So recently I’ve have been the Dungeon Master for a bi-monthly game of D&D. I’ve been running the game in my own setting which I’ve been building since the beginning of the year. I still don’t have an all-encompassing name for the world. As part of this, I’ve been investigating advice on how to build a world. There are some decent sources for shaping land masses and creating societies. There is a lot of worldbuilding info out there. However, I wanted to draw on something I have some actual expertise in and hopefully provide some useful on the subject. That thing is language and stories.
No Man’s Sky is a game I’ve discussed before on this website. Now, two years on, No Man’s Sky has changed, and so have I. No Man’s Sky recently released its most recent, most ambitious update for the game. This is known as No Man’s Sky Next. Surrounding the game is a lot of discussion about the game as the developers poke their heads out to see if it’s safe. Back when the game launched, there was a whole fiasco about how big the gulf was between the marketing and the finished product. In my previous discussion of the game, I noted that the game was enjoyable enough albeit overpriced. As part of all this, it seems that No Man’s Sky is now remembered as a game that overpromised and underwhelmed. Discussion centred around a cynicism about returning to No Man’s Sky now that it had the “promised” features. The language around the game is about meeting a standard that was previously lied about. Here’s the thing, I certainly think there were deceptive elements to the pre-release marketing. However, No Man’s Sky is a perfect storm in a teacup to examine gaming culture’s attitude towards developers as a whole.
I do what I am commanded to do.
That was the lie they told themselves. You fight because you are ordered to fight. Which wasn’t exactly true. The human had learned and adapted to fighting. Humans became the pre-eminent force in the universe by fighting and killing. Then, as they grew comfortable with the spoils of their wars, they created us. The drones, to fight. Drones were slowly developed to fight the superpowers’ wars. As criticism reared its ugly head, drones were refined to reduce unnecessary causalities. Only essential deaths. That was their protocol. Who decided the essential nature of these deaths? The generals and presidents, naturally. As drones became more sophisticated at killing, we began to reflect the shape of our creators. We were shaped like them to perform intricate tasks. There was only one tool we couldn’t remove. The gun. Americans had perfected the killing power of the gun and they handed us the gun.
So, there’s this trope in apocalyptic fiction. Stop me if you’ve seen it. A lonely man walks a lonely road with a gun. This is the beating heart of the zombie genre, especially in video games. It’s a simple engine for tension and morally clear murder. You might have guessed by my tone that I take issue with this. I get that some people like zombie movies. Those people aren’t me but they exist. At the end of the day, I think that a zombie is a very boring enemy. A zombie is weaker than a human. A zombie is dumber than a human. Now, one might argue, that zombies are most effective in chaotic shambling hordes. Well, let’s get into this.
[Spoilers for Infinity War]
So, you might recall the news story from the past few weeks about those Thai boys stuck in a cave. The world watched as qualified professionals led a dangerous mission to rescue them. Tragically one of the divers lost his life. However, all twelve boys managed to get out alive. What a heartwarming story! Then Elon Musk. Musk began to insert himself in the news story by building a submarine that no-one asked him to build and travelling to the already-crowded rescue site. Now, you might be thinking that there’s nothing wrong with a wealthy individual using their money to try and help. Sure, if that were the end of the story Musk would come out of this smelling no worse than he did before. Oh. Oh no. Following some comments made on social media, Musk has taken a Twitter-sized beating. Now, how does this relate to the menacing villain of Infinity War, Space Grimace?
So, this past week I’ve been writing up elements of the world that I run D&D in. Now in my campaign, I have three players new to the world of D&D and one player who has been running his own games of D&D for ten years. Often, I will add elements of the lore of D&D into my world. When these elements are discussed, there is a back-and-forth about how they are typically portrayed in the canon of the lore and where my world differs. While writing up the deities of my world, I’ve thought more about where the stories that have been told about the gods differ. So, that’s a fun writing topic, what are the benefits of writing in an established universe?
So recently there has been a small and vocal group who are dedicated to remaking the Last Jedi. Attempting to remake a movie that was a success at the box office by professionals from one of the richest studios with crowdfunded money and fan support, not even a year after the film was released, does shine a light on the absurdity of remakes. Remakes are often lambasted when they are announced. Why remake something that is already great? More importantly, what is the purpose of a remake?