If you’re anything like me, and you’ve experimented with some survival horror in the last five years, then Alien: Isolation’s going to hit you with some déjà vu. In fact, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I’ve engineered my way out of a Japanese named space station which happened to be under siege by an intergalactic scourge somewhere before. While I can’t say that I hated my time playing Alien: Isolation, it was certainly an endeavor to finish. Yes, the atmospheric tension was thick enough to slice through, and seeing the Alien made me hit the pause button so I could nope out for a few seconds before diving back in, but that’s not what really made me put the controller down for extended hiatuses. Somewhere between restoring a communication tower to signal for help, and luring the Alien away from a cargo bay, I realized that I was Sevastopol’s wrench slave. Reality was hitting a little to close to home.
Since blogging doesn’t really pay the bills, I work in IT support by trade. So like Amanda Ripley, I’m constantly fixing things around the office. In fact, I fix things I’m not supposed to even be fixing like drop down projector screens, and firecom alerting modules. You know it’s kind of a mundane existence when someone asks about the lights when you’re actually the computer guy. In short, engineers have the power to create, maintain, and destroy. As with most engineers in gaming, Amanda Ripley literally holds the fate of each person in Sevastopol in her capable hands. That communication beacon ain’t gonna calibrate itself after all. With so much power, why does anyone tell Ripley what to do? Sure, there’s that part in the end where each alpha male in the story eventually gets owned and Ripley takes control, but before that, she’s at the whim of this lame security boss directing her actions. In the end, he tries to jettison you off the station with the Alien, but not after running you ragged getting the whole damn operation up and running.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen this happen to a good engineer. I’m constantly seeing my occupational kin get roped into ridiculous situations they know damn well would never work, but the people in charge had “other” plans. Isaac Clarke single-handily fixed the entire USG Ishimura, while everyone was chilling in the safe zone. At some point, they just needed to turn something off and on again, so they sent the single most important guy on the ship into a room full of hell creatures. Yeah, best idea ever. Even The Duct Tape Daredevil himself, Chuck Greene, spends his time between major events, taking ridiculous requests from survivors who don’t heed his words of wisdom. This man can make a Darth Maul staff out of two chainsaws that are so balanced it can be used as a weapon. Let me repeat this, HE CAN MAKE A DUAL CHAINSAW STAFF. Clearly this man is one of the most qualified people to survive a zombie apocalypse. Why would you not listen to him; he probably knows a thing or two about what’s going on.
I think the concept of engineering, or more specifically, the idea of crafting within videogames, is a gameplay avenue that hasn’t been fully explored yet. When given an opportunity to play an engineer in a video game, players given two flavors: An open world where you can create a whole bunch of stuff, but have no context to use them in, or a situational world where the things you can make are severely limited. My question is, why can’t we have both?
Part of the reason why I find The Dead Rising series so engaging is because the crafting system gives me the fantasy of using creativity to solve problems, even if it’s just finding the easiest way to dispatch a horde of zombies blocking an alleyway. It’s not perfect, but maybe that’s what we have to strive for. I didn’t user half the things Ripley was able to make in Alien: Isolation. Smoke bombs, flash grenades, noisemakers, I made three of each and just hoarded them. I got by just fine with a bunch of flares and a few Molotovs.
Game developers, stop giving engineers the shit work. If we can build, we can thrive.
Blog / Library / General Updates
If you’re reading this, thanks. I always appreciate any feedback on the things that I write. Alien was a really long game, which clocked in at about 40 hours of solid gameplay. The length of it, made if difficult for me to capture the entire experience in gameplay video. At some point, I just wanted to get the game done. I’m just glad I can move on. While I’m still stuck on the games of yesteryear, others have been playing the ridiculous Civilization VI. My girlfriend in particular, fiends for one more turn. I can’t blame her though, world domination is always a fun thing to do. I don’t know what I’m going to play for my next game. I definitely don’t want to play another horror game, even though I picked a few up for the Halloween sale. I’m thinking XCOM…
- Alien: Isolation (finally)
- Legend of Zelda: A link between worlds (Non-Steam, but I finished it ANYWAY)
- Shovel Knight (See appended note above.)
- I Am Alive
- Typing of the Dead: Overkill
I need to stop buying games, or I’ll never finish this list.