Friday, July 6, 2012

Game 73: B.A.T. (1989)

 
A few months ago, I was musing about how role-playing games relate to the hemispheres of the brain. I suggested that pen-and-paper RPGs were curious in that they appeal to both halves: open-ended storytelling for the right side and hard statistics and probabilities for the left side. I noted that the earliest developers of computer RPGs essentially took the left-brained stuff and nothing else; all the storytelling went into adventure games--first text, then graphical. These are no less "role-playing" games than what we call CRPGs, as you definitely play a role, but they didn't get that title.

Thinking about it now, I think my reasoning was a bit flawed. While storytelling and statistical halves of tabletop RPGs definitely peeled off into two separate game genres, I'm not sure you can really call computer adventure games "right-brained," since they don't really appeal to the player's creativity. Quite the opposite: many of them require the player to progress through a series of steps in a specific order. I wouldn't necessarily call them "left-brained," either, since those steps are often nonsensical or counter-intuitive. You spend more time figuring out what the developer possibly had in mind than what your character would do in a real situation. It's probably this reason that's kept me from embracing adventure games most of my life. There have been some exceptions. I have a fondness for the Infocom text adventures because they were very well-written and had a great sense of humor. The first Myst game blew me away with its graphics, atmosphere, and complexity of the puzzles. Beyond that, though, the genre often leaves me flat. I love reading Trickster's writing at The Adventure Gamer, but I can't say I love the games.

We're entering an era now, though, in which the genres are starting to blend. Programming limitations became less of an issue in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and it was possible for developers to include strong narratives along with flexible inventories and probability-based combats. B.A.T. is the first game to appear on both Wikipedia's chronology of computer role-playing games and its list of graphical adventure games. Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero? will soon follow. We'll have several per year throughout the 1990s. This game will demonstrate how well I ease into these hybrids. (Technically, Beyond Zork was the first hybrid, albeit non-graphical. But it's hard to take that game as a serious example of anything.)

Every secret agent needs a gun.

When I heard the name, I thought that B.A.T. might take place in a future where firearms are completely legal, but we still needed agents to investigate alcohol and tobacco. Instead, though, the initialism stands for the Bureau of Astral Troubleshooters--essentially the Secret Service of the 22nd Century. Actually, apparently in the original French version, it stood for Bureau des Affaires Temporelles ("Bureau of Temporal Affairs"), which sounds a bit cooler, although the manual doesn't suggest anything about time travel.

The B.A.T. manual (I suddenly just thought of The Tick) is clearly translated from French by someone with a limited grasp of English, but from what I can gather, it's the twenty-second century. Humanity has colonized the stars through "artificial black holes," has met up with different alien races, and has formed a Confederation of Galaxies. As a B.A.T. agent,

You will travel around various worlds, all different from each other, meeting strange or frightening characters. You will have to achieve perilous missions but you will have the fabulous chance to visit an integral world and to discover mysteries through adventures that we offer you.

My specific mission is apparently to find a terrorist named Vrangor and "blew his brains out" (the 4th Amendment clearly didn't survive transition to galactic government) within 10 days from the start of the game. The reason for this time limit became clear after the beginning of the game.

I know there's some question as to whether this is a CRPG, but it certainly starts like one. It's got a neat character creation process in which you can raise or lower six attributes--force, intelligence, charisma, perception, energy, and reflexes--and see in real-time (via a graph at the top of the screen) the corresponding effects on a selection of 13 skills, including pick locks, firing, and psychology.

I'm suppressing the part of me that's screaming, "You can't use line graphs to represent nominal data!!"

You then select a couple of weapons. The manual warns you that your choice is "crucial for the rest of the game" but doesn't offer much help. I went with something called the Hacker 30, described as "the butcher's weapon" and "beautiful weapon for you acupuncture experts!!!" plus a little "Voktrasof," that I gather is very concealable. After giving yourself a name, you are then deposited in a spaceport with a computer embedded in your arm and not much direction.

After a few futile conversations with a couple aliens and robots, I went to the only place the game would let me go: a nearby restroom. There, I encountered another B.A.T. agent, who gave me my mission: track down an escaped prisoner named Vrangor by first finding his co-escapee, Merigo. Vrangor is exerting some influence over the ruler of Selenia, who has issued a decree that every human has to leave within 10 days or face execution.

Actually, I think it might be helpful if I heard the long story.

The agent gave me a hologram of Merigo to show people and sent me off.

Although the views in the game are first-person, you can't do anything fancy like turn or rotate. Instead, you move from screen to screen and interact with the elements on the screen the same way you do in a lot of adventure games, clicking on people to talk to them, machines to use them, and so forth. Sometimes, the places you can click are non-obvious, so you need to hover over pretty much everything.

This screen has a variety of buildings I can enter and people I can talk to.

At first, every alien just responded to me in gibberish, but then I realized I had to set my computer to translate "alien" instead of "robot." When I talk to robots, I need to set it back. This is a bit tedious.

This thing looks kind of disgusting.

So far, the NPC dialogue has been a little unproductive, but the interface isn't bad. You click on the NPC and select from a list of topics. One is to show Merigo's hologram, but so far no one has recognized him.

Indeed.
 
Thusfar, I'm not seeing a lot of RPG elements, but then again, I haven't encountered any combat yet. You do have a certain number of credits, with which you can buy things like ammunition and food. (To my mind, flexible spending options are not usually a hallmark of adventure games.) This is good, because I had none of the former when I started, and my computer told me I was both hungry and thirsty.
 
At least I see the "next" arrow on this one.

 
While I was exploring and typing this entry, the game screen flashed a few times, and then showed me an image of Selenia in which humans are dead in the streets, so I guess I failed somehow. I wonder if time passes when you're just standing around. If that's the case, I probably need to adjust my CPU speed downwards in DOSBox.

I had no idea so much was on the line.

As you can see, the visuals are pretty good. Of course, this DOS version came out in 1991, two years after the original Atari ST version. We're only a couple years away from Myst at this point. On the sound, so far I haven't heard any except for a relentlessly looping techno-beat that sent me for the "mute" button on my keyboard. This is the second game in which the developers seem to have thrown up their hands and said "screw it" when adapting sound for the DOS port.

I'm not in love with the game so far, but I'm eager to finish this first RPG/adventure hybrid. One major difference between RPGs and adventure games is that you generally start RPGs only one or two times and play through with your initial party, for better or worse. With adventure games, I often restart the game numerous times to explore and try out different things, and my winning character might be my 20th (e.g., Beyond Zork, Journey: The Quest Begins). I'm curious what happens, therefore, with hybrids.

Later edit: Make sure to read the comments on this one. Helm has a brilliant bit of philosophy.

68 comments:

  1. I support whatever definition of CRPG gets you playing the Quest for Glory series. Hell, I'm so much a fan of the games that I was listening to the soundtracks on the way home from work today. The second one is my personal favorite, probably due to a hilarious and irrelevant story involving a hyper-sensitive friend's mom and a Katta who shakes her ass at you in the game.

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    1. I've played it before, with fond memories. You don't need to worry that I'll skip that one.

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    2. I hope Chet won't mind if I plug The Adventure Gamer here, but QFG fans may be interested to know that Corey and Lorin Ann Cole have shown up in the comments and are answering questions about QFG. A great opportunity for fans and anyone interested in how adventure games were created back then.

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    3. They have their own website too, I forget where it is though. I remember there was a quiz that determined if you were a Warrior, Wizard, Thief, or Paladin, then gave you a "To Do" list for your actual life to live up to the ideals of the class you fit.

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    4. The site is www.theschoolforheroes.com. However, we closed the school last October. I think you can still take the test, but can't submit assignments.

      We intend to reopen the school eventually with more automation - the previous version required too much time from Lori and me - but I don't know when we'll get that done. We have a lot of other things on our plate, some of them fun, others of which produce income, and most of which are just responsibilities that we feel must take priority.

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    5. Hi, Corey. Great to "meet" you, as it is. I look forward to re-playing the QFG series. I admittedly don't have a lot of experience (yet) with the adventure game/RPG hybrids, but as far as I can tell, the QFG series does it best.

      Charles, you can always plug Trickster's blog. You made me worried that he'd already started playing it, though. I want to match him on QFG1.

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    6. That would be very fun if you and Trickster play through Hero's Quest / QfG1 at the same time. Your different perspectives on it will be interesting.

      I'm both looking forward to your rating and feeling nervous about it. As a hybrid, Hero's Quest is considerably lighter on things like weapon and armor choices than any pure RPG. It also has semi-real-time combat more like an action game than most adventures or RPG's (although the controls are pretty simple). In other ways - such as the non-level-based stats and skills system - I think you'll like the HQ approach. I'm just not sure how well it will GIMLET overall if judged completely objectively.

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    7. I understand what you're saying. If I ever get to the point in which I really enjoy a game above the level of the GIMLET's ranking, I'll re-think the GIMLET. So far, it's worked about right, even for hybrids. From what I can remember, I can see HQ ranking very high on game world, replayability, NPCs, and encounters.

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  2. The Frenchiness is what recommends some of these sci-fi games for me because it makes all the in-game text just the right side of alien and vague, yet still mostly understandable. Good luck, Agent of Temporal Affairs!

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  3. Small hint: you can write your own program for translating both robots and aliens automatically on your PROG 4 slot of your BOB computer.

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    1. It's in the manual, so you're not giving me a spoiler. I saw the "translation" option, but I couldn't get it to work when I first tried it. I think I've figured it out now. It's a bit of a clunky interface.

      I'm not sure how I feel about forcing the player to "program" their own features. I would think you'd either just include these OR not provide the code and make the player figure it out for added functionality.

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    2. I would assume they might do so to get you used to the interface and the idea of programming in the game.

      Perhaps later puzzles require more in depth self-programming(random guess, never played this game)?

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    3. Man, you are going to hate 0x10^c when you reach it in 6 bazillion years. You have to program your computer in assembly. Fans have made a c compiler though.

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    4. @Canageek: They made that and the game isn't even out yet. Although I think it will be possible to import programs that others have made.

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  4. "I'm not in love with the game so far..."

    That sums up my experiences with this. I remember getting stuck early: couldn't figure out how to advance and the NPCs were less than useful. Meh.

    Programming seemed like a neat feature, but I never got far enough to find any use for it.

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  5. I remember fondly QFG

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  6. The left/right sides of the brain paradigm doesn't illuminate the difference in attraction between old adventure games and crpgs. Adventure games can be thought of in this way: in Gnostic tradition the god of this world is not the true god. A shard of the true god, called the "Demiurge" (greek for 'creator') has escaped the Whole and has created this world and all of us. As the Demiurge is imperfect, so is everything he creates. This is how the Gnostics explain how the Judeochristian god allows for evil to exist in our world. Because he's not the true god, and he doesn't deserve worship. In the Gnostic desire to explain and contain the creator's whims, we can look at interactive videogames similarily.

    Adventure games do not have naturalistic puzzles for which solutions are determined by natural means. Adventure games are not 'oh I burned my hand. Let's put some healing salve on it. There, solved'. They're not, therefore, logistic issues. RPGs are full of logistics, instead. Adventure games have metaphysical concerns. Their highly scripted lateral-thinking puzzles are made by some sadistic outer force that has created the game space and is now watching over the player's shoulder, going "no no no, that's not right. Try again. Tee hee" whenever the player tries something that the creator had either not forseen or did not care to account for.

    The adventure game world is still while the player tries to figure things out. In a peculiar sort of stasis. Actors sit in their spot and say their little dialogue tree. Puzzles wait in perpetuity for the poor player to figure out the creator's whims. In the process, they begin to psychoanalyze the creator "no... he wouldn't make this puzzle like that because that puzzle before tells us how we likes things" and so on. In this way, the player gets to know their flawed and imperfect God and have a personal relationship with them. 'Winning' an adventure game means the conclusion of this relationship. As the adventure player dumps his God for a new one in a new game, they are leaving one abusive, witholding relationship for a new one, promising an all new ruleset full of hardship and toil.

    RPGs have more active worlds. Of course in the end you have to figure out the puzzles set my a similarily minded Demiruge. One that's even more hostile, actually. The RPG demiurge is given to killing you and making you restore your save game / reincarnate much more often, but he is more fair. You die usually because a goblin killed you, not because you fell off a Sierra cliff. But until you figure out the puzzles, you can go out and fight stuff, level up your character, engage with a living world. Many cRPG players enjoy the exploration of the virtual space more than finishing the game. And many crpg players take pride in breaking the game systems open to exploit them, as some sort of showing up the Demiurge. This is impossible in adventure games most of the time.

    Both adventure gamers and rpg players are working some stuff out through playing these games. I think crpg enthusiasts are taken by the virtual capacity that the demiruge's universe presents to tidy a mess up completely, to survey the whole vantage of the gameworld and also of becoming all-powerful slowly but assuredly. Tenacity, logistic skill and wits are all that are required (unlike in real life where there's no Reload button when things go south). Adventure game players are attracted instead to the constant berating by an endlessly cruel and endlessly patient Demiurge. The *point* is the suffering. A peculiar brand of masochism. It can also be very clearly seen in how adventure game female actors and often protagonists are given to breaking the fourth wall and berating the presumed male player for their stupid inputs very, very often. And male protagonists almost never get laid in adventure games, it's considered 'comedy' to be tortured by loneliness.

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    1. So when point and click adventures more or less died out we won........ right?

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    2. This has to be one of the best and well thought out explanations of gaming I have heard in my LIFE. You have literally almost converted me to the Gnostic view of life as well as having explained it to me so fully. It is smart, it is complete and it makes total sense. Wow. I really do not fit in with the crowd that our friend the Addict has attracted- I am just so completely stupid. From now on I will restrict my comments to the phonetic translations of duck noises and slobbering while the readers of my comments envision me sitting in pudding and laughing at my pudding farts.

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    3. I think I have to disagree about the adventure game summation. Their puzzles weren't intended to be exercises in flawed logic, mind reading of the designer, or sadism. They were made by people who couldn't find a better way to express what they wanted to challenge players with.
      ----
      Yes, the rules are somewhat arbitrary, but they were that way of about any early game. They offered better storytelling and humor than a more free-form game- it’s hard to build tension or keep a joke running if the player ends up grinding slimes for a few hours.

      Once adventure games became very popular, I think they hit two major problems. When the market for adventure games grew, more people started making them and there was a bigger rush to release them quicker. Publishers would send to market flawed games and they would still sell.

      The second problem I see is twofold- fan demands, and changing interactions of those fans. Exploring and puzzle solving are the two main activities in adventure games. Exploring requires increasing the size of the game, offering more locations and more items. Puzzles could be 'hunt the pixel' to click on, 'logic' puzzles of buttons or controls, interaction based(find the right command to use), or inventory based (did you collect the right item and use it at the right spot)? I think the last option, inventory puzzles, dominated early games because it acted as a gatekeeper(no shortcuts around content by memorizing the answer) and a way to make sure the player can see and measure their progress.

      The game interface also controls a lot of this- the early games had verb keywords to govern interaction with the environment and inventory, later games streamlined things to some broad categories (look, interact, talk, take, use item, etc). Streamlining made the games easier to play, but reduced the complexity of possible interactions to make puzzles about. Later games built upon the streamlined interface and tried to make things more complicated(items with multiple uses, dummy items that aren't needed, red herrings that use up items that will be needed later, interactions between multiple items).

      The final reason I think adventure games mostly died off was the change in how people played- people playing on their own or with friends watching and offering advice works for adventure games- many eyes to see how the puzzle works. Or friends playing through a game at the same time, where if one gets stuck another can offer help.

      But with the internet and wider range communication, people are more likely to run into people who already beat the game. When people started getting competitive over finishing first, it became less about thought and more about the quickest way to find the solution(often just try every item or combination blindly). A larger audience also means more people progress at different speeds or rates- some find a puzzle easy while others will be stumped for weeks.

      Who is the most vocal portion of an audience? The most involved, and often the most skilled at it. They are the ones demanding more challenge and difficulty. They are the ones who will write reviews of games or immediately go out and buy the newest game. Naturally the game makers want to please what they see as their core audience. That is what led to the most extreme illogical puzzles (see Old Man Murray on Gabriel Knight 3 here: http://www.oldmanmurray.com/features/77.html).

      Strategy games and fighting games have also both gone through this cycle- the rise of a vocal core audience that demands more difficult and more detail, which alienates more casual gamers or newcomers from being able to learn to play well. 3d shooters and JRPGs also show some signs of this- how much of their interfaces are easily explainable to someone who has never held a controller before? How many times will a new player be killed by something they didn't see or understand before they can gain some control over their environment?

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    4. I must say; So far I've been very disappointed with old games, particularly the plots and creativity shown. I always hear old gamers going on about how amazing old games were, and there are some cool ideas that we could do to learn from. However, far from being more creative and varied, I find most of the plots are simple; You could write out the entire plot of these games on a single sheet of paper, all details intact. The adventure games are a bit better, but they spend much more time on the puzzles then the plot; See Manhunter, Trickster's current game, where we are still trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

      So yeah, I don't think there is much plot to be found in games until the 90s, so yeah, hoping that we get there soon.

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    5. Man, I write about CRPGs for two and a half years, and no one posts anything like this. Then, suddenly, the moment an adventure game makes the list, everyone's all philosophical.

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    6. Heh, I don't do philosophical, I do snarky and analytical. I thought you had a fair bit of posts like this in the one where you made that comment as well?

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    7. Or I guess you could enjoy cartoon logic puzzles, dialogue trees, and creative solutions to mundane things.

      I don't recall ever entering into a sadomasochistic psuedoreligious prayer/spanking session with Tim Schafer, although it's possible I just blacked out for that. Sometimes "Use item" is just a handy transitive verb structure, not a metaphor for a complex Neoplatonic relationship.

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    8. Seriously, though, that was an awesome bit of meta-analysis by Helm. I'm going to add a note to the end of my entry to make sure people read the comments on this one.

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    9. For the record, I am not part of any Gnostic faith. It's just a useful model, I thought.

      xyzzysqrl : people enjoy puzzles and there are puzzle games from them. Adventure games are different to puzzle games. There are people who enjoy adventure games but do not enjoy puzzle games (I am one of them). There may be reasons for these differences.

      Of course you don't recall explicitly entering into any such arrangement with mr. Schafer. But you do always remember the safe word is "I quit", right?

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    10. Thank you xyzzysqrl. Not I'm going to be wondering if Tim Schafer and various other video game personas have fetlife accounts. *Goes to find brain bleach*

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    11. I tend to think that the reason we like these games is because it safety activates the portions of the brain and human psyche that are no longer socially acceptable or viable in the world as we live now. I see many parallels to why people tend to like team sports in many of the elements that give us satisfaction in games. This is also related to what someone else pointed out is a desire to have a sense of control and to put things in order.



      The strongest pull of games is that you are convincing yourself that you are accomplishing something. This is the same part of the brain that gets tuned into team sports because you feel like you win when the team you have chosen to identify with wins. I think our dear addict has a strong push from this element because of how he feels about games that you just play but there is no way to win.

      Another part that is strong in male psyche is the desire to physically impose your will as a method of conflict resolution. This I see as an impulse that gets fed more strongly in sports but is also a large part of games.

      There is also an activation of your exploration drive that we do not have many opportunities to satiate anymore and this drive usually conflicts with our safety drive except in games.

      There is also the draw of being the most important person in the room.

      Then there is the pure fantasy of being able to go back and change history by doing something differently if you do not like how things turned out.

      I really should be working on other things so I should stop here because I love this stuff and could discuss it for hours.

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    12. Sorry Helm, that sounds like an utter pile of nonsense to me. I don't game for the purpose of living in an abusive relationship, and I doubt anyone else does- including you. You're also pretty biased against adventure games, which tells me that you haven't played many of them, or at least not many of the good ones.

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    13. I liked that, Helm, that made me smile. Though I think that people like to play adventure games because they love to solve problems. And they love watching the fixed locations of adventure games change when the character succeeds at doing something.

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  7. Random EncounterJuly 7, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    B.A.T. was one of the last games I bought for C64. That version was probably buggy as I clearly remember killing both Merigo and Vrangor, but there never came ending and when later years read through walkthrough there was stuff I never encountered (which would've been essential before even finding Vrangor).

    Still, investigating the city was fun for a while but in retrospective have a feeling that designers fell in love with Blade Runneresque cityscape graphics. There were lot of things you can do, eat, buy, talk etc but very little you can achive.

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    1. That's funny. Before reading this comment, I just noted in my next posting that the game reminds me of Blade Runner.

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    2. Still trying to figure out how you don't like Blade Runner!

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    3. Because it's full of a bunch of cloying, pretentious nonsense and poor logic. Let's start with why the agents are even called "blade runners." The name doesn't even make any sense. I think we have to go with the idea that it just sounds cool. Hell, yeah. I'm jumping on that bandwagon. I'm no longer a CRPG blogger; I'm a "jazz grifter."

      Why would the company manufacturing replicants not make the fact that they're replicants VISIBLE in some way rather than relying on psychological tests? (Ah, 'cause that would invalidate the entire premise of the film.)

      Harrison Ford's voiceover sounds like it was written by a fifth grader, and Roy's little final speech doesn't do anything for me. Hey, jackass: I'VE seen things that YOU'VE never seen, too. And guess what? All of our memories--humans', replicants', everyone's--are going to be "lost in time, like tears in rain." Get over yourself.

      And it's got Sean Young in it.

      Harrison Ford's battle with Daryl Hannah is pretty cool. No argument. I figure people who love the film must be thinking of this one sequence.

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    4. A more serious answer is this: it's a great film visually, and a suck film narratively. My preference is clear in both films and games, which is why I spend more time talking about story and gameplay than graphics.

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    5. They removed the voiceovers in the directors cut; I liked them, but seem to be the only one. They also changed the ending.

      Also; If you were buying a sex robot, would you want some visual clue that she wasn't a female human?

      I should rewatch it; I saw it a long, long time ago, before I was really analyzing things properly.

      To be honest, while I love the idea and message of Cyberpunk I don't actually like most of the primary works of it (Blade Runner is fun, but doesn't have much message of true cyberpunk, I hate Neuromancer, Snow Crash was only good at the start, and lost me totally when LG rawblf orvat encrq ol Enira. I didn't really get into Ghost in the Shell. I thought Cryptonomicon was a great book, but needed 2-300 pages cut out of it, a non-anticlimatic ending and I seem to be the only one who noticed it actually pointed out the fatal flaws for why cypherpunk won't work.

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    6. Fact is, Blade Runner really is three very very different films. I recently saw the original theatrical cut (it's what was on Netflix) and it was pretty bad, but I'd enjoyed both the director's cut and the final cut or whatever it is.

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    7. Random EncounterJuly 9, 2012 at 3:03 PM

      Wikipedia counts seven versions, but semantics aside Final Cut is just polished Director's Cut. If you don't know what to look out for, not much difference is noticed.

      @Canageek - About Ghost In The Shell; If your only touch with has been as anime have a look at manga. Ain't going to raving about how book is better than movie, but anime is composed of few chapters and manga contains loads of footnotes which makes admire the level of details Masamune Shirow has included.

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    8. I'll keep that in mind, but manga is expensive. (The DVD was available at my local Blockbuster)

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    9. Blade Runner has slowly crept into in my list of favorite movies. Yes, it's mostly style. I don't really care that some characters die while others survive. I don't even really care for the existentialism of the movie. But there is something oddly soothing about this world. This mythic endless city, ruled by a god-king from his pyramid. The lonely life in an overcrowded city, small glimpses of comfort or escape. I have a melancholic temper - and this is a melancholic movie. I don't like to "watch" the move, but I like to "feel" it.

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  8. You know? I think this is the best graphics we've seen so far. Am I wrong on this? Shadding, subtle details; This must have been added to the 92 DOS remake, I wonder what the C64 version looked like.

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    1. Huh, not bad at all: http://www.c64gg.com/Images/B/BAT.ss.gif

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    2. I agree, but of course all the graphics are static. It's hard to achieve this same quality if they're in motion.

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    3. True, however most games overlook this, look at Baldur's Gate vs just about anything for 5 years after it, since they jumped to 3d rendering. 2d images can look great; Look at Baten Katos. On the Gamecube, but man, it looked gorgeous due to static backgrounds.

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  9. Quack quack, pdpdpthth. >Pfft-splup-splup< ah hahaHAHAHAHA (slap slap)

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    1. Now THAT is high philosophy...

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    2. Seriously, though, how are things going, William, if you don't mind my asking?

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    3. In response to Helm's long Gnostic comment, I reply, partly, "Wow. I really do not fit in with the crowd that our friend the Addict has attracted- I am just so completely stupid. From now on I will restrict my comments to the phonetic translations of duck noises and slobbering while the readers of my comments envision me sitting in pudding and laughing at my pudding farts." Hence, my comment above was the semi-phonetic duck noise, followed by the sound of drooling, a pudding-fart, laughter, then my delighted slapping of the pudding I am sitting in. Sigh. Even as a moron I have to explain myself.

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    4. Dude, everyone has insights from time to time. That you don't have a deep, ongoing knowledge of religion doesn't mean you are dumb. Heck, I've worked in a nuclear physics lab, and done well enough that I've stayed in touch with them, and I couldn't do that; It is more of a skill set, one I haven't developed, then a measure of intelligence. Helm has a very advanced skill set, and probably some natural insight in that direction, but I'm sure you have skills in other areas.

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    5. Appearances can be deceptive. On character creation I put just three points into Knowledge(Philosophy) and dumped the twenty-odd rest of them into Cat Herding.

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    6. I know some conventions that might want to hire you...

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    7. >>GiauzJuly 7, 2012 11:02 PM

      Seriously, though, how are things going, William, if you don't mind my asking?<<

      My wife has come home from the hospital, actually. Crisis averted for the time being. Although she lay on the tip of a triangle with one side life and the other side death with the lightest brush knocking her into death, we brought her back again and she is home.

      How am I doing? One way to put it is this: I have personally saved my wife's life between 25 and 30 times, no joke. My quick eye and snap judgement has brought her into the health system in time to keep her alive, sometimes with a margin of 5 minutes- seriously. Told by the docs, in some cases, that had we waited even 5 minutes before getting help there would have been no need to get help. So how am I doing? Exhausted- I have to keep watch all the time, because I never know when the next crisis is going to happen and I have to be able to make that snap judgement in time to get her help, day or night. No matter what I am doing, no matter how much I am into what I am doing, I also am keeping an eye on my wife to make sure I can get her the help she needs at any time.

      How am I doing? I am stretched so thin I feel like the skin of a drum. In the 10 years we have been married, she has been in danger for 8. In the last 8 years she has almost died about 35 times, no fricking joke. Each time she goes into the hospital there is a HUGE chance that the only way she is coming out is in a body bag. And then she comes home. This is EXHAUSTING, because each time could be THE TIME I never see her again for the rest of my life. And then she manages to come home again. After 8 years, 35 times I am afraid she is gone this time and then I get her back. Wonderful to get her back, yes, but I have fewer nerves left each time this happens.

      How am I doing? Thank you very much for asking- I do appreciate the concern. And thank you everyone else for letting me vent inside a crpg blog :)

      I'm doing terrible.

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    8. I'm sorry to hear that, wish I could help. *hug*

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    9. Thank you for the hug :) Appreciated :)

      On the other hand, it's not like my life is grim and awful. We have three kids though my sister-in-law is raising our two youngest (I have nerve damage in my back and fibromyalgia- neither of us can raise our kids). I play computer games most of the day while my wife watches TV and does her computer stuff. Shucks, we even get in a little sexy time, oooh la la :)

      So, even though the spectre of death is an ever present daily threat, we try to not let it ruin our lives. I just keep my eye on her All The Time. The ones I am really sorry for are our kids- no one should have to grow up watching their mother die. Our oldest is 16 (he's my step-son) and he's been watching his mother die since he was 8. You bet your walrus it has affected him negatively. Our other 2 are almost 10 and 8 1/2. Oh yeah.

      Anyway, I'll try and let this be the last time I ever bring this up. From now on it'll be lighthearted comments about computer games, like it should be, with phonetic duck sounds accompanied by a cacophony of pudding farts.

      Delete
  10. French videogames are style over substance, France is the worlds centre for fashion too right?

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    1. Ah, form over function, the bane of us STEM types trying to make the world actually function how it should. Second biggest hindrance to us doing our jobs, right after capitalism.

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    2. Good point. The Ishar series was quite weak but it had stunning graphics for its time.

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  11. Regarding having to set the translation back and forth for robots and aliens: you don't need to!

    Your arm terminal is actually programmable, fiddle around with it a bit, you can make a translator program that'll go something like "if alien translate alien end if, if robot translate robot end if".

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    Replies
    1. Random EncounterJuly 8, 2012 at 6:32 PM

      Also, regarding your death, the cause was probably you were ambushed. I'd remember BOB was also capable of warning you of them. Would be probably be a good idea to program it to warn about anything available. Tired, thirsty, wounded, etc.

      There was also some kind of command to boost your body in context of "if attacked, do this".

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    2. What's with the need to program the game for yourself? Seems like an odd feature.

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    3. I got the translation program to work. Still fiddling with the alert programs. Zenic, I think it's just to enhance the cyberpunk feel to the universe.

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    4. Zenic: Depends on the game; In this one, probably what Chet said. In 0x10^c (Worst. Name. Ever.) It is to rekindle a love of programing simple systems from scratch, something that has been lost in today's world of gluing libraries together, object-oriented code and layers of abstraction.

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    5. Is that really the name of a game? That's going to be a bitch to Google when it comes time to download it.

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    6. Yep, being written by Notch, the guy who made Minecraft. Googles under 0x10c, which isn't so bad. Being written mostly as a mutliplayer game, but with a fully playable single-player component.

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  12. And since you asked, and nobody else replied: "Blade Runner" as a title made a lot more sense in its original context, a William S. Burroughs screenplay about underground doctors requiring smuggled surgical equipment. Warner Bros. felt they needed a punchier title for their movie than Philip K. Dick's original title for the story the movie was based on, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (the fools!), so they optioned William Burroughs' script just for the use of its title, a not entirely extraordinary state of affairs in Hollywood from what I can tell. Totally irrelevant, but deeply hook-y.

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    Replies
    1. That actually does bug me now and then, when I think of the film, so thanks for clearing it up!

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