Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In Which I Kvetch

video game, dragon, age, memes
(and reimagine plot points)

[Dragon Age Spoilers ahead- sort of]

(Unrelated beginning note. Yes, you can have gay sex in Dragon Age. No, it is not "secret" or "hidden", it works just like all the other romantic interest in the game. Nor are any of the sex scenes explicit, or something you could just stumble into. You have to make these people like you before they'll sex you up, and they are difficult to please.)

See, video games, they're all about doing things. If you just wanted to watch, you'd flip to cable. You're playing a video game because you want to do things. You want to fist pump and scream "Suck it, bitch!" at every opportunity.

But how to get you to do those things? Well, if the game is linear, that's easy. You can only move forward, and only along a certain route. You'll do the things you need to do along that route, because you have to in order to move forward. Gears of War (and most first person shooters) are like this. Most FPSs are fairly light on the plot, unfortunately.

Player controlled character: Why are we doing this, anyway?

Random AI drone: What, shoot stuff? That's what we do, we shoot stuff.

PCC: Yeah, but how did this war even get started? How long has it been going on? Why am I on your side?

RAID: We. Shoot. Stuff.

Then we have the role playing games, like Dragon Age. RPGs need to suck you in and get you invested in plot and character, because otherwise you wouldn't spend 50 hours trying to maximize your armor, or another 20 trying to figure out how that fucking enchantment system works. Which makes it a little harder to move the plot along. It actually has to make sense. You need motivation. So we ended up with the convention of "Tit for Tat- Apocalypse Style".

The apocalypse is nigh. But you, brave adventurer/secret prince/mage for all seasons but especially this one, can save us all. Well, once you have the Amulet of Ages/Sword of Concatenance/Slinky of Irreason. You need to get it from this guy. He's not just going to give it to you. You'll need to find 7 irregular pearls first. They're probably down by the docks. Better get looking, the apocalypse is coming!

On the one hand- yeah, video game, this is fun! On the other hand, WTF?! I gotta go get you magic beans before you'll help me save the freakin' world? You live here, too, asshole. Seriously. And why do I have to solve everyone's problems? Is there no one else in your world who can resolve lover's quarrels or find a little girl's lost kitten?

I will now condense (and snarkify) the following scenes from Dragon Age:


PCC: O hai, I am here with treaties obliging you to help the Grey Wardens against the coming World Ending Darkness.

Dwarf: We can't help you.

PCC: World Ending Darkness.

Dwarf: Our old king died, we can't seem to pick a new one, can't help you.


Dwarf: You could spend the next 10 hours helping us pick a king.

PCC: *facepalm*

Dwarf: Chances are, half the citizens of Orzammar will ask you for help with minor difficulties. Apparently, dwarves are incapable of finding lost children, catching thieves, or really doing much of anything for ourselves. Not sure why you want our help.

16 hours later in the lands of the Dalish Elves:

PCC: O hai, I am here with treaties obliging you to help the Grey Wardens against the coming World Ending Darkness.

Elf: We can't help you.

PCC: World Ending Darkness.

Elf: We were attacked by werewolves. We can't help you


Elf: Werewolves. That our leader may have created himself. In a fit of rage. To punish at the time unborn humans for the sins of their fathers, or people they were entirely unrelated to. Now they've bitten us, which has something to do with a petard . . .

PCC: *headdesk*

Elf: Where'd you find a desk out here in the forest? Look, do you think you could . . .

PCC: Solve all your problems, great and small, in order to get your aid? Yeah, sure, why not?

20 hours later in Redcliff:

PCC: O hai, I'm hear to borrow Arl Eamon's troops in the fight against the World Ending Darkness, but I'm guessing you can't help me.

Redcliff Citizen: However did you know?

PCC: So let me guess. I just fought off werewolves in The Creepiest Forest Evah, so . . . zombies?

Redcliff Citizen: Wow! You're good!

PCC: Anything you need?

Redcliff Citizen: Now that you mention it . . .


  1. Don't forget after the zombies, crazy dragon cult people. That is an RPG in a nutshell.

  2. Bwahah! This post => I like.

    Yeah, that is always a problem for Role Playing Game's. They try to implement character or location-based side quests, which require the player to conveniently forget all about the imminent attack of the Reapers and end of all organic life in the galaxy/opening gates of oblivion/emissions from the zone which are killing me/ongoing war with the undead and focus instead on stopping Soggy Luther from drowning puppies.

    I am more a fan of linear games, because they devote all their resources to one plot, which despite being rediculously simple, is generally pulled off better. Half-Life 2, to use the greatest game in all time evah. Except portal. Boiled down there's really not much plot there, but I really got into it: the seige on Nova Prospeckt was loads of fun (go forth my minions!), poor Alyx getting mortally wounded scared the life out of me and I cried when- well, I won't spoil it.

    And the comment about sex in games: the hysteria about Mass Effect was hilarious. I didn't tell my brother about it, and he never even suspected you could do it because he played the game without talking to the other characters very often. Movies are hundreds of times more explicit, and have far far lower ratings (seriously, Halo was rated MA15+ over here!).

    I can understand taking offence to the likes of Saints Row, however, because the playable character is EVIL (wait, did he just... bury someone alive? Oh god he's not going to do that to the other guys innocent girlfrie- oh, he did. Oh WTF, he just used the bartender chick as a human shield? And blew up her body? For a distraction?). It made it even worse that the character had no actual personality beyond "evil." The bad guys, who died horribly simply bacause the main character wanted them out of the city, were interesting: disapproving Yakuza father and son who is just trying to please him... harsh but honest trucker guy with loving girlfriend and best mate who wants to be a guitarist... aloof drug baron and creepy voodoo guy who threaten a well known DJ into helping them...



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