Valve announced their SteamOS yesterday, the first in several supposed announcements that we're assuming will culminate in a full-featured plan for the oft-rumored Steam Box living room console. The announcement was met with much applause (although not entirely universal). People genuinely like Valve and Steam, and there are apparently a lot of people out there who would prefer to do all of their gaming from the couch. There's also a lot of people out there who are more than happy for any opportunity to kick Windows, as no one is blind to the fact that a lot of people use Windows only because it's where the PC games are.
SteamOS is based on Linux, which is really where the games aren't. This means that Valve has quite an up-hill battle to become more relevant than Ouya, and to supersede Windows as the dominant PC gaming platform. Linux suffers from several issues currently: it's a geek's system which requires a lot of fiddling, and it's infamous for not having day-one or even official hardware driver support for crucial gamer elements like video cards.
The good news is that a SteamOS could serve as a fixed point around which these problems could be resolved. In assuming a console-like stance, the SteamOS should not require command line use. With fewer moving parts exposed to the user, then, hardware manufacturers can have a more solid, immobile target to aim for. Even if users opt to use their own hardware to run SteamOS, these issues could be handled by simply standardizing the core for the very specific -- and previous elusive on Linux -- purpose of gaming. So SteamOS is good for Linux.
But is SteamOS good for PC gaming?
Steam currently has 301 games that work on Linux. There's 800+ for Mac OS. I have no idea how many are available for Windows, but their official SteamOS page mentions "over 3000 games", which is probably an aggregate total. Out of the box, with no other support, a SteamOS user can choose from only 301 games that should work naturally on the platform. Valve's current stop-gap solution for the other 1700 games is to allow you to stream your existing library from a Windows or Mac machine elsewhere in your house, so the dream of ditching Windows for SteamOS? Not going to happen, unless you're willing to cut loose the thousands of dollars you've spent on the games in your library.
That means Valve's greatest struggle will be convincing publishers and developers to not just create Linux versions, but to create Linux versions first. In order for this venture to work for Valve, their platform needs to use the leverage of being the dominant digital distribution platform to convince developers that the "best experience" is to play native on SteamOS (which comes with other caveats in the fine print, like Big Picture and game pad support). Valve is putting their eggs in a specific basket of their own design, and I can't imagine that they won't be doing everything in their power behind closed doors to get content creators to help justify that investment.
It may not take a lot of arm-twisting. With a more "stable" platform for gaming, there could be a lot of developers who will jump at the chance to develop for Linux. But many companies have been staffed with Windows developers for decades. I don't know if these existing people have the skills to develop Linux games from the ground up, but if not, it puts companies in a sticky situation. If they want to be featured on SteamOS, they need to get Linux developers on board. That could be expensive at best, devastating to the workforce at worst. What happens to the developers who don't know how to develop for Linux? They could learn, but that would take time, and take them away from existing projects that are already promised in the financial projections. At it's core, it's a chicken-and-egg scenario: devs won't jump until they see adoption numbers, because we're all familiar with how risk-averse publishers are. Big name publishers didn't even get into the hot mobile and tablet space until a few years after smaller indie developers blazed the trail. And people won't adopt the new platform in supermassive quantities until it's worthwhile. "Worthwhile" is a wild-card, though, as some people will jump just because it's Steam, but other will see the folly in setting up another machine just to have the same experience they can currently get with their existing PC.
The potential end result is that there will be publishers and developers (probably the smaller, more agile ones) who will be more than happy to follow Valve into it's walled garden, while there will be other developers and publishers who might find it far more difficult to make the transition to a Linux primacy. The result? Some games are released on "legacy" Windows Steam, while some are released on new Linux SteamOS. Eventually, the two may meet in the middle, with Linux versions ported to Windows, and vice versa, but we've depended on the de facto Windows as the primary platform. Companies have been built around this fact, and most/many/none probably have plans in place should that change, despite the vitriol directed at Windows 8.
With the "death of PC" a perennial favorite topic, and with consoles now "on the ropes" at the hands of mobile and tablet gaming (ahem), I can't see how the potential to split the cadre of PC game developers between SteamOS-specific and the "old guard" bodes well for PC gaming a whole. SteamOS has the potential to be a "disruptive technology", which is true, but I think in this case that disruption could serve to make what is arguably the weakest gaming platform even weaker.
In a flurry of activity, a focus on stories in MMOs has arisen over on Google Plus. Specifically, the focus in on the role of the player in an overarching narrative presented by the developers. More specifically, the role of the player in the Personal and Living Stories of Guild Wars 2. Rather than re-hash the principles, I'll point you to the original post by Jonathan Doyle, which begat a blog response by Dusty Monk, which begat a succinct comment by Simon Dufour.
Personally, I think stories in MMOs are wasteful. I used to think -- and demand -- otherwise only a few years ago, so as a result of these points on stories, and our roles therein, I reflected on why I changed my own opinion.
Heroics Are One Shot Events
MMOs are egalitarian, which allows all players to experience the same content as anyone else regardless of temporal dislocation. Everyone gets a chance to "be the hero", but only if you absolutely ignore everyone else in the game. That's counter to the sales pitch MMO developers hand out: we're supposed to be playing and interacting with people, but at the same time we're being asked to turn a blind eye to the fact that thousands of people have already fulfilled the hero's role.
Part of being a hero is that there is one obstacle, one chance, and one hero (or group). This means that no matter how an MMO is designed, it's base conceit of being available to everyone at all times until the sun burns out is at odds with the notion of having a "hero" exist within the confines of a greater story. The actions we undertake seem heroic to us, but when the instance or raid or dungeon resets, all of our work will be erased for the next group.
As Jonathan pointed out, Guild Wars 2's Personal Story wasn't very personal because our role was that of a sidekick of Traherne, the "Tree Jesus" (brilliant nickname) who was actually "in charge" of the action during the later half of the narrative. I agree with Simon in that it's OK to not be the front and center of the narrative; being the sidekick, or a mere functionary in the greater assembly can be just as rewarding as if we had been the primary focus. Some games have even told us flat out that we're not the savior, that we're only a foot-soldier in a greater war, and I appreciate that sentiment because it fits the way these games are designed. The story in GW2 is "personal" only in that it happened with our involvement, not that it's about us.
When Worlds Collide
The issue with stories in games, however, is that we're often put in a contrived role of a hero and are then forced to walk a stereotypical hero's path. Heroes aren't born; they're made by ordinary people doing extraordinary things under extreme pressure. Heroism isn't a calling one adopts of one's own free will. Those who do are either treasure hunters or glory seekers. Those people are looking for heroic opportunities for impure reasons, which is why the hero we most revere is the "accidental hero": the farmboy who saves the world, or one who otherwise doesn't fit the traditional mold of being bad-ass from day one. These people rise to an occasion when they'd rather not, because of their personal need to make things right. That's why superheroes aren't all that heroic: they must do what other people can't. That's why glory seekers aren't real heroes: they only want to win recognition for their actions.
If a game's story is pushing us down the path of heroism, then we're not heroes just because the game tells us we are. Most MMOs do allow us to follow a different path to some degree, but there are many unsubtle nudges to get us back on the path of saving the world. In essence, it's the design of the game and the need to present and progress a story that's whispering in our ears "be the hero and save the world", not because we have no other option. If we were true heroes, we'd all be grudgingly playing these games when we'd take any opportunity to hand the reigns over to someone else.
The World Needs A Hero
So why do games constantly put us in the role of the hero? If you're like me, you have a daily, non-heroic routine involving waking up, going to work or school, coming home, and going to bed (to paraphrase). Acting heroic with all the benefits but none of the dangers allows us to be more than we are, to be more relevant than we are in our normal lives. Playing the part of a hero is liberating, and as social animals we can get the needed doses of appreciation and adoration for doing heroic things (even if that appreciation is from scripted NPCs).
No spoilers! Normally that would be a throw away disclaimer, but I think it's very important for Shadowrun Returns.
I've not completed the game, but if I'm reading the tea leaves correctly, I'm on the last scene. If that's the case, then this is a pretty short game. But it's an intense game.
At first, I wasn't sure why I was enjoying it. Well, it's cyberpunk, which is my favorite genre (even though it's the "watered down" version that crams fantasy in there), so that was a given, but then it dawned on me why the game felt different. There's no down time in the game. It's a straight-shot through the narrative, meaning you don't have to wander around looking for something to do, and you don't have the tedium of having to walk or take public transit from mission to mission. Although it's certainly MMOer's Syndrome that I've become accustomed to, I thought also of Skyrim or Kindoms of Amalur or any other single player, x-person CRPG lately and realized how much time we spend doing nothing but moving in a direction.
Shadowrun Returns doesn't bother with that, which is potentially accidental, as the game is -- pardon my reductionist hubris -- stupidly simple. It's a series of maps, none of which are very large. On those maps you have only a handful of people to chat with. Maybe there's a handful of people to fight. And you transition between those maps. That's all! You can spend some time bouncing around a single map scene, but often times there's not a lot to do: find what you need, use it or kill it, and get out.
The break-neck pace of the story helps; there's no side-quests or crap like that. You've got a laser focus on the main objective, and everything you do is in service of achieving that objective. There's no busy work, no grinding. You get up, do your job, and push ahead every step of the way. To that end, it makes the story seem pretty short. I think thus far I've only really put in a handful of hours to get to where I am, but I get the story. I mean I "get" the story: I remember it, it's coherent, and it's very well done and not muddied by being sidetracked to fetch someone's laundry.
$20 is really about right for this game, but what's going to really make it under-priced is the editor. I've only touched it via the tutorials provided on the wiki , but I was having pleasant flashbacks to the Aurora Toolkit that shipped with Neverwinter Nights. This editor allows you to build your own maps by piecing together tiles (it's isometric, and I think the assets are actually 2D), or you can dupe the maps from the official game. There's an array of properties on objects that can change behaviors, but the best part is that the game runs on triggers, regions, variables, and conversations, just like Aurora. The only thing missing is the free-form scripting, but unlike Aurora, since everything is placeable in Shadowrun Returns, everything can be used as a trigger or a recipient of a triggered action, giving you a lot of flexibility. tl;dr: there's a lot of breathing room for some fantastic stories to be made with this thing, so while the rather short official campaign is worth $20, you'll end up getting a hell of a lot more value out of it if you delve into the community content.
Yeah, another Firefall post.
I started playing an Assault frame, it being the most middle of the road frame available, but I wanted to play the Biotech as well. I've gotten into the habit of playing ranged characters (all characters in Firefall are ranged) and healers, so these two fit the bill. But when our little Combat Wombat group was noticeably shy a healer, I switched to the Biotech sooner than later.
The problem is, healers are currently pretty useless. In any event, there end up being so many health drops that anyone who needs one has a better chance of accidentally healing themselves than a Biotech pilot has to get into position to unleash Healing Wave. Aside from inclusion because History Demands A Trinity, I can't see any reason why the base Biotech (or the advanced Dragonfly) are even included.
On the other hand, I think that the Engineer class is a bit...hmm...overpowered. Specifically with the advanced Bastion frame. The ability to throw down turrets is certainly handy -- I played Roland in Borderlands and I used his turret with wild abandon -- but in a multiplayer game were any player can choose any loadout he or she wishes, and knowing that gamers tend to take the path of least resistance, it's pretty much a given that we'd see tons of Engineer-based frames in the world because a single Bastion can cover more directions, and can do it quicker, than an entire squad. I've been in several situations where I was unable to get a kill in because the turrets are simply faster. And when there's several Bastion frames in the fight? Talk about an "I Win" Button. Still, there are times when having a Bastion or several makes sense: close quarters ARES missions or Chosen Incursions. Baby or level 1 thumpers, though? Absolute overkill.
I don't see how R5 can tamp down the turret situation. Try and take the easy mode away from gamers and you're taking the bull by the horns, son. But I'm not so concerned with that as I am disappointed with the redundancy of the Biotech healer frames. I do think that R5 should cut back on the frequency of health drops to let Biotechs and Dragonflies do what they were designed to do.
As an aside, I'm sure that there's some "balance" issues with Recon, Assault, and Dreadnaught based frames, but they seem to be single focus, front and back-line classes, so there might not be such a discrepancy.
Firefall supports LUA add-ons, in case you didn't know! I'm not generally an add-on fan; the ones I tend to use are entirely for personal benefit, and not to screen other players. Thankfully, the current crop of add-ons for Firefall seem to trend towards utility. Considering that this game relies heavily on resource collection, processing, and application, add-ons can be a godsend. Here's a few that I've tried and like.
Melder isn't an add-on: it's a Firefall specific add-on manager. Like the Curse desktop client (which also supports Firefall), Melder makes installing and updating add-ons easy. When you find an add-on you want, download the zip file, use Melder to open the add-on folder for the game, and drop it in there. Done! You can activate and deactivate individual packages as needed, and Melder will also check for updates to itself and to any packages you have listed. The game can also be started from here, making this a de facto launcher for me.
DITTO stands for "Did I Thump That O'ready?" Although it claims to do many things, it's main attraction is that it will take results of your scans and the scans of your squad and upload them to Rawr4Firefall.com, and will allow you to see and locate resources that were recently scanned on your shard. It's not as granular as the current map icon system, but will allow you to pick a resource from a list, and to see when the last report was logged, and the SIN regions where those resources were found. If you're looking for a specific resource, DITTO may be able to tell you where you might find it (barring the normal vein population mechanics, of course)
Surveyor records your scans and those of your squad mates, and pins them to the map. You can scan the whole continent if you like, and have a history of what you found where. You can remove individual icons on the map, keep one but clear others within a 40km radius from that pin, or wipe out pins of lower quantity. I really love this add-on.
If I'm reading the description correctly, PeakSeek allows you to get percentage readings across a very wide area by scanning in three different directions from a central point. After scanning with PeakSeek, you can then mouse over the map and see estimated percentages for an area, and not just the narrow band you'd normally see.
Harvesting resources is always good, but if you want to factor down to the decimal, then WorthIt is what you need. This add-on will estimate the yield of refined materials you'd get strictly from the point of your last scan. It can take into account the thumper type, squad or solo, and any Founder/Starter/bought bonuses in effect.
Every game needs features like the ones Cartographer adds! If you only get one add-on, this is the one. I've placed notes for good thumping geography, the cliff-side entrance to the White Wargrim's grotto, and entrances to AREA missions, bases, and caves,among others. It will also record locations of SIN Imprints (those data-pad pickups), and exploration achievements. You can broadcast notes to your squad, and categorize them using icons for easy identification on the map.
Glider Graphical [link]
I couldn't fly a glider worth a damn until I got this add-on. I have it set up to display a circle in the center of the screen. When I'm angled upwards too far, it'll add down-pointing chevrons to tell me to angle down, and up-pointing chevrons if I'm angled too far down. It keeps you level, allowing you to maximize my flight time and not die from falling from a great height.
Not so much a usable add-on, but I'm a sucker for out-of-game paperdoll stats tracking and all that. ThumpDumpDB.com offers one of those "player database" type services, and this add-on collects your data from the game and shoots it up to their database for display on your very own page. It's already paid off for me! In collecting the link to my own profile, I learned I have an 82% accuracy rate with my weapons! Not too shabby!
I like shooters OK. They're fun, but eventually I end up stressed out when playing them to the point where I get tense in the neck and shoulders, and I pay for it the next day with tension headaches. I think that's why I'm enjoying Firefall so much: it's short bursts of tension, and the rest of the time is taken up with moving around the map, crafting, or making other game play decisions.
I've been in the closed beta for "two years" according to my account page for the game. I had gotten to the display on Sunday morning during PAX East a few years ago, and was able to scoot right into the demo stations before most people were awake. I enjoyed it: colorful, really nice and unusual environment (a futuristic sliver of Brazil), guns, and jetpacks! It had a more laid back Tribes vibe (another game which gave me headaches), and that it would be free to play was a bonus. The problem was, it was in beta for so damn long. Where the hell was Red 5 getting their money? Jokes circulated that they were being funded by the mafia or other shady organizations because they never announced that they were slowing down. Instead, they kept updating the game, and I jumped back in at intervals to find the product different every time.
The vision behind what Red 5 wanted Firefall to be was never clear (to me, and to others as I've heard). Early on, they talked a lot about PvP, about how Firefall was being made to support some world-class e-sports games. They even added a post-event viewer where people could watch matches "on demand". But PvP was accessed through a terminal set in a PvE environment that was pretty large, but stupidly devoid of purpose or real content. Every time I jumped into the game, I didn't know what to do or where to go. One time I covered the whole map without incident: no enemies, no interruptions, no other players. This couldn't be all there was going to be? Was Firefall a PvP game tucked into a ghost-town of PvE? It was the strangest set-up I had ever seen.
Now in open beta, a lot more has been made clear over time. First and foremost, PvP is still a large focus, but Red 5 claims that they have been working on getting their environment right, their mechanics right, before they added PvE content. Supposedly their system allows them to craft PvE content as modules and just drop it into the game. That's important because of the way their world works. Without reiterating the (rather interesting, IMO) backstory, there are large areas on the map which are inaccessible...right now. The players will need to work to open up those areas and to keep them open, thereby revealing more of the game world that lies beneath this fog of war called the Melding. Meanwhile, being a sandbox, players in Firefall have a lot of things to do (with more being added, if I understand correctly). ARES missions are dynamic group mini-mission dungeons. Melding tornadoes are open world dynamic group content. Occasional world events like LGV and crashed thumper events show up randomly. And each player has three daily events that are pretty easy to complete. The main draw is still "thumping", a kind of mix between dynamic events and Star Wars Galaxies-style resource collection. Players can scan an area for minerals, and then deploy a thumper to collect those minerals. Like their namesakes from Dune, thumpers make a hell of a lot of noise that attracts creatures. In Firefall, you'll need to defend the thumper until extraction is complete, at which point the machine rockets into the sky and the players who defended (grouped or not) receive the resources in return (rewards are individual, not a percentage of the collection). Crafting is a big deal in Firefall, which is kind of odd for a shooter. You craft anything above the starter gear, which means a whole lot of resource collection in everyone's future, and resources can be earned by thumping, completing missions, finding resources out in the world, and even through PvP. So in another twist, you don't get a lot of loot drops: you get materials to make the loot.
It's been a long development process for Red 5, even beyond what we see for less action-y MMOs, and they're really ramping things up now that the game is in open beta. I am liking the game a lot right now, and I'm in for a Founder's Pack and a starter pack at this point. The game has a pretty solid foundation, I think, although my biggest critique is that Red 5 really doesn't know how to sell the game. If they had wanted to make it PvP-centric (a la Tribes: Ascend), then they should have gone that route and skipped the PvE, or limited PvE to a tutorial zone. Instead, their PvE zone is massive, and PvP is tucked away through a sub-menu...but they never talked about or promoted their plans for PvE content to the point where PvE players sat up and took notice. The result is a muddied message coming through that the game is all about PvP, and that PvE is available, but half-finished, not thought out, and in limbo. The truth is that this is not the actual case. There's plenty to do PvE wise, with more on the way, and while PvP is a big draw, there's a lot to do for both PvE and PvP players.
Being an MMO fan, playing with others seems like it should be a no-brainer. Popular wisdom dictates that people play MMOs because they want to play with people, right? Personally, I don't subscribe to this: I play MMOs because they're expansive, always available (except during patching windows), and updated frequently. I do like that there are other people in the world, though, because it makes the world more alive than it would be if it were just NPCs standing around, being helpless until you happen along to run their menial tasks for them. Thing is, I don't like to play with random people.
I'll jump ahead and say simply that I blame the game design mentality that puts loot and it's inherent selfishness ahead of anything that requires people to actually work together for reasons beyond sheer brute force. I have no issues playing with people I know because I'm confident that we're all nice people. If we want to take content slow, we're all OK with that. If we don't have the best gear, we're also OK with that. We like the experience of the game, and aren't in it for the loot or prestige.
One driving force that I've come to appreciate is honest-to-goodness community. This transcends in-game grouping, and isn't even centered on MMOs. Finding a decent group of human beings who's opinions you trust and who value the same things as you do when it comes to games is a much better motivator for me than any mechanical feature that a game offers. Sure, this is nothing new: tight-knit guilds or groups of friends have always been the tethers that keep people playing a particular game, or when severed, cause people to drift away.
The thing is, I've found I don't even need that strong of an attraction: just a bunch of nice people being passionate about what they're doing, so long as they're all doing something in the same game. That's important because a lot of people I interact with are gamers. Not all of us are playing the same games. It's great to be able to talk about "gaming" with them, but if I'm not playing a game that someone else is, and vice versa, we can't commiserate on anything specific. We can't keep each other interested in the game itself like we can when we're playing the same game, having similar experiences, discovering new things about the game, and even sometimes getting together in-game as well.
I realize now that after years of solo trekking across the MMO landscape, the reason why I've never been able to commit to a single game has been because of my lack of involvement in a really passionate community. I'll take my share of the blame -- I don't find it easy to just drop myself into someone else's life and feel comfortable -- but I also wish there were more communities out there who organized along the same sentiments of "games as enjoyment" and not "games as ego-boosters".
The Steam Sale keeps a-rollin. This time, I picked up Eador: Masters of the Broken World. This is one of those "strategy lite" games: not as hardcore as some of the wargames, but it requires a good amount of forethought, army building, etc. The game is graphically attractive, and for comparason, it's an indie Heroes of Might and Magic. The voice overs and other dialog is pretty cheesy, but the world looks to be pretty massive.
I spent more time in Baldur's Gate, and reached the Friendly Arms Inn. Dealing with this game makes me appreciate some of the little things that we've come to expect...like tool tips and other mouse-over information. I've forgotten what most of the icons on the sidebar do.
Monday night is either a night where my local friends stop by my place, or we play online. We alternate weeks, and last night was online. We spent a good chunk of time helping iron out someone's Twitch streaming issues, after which we watched him play a little Mechwarrior Online, and then got an introduction to War Thunder. War Thunder is currently in beta, but the finished product is pretty ambitious. It's set during WWII, and you have the option to pick one of the five major powers (US, England, Russia, Japan, or Germany). In the final product, you'll be able to fly planes, drive tanks, or pilot warships (including submarines) in massive PvP battles, both free-form and historical. Right now, only the planes are working, and while not a hardcore flight sim, there's a lot of consideration needed for flying. We watched our friend take several planes up for test flights, landing, crashing, dropping bombs, crashing, and shooting things. It's pretty impressive, even with just planes. I can't imagine what the game will be like when they add ground units and seafaring units. And they'll be supporting the Occulus Rift.
This was an off-shoot thought from yesterday's post on The Walking Dead decision making analysis.
When gaming, we make a lot of decisions. Being "interactive", we have to decide whether to turn right or left, to deploy unit A or unit B, or who to support and who to let down. The real let down, however, is that these decisions, as true as they are, are meaningless. In MMOs, even moreso when we kill the boss, only to see it respawn for the next group of players filing in right behind us. It's not many games that can make our decisions matter where we can see them matter, which is in the game itself.
As you play through The Walking Dead, you're told when your decisions alter the perceptions of other characters. Early on, you have the choice to be up front or to be cryptic about your circumstances when questioned by Hershel Greene. Greene is giving you shelter for the night, and his line of questioning sounds suspicious. I responded to one of his questions by saying that "we were headed...", but later when asked who I was with, I said I was alone.
And he called me on it. I was sad, surprised...and scared. Considering Lee had escaped from a police cruiser after having been convicted of murder, and I had tried to dodge his way out of spreading this information, Lee's cover had been blown because I hadn't been prepared. I had thought this dialog was as inconsequential as any decision I made in any other game, where the outcome could be detrimental, but ultimately survivable.
In this case, the game tricked me, or at least preyed on my "not paying attention", and suddenly it was on: I had to care about my dialog decisions because in this game, people react differently to you based on what you said, regardless of when you say it. Support them, and they remember it. Piss them off, and they'll hate you for it. When you need someone to get your back, you had better know exactly where you stand, and with whom.
Meta-caring, on the other hand, is making a decision that has consequence, but only to me. If I allocate points to a skill, that matters to my character, but ultimately the choice matters to me as it will allow be to play a certain way, and not in a different way. If something goes wrong, I only have myself to blame, but I learn to adjust my play style to accommodate the change. Contrast that to The Walking Dead-style caring, and if I mess things up, there's a character reaction caring, and the future benefit or detriment that my character will enjoy or suffer as a result.
On the way home from work, I got myself into a frenzy talking to myself about the decision making process in the first episode of The Walking Dead (the game). I shall write about specifics, so if you are one of the three people in the world (I was #4) who have not played this game yet, avert your eyes, or proceed knowing that you have been warned.
The two main decisions you have to make in episode one involve who to save from encroaching zombies. The first encounter involves Shawn Greene, son of farmer Hershel Greene who offers you and some other folks refuge outside of the city, and Duck, a ten year old boy who's really as obnoxious as any Pixar-esque child of the same age would be. While fortifying a fence at the farm, both Shawn and Duck come under attack by walkers, and you can only save one.
I chose Duck, and the reason was entirely practical: I figured that I'd be leaving the farm with Duck's parents, Kenny and Katjaa, so I had damn well better be on their good side. As future dialog makes clear, people in The Walking Dead will only survive if they can trust one another. I needed Kenny and Katjaa to know that I could be trusted. Naturally, there were consequences: Hershel kicked us all off his land as he mourned his son. I thought, then: what if it had been a toss up between Duck and Clementine, the little girl you are safeguarding? That is a tough one: save Duck and ensure a harmonious relationship with people who would have your back, or save the child that relies on you -- and only you -- for safety, that you willfully took charge of knowing full well that this exact decision may need to be made at some point. Choosing Clem would leave the two of you alone, no doubt, against the walkers. I'm glad it didn't come to that.
The second decision involved Doug and Carley, two strangers who take refuge with other strangers in a drug store in Macon...a drug store which coincidentally belonged to Lee Everett's family (your character). We meet Doug and Carley separately: Carley blows a few holes in walkers in order to help us get into the drug store, where we meet Doug who is standing guard over the boarded-up front entrance. After having retrieved the keys to the pharmacy with Doug's help, walkers break into the store, forcing everyone to flee through the alley. It's during this flight that you have to make a decision on who to save: Doug or Carley.
I chose Carley, again for practical reasons: she had a gun, and knew damn well how to use it. Sorry to say, Doug: thanks for the assist with the TVs and all, but I couldn't see -- based on prior experience -- how you'd be beneficial to the group down the line. Plus, Carley and I had a discussion about trust earlier in the scene. I think it was a no-brainer (no pun intended)...although then I asked myself: was it? What if Carley didn't have the gun. Who would I have saved, and why? Still, Doug was a kind of cypher, but Carley would have been practically a nobody as well. I decided that I would still opt for Carley for a predictable yet embarrassing reason: she's female. It's not that I'd consider myself as "saving her" in saving her, but it's the only reason I can give. Plus, Carley and I had an understanding at that point. Had Doug and I bonded, and Carley been the cypher, I probably would have chosen Doug.
So I got a whole post out of two situations in a fraction of a game. Not just a post, but an analysis. Not just an analysis, but a psychological analysis of why I did what I did in a video game. I wish there were more games like this.