Minor spoilers for meeting Hippokrates in AC: Odyssey
OK, talked to a bunch of folks that Hippocrates told me to go find. You’re not there yet, are you?
I’m trying to find themes, here, man. I am! I feel like there are themes. I feel, at the very least, that we can work our magic and squeeze theme juice out of the dry rocks of gameplay.
But I don’t know, man.
There sure as fuck SHOULD be some themes.
Get there. We’ll talk.
I’m not quite there, but I’m working on it! I booked it across country last night, stopping only to murder a few people in camps along the way between the Kingdom of Hope (man, that place sounds nice!) and Argos. Talked to Hippokrates’ assistant, took Hippokrates some supplies, nobly declined payment for it in order to soften him for my inquiries about my mother. DIDN’T mention that he was balding, because his assistant said not to, although it was very tempting since there was a dialogue line right there for it. Did you mention it?
He sent me to get his notes from a fort, and I went there, murdered a few people, knocked out and recruited the polemarch somehow (which counts as killing for location-completion purposes, I found), got the bone forceps the doctor needs before he’ll come back with me to talk to Hippokrates, but now the whole fort’s angry with me and there are a couple of bounty hunters and a bunch of reinforcements who showed up when someone lit the brazier (even though I had trapped it, because apparently a trap only stays set for about two minutes).
So I need to hang back for a few minutes and let the fuss die down until I can sneak back and get that doctor.
I liked that Hippokrates asked me to please “don’t kill anyone needlessly.”
“Well, see, the thing about that is…need is a flexible concept. But I did knock out and recruit the polemarch instead of killing him, if that helps!”
HA! I didn’t mention it, either. I was tempted in the same way.
Yes. Yes. That. Remember I said he gave us a fetch quest? And there was a fort? A large fort?
“Hooray themes oh no wait big fort fetch I’ve done this already shit.”
I hate the words “Become anonymous.” Fuck that noise.
I knocked a guy out, too. And didn’t kill anyone. And ran.
Hey, man. It’s the father of medicine! Gotta do what he says!
Well, it’s kind of about valuing one person over another, isn’t it? Prioritizing needs. Like, I’m just trying to move pieces around to get to the information I need, but the doctors are trying to help the patients in front of them. And Hippokrates places that in context: “you need answers, but this patient needs medical help, and so did the one before him.”
As much as to say, a lot of people need things from me, lady. Why is your need more pressing than theirs?
And there were also some choices: you could go get the forceps so the doctor in the fort could help his patient, or you could threaten the doctor with “forget him, come with me,” or you could threaten the patient with “you don’t have to help him if he’s already dead.”
So where is our priority in terms of helping other people vs. finding out what we need to know? How much of a jerk are we willing to be to move the story along quickly, and how much are we going to try to be nice and get along with people (people who aren’t soldiers, anyway).
There’s a bit of theme there.
Hmm. True. I do suppose that, recently, we (or, at least, I) were complaining about all the time the killing takes and how I was willing to live and let live for the sole purpose of moving shit along. And yet, you’re right, I did get the forceps. I did help the sick guy/doctor I just met. That took time. I could’ve just said “Oh, fuck it, I want to move story” but I didn’t.
Hmm. I suppose that is theme.
And one we’ve seen before, I suppose. That was the point of the Socrates quest line, right? Who were we going to value? And now it’s “Why value ourselves more than others?”
We did talk about that in terms of the timed quests. There’s folks who we could help, sure, but either they need us now or they don’t really need us at all. The world turns whether we take the quest or not. We’re not the center of it, we’re not what’s driving it (for the most part. Perikles was pretty damn patient).
We’ll talk more when you do the rest of this particular quest line. The talking to the priests bit. Cuz that has some shit.
But don’t forget said shit while I am in Miami which I am now packing for. Tomorrow is TRAVEL BLOGGING!
Perikles was very patient. Most people on the main story are very patient. It’s these timed quest folks who need us right now or not at all.
Which is their right, surely. And it’s our right to decide whether we want to be helpful to someone at any given moment, in exchange for ludicrously overwrought rewards, or whether we just don’t have the time and need to move on with the story.
I will be talking to the priests just as soon as I get this doctor out of this fort.
That’s what I did. There’s priests. Some plot. Maybe themes. I do like the themes you came up with. Maybe that’s why I was struggling for themes. I play off my blogmate, who wasn’t giving me much past “LOOOOOOOT!”
Hey, loot is important! As are question marks.
Themes are OK as a backup if you run out of loot and question marks.
I find it kinda interesting that the last game we played I was the one all “Dude, trust me, it’s good,” and you’re needing to do that for this game.
Is loot SO important?
Oh, I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m just celebrating the known fact that loot is key.
Also, I think the themes are always a bit more deep background in AC games than in some others we play.
I mean, they’re there! There are some big things here!
Religion: what do we worship? Are there gods, or are they just well-meaning (and/or self-serving) human lies, or are they superpowered aliens who might as well be gods with unknown and perhaps unknowable motivations that we just tell ourselves stories about to try to understand?
And regardless of whether or not there are divine powers, is it helpful to pretend there are, or to pretend we speak for them (as Kassandra can blithely claim to be sent by the gods), if that makes people feel better? Which leads right to–
Obedience vs. freedom of thought: does society work better when people mostly go along and follow the rules, or do we want to have a bunch of people just doing whatever the hell they want? Surely things go more smoothly when most people follow the rules, but who gets to MAKE the rules? If obedience (closely tied to religion) is OK for most people but there’s a special group who get to think for themselves (and/or think for everyone else), who gets to be in that group? Is that fair? Is that justice?
Also, the nature of games and characters in games: how bad do we really have to feel about killing civilians inside a recreated memory of an ancient past when we KNOW in-game that it’s all a simulation? We didn’t kill anyone, and even the ‘we’ we’re playing in the game didn’t kill anyone in the modern day! If Kassandra killed anyone, it happened 3000 years ago and there’s nothing we can do about it! And yet, if we don’t care at all, if we casually mow down peasants in the streets, what does that say about the character we’re playing/remembering, and what does it say about us that we’re happy to play/relive these actions with her?
There are things in here! The loot is obviously just something sparkly to keep us focused in the moment.
And you do raise an interesting point with the comparison to RDR2, which was bristling with themes and which I often did not particularly actually enjoy playing. I liked the ‘talk later’ part a lot more. We had many good conversations about that game!
Whereas this one is light on themes, or at least light on presenting its themes in a way that gives us good conversation hooks, but I have fun with it. I’m enjoying this game a hell of a lot more than I enjoyed RDR2, even though there’s definitely a lot less going on, intellectually, in any given playing session.
Am I just shallow? Perhaps. Perhaps indeed.
There we go! That’s the Femmy I know! Erudition ahoy!
Now watch: You’ll do the priests, then forget them by the time I come back to playing.
I haven’t even done it yet and I’ve already forgotten why it was important.
I’m looking for who with the what now?
Aaaaaand we’re back to normal.
Hey, you’re the one who didn’t respond to my thoughtful themes with theme-talk! You jinxed us!
Have a good trip, though, man. I’ll possibly have something to say when you get back.