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TV Tropes Monday: But Thou Must


 

 

Tweet of the Day: The Summer of Sausage

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Why does the hero do what he does?

Because he is the hero.

And since he is the hero he must do what must be done.

Therefore when a hero is required, the people turn to you and say, “But Thou Must!”

This is where a game pretends that the player character (and by extension the player) have a choice in following the game narrative, but when the player exercises this option, or at least tries to, the game simply refuses them. It may ignore the choice, punish the player for choosing wrong, or simply ignore it. The problem with this trope is that a) it minimizes the player’s agency (the ability to act in the game), b) it can sometimes smack of developer cruelty. The developer created the scenario with only one answer but still wants to fool the player into believing that there is a choice. It can sometimes work, if coached properly and in certain games such as horror or comedy games, where the player is very much aware that their player character is nothing more than a puppet of the universe they inhabit. Anywhere else and it feels out of place to the point of being actually infuriating.

The situation becomes even more glaring in games that emphasize player’s choice and/or constructed under the sandbox model, one that prioritizes the freedom of the player to act within the game. Using this trope on the player can lead to a break in immersion and in some cases have the player quit altogether.

As always, use this trope with care.

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Mass Effect/AEC- ANN News: Death Sentence Passed on Warring Corporations


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Tweet of the Day: The Hugo Awards 2015: Looking Back and Looking Forward

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ANN News Desk on The Citadel

May 15, 2197

Death Sentence Passed on Warring Corporations

by By Iris Dunnigan

CITADEL, THE PRESIDIUM- The Systems Alliance Court of Justice authorized arrests warrants for the executive boards of  Czerka Arms and Weyland-Yutani. The court also authorized the full seizure and forfeiture of both companies assets within Systems Alliance space.  This is the first time that the SACJ has executed a so called “Corporate Death Sentence” on a corporation within its jurisdiction. This comes after a month of violent clashes between the two corporations (see Corporate War Erupts Between Czerka & W-Y) after revelations by a Czerka security team of illegal experiments on a W-Y colony site that caused the deaths of all W-Y employees on the colony (see Explosive Allegations Against W-Y).

Legal teams for both companies condemned the move and  appealed to the Interplanetary Commerce and Trade Court (ICTC), the ultimate arbiter of economic matters within Citadel Space. However legal experts predict that not only will the ICTC uphold the SACJ verdict but also authorized its own “death sentence” on the corporations. This should discourage other entities or individuals within Citadel space from sheltering either the assets and individuals connected with these corporations.

So far most of the members of the executive boards have evaded arrests.

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Mass Effect/AEC: Chapter 1 (c.3)-Family


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Tweet of the Day:  Dear Pedants: Your Fave Grammar Rule Is Probably Fake

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Apartment A-1245, Presidium, Citadel, Widow, Serpent Nebula, December 24, 2196, May 13, 2197

I looked around the room. Oriana and Pasha tucked in a corner, their arms linked. Jack pestered Vega to get out of the kitchen. Miranda and Brynn Taylor talked on the sofa. David Taylor, Brynn and Jacob’s younger son stared up at Utah’s shiny silver chassis while her older sister, Jane engaged Naera in the sort of conversation steep in the deep wisdom that only children can muster.

Almost everyone.

Galeena was on Ker’shan helping the batarians take their world back and Rodan had gone missing in action over a week ago. His chances of survival shrunk with each passing day. Behind enemy lines he faced capture, injury and for a turian that could not consume the local food, starvation.  The there was Helena.

I can’t wear her memory like a talisman. She was a person, whole and full, before I met her and until the day she died. She was…and that is all that really matters.

I cleared my throat. All eyes in the room turned on me, “Ladies, gentlemen and synthetics, thank you for being here today. Now this the part where I say that I not good at speeches–”

“Come on already,”  shouted Jack. The others laughed.

“Right, not good at speeches, blah, blah, blah.  The thing is I’ve been thinking a lot of the past, about events that have,” I glanced a little Naera, “marked all of us, in one way or the other. But one can not dwell in the past, one can only live in the present and work for the future. So,” I took out a handkerchief from my breast pocket, placed it at Miranda’s feet, and bent down on one knee, “without much further ado.”

Miranda’s lips trembled, “Theo…what are you doing?”

I took out the little box from my pocket, “Miranda will you marry me?”

Jane and Naera let out loud twin squeals of delight.

Miranda whispered, “Yesss….”

“What was that?” I asked.

“Oh get up!” I did as ordered, “I said yes, dammit!”

She buried her face on chest. I held her tight. For the time in a long time the tears came, unbidden.

Vega raised his glass, “Que vivan los novios!”

Naera rushed forward, “That makes you Titi Miranda, right?”

Miranda looked down at my blue angel of a nice, “I guess so.”

“Excuse me Commander Thompson-Ramos,” said Utah.

I blinked away the tears,”What is it Utah?”

“Message from Ker’shan, it is Major Galeena T’iala. She wished to inform us that they retrieved Group Captain Rodan Quintus. She states that he is malnourished and dehydrated but otherwise functional,” he said.

“Well, I’ll guess we will have to add them list,” I said.

Miranda buried her head back on my shoulder, “Shut up, just….”

“I know, I know…..”

——–

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Mass Effect: Captured


 

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Tweet of the Day: Hugo’s Postmortem: 2015 Edition

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“Group Captain Rodan Quintus, Batarian Expeditionary Force,” said Rodan.

The man kept the cold barrel of his gun pressed against the base of Rodan’s skull, “Gun.” Rodan slowly removed his machine pistol from its holster and handed it back. “Move,” said the other in a thick bass voice.

His captor led him through a maze of service tunnels, subbasements, and corridors that ran under the city. Rodan spotted signs of fighting, pockmarked walls, scorch marks, and collapsed entrances. The rumbling in his stomach turned into a dull, persistent ache, a reminder of the void within. Their journey ended in an empty room illuminated by a single neon strip light that hanged from the ceiling.

His guard shoved Rodan into the room, “Get in.”

He caught a glimpse of his captor. Four hallow angry eyes with deep dark bags under each stared back at him. Before he could speak his batarian captor slammed the metal door millimeters from his nose. Rodan surveyed the room. The bare concrete cube lacked any furnishing aside from the light fixture. He selected a corner opposite the door and sat down to wait. The harsh light eroded his sense of time.  He tried to bring his omni-tool back to life but it rebooted then refused to restart. Sometime later someone shook his shoulder.

“Get up,” said the voice.

Rodan bleary eyes opened. He wasn’t alone. A batarian in heavy armor pulled him off from the floor and sat him down in a chair. Across a folding metal table sat another batarian, his face cloaked in the darkness beyond the reach of the harsh light from above. The sharp stabs of a headache radiated from the back of his skull to the front in painful spikes. Rodan blinked three times fast to clear the spots from his eyes.

“Who are you?”

Rodan’s tongue stuck to the bottom of his mouth, “Water.”

“What?”

“Water, I need water,” said Rodan. Someone produced a bottle somewhere to his left. He gulped down the contents. A wave of cool pleasure ran down his mouth and throat but when the liquid reached his stomach it felt like a punch in the gut.

“Who are you?” repeated the man across from him.

“Group Captain Rodan Quintus, First Aerospace Wing, Batarian Expeditionary Force,” said Rodan.

“And what are you doing here?”

“I was shot down, four, maybe five days ago by an Oculi, big round eye thing that shoots red beams….”

“I know what an Oculi is. Why are you here?”

“Came looking for shelter, maybe a way to communicate with the BEF. Found…found a corpse instead.”

“Still doesn’t tell me what are you doing here?”

“Here, well you brought me here so…here I am.”

Rodan saw movement in the corner of his eye. His interrogator raised a hand.

“Mr. Quintus, what is a turian doing on this planet?”

“Oh, well I got hired to…,” he took a shallow breath, “to train and lead…to train and lead the BEF’s fighter force.”

“So you’re mercenary?”

Rodan nodded.

“So this force is a mercenary force?”

“No, not really. The Batarian Assembly hired, ermm…consultants. Putting together an army to take back an entire planet from Reaper forces takes a certain set of skills.”

“Do you have any proof of what your saying?”

“My omni-tool is busted but you must have seen them, right? The Oculi, the Harvesters. We been fighting off their constant attacks for the past month. One of them shut me down. And you know, here I am.” Somebody grabbed his wrist, “Hey.”

“It will only take a minute,” said the interrogator.

They scanned his damaged omni-tool and let go of his wrist. The batarian guard pulled him away from the chair while the others left with the other pieces of furniture. The sunken eyes batarian then closed the door behind him. Rodan crawled to the same corner of the room the guards found him in. Later he woke to the sound of a heated argument on the other side of the door.

“He is severely malnurished.”

“Can you do something about it?”

“Of course not, he can’t eat our food. If we don’t get him back to his people he will die.”

“We are still checking out the data we took from his omni-tool.”

“Then you better hurry.”

Again, sometime later for Rodan had no idea how much time had passed or even how he sat at the same chair across the same table interrogated by the same person.

“Why are you here?”

“I told you, I was hired to-”

“What is the BEF mission on Khar’shan?”

“To liberate the planet…A Free World for a Free People,” Rodan said.

“Can you do it?”

Rodan smacked his lips, “We are doing it now.”

“And then what?”

“I don’t know, I’m not batarian, not up to me. But I figured if…if you can get me in contact with my people they can help you out. I mean how long have you stuck down here? But I’m no use to you stuck down here.”

“We shall see.”

Rodan returned to his corner. A swaying motion woke him. Something stuck out of his arm. He was too weak to move. Then a familiar face hovered over him. Gold flecks swam in a deep blue sea.

“Major…Galeena?”

“You’re going home Rodan, you are going home.”

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TV Tropes Monday: Corporate Warfare


 

 

Tweet of the Day: Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters

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One of the defining characteristics of nation-states is their monopoly over the use of violence, either as a tool for policing or as a tool of statecraft. So, if you have corporations whose power rivals or exceed that of nations, they may also acquire said monopoly. The way you exercise such monopoly is through police and military forces.  And if you happen to have a military force available, why not use it?

If you do, then you have entered the realm of Corporate Warfare.

Contrary to popular belief, warfare is not profitable, unless your business if warfare, such as a weapon manufacturer or a mercenary company. The investment on military equipment is difficult to recoup outside of a direct sale to a third party. Weapons either kill an enemy or go unused. The best you can do with a piece of military hardware is to recycle its components for a fraction of the cost of creating the weapon in the first place. Yet the temptation to use military force to right a perceive wrong, intimidate an opponent or make a quick grab of resources could be tempting enough for a corporation (or members there of) to take military action.

Corporate Warfare can also be seen as an extension of Corporate Espionage, but with deadlier consequences. This is the scenario common to most cyberpunk stories. Corporations are willing to use violence but in a limited fashion and for limited gains since they are well aware that the cost  of prologue conflict can eat up any gains from it. In other works such as historical fiction referencing the British East India Company or a work of science fiction set at the interplanetary or galactic level, these entities are corporations in name only, acting like states and motivated by the same goals as nation-states.

And finally, since nation-states claim a monopoly on the use of violence within their borders (or it would not be a monopoly) their is good reason for states to curve or even eliminate the growth/existence of such forces.

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Weekend Writing Warriors: #8sunday-8/23/2015- A long way back


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Welcome to another edition of the Weekend Writing Warriors blog chain. We continue with another snippet from my short story collection, Weirder and Wilder Tales, which is a mix of speculative fiction short stories from high fantasy to science fiction with a dash of horror thrown in for good measure. Most are flash fiction, around a thousand words, but three stories are a bit longer. Today’s snippet is from The Wolf and the Songbird, the last of the longer pieces of the collection. Our young maiden found what she was looking for, but dealing with him was more work than she thought:

“Dammit Jason, you’re heavy,” I said while dragging his semi conscious form back to the car.

 “Sorr—burp! I think…” he gurgled.

 “No, you are not getting sick on me, Jason. I swear I’ll drop your arse right here!”

 My nose, cheeks, and ears ached from the cold. I spotted the Volvo by the side of the road. I popped the boot so that Jason could crawl in and remain unseen until I got him back to the village. He pulled a gym bag from a dark corner of the boot.

So there you have another snippet from my WiP. As always, feel free to check out the rest of the blog chain by following the link above.

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TV Tropes Monday: Prisoner’s Plot Dilemma


 

 

Tweet of the Day: Why It Might Actually Suck to Live in the Harry Potter Universe

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This is the second trope I’ve discovered yet I could not find on the TV Tropes page: the Prisoner’s Plot Dilemma. So, what is the Prisoner’s Plot Dilemma? It is when a character is:

  1. When a protagonist is taken prisoner or otherwise disabled (given drugs, had their transportation disabled or destroyed),
  2. Being taken prisoner or drugged is not part of the characters plans,
  3. For the sole purpose of advancing the plot,
  4. By placing the character in the place of the author’s chosing
  5. Without disrupting the delivery of the plot by another character, usually via a monologue.

A good example of this comes from the James Bond. People groan at the elaborate death traps set up by Bond villains to kill James Bond, traps that Bond always escapes from to the detriment of the villain. It has the audience screaming, “Why don’t you just shoot him!” at the screen. Except the death trap is not there to kill Bond, it is, in fact a way to extricate him from the Prisoner’s Plot Dilemma. Having Bond captured by the baddie for the express purpose of putting Bond where the story needs him to be (to hear the baddies plans, have him monologue about the “true” nature of existence, etc) you need a way for him to escape that restores his “badassery” while showing up the villain. Later on the villain dies either because Bond simply shoots him, showing that the hero is the practical sort that gets the job done or falls into the very same trap he set up for Bond, but comes up short when the piranhas tear him to bits.

The worst example of this comes from video games that attempt “storytelling.” In order to have the player character sit down and listen to the story as it is spoon fed to them the game resorts to taking the player character prisoner to accomplish its storytelling. While tolerable once, perhaps twice, the constant abuse of this trope can lead to frustration on the part of the player who sees their Illusion of Control suspended at the whim of game’s developer and their actions either ignored or reversed for no other purpose than to advance the game’s plot. Instead of encouraging the player to engage with the story the designer ignores the player in favor of whatever narrative they want to tell.

For all these reasons this trope should be avoided at all costs as when abused it becomes a clear sign of poor writing.

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