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Vague possibly-if-you’re-super-sensitive spoiler for a type of puzzle in The Witness

Butch:

Well, this is a good week to be busy and tired and angry at the government cuz I’m sure in a lull. Hopefully, you’re plugging along admiring things and drawing lines and all that.

I did a bunch of chapter 3 of King’s Quest, which remains good. Not particularly themey, though. Last night’s highlight was the realization that the old king telling the story is voiced by Christopher Lloyd. He’s good in anything.

And Mrs. McP has class tonight! This should be prime killing things time!

I’ll start Tentacle. But man, I hope there’s another good PS+ game this month.

Feminina:

I haven’t played anything either, but as you said a while ago, this is a good one to pick up and put down. I’m not exactly sitting here chewing my fingernails to the quick thinking “oh man oh man oh man I sure hope I have enough cloth and leaves to survive that next puzzle screen!!!!”

Last thing I was doing was brute-forcing my way through the candelabra type ones next to the pink trees (there’s probably a logic to them…a pattern, if you will…but I couldn’t figure it out, so hush). It’ll be there later.

Some interesting quotes about seeking God, aren’t there? And interesting that they’re these 15th and 16th century writers, and then there was the science-y quote about going through doorways from the early 20th century…I don’t have a theory, but that’s what I noticed. Seeking God? Seeking doorways? God as a doorway?

Now you say “Hm.”

Butch:

It is good for that. It’s a good one to mull when you’re otherwise occupied.

The puzzles that look like little trees themselves you mean?

I shall.

Hm.

Feminina:

Yes, the little pink tree puzzles, with the pink-lit wires when you do them right. So pink!

Also, what’s with all those humming black monoliths? Don’t answer that.

Butch:

HA! I think that was a part I did first, too. Those pink tree puzzles. That so closely resemble the trees they are standing next to.

In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure about the monoliths.

Though I have some ideas.

Hm.

I’m no good at this being ahead of you in games thing.

Feminina:

Yeah, dude, your cryptic comments are falling down on the job here. Ha. But it’s early days yet, you have time to work on it as I continue to fumble with colorful wires and so forth.

Butch:

Ok…..I’ll try again….

You’re using brute force on the puzzles that look like the trees they are set up right next to, huh?

Feminina:

Haha! Nice! That’s better! Although possibly a bit too actually useful. You want to be as obliquely unhelpful as possible.

Something vague like “treeeeeeeeeeeeees, eh?”

Butch:

Sorry, sorry.

Treeeeeeeeees, eh?

There.

You’re right! That IS better!

Feminina:

Right?

Something that sounds like it means something, and yet is completely indecipherable. Ideally I’ll spend as much time trying to figure out what you meant as I do trying to figure out the actual puzzle.

“Trees. Trees. OK, maybe the number of eeee’s is significant? Maybe there’s a message IN the trees? Maybe if I walk around and look BEHIND all the trees?”

I’m freaking out now. As I should be.

Butch:

Yeah, but, and I’m only saying this so directly as you will likely forget, the thing about this fucking game is that two of the three questions you so jokingly asked are very, very good ideas.

So go count the eeeees.

Feminina:

OK, I will.

Except I will probably forget because I won’t play for possibly DAYS (or possibly several hours), but whatever. I’ll vaguely remember I wanted to count…something…trees…

On a completely unrelated note, I appreciate how in the shadow silhouette that is all I’ve so far seen of myself, I could easily be pretty much any age, gender or race. An interestingly blank screen on which to project either myself, or whatever character I like to imagine embodying in this scenario.

Butch:

No don’t count Es! That was a joke! It was the other two things…..

Fuck this. My vagueness is going to totally fuck the game up for you.

I always forget about the shadow, and then I see it and jump like “Who IS that? Oh, it’s me.” There’s a metaphor in that, I think.

But it is true that it’s very nondescript. I think I mentioned before, this game feels like ME more than Rapture did, and I think it plays into that, the shadow. If it were specific, you’d say “Oh, there’s that person I’m pretending to be,” but, this way, I can say “There I am” in more than the way you say “I did such and so” when you really mean Lara Croft or Nathan Drake. It’s ME doing that in The Witness.

Or I feel that way.

Feminina:

Ha! No, I wasn’t actually going to count Es.

Unless that’s the only part of this discussion that I remember when I go back to the game…

The lack of a specific character you’re pretending to be does lead to an enhanced sense of “me-ness,” I think. Plus, as you mentioned in some other message, there’s the fact that the action you’re taking is walking around and solving puzzles.

In action games, your actions are leaping and jumping and murdering hundreds of dudes in exciting ways that I’m always aware on some level are NOT ME. I cannot climb up walls like that, or leap across yawning chasms (and then return to life if I fall and die), and I do not, in the course of an average day, murder hundreds of dudes.

But walking around and solving puzzles, I could actually do. In fact, the solving puzzles is something I DO actually do. In the game, that’s not my character having super powers and making stuff happen, that’s just me brute-forcing my way through the branches instead of counting the Es. There’s this way in which whatever you do in a game like this is something YOU actually do, contrary to the way that ultimately, however much you feel sympathetic to and one with your character in a roleplaying game, it’s never ACTUALLY you.

I mean, one could debate about whether or not that really has any critical significance, and whether it’s not like saying “when you do a crossword, it’s really YOU, and that’s MEANS something,” and I’m not honestly sure how much it does mean, but…it’s interesting.

Or it’s not interesting and I’m just groping for things to talk about since I’ve only played about 20 minutes of the game.

Butch:

Don’t mess with me, man! I’m new to this!

That’s true, about the character abilities. And, without a spoiler here, I have not reached a point where shit gets any more super powery than walking and sprinting and solving.

Except, well, here’s something that we can discuss.

The shadow being us, ok. There’s a lot of “real.” Your shadow, your footfalls, even your breathing when you sprint. But when you solve the puzzles, what are you actually DOING? Your hand doesn’t appear, and, if you haven’t figured it out, not a spoiler, you can whoosh into dot mode and manipulate puzzles and whatnot from a distance away. (Bookmark this one for later, too.) It’s not a superpower, per se, but what? Is it “real?” Is it in our heads?

So that’s not something I DO. I can not make lines appear on panels that are far away.

I’m still pondering that.

Feminina:

Dot…mode…?

But it’s true, you don’t see any hands. It’s not a classic FPPS (first person puzzle solver). (Ha.)

So yeah, what AM I doing to cause these puzzles to be solved? Drawing lines with my mind? You’re right, that’s…sort of a super power. Not a great super power, but certainly not something I personally in my everyday life can do.

Hm.

Wait, that’s your line. OK, uh…weird.

Butch:

I say “Dot mode” for lack of a better thing to call hitting X and getting “WAAAA” before you hit circle for “WOOOOO.”

I got nothing else to call it.

Feminina:

Oh, OK.

You’re right, I can’t think of a better description. Clearly, our language lacks adequate terminology for many of the critical concepts we need to discuss.

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