh, he perished tragically, left behind as we fled. North was very unhappy with me. North basically hated my Markus by now…I messed up stealing those parts, got Simon left behind to die…not a fan.

Meanwhile, I thought her “kill all humans” approach was a bit much, so I wasn’t her biggest fan either.

Butch:

Wait…who killed him then? Markus? Cuz he was still alive when my Connor showed up.

And then he wasn’t.

Feminina:

Uh…Didn’t he kind of lash out at one of the cops, and they shot him? And Anderson was disgruntled because they could have asked him questions?

Or am I just imagining that because I saw something similar in a movie somewhere?

I cannot lie, I don’t completely remember.

Butch:

You tell me. I went to the roof, followed blue blood, found him, got shot, hid, decided to stay in cover and scene. Didn’t even get a chance to interrogate Android accomplices.

How Would YOU Express the Soul of Detroit?

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Detroit: Become Human

Butch:

Man, now even the house is interfering with game time. I was trying to catch up. I, what, got away from the doctor I mean Zlatko, stole a bunch of parts as Markus. Today, played the Eden Club scene, played the amusement park scene, and was making progress, man, and then the guy who’s here to de-jack the drain for the washer showed up early.

Stupid house.

So how was DOS2? I’m sure you finished. Ha. Don’t finish this weekend. Ha.

I think ha.

Sigh.

Anyway….I liked the Eden club bit. And no, not for the gratuitous skin. The tracking with a timer was cool. I especially liked if you stop to look at a Traci on your way in Anderson is all “What are you doing? We have work to do.” Well played, game. Well played.

I let them go. Didn’t shoot. Software got unstable, so that pretty much clinches that Connor is going deviant. What I didn’t really get or buy is that Anderson liked the fact that I let them go. I was expecting a scolding. Hmm.

The scene in the amusement park I kinda loved. Like, LOVED. Turning the zombie trope into Jerry the Carousel man was themeage I might ponder a very long time. Zombies, after all, are humans who become shells of themselves, walking embodiments of the worst of our impulses. So droid zombies being super happy guys who just want to make children happy is a powerful image.

I just played it, but man. I’m gonna be doing some pondering.

That scene and the piano scenes, alone, make this game worth playing.

I…..wish I could say the same for Zlatko and stealing the supplies. That sure was a whole mess of QTEs. A WHOLE mess. Too much mess.

I also think that introducing North and Luther this late (at least, I hope it’s late, as you are 82% done with DOS2) is a mistake. I want to get to know these characters. They seem interesting. And yet, I have a feeling they’ll be characters who a) I won’t have time to get to know and b) folks who the game expects me to CAAAARE about as if I had time to get to know them.

I dunno. I’m just glad this soul crushing weekend is over. Long weekend. Hopefully, things will improve on that front going forward.

But hey! Bloggage.

Please tell me you’re not WAAAAAY into DOS2.

Feminina:

Dude, we’re about 1% into Divinity. We’ve met some companions. That’s about it. I think it’s a big game. The first one certainly was. Don’t fret!

The Eden Club was another example of my Connor being terrible at his job. I took too much time talking to robots (it was kind of funny to keep making Anderson pay for them), and never caught up to Traci. So she’s off somewhere and I never decided whether or not to let her go, I just didn’t find her.

Connor’s not the only one who’s terrible, though: on the theft of parts, I messed that up too. I tried to save the security android, went back to save what’s his name, alerted the cops somehow, and we wound up escaping with only a few items, not enough to do much. North was not happy with me.

But my Kara did successfully escape Zlatko, free the experiments, recover her memory, save Alice and join Luther. It was a nice bit of poetic justice that if you unlock the door and let the experiments out, they’ll come to your aid later. For a pretty tropey ‘escape the creepy house’ sequence, I thought that was fairly well done, though…sneaking and then running through those doors, hiding, ducking and dodging, trying to protect Alice…it was all pretty tense. And, speaking of poetic justice, having the android who works for the guy who takes advantage of deviants turn deviant, that was an unsurprising but still satisfying twist.

As with so many of the antagonist characters, Zlatko was pretty much a caricature of evil, so that whole bit was like being smacked with a big narrative-hammer, but again…for what it was, I thought it was well done. And at least this time he pretty much avoided the gross sexualization that was so unpleasant with Madison…I mean, Kara was definitely the “tied-up-damsel” but they didn’t take off her clothes or anything to make it even more disturbing, right? I’ll take that.

I did really like the amusement part bit. As you say, the twist on “creepy abandoned amusement park,” having all the Jerries just wanting to make children happy, was pretty cool. And kind of sad in an interesting way…these androids were created with this purpose and then just abandoned, and now they can only wander around trying vainly to do what they’re supposed to. Kind of a less obvious version of the junkyard full of broken androids.

And the carousel in the snow, Alice enjoying it, Kara noting that that’s the first time she’s seen Alice smile…it was a nice, moody scene.

I did feel kind of the same way about Luther and North–these characters are going to be important, but are we going to have time to actually know them enough that we get WHY? See how you feel at the end…

Butch:

Sure, sure. 1%. You mean 91%. It’s cool.

Is it good so far?

And dude, you suck.

So what I did was find the Tracis (plural). You find the deviant, and two attack you (or one attacks Hank) and you end up fighting two scantily clad women cuz this is a David Cage game and all. In the middle of the battle, you see the two Tracis grab each other’s hands, like they’re in love. If you pass all the QTEs (or enough), the not blue haired one charges you, and you have to decide to shoot or spare. I spared, and she ran right past me into the blue haired one’s arms. There was a confession, a “I just wanted to live….to feel her arms around me again…I love her….” and off they went. And it wasn’t really a “decide to let her go.” It was “shoot or not,” without knowing the consequences. Cool.

And I successfully stole parts, which was ALSO a lot of QTEs. I got rewarded by a rousing “we shall RISE UP!” speech by Markus that seemed a little canned but hey. Jericho ate it up.

And as for Kara’s story, if by “unsurprising” you mean “Luther could have had a neon sign saying ‘It’s cool, I’ll turn deviant later in this chapter,'” then yes.

I did like the return of the altered, monstrous androids coming to kill Zlatko. Nice touch.

This is what David Cage has reduces us to. “Hey! Not totally offensive! Just kinda offensive! Nicely done!”

Though….upon pondering….maybe there was some attempt at themeage.

Cuz this isn’t the first time we’ve escaped a house, as Kara and Alice, from a possessive, abusive, violent caricature of evil in this game. Todd was a possessive asshole, who vented his anger and insecurities on Alice, Zlatko was a possessive asshole who vented his anger on androids. Todd and Zlatko even looked alike. All of this might have just been lazy assed storytelling (We need an action sequence…how about an escape? We need a baddie….how about another slob who’s mean to females?) but maybe it was supposed to be a mirror.

Not sure what it meant to say if it was, but maybe.

Very sad, in the amusement park. “Usually, it’s humans who come here just to hurt us…..” That’s a glimpse into pure human sadism. Who would just hurt a smiling guy who’s trying to make children happy?

But admit it: When you saw the mob of them, your first thought was “Oh, here we go, fight time!” The whole set up: finding Luther’s gun, moody place, creepy decorations, them coming to the window….you got that hands tightening on the controller feeling. Admit it.

And then, they just wanted to show everyone their carousel.

Which is also kind of an indictment of the (human) player. Always seeing everything as a threat, or a fight.

Oh, I’m sure I’ll see how I feel at the end. If I ever finish. Is there a lot left?

Though in terms of feelings towards characters…..

I’m finding something odd in my reaction to this game as it continues and I’m not sure I like the fact my reaction is changing. Specifically, the more I play the more I like Connor and the less I like Markus.

I’m not sure why I’m liking Connor more, or if that’s a bad thing. Maybe it’s just because being a detective is cool (when you actually solve cases. Ha). But the fact I’m liking Markus less troubles me. Yes, I could say that I liked the bits with the piano, they were great scenes, and the stealing was a QTE fest, but still, the fact is I liked the (black) android better when he was a piano playing servant to an old white man than I do now that he’s an activist and rising up and sticking it to the man.

It troubles me that I feel that way. So I’m hoping it’s just the QTEs. I very much do.

Feminina:

I do suck. I am terrible at games.

Divinity is fun so far. Very familiar, the same presentation and style and mechanics as the last one. Different characters, obviously. I need to get back into that mindset, because right now it’s still quite confusing having the split screen and one of us talking to people while the other loots and so forth. We’ll get into the groove, it’s just an adjustment.

I also liked Connor more as the story went on: he definitely has some character moments. There’s some real tension there with the question of whether he’ll stay true to his programming, or become deviant.

I never didn’t like Markus, though–he always seemed pretty sympathetic to me, even though I could also see how he was becoming more of a potential threat to humans. Interestingly, I realize that I didn’t read him as black, specifically, although certainly it makes sense, given the big-hammer Civil Rights comparisons, that he would be. Or could be. I mean, he’s an android, so race is presumably whatever his product designer wanted to make it (and we could certainly talk about the implied social conventions that would lead to different models looking like different human racial groups, if this game were more about the world at large).

I actually remember thinking it was interesting that there WASN’T an obviously black character in that civil-rights-activist role, and wondering about it…like, is that good because it’s not quite as direct a copy of actual historical events, or bad because it assumes that players wouldn’t be sufficiently engaged with the story if the character was black?

If we’re going to wonder about problematic unconscious attitudes in ourselves, I could wonder if because I didn’t see him as particularly black, I subconsciously found his revolutionary activities more sympathetic than I would have if he’d been, say, Luther? I don’t know any way to test this, but…people have unconscious associations that affect how we perceive things, so I can’t deny it could be true.

Hm.

Butch:

It’s very simple: The side of the screen where the character is grabbing all the loot she doesn’t need, ignoring stats and missing important dialog? That’s you. The side of the screen where the player is fussing with loot that’s really all the same, fussing over every stat and missing important dialog? That’s Mr O.

Simple!

As for Connor though…it’s a weird thing, because we’ve been presented with instance after instance where humanity is pretty awful. It’s a fairly steady drumbeat in this game: Becoming human maybe isn’t all that great. And yet, the more human Connor gets, the more I like him. Hmm.

And whoa, wait, you didn’t read Markus as black? Really? I read it that way from the moment he came on the screen. I even thought it was a tad eye rolly that they chose Markus to be the android they used the “back of the bus” imagery for.

That’s interesting, because I think part of the reason that I’m getting a little “really?” with Markus’ storyline is I read it as so very bluntly being “black character in civil rights activist role,” that subtle as a brick metaphor that David Cage does.

You really read it differently?

Feminina:

Yeah–I didn’t perceive him as black until you mentioned that. I think I noticed that he was less white than Connor and Kara (not hard, since they are both fish-belly pale), but I didn’t think ‘black,’ just…less white. And that only in passing. If I’d thought about it, I would probably have guessed he was meant to be mixed race (or was modeled on someone who is mixed race, given David Cage’s habit of putting actual peoples’ faces in games), but I really didn’t think about it.

I guess this is where I interject the classic oblivious-white-person phrase: “I just don’t see race!”

Or, also popular, “you’re different, Markus–I don’t even see you as black.” As if that’s a compliment.

I’m a terrible person who is terrible at games.

And yet my terrible obliviousness allowed me to find the storyline of Markus taking on the role of a civil rights leader to be somewhat less crushingly obvious than it would otherwise have been! I actually pondered whether it might be trying to be slightly subtle!

Perhaps David Cage’s games are better the more clueless you are.

Also, humans ARE pretty terrible! All the villains in this game (and many, as discussed, are cartoonishly villainous) are human. Sympathetic humans are the exception: I kind of like Lt. Anderson, and Carl was decent in a rich-old-guy sort of way, but does that really balance the many examples of humans being monstrous? Using their authority over androids to abuse and harm them?

Why do androids even WANT to “become human”?

Butch:

Why, indeed? But then, do they? I haven’t seen an android yet that wants to “be human.” Connor has no opinion on the matter, Markus wants humans to treat androids as equals, Kara just wants to be left alone. We haven’t seen any android saying “I wanna be just like the humans cuz the humans are so great!”

Shit, the android who I got to confess to murder (my shame!) said that when Ra9 or whatever comes then “We shall be the masters.” That doesn’t sound like “I wanna be just like you.”

Maybe (well, you know this as you’re done, so don’t spoil), Amanda is worried that they WILL become human!

I am reminded of the old cartoon the Jungle Book. Seen it? I shall summarize. In the original cartoon, there is a song sung by the orangutan king or whatever that’s all “I wanna be just like you….” It’s jokey. Cartoony. The refrain “You’ll see it’s true that an ape like me, can learn to be human, too!” is set out as a joke with monkeys wearing hats and shit (note: this was also incredibly racist because half of the “humor” was “jungle people” thinking they could be “human!” what a riot god humanity sucks.)

Anyway…..

They remade the Jungle Book a ways back and made it far darker. They redid the song against the backdrop of the orangutan king learning about fire, and how he can use it as a weapon. So when he sings “I wanna be like you…” and “you’ll see it’s true an ape like me, can learn to be human, too!” it isn’t at ALL funny, it’s a realization that “becoming human” is maybe not so good. (Christopher Walken did it in the remake. Very good movie.)

Sorry, that was quite the diversion.

My point here is, does anyone want to become human? Seems that’s more of a negative than a positive.

Feminina:

Indeed…maybe “become human” is actually more of an exhortation to the human characters/us, than it is an aspiration of the androids.

“Become human”–all that stuff about yourselves that you think is so great, how about you practice that with regard to these other intelligent beings here?

Because you’re right, none of the android characters express any desire to be human, just to be treated like free, reasoning beings. To be TREATED like humans, by implication, but as we know, humans treat other humans terribly all the time for all kinds of reasons, so good luck with that as an argument.

Butch:

I certainly read it that way.

But then, David Cage titles are always a little funky. I never did figure out what we were supposed to be beyond. And why does he feel the need to put the setting in the title, there?

Nothing against the city of Detroit, but it seems a tad much. We don’t play games with titles like “Thedas: Dragon Age: Origins” or “Boston: Fallout 4” or “Big Spooky House: Gone Home.”

So maybe we can just ignore David Cage’s titles.

Feminina:

I would actually kind of be interested in playing a game called “Big Spooky House,” but maybe that’s just me. And you’re right, his titles are odd. Or…well, Heavy Rain was straightforward enough. And I assumed it was “beyond” the boundaries of life and death, right–they were trying to break that barrier? And then two souls, well, that’s clear enough as the game develops. So maybe that’s not that weird.

And maybe that means we SHOULD pay attention to his titles, because they ARE supposed to signify something.

But Detroit, well, it’s set in Detroit, that’s fine. And Detroit makes us think of Motown, and industry, and lately failing economies and crushing poverty…maybe we’re meant to have all that in mind. Technology, mass production of consumer goods! Hovering on the brink of societal collapse! Stations on the underground railroad!

Maybe it works better than we thought.

Butch:

Well, yes and no.

You’re right that it certainly fits the themes to make the game set in Detroit. That it does. But the problem is that, with the exception of a casual mention here and there, there’s nothing that is explicitly Detroit. It’s in Detroit because is SAYS it’s in Detroit. If the game wasn’t called Detroit, we wouldn’t have really noticed it was in Detroit.

Now, sure, we’re not from Detroit, and it’s not as easy to show that something is Detroit than it is to plop the statue of liberty or Big Ben in a game and have people be all “New York!” “London!” I suppose we might have a reader who sees this and is all “Fuck you, man, there were, like twenty-seven things you’d’ve totally recognized if you took the time to learn ANYTHING about this fabulous city I live in,” but I’ve never been to Detroit and, sorry, the only thing that sets this game in Detroit for me is the title.

So yes, good place to set this, themewise, but kind of an awkward way to convey setting.

Feminina:

Well, fair…but as you say, given the lack of dramatic Detroitian landmarks (sorry, people of Detroit, if Detroitian is not the preferred adjective), how else would he get that across other than to say “this is Detroit”? If he wanted to evoke the history of Detroit for themes, how can he do that without tossing the name around in dialogue and maybe slapping it on the title for good measure?

He probably knows that most of his players have never been to Detroit and know almost nothing about it, and therefore will not recognize it even if he includes every Detroit landmark there is (which he could have done, for all we know)–if he wants us to think of it, he’s got to mention it.

Would we argue that he’s better off not evoking Detroit at all, and just setting the game in some vague Anycity, USA? I agree, he certainly could have done that with no real impact on the way the game unfolds. Does it matter if it’s in Detroit? Maybe not, any more than it matters that Godzilla wrecks Tokyo and not Anycity, Japan. And yet Tokyo gives us a certain sense of the setting that we wouldn’t have otherwise, even if no scene in the movie is recognizably related to any actual part of Tokyo.

Maybe that vague background sense is all he’s really going for here as well.

Butch:

Oh I certainly think having the game in Detroit, given the themes, makes a lot more sense than just Anycity, for all the reasons you said. It makes more thematic sense that this game is in Detroit than, say, the last battle of ME3 was in London. That was just so people could be all “Ooo! London!” Detroit, here, has weight.

But it’s a tricky setting because people know Detroit as an idea more than a place. We’ve never been there, but we both see “Detroit” and it’s immediately evocative of GM and factories and Motown music and the rust belt and and and. We immediately associate Detroit with all of that. Most everyone does. And yet, while most everyone has that immediate association, one enth of a percent of people who have that association can even begin to picture the skyline of Detroit.

It has the metaphorical oomph of a New York, an LA, maybe even more than a Boston, but it doesn’t have a Statue of Liberty or a Hollywood sign or even a Fenway Park that makes you go “Ah, yes. Here we are.”

So we’re leaning towards just using it as a bludgeon in the title being OK? Still seems he could have done more.

Feminina:

I think given the various other bludgeons in this game, using Detroit in the title is neither egregious nor ill-fitting…so yeah, I guess I think it’s OK.

I mean, in an otherwise very subtle, understated kind of game, it might seem like “wow, that title shout-out to Detroit was a bit much,” but if we’re rolling along with all the rest of it (which for the most part I did!), I think yeah, do the shout-out, why the hell not?

This is not a game that has the time or patience to add complexity to villains or subtly underplay its messages or use its setting to add gentle shading to the background context.

Butch:

Still, it should have. Why didn’t it have time? It’s not like it had a whole lot of gratuitous, leering nudity. He could have replaced that with something else.

Something that wasn’t Anderson scolding Connor for looking at women. Pot, kettle, Mr. Cage.

Feminina:

Ha! True. It’s especially amusing considering that Connor, a program-following police android, is pretty much the last one to be leering at anything with actual lust. I assumed he was just distracted by all the lights and colors, myself.

Poor David Cage–can’t catch a break.

“Look, you don’t like gratuitous leering nudity, fine, I’ll take it out. I’ll even obliquely scold myself for it! But don’t ask me to replace it with subtle plot development or scene setting. That would violate my truest self.”

Butch:

Yes. Lights. Colors. Very scantily clad lights and colors.

Feminina:

My Connor was too busy being terrible at his job. I swear I talked to every single android that DIDN’T have any memory of Traci.

I did have it in the back of my mind that maybe he didn’t entirely want to find her (them–but he never learned there were two), and this was part of the software instability. He’s programmed to be good at his job, so why does he keep failing?! Maybe it’s intentional! (Yeah, yeah…that’s what I always say whenever I do a bad job at something. I didn’t really WANT it to work! I meant to do that!)

Butch:

Or maybe it was cuz most of the Tracis you had to talk to were women and your Connor was being driven towards the men by some different hand than the hand driving my Connor.

Just saying.

So in the “games in the future we shall likely play to avoid tlou2,” right now, go read reviews of a new game called Disco Elysium.

Right now before I forget.

Feminina:

You had me at “Become a hero or an absolute disaster of a human being”. I like both those options!

Butch:

Sounds amazing. And coming to consoles next year.

Feminina:

On the list it goes!

That ‘Chorus’ one met its fundraising goal, too. So many things to play!

Butch:

So great that there are so many interesting, blogable, interesting games coming out!

That aren’t TLOU2.

(For those who missed our exciting coverage when we played it, we were permanently scarred by The Last of Us.)

187 Roads Diverged in a Futuristic Detroit

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Detroit: Become Human

Butch:

I got nothing. I could use the fact that I was busy putting the finishing touches on holiday plans, but really, the reason I got nothing is yet another reason to be ashamed of the way I’m playing this game: I didn’t want to do a whole mess of QTEs.

To remind: I’m at the chapter where Kara and Alice are waking up in a car.

I may be wrong. This might not be a QTE riddled chapter. But a) we haven’t had one in a while, b) those kind of scenes always start with calm, and peace and quiet and c) this is David Cage, who puts women through shit, so it makes sense.

And I don’t want to do QTEs.

But I’ll throw this out there: Why not? Sitting down to raid a few forts? Sure, it got boring, but it’s still trying to accomplish shit by hitting the right buttons at the right time. Every action scene in every video game going back to pong is basically sticks and knobs and buttons and timing. We don’t have a problem with that when we’re not doing QTEs, but we hate QTEs. But, if you think about it, all QTEs are are knobs and sticks and buttons and timing.

They’re not even that hard! It’s not like this scene, if it is the QTE fest I imagine it will be, will be like some giant robot reaper Minotaur deal.

And yet, here I sit, thinking “Man…..not this shit…..”

Why is that?

Feminina:

Ah yes, that chapter…actually not that many QTEs if I remember correctly. Some timing stuff in the sense of “quick, do you do x or y?” but not a lot of “hit this button right now”.

As for why we object to QTEs but not to other reflex-dependent mechanics…I don’t know. Because you’re right, if a dude wanders over and I have a limited opportunity to hit X and assassinate him from the bushes before he sees me, and if I miss that I’ll have to fight him…is that significantly different from having a limited opportunity to hit X to avoid an attack, or whatever?

Not really…but you’re right, it does feel different. The MOOD of QTEs is different, somehow. They’re always set up as success/failure, and they’re always in the middle of tense situations (not when you’re calmly lurking in the bushes waiting to backstab someone), and they’re always mixing it up so you never know which button to hover your finger over…I mean, that’s clearly all intentional to recreate the tension and uncertainty of a dangerous situation, and I appreciate how it works and why it’s done. Maybe it just works a little too well?

I mean, maybe we just don’t want quite that much tension and uncertainty?

I don’t know, I don’t hate QTEs as much as I used to, to be honest. It’s doubtful my reflexes are any better with age, so perhaps I’ve just mellowed and become tolerant of the mechanic.

Butch:

I’ve been pondering since I sent the first email, and I think it just comes down to graphics.

I realized that I do like some of the mechanics in the game. When I was crawling out of the junkyard, I got a little confused as to whether I should hold the buttons, so the first time I tried it, I failed. Seeing Markus slump and have to try again was cool. That sort of thing, that slow, hold on hold on keep at it QTE is really good, and puts you in the mood quite well.

Action, less so, and I think it’s the fact that graphics pop up that take you out of the scene. Here’s all this dramatic, exciting shit happening and all of a sudden there’s a bigassed circle and triangle over the character’s face. You don’t get that in sword fights or gun fights or whatever.

It’s funny you mention assassinating dudes, because one thing I found very unnecessary and very distracting was that every single fucking time you could assassinate a dude that whole “triangle to assassinate, hold for critical” prompt popped up. Game, I’ve been doing this countless hours. Do not take me out of immersion each time.

There had to be a better “you are in range” indicator than that.

It was just more proof that in-combat prompts are distracting. Maybe that’s it.

Feminina:

That’s true, it does break immersion to have the button prompt pop up right in the middle of the action. “I’m trying to fight here, keep that triangle out of my face!”

And yet, it has to be right in the middle of the action, or you might miss it, and we’d HATE to lose a fight because we didn’t see the prompts because they were off in the corner or something. So there’s not really a better way to present QTEs, than having the prompt be right in your face.

And there’s not, maybe, a better way than QTEs to convey the tension and uncertainty and very real risk of failure that he’s trying to convey here. I don’t know, maybe there is, but I admit I can’t think of it.

One thing I’ve noticed, speaking of mechanics, there are a lot fewer of those “hold X…then simultaneously hold square…then simultaneously hold R1…then L2…” that were all over Heavy Rain. Sometimes in that game I felt like I needed three hands to press all the buttons we needed to press at once. (Again, no doubt intentional and to serve the atmosphere or whatever.) Here there are a few times where you have to hold multiple buttons, but not more than three at a time that I’ve seen, and not that often.

Butch:

There was one, and it was really hard, and I forget where it was. The interrogation? But it was both R1 and R2, THEN square, THEN X.

Shit, game. These hands ain’t what they used to be.

Feminina:

Ha–maybe I failed it and that’s why I couldn’t get the android to talk. And then I blocked it from my memory, because who needs that shame taking up neurons?

Butch:

I have enough shame for the both of us.

HA! I just booted the game and something came up and left blonde on, and after a while she’s all “are you familiar with schroedingers cat? Until you make a choice, everything is happening at once.”

Then, later, “are you all right? Things can be hard. I’m here for you.”

Now she’s giving me facts about the city of Detroit.

Feminina:

She said that to me about the cat, but I guess I never left her long enough to ask me if I was OK, or tell me anything about Detroit.

Are these facts about Now Detroit, or 2038 Detroit?

Butch:

She told me it was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Feminina:

How thematically relevant!

Butch:

Indeed. As I escaped the cops and found Jericho for good measure.

Computer is scanning itself. More later.

Feminina:

Did you escape neatly? I got spotted and had to flee from Connor across a busy highway. I got away, but I feel like it could have been more discreet.

Butch:

I escaped neatly. And sporting a very cute hairdo.

What was interesting was that flow chart. A whole lot of it was way after “escaped to the train.” One whole branch, which had a different starting point, was such you couldn’t get my ending at all.

Which is weird. “Nice easy escape” seems good, but the trophy in the other chapter was for getting into the hotel or squat. The only way to “win” this chapter was to “lose” that one? Odd.

Feminina:

Man, my escape was such a mess! Although I do still have a cute hairdo. I picked black hair so I’d look more like Alice.

And you asked at one point why they don’t all take off their LEDs if it’s so easy. Why indeed? Because it certainly looks easy!

I guess the answer is probably the same as the answer to “why don’t they all make choices for themselves and perhaps turn on their owners?” — They’re programmed not to.

But apparently once deviant, it’s no big thing.

There are a few cases like that, where whole branches of the story have completely different endings. I guess he would really like you to play the game several times!

I do think it’s quite interesting to see the story laid out that way, because basically every game that has choices and different outcomes could be presented on a similar chart: we’re just used to having that all behind the scenes. Seeing it broken down into a flowchart is a different perspective. Less immersive, but then, he really doesn’t seem to be going for pure immersion: he really wants you to be thinking about the possible repercussions of different choices.

And maybe to play it a few more times.

The Many Faces of Sports

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Detroit: Become Human

Butch:

Well, for the first time in some time, I got nothing. Yesterday was HALF DAY TUESDAY, Nugget has been awful at bed time, waking up in the night, I had no energy left for anything but scotch and hockey. But that’s cool, because it made me think of the game we’re playing! Cuz intoxication and hockey.

Seriously.

See, you do not watch sports. I know this about you. I know you well enough to know that your interest in sports ranks slightly lower on your list of interests than your interest in pocket lint. Frankly, no one has to know you all that well to know that about you.

But I, your blogmate, someone you, at least, tolerate am a sports fan. Mr. O, your husband and the father of your children, is not only a sports fan, but was a pretty good athlete back in the day and is still probably able to represent in pankration even though he’s in his forties. You may not like sports, but you like sports fans. At least two of them.

And yet, video games, at least video games that aren’t sports games like Madden, portray sports fans as drug addled, drunken, useless, abusive slobs.

Todd is watching hockey. You can even look at the TV and watch hockey for a while. The abusive, drunken father in Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit (remember that)? sat around all day watching sports. Testikles was a buffoon.

And what’s with that? I was sitting down yesterday with a drink and a hockey game all “Man, what a day, at least I can chill now with this drink and this hockey game and I feel like I’ve seen something like this rather recently and HEY WHAT THE FUCK GAME!!!!”

So I’ll ask you. You treat sports with ambivalence, if not disdain, but you do know that not all sports fans are abusive, useless slobs. So how did watching sports become a shorthand for lazy, drunken, useless, abusive slob?

Seriously, game. If you just watched a little hockey, learned the strategies you might like it oh never mind.

Feminina:

That’s an interesting question. I don’t know if video games are unique in having this shorthand for sports fans–it’s kind of a pop culture trope, isn’t it? Fat, lazy, beer-guzzling sports fans. You see them in movies, in TV shows, in books…in bars…(ha, sorry, couldn’t resist).

I think that “the game” kind of represents “the thing in life that this guy [almost always a guy] can be bothered to/is socially allowed to actually care about.” It’s an outlet for emotions.

Also, from a narrative standpoint, it’s a universally understandable, always available, fairly meaningless thing that someone can be shown sitting down to watch on TV, so it’s easy.

If we see Todd sitting down to watch, I don’t know, “The Walking Dead,” then that’s particular information about him as a person. He likes zombie shows, he follows pop culture, whatever. It’s a specific fact about him. Whereas “liking sports” (or even just following sports enough to make casual conversation about them) is a common enough character trait that it tells us, really, nothing about Todd or any other person (at least, a male person: caring about sports is still considered unusual enough among women that sitting down to watch the game would be more of a specific, particular thing to know about a female character).

It’s easy, it’s lazy, but it’s also plausible enough that no one will really question it. What else is Todd going to sit down and do that will get the point across that he’s a loser? Read a book? Not a stereotype for druggies! Play a video game? Another cultural ‘loser’ shorthand, but less commonly seen IN video games. Watch something else mindless on TV? Then you have to decide what, and think about why he’s watching it, and what it says about him…does he like cooking shows? Court TV? Law and Order? If you just show him watching a game of some major sport, you don’t have to worry about any of that.

Watching sports says nothing much about a person, because who DOESN’T “like sports”? I mean, besides women. (Yes, many women do in fact like sports. But it’s culturally less common, and it’s much more acceptable to not care about sports if you’re a woman, whereas you might get weird pushback as a man who doesn’t care about sports.)

“Liking sports,” or at least “watching sports on TV,” is just a thing men do, in popular culture. It’s pretty much expected in many circles. And yet, it undeniably also takes up a lot of time that could be perhaps more productively spent, and so “watching sports on TV” is shorthand both for “thing guys do hanging out being sociable” and “thing guys do wasting their lives.”

Maybe, like drinking, watching sports is seen as kind of pathetic when you’re alone, but fine and normal with a group?

Butch:

Fair. I suppose it is kind of a vanilla “thing on TV.”

It’s still lazy shorthand, and a lazy detail. More proof that Todd was too much of a caricature. WAY too much of one.

How much farther ahead of me are you? Have you finished the thing?

Feminina:

I’m some distance ahead. Does it really matter? Who can keep track of how many chapters we’ve completed, anyway? I’ve done a considerable number of chapters, but I honestly don’t know how many.

Butch:

Well I’ll play some now! Catch up.

[later]

Well. That was creepy as hell. Glad the kids didn’t see THAT.

So…..

If they can just take the little LED thingy off, why don’t they do that more often? What’s stopping Kara? What’s stopping any of them?

And what did I miss? I got all the parts, I checked all the parts, I got through all the things, I climbed, I passed every QTE….and yet there was stuff on the flow chart I missed. The fuck else was there? Could you talk to things? Find more things? Did you find a lot of things?

So I guess we’re setting up the “Character you really liked cuz he was a gentle, kind, artistic dude is now maybe evil maybe not and you’ll have to decide if you still like him” thing, aren’t we?

You know, that “thing.” Which is so common I should have a more concise way to describe it.

Feminina:

The junkyard of dead and dying androids? Creepy, right? And very effectively so, I thought. The dragging movement, the blurry vision that clears once you finally find another eye, the darkness, the BODY PARTS everywhere good lord so creepy.

I think I might have missed talking to some androids too. I met the one who told me to find Jericho, and wandered around some who were muttering. Oh, and one who said “kill me,” so, thinking of Hippokrates and how disappointed he would be, I did. Kassandra would be totally cool with it.

I don’t remember if the flowchart was completely filled in for me, though.

As for possibly evil, I don’t know…I definitely had a moment of thinking “Leo better watch out!” but on reflection, I don’t think Leo is really what he’s interested in. Evil? No… But politically aware? Definitely. Markus is free and is now deeply interested in android freedom and is rising from the grave to…think about that. In some as-yet-unspecified way.

At least, that’s how it came across to me. Much more a “here is a face of the movement,” than “here is someone on a personal vengeance quest.” Although I’m trying to think why I got that impression…there was the “there’s a place we can be free!” thing from that one dying android, I think that was pretty much what steered my expectations in that direction. The scene encourages concern more with freedom for “us” than with unjust treatment to Markus personally. Or so I felt. Mostly.

I mean, as I say, I did have that “Leo should watch his back!” thought as well, but I mostly dismissed it.

Butch:

And how the sound changed! Put the ear in, and it’s all silent, like the static is clearing, but no, that was just loading cuz after all that BOOM the nightmare sounds of the junkyard/graveyard.

My flowchart wasn’t filled in. And Jericho was a plot point, cuz it seemed to be unmissable on the flow chart. Thank you, flashback plot droid!

You know more than I do. You do.

But “face of a movement?” Maybe “potential future face of the movement.” No one really knows who he is yet, after all.

But I just did the next longassed chapter and boy am I confused.

There have got to be multiple Connors. Or fixed Connors. Cuz my Connor died (twice, my shame), and your Connor died in the opening sequence and there’s no way this whole chapter just plain doesn’t happen. This chapter, Anderson and Connor teaming up, was gonna happen. And yet, we both saw Connor die (though I reloaded so he didn’t. Twice. My shame).

So much going on!

So what did Kara’s “deviant file” say for you? I had “Todd what’s his name reported his android attacked him, she had just come from repairs, and she had had a history of aggression in the past (that is likely bullshit). I also see there is a missing “sex bot.” Ah, David Cage, we knew you’d go there eventually.

Anderson, thus far, is a pretty well done character. I like Clancy Brown’s acting in the first place, and he’s doing well here. It’s needed, too, cuz the “mismatched cop partner” trope is a trope.

But what’s with that Amanda? Weird garden? Did you find the weird rock with the hand? Of course you did.

There’s no way we’re just leaving the hinterlands here, though, is there? This can’t all have been set up. Damn game’s supposed to be 14 hours long, right? We gotta be a good chunk through. And yet, this seems like “OK, gotten to know everyone? Good? And now the main story.”

Feminina:

I do know more than you, but like I said, that IS how I felt about it at the time. (It’s entirely possible I could have been/was wrong!)

But yeah, I think there are multiple Connors, so you’re going to get certain Connor-related plot points no matter what. I had another instance later on where I thought “OK, he’s out,” and then…back he came. So I think they just have a bunch of them and keep sending another one as needed. Apparently, though, they upload their memories to a shared drive, because I know mine died in the first scene, and yet he still referenced his experience trying to negotiate with that deviant later on. That individual instance of Connor obviously wasn’t there…but apparently he still remembered it from the shared Connor memory file.

Or so I assume. It hasn’t exactly been spelled out, but that’s what I’m figuring.

Amanda! Weird garden! Weird, right? That’s got to be some kind of virtual space. Those weird rocks, the weird 2D kind of look of some of the structures…

As for the reports, dude, I accidentally hit “scan all reports” while trying to read about Carl and ZOOP! they all disappeared. I didn’t get to read what it said about Kara, OR Markus. Siiiiigh. Presumably, for Kara, something like “man found dead, android missing,” but I don’t know.

Butch:

Hmm. Or they repaired Connor? Or something?

I still can’t figure out how the skin works. It comes and goes? Or something?

DUDE! Do not scan reports! You missed the picture of the sex bot. Ahem.

What was weird about Markus’ file was that it didn’t have his picture, just a black outline. It was all “Murder,” “Subject destroyed,” “case closed,” so maybe they don’t have pictures of closed cases? Or maybe it’s a convenient plot hole?

Calling it: If you know don’t spoil: Amanda is an android. And has TB.

Feminina:

No one ever sees TB coming! Except you.

Choices, Choices

Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for early chapters in Detroit: Become Human

Butch:

OK, I did two chapters, so the first one with Bishop I mean Karl and the one with Connor and the bar and the murder scene and the Kurgan I mean Anderson.

Dude, I kinda love this game.

I don’t know if you finished with the Connor scene so I’ll just chat on Karl and that scene. That…wow.

I think the point of this game, the overarching theme, is making/encouraging the player, not to do such inhuman things as slaughtering Kevin and blowing shit up and robbing and looting, but to do HUMAN things, to find our own humanity and what that means.

So the way I played this scene was that I went through the house first, before going upstairs to get Karl. I brought the breakfast in, I cleaned up the studio and I tried out the piano. Got Karl (who was not at all what I expected when I got to the rich person’s house), and took him downstairs, and when it came time to “find something to do,” there was no doubt I was going to play the piano. I passed by chess, and was like, no. I don’t even know what the third option was. After passing the chess board I went right to the piano.

And I picked hopeful music. And I played the piano.

And it was one of those perfect “only in video games” things where I am still pondering why I did what I did. I likely will be pondering it for a good long while.

I have a metric ton more to say about these two scenes but I really want to start there. What did you do when you had to “find something to do?”

Feminina:

I also played the piano! That was kind of a cool mechanic. I didn’t go into that room first, I just turned on the birds and then went up to Carl, so when it was time to find something to do I tidied up and THEN played the piano, but I still had time to get to it. I think I picked…”thoughtful”? was that one of the choices?

Anyway, we’re going to have to work harder on doing different things here. But this was very nicely done…you don’t actually have to know how to play the piano, or even to be able to hit buttons in a QTE to pretend-play the piano, so it’s not a challenge you have to succeed at, nothing you can really be good or bad at (because the skill is in the character, so it shouldn’t depend on our button-pushing abilities), but you control the pace, and so it’s interactive in that way.

As with a lot of the things in David Cage games, when you break it down it’s really almost a long cutscene, but with some interactive bits so that you can participate. (Remember our discussion of how you had to actively open the car door to go to the party in Beyond, even though opening the car door has no real narrative significance?) You’re not just watching an android prepare an old guy’s breakfast, you’re part of the scene!

Really, he does interactive movies as much as games, and I think very consciously so (earlier you mentioned the opening credits, and how a lot of games don’t have them…but movies certainly do.) And that’s a perfectly fine choice and often he gets some good effects with it, though sometimes I think it works better than others.

But in this case, I definitely enjoyed it.

And I also met Lt. Anderson in the bar and investigated the murder scene–either they fixed my Connor, or they sent another one (he is a robot, so that’s always a possibility)–so if you want to discuss that too, we can.

Butch:

This time I’m very happy we both did the same thing, because I didn’t want to have to explain the mechanic to you and I really want to talk about that mechanic. And it’s very interesting that you said you can’t be good or bad at it, because I tried to be good.

What’s so interesting to me is the contrast between this scene and the last two or three months of my gaming life. In ACO, sure, I tried to be sneaky, I tried to play it “well,” but, if I didn’t, I shrugged, mashed buttons, ran away, whatever. Playing ACO well was not much of a concern. Or, to put it another way, slaughtering Kevins and doing terrible things wasn’t much of a concern.

Here, I really tried to get the tempos right, tried to learn the tune to vary the tempos, tried to make it sound as good as I could, not because I thought it mattered to the gameplay or the narrative or I’d earn a trophy. I knew it was just to hear a pretty song. But man, I spent more mental energy making that song pretty than I did in any bandit camp.

I found myself wanting to play longer.

What’s more, I had to let the kids watch that scene or I would never get to play. When the song stopped, Junior said “That was a good song,” and I said “I was doing that,” and all three of their heads whipped toward me, like, “what? You were controlling that?” and Nugget said, really quietly, “That was really pretty, Dad.”

Have they ever watched me play and said “Way to slaughter Kevin, Dad?” No.

The most engaged I’ve been in a game in a long time, and the thing my kids noted was me playing a game “well” was a beautiful song on a piano.

That’s a game moment that’ll stay with me, and I’ll be pondering it a long time. Highest praise I can give a game.

You’re right in that these are more interactive movies, and that’s cool for those of us who like to spend a lot of time writing about games as an art form because it makes the comparisons so much easier. Sure, this scene could’ve been a movie scene very easily. The imagery of the android playing a song and being praised for his playing improving, the imagery of the painting being a copy and then being something powerfully original (what did you pick? I picked a hopeful painting about androids and got a hand reaching upward surrounded by broken chains) would’ve been just as metaphorical on screen. But being the one that played the song, being the one that picked the picture, makes it thought provoking in really different ways. See above. I wouldn’t have been so affected by that scene had I not “played” the piano.

I also think the cinematic nature of Cage’s games solves, at least in a way, something we’ve talked about before: the problem of how you work in scenes that don’t have the PC in them. We had the “How does Lara know about the baddie’s plan? Does she? Should we pretend we didn’t?” talk a lot before. Cage solves that rather simply: Change the PC. Sure, his games are different animals from TR or UC or whatever, but it is a device that works here. Maybe it could work in other games.

But I’m getting too far afield. Still haven’t even touched the next scene.

Feminina:

Ah…that’s nice that your kids liked your song! Mr. O’ thought the mechanic was cool, but my kids weren’t there. They probably wouldn’t have been impressed anyway, since I only had time to play it once (since I hadn’t tidied up the room earlier the way you did), so I didn’t improve. That’s cool that you had time to work on it more.

I do kind of like the way he works with time…here as in his other games. You often can only do a few things from a menu of choices, or raise a couple of potential topics of conversation, before ‘time runs out’ on that scene, and that makes you think harder about them.

I picked “androids” and “identity” for the picture, and made a pretty cool self-portrait of Markus–not a photographic copy like the one Carl said had no heart (or whatever he said), but with kind of smeary brushstrokes. Quite nice, really. It was a nice touch to have those different options, and as you say, made it interactive in a pretty cool way that you got to pick: it almost certainly doesn’t make any difference to the overall story which picture you paint, or which song you play, but the fact that you were involved in making it helps get you engaged with the story. And in a small way helps make it “your story” as the android on the load screen says.

Incidentally, that’s another interesting aspect…one time when I loaded it she said “you were playing until late last night–hope you’re not too tired” (“it was only 9:30!” I said) and then on Friday she said “it’s great to start the weekend with Detroit!” Which is not that complicated, I’m sure, a game can track the date and time, they pretty much all do anyway because they note the date and time of every saved file, but having a game notice and comment on it is different. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that yet, honestly.

Butch:

Oh, I didn’t play it the first time. Not really. It had one of those down arrows, so I did it (as one does) and Markus just hit a few keys and smiled. It was weird because it gave the impression that he never really played the piano, but was always curious. When it became clear he knew how to play, and play well, I was surprised.

Your Karl didn’t tell you you’d improved? Hmm. Interesting. Cuz my Karl wasn’t around the first time I touched the piano, so he wasn’t referencing that.

Yes! The limited time makes you think about things. And makes them more organic. In real life, you don’t have time to talk to everyone, see everything, ponder your decision, etc. Making you play in the moment is very cool.

How’d your Karl react? Mine looked at the picture (the hand, the chain) and said “My God….” in sort of scared awe.

Yes! My load screen android did the same (Well, not the you stayed up late part cuz this family of mine never lets me do that).

I don’t know how I feel either, but I think I like it. My reaction when it said “It’s great to start the weekend” was like “AAA!” and I thought something like “How does it know, it’s just a game?” I mean, two seconds later I was like “Oh, save file, time stamp,” but just for that instant “How does this machine know?” question in my head.

Which is kinda meta.

Feminina:

It is rather meta, isn’t it? Gives you a hint, maybe, of the slight alarm that people might feel about actual androids…how do they know this stuff about me, and am I really COMFORTABLE with them knowing this stuff?

The game is spying on me! Well…no more than any game is spying on me. Which in a way just reminds me that they all are.

And this also has a lot of parallels with real-life privacy concerns around the robot assistants we DO have in our lives already, like Siri and Alexa and…uh…Hey Google? I guess that one doesn’t have a cute name, other than Google? Anyway, these–and our game consoles–are also things in our lives that know a lot about us, and we’re mostly OK with that because whatever, it seems pretty harmless and often convenient, but it’s also kind of creepy. I don’t use any of these programs myself, but since my phone has the capability, I’m sure it’s listening to me all the time anyway just in case someday I DO decide to say “hey Google!” Creepy.

Which is probably how a lot of people feel about androids. Have you seen the magazine piece yet with the headline “can your android be hacked”? Just like these days we worry about our phones getting hacked. Not that much of a reach, really.

My Carl also said “my god” when he saw my picture. I guess whatever we decide to paint, it’s going to come out as something that’s an impressive achievement for an android. Which suggests, again, that the actual picture is irrelevant in the larger story–but even so, it’s not irrelevant to us, because we picked it out.

Butch:

SO meta. From a menu screen. This game really is full of nice touches.

I haven’t seen that magazine article, but I did find the one that said “Android sex is better,” which I didn’t read all the way through cuz kids around. Maybe we’ll save that discussion for derailment Friday.

Did you read the “My God” as “Impressive achievement,” “Dear God it’s terrifying they can do that,” or both?

We could talk about this scene all day, but I also have lots to say about the murder scene. And I want to play later, and I’m sure I’ll have shit to say about that.

Feminina:

I took the “my god” as Carl being stunned and impressed by the achievement, rather than scared that androids can do that, but it’s ambiguous, isn’t it? Maybe a little of both. I mean, I’m capable of being both impressed and faintly horrified that my email notices when we’re talking about beer and displays Miller High Life ads, right? Humans are complicated and capable of multiple, conflicting emotions.

Butch:

It is ambiguous. Nicely so.

Great scene. Sometimes I can’t believe this is the same David Cage.

But let’s move on to the murder scene.

I solved it. You?

Feminina:

Well, yes, if you mean figured out what happened and caught the deviant. Did I solve the larger problem of human/android conflict in this troubled world? Obviously not.

Butch:

OK, good. Cuz my thoughts are related to that.

Well, two thoughts first. One, c’mon, we get to be ANDROID DETECTIVES and that’s pretty sweet. Two, twisting the cliche of writing in blood above a body from scrawled to perfectly “typed” font was so fucking cool. I loved the hell out of that.

Anyway, real bloggage.

So I was very surprised at the end when the game didn’t give me the choice to help the android. He’s all “Don’t tell them,” and, in a game chock full of choices, one would think “tell, don’t tell” would be a pretty big, pretty obvious place to put a choice. I was in the middle of thinking “what do I do what do I do” when Connor’s all “He’s here.”

I was all “wait…what? I didn’t get any choice in that particular matter?” I was rather surprised. But then I thought some and I realized that I did have a choice in the matter: I could have intentionally botched the investigation.

Let’s face it: We knew all along that the cops would not be good to the android if they found the android. Also, we, as players, can’t pat ourselves on the back too much because the mystery wasn’t terribly difficult to solve. Kitchen, living room….shit, the last question, as we’re looking at the body that was stabbed twenty eight times was “He was killed with……” It would have been very easy to say “The baseball bat” or something, in which case Anderson, who didn’t like us anyway, would’ve been all “He’s broken, get him out of here, can’t even tell a stab wound from a blow from a bat.” Then we wouldn’t have followed the blood trail, etc., deviant gets away.

But no, we answered all the questions right. Why? Because that’s what you DO. It’s what games have been asking us to do forever. Practically programming us to do you see where I’m going here.

We didn’t give a moment’s thought to whether we should solve the case. We didn’t give a moment’s thought to whether we should tell Anderson that we had solved the case, because reporting back to “quest givers” is what one does. Every time. Without thinking about whether you should maybe botch it. We just do it.

Like robots.

Just sayin’.

Feminina:

The typed-in-blood message was pretty sweet. As was the fact that when you examine it you identify it as “CyberLife font.” Because of course an android would use CyberLife font!

And yeah, I’m with you man. We know how to play games! We follow up on our objectives, do our jobs, report back to whoever told us to do the thing in the first place. (Then, usually, they give us some XP or a random weapon we’ll never use.) It’s just the program! As if we were robots!

I’m not entirely sure it would have been an option to fail to solve the puzzle, even. I messed up twice while reporting what happened to Lt. Anderson (just carelessly hitting the wrong button, like “they went into…the bathroom!” instead of the living room), and he just said “that makes no sense! your story has to fit the facts!” and then I had the option to try again. So I think we might have been stuck in that chapter until we solved it and reported back. We had to do it!

Which, a bit like the justly famed BioShock, uses the way we play games as part of the game. It also, in highlighting the fact that there are times androids have no choice about what they do, makes the choices they DO have a little more important, and maybe makes us think harder about what we decide (for them), when we get a chance to decide.

Pointing out the places where you don’t have a choice makes the places you do have a choice more interesting. Also, for this particular android, it’s probably part of a character evolution. He’s a cop-droid, right? And we barely know anything about him yet. It would be a bit surprising if one of the first things we saw him do is decide whether or not to disobey his programming and go ‘deviant’. Very likely there will be a later point where he WILL have that choice, but after he’s started to think more about what it means to be human, and why other androids are turning on their masters, and so forth.

Butch:

Indeed they would use that font. Which makes me wonder if the deviant didn’t write it. Mysteries!

It’s interesting considering our talk in Odyssey about the idea of choosing not to take a quest in order to affect the game world. There were a couple times we just didn’t do, or completely missed, quests. What we’ve never considered is a game giving us the option to intentionally fail a quest. We can have “bad endings” to quests, but a flat out “fuck this up and see what happens….” I can’t remember that ever.

I dunno, man. On the flow chart, right around “Connor knew what happened,”(though I forget if it was exactly there), there was a branch that had, like, four or five boxes after it, all linear, and all leading to an endpoint we obviously didn’t get. As the endpoint we did get was “Connor found the deviant,” one can assume that it’s fairly likely the deviant didn’t get found had we done something different right around the time of the “mystery.” Or maybe it was “Anderson found the deviant without Connor’s help” or something, but there was certainly a branch of the flow chart that went to an ending right around there.

True. He does seem to be a cop droid. Interesting that I thought it was so much fun playing him, the “I do not think” droid.

Because another part of this chapter that goes to what you’re talking about, the “this droid obeys,” was the bit where you see him resolve “contradicting orders.” Anderson tells him to stay put, and the game resolves whether you listen or not for you. Now, true, this was a pretty big scene, but, in prior David Cage games you could miss several big chunks of game based on your choices, like getting characters killed or getting caught by a security guard on your way out to the bar or not taking showers. Also, they could have resolved the need for any kind of “choice” by Connor or the player by just having Anderson say “All right, c’mon, you fucking plastic weirdo” or something. The game made a point of “Connor is facing a choice, and you, player, have no say.”

Contrast to the way we started the day, talking on how Markus (second game in a row they spelled Marcus wrong) had a choice in fucking everything. How to spend time, what song to play, what to paint, etc., down to mood and subject and details details details. Even how long to play and how fast.

Hmm.

Feminina:

Hmm…maybe we could have failed! It’s true, there were a lot of blank spaces on that flowchart.

As you say, that would be an interesting choice, especially since it would, really, be US metagaming and choosing to fail, when we know the character would not. “Oh yeah? You want to catch these poor deviants? I’ll make you suck at your job!”

Actually, you’re probably right that we could fail, because spoiler, there’s another chance to catch a deviant later and I DID fail it. Not on purpose.

So maybe I’m being unjustifiably confident that it would only be through intentional player intervention that Connor could mess up in the murder puzzle, too. I mean, we did have to put some pieces together. Could have done that wrong. Or hit the wrong button a few too many times until Anderson gave up in disgust.

I think maybe the contrast between Connor’s lack of choices and Markus’ many (though, perhaps, insignificant) choices are meant to show how close each one is to being deviant and also to being human. Because obviously those two things are connected, at least for androids. Although I don’t get the sense that the android we caught in the attic had a whole lot of choices in life, more that he likely was pushed too far, so perhaps that’s not quite the right way to look at it.

Still, something in here about choices and freedom and humanity, for sure.

Butch:

Well, before we get too far ahead in discussion, how far ahead of me are you? I’m sure you’re ahead of me.

As for metagaming, one of the more meta things that menu lady said was a reminder that “This is YOUR story,” and emphasized YOUR so much it has to be in capital letters. (This is if you click on “chapters.”) So, when we say “When we know the character would not,” why? It’s our story, right? We assume, based on what we know, that he would not, but you made the point earlier that we don’t know a whole lot about him (or any other android, for that matter). Maybe we could “tell” this story in such a way that he is a liar and a rebel!

But holy shit you just said something that I’m sure we’ll want to come back to so much that I’m going to quote it and put it in italics:

“choices are meant to show how close each one is to being deviant and also to being human”

Whoa, Femmy!

Besides a phrase that would be an instant A in any English course we took in college, it makes me think on whether this game sees “deviant” and “human” as different or the same. “And also” in your A getting phrase up there, are you saying that deviant and human are the same or on opposite ends of the spectrum?

I have a feeling this is gonna be a theme in the whole game.

Feminina:

Good point–this is OUR story! The android said so! So yeah, why couldn’t Connor be intentionally messing up from the very beginning, just pretending to be the perfect, program-following machine when actually he was deviant the moment he came out of the box!

Maybe we’ll play it again and do that. I already know I left some laundry undone back in Drunken Loser Todd’s house. That’s probably eating away at Kara.

And yes, I do think deviant and human are pretty much the same, at least as far as they describe android behavior, in that they both describe…wait for it…the ability to make choices rather than simply follow orders. One’s OWN choices.

The ability, perhaps, to tell…YOUR story.

Man, if this ends with a big reveal when an android looks in the mirror and I as the player see MY OWN FACE I’m going to flip out. If the technology was available in this console, I would be rooting for that, man.

Maybe in the PS5.

Butch:

I’ll totally flip out. Totally. Wouldn’t be surprised, though, had the console had the tech, cuz there’s already been a lot of mirrors. All three droids we’ve played have had chances to look in mirrors: Markus in the entry way, Kara in the bathroom, Connor in the nasty bar restroom. Hmm.

I assume you’ve at least started the next chapter? Cuz, if so, I can talk about laundry.

Feminina:

Yeah, talk about laundry. I’ve left that house and its laundry, man. I saw the flowchart with this entire vast swath of boxes for stuff that apparently was on the first floor that I didn’t do…but that ship has sailed.

I picked up the garbage! I tidied the mail! I don’t know what more you want of me.

This is why I’m a failure as a housekeeping robot. I glance around a first floor apparently crawling with chores and think “looks good, I’m out.”

OR Kara intentionally did a bad job because she thinks housework sucks! Could work for Connor…could work for her.

I hope this is the part where you explain that I missed a leery scene of Drunken Loser Todd gazing at her in the shower, which I will be happy to have skipped.

Make me feel better! It’s your duty as a friend.

Butch:

HA! You guessed it.

No, far more boring. You go to do the laundry and in the detergent you find red ice, and you’re all “Whoa…drugs…” and then he gets all mad.

Also, did the next chapter and WHOA now. That was a lot of QTEs that weren’t anywhere near as much fun as playing the piano. And a whole lot of unfilled in flow chart!

And interesting, considering today’s discussion.

How’d it go for you?

Feminina:

Ah, Drunken (or Drugged) Loser Todd loses it!

In this chapter I shot him and then ran off with Alice. After the whole bit where I broke through the programming (and, one assumes, became deviant) I tried talking to Todd first, and then he pushed me down and by the time I got upstairs he was already in the room with Alice. I think maybe if I’d gone straight upstairs instead, I could have taken Alice and escaped out the window before he got there, since both the gun and the window had that little ‘path unlocked’ message.

But I didn’t, so he’s dead. Hard to be TOO sad about it, since he wasn’t a very nice person. He was, in fact, almost cartoonishly villainous, a bit over the top (one thing David Cage is not, is subtle), although I did appreciate that he had that one moment earlier where he cried and said he was sorry to Alice…that put a BIT of nuance into the character. We know that at least he HAS feelings, they’re just buried by (presumably) drug-fueled rage.

What did you do?

Butch:

Whoa, what now? Dead? Gun? Shot? Where was the gun??????

No, no, I did not shoot him. That would’ve been a LOT easier.

So I went deviant (more on that in a tad), went and tried to reason with Todd (as you did), though I think I was “determined.” He pushed me down, went upstairs. I followed cuz fuck that dude. I get there, gunless (where was the gun?) and say “Hands off” or some shit. He grabs me by the neck, I get away, and a LOOOOONG QTE filled fight ensues with much dodging and buttons and button combos and shaking controllers and SO MANY QTEs.

Eventually he falls, grab Alice, go downstairs, try the front door, locked, Todd comes down, MORE QTEs, LOTS more QTEs, but did enough of them, I guess, cuz I got out the back door, climbed the fence, ran ran ran, got on the bus while Todd was screaming at us.

So. Many. QTEs.

So. Many.

But my Todd is very much alive and very much pissed off.

There’s a difference in our games.

But, towards our discussion about how to play and being conditioned to play. As Connor, we did what “games expect,” did the puzzle, followed the “rules.” Here, there’s DO NOT MOVE in big letters across the screen and we, of course, ignored it.

But here’s the thing: Checked the stats, and you know how many people ignored it and went deviant?

97% of everyone who played it.

97%.

So in the mystery scene, we all did exactly what we were told. Here, players the world over completely ignored the clear instructions.

97%.

So what’s the code in games for “ignore this?” Weird.

Feminina:

Aha, so I missed the laundry and the dishes, but YOU missed the gun! It was upstairs in the drawer next to Todd’s bed. I found it while I was tidying his room, so I knew where it was later. I still had to deal with some fighting QTEs, because at first he knocked it out of my hand and was punching and I was dodging and stuff, but then I got to it on the floor before he did and shot him. Then I grabbed Alice and we hurried out of the house and got on the bus. Todd was not chasing us, and as far as I know is quite dead.

Alice was pretty chill about it, I must say.

As for the code for “ignore this”…that’s a good question. I think it’s the passage of time. Because I DID stand there for what seemed like a long time (although it was probably only several seconds), before I thought “do I actually HAVE to stand here?” So I think if it had been a split-second decision, like “OK, either stand or leave,” a lot more people might have stood there, but the fact that you wait, and nothing is happening except that the sense of ominous threat keeps building while Todd mutters and prepares his drugs–the fact that you’re not DOING anything, I think is the code that says “maybe I should be doing something.”

Because in games we’re almost always doing something, right? We’re the player! We’re the person who does things! Even if we’re not fighting or looting or setting something on fire, we’re moving, or looking around, or pushing buttons trying to solve a puzzle. Unless it’s an obvious cutscene. But it’s very, very rare in games that we’re not doing something, if we’re not watching a cutscene.

This sequence had no hallmarks of a cutscene, it still felt like the active game, and so after a period of time had passed I think probably almost all players (97%, perhaps) will start pushing buttons just to see if there’s something they can be doing, because doing nothing feels wrong.

And once we learn that there’s something we CAN be doing, the code of games is almost always that it’s something we SHOULD be doing. (At least from a game/story perspective. Perhaps not from a smart-person perspective. Coming into a mysterious puzzle tomb and finding a big button, in real life we SHOULDN’T automatically push it, that’s a rash and likely fatal decision, but in a game we always push it, and we almost always SHOULD push it.)

Butch:

Hmm. I moved pretty fast. I wasn’t gonna let Alice get hurt. I didn’t know it was a long thing.

I wonder what happened to that three percent.

Not gonna check though.

Feminina:

Well, the other component of it is, who’s telling us to do something. If some random person gives us a quest that is “don’t move and that will retrieve my great-grandfather’s handaxe,” sure, we’ll do it.

If an abusive drug-user loser who explicitly stated he’s going to go hurt his daughter says it, we’re less inclined to think “yeah, these are instructions worth following.”

Butch:

Well…when you put it that way….

Hang Your Head in Shame!

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Detroit: Become Human

Butch:

I am a terrible person. I am a terrible blogmate, and a terrible person.

I didn’t google. I’m not a monster. I’m just a terrible person.

I played through the bit where Kara has to find a place to sleep. But that’s not what I did that was so bad.

It was the interrogation. I…..I…..I’m so ashamed.

I replayed it. Twice.

I’m a terrible person.

It’s just the first two times I did it I was THIS close and then Connor died and I thought “well, he died in Femmy’s game, maybe he’ll be OK,” but there was a skull next to it in the flow chart and I just wanted to know more about the character and I was weak, Femmy, WEAK!

So now I know all this stuff, all this plot, that I don’t deserve to know.

Because I am a terrible person.

Anyway, watched Karl die (so sad!), did the interrogation of shame, did the bit with Kara and Alice.

How’d they go for you?

Please forgive me.

Feminina:

Wait, Connor DIED in the interrogation? Wow. I didn’t get much out of the other android until I selected ‘probe its memory,’ then I got the brief flash of its owner saying “I’ll teach you to look me in the eye” and going after it with a baseball bat. (I kept trying to be sympathetic, which would lower its stress levels instead of raising them. It never talked.)

Then after the memory probe I walked out and it started to bang its head on the table, which I assumed from the “self-destruct” comment earlier meant it was going to destroy itself. I chose not to intervene, because…I dunno. Seemed like it had the right to destroy itself rather than wait for humans to destroy it, you know? And it’s not as if it didn’t have a pretty good reason to flip out at its owner, although I can’t, of course, condone murder. (Unless I do it to save Alice. Then it’s totally fine.)

So it destroyed itself and I kind of shrugged. My Connor was never in any danger of dying that I saw, or even getting punched. What on earth did you do to wind up dead?

Also, I thought that line about not looking the owner in the eye was telling. Goes right back to my earlier speculation that androids became popular become humans want something that looks human that they can lord it over, doesn’t it? Humans like owning androids because they like the illusion of being able to control other humans. Which says, essentially, that humans kind of suck, but then, we know this.

I also saw Carl die (sad!). I didn’t fight back against his son, because Carl told me not to. I did break the programming and become deviant, but didn’t do anything except run to Carl as he lay dying–the telling comment here was that Markus called Carl “dad.” Which tells us that Leo was not wrong when he perceived Markus as a substitute son to Carl. Also, arguably, not wrong in feeling that Carl preferred Markus, because duh, who wouldn’t prefer a polite, helpful, surprisingly artistic android son over a rude druggy loser human one?

As with Todd, I feel the characterization of Leo is a bit heavy handed. The choice is SO obvious: clearly Markus is better in every way! It would have been more complicated and perhaps more interesting if Leo hadn’t been a total loser–maybe had been a basically decent guy who was trying his best but had disappointed Carl in some other way…failed in his career when Carl thought he should have done better, or something. Carl was probably not perfect, as humans are not, and likely bore some responsibility for the way their relationship unfolded, and that would have added some nuance.

But as we have often commented, David Cage may be many things but subtle is not among them, and perhaps in some ways the characterizations work better if they’re pretty broad to get points across quickly and clearly. This is, after all, a relatively short game, so he’s got to hit a bunch of marks and move on. Do we really NEED to know the deep background on everyone we meet? So, OK, point taken.

With Kara and Alice, I had them sleep in the car. I was going to steal some clothes in the laundromat but Alice said “no, that’s wrong!” and I thought “OK, I’ll play it goody-goody and do the right thing.” So Kara is my android who will always try to be good even though she’s deviant. And a murderer, I guess. But other than THAT she’ll try to be good.

Hey, I just played 140 hours of Assassin’s Creed, the bar is pretty low.

Butch:

I feel ya. After all, Todd didn’t mow his lawn. Deserved it.

As for Connor, I don’t know, man! Maybe I intervened. I think that was it.

Cuz the first time I did it your way. I was all nice, and then I did the memory probe, and it tried to bonk itself, and then, I guess I intervened cuz it got loose, grabbed a gun, shot Connor, shot itself.

I was like, fuck that, so the second time I tried to be all robotic. “You were programmed to obey!” which stressed it out, and I was THIS close, and then I got, like, two percentage points too HIGH, and it flipped, and I didn’t intervene, and it shot Connor and itself.

I was THIS close. So the third time, I had a lot of practice, so I got it to talk. And WHOO EEE did it talk. I learned a LOT that I have no right to know I’m a terrible person. Terrible, I say.

I’ll tell you all about later, but for now, won’t spoil.

So it talked and talked and talked and then flipped out and shot itself but not Connor and I was OK with that.

We do know this about humans sucking. We do. Though there’s something I don’t get: How do Todd and dead guy afford androids? We saw, when Kara was in the shop, well dressed people all “I don’t know…it’s kinda pricey…” and here are two dudes who look kinda down on their luck owning androids. I’m not sure I get that. Are they luxury items or not?

I did the same with Markus and Leo, and what I found interesting was, in this case, breaking the programming seemed not to lead to anger and killing (you monster), but to sorrow. He was crying as Carl died. Androids aren’t supposed to cry, right? So he broke out, and learned love and sorrow.

And the dad thing was odd.

As for going deviant, did we have a choice? I don’t think we had a choice.

And well, yes, OK, short game, but let’s not let him off that particular hook. Movies are about two hours long, and they can get subtle nuance into characters just fine. Subtlety does not need to take an hour and half.

I, too, ended up in the car, but probably by a roundabout way that the game tricked me into with game conventions and messing with how players play games.

Did you go to the convenience store first? Cuz I did. And…well….did you?

Feminina:

MOW THE LAWN, TODD! He did deserve it.

Ha.

I did wonder about that. How expensive are androids? They seem practically ubiquitous, certainly not toys just for the rich. I think I saw one ad that said $899 (of course, who knows what that is in today’s dollars!).

I think maybe they’re supposed to be comparable to cell phones. Cell phones can be pretty pricey, and yet practically everyone has one these days. Even people who aren’t rich will pay, maybe, $899 for a nice phone. It’s just one of those things you pay for. And if it comes bundled in with a service plan, a lot of times you can get it for less…we don’t know any details (unless you learned something in the interrogation!) about how androids access and use data, but presumably they can get online to order dishwasher parts and so forth, they can handle electronic funds transfers, so it could easily be something like that. Sign up for the 3-year service contract and get the android for only $150!

Anyway, that’s kind of how I figured it in my head. Think of androids as the smart phones of their day: Everyone has to have one!

A lot harder to carry around, but more useful at basic chores, and also a lot more fun to dominate and beat up, if that’s your thing. Yelling at Siri just doesn’t provide the same kick.

This does also assume that CyberLife has figured out a cheap source of components, because androids are a lot bigger than phones and you’d think they would be pretty expensive just in material costs, but these details are way too boring for a fast-paced game. Maybe we can mine asteroids in 2038. Or there’s good stuff in the Arctic, which we’re apparently at the brink of war with Russia over.

I did not go into the convenience store. I looked at the motel, didn’t have money, went into the laundromat so Alice could warm up but didn’t steal clothes, looked at the abandoned building but didn’t immediately find a way through the fence, then found a way to get to the car and just stayed there. It PROBABLY would have been OK to wander all over everywhere for however long it took to look at everything, but you never know with these games. We’ve talked before about how there are often limits on how much time you can spend on things, and I didn’t want to risk the police showing up or Alice freezing to death.

Also, super interesting that intervening was the key…I thought I was just being respectful of the other android’s wish to die, but actually I was saving myself! Hm.

Butch:

I think it was. I can’t think of anything I did differently.

Of course, the second time, I didn’t do the mind probe, I didn’t get any confession at all, I was leaving the room all “Sorry. I can’t do any more,” and I STILL got shot.

I was so mad! Like, what did I do, game????

Hmm. OK, I can see that cell phone comparison.

I would never yell at Siri! Indeed, I often thank Siri! She’s very appreciative and gives a jaunty “You’re welcome!”

Which is more than my kids do….hmmm…..

Components…Don’t overthink. David Cage.

With Kara: OK. So here’s how the game faked me out.

I scanned everything, as one does, and the store said “Open 24/7. Can’t stay here. Ask for help?” And the hotel said “Safe, discreet, need money.”

Now, let’s face it: When a game says “Here’s the best outcome” and “here’s a place that will help,” each time, every time, you get the help. Shit, if a game gives you an objective, and there’s an optional thing, you do the optional thing first cuz it’s usually something like “Here’s the key to the very easy, unguarded backdoor to the room with grandpa’s handaxe.” So I went to the store first. That makes perfect game sense! So I asked for help, got none, but saw a place I could steal food, steal a toy, and a rack of tools I couldn’t do anything with. Oh, and a camera, which will haunt me later. Anyway, I told Alice to knock over some cans and, when she did, I stole money from the cash register. Off we run. I tell Alice “We have money now,” and she gets mad. “You used me to STEAL?” So I apologize, promise not to do it again. But hey, it’s cool, I got money. Hotel here I come! I did the optional quest, right? I got the key to the handaxe room!

But, of course, need clothes. So go to laundromat, about to steal and Alice is all YOU PROMISED!!!!

So I didn’t steal. I promised her and all.

So I check out the abandoned house, and she’s all “We’d need wire cutters,” and I think “Ah, right, the ones in the store. Which I can’t go back to now cuz I did the ‘get help’ thing that you always do FIRST in fucking video games and they’ll arrest me.”

So I slept in the car.

And that’s a total fake out! When a game is all “You’ll need money” at a place, and you know you have none, you don’t go there FIRST. Ever! But I guess you had to to do it correctly.

Or what passed for correctly. I was curious, as I didn’t get a trophy at the end of this chapter, so I looked at the trophy I missed because I am a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person. It was “Kara and Alice slept in the hotel or the house.” Which made me go Hmm, because, to sleep in the hotel, you had to disappoint Alice TWICE, first by stealing the money, second by stealing the clothes.

Unless, if you stole the clothes first, the guy at the store would’ve helped you out, but I doubt it.

So odd that the trophy is for disappointing Alice.

And also, what clothes cover the weird LED ring on their heads? Details.

You ALWAYS check out the help first.

Nice fake out, game.

Feminina:

“Dare to leave the room, will you?” BANG.

Unexpected consequences.

That’s interesting that you have to disappoint Alice repeatedly to sleep in a more comfortable place. I am a little concerned about that, because she’s already ‘distant’ and if I lose her trust…what if she runs off and I can’t help her anymore?

I guess if you knew what you needed, you could have gone to the store and just stolen the wire cutters, then cut the fence to get into the house, and only disappointed her once?

But of course you’d have to luck into the right order of events, or be a horrible person who replays scenes, for that to work. Better to just stay in the car. It’s “discreet”. We’ll be fine there.

That is a pretty cruel fake-out though. “Ask for help?” SUCKER! I actually kind of approve. You have to give props to a game that messes with expectations a bit.

We could get a little meta and say it’s messing with our programming and making us unstable and likely to potentially become deviant!–but that’s a bit of a reach.

Butch:

I don’t know, man. I’m not sure that is all that meta. I think that is what it’s kinda sorta trying to do.

Because the more I’m pondering my terrible, horrible replaying of that scene….I think I might have messed it up by getting the “good” ending where I “succeeded” and got the confession and lived.

Talk about unexpected consequences.

Because, let’s go through it.

Attempt One: I got too far out of the blue, and into the red, and took an easy shortcut (the mind probe). Red is generally bad in games, as are easy shortcuts, and the game “punished” me by killing me off and by missing out on information/plot.

Attempt Two: I, once again, stayed in the red, FAILED to get a confession (which it did say in capital letters), didn’t get plot, died.

Attempt three: Stayed in the blue (blue! So much better than red in games!), SUCCESSFULLY got confession (again, all caps), got to ask a million questions in that “Here’s a longassed list of dialog choices and please go through them one by one to get plot points and all that shit” way games have where you cheerfully hit one dialog choice after another. That’s a reward! I got him to talk to me! I, the player, got to talk to him! I LEARNED shit, man! And I didn’t die! That is some serious game VICTORY! And I reloaded TWICE to get it and was so happy I did.

But here’s what I just realized: I got him to say all that, happily, cheerfully, clicked on one choice after another, in front of cops.

In retrospect, if I want this game to end in any positive way…..maybe I shouldn’t have gotten all that plot in front of cops.

Yes, I got the “Yay you!” outcome that we usually see in games. I got the “Yay you!” outcome I tried three times to get. I got the “Yay you!” outcome that gamers are programmed to want.

And now I regret it.

Another thing that’s so fucking fascinating is that the times I’ve dutifully done what the game wants me to do without thinking about it have been Connor chapters, the bot that’s actually programmed to be that kind of robot. The free thinking artist? The spunky cute girl? When I’m them, fuck the rules. Connor? Do what the game says.

Hmm.

This game has levels, man. I’ll give it that.

Feminina:

Interesting twist! Since I FAILED in big letters to get a confession (my Connor is actually not that good at his job), I don’t know this information, and therefore do not regret having exposed it to the human cops.

But are you just saying you personally regret it, or you feel Connor maybe regrets it? Because he’s such a rule-follower, wouldn’t he be glad the humans know about the android plot or whatever? (You can tell me later.)

Anyway, very interesting twist indeed, and again, the game kind of messing with us…obviously we’re going to try hard to do the assigned task correctly, but maybe that’s not actually the best outcome?

Butch:

Yeah, this game is playing with game expectations very, very well.

And I’m the one that regrets it. There’s no doubt that Connor is all about doing what he do.

Though…have you noticed that, with Connor, “software instability” pops up and random times during cutscenes? What’s with that?

There’s a lot going on in this game.

Feminina:

I noticed the “software instability” thing too. I assume it relates to how close he is to going deviant? Neither of the others had it, but they both went deviant pretty quickly, and I get the sense that being deviant is a necessary part of their story arc, where with Connor, maybe it’s more about whether or not he becomes deviant. I mean, Markus and Kara just ARE deviant, right, their stories would basically have just ended if they didn’t break their programming, but with Connor, it’s less certain. He’s working with the humans, following his orders, doing what he’s programmed to do. And yet, feeling some conflict, which makes his software unstable. So we don’t know which way he’s going to go in the end.

Maybe, too, we didn’t see it in the others because they were different models? Connor is specifically assigned, and by implication specifically designed, to hunt deviant androids–maybe his programming includes a scan of his own software that was not considered necessary on other models, because the company either wasn’t aware it could be a problem (and from the sounds of it, this problem really has just kind of popped up in the last couple of weeks), or because they’re particularly concerned with monitoring the stability of an android that has regular contact with deviant androids, in case it’s contagious.

Butch:

Do you know something I don’t?

Well, the others are kinda specifically assigned. The murderous bot that killed himself, when scanned, showed up as a “housekeeping model” or something. I don’t know if it was just what he did or he was made as a housekeeper. Unclear.

I wonder if there was a way to save that guy.

And I wonder about the 34985398475345 things I missed in the last chapter.

This unknown/unlocked shit must be driving your question mark addled mind totally off the cliff.

Feminina:

The weird thing is that I don’t actually mind the unknown/unlocked stuff that much. I mean, it makes me curious, but I’m not driven to know (although I’ll probably read about it on the internet later).

I think it’s because when something is locked and over and I missed it…well, I missed it. It’s gone.

Whereas those question marks are always there. I need to go look at them because they’re STILL OUT THERE, being questions! Still taunting me with what’s unknown but COULD be known if I just ran over that hill!

In this case, it’s stuff that’s unknown and I CAN’T know it without playing the scene again several times. So it’s fine!

Butch:

I’m just glad they use red padlocks. If they used question marks your head would explode.

Feminina:

Yeah, padlocks are fine. I don’t have a problem with padlocks.

 

For Our Next Trick…

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers

Butch:

Well, I got nothing on the game we are currently playing, so let’s talk about what we’re playing next.

So Death Stranding sounds….well….I guess it depends on who you ask. I can certainly see how the creative, artsy nature of it is right up our alley, but…..I dunno. Read some reviews. They’re worth reading. It certainly sounds like a thing, and perhaps a thing that we’d be far more interested in if a bunch of other things weren’t already things…

…but there are other things.

I dunno, man. Ponder. Though, given all we’ve done lately, and our mutual desire for variety, I might vote Outer Worlds.

But ponder. We’ll discuss.

I mean, read this review and try to tell me what the fuck it is and if it’s good:

https://kotaku.com/death-stranding-the-kotaku-review-1839474313

Feminina:

Uh…hm. It sounds very interesting…but that “long and grueling”…I don’t know if that’s what I’m in the mood for right after finishing a very long (if not necessarily grueling) game.

Hm.

Butch:

I concur. Shall we consign it to the maybe later pile?

So what do we play? You cool with outer worlds?

Feminina:

Outer Worlds looks fun, and it’s probably been long enough since I last played a Fallout-esque game that I could get back into it. But I might have to play Divinity… Mr. O’ has mentioned the possibility a couple of times, so it’s on his mind. He was kind of disappointed when I started Detroit.

Outer Worlds is supposed to be much shorter, which is kind of appealing after Odyssey, but I don’t know if I can resist the sad puppy dog eyes of my spouse who wants to play a game with me.

Butch:

Oh all right. He’s ready to start and y’all will finish?

Feminina:

Yeah, I know, the danger is that we start and then because of the having-to-both-be-free issue with scheduling, it could take us a while to finish.

But I swear, I’m going in with a different approach for my character this time! All business! No need to obsessively murder every captain I see!

It’s going to be great.

But yes, he’s ready to go as soon as I’m done with Detroit. And naked Zeus knows we both like our game time.

Butch:

Just as long as our bloggage does not fall victim to the fickle whims of Mr. O. I’ll go order it.

[later]

Ok, I will have DOS2 the enhanced edition, whatever that means, tomorrow. Is your edition enhanced? It was all anyone had.

On sale, too!

When did you buy it? Christmas?

Feminina:

Noooo!!!! Ours is only the “Definitive” edition! And it wasn’t on sale!

Siiiiiiiiiigh.

Butch:

Oh. Maybe that was it.

Yup. Definitive.

But only 20 bucks.

When did you buy it?

Feminina:

Whoa! Pretty sure I paid more than that. Nice.

I bought it in July for some reason. Planning ahead for Christmas but couldn’t wait? Late anniversary? I don’t remember.

Maybe it WAS on sale at the time. It’s a mystery.