The Tomb Raider walkback begins

Tomb Raider Creators Are No Longer Referring to Game’s Attempted ‘Rape’ Scene As an Attempted Rape Scene.

Now as much as I detest Kotaku’s editorial practices this isn’t about them, this is about Crystal Dynamics and their latest escalation of double-speak. As I said in my previous post, Executive Producer Ron Rosenberg, as part of his now-infamous “You’ll want to protect her” interview stated quote “…she gets taken prisoner by scavengers on the island.  They try to rape her…”

Well that seems pretty clear, Ron, not that I didn’t pick that up in the trailer.  Scene by scene lets break that sequence down a bit more.

2:15 into the trailer, Lara has her hands bound behind her back, and is trying to sneak out of this camp.

2:18. creepy voice saying “Noone escapes!” as Lara slips into a little hidey hole.

2:20. Her attacker discovers her, heavy breathing.

2:24. Now is when you can tell that this has definitely been selectively edited, as Lara is out of the hidey hole, and her attacker has one hand on her shoulder preventing her from running.  Her hands are still bound.

2:25.  Cue dramatic tension in the music as her attacker examines her lecherously.

2:26. The attacker’s arm wanders down from Lara’s shoulder to her hips before being kneed in the groin at 2:28.

Less than a second later she is trying to flee but caught by the arm and pulled back.  At 2:30 Lara is forced against a wall by her attacker, who then proceeds to fondle her and nuzzle her neck.  Her terrified face blocks any view of what he’s doing, the repeated smash-to-black edits further serve to obscure the events.

I have to point out that the editing is so jarring in this sequence, with noticeable gaps between logical progressions of events.  Lara eventually struggles on the ground against her attacker at 2:35 with gun in hand, fighting his grip to turn it on him and fire.  Note that they do not show how she escapes from her bonds, as her hands have until this point been tied behind her back and she has been unable to use them to fend off this attacker.

The pace of editing and smash-cuts in this particular sequence tells me whoever cut the trailer is an idiot seeing as this style of editing trailers with several smash-cuts to black every second is terrible, but also that they are hiding the full sequence of events from the viewer.

In other words, this sequence is much longer in actual gameplay than depicted.  Based on the events shown, and the manner in which they are timed I think I am safe in the assumption that there is a quick-time-event around which this entire sequence is based.  Which means it is not just brutal, it is interactive.

Today, the head of Crystal Dynamics released a statement saying the following:

“…Unfortunately we were not clear in a recent E3 press interview and things have been misunderstood.  Before this gets out of hand (Too fucking late! -ed), let me explain.

In making this Tomb Raider origins story our aim was to take Lara Croft on an exploration of what makes her the character she embodies in later Tomb Raider games.  One of the character defining moments for Lara in the game, which has incorrectly been referred to (by your own employee, the executive producer on the game -ed) as an ‘attempted rape’ scene is the content we showed at this year’s E3… This is where Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time.  In this particular section, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly.  Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game. (emphasis mine -ed)

…We’re sorry this has not been better explained, we’ll certainly be more careful with what is said in the future. (again, emphasis mine -ed)”

-Darrel Gallagher, Studio Head – Crystal Dynamics

Well fuck me sideways, Darrell, that sure clears that up, thanks!  Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game.  Well I guess that footage was from another game because there was some pretty clear sexual assault in it!  And how could it possibly go further than what you showed, what with a good chunk of the sequence being excised for the trailer.  I guess its non-interactive as well, seeing as that would be “going further” as well.

I’m not saying a game cannot use these themes to profound effect.  They can, and I’m sure one day they will.  To say that Tomb Raider has no sexual assault in it, when high-ranking members of your production staff have said that enemies will try to rape Lara Croft in this game, and video evidence exists to the contrary, certainly takes some balls, I’ll give you that one.

So what was that attacker doing in that scene if not sexually assaulting the protagonist of the game?  Did his hand wander down her body as he leered down her shirt because his arm was tired?  Did he pin her against a wall and begin necking her because she got bit by a snake and he needed to suck the venom out, quick?  It’s not rape, its a struggle-snuggle!  Give me a break.

This is cowardly, dishonest, and leads me to believe that whatever the intent of the developers, they have tarnished their efforts and their names with this increasingly absurd PR carnival.  First there’s attempted rape.  Then, there’s lots of attempted rape!  It’s edgy, it’s cool, buy our game!  Now there is no attempted rape nor sexual assault of any kind, and shame on you and the media for perpetuating the myth that there is!

I know there is an internet furor with many forum and comment fights between both defenders of the game as presented and those who find its content objectionable.  I defy you to find any defender of this scene, however, that has denied the existence of sexual assault and attempted rape as part of the trailer.

So I have some advice for you, Darrell, given freely by someone who wants to see your game come through and have the solid narrative I imagined it could carry.  Don’t just be more careful with what is said.  Be more careful with what is done.  Start by putting a gag order on every member of the development team.

Then, since the scene is all about when Lara is forced to kill another human for the first time, rework the scene.  If that is the narrative impact, the defining moment you are going for, why complicate it?  Have Lara be caught in her hidey hole, tossed out onto the ground, QTE to wiggle out of the rope in time to grab the gun and turn it on her attacker.  All that juicy gore and character definition, no pesky rape!

Crystal Dynamics must in any circumstance be honest with their fans and those who wish to see this game succeed.  If they cannot justify the scene as is, it should be changed not just to avoid controversy but to avoid detracting from the story of the game.  That’s not “political correctness” that is good design.

As it stands, they’re simply making fools of themselves, and showing how little they really think of the intelligence of the gaming community.

On Tomb Raider

If Crystal Dynamics wanted to intellectually challenge me with Tomb Raider, they certainly did that.

I started off thinking that Tomb Raider looked good, if questionable as regards gender politics in their announcement trailer. The tone of that trailer was very similar to the torture/imprisonment scenes in V for Vendetta, where a female character, Evey Hammond, is put into a hellish scenario and through survival and defiance becomes more than she was before.

After the E3 trailer I started having doubts, while the technical aspects showed promise it did veer fairly close to what I define as torture porn. I actually thought the attempted rape shown in the trailer was a sign to the contrary, the nature of the story as crucible in which a heroine is formed was intact. And for all intents and purposes, Lara Croft is someone they historically depict as a sort of Lady Batman by way of Indiana Jones, so I think the “traumatic superhero origin story” fits what they’re trying to do.

Then the producers and PR jackals started opening their mouths and I moved from cautious optimism to complete skepticism with a handful of statements. Not statements taken out of context, mind you, things that stand on their own quite well and weren’t walked back later by others. The “You’ll want to protect her” angle. Not good. Way back in the announcement trailer the most negative thing was the implication of the drowning scene, where Lara is pulled out of the water by what is clearly a strong, male arm.

I think the intent behind it is as metaphor for her father, but it still sends a troubling message that this is someone who is not competent to survive on her own, without male assistance. A message reinforced by the producer’s statements regarding ‘protecting’ the protagonist. Suddenly the metaphor is warped backwards upon itself, casting the player as a controlling father-figure who the protagonist Cannot Survive Without. The E3 trailer furthers this idea with the narration that plays over the rape scene, in which Lara’s (presumed) father is reassuring her.

Finally we come to the point at which the PR apparatus, clearly in some sort of panicked, deranged Damage Control/Hype Amplification hybrid state actually double down on rape, saying it is something that enemies in the game will try to do to her. Now, this is one that could be misunderstood. It could be that one instance in the trailer and no more. Many would say that one instance is still way too far. Even so, in the context of the interview, it is implied that attempted rape is something that happens multiple times throughout the game, if not just a thing that enemies will pull out of their “move set” if given the chance. That is genuinely disgusting, but raises an even more troubling point to compound my feelings.

That is to say, what happens if I put the controller down? What if I, as PlayerFather, choose neglect be it by accident, frustration, or experiment? Will the protagonist be raped in front of me? No, that won’t happen, everyone has some common sense and that doesn’t seem like a good idea to anyone. More likely is that it will be treated as the exact same failure condition as physical death. Game Over screen, reload at most recent checkpoint. Now I’ll admit I might be reaching with this next point but to my mind that sends a message that is both horrifying and untrue, which is “Rape Is Not Survivable”.

While technically, Crystal Dynamics may be making a solid game from mechanical and graphical standpoints, they are clearly not equipped to play with the loaded gun that is the emotional complexity of extreme trauma and rape. Many have criticized the game for looking like Uncharted. It does, and Uncharted was called Dude Raider by a great many people well past its release. I don’t find that a problem. I like Uncharted, if Tomb Raider is like Uncharted then I will be happy.

But why do I like Uncharted? Long and short? Its human. It has actual characters who are developed, expanded upon, and undergo physical and emotional arcs, with triumph and tragedy along the way. It has love, loss, sacrifice, the pursuit of meaning, adversity and triumph over such. It is by no means narratively the Best Game, but it is very good, and consistently so.

Which brings me to The Last of Us. Like Tomb Raider this is no empowerment fantasy of a game. Like Tomb Raider, survival seems to be the crux of much of the gameplay. And here is where Naughty Dog prove themselves the superior developers, unlike Tomb Raider, The Last of Us is framed to have its cake and eat it too.

Both games are seemingly setting up to play off of paternal instinct to protect young girls. The difference is twofold, the obvious, you Play as Lara Croft, your job as the player is to protect her. In The Last of Us, you Play as Joel, your job as Joel is to protect Ellie. That makes a fucking mighty difference right there. Second, and more subtly, I don’t want to protect Lara Croft. I want her to protect herself. Contrast to The Last of Us, where every iota of information they’ve released on it has made me want to protect Ellie.

Ellie’s thirteen, though. She’s not fully equipped to handle this adventure, that is the specific reason that Joel is with her. Lara may not be fully equipped to handle her adventure as well but she should not be portrayed as otherwise helpless. Ellie, in contrast, is far from helpless. She’s smart, she’s sarcastic, she’s surprisingly well-adjusted, and most importantly she is not in the least afraid to brick a motherfucker in the face and then not three minutes later stab another in the back. Yes, Joel has to protect her but she can be just as important in protecting Joel. They need each other to get through this alive.

Lara Croft should not need a protector. I do not want the job. The story I thought I was getting, and might still get despite these communication turds to the contrary, is one ultimately of female empowerment. Overcoming the very real dangers facing her, on her own, and through this ordeal being reborn as a heroine as iconic as she is strong and independent. This still might happen, if it doesn’t, I will consider it an opportunity squandered.

Part of storytelling is knowing when to stop. Pushing boundaries is good, playing with the emotions of your audience is also good. The best stories we have do both. They allow us to grow as people, we emerge from the experience better for it. Tomb Raider has this potential. If it fails, it will be because no one in the room was smart enough to tell them when to stop, when to back away from the edge, leave some taboos unbroken, and in turn leave the next great boundary for another day and another story.

After all, if authors and audiences alike were capable of breaking all barriers with one swift narrative punch to the brain, we wouldn’t have any good ones left to tell.

And One More Thing…

As everyone’s heard, Steve Jobs passed away today.  On the astronomical odds that anyone is hearing it from me for the first time, go to a real website.  Steve Jobs was many things to many people.  It cannot be disputed that he was a visionary, and unlike any other CEO the world had ever seen.  Equal parts Jim Henson and Thomas Edison, he was one-of-a-kind and the loss of that vision and philosophy lessens the world.  Still we should count ourselves lucky and thankful that a man like Steve Jobs not only existed, but was allowed the opportunity, talent, vision, and plain old luck to accomplish all that he did.  While his death is tragic, try not to mourn for him.  Instead give thanks that he was here to do the amazing things he did to begin with.

If you’re a computer geek, remember how many “One More Things” he gave us.  Chuckle about the ubiquitous Cheering Sections at press conferences.  Remember Toy Story, and all the fantastic Pixar films that may not have been if not for him.  Watch Toy Story, and Up, and WALL-E, and let yourself cry for god’s sake, because life is equally beautiful in the sweetness and the sorrow.

I’d urge anyone reading this to donate to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer has a mere five percent survival rate, and has robbed the world of far too many people.  Steve Jobs gave us technology that shames Star Trek, this is the 21st century, don’t tell me we can’t do anything to improve that.

Imagine

My new citadel is in many ways paradoxical.  It does not show up on any known mapping program, yet packages still make their way here.  It is not in Lynchburg, but it is said to be so.  Sometimes the GPS on my phone tells me I am in Lynchburg.  Sometimes, Rustburg.  Note that both these measurements are taken from my desk, which apart from standard cosmic forces, is stationary.

Lynchburg has an odd feel to it, an odd rhythm.  It is a fiercely independent city that is home to a less-than-welcome invader, upon Candlers Mountain.  Liberty University, the house that Falwell built, has a bad reputation among many of the locals I’ve found.  They had an identity, they were proud southerners.  Lynchburg was the only major confederate city never to fall to the Union Army during the Civil War.  While I, personally, find that honor dubious at best, I respect cultural identity.  When Falwell rose to prominence, Lynchburg’s identity was subverted by a megalomaniac whose views could charitably be described as “hateful” and is one of the few human beings, along with Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler, who I am truly glad is dead.    I know a good man never celebrates death, but I’m not a good man.  I am an honest man, and I hope all three are being hatefucked in the soul in their hells of choice.

The Libertards tend not to stray very far from their enclaves upon Candlers Mountain.  I’ll see a few here and there in the shopping centers directly adjacent, and one thing identifies them above all else: immaturity.  They’re loud, obnoxious, silly children.  The students of nearby Central Virginia Community College and Lynchburg College are infinitely more restrained in public, despite the reputation of the latter as a “Party School”.  I’m beginning to understand and appreciate the country in ways I didn’t back in D.C.  Not the south, mind you, the Country.  All the out-of-the-way places, north, south, middle, west.  Generally speaking the places where it is not uncommon, if you drive down a back road, to see cattle grazing, corn stalks growing, and above all else, trees.  Nature, unmolested by man’s presence.  I’ve seen more forest, field, and sky in my one month in this town than in all my twenty-four years in D.C.

Today, after looking around Craigslist for a while I found an absolute gem of a turntable, perfect for the little den we’ve set up here on Minas Macil.  My father called up the owner, and we went on a bit of an adventure trying to find his house among what can only be described as the backwoods.  It was not five minutes away, but so dramatic was the atmosphere that I could have sworn I’d traveled hundreds of miles into the heartland.  We live only in the foothills of the Appalachians, but the rolling forests upon mountains of increasing grandeur tend to impress even the most technological man.

When we met the owner of the turntable, he was many things I expected of a typical, proud southern man.  He was accented and loud, though not in a rude way.  He was working out in the shed, plenty of tools and timber were strewn about the place.  And, I’ll be damned, he was a nice guy.  Hospitable and surprising in many ways.  Yes, he had guns.  Proper guns, hunting rifles, mind you.  Safely kept.  In his self-described “man cave” he had a poster of John Lennon, as well as one of Dale Earnhardt and a Confederate flag bearing the slogan “The South Will Rise Again”.  As I helped my dad look through the various electronics he was trying to fix up and sell, I found myself and my father in a conversation with a man who was genuinely nice.  He was an individual, his record collection was formidable and tasteful.  This was no beer-swilling ignoramus, this was a man with tastes that were broader than I would have imagined.

It strikes me now that I was the most prejudiced man in that particular man-cave.  D.C. is even more poisonous than I thought.  Picking a side, picking an ideology, picking a “team” counts for everything there.  You look at a map and you see the colors of your team and the colors of the opposing team, and you think, “Wow, there are a bunch of fucking idiots in those places that have a different color”.  The entire time we were there, we talked about electronics, old records, old speakers, beautifully-kept vintage stereo stuff, and I know I’ll be going back at some point to help repair some of the more esoteric pieces.  It never occurred to me that someone could revere John Lennon and Dale Earnhardt, play the banjo and listen to Bach.

I know more today than I did yesterday.  I no longer feel like the stranger in a strange land, the civilized man among the apes.  That was plain wrong of me.  I realized I don’t have to talk about politics with someone, or know their political views, to get along with them.  I know I can look at a flag that will always be a symbol of hatred to me, but know it stands for something different for some people.  I can see why he admired John Lennon.  He was ahead of the curve.  There’s nothing in “Imagine” about one ideology triumphing over another, or one party winning the next big election.  There’s just a hope for a future where we can all find some common ground.

And the world will live as one.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a Quasi-Review

Note: some spoilitos for all three Deus Ex games lie within.  You have been warned.

When Deus Ex was released I was thirteen years old.  Now, maybe that’s not an appropriate age to play Deus Ex, some may think.  I don’t know many early-teens who could appreciate the freedom and breadth of storytelling that game provided.  It was the first game to ever truly blow me away.  It was the game I couldn’t shut up about.  Long before the cake was ever a lie, I was spouting “I wanted orange!  It gave me Lemon-Lime!” at my console gamer friends, to their utter bewilderment.

Deus Ex hit with the force of a revelation, seemingly from nowhere.  It has parallels to System Shock and Thief, understandably, but the storyline, steeped in conspiratorial lore and existential questions about the true nature of humanity.  There’s an old internet saying that every time someone mentions Deus Ex in a forum thread, someone will reinstall it and play through again.  I’ve lost count of how many times I gazed through the nano-augmented eyes of J.C. Denton, cutting through the labyrinthine schemes of the Majestic 12, the Illuminati, FEMA, even sentient computers with their own conflicting goals.  I have never played the game the same way twice, and I doubt I ever could.

When I first heard that a newly-formed studio, Eidos Montreal was to take the reins and make a sequel to a game that borders on the sacrosanct in the pantheon of development, I scoffed.  We all remember what happened when Warren Spector left the team and Invisible War was rushed out the door, the first installment in a hallowed PC franchise to truly, with no disrespect to my console-playing brethren, be “dumbed down for the console ‘tards”.  I knew they’d fuck it up, it would be akin to the Jonas Brothers trying to write a literal sequel to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Invisible War’s endings were all so dystopian and bleak that you not only wondered why the hell you played this mediocre sequel but why you didn’t take your character and go dancing in a minefield, instead of screwing the world up.

Against all odds, however, Deus Ex: Human Revolution manages to not only prove worthy of the name, but even takes steps toward redeeming Invisible War’s many faults.

For those who don’t know, DX:HR places you in the surprisingly stylish floral-print trenchcoat of Adam Jensen, a gravelly-voiced ex-SWAT leader now working corporate security for Sarif Industries, a leader in the science of biomechanical human augmentation.  In the years leading up to the game’s events in 2027 the world has seen some changes, perhaps none more significant than the semi-renaissance brought about by the radical advancement in prosthetic design, for the first time allowing people to replace their natural body parts with improved biomechanical versions.  The transhuman has arrived, and not everyone is thrilled at this.

The fundamental moral question that Human Revolution asks of Jensen, and of the player, is “What defines human to you?”  After nearly being killed at the hands of radically-augmented supersoldiers, Jensen himself is brought back from the brink of death with all the hardware that the bleeding edge of technology at Sarif Industries can muster.  Like previous Deus Ex protagonists J.C. Denton and Alex Denton, you didn’t have a choice in becoming more than human.  Unlike them, Adam was born a regular man.

The gameplay has been criticized by some for lacking the total immersion of the original, though realistically, the alterations to the formula that people complain most often about are simply the result of progress in the art of design.  A third-person cover system allows the stealthy player to remain more aware of their surroundings.  Takedown animations are just bloody cool, as are the deployments of the Typhoon and the Icarus Landing System.  The visual style of the latter two jaunts into the third person are especially evocative of The Matrix, slowing to bullet-time so you can see the augments fire in all their splendor, and who can blame them?  I defy you to drop from a ledge into a pack of enemies, your Icarus suite slowing your descent and violently throwing your enemies backward, seeing them stumble to their feet just in time for Jensen to drop down and fire an explosive hellstorm from his back, only for the camera to pull back in so you can view the results of your devastating assault and not feel like a transhuman badass that would shame the trenchcoatiest of the other trenchcoated cyberpunk badasses in the world.

My criticism goes straight to where all the true criticism goes.  The boss fights.  I don’t mind having to kill, even in a game where you could potentially play without killing a single person other than a boss.  I know that sometimes a situation arises in which it truly is kill or be killed.  The problem arises in how these fights are executed.  Every single boss fight takes place in, and stop me if this sounds at all familiar, a square or circular arena with various pickups strewn around for your convenience, some  chest-high walls and other sporadic cover elements, against an antagonist you know next to nothing about.

It is the last part of this that really gets to me, because Deus Ex had boss fights of its own, as did Invisible War.  Sure, in Deus Ex you could run away, or win without firing a shot, simply by uttering the phrase “Laputan Machine”.  Those are things I miss and I’ll get to the technical faults with the boss fights next, but the biggest problem is that you are not fighting characters.  Gunther Hermann was a character, over-augmented and spiteful over the obsolescence that the nano-augments like Denton promise to bring.  He’s human.  He likes orange soda and thinks the maintenance guy has it in for him because he keeps getting lemon lime.  If you dig around enough you even find out that he’s right.  He genuinely cares for his partner, Anna Navarre, and he doesn’t attack you for betraying his organization, he attacks you for killing his partner.  He’s enraged, he’s tired, he’s a bad speller and goddamnit he wants a skull gun!

Likewise, Anna Navarre is a ruthless agent who genuinely believes that the ends justify the means, and that what she is doing is right, despite being horrifying.  She’ll applaud you for efficiency and lethality in the field, and lament your incompetence if you take your time and resort to non-lethal tactics.  She’s in your face and when the time comes to fight her or not to fight her, you have to make some pretty tough choices.  Walton Simons is a snake-like manipulating bastard from the very opening cutscene, as the game progresses you hate the guy more and more.  Bob Page is most complex of all, the prodigal mastermind whose humanity has all but entirely slipped away.  These are people, people who you feel something for.  Lets take a look at the bosses of Human Revolution.

First comes Final Fantasy VII reference, I mean Barrett.  Guess what his main weapon is.  This gun-armed good ol’ boy waits for you to walk into the Arena and have a good old fashioned fight to the death, with guns and grenades aplenty.  He is also the only boss in the game it is possible to beat without attacking directly, as you can, with patience, circle-strafe around his constant grenade throwing and let him kill himself with the splash damage.  We know nothing about him as a person, we have no reason to care who he is or what he knows other than the fact that he was part of the attack on Sarif HQ.

Yelena Federova, or as I should say, Mohawk Girl because the only reason I know the character’s name is I looked it up on the damn Deus Ex Wiki, is the second boss.  This is a woman you’ve seen kill innocents, and yeah, she probably has this coming.  Does she get any dialogue?  None that I can remember.  Her death is like the turning of a key that allows an altogether different character to provide you with assistance.  This is the only reason you fight her.

Namir, Creepy Muscle Guy, is the third and penultimate boss fight.  His character design may as well have been taken from BODIES – The Exhibition, which I have no doubt is the one and only place where his designers looked for inspiration.  I can at least give a minimal amount of praise to the atmosphere of the arena in which you fight Namir, as it does mimic his art design and aesthetics, even if Adam does come off a bit thick for not noticing the one muscle-sculpture with Murder-Augs all over him is posing directly over his right shoulder while he has a nice chat with Token Evil Bitch.  Namir has some interesting dialogue that could potentially humanize him, and create more conflict in Adam’s life, but all of this is immediately forgotten as soon as you loot any gear you want and leave the room.

The final boss is the only one with whom we have had any genuine interaction with over the course of the game.  Sadly, however, it is a bit of a rehash of the ultimate showdown in Deus Ex 1.  There isn’t any particular reason for it to be and there are some more missed narrative opportunities with the (insert sinister machine project name here).

I’m only giving them so much shit because they were outsourced from the main developer and there game is built entirely around systems that would allow you to potentially avoid Always Fighting On Their Terms.  Jensen never once has the tactical advantage or fights in a place of his choosing.  The first boss in particular is said to be moving around the entire level while you are progressing.  A stealthy player might be able to find a hidden perch from which to snipe his escorts, and even him, from a distance.  A hacker could lock down doors to direct him to a different confrontation room, one where that same hacker might be able to turn some sentry turrets against the boss and win the fight while hiding behind a desk.  All the bosses in the game have similarly simple ways that they could be outwitted.

Thankfully the rest of the game is a spectacular showcase of art design, characterization, tension, and concludes in an ending that is more brilliant than most will ever give it credit for.  Deus Ex is one of the first games to really embrace the “Multiple Ending” design.  the first game had three, Invisible War and Human Revolution both have four.  They all have one thing in common, you, the protagonist have sole power over what the entire outcome of the scenario that has just unfolded will be.  And this is the brilliance, its been here since Deus Ex 1 but it took Human Revolution’s gorgeously simple method of choosing the outcome to truly make me see it.

Heavier spoilers after the jump.

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Good Friends (maringally NSFW)

A good friend will indulge your oddities. A great friend will give you new oddities. Thanks, Kara.

To see what fresh madness I have been gifted, hit the jump.

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On Seriousness

Since I returned there haven’t really been many dick jokes.  I feel I should remedy this.  A while ago, during my absence, I was cleaning up the kitchen in my former apartment, when I discovered a little bamboo skewer, charred at one end.  I had used it the night before to light candles when the power was out.  Now, however, an unspeakable urge called to me.  I noticed the tip left a black mark on my finger, as a pencil might.  The malformed box of neurons and psychoactive substances called my brain shifted gears.

Now, with impulse control less potent than that of an ADHD-addled five-year-old I took skewer in hand, just as Shakespeare himself may have once put quill to parchment, stirring the souls of kings and peasants alike, or Van Gogh held his brush aloft and carved color and beauty out of paint and canvas so many years ago.

Purposefully I approached the cutting board.  This was the time for something great to happen, there could be no other time.  If I was to delay, I was to fail!

Deftly, purposefully, I wrote “PENIS” on the cutting board, but like Icarus, I flew too close to the sun!  I added an exclamation point to the end.  Too much!  Surely it was too much!  So I scrubbed it away.

“That almost went too far.” I thought to myself, as I proceeded to draw a cock and balls next to the word instead.  Then I felt it in my veins, “No!  The exclamation point must go back in!  Where would mankind be if men such as me did not dare to push the boundaries of the ethical, the possible!”

And so the exclamation point went back in.  I knew that work of such beauty could not last forever in its original state.  Its glory would only dim with the passage of time.  Yet, it would have to be remembered in some way.  I fetched a camera to take a picture of my masterpiece before I washed it all away.

No shit, wordpress has below this field "Alt text for the image, e.g. "The Mona Lisa"".  I think that is appropriate

No shit, wordpress has above this field "Alt text for the image, e.g. "The Mona Lisa"". I think that is appropriate

There.  It was done.  My work photographed, I could wash it away.  I reached for the detergent.  And then, sensing genius swelling within once more, I stopped.  I waited.  A vile thought entered me.  I would wash the cutting board.  Not before creating a neon green snail trail of soapspunk leading from the penis toward the sink.  I am not proud, I am merely stating the events as they occurred.  I am a vessel, nothing more, nothing less.

Radioactive Spunk would make a good band name.

It is long gone, now, like so many other great works of art.  All that remains are these images, and this accounting of the events of that fateful night.  After washing the board I noticed that sudsing the soap made it look more realistic, but alas, my wings of wax had melted, and I had no more burnt bamboo to draw with.