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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.