Sunday, September 18, 2005

[Bliss Stage] Anchors

So I'm on the road in Finland, and my blogging is suffering. I'm not upset.

In Bliss Stage, there are two types of folks engaged in military actions. Pilots, who enter the dreamscape and form their robots to fight for them, and Anchors, who help tether them to the real world and keep their dreams focused enough to matter. As relationships are the only thing of value in the dreamworld, the relationship between a pilot and an anchor is an important one. A player will be playing both a pilot and an anchor, but never a pair (I'm an anchor for your pilot, and so on.)

Game text:

Here's what it's like to be an anchor.

Okay, first off, if you're an anchor, ten to one that you're a kid, and not an authority figure. So you've got all the baggage from the above box.

Here's what it's like to be an anchor: You get chosen because you've got a tight relationship with a pilot. He's the love of your life, maybe not sex but probably, and he's going to save the world just for you, and you're going to talk him through it and sing him into it. Just you and him, you're going to make a difference, you're going to be there for him when he fights, and then you're looking into the black soup of nightmares that he's wading through and seeing yourself reflected back with all the reasons why he hates you and you're seeing that all the time, and if you even flinch once or get angry once or say any damn thing dollars to donuts it's going to kill him, so you've got that all in your head, and you can't tell anyone. And then there are others, other girls that he's in love with, the other people that he cares about more than you, and you can see them through there, you can hear him call their name as they fight at his side, and everyone smiles like its a good thing and hell if you open your mouth, and if he dies it's your fault because he didn't love you enough.

And then he dies. Because pilots die, because it's a war, because, after all the lies and betrayals, you didn't love him enough to save him that last time. And there's a funeral, maybe, but probably not even, and everyone forgets the dead pilots but you would remember him in your heart, because he was the love of your life, except for that all that love got burnt up by nightmares and now all that remains is a dull thudding.

Then, you know, you've got the anchor training, so they introduce you to someone new, and say, 'hey, why don't you fall in love with this guy, too, because that would be to our strategic advantage and, you know, the whole saving humanity thing. And all you want to do is curl up into a ball and cry yourself to death, but, god help you, you fall for him again, and maybe not as strong as before, but it's the same damn shit.

Repeat until you get used to it.

That's what it's like to be an anchor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god. That is GRIM.

My wife will love it. :)

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that is teh suck. Scary suck.

Of course I'm mad, Ben, because I already stole the whole character co-dependence/multiple player thing from Polaris for my War Dogs project. Now I'll have to steal it from Bliss Stage, too.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Bankuei said...

That's horrifically beautiful Ben.

2:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like one hell of a game, yet again ;)

All the best!

3:34 AM  
Blogger Mo said...

Very wicked indeed. Tragic and obsessive with only a fading glimmer of hope. Right up my alley. ;)

I shall enjoy twisting Brand's rubber arm into playing it with me.

5:39 AM  
Blogger Brand Robins said...

No! No! I will never play a well designed game with my wife! It will never happen!

(So, uh, Ben -- when will I be able to buy this?)

8:15 AM  
Blogger John Harper said...

Yeesh. Just reading that depressed me. What a horrific concept. Perfect for a war game. But man... I gotta be honest. I am NOT psyched to play that.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Brendan said...

Holy shit!

9:15 PM  
Blogger Joshua A.C. Newman said...

Rock the fuck on.

11:07 PM  
Blogger ScottM said...

Horrific, depressing... wonderful, maybe.

4:03 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Jason: Hopefully, War Dogs will come out first, so I can steal from you.

Brand: When it's done. No bets. First I have to read "Sex and Sorcery" thirteen times. I'm on #2.

John: Bliss Stage isn't a war game. Red Sky AM, that's a war game. Bliss Stage is a sex game.

Everyone: Thanks.

4:24 AM  
Blogger Brand Robins said...

A sex game you say?

Now I am even more interested.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Peter Dyring-Olsen said...

I was sort of picturing this as if Miyazaki had designed/told it - in a weird, philosophical, slightly innocent way. And I was thinking "Wow, this is very cool!" And then comes the sex thing and now I'm not so sure. But hey! I might just be wrong...

9:07 PM  
Blogger Emily Boss said...

It makes me think Evangelion all over. And a truly tragic Gundam.

10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's beautiful and terrible. Key question, though: What do you get to choose? What can the players decide, short of "let's end it all," that makes a difference?

(Is this a Sim vs. Narr question? Uh, maybe.)

11:42 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Peter: Emily's got it right. It's Evangelion and Gundam and Robotech and maybe Ghost in the Shell and definitely not Miyazaki.

Sydney: Two different character types
1) Pilots choose "personal relationships vs mission success vs personal safety" and also "relationships with non-pilots vs relationships with pilots"
2) Anchors choose "Continue mission vs pilot's safety."

Pilots are really the protagonists

1:07 AM  
Blogger John Harper said...


OH. Sex game. Got it.


2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I like this. Need to triple-check your vision with your players', I guess.

The "hot" parts in Cowboy Bebop? What was that other series... Hellsing (vampire dude and vampire hunter organization and low, husky voices, not to mention cheesy guitars).

The Machine (the State) as a baddie you need to live in.

Challenge: to tell the poorly-told love yarns from anime series in an engaging, good way.

9:00 PM  

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