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Tycho / on Mon, Jul 19 2010 at 1:12 pm

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Planting A Flag

Gabriel specializes in names like “Mantis Eaglehawk,” that is to say, names that puncture the carefully calibrated drama of their setting.  He has retained Dudefella lo these many years, long enough for me to substitute “Du’defaella” in my mind whenever I see it, with its notes of an elven upbringing grimmed with the dust of prophecy.

He’s got plans for Cataclysm, name-wise - big plans.  And if those plans fall through, there are plans within plans.  I’m waiting for him to take the serious name ironically, because honestly I don’t care why.

I’m still playing Transformers, still, which must put me into squarely into some dead-ender, cultist demographic.  We move through games so fast typically that I never see the arc, I’m in for the boom and then out before the first ill-conceived DLC.  The only time this policy wasn’t maintained in toto was with Chromehounds, which somehow managed to skip the boom phase altogether and leap immediately to an impenetrable fraternity.

There are other games, yes, and they’re always releasing more, but what’s on offer in War for Cybertron still stands out.  There are doldrums in the power curve in the early teens, the goodies which the RPG overlay once dispensed so freely become more scarce, but the basic classes and their interplay expresses the “moreish” shape of a shooter you intended to quit playing at eleven but only emerged from at midnight.  It horrifies me to imagine that we thought Shogo was good.

During the demo, I wondered aloud if they had gated off certain classes because they didn’t function, or if they were trying to reserve some of their powder for release.  It’s squarely in the latter camp: characters that turn into planes make up the “Scientist” role, which handles the traditional medic tasks alongside some broader support functionality, contained in an intensely fragile package.  I would almost certainly be a Scientist now, if it had been available; the fact that they didn’t include it in the demo altered my relationship with the game at a fundamental level.

I have said that I am not competitive, and that I mean it in all the ways the word can be defined, but I don’t go out of my way to take on aggressor roles.  The Scout in Transformers terms is the nimble assassin, another role that I generally avoid.  I took the Soldier simply through a process of elimination, creatures of unrelenting steel that transform into tanks, because it edged out the Scout according to some internal rubric the contours of which I’m not entirely aware of.  They’re brutes, and High Moon has made no attempt to grind off the edges of their role.  Two out of the game’s four classes can be killed with a single energized shell.  My advice to you, freely given, is to avoid my forward firing arc.

It made me realize that I don’t even attempt to succeed in the games I play, for better or worse: I operate under the assumption that the best I can aspire to is to be useful.  That if I can just die enough, in the same place, maybe my broken husks will form a bridge.  It’s pretty funny, actually.  A decision about what to withhold from a game’s demo has revealed that I have been playing videogames - perhaps all videogames - against my will, against my reason, and even against my character.

(CW)TB out.

immaculate keepers of time


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