It’s been a long time since you’ve heard anything from me, and for that I apologize. I am not a big talker when I’m knee deep in my work, but for the sake of transparency and understanding as the Tower Stream moves towards key milestones, I thought it best to pull my head from the sand.
This post marks the beginning of what will become a semi-regular (I hope) series specifically highlighting the differences and improvements of the Tower Stream’s core elements versus those of the Zenlil Stream.
Today’s post is about the use of physical, lethal violence, and how the changes we’ve made to iDGi-1 will dramatically alter this particular element of the experience. Before we get to that I wanted to first talk a bit about the two Streams in general, and how the iDGi-1 / game engine combo works the way it does.
How It Works
The Consortium King was the key to understanding and applying most of the Zenlil Stream’s pool of functions: what you would call the Consortium game experience. Without him I would not have a job, and our connection to the other world would not exist. We owe him a great deal for this. But, before I continue, you must understand that I do not “dislike” the King so much as I am leery of blindly trusting him. I have touched on this topic in previous posts, but I feel it’s important to again point out that he has proven on numerous occasions to be hiding secrets and emotional turbulence behind his alarmingly goofball demeanor.
The King has always informed us on the vast majority of iDGi-1 improvements, and through the Stream we’ve pieced together the blueprints HE wanted us to. He put the pieces out there, and not in a simple way as we believe he could have done, but as an incredibly challenging puzzle of coded data. I believe he has been intentionally distorting the connection between our worlds since the beginning in order for it to be difficult for us. To make it seem as though we’ve been doing it for ourselves, when in reality it’s always been him feeding us one tiny morsel at a time. The more difficult the mysterious puzzle, the more our naturally curious human minds would gravitate toward it.
It is no secret that up until now we have been primarily experiencing the Rift through the King’s eyes. He controlled us during our time within his head (the “A.R.G.”), had his hands in what the satellite allowed Bishop Six to say during the Zenlil Stream (with help from our world’s Schelter, whose specs built most of the talk system), and controlled and regulated how much of their world’s detail we could experience (in particular what he deemed “appropriate” within the Information Console) to create a pro-Consortium bubble. He even had a direct impact on the moral meter running behind every system, and dictated how far we could push the Bishop and the Zenlil crew.
That stops. For the Tower Stream we’ve taken control of these systems, along with others we barely had any say over the first time around. We have learned a lot about the connection since the Zenlil Stream’s release, and we are applying absolutely all of it to the Tower Stream. It is important to realize this means circumventing several restrictions and limitations put onto us by the King. This is the way it needs to be until we can uncover the truth of their world, and our role within it.
Violence In The Stream
The Zenlil Stream allows for some violence to occur, only it’s rather cartoony. Very little to no blood, poor reactions when people fall injured, and is in almost every way unrealistic as to what is ACTUALLY happening. The instructions we received from the King, which in turn informed Greg’s game engine’s limitations, blocks almost all of the gorier details of violence.
Take for example when Pawn 1 gets shot in Mission Ops. You’ll recall he sort of falls over and lies there calmly until you run over and save him, or he quietly dies. This is sugar coated game engine magic. iDGi-1 “cleans up” the gruesomeness, and boils it down to what we see in Consortium. The reality is that a calibre of bullet powerful enough to penetrate Zenlil’s hull ripping through Pawn 1 like a sheet of tissue paper would leave him screaming his head off as he bleeds all over the place from a gaping wound in his stomach. This image is made all the more macabre if you choose to stand passively by and do nothing. Same goes for any of the Homeless Mercs you can shoot down with the K.A.R… at the end of that fight the plane should be covered in blood and guts, and those Mercs would have screamed bloody murder.
The Zenlil Stream is an immersive experience that does not accurately portray a sense of what it feels like to murder someone with a high calibre weapon, or – for instance – a barrage of rockets. There are moral choices in how you handle situations, but the experience does not push hard enough against those players choosing chaos. Things are muted. Paths exist within the Zenlil Stream where your actions cause remorse, even anger within other people, and this is as far as we went. It’s as far as we were allowed to go at the time.
Except… wait a second. You should feel bad for outright murdering people, right? It’s important to us that no matter how you choose to experience the Streams you’re given a fitting response. We believe the King implemented his precautions with the intent to coddle us. He did not want us “turned off” by the experience, and most of all he did not want us stopping it. He likely figured if the experience depicted real, graphic violence and human suffering, then it would make us feel bad for what we were doing. He cannot have us feeling bad about entering their world. He needs us.
We don’t need coddling, and I believe his strategy backfires in the face of our world’s 2017 society. If we do not accurately paint the portrait of physical violence being perpetrated, then our chronic, societal desensitization sees no reason not to blow everyone away. The average gamer takes their weapon, sees a bad guy, clicks a button, moves on to the next.
The Tower Stream is at least a step in what we believe is the right direction. If you choose a “lethal” path and choose to use you K.A.R. and grenades to kill everyone, then it is our mission to make you feel the emotional impact of that choice. Having your team badger in your ear how mad they are isn’t enough. We may encourage a “do what you want” mentality in order to study and analyse the Streams, but cold blooded murder must have real consequence.
We took a lot of heat on this subject with the Zenlil Stream. Critics of my program felt that by giving the keys of a killing machine to the gaming world, and then expecting them NOT to try and murder everyone they could, was ill advised. I mean, how many of you figured out how to kill several of the Pawns by blowing out airlock doors? Just for the hell of it, right? Or what about killing as many Homeless Mercs as you could just to see your team’s reaction and try to get an “achievement”?
Yeah. So the critics had a point, and our attempt to combat that this time around is a more visceral experience when it comes to inflicted violence. Bloodier, louder, and just an all around darker experience if you choose to go down that route.