Do you blaze it up occasionnaly?


I was born with ‘mildly stoned’ as a permanent fixture of my personality so I don’t enjoy exacerbating the problem. I do like hanging out with people who are high tho, it smells nice and people are non threatening and pretty cute when they’re stoned.

If I recall characters don't actually "die" in Awakening, they just get permanently injured to the point where they can't show up in battle anymore. It may've always been like that really, or perhaps in past games they did die. Hard to say!


Skirting by on a technicality is more narratively bankrupt than a glaring plot hole is my pretty universal opinion in all cases. 

Permadeath does not work in Fire Emblem, and the game has absolutely no interest in making it work in any meaningful way. You can tell this because there are about two lines of dialogue that play when a character dies, and there are hundreds for every possible combination of friendship/marriage/family. Plus, dead people show up in cutscenes. See, they didn’t have to spend their time and energy that way.

I will talk about those in this month’s ZEAL, but I will talk about why not death right now.

Much like in reality, permadeath in Fire Emblem is the random result of luck and miscalculation. Unlike real life, you can save and reload if you don’t like what happened. So why would you ever not do that, when you have nothing to gain and so much to lose?

However: when I asked people, the response I got most consistently was “I let the death stand if I thought it was cool/interesting/tragic” or “I don’t ever reload.” Death isn’t supported mechanically in Fire Emblem, and it is only barely supported narratively, but there were a significant portion of people who let characters die anyway. Even though the game isn’t doing any work to make character death interesting, the players are. Unsupported narrative hacking. Caution: doing so may void your warranty.

There is a genre of writing based completely on assigning arbitrary human meaning to the uncaring chaos of the universe. We call this “nonfiction,” and it has a lot in common with the way folx tell stories about video games. The game, for example, does not care that a major character dies by accident in the first level of Fire Emblem, but you could say that you’re going to act as if losing his sister was a critical event for Chrom and that it motivates and colors his actions for the rest of the game. The game doesn’t know or care, but you do, and you can make that narrative work kind of fan-fiction that lives in your head.

Death is hard to write about in nonfiction, too, because humans stubbornly assign meaning to arbitrary events, and nothing is more arbitrary and senseless than death. For the crowd that only saves and reloads during deaths that aren’t sufficiently cool/interesting/tragic, the standard being exercised is how meaningful that death seems to them, and if it seems like bullshit, well reload it. Or maybe you’re being meta and letting the randomness of the death stand because you want your playthrough to carry that sensation of the meaninglessness of death, which is itself a conscious choice on your part! The bizarre result of a game containing both permadeath and a trivial workaround is every death is consciously chosen by the player. Isn’t that so weird?

I love Fire Emblem to pieces just the way it is, but I would like to play a game where there are like, funeral scenes, memorials, characters broken up and reminiscing about their friends/lovers/family. I’d like to play a game that actually helps set up really dramatic/tragic/interesting deaths for the characters. A game as focused on death as Fire Emblem is on marriage (a tragedy to Fire Emblem’s comedy, in the classical sense I guess). 

tell me about the last time you made an error in implementation that was more exciting than what you intended

"This doesn’t happen so much in writing," I was going to say, but wow that’s a lie because I mistype and mishear so often and I get some really funny jokes out of that. 

Do you think it's possible to have a middle-ground between the AAA and the indie community?


It already exists in so many ways. Demon’s Souls was a B game at best, big but low budget, on the level of those licensed shovelware everyone complains about. Sony didn’t even want to localize it themselves—though they certainly didn’t make that mistake twice. It’s not indie, but it’s hardly AAA.

And Skullgirls is heavily indie, but it has a ton of outside investment and a lot of people working on it, though they’re all stars of the fighting game scene and animation. It’s certainly not AAA, but it’s not a game your friend made in RPG maker.

"indie" and "AAA" are shorthand for "how much outside money and oversight was involved and how many people are working on this."

Indie: a little.

AAA: a lot.

That’s a convient but simplistic way to refer to things, and as arbitrary as anything else.

How do you feel about media that explicitly and legitimately insults you.

Well obviously I should hate it but I don’t really think it would be honest, to say that I’d actually stand up for myself like that, because I’ve sorta been trained from birth to zero out my heart and endure the grotesqueries of media for something to connect to? So honestly, I don’t even really flinch at it anymore! But rather than that sounding like I’m tough or anything, really, that should sound like the worst possible outcome, right?

if you could change from @MammonMachine to @AveeBee would you


Mammon Machine is very important to my #aesthetic so I wouldn’t want to lose it. I don’t do a good job of staying “in character” which is a little sad, I think someone else could do a way better job of this than me of pretending to be this synthetic horrifying capitalist deity but I do really like having that close enough I can reach for it whenever i need to. Mammon Machine—that just about sums it all up, doesn’t it? What isn’t part of the Mammon Machine, anymore.

Help me out. I don't understand how people could be offended by Luftrauser's graphic style. Yes, the nazis were bad but these are cartoonish caricatures in an arcadey video game where you can fly a knife plane. There is no plot. I'm usually with people on these things but I'm totally lost. Let me rephrase, I can understand why people could be offended, but I don't understand why there is an uproar. No artist should cave because some people aren't happy. Not trying to fight, just confused.


Let’s start unpacking this.

"I don’t understand how people could be offended by Luftrauser’s graphic style."

The first step is realizing you might not understand someone else’s position but can respect them for having it. That’s basic empathy. You don’t have to agree with them, but given your life experiences are different from this other person, it’s possible to, at least, realize they have a reason for it.

Now, let’s look at what Elizabeth Simins (a terrific artist whose work you might be familiar with on Kotaku) and Rob Dubbin (a writer on The Colbert Report) originally said. From what I understand, Simins started publicly talking about this issue, and Dubbin later came to her defense.

Simins does not ask for developer Vlambeer to change the way Luftrausers looks, but simply raises the question about whether its aesthetic could be reasonably seen as leveraging nazi imagery in a way that’s been glossed over because the game is so damn fun to play. (Which it is.) This is what we call criticism, and it’s especially important to be critical of that which we love. That’s often the hardest.

A few hours later, Dubbin weighed in on Twitter, as well.

A-ha. Dubbin underscores the subtext of the aesthetic content in Luftrausers: maybe we’ve become desensitized to nazi imagery as a culture, likely in a way less true in Jewish circles for…obvious reasons. This big picture cultural question isn’t easy to digest but worth asking.

Vlambeer doesn’t have to respond to this. Dubbin and Simins expressed their opinions, and that could have easily been the end of this. But Rami Ismail has proven himself to be an intensely empathetic figure who is OK listening to the opinions of others, even if it’s critical of his own work. It’s not easy to acknowledge criticism, and even harder to grant it any merit.

Yet, Ismail does exactly this in a blog post. There’s far too much to quote, but here’s the part that underscores what I’m talking about:

"We do have to accept that our game could make some people uncomfortable. We’re extremely sad about that, and we sincerely apologise for that discomfort.

The fact is that no interpretation of a game is ‘wrong’. When you create something, you leave certain implications of what you’re making. We can leave our idea of what it is in there, and for us, the game is about superweapons. We think everybody who plays LUFTRAUSERS can feel that.

But even more so in an interactive medium, we do have to accept that no way of reading those implications is ‘false’ – that if someone reads between the lines where we weren’t writing, those voids can be filled by the player, or someone else. If we accept there’s no wrong interpretation of a work, we also have to accept that some of those interpretations could not be along the lines of what we’re trying to create.”

From there, Ismail goes on to explain why he disagrees with Dubbin and Simins, even while acknowledging their opinion is a valid interpretation. That line is so critically important to having a reasonable, nuanced dialogue about difficult subjects, and it’s the part we often miss out on.

It often feels people confuse “criticism” with “censorship” in a way that is never intended when those speaking up are explaining their views. 

It is unlikely Luftrausers will undergo any major aesthetic change as a result of what Simins and Dubbin said, but the conclusion of this exchange brings a better understanding of what Vlambeer intended by creating Luftrausers. No one has to agree with either side, but our understanding of Luftrausers’ place in game culture was deepened.

That’s not controversy. That’s criticism, and I wish we had way more of it.