Friday, February 13, 2015

On Expend-ability and Suspension of Disbelief.

Progress continues!

I would just like to note, randomly and with no particular prompting, that the fact all employees of Arketer Labs- barring myself- are issued and use numbers in place of names does by no means imply I consider any of our employees expendable. Indeed OSHA would, had they any authority over us, surely be impressed with our safety record. Especially given the interference we must endure from time to time.

Since the founding of Arketer Labs our fatalities have remained in the single-digits. Lesser casualties have occurred of course, wherever humans operate human error will take place- but with the proper automation of certain safeguards there have rarely been particularly severe injuries. The most recent, and standing record, being the limb severing of an employee during that whole Strawman-Syndrome fiasco.

Said employee is reportedly doing exceptionally well with their experimental prosthetic.

I have some henchpeople who lament that their arms don't come with a built-in cutting laser. (It seemed appropriate somehow. "Hair of the dog that bit you" as it were.)

Now, moving on I had a discussion with one of these Role-Players who suggested (perhaps jokingly) that Director Arketer of Tyria was attempting to be analogous to Director Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Director Fury is not interested in being Director Arketer and I am not interested in being Director Fury. Though I would surely have considerable respect for them were they real.
I took minor offense to this, perhaps needlessly. I would not have Director Arketer of Tyria behaving at all comparably to said character. Director Arketer of Tyria, for example, is much more civil and much less of an action hero.

Again, if Director Fury were a real person, and presumably S.H.I.E.L.D. with it I would respect them immensely, but I am indeed gratified they are not as I consider the odds of them wishing to assimilate or destroy Arketer Labs alarmingly high. S.H.I.E.L.D. would quite possibly have the resources to do it even,

But I digress. The Role-Player suggested, and I replied :

And so it is. The Pact, which basically is a highly public Tyrian S.H.I.E.L.D. has airships even. A fleet, no less. Or rather, they HAD a fleet. I understand that canonically it was destroyed in an ill-fated attack on the Plant-Dragon Mordremoth, sundered by vines and Sylvari who had their brains hijacked by the Dragon Daddy their Mother never told them about.

This led to a discussion over how ill-advised it might have been for said Mother (The Pale Tree, who 'births' all Sylvari- that we know of- full grown and more and... functionally mature, but gratifyingly sterile.) to keep that secret from them.

If Mordremoth can, and they can, hijack their minds then it would have only made sense for the commander of the Pact (A Sylvari) and all of the Sylvari to recuse themselves from fighting Mordremoth and be reassigned en mass to fight the OTHER Dragons who can't steal their minds. freeing up all of the Pact and order folks holding out in those locations to deal with Mordremoth.

This individual noted the logic of this and I was somewhat shamed, because no doubt the writers of Arena Net are trying their best. So much logic has to be utterly abandoned for the sake of drama it would seem. One has to remember the value of Suspension of Disbelief.

Precious little you love in fiction makes sense if you look at it too closely.

To start with there is Star Trek.

I'm not even talking about the modern reboots that pay even less attention to viability.

No, consider that humble archetype of expend-ability, the Red Shirt.

Seen here in their natural state.
Quite rarely does anyone ask why they had to die. Even by the time of the original series humanoid androids are confirmed to be a thing that exists. Now, it can and was argued that there may be reasons why sentient automatons would be illegal to create, but why on earth would they not at least make use of non-sentient or perhaps even non-intelligent ones?

What if every redshirt had nothing more than the Star Trek equivalent of a VR helmet on and simply piloted a robot proxy on UnexploredDeathPlanet3951?

Even we boring present-day types figured out the virtues of THAT.
If we are doing that now, from ANOTHER PLANET, then surely the people of Star Trek Future could be managing a much more versatile proxy from safely in the ship. Need only send human crew down when it's confirmed to be safe or for the perhaps necessary human touch for diplomatic work.

When you consider this, one has to suspect that perhaps Red Shirts were less a position in Starfleet and more a sentence handed down to horrible criminals. Or, perhaps, a horrible population control scheme.

Let us not spare Star Wars either, which relies on space magic starting out just to explain why anyone would elect to use even a laser sword in a laserblaster battle and the overwhelming majority of non-force-sensitives who are inexplicably and perfectly happy to let barking mad space wizards rule them in the various iterations of a Sith Empire.

A literal servant of evil for Emperor? What could go wrong? (Unasked courtesy of This Artist.)
The question isn't why they allow them to rule, the question is why they haven't disposed of Force Users entirely. Perhaps maybe kept a few in a space zoo heavily populated with Ysalamiri for the sake of study into what this Force is and why it keeps making barking mad space wizards.

The casualties incurred by hunting down barking mad space wizards- especially if this were done intelligently with, say, droids, surely outweighs the costs of letting them rule and wage massive space wars.

I would also note that it seems to me the Force very much wants all Force users to screw off and die or leave it alone itself. Light Side Force Users turn into apathetic quibbling space buddhas who do nothing but feel very smug about how doing nothing is the right thing to do and Dark Side users- the, again, barking mad space wizards- spend half of their time going to great lengths to murder each other and their subordinates almost as a priority.

I suspect The Force would be very much in support of a vaccination against midichlorians. Which is yet another more rational response to a bizarre blood contaminant that creates smug apathetics and barking mad space wizards.

In any environment that is imaginary, there will always be questions a viewer of can ask that the writers and creators of said environment will either not have an answer for- or not have a very good answer for. It is, quite possibly, inevitable. So when you see threads waving in the air from loose seams, if you are enjoying yourself it may be much more preferable to look the other way and pretend not to notice.

Or, if you work at it, you can probably imagine away that rip in the facade yourself- but get too caught up in that and you'll probably get frustrated if you start to feel the writers aren't even trying to meet you halfway. Suspension of Disbelief is nice, but disbelief can get very heavy indeed if the writers aren't thinking much at all.

Tolkien's works have frayed seams that can be picked at, but the ending was still dramatically superior to Mass Effect 3's.

Alternatively, you have people who create such an awful fictional reality that the only way it is appealing at all is as a comedy.

I've seen reports of comparable, but perhaps not worse. From Elf Only Inn
For more on the nature of suspension of disbelief, which is basically a sacred pact of sorts you are asking people to join in with as a creator of fiction and should be respected accordingly, I would like to recommend the thoughtful deconstructions about all that was awful about Mass Effect 3's by one peculiar Mr. B. Tongue.

That all said, I had best return to more constructive endeavors.

Progress continues!

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