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Spoilers for the bit with the goblin and Ralfie, and for the Immaculate proving ground in Divinity: Original Sin

Butch:

Played a bit. Nothing all that themey. Ran into a goblin with an unhappy pack animal. Talked them both up, got into one of those long, garbage time fights with the goblin, who kept healing despite the fact I was gonna win. Won. So I know about spider queens and goblin totems. Stumbled on a crowd of spiders, and thought they were holding captives, but no, those weren’t captives, they were bad guys. Died.

Went to the cave instead. Fighting slowed sucks.

Got to the cave. Kept getting rot. Figured “Maybe I’m supposed to have rot!” Got to the room with the scales. Was infuriated, and dying of rot. Reloaded. Managed to get through the rot room without getting rot. Was STILL infuriated by the room with the scales. Like, INFURIATED. It didn’t help that Junior was there, and Mrs. McP came home, and they’re BOTH kibitzing all “Maybe use some cheese! Or that vase! Or or or!”

But at least I didn’t have rot.

Finished it, Junior and Mrs. McP were all “Go see what’s in the next room!” and I wanted to say “NO MY GAME MINE MINE MINE” but I did, and there were levers and they said “Ooo let’s try-” and I said “No. Not doing fucking levers after all that” and stopped. They were confused about my aversions to levers. But lines must be drawn.

But at least I didn’t have rot.

Feminina:

Dude–I’m impressed you managed to get through there without getting rot. How did you manage that? We pretty much walked in, got rot, figured “I guess we’re supposed to have rot so that we can be cured later on–must be part of the test” and pressed on. Silly us, accepting the circumstances!

But you don’t really die very quickly from it, so a regeneration every few minutes kept us in fine shape for the next rooms with the scales and the levers and what-not. Ha–those scales WERE annoying. I spent a lot of time running around, setting down pumpkins and things, picking them up, moving them around. Regenerating from time to time. At least we didn’t have O’Jr. looking over our shoulders making helpful suggestions.

We also talked to the pack animal (Ralfie! has to be related to Alfie, right? And yet it was not an option to make that connection, for some reason) and, at its request, fought the goblin.

I felt kind of bad about that, to be honest. I mean, the goblin didn’t do anything to us–he was just going about his business, with a pack animal, such as anyone might have, and we attacked him. And yes, we justified it as freeing an enslaved creature, and freeing slaves is definitely good, but if that’s our motivation, then where are our other attempts to fight for the rights of animals? Why aren’t we attacking people for selling roasted pigs? Why didn’t we attack ALFIE’s owners?

Mostly, I think, because Ralfie asked us to and Alfie didn’t (and possibly also some racial/social prejudice, since Ralfie’s owner was a goblin who was rude to us, and Alfie’s owners were human and polite). But would we by that token go ahead and murder the next chef whose intended chicken dinner says “please, save me, kill that guy”? I don’t know. And perhaps it’s rather pointed to note that in fact the chicken we saved (or not–you monster) presumably DIDN’T ask us to kill the guy, just to let it escape. (As you may recall, I didn’t have Pet Pal at that point, so I didn’t talk to it.)

Also, Alfie and Ralfie, while apparently seen as just ordinary, if unusual-looking animals by their owners, are not familiar to us, so maybe it’s easier for us to read them as “sentient being with full rights to ask not to be enslaved for someone else’s purposes,” where we would have a harder time accepting that argument from a chicken.

Is this the game not pushing us too hard on this?

Anyway, that whole event made me kind of uncomfortable–which is not really a criticism of the game. I kind of like that it’s raising, even obliquely, some shaky ethical issues. (Also, more on that theme of “are we actually good?”) If I were to criticize, it would probably be because the raising IS so oblique. Why not go ahead and present us with that chicken who asks us to slaughter the farmers who steal her eggs? Make us actually think about where we’re drawing these lines.

It seemed intentional, though, that there was no option to try anything other than attacking. We couldn’t try to buy Ralfie from him, or persuade him of the error of his ways in mistreating another living creature, or even tell him WHY we were attacking and give him the option to release the animal. You’d think “let Ralfie go or we’ll have to fight” would have been a fair warning–but no, it’s all fine and then you just attack him. The game seems to want you to be aware that you are definitely making an unprovoked attack on an unsuspecting creature, there: that’s how they’ve framed the choice.

It’s also interesting to think about how we would have approached that if we couldn’t talk to animals. We’d have literally no excuse for attacking the goblin in that case, and yet no doubt some people did, just because loot and XP. And no doubt some other people who couldn’t talk to animals strolled blithely on, leaving the goblin and Ralfie to their own devices, unaware that Ralfie wanted to be freed.

And did you have Wolgraff with you? He had a reaction to this that was also kind of interesting.

A thought-provoking interlude, for an encounter with a traveling merchant.

Butch:

I noticed the first several times I did it that Bairdotr, for some reason, wasn’t getting the rot. She has a rank in Tenebrium, so maybe she’s cool with that. I thought she was just making saving throws, but eventually I just said “Hell with it. Run, do the pyramids” and it worked. Bairdotr to the rescue!

But I think it was part of the test. Despite me getting through there unharmed, my log says “We’ve made it in but we’re infected with rot! This must be one of the burdens!” So, I think I gamed the game. But hey! I just thought it through, man!

True, it’s not lethal, but every damn minute everyone grunts and the health bars appear and that’s infuriating. Especially when trying to solve puzzles.

So annoying, those scales. Especially as there was one that I could get to 101% percent. That was just insulting. It’s another case of flaws that game puzzles make: There should be a way that, once you know what you need to do, it’s easy to do. Garbage time in fights is annoying, garbage time in puzzles is infuriating. LOTS of time saying “Yeah, yeah I get it! I know!” last night. Hate that.

Hmm. Good point about Ralfie. Indeed, even Wolgraff felt bad. He was all looking at his face reflected in the blood (eww) feeling guilty, and we had a little Scarlett/Roderick chat with him.

I don’t know. That goblin was kinda an asshole. But your point is taken. For all we know the ham people are assholes, too. And, true, Alfie’s owners weren’t all that nice to him, either. Hmm.

I’ll never know about the chicken, but that’s certainly a thing. Maybe this game was made by vegetarians. Ha.

There is that, with familiar/unfamiliar animals. And I didn’t meet any of those things when I couldn’t talk to them, so my own personal experience with them is “they can talk.” Which does imbue them with some sympathy.

And I dunno, man. I think it’s pushing kind of hard.

Well…now I kinda wish I had talked to that chicken. And maybe we will get there! I’m rather curious to meet the were-sheep.

But games are good at making us stand back and think about why some things bug us and some don’t. The only time, I mean the ONLY time a game asked me to do something that I refused to do, like turn it off, don’t save, never play again do, was a bit in Fallout 3 where you become a kid, and you have to make another kid cry. You do this by convincing him he’s going to military school because he wets the bed, or by bullying him. This is awful, and I wouldn’t do it. Now, this was 60 hours or so into a game where I killed the living shit out of everything. But I wouldn’t, WOULDN’T do that to this kid.

So for three days I looked around for ways to get out of this level without doing that to this kid. And I found one! It was, basically, ending the whole simulation, which, sadly, killed everyone, INCLUDING THE KID. Then I said “Phew,” saved, kept playing.

This, to me, was the GOOD OUTCOME.

I still wonder on that.

And this is a similar “why does that bug me and not this?” thing that games do so well. It’s one of the great things about the only art form that makes you choose.

And I don’t mind the obliqueness. That outcome in FO3? It didn’t occur to me for days after that the good outcome involved killing him. There wasn’t a “Kill/not kill” choice in the game. You don’t see him die. There was no “you monster” or “good choice” moment. It let the player let it sink in. And that’s cool.

I bet I would have walked on had I not been able to talk to Ralphie. I probably would’ve thought the goblin was an asshole, but I would’ve walked on.

Very excellent, though. This game does a lot right. It’s why I forgive the garbage time.

Feminina:

Oh yeah, that makes sense. Bairdotr and the pyramids. I don’t see that that’s even ‘cheating,’ it’s just paying attention. We also noticed that she was immune, but not until we’d gone some way into the thing. “Hey…I haven’t had to regenerate YOU…” We weren’t bothered enough by the annoyance of rot to try to think of ways to turn it to our advantage, though.

Wow…interesting callback to FO3 nightmares and ethical dilemmas. And very interesting that the outcome you perceived as “good” was the one that involved the kid (and everyone else) being dead. I mean, normally we assume kids would rather be crying than dead, but if you have to be MEAN?

That’s the thing about us and games: we hate not being NICE to people. The things that most trouble us are not the murder of hundreds of dudes, but the murder of one dude who didn’t quite get the chance to declare war on us first. That’s just not FAIR!

Or the being mean to some kid. (Which I agree, I would totally hate. I’m not trying to hassle you about your decision.)

I got so curious about whether or not the chicken in Cyseal asked you to kill the chef that I checked the internet, but I can’t find any record of what the chicken actually says in the references to that quest. (Though apparently the chicken’s name was Jack.) Somebody probably would have mentioned it, though (if for no other reason than that it would potentially involve combat), so I’m assuming Jack did NOT ask you to kill the cook.

Butch:

Oh I was annoyed. I was there trying to balance things with hams and hearing grunts and stuff. No. Just, no.

In a game where, by that point (it was late) I had done all sorts of awful things without batting an eyelash. You didn’t play it, but you’ve played enough Fallout to know they aren’t shy about violence. And FO3 made 4 look like a Mario game.

And dude, it wasn’t just mean. The whole level was in black and white, like some 1950’s comedy gone nightmare. So here’s this kid in a beanie, saying “Please don’t make me go, I’ll stop wetting the bed, I promise,” while crying. And….no. But it put you in that bind! Go with this, or kill everyone. One of the best RPG levels ever. Tranquility Lane. Google it.

God DAMN that game was good. Game that convinced me games were art. But I digress.

Oh it was wrenching. And they did everything they could to make it wrenching. And you were a kid, too! (It’s complicated). So you had to be a childhood bully! Which made it WORSE! And the “kill everyone” option, you had to find this secret place, pull back the curtain, as it were, and solve a very “normal” (for the game) puzzle. So you had to either bully a kid AS A KID, or “grow up,” act like a “grown up” and kill everyone, which really, REALLY brought home all sorts of stuff in a game about the loss of innocence both for an individual and the American dream.

God DAMN that game was good. I digress.

Huh. Well, I’m glad animals can’t really talk. I like pork too much.

Feminina:

Sadly, I think it’s fair to say I will simply never get to Fallout 3. Time, new things, etc.

Maybe in the home.

Butch:

Well, to be honest, I’m not sure it holds up. Those dated Bethesda visuals. It’s from 2008 or so, after all.

Can’t play ’em all.

Especially since Divinity won’t end.

Did you get any playin’ in last night?

Feminina:

Man, 2008. A decade is a long time in game visuals.

We did play a bit, but didn’t do a whole lot. We’re kind of looking for the last weresheep. Not because it’s important to the main plot (as far as I know), just because.

Butch:

Well, who wouldn’t? I’m gonna go find him.

Speaking of stuff on other planes, you ever figure out what’s up with that troll cave? It obviously matters, cuz I had to walk right by it.

Feminina:

We haven’t! We desperately want to get in there because we have a quest to steal some tenebrium from the troll king so that Brendan will help us learn to use tenebrium without getting rot so we can fight things that are only vulnerable to tenebrium so we can go back to places–but we can’t figure out how to get past that statue. Or what is up with all that weird ‘gray gold.’

It’s a mystery.

One of many.

This game is large.

Butch:

Ooo! That would be handy! I have that quest!

I know…sorta…how to get in, but damned if I know where to get in. That very nice troll (that I killed cuz he was an asshole) mentioned it.

Always chat dudes up before you kill them.

Yeah, rot kinda sucks.

Though I’m also not looking forward to these levers.

Feminina:

Yeah, the levers…just look around before you pull any. Look for…subtle clues. On the wall, maybe. It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

Yeah, sorta figured. It’s like the “Hall of Observation” or something.

Subtle, huh? Great. I’m too distracted by Scarlett’s outfit.

Ha.

Feminina:

It’s about as subtle as Scarlett’s outfit. You’re good. But save first, and if you pull the wrong lever, just reload. You don’t HAVE to reload, but…just reload.

Butch:

I sorta figured that out.

Remember my rant about being watched/kibitzed? They were all “What happens if you pull the lever? I want to find out what happens! Pull the lever!” And I knew something bad would happen, so I just pulled it, said “There. Bad thing. Too tired to fight. We’re done, ok?”

Sometimes you just gotta pull the damn lever.

You saying Scarlett is somehow attracting attention?

Feminina:

You said it first!

Yup. Bad thing. Thing you can’t hurt because it’s immune to everything. Thing that if you ‘flee’ from and then come all the way back through those rooms, will still be waiting for you.

Just reload.

Butch:

I HATE that. At least give us a chance.

Feminina:

Yeah, there was not much of a chance there. I mean, probably there is SOME WAY one could defeat that thing, like if you’ve done xy and z first or whatever, but…just reload.

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