Tags

, , , , ,

Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Some minor spoilers for plot points in Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

I’m counting that as a fancy dress ball. So cross that and heist off the list.

Went back, there was instantly a party. I kinda loved the party. Being able to wander, pick what you heard, mingle, decide to drink or not, having people react differently if you did, having it end when people just kinda crashed and went to bed….great, great stuff. It’s so rare that a game just makes something like that feel so organic. Usually, the fancy dress balls we so love just have the characters sitting there, static, until you, the player, talks to them. The parties aren’t, well, parties where everyone is partying and you mingle. This was so much fun. Yes, fun. In this game!

And the interpersonal relationships are great, too. Did you dance with Mary Beth? That whole awkward, kids at a dance who like each other vibe just felt so real.

Just an amazing sequence. And fun! IN THIS GAME!

But no one taught me to fish. The companion thing afterward was Charles taking me hunting bison, then chasing poachers. You do that? We could talk about that. Cuz that has some themes, too.

Then talked to John and got the “go steal me a wagon” bit, which, right now, is all I have to do unless I want to chase gunslingers or run into wildlife guy at the right time of day (it’s a time of day thing).

Still don’t know how to fish. I want to fish!

You do any of that?

And what do I do next?????

Feminina:

Dude, I appreciate your willingness to make excuses for this game, but that was NOT a fancy dress ball. That wasn’t even a ‘let’s get dressed up’ ball. Arthur not only wasn’t in fancy dress, he wasn’t even in a clean shirt.

That was a nice party, sure, but it was just a party.

The heist, I’ll give you.

OK, so after this point, I did Charles’ thing with the bison. Interesting indeed. Curious little throwaway line, “we were paid to kill them and make it look like Indians did it.”

Not sure what that was about. There was that whole campaign to kill off the bison in order to deprive the Indians of their food source, but making it look as if the Indians did it themselves? Hm. And paid by whom? We don’t know. Could be a story there.

I will say that in some ways (OK, one way) Arthur may be the character most after my own heart that I’ve ever met: Charles is all “I’m heading back home,” and Arthur says “I’m going to see if there’s anything worth taking in their camp.”

YES, man. The importance of LOOTING. Arthur gets it.

Anyway, after that, I went back to camp, talked to John, stole a wagon for John, did John’s train thing. There are a few steps to that, it should keep you busy for a bit. And at some point, in camp, Abigail will want to talk to you. Then you’ll learn to fish.

It’s gonna be great. You’re gonna love it.

Butch:

I always do.

Hey man, we haven’t even had a halfway decent party in forever. Closest we got was watching that kid get crowned king of Paititi. At this point, booze, food and dancing is better than anything we’ve seen in years. Sure, it ain’t no TW3, and Mary Beth ain’t no Triss, but dude, beggars can’t be choosers.

And that was a legit heist.

Oh right….I forgot about that “we were paid” bit. Maybe there will be a story.

What I found interesting was Charles himself. As I’ve mentioned, I believe the metaphor of the game is the demise of a romanticized Americana, and a past idealized by the modern right-wing more than anyone. Yet here, we have Charles, who ALSO is lamenting an end to his family’s way of life, but his cause is much more in lock step with the modern left wing, that is, environmentalism, preservationism. The bad guys are poachers. Explicitly poachers. Charles is, basically, homicidal greenpeace.

I’m not sure what the game is getting at, having two people who’s way of life is ending but who represent such different ideals.

I spared the guy. I imagine you did, too. What did you make of Arthur all “Well, he’ll tell his friends and they won’t poach” or whatever. Did you think he was all “Yay! We struck a blow for the bison!” Or was that just “Yeah, yeah, Charles, whatever?”

But, back to potential metaphor, Junior was watching this, and, when Charles shot the guy, Junior asks “Is EVERYONE in this game crazy?” I said “What?” He said “Micah’s crazy, Arthur’s crazy, Charles is crazy, Dutch is crazy….”

He’s….got a point, to some extent. And I’m pondering it.

Looting–he gets it. That he does. He SO does.

But I wonder if he shares our disappointment when the big prize from the looting is a silly old recipe that we will likely forget about in a day and a half. If that.

Ah, I see. You’re a step or two ahead of me. Ok, I’ll go get his silly wagon.

When you say “steps,” are there save points between said “steps?”

Feminina:

Yes, there are save points. (Whew!) You can do a step and then go do something else if you want and then go back. It’s gonna be great.

I like “homicidal Greenpeace”. Nice descriptor. Also a good point that Charles’ peoples’ way of life is also coming to an end, and he seems concerned about a rather different level of loss than Arthur and the gang are. “We just want to be left alone to rob people in peace,” vs. “entire peoples and the ecosystems of which they were part are being wiped out.”

Hm.

“The American West represented many things to many people, and as it was ‘tamed,’ that meaning changed in different ways for each of them”?

Also an interesting question as to whether everyone is crazy. I don’t know that I’d say they are. Micah is perhaps literally ‘not right’–certainly he’s got that wild-eyed sociopath thing going on. Dutch is self-deluded, but I don’t know if it rises to the level of a mental illness. Arthur and Charles are hot-tempered and given to explosive violence, which is not a characteristic I’d personally want in people around me, but which is perhaps adaptive for the environment in which they find themselves.

So I don’t know. But you ponder and see what you think.

Butch:

Phew. I don’t have a full hour and a half of straight crazy in me. I’m tired. Kids have been nuts. I needed a party last night.

I think your summary is a good way of looking at it. I’m trying to figure if much of the Native American imagery/characters are there just to provide both accuracy and another level of moral complexity, or if they’re a deeper metaphor in contrast to the metaphors of the gang.

I’m very curious as to what’s up there on the reservation and the stories it holds.

As for crazy, well, this is coming from an 11 year old. “Crazy” is all he’s got. “Irrational” is something that no 11 year old understands. Trust me.

But if that’s what he means, then they are all irrational, and the “bad guys” must, by contrast, be the rational ones. That’s weird in a video game. Yes, we often play killers. Lincoln wasn’t a very nice guy. Even Geralt isn’t the picture of rationality. But, at the very least, they looked at the world in a realistic way. Their approaches to the realism of the world might well be suspect, but, in the context of the story, they were rational actors. Even the ones that did flirt with being slightly bonkers had a rock to ground them in the narrative. Lara had Jonah, for instance. Here, everyone is adrift. There isn’t a single character who’s there trying to get everyone to chill and think about stuff. There is no Jonah.

Feminina:

Well…I don’t know if I’d even agree that they’re all irrational, any more than the average person. Are they chasing a dream that doesn’t exist? Sure, but that’s wishful thinking, which could also be called ‘hope,’ which is irrational only in the general sense that everyone who buys lottery tickets is irrational (that is, it’s true, but not something we make a big deal out of).

Do they act in ways that probably won’t advance their own well-being (calling attention to themselves when they’re already wanted by the law by getting in fights or whatever)? Yes, but anyone who–ahem–maybe drinks too much or doesn’t invest their money wisely or whatever, is also not advancing their own well-being. Except that they are in the moment because booze is good and spending your money on a house SEEMS like a fun lark at the time, and getting in a fight probably feels exciting and lets off a lot of steam.

I’m not sure I feel that these characters are significantly less rational, on a moment-to-moment basis, and other characters we’ve known. Especially considering that what seem like very ill-advised, irrational actions (continuing to follow Dutch at all, maybe?) might be pretty much the best thing they can think to do. Arthur’s options are fairly limited. He has, presumably, few skills that will serve him in the new world that’s coming. He has plenty of practical skills that would allow him to homestead or something, but it’s quite likely he doesn’t have the temperament for that. He doesn’t have a network of supportive people who would be able to assist him with a transition into normal, law-abiding life, and he likely just doesn’t know how to live that way.

So what is he really supposed to do but keep following Dutch? He knows it’s a bad idea at this point, so yes it’s irrational, but it’s what works in this context because he doesn’t have any better ideas himself.

So, I mean, yes, they’re all irrational in that they’re arguably not acting in their own best interests, but what are their options, and what makes their actions meaningfully LESS rational than Lincoln Clay’s decision to single-handedly take on the mob, or Geralt’s choice to keep risking his life fighting dangerous monsters instead of just settling down?

It seemed the best of their limited options at the time, maybe.

Also, now that I think of it, DOES Arthur even have the skills to homestead? I mean, we know he can handle a horse and chop wood and hunt, but farming is a whole other skill set and one he likely doesn’t have and doesn’t perhaps have the patience to learn. Not to mention that farming is also a very difficult life (as we saw with those people we tried to collect a debt from, who “owed more than it was worth” on their farm already), so would that really be an improvement on highway robbery?

Hm.

Butch:

Well, wait. Not that I’m advocating lottery tickets, but in the case of said tickets, the dream DOES exist. It’s extremely unlikely, but it does exist. The last time I had a scratch ticket (which I got for free with a coupon at a liquor store….I said that to try to make it sound ok, but somehow it didn’t….) I won ten bucks! That’s something. But, as for the jackpots, I’d argue there’s a difference between something with a one in a fifty million chance and something with an honest to god zero chance of success. If I said “I’m plunking down five bucks a week on the lottery,” you’d say “Butch, you’re being stupid.” If I then said “Don’t worry. I’ve been practicing basketball on the kids’ hoop in the driveway, and I just know I’ll be on the Celtics next year and I’ll be able to afford anything!” you’d say “Butch, you’ve gone insane.”

Best of limited options, all true. But narratively speaking, there’s usually some character somewhere that acts as the logical rock. Pick any game, and you can find someone who is, at least, trying to give some sort of rational guidance. The PC might not LISTEN, but that voice is there. See Father James. Jonah. Triss. Varric. There’s none of that in this story at all. Not a single one. From a pure story telling angle, that’s unusual.

And, interestingly, when he’s taking that kid back to Mary, the kid he rescued from the cult, he talks to said kid about options. He asks the kid “Well, what do you like?” and the kid says “Apples?” While it’s clear this kid doesn’t know anything about anything, Arthur does tell him “Well, you could LEARN that…work in an orchard” (emphasis mine). So Arthur is not ignorant of the concept of learning something new, something legit. After all, we’ve seen him advise that very course of action. He’s just not following his own advice.

Feminina:

It’s true, I noticed that as well. He has that general idea that people can learn to do things they want to do, yet it doesn’t occur to him that this could also apply to him. I feel like maybe he feels that he’s too old? He can’t really be more than about 35 (right?–is that your sense of the math here?), but he’s had a hard life, and life expectancy among outlaws in the west isn’t great, so maybe he feels that he’s functionally an old man. “There’s no point me trying to learn to do something else, I’ll be dead soon anyway.”

As for the voice of reason, what about Mr. Strauss? He’s rational in the sense that he’s accepting the reality of life, taking advantage of opportunities, and seems well placed to do OK in the new order. And he’s perhaps not a good person (though who here is?), but as we pondered, is he a BAD person? He’s offering people something they want, something that existing circumstances make necessary for them. He didn’t invent the monetary system.

One wonders why he hangs out with Dutch, actually.

Butch:

I have wondered that. He certainly doesn’t seem to like Dutch. He didn’t party.

Maybe it’s because he’s an immigrant, and, therefore, doesn’t really have the opportunities that he would have if he were an American. Maybe.

I don’t know about the math. We can go with 35. He’s younger than Dutch, and Dutch doesn’t seem to be old old.

Feminina:

I think he said Dutch picked him up when he was about 14 or 15, and someone mentioned they’d been together for 20 years…I think…I could be misremembering some of it, but that’s the math I’m working with.

I could check the internet, I’m sure someone has asked and answered the question before, but I’m much too lazy. Let’s go with “about 35.”

Which is so freaking young, where does he get off being tired? He doesn’t even have kids! Heh.

Butch:

Sounds about right.

Still, I’m still trying to figure things when we bump into Civil War veterans who don’t look all that old. They should be old!

Well…part of my theory on the serial killer…..

He can be old and tired because life was hard. I looked old and tired at 35, didn’t I?

Feminina:

Hm. I don’t know, 35 was a long time ago.

I probably didn’t look old and tired, because I didn’t have kids yet. YOU may well have. But don’t worry, I caught up to you. Once we got the second kid and the house.

You did try to warn me. I could still be youthful and smooth-faced, but nooooooo.

Anyway, yeah, life is hard. 35 years of hard life will make you old and tired. Whether that’s kids, or living in the dirt eating gamey stew while on the run from the law.

Speaking of age, that’s a good point about Civil War veterans. We should expect to encounter a good number of them, certainly, but the war was 34 years ago, so the veterans would not be fresh-faced youths at this point.

Maybe they’re just claiming to be veterans for the sympathy.

Butch:

Hush, you. You and your, what, two grey hairs? You look about 15, 20 years younger than I look. You have not caught up to me. You will never catch up to me. That’s enough out of you.

Claiming to be veterans for sympathy or as a cover for….something else.

Have you talked to the homeless veteran in Valentine? Cuz I have. Twice. And….hmm.

Feminina:

You haven’t seen me lately. I’ve grown haggard and wan. Grizzled with the pains of life. And this game.

Ha.

I talked to that guy at least once, but I don’t remember anything specific about it.

Butch:

Ha, indeed.

He just seems….off. And he opens with “Will you be my friend? My last friend died…” Which could be just a coincidence. People die a lot in this world. But to hear that from someone who isn’t quite right so close to the scene of the murders seemed…odd.

And the second time he asks Arthur’s name. I told him, being friendly and all, and he’s all “Like the king! You can be king! You can be MY king!” Which, on it’s face, is odd, but when you consider kings sometimes get beheaded….

I dunno. He troubles me.

Feminina:

Oh, I think I did have the “like the king!” conversation. You’re right, that guy does seem off. No doubt about it.

I figured Arthur wrote it off as a “but then, who am I to judge?” thing, but it’s true, there could be more to it.

Butch:

I just hope whatever that is has a point. Chucking in some serial killer mystery is an odd thing in this particular game. If it’s there just to be there, it’s jarring to have it there.

But it may well have a point. The other soldier I talked to was that guy drinking to forget what he did at Fort RIggs. He certainly thought he was evil. We may well be making a point about soldiers and killing and morality on that front.

Or I’m totally wrong and he’s just a friendly drunk.

But I dunno. The fact it goes all cinematic cutscene when you talk to him suggests he’s more than just some random dude.

Feminina:

It is an odd thing to have in a western. But maybe the point is that this kind of ‘monster’ that we think of as being a modern phenomenon is not actually confined to the present day, but that human evil has had the same sorts of faces throughout history, or some such.

Or, alternatively, its point is that this kind of monster we think of is modern IS modern and the appearance of a serial killer in “the old west” is yet another sign of the end of that dream-era.

The west is now just territory like the civilized, boring, hidebound east, and here’s a serial killer to go along with it!

I dunno.

Butch:

Maybe. We’ll see how it ends.

But so far, I’m not sure it fits.

Now who’s making excuses for the game?

Hmmmmm?

Feminina:

Outlook’s suggestions:

“I don’t get it.”
“It’s a good question.”
“It’s a game.”

So…it’s a good question? I guess?

And dude, I’m not making excuses, I’m speculating without evidence, which is pretty much our entire business model here.

It’s a game. I don’t get it.

Butch:

Fair. It is our whole model.

That and humor. And fitness tips.

And T SHIRTS.

It’s quite a model.

Feminina:

If there’s a better model out there, I don’t want to know about it.

Butch:

Oh, and…..it’s been a couple weeks. How’re those cheats going?

Feminina:

Guess what? I haven’t so much as looked at the screen to see where I’d enter a cheat code, let alone looked for one in the newspaper.

Try to control your startled reaction.

Butch:

I’m stunned. Deeply stunned.

I’ve done three. Want me to spoil?

Feminina:

You know what, I haven’t missed them, so I’m going to say go ahead and tell me what they are if you want, but odds are I won’t bother to turn them on.

Unless something gets super hard. Which could happen.

But unless one of them is about save points, I honestly haven’t seen the need so far.

Butch:

Well, one is “Instantly summon a race horse,” and there was that time you were horseless….

Just sayin’.

That’s not the code. That’s what it does.

I also have “Unlock a suite of stealth weapons” and “Unlimited ammo.”

So might be helpful. But I haven’t used them yet.

Feminina:

OK, true, there was that one time. But that was a long time ago and hasn’t been repeated. I’ll risk it for now.

Oh, speaking (sort of) of horses, I recently met ANOTHER convict who wanted me to shoot off his shackles. If you recall, I accidentally shot the first one. This one, I rode towards him, with the best intentions, and managed to trample him directly under my horse.

Sigh.

I was TRYING to help.

He got up and ran off, like the first guy. Probably wise.

Butch:

You watch: The next guy is gonna be all “Oh, shit….this guy….uh…I’m cool with these on!”

Probably wise.

Advertisements