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Your fondest Obsidian game memories


The Winners

AutisticDragon

As an autistic person, I regularly feel ignored by media. In video games the player is often interacting with beautiful, charismatic neurotypicals or sociopaths and there’s not a whole lot of room there for anything else. New Vegas didn’t fall into that trap, because whilst it did have its share of the usual suspects, it also had Lily and Raul.

Lily’s mind was being overcome by an invasive disease whose effects were ever increasing levels of aggression – something she had to deal with on a daily basis. She was a lovely person but she was prone to snapping and having a more fantastical equivalent of panic attacks in a very spectacular fashion. Her condition was barely controlled by medication, though sadly this was also impairing the memories of her life before the disease. She’s an old lady and the faces of her grandkids served as a poignant anchor for her identity.

In Lily’s case it was possible for her to find peace but only through the erasure of her identity. The question begs to be asked: Isn’t that death? If you are no longer the person you were, if you have no recollection of that person, then hasn’t that person effectively died? This made the quandary regarding her medication all the more overwrought, dramatic, and emotionally charged. Lily’s condition and the cure thereof asked a question of the player that no one should really ever need to answer. “What is the worth of identity? And is it worth more than happiness?”

Lily’s story had no ‘right’ answer. Much like the real world, there were boons and caveats when dealing with her condition and, whatever road was chosen, there would be consequences. I still struggle with my final decision to this day. I perused all of the outcomes of her story and decided the best thing to do was to have her remain on half of her medication; it would slow the damage to her memories, though she’d still be confronted with the problems her seizures always represented. I picked a holding pattern out of hope.

I’m not proud of that choice, really. It was simply the only choice I could make in good conscience. To my mind, it was simply the choice I would regret the least, which is the only way I could think about it. One could argue for years over what the ‘right’ choice is, because there really was none. I made my choice out of a desire that one day, medical advancements would allow her to retain her memories and be cured of her seizures.

This story was poignant to me as it pinged off of the struggles I’d endured as an autistic person. These days it feels like not a month goes by where someone isn’t trying to ‘cure’ autism in some horrific way that would literally strip the autistic person of their very identity.

Lily’s condition would’ve perhaps elicited a very different response in the minds of others. I can only imagine the more neurotypical, extraverted individuals playing New Vegas would’ve chosen to ‘cure’ her sickness.

Her identity would’ve been seen as an acceptable casualty.

I don’t agree. I can’t.

Without Raul and Lily, [New Vegas] might not have struck nearly the chord it did. As it stands, it’s a game I’ll always remember for being brave enough to show people there’s more than just a couple of different kinds of person out there, that humanity is incredibly diverse and that diversity doesn’t have be seen as a pejorative factor.

Aningan

My favourite moment was shooting Darcy in the bollocks in Alpha Protocol.

To put the scene in context, I have a tendency with [Western RPGs] to always play the good guy. I select the appropriate, measured response in every conversation. I never kill NPCs or civilians. And I’m always lawful alignment. It’s not that I’ve never been tempted to play a villain or a clown, but I can never bring myself to stick with it. I get too invested in my characters, and too invested in being good.

Alpha Protocol went a long way to curing me of this tendency, or at least showed me the joys of role-playing an utter madman. For my version of secret agent Mike Thorton, Alpha Protocol’s very malleable protagonist, was quite possibly the most unstable individual to ever grace a video game.

It all started innocently enough. During the game’s initial training mission you find yourself competing against Agent Darcy, an alpha-male type with a chip on his shoulder and a grudge against your character. During his turn on the training course, you can either watch as he tries to beat your score, or you can obstruct him. I chose the latter course and shot him with a tranquiliser. This was funny enough in its way, but it was the reaction from another character, Thorton’s handler Mina, that made me instantly fall in love with the game. Not only did Mina respond to the fact that I had shot Darcy ([if I recall] she encourages you to do it), but she also picked up on the fact that I had very deliberately shot him in the bollocks, and reacted accordingly – leading to a hilarious conversation at the end of the scene and, later in the game, an angry email from Darcy referencing the incident.

Normally, after doing something like shooting a story character, I would have reloaded the game and replayed the scene ‘properly’, but the reaction from Mina was so funny and unexpected that it encouraged me to carry on with my playthrough in the same fashion. And so, for the rest of the game, rather than playing stealthily as I typically would have done, I would instead run headfirst into every encounter, and make a point of shooting everyone in the bollocks. My version of agent Thorton made himself an asshole in other ways, too, choosing the most snarky and childish responses when in conversation, such that by the close of the game, just about every NPC hated him/me, with the exception of Sie, an East German madwoman mercenary who would become my love interest after I alienated the straight-laced Mina.

One transgression followed another until, towards the end of the campaign, I found myself charging through a Roman mansion Rambo-style, blowing everything to bits while Sie hummed the Ride of the Valkyries on my comm and cooed approvingly every time I exploded an antique. Clearly something had changed.

So yes, lots of moments, but all stemming from that little transgression at the start of the game, which would steer Agent Thorton onto a path of chaos and change the way I play choice-driven WRPGs.



Stormlands and the million-man raid
Obsidian’s cancelled Xbox One exclusive


Stormlands and the million-man raid