GWJ Conference Call Episode 401

Conference Call

Transistor, Yoshi's New Island, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, Final Fantasy X(and X-2) HD, Rise of Nations: Extended Edition, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Tokyo Jungle Special Guest: Thomas Johansson of Paradox Games

In which Sean, Julian and Lara talk about silent protagonists. Also, an interview with the Project Lead of Europa Universalis IV, Thomas Johansson, and a spoiler section for Transistor after the credits. Also, apologies for the audio quality of the interview, Thomas was having a few technical difficulties.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined.

Chairman_Mao's Timestamps
00.02.18 Transistor
00.10.50 Yoshi's New Island
00.12.13 Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix
00.12.33 Final Fantasy X and X-2
00.15.32 Rise of Nations: Extended Edition
00.22.45 Tokyo Jungle
00.23.54 Lego Marvel Superheroes
00.26.53 Interview with Europa Universalis 4 Project Lead, Thomas Johansson
00.50.23 This week's topic: Silent Protagonists!
01.10.09 Your emails!
01.17.11 Spoiler section: Transistor!

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

High School Snaps - Broke for Free - http://brokeforfree.com/ - 26:22

High School Snaps - Broke for Free - http://brokeforfree.com/ - 49:23

Our Ego - Broke for Free - http://brokeforfree.com/ - 1:09:39

Comments

I have to ding you guys on your $500 Gaming PC is all you need response to the reader email. Sure a $500 PC will play a good deal of indie titles as well as newer titles at sub 1080P resolution and/or dialed down details but then outside of PC centric controls and indie games why not drop that $500 on a new console which will offer a superior experience?

A more realistic budget for modern 1080P PC Gaming is closer to $1000 if not $1200. Especially given the apparent new trend of limiting (granted somewhat artificially) cross platform titles to lower detail levels unless your PC's GPU has 3GB if not 4GB of VRAM.

Upcoming games are certainly showing us that we can continue to expect the graphical bar to rise as well as the "complexity" factor. Witcher 3 is showing us huge living and breathing cities which require not only GPU muscle but CPU muscle (another thing massively lacking in a $500 PC) not to mention insane draw distances.

I think this is where the latest consoles will start to show their power.. not so much in raw GPU strength (as both will struggle to hit 1080P/60FPS in every title) but in CPU strength and flexibility.

TheGameguru wrote:

I have to ding you guys on your $500 Gaming PC is all you need response to the reader email. Sure a $500 PC will play a good deal of indie titles as well as newer titles at sub 1080P resolution and/or dialed down details but then outside of PC centric controls and indie games why not drop that $500 on a new console which will offer a superior experience?

A more realistic budget for modern 1080P PC Gaming is closer to $1000 if not $1200. Especially given the apparent new trend of limiting (granted somewhat artificially) cross platform titles to lower detail levels unless your PC's GPU has 3GB if not 4GB of VRAM.

Upcoming games are certainly showing us that we can continue to expect the graphical bar to rise as well as the "complexity" factor. Witcher 3 is showing us huge living and breathing cities which require not only GPU muscle but CPU muscle (another thing massively lacking in a $500 PC) not to mention insane draw distances.

I've been ignoring the new MS and Sony consoles, but I just looked it up. Man, the XBone is behind on res / fps in every game that hit both platforms.

I think this is where the latest consoles will start to show their power.. not so much in raw GPU strength (as both will struggle to hit 1080P/60FPS in every title) but in CPU strength and flexibility.

And yeah, 1080p / 60fps doesn't happen all of the time on PS4, either.

I've been enjoying the way Wasteland 2 gets around the silent protagonist issue (I think by this point it is clear that WL2:Me::DA:Lara).

They keep the dialogue keyword based, and for the most part the "lines" that your speaking character has are intentionally generic, so you can project whatever personality you want on to them. By mouse-overing a keyword, it tells you what you are going to say. Initially I thought they were trying to have their silent protagonist cake while also eating the cake of dialogue, but it actually works really well (to the credit of their writers.)

Additionally, they have three dialogue skills (Hard Ass, Smart Ass, and Kiss Ass) where you get a bit more personality. Because it is a party based game, you can have whoever you want talking. You might be getting nowhere with your smart-alecky "face" character, turn the dialogue over to your "Hard ass" brute and unlock all sorts of new keywords.

It strikes a really great balance in terms of letting personality grow very specifically in your imagination while entirely getting around the trap of it feeling like everyone in the world just talks at you.

I should note that some but not all of the game is VO'd. A vast majority isn't, it is just text, which makes it all work. Key NPCs have VO dialogue and they use a radio to great effect.

TheGameguru wrote:

outside of PC centric controls and indie games why not drop that $500 on a new console which will offer a superior experience?

There's a LOT of embedded assumptions in there. My son's playing Assassins Creed 4 on a 4 year old dell laptop which ebays under $500 and no, it's not MAXED but its damned playable and good looking. He can also play TF2, WarThunder, a few MMOs, LoL, Minecraft and Titanfall on it just fine.

I'm fairly certain a $700 Alienware X52 will pretty much get you rolling on most crossplatform titles, and the latest toms rundown clocked in at $750 (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...) and has better Arma3 scores than my 18 month old, much more expensive build.

But this is a pissing match I'd rather not really dig into ... my point is, for my money, you can get a LOT more for your gaming buck with a Steam PC right now than you can with any current gen console. Previous gen, I'd argue that the 360 with used games might give you a run for your money, but as an owner of everything but a PS4 right now, I'm finding precious little I want to play that I can't get on my PC at the moment.

The other angle of the PC spectrum is -- nearly by definition, everyone has one. I literally am not sure I know anyone over the age of 14 who doesn't have SOME sort of personal computing device. With that assumption, we're talking about a $500 increment to what they would already have.

So, we can quibble on the dollars all we like, but I think these first years of new cycles are almost always renaissance eras for PC gaming.

I'm of the mindset the advantage of PC gaming is you can get a superior experience..not a duplicated experience.

Your point on unique PC controls and games (RTS, SIM etc..) is of course a big deal and I'm not discounting that. But even some of those experiences will IMO be best on a PC that is equipped to fully utilize the engine (Star Citizen for example)

So in that I wouldn't tell someone to get a $750 PC that spec wise will run roughly the same experience at 1080P than a PS4/Xbox One. Especially now that we are seeing games punish a PC that has only 2 cores and/or 2GB VRAM (as listed at Tom's Hardware). That's not to say that games still wouldn't look good with dialed down settings and play well since they would..My point is that PC gaming is still "special" to me because we don't have to settle for medium details

I'm seeing the opposite though to what you are seeing.. I see the new family generation fleeing PC's.. many people I know are down to their Work laptop as their sole "PC". They have tablets and smartphones now. And while those $500 laptops that parents buy their teenagers for school can run games on their Intel HD5000 on board graphics its a HUGE stretch to call that PC gaming IMO.

Huh. Interesting. Different coasts. Different demographics maybe. My daughter's heading off to highschool. Decent laptops are actually on the school's requirement list. Every one of my son's friends has access to a PC to play games on. Only a handful have a game console. Smartphones and tablets are also just everywhere, for sure.

I'm definitely with you that spending MORE gets you a better-than-console experience. But the question I'm most often asked is "how do I get the most gaming for the least money" and it's really hard for me to say anything but PC there. THe back catalog/indie/steam world just provides ACRES of fantastic content for fractions of the price of the content on consoles.

This message was redundant.

I am quite happy gaming on a $550 PC and playing titles not available on a console.

What's brilliant about PC gaming is that both rabbit and Gameguru can be right. Yes, you can get a $500 PC that plays the same games as the consoles, as well as a bunch of PC exclusive stuff. It's flexible. And because of that flexibility, you can a build (or upgrade) a system that runs those console ports better than the consoles themselves. Will you spend a bunch? Potentially. But that's your choice.

That's exactly why you should get a PC: openness.

That's not going to be everyone's cup of tea -- some people want something that just works. This is where the Steam Machines are actually a smart idea. They'll be very appliance-like, with SteamOS for most people acting as a simple interface to get to your games. But the moment you want to work outside of that appliances' confines, you can. Because it's a PC, not a console.

I'm still pretty DIY about PC gaming, but I've used a lot of gaming systems at PC Gamer and there are some super solid options for systems you don't have to build yourself. You will pay a little more for that hands-off experience, especially before the Steam Machines are out in force. But remember that a PS4 or an Xbox One are not $500 fixed costs, either. Extra controllers, subscription services -- and don't forget buying games. If you're on this site right now, chances are pretty good that you have a Steam account, where 3000 games are available to play right now, on your old or new PC. That's valuable.

PS4 and Xbox One are great machines, and they're going to get better as more software comes out. But there has never been a better time to play games on the PC, from both a hardware and software perspective.

I'll be that guy and say something about Earthbound:

Spoiler:

In the Your Sanctuary location right before Tenda Village, you see Ness's thoughts on the wall. I still think he qualifies as a silent protagonist, though.

Maybe I'm crazy, I certainly seem to have taken something different from the end of Transistor than everybody else.

seriously, don't click if you haven't finished the game:

Spoiler:

Sean and Laura got close to it near the end. Cloudbank is a virtual world, "the country" is the physical world, which from the players perspective seems to be inside the transistor.

She didn't commit suicide "because she could not live without her man". She left the bogus, crumbling virtual world of Cloudbank for the real world, she chose human connection over virtual godhood. She didn't kill herself, she pulled the plug on her virtual experience.

Or, I am a total idiot and my respect for the studio has clouded my judgment. Perhaps, I just saw a bunch of things that weren't there so I could paper over a bad melodrama.

As much as I enjoy reading Quarter to Three, I really have to wonder if Tom's Transistor review is going to go down in history like his Deus Ex review Although he is right in his comparisons between the game and JRPGs. There's definitely a fair bit of JRPG trappings leaking out.

Welcome back Lara!

Demiurge wrote:

What's brilliant about PC gaming is that both rabbit and Gameguru can be right. Yes, you can get a $500 PC that plays the same games as the consoles, as well as a bunch of PC exclusive stuff. It's flexible. And because of that flexibility, you can a build (or upgrade) a system that runs those console ports better than the consoles themselves. Will you spend a bunch? Potentially. But that's your choice.

That's exactly why you should get a PC: openness.

That's not going to be everyone's cup of tea -- some people want something that just works. This is where the Steam Machines are actually a smart idea. They'll be very appliance-like, with SteamOS for most people acting as a simple interface to get to your games. But the moment you want to work outside of that appliances' confines, you can. Because it's a PC, not a console.

+1. I'm one of those weirdos who dabbles in a bit of everything gaming-wise and Cory hit the nail right on the head here.

caterin6 wrote:

Maybe I'm crazy, I certainly seem to have taken something different from the end of Transistor than everybody else.

seriously, don't click if you haven't finished the game:

Spoiler:

Sean and Laura got close to it near the end. Cloudbank is a virtual world, "the country" is the physical world, which from the players perspective seems to be inside the transistor.

She didn't commit suicide "because she could not live without her man". She left the bogus, crumbling virtual world of Cloudbank for the real world, she chose human connection over virtual godhood. She didn't kill herself, she pulled the plug on her virtual experience.

Or, I am a total idiot and my respect for the studio has clouded my judgment. Perhaps, I just saw a bunch of things that weren't there so I could paper over a bad melodrama.

You may be entirely right, although I think that's me not Sean (grin).

TheGameguru wrote:

I'm of the mindset the advantage of PC gaming is you can get a superior experience..not a duplicated experience.

I'll agree with this. I have several consoles, and a PC which is capable of playing games like Tomb Raider in far greater fidelity than I can get on any of my consoles. However: No word that I know is sufficient to describe how much I detest playing games on a computer. The only time that I will play a game on it is when I have no other means of playing it.

On-topic: I think Skyrim is a good example of a silent protagonist, since the game is much more about exploring and creating your character rather than it is about the story.

Off-topic: I think we have to be careful about the term "PC gaming." For most purposes, it means "Windows PC gaming." Linux and Mac are catching up, but they represent only a fraction of games on Steam. Steam OS is Linux based, so even a Steam Box will not have access to much of the Steam library.

Aristophan wrote:

On-topic: I think Skyrim is a good example of a silent protagonist, since the game is much more about exploring and creating your character rather than it is about the story.

Off-topic: I think we have to be careful about the term "PC gaming." For most purposes, it means "Windows PC gaming." Linux and Mac are catching up, but they represent only a fraction of games on Steam. Steam OS is Linux based, so even a Steam Box will not have access to much of the Steam library.

It is still largely Windows gaming, but more and more it means "open gaming." Games on OS X have quadrupled in the past five years -- okay, I made that stat up but there are so many more games on the Mac than there used to be. And Linux is on its way, too: More than 10% of Steam's library runs on Linux, and SteamOS will push the industry heavier into Linux support over the next five years. Civ V has a Linux port now, and anyone who owns the Windows or Mac version now has access to that Linux port if they ever leave Windows behind. That's huge, and you'll see more and more big publishers supporting Linux soon.

So then the fear is, will PC gaming mean "Steam gaming?" I'd like to think there will always be alternatives (Origin, GOG, Desura) but it's a concern. But for sure, PC gaming won't just be Windows gaming for too much longer.

caterin6 wrote:
Spoiler:

She didn't commit suicide "because she could not live without her man". She left the bogus, crumbling virtual world of Cloudbank for the real world, she chose human connection over virtual godhood. She didn't kill herself, she pulled the plug on her virtual experience.

If that were the case, then...

Spoiler:

Why was Dead Boyfriend so insistent that she *not* stab herself with the Transistor at the end? Why was he begging her, pleading with her, not to commit suicide, if all that "dying" in the virtual world meant was that she would join him and everybody else in the real world? If that were the case, wouldn't he encourage her to pull the plug, as it were, so they could be together once more? Or are you saying that he would have preferred her to stay in the virtual world as a god, where she could at least be safe? (IMO that sort of paternalism would be even worse, and way OOC for a character that spent the bulk of the game lamenting their irreparable separation.)

I don't disagree that she chose human connection over virtual godhood; I think I made a similar point in the 'cast. But to acquire that connection, she had to sacrifice something both Dead Boyfriend (and the audience) believed to be sacred: her life. So I read the last ten seconds as a lonely suicide victim killing herself in order to join her family in Heaven, which I find to be a fundamentally anti-cathartic and, frankly very off-putting, ending.

Also my name is spelled Lara, not Laura.

Nijhazer wrote:

However: No word that I know is sufficient to describe how much I detest playing games on a computer. The only time that I will play a game on it is when I have no other means of playing it.

Thank god I'm not the only person who feels this way. As a writer, I'm on a computer 8-10 hours a day for work, and the thought of sitting at a desk and plunking away at a keyboard after hours fills me with dread. Only for very short games -- or very special ones, like Transistor -- will I make an exception.

KaterinLHC wrote:
caterin6 wrote:
Spoiler:

She didn't commit suicide "because she could not live without her man". She left the bogus, crumbling virtual world of Cloudbank for the real world, she chose human connection over virtual godhood. She didn't kill herself, she pulled the plug on her virtual experience.

If that were the case, then...

Spoiler:

Why was Dead Boyfriend so insistent that she *not* stab herself with the Transistor at the end? Why was he begging her, pleading with her, not to commit suicide, if all that "dying" in the virtual world meant was that she would join him and everybody else in the real world? If that were the case, wouldn't he encourage her to pull the plug, as it were, so they could be together once more? Or are you saying that he would have preferred her to stay in the virtual world as a god, where she could at least be safe? (IMO that sort of paternalism would be even worse, and way OOC for a character that spent the bulk of the game lamenting their irreparable separation.)

I don't disagree that she chose human connection over virtual godhood; I think I made a similar point in the 'cast. But to acquire that connection, she had to sacrifice something both Dead Boyfriend (and the audience) believed to be sacred: her life. So I read the last ten seconds as a lonely suicide victim killing herself in order to join her family in Heaven, which I find to be a fundamentally anti-cathartic and, frankly very off-putting, ending.

Also my name is spelled Lara, not Laura.

I am so sorry, I managed not only to confuse Julian with Sean but, also refer to you with the wrong name. Banner trip to the forums for me!

Spoiler:

I think there is something to that, I interpreted his resistance to the same thing that made Royce want the transistor in the first place the power it represented was alluring. While Red had gained the perspective to understand how shallow Cloudbank was, other characters were still drawn to the idea of owning and controlling it. To me it sounded like he was saying "you don't have to give up this amazing power for me" In the way you might encourage your partner to take a grad school position across the country even as you know it will hurt to be away from them. Not paternalistic, just an actual expression of love.

I definitely did not see the ending as her sacrificing something sacred, I read it as her sloughing off her last connection to the profane. Which are two crazy different interpretations of the same work. Which I suppose means that the ending didn't work that well. All the same, I admire them for releasing video game with a story that has that kind of space for interpretation.

Any interpretation of art is valid and I really enjoyed listening to you and Julian discuss yours. Too few sites host thoughtful discussions like this.
Thanks GWJ for making the internet less lame!

Demiurge wrote:
Aristophan wrote:

On-topic: I think Skyrim is a good example of a silent protagonist, since the game is much more about exploring and creating your character rather than it is about the story.

Off-topic: I think we have to be careful about the term "PC gaming." For most purposes, it means "Windows PC gaming." Linux and Mac are catching up, but they represent only a fraction of games on Steam. Steam OS is Linux based, so even a Steam Box will not have access to much of the Steam library.

It is still largely Windows gaming, but more and more it means "open gaming." Games on OS X have quadrupled in the past five years -- okay, I made that stat up but there are so many more games on the Mac than there used to be. And Linux is on its way, too: More than 10% of Steam's library runs on Linux, and SteamOS will push the industry heavier into Linux support over the next five years. Civ V has a Linux port now, and anyone who owns the Windows or Mac version now has access to that Linux port if they ever leave Windows behind. That's huge, and you'll see more and more big publishers supporting Linux soon.

So then the fear is, will PC gaming mean "Steam gaming?" I'd like to think there will always be alternatives (Origin, GOG, Desura) but it's a concern. But for sure, PC gaming won't just be Windows gaming for too much longer.

I do see that trend as well. Running the Steam search this is what I found:

Any OS: 12508 games
Steam Play: 3122
PC: 12504
Mac: 3126
Linux 1449

So Mac accounts for about 25% of Steam, and Linux about 12%.

BTW: STEAM SALE!

WHAT ARE THE 4 GAMES THAT DIDN'T COME OUT FOR WINDOWS?!@!@#?

I like the idea of Transistor being short and not like Bastion. I love short, quality gaming experiences (like Journey and Limbo). Also, while Bastion was fun, the game play wore thin quicker than I thought it would.

The challenge for me with a Mario or Yoshi game is explaining to my wife that it's not "just a kid's game." Those conversations usually end with me calling her a "poopie head."

Final Fantasy X is one of my favorite games in the series, despite its flaws, because I liked the story and the combat/leveling system was a lot of fun. However, there were enough mandatory annoying parts to make me avoid the HD remake.

Kingdom Hearts fell apart thanks to its platforming, annoying camera, and poor companion AI. Hopefully they address those issues in KH3.

The husband/wife playlet was brilliant. I hope that becomes a regular thing on this show.

Great to have you back, Lara!

!! For some reason the spoiler tag doesn't seem to be working for me (or it's just not showing on my browser). If one of the mods can help me fix it up or let me know how to add them correctly I would really appreciate it. For now, anyone who hasen't played Transistor yet please skip this post (and go pick up a copy of the game because it's really fantastic). !!

Hi GWJ crew, I've been listening for a while and just want to say keep up the great work, I really enjoy your show. The spoiler section on Transistor this episode is actually what prompted me to make an account and post for the first time because I cannot disagree more regarding the ending of the game. I apologize for the long and ranty post, but I loved this game so much that I have to put all my ~feels~ down in words.

But first, as a lady gamer I really want to give props to Supergiant Games for writing and animating Red as a distinctly female character, instead of someone who could easily be replaced by a male counterpart. The way she cradles/rocks the Transistor when she hums, her graceful twirl when you flourish, as well as the way she sighs then tucks her hair behind her ear in those corner dialogs are some of the best character building that I've ever seen.

I'm also super happy that Boxer (this is the name of the man in the Transistor from people who went through the game code) shows a lot of emotional vulnerability, which we really don't see often. A big thumbs up for the voice actor who conveyed this beautifully, and at the same time displaying his strength, protectiveness and love for Red.

I'm a bit surprised you guys didn't mention the subtle but wonderful LGBT representation in the game. For example,

Spoiler:

there is a woman who is referred to as "she" in her file, but under gender it is marked as X instead of M or F, leading me to believe she is possibly transgendered. Asher and Grant share the same last name, and from reading their files as well as what happens in the game, I'm pretty sure that they are married.

One of the greatest reveals for me was Sybil's file, which hinted that the whole reason Red was targeted is because of Sybil's infatuation. Sybil lied and told the other Camerata members to attack even though she knew Boxer is likely to be there because she wanted to get rid of him and gain Red's affections for herself.
The best thing about these characters is that at no point is their sexual orientation their defining character trait, but it helps to shape who they are and why they acted in certain ways.

Now onto the ending, which I enjoyed immensely and found perfectly in character for Red.
First of all,

Spoiler:

I feel that it is a huge disservice to the narrative to apply our western view of the act of suicide to the world of Transistor. We hear several characters mention "going to the country" in the story as something that's quite natural and even welcomed, including Red herself in the lyrics of "We All Become":

"Think I'll go where it suits me
Moving out to the country
With everyone, oh, everyone
Before we all become one."

Since Red's lost voice is such a focal point of the game, I feel like the lyrics of her songs help fill in a lot of gaps from her point of view. (They also include a ton of spoilers that I didn't fully comprehend until certain points in the game.) Asher also mentions meeting Red "in the country" right before he commits suicide. IMO he states it as something that's just the expected next step when they decide to move on, which seems like something that the citizens of Cloudbank accepts as "what comes after". This is why I completely disagree that in the world of Transistor Red's suicide at the end = her giving up.

It would make no sense to me if she decides to just wander Cloudbank with the Transistor or look for other survivors and try to stay alive in a place that's pretty much a blank slate at this point. It makes even less sense for her to destroy the Transistor because that's her only connection left with Boxer. There is no reason for her to do these things other than the players wanting her to be a "hero" or a "survivor". From reading the function bios, unlike some of the other characters in the Transistor, Red is someone who is fairly reticent and probably a bit distant from the other citizens. She also doesn't seem to have strong emotional connections to Cloudbank itself. She loves creating music and singing, but she can do that anywhere.

In fact, Red has very little reaction when coming across the various functions, and most of the things that bring out her emotions are things that concern Boxer and his well being. (I absolutely loved her line about breaking the Spine's heart, because that's about as close as she came to telling us directly how she feels.)

I want to point out the parallel scenes with the creation of the bridge, because I think that is one of the most important environmental storytelling bits, and part of why the ending made complete sense to me.

Before Royce appears, Red's mostly been using the Transistor as a weapon, but now she's starting to understand its potential. She can make the bridge look like anything she wants, but she shows us the image of two people who are pulled apart, with their arm reaching out for each other. I believe she fights Royce instead of just staying in the Transistor because at that point, she still had hope that with her new knowledge of how powerful she is, she will be able to bring Boxer back. Then, she can go on and bring back Cloudbank and its citizens. Also, she would be handing over to Royce everything that he wants just like that if she didn't fight him for control.

When Red returns from the Transistor, she gets another chance to do whatever she wants with that bridge. She creates the exact same figures, but this time they come back together. This moment was so clever and powerful to me, because it showed me how much she wanted Boxer back. At the end, when she realizes that even with her immense power she'll never be able to undo what happened to Boxer or the other citizens, she decides to go to the country and be with him there instead. The hug she gives the Transistor as if she's simultaneously saying goodbye and reassuring him was just heart wrenching. Like I mentioned above, this is an acceptable option for the people of Cloudbank and not the result of giving up. (Unless you guys meant her giving up on this recursion of Cloudbank, then in which case I agree.)

Staying in a sterile, blank world as a god was never something she wanted, it was what Royce wanted. (Even if Royce lied about the survivors, the game showed me enough of what's happened to the city to make me believe that the number of survivors is very, very few. And again, why would Red give up her chance of getting her voice back and being with Boxer for these people that she probably doesn't even know?)

I agree with the praise for the writing of Red at the beginning when she makes the decision to not listen to Boxer and instead seek out the Camerata, because this shows her as a strong character with her own agency. However, it is a little hypocritical to then turn around and bash her choice at the end (again, against what Boxer wants) because our western connotation for suicide is that it's cowardly and weak. Both of these instances are Red making decisions for what SHE wants, with plenty of story elements backing up why she would make that choice.

For me, the pictures that scrolled during the credits isn't what Red dreams of in the future, but what has already happened in the past. It's providing more reasons of why she's not content with accepting Boxer as a voice in the Transistor when she can have all of him back. A sword is not going to bring her hot chocolate when she's writing lyrics or lend her his jacket to keep her warm. The pictures also made me realize that this whole time the jacket she's been wearing belongs to Boxer. She took his jacket because this is something that has brought her comfort in the past, and it's another way of keeping him with her. Funnily enough, it's these small details at the end that really fleshed out their relationship for me, without the need for any exposition at all.

Here I'd also like to point out another parallel scene with Grant and Asher, another couple who chose suicide to go to the country and start another life together instead of staying in Cloudbank and becoming one with the process. Even their bodies are displayed in a similar fashion to Red and Boxer's at the end. I don't think Supergiant would include this particular scene in the story if their actions weren't meant to influence Red in some way.

It's interesting to note Boxer's objection and sentiments towards suicide in both Grant/Asher's as well as Red's case. If we take a look at his file, most of it just says his data is corrupted. However, there is one section which states:

"Recovered data indicates Subject had no Selections on record. There is a remote possibility (less than 5%) that this information is inaccurate due to data corruption. In the more likely event that the information is valid, Subject by definition cannot be matched with the census data of Cloudbank, and it is difficult to imagine someone who would willingly choose nonselection."

All of the other characters, including Red, have two Selections as productive citizens of Cloudbank. This led me to believe that Boxer did not grow up in Cloudbank and instead moved there at a later time, which is why he doesn't feel the same way as the other citizens regarding this topic. Maybe in the place where he originally came from the sentiment towards going to the country via suicide is a lot closer to the view of our western societies. Of course this part is largely speculative, but I find it extremely cool if Supergiant deliberately wrote him this way as a bridge from our world to the world of Transistor. His function name is Breach() afterall.

I'm super appreciative that Supergiant stuck with the romance between these two characters all the way to the very end, instead of copping out and turning it into a "well now I'm going to self sacrifice/save the world" ending or giving us a "choice" between two different endings. It really warmed my heart that at the end she was able to get back to Boxer and find her voice, which is pretty much her goal all along. Reducing her struggle to "oh this ending sucks because it's like she can't live without her man" just takes a dump over the relationship the developers crafted so carefully. There is a very relatable desire to be with someone you love that they brought out in both characters, and I think they highlighted the flashes of selfishness that comes with this desire very well. Red has shown more than enough times she is capable of taking care of herself with or without Boxer (and he mentions this in the game as well). In fact, I would say Boxer is the one who would be more of a wreck if he can't be with Red.

I will also point to Red as a character who doesn't speak but does NOT fall into the category of the silent protagonist IMO. From beginning to end I'm following along with HER decisions and unfolding HER story. I have an understanding of the type of person that she is, and I may not agree with all of her choices, but that doesn't matter because I'm not Red. If I wanted to have full control of someone I'm playing I will boot up Skyrim instead.

On another note, you guys brought up a question about what happened to Red's voice. I believe when the Camerata tried to absorb her into the Transistor, they were only able to do it partially before Boxer intervened. That's mostly likely the reason why Red has a function Crash() in the Transistor, since part of her has been absorbed.

Finally, I want to mention that I really enjoyed the setting and all of its links to computer science, which I'm majoring in right now. I think it's very interesting they use the word

Spoiler:

"recursion" for their new game+. In programming, recursion is "a method where the solution to a problem depends on solutions to smaller instances of the same problem". Recursive functions are functions that call itself within the program text, so the function will run its code over and over again until a problem is broken down into simple enough cases to match a base case. Then, the individual results of each recursive call are returned and "combined" together to form a solution to the problem (or an error is returned if there is no solution).

I just wanted to leave this here as something to chew on for the setting of the story. I can definitely see each new game+ as

Spoiler:

a recursion that Red is going through. Maybe "the country" that she travels to at the end of each game actually turns into the Cloudbank that you see at the beginning of each game, and everyone in the game is just caught in a recursive function, with incremental differences in each call towards some endgame. Royce's voice at the beginning of new game+ is very intriguing indeed. Afterall, "when everything changes, nothing changes" is the motto of the Camerata, and in the end Red sings about how

"The river always finds the sea
So helplessly
Like you find me

We are paper boats floating on a stream
And it would seem
We'll never be apart."

And it seems like this has officially turned into an essay. Thanks again for reading if anyone's made it this far, and keep up the good work GWJ!

First off, welcome to the forums, Moonveil. Hope you stick around!

There were a lot of points you made in your post, and I can't possibly address them all, but I will address the few that stuck out for me the most.

Moonveil wrote:

I'm a bit surprised you guys didn't mention the subtle but wonderful LGBT representation in the game.

It was actually in my notes of things to mention, but alas, we only had so much time (plus, we skipped past the natural point to bring it up and I never found an organic time to come back to it). But I'm glad you brought it up, because like you, I had feels about it too

Spoiler:

On the one hand, I thought Grant/Asher's marriage was excellently handled. Their not-so-implied relationship provides subtle but important color to why they killed themselves, and explains why Asher sounds so devastated and hopeless throughout your interactions with him.

I didn't, however, care for the Psycho Lesbian trope baked into Sybil's infatuation with Red (because I agree, by not telling the Camerata about Boxer, she was hoping to eliminate him from the equation and take Red for herself.) Too often in fiction, when a woman expresses sexual or romantic interest in a woman, she is portrayed as a cruel or obsessive harpy with a one-sided, destructive crush; the subtext being, of course, that women are either heterosexual or crazy. I didn't really see any shades of gray or complexity in Sybil's portrayal that would have defined her apart from this trope... though perhaps you might have, as someone deeper in the lore than I am?

Moonveil wrote:

I feel that it is a huge disservice to the narrative to apply our western view of [REDACTED] to the world of Transistor.

You ding us for this a couple of times, and I'm not sure why we should have read Transistor in any other context but a Western one. I mean, in a meta context, Transistor is a game made by a Western studio, written by Western writers and developers and released for Western audiences. And within the context of the story, there is very little within the plot, aesthetic, character backstories or even place and character names to indicate that we shouldn't read this as a Western-style city with a Western-esque society. Compare that to Bastion, which had sort of an Indian/Hindu motif going, via the sitar-esque music, the repeated imagery of bulls, the pantheon of gods, etc. I just didn’t get the same feel for Transistor.

More specifically, you say:

Spoiler:
Moonveil wrote:

However, it is a little hypocritical to then turn around and bash her choice at the end (again, against what Boxer wants) because our western connotation for suicide is that it's cowardly and weak.

I know of no culture, Western or not, in which suicide is NOT viewed in a negative context. Hindus view almost all forms of suicide as an act of violence, which breaks their fundamental code of non-violence. Buddhists also frown on suicide, because it is suspected to result to an inauspicious rebirth, given all the pain and suffering it causes in those you leave behind. Even the Japanese concept of seppuku is a highly ritualized and contextual form of suicide that was not available to everyone nor for every situation; seppuku, as I understand it, was either a way for samurai to amend wrongs committed or an honorable way for warriors to avoid capture and torture. And while I’m not familiar with the various African societies’ attitudes on suicide, the various cultures of Latin and South America are by far and wide Catholic, so they possess similarly negative views on suicide.

If there is a specific non-Western culture you’re thinking of that views suicide in a positive light that you think Transistor is referencing, please feel free to share.

Furthermore, you say:

Moonveil wrote:

We hear several characters mention "going to the country" in the story as something that's quite natural and even welcomed … This is an acceptable option for the people of Cloudbank and not the result of giving up.

Death as natural, yes. Suicide, no. Boxer even calls Grant and Asher "cowards" for killing themselves. Nor did I get the sense that Cloudbank citizens typically decided for themselves when and how to die – I mean, yes, they believe “going to the country” is what comes after life in Cloudbank, but there’s little indication in the game to suggest that it’s standard or expected for Cloudbank citizens to kill themselves when they’re ready to move on.

If it is, then that was a crucial bit of context that needed to be made more far explicit than it was, especially considering, again, the preconceptions a Western audience will bring to the story about suicide. There’s subtle storytelling, and then there’s not explaining important contextual cues, which impedes your audience’s understanding of your work.

Now, you bring up the point that maybe Boxer's an out-of-towner, and doesn't have the same opinions as the rest of the town on death and suicide. That's an interesting read of the character; personally, I read Boxer's non-participation in the social media aspect of Cloudbank as him being a privacy-obsessed paranoid, a la Ron Swanson. (It is, after all, kind of a trope in romance stories for someone like that to fall in love with someone who lives her life in the public eye. :D)

Finally, I will add that rebirth as a concept that exists in the West as well, except it's typically understood as the Christian concept of resurrection: a one-time get-into-Heaven-or-Hell-free-card. That’s how I read “going to the country” – again, as opposed to Bastion, which made it very clear that the characters were trapped in a Buddhist-esque cycle of death and rebirth that needed to be broken.

That said, you make a very compelling point about the computer science concept of recursion as suggesting a cycle of death and rebirth. As a non-programmer, that sailed right over my head, even though I understood most of the rest of the computer science concepts such as the function syntax and cloud storage and so on. So if this was truly how recursion() was meant to be read by the audience, again, I wouldn’t have minded a little extra context in-game. Anyway, definitely something to chew on.

Reducing her struggle to "oh this ending sucks because it's like she can't live without her man" just takes a dump over the relationship the developers crafted so carefully.

Since you’re not the first person to say this, I want to reiterate what I said in the podcast: I brought up this criticism of the ending as a heterosexist male fantasy because, even though I don’t agree with it, I can see how those last ten seconds might be read that way. None of our fiction exists in a vacuum, and unfortunately it is all too common to see well-written, compelling female characters go all Juliet Capulet and lose their will to survive once their love interests die – whereas the same can rarely be said about male characters. So I can’t blame anybody who had a knee-jerk reaction to the conclusion of Transistor as yet another example of this happening.

However, like you, I found the relationship between Red and Boxer very compelling and her choice at the end emotionally believable – if, of course, profoundly unsatisfying.

Anyway, thanks again for commenting in. You gave me a lot to noodle over.

I have nothing to add to the wonderful dialogue going on here in the spoiler tags, but am madly in love with the GWJ community for being a place to make me think so hard.

Still haven't played Transistor yet, so going to have to put the spoiler section on the "eventually" list.

In regards to silent protagonists, personally, I don't mind them at all. I just finished played Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, and without having to speak at all Link managed to convey quite a bit of personality. In fact, characters that don't speak might actually be a very fitting thing for video games. It forces you to convey a story visually, making use of expressions and other visual tools that are also a lot faster to convey ideas. That brevity is key, as one of the complaints of cut-scenes is that they break up the gameplay too much.

Of course, this also only works if you're telling a more simple story, or happen to be masters of the craft. Even WALL-E had to introduce speaking characters eventually.

But then you have the Gray Warden in Dragon Age, which doesn't convey much personality outside of the text options you choose. I liked this for a game like Dragon Age, though, as it allowed me to feel as if the Gray Warden was my character in a way that a D&D character feels like they're mine. Contrast this to Mass Effect, where Shepard never feels like my character, just a manipulated version of Bioware's character that they're super obsessed with (I'm honestly not sure who is more in love with their sci-fi Christ figure of a hero, Bioware or Bungie).

All of that comes down to a matter of preference, though.

But when you jump into Metroid, well, you guys pretty much hit the nail on the head. Metroid isn't about Samus, or at least not until Fusion or Other M. Metroid is about the world that Samus is occupying, and in some ways even intruding. She is a vehicle of agency upon that world, but it's not her story. It's about the Chozo ruins of Zebes that have been overrun by Space Pirates, or about the fallen colony of Talon IV (also overrun by Space Pirates), or how the Luminoth became a dying race. Samus goes in and fixes these problems, but she's not the protagonist in a traditional sense. She doesn't drive the story. She finds the problem and fixes it. It's actually a very intrusive role, and it works best if she's silent. It allows the game to keep the focus on the world itself, which fits the exploration based nature of the franchise.

Fusion was the first to give her a voice, and it was met with mild backlash. It also had a rather bland world, a recreation of Zebes on a spaceship for no greater purpose than to have The Water Area, The Fire Area, etc. Metroid: Other M did the exact same thing, but also gave Samus a slow, droning Ben Stein voice to explain all of the feelings she experienced that clashed with this idea of a capable woman notorious for not only finding trouble, but essentially solving everyone else's problems for them before heading out to the next adventure without even receiving a thank you.

There is a possibility for an interesting character to Samus, but giving her a voice is not the way to explore her. I'd argue the best method they could have is something along the lines of returning her to the world the Chozo trained her at, where there will be records of how they trained her, how she mourned for the loss of her family and home, and how she was taught by Chozo philosophy. I find it odd that of all the things Other M decided to dive into, it was "Here's Samus going through typical military training, but she was the only girl on the squad" as opposed to "Here's Samus, lone survivor of a space pirate attack on her colony, being trained and taught as the last legacy of an ancient, war weary race preparing to leave the galaxy like the elves sail to Valinor in Lord of the Rings".

I mean, really, which of those sounds like a more interesting character?

But then the question becomes, do we need to know all that? Or does the mystery speak more about who this silent hero is than anything explained? I like Samus being a mystery, myself.

I think, regarding the first email question about pc upgrades, I would say the plateau is whatever it takes to get 1080p gaming since that's more or less console-grade and in-network streaming and Big Picture Mode is becoming more of a thing so that you could actually have the pc and console versions of games running on the same output device.

I'm not sure $500 would do it though.

The discussion about the silent protagonist makes me wonder if that is the main reason why we have not seen Half-Life 3 yet. Has Valve designed that game into a corner? If Half-Life 3 came out with a silent Gordon, it would probably seem awkward by today's standards, especially considering how story-heavy the series has become. Even in HL2:E2 I found it awkward that Gordon was still silent.

However, if they gave us Half-Life 3 with a talking Gordon, the game would probably feel out of place in the series. It would also probably anger the hard-core fans of the series.

The third option is a full reboot of the series that has Gordon Freeman as a speaking character from the start. The story is already pretty solid, so no need for major changes to that. Bring back Merle Dandridge as Alex Vance (one of my favorite characters in gaming). The more I think about this, the more I like the idea.

Question: Who do they cast as the voice of Gordon Freeman?

As mentioned above, I have to give credit to Nintendo for making the modern Link one of the best (nearly) silent characters around. I watched several play-throughs of Wind Waker HD, and his facial expressions are priceless. He does not talk, but he does grunt and yell during combat. Just the sound of him grunting while lifting a bomb is charming as hell.

RolandofGilead wrote:

I think, regarding the first email question about pc upgrades, I would say the plateau is whatever it takes to get 1080p gaming since that's more or less console-grade and in-network streaming and Big Picture Mode is becoming more of a thing so that you could actually have the pc and console versions of games running on the same output device.

I'm not sure $500 would do it though.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/Nby7pg

Challenge accepted...though I agree with you... I put together the best $500 system I could come up with and ordered it... Note it's a bit cheating since no OS but let's just assume one day the Steam OS is mature enough to run as many games as a Windows PC. I will put Win 8.1 for the sake of this experiment and run this PC against my Xbox One and PS 4 with some subjective tests of 1080P gaming.

TheGameguru wrote:
RolandofGilead wrote:

I think, regarding the first email question about pc upgrades, I would say the plateau is whatever it takes to get 1080p gaming since that's more or less console-grade and in-network streaming and Big Picture Mode is becoming more of a thing so that you could actually have the pc and console versions of games running on the same output device.

I'm not sure $500 would do it though.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/Nby7pg

Challenge accepted...though I agree with you... I put together the best $500 system I could come up with and ordered it... Note it's a bit cheating since no OS but let's just assume one day the Steam OS is mature enough to run as many games as a Windows PC. I will put Win 8.1 for the sake of this experiment and run this PC against my Xbox One and PS 4 with some subjective tests of 1080P gaming.

Awesome! [size=6]Cause I wasn't about to spend the money[/size]

KaterinLHC wrote:

First off, welcome to the forums, Moonveil. Hope you stick around!

Thanks for the welcome! I forgot to mention in my first post that the GWJ Conference Call is actually the podcast that got me into podcasts. When I first started listening to podcasts 2 years ago, I was kind of put off by some of the gaming content ones I came across. The hosts were too "dudebro"-ish and pretty insensitive/dismissive when it came to certain topics such as representation in video games. Luckily I found the GWJ crew podcast, where everyone is very respectful and the community seems awesome as well. Now I have a healthy list of great podcasts I listen to regularly and it all started here!

Hopefully the tags will work properly for me this time, but if not my apologies again to the mod that had to help fix up my post!

Spoiler:

From reading Grant and Asher's files, I really got a sense of the history they shared and how they came to love each other. I'm glad that they're not inherently evil, and in fact Grant seems to be an overall good person, who wanted to make better, lasting changes for Cloudbank and its citizens. However the methods he used led to disaster, and he dragged Asher into the mess with him. Even though it was pretty short, I enjoyed the scenes I got with them very much.

KaterinLHC wrote:

I didn't, however, care for the Psycho Lesbian trope baked into Sybil's infatuation with Red.

I have to admit the trope never occurred to me. Maybe it's because the lesbian characters in fandoms that I follow (such as Madoka, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Shingeki no Kyojin or Kalinda from The Good Wife) are not really portrayed in this way. Therefore I didn't really think that Sybil's actions were a result of this trope being used, but I can definitely see where you are coming from.

The fight with Sybil is my favourite battle in the entire game, and I love how they integrated _n C_rcl_s in the background instead of Red's version of the song. I don't think I would put Sybil purely in the Psycho Lesbian trope, because some of the things that she says during the battle shows that she is pretty tortured by the outcome of her actions, especially near the end. (IIRC, she apologizes? But I'd have to go through that section again to make sure.) I found it interesting that Sybil stayed in the theatre waiting for Red, because I think on some level she knew Red well enough to know that she will be coming back there. At the end when she starts crawling away from you (perhaps in shame of what she's done?) instead of dying right away was a great decision on Supergiant's part.

Also, after the battle there is a corner which can be examined, with a blotch of red cleverly placed over where Sybil's "real body" is. I'm not sure how she died, but I've always imagined that she just lingered in the theatre after Red disappeared, even when the process came, because she wants to see Red come back. It's also quite interesting that her function is Friend(), the only one that grants Red a companion. For me, the story bits surrounding the battle with Sybil added some depth to her that made me enjoy her character overall. But I agree if someone just reads her file, she'll probably come across as "psycho for Red".

As a brief side note, I want to point out the change in structure from the traditional "work your way through the boss hierarchy" of plot progression. Supergiant totally made me believe that I will be having a giant confrontation with Grant at the end of the game. Instead, he's the only one in the Camerata we never speak to. (Even Sybil spoke to us during our fight with her, and we communicated with Asher using the terminals.) I found this to be very interesting and they really pulled the rug out from under me when I found Grant and Asher's bodies.

KaterinLHC wrote:

You ding us for this a couple of times, and I'm not sure why we should have read Transistor in any other context but a Western one. I mean, in a meta context, Transistor is a game made by a Western studio, written by Western writers and developers and released for Western audiences. And within the context of the story, there is very little within the plot, aesthetic, character backstories or even place and character names to indicate that we shouldn't read this as a Western-style city with a Western-esque society. Compare that to Bastion, which had sort of an Indian/Hindu motif going, via the sitar-esque music, the repeated imagery of bulls, the pantheon of gods, etc. I just didn’t get the same feel for Transistor.

I'm not sure I agree that we should automatically be applying Western context to games developed by Western studios for Western audiences, especially when it comes to indie titles nowadays. IMO both Bastion and Transistor had a mixture of motifs taken from different cultural backgrounds. But in the case of Transistor, I think they are really pushing the idea of what it might be like if programs and functions were to develop their own culture. This probably sounds really strange, but hopefully I'll be able to explain what I mean in a way that makes some sense.

But first, regarding the act of suicide I agree that for pretty much all of the modern cultures (that I am aware of), it is in the very least not a positive thing. Coming from an Asian background though, I want to mention some literature as well as Japan in particular that views suicide in a different way, and in some cases morally responsible or the "honorable thing to do", depending on the context of the act. This is going off on a tangent, but since you asked I'm more than happy to share

Seppuku is part of the samurai Bushido, a honor code which I would compare to chivalric code for knights. In certain cases, samurai would voluntarily perform Seppuku because that is the honorable way to die. From what I understand of Christianity and Catholicism, suicide is something that is completely bad, and will result in someone going to hell after death. While Seppuku is not a "good" thing, the result of how people feels about the individual is quite different. This is what I meant by not looking at Red's action at the end from a Western context, I should have explained myself better.

Have you heard of a genre of Chinese literature called Wuxia? I would describe it as martial arts + fantasy set in ancient/premodern China. Many of the works have ideas from Buddhism or Daoism imbued in them, and romance often plays a large part in the stories. The most famous works are closer to the vein of Game of Thrones than Lord of the Rings if that helps. The reason I bring up this particular genre is because suicide is something that happens fairly often. While there are definitely cases of a character committing suicide because she has given up, most of the time it is:

1. An act of honorable death like Seppuku
2. An act of defiance in the face of enemies
3. An act of repentance for something the character did in the past
4. An act of love to save someone or to make that person more powerful (For example, a high ranked martial artist may be able to pass his "Qi" to another person, saving that person's life or making that person more powerful. This is essentially an act of "peaceful suicide" because the martial artist's life is tied to the passage of his "Qi".)

The idea of reincarnation is often at play here, and while not every author uses this concept I believe it is pretty ingrained in the genre itself.

An example I can think of off the top of my head is a scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Ang Lee. (If you haven't seen this movie yet I highly recommend a viewing. It is probably my favourite wuxia film, and is filled with wonderful female characters with their own ambitions and dreams. They also kick as much ass as the male characters, and the plot is great. Maybe skip the rest of this paragraph to avoid spoilers.) In a scene near the end, Jen asks Lo to make a wish. Lo wishes for her to be with him and for them to return to the desert together. Right after, Jen leaps off the side of the mountain. I've had many friends ask me, "why would she commit suicide after hearing Lo's wish? Isn't she just throwing her life away/giving up?" I think this is where the cultural background comes into play, because while Jen takes the leap to repent for the heartbreaks she caused, her suicide isn't a disregard for Lo's wish for them to be together. If we apply the concept of reincarnation, it is very likely that she plans to fulfill this wish in her next life, as well as have a new start so that she can make amends for the wrong decisions she made in this life. A death often doesn't mean the end in wuxia tales, and in the epilogue of some of the novels I've read they will have a scene of the characters meeting again in the next reincarnation.

Sorry for the long tangent, but I hope it provides a bit more context of why I viewed the ending so differently.

KaterinLHC wrote:

Death as natural, yes. Suicide, no. Boxer even calls Grant and Asher "cowards" for killing themselves. Nor did I get the sense that Cloudbank citizens typically decided for themselves when and how to die – I mean, yes, they believe “going to the country” is what comes after life in Cloudbank, but there’s little indication in the game to suggest that it’s standard or expected for Cloudbank citizens to kill themselves when they’re ready to move on.

Even though I typed a bunch of stuff about cultural context of suicide above, I actually ended up approaching the world of Cloudbank as something that's completely separate from all of the cultures in our world. Going back to this idea of a culture for program and functions, I was largely influenced by my studies in computer science. I thought of the characters in the game (excluding Boxer) as personified functions, and the Selections as the purpose of each function in a program. When it comes to "going to the country", I think of it more as going through a set of if...else... statements. So maybe something like:

If (reached a certain age)
{ then go to the country via natural causes/old age }
else if (case number 2)
{ then go to the country of via ...
else if (something terrible has happened, the world is completely screwed up and I have no desire to remain here)
{ then go to the country via suicide }

The suicide case(s) would be near the bottom of the if...else statements, so the people of Cloudbank would almost never execute those case(s). However, if they do end up hitting the suicide case(s), then it is something that they follow through with naturally. I've never felt that the people in Cloudbank are afraid of death, and they wouldn't have any negative connotations regarding suicide as a method to get to the country. In fact they seem to be much more averse to becoming one with the process.

Boxer on the other hand doesn't share the same views because he belongs to another set of functions/another city with very different programming when it comes to the country. Maybe suicide doesn't appear in his if...else statements at all, which is why he calls Asher/Grant cowards since it is not acceptable to him.
One of my computer science friends went in another direction and described the world using registers, caches, HDD and RAM, so there's definitely many possible reads even within this idea of a fictional "computer culture".

KaterinLHC wrote:

That said, you make a very compelling point about the computer science concept of recursion as suggesting a cycle of death and rebirth.

Initially I thought of the country as more akin to the idea of Heaven as well. But after seeing the use of recursion it really pushed me towards the idea of reincarnation and multiple cycles of life and death.

KaterinLHC wrote:

I brought up this criticism of the ending as a heterosexist male fantasy because, even though I don’t agree with it, I can see how those last ten seconds might be read that way.

Oh, I was glad you brought that point up and had a discussion of why you didn't agree with it. Sorry if I didn't make this clear in my previous post.

I've also read some reviews where it's pretty obvious to me that the reviewer did not attempt to discover/read through any of the optional story bits at all. With Transistor's story being 85% optional, it drove me crazy to hear criticism on the "lack of story compared to Bastion" when there is SO MUCH STORY to be found if you put in the effort to do so, much like a traditional RPG. In fact, I know much more about the characters in Transistor than I ever did about the characters in Bastion. However, I think another hour or so fleshing out Cloudbank, its citizens and the Process will really help in elevating the story as a whole. (I'm still confused about why a second Spine appeared in the later half of the game.) It was just a tad bit too short for me, and I'm pretty good at making up a ton of head canon to fill in the gaps.

Thanks again for the reply, I had a lot of fun reading through your comments! I'll definitely be sticking around the community, listening to the podcasts, and occasionally coming out of lurkdom to word vomit out super long comments like this one. XD