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XCOM Time Capsule and Dragon's Dogma: Pawn Resources

I think I've mentioned in one of my older posts that I've always wanted to write more blog to practice my slow-ass writing. English isn't my first language, so I could use the practice. I've sadly only gotten to write a couple posts here and there, but I hope I can make more time to write stuff.

I had some free time last weekend and managed to play some video games, and some of them were quite interesting. I played Firewatch to completion and wrote a review for it (which took waaay longer than I expected...) so I'm not going to touch it any more here. Other than that and the usual Rocket League, I got to play two older games that I love: XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen.

XCOM: The Boys Are Back In Town

Like opening a time capsule, filled with soldiers!
Like opening a time capsule, filled with soldiers!

Seeing so many people talk about XCOM 2 gave me the XCOM itch last week. It had been two(!) years since I last played XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which I wanted to finish before I get to XCOM 2, so I started playing that instead. On the load screen, I was quickly reminded why I stopped playing. XCOM Base Defense.

I had been playing XCOM at that time with a few things set to stack against me, to keep things somewhat interesting. I turned on random soldier stats, random upgrade trees, and the Ironman mode. This made me play the game in an extremely cautious way. I spend as little money as possible so I don't waste any of them, and part of that means that I've only got enough stuff to equip exactly six soldiers in my team. To make things easier for me, I unequipped my soldiers of all their gear whenever they get back from a mission. This goes well until the XCOM Base Defense mission, where everyone is caught off-guard, and my best armors were not worn by anyone. I was so afraid of losing any of my soldiers that I could not go back and continue playing the game...

I find it funny in retrospect, because my story kind of lines up with the XCOM 2 canon. The aliens invaded my base, then presumably killed everyone inside and kidnapped me while I cowered in fear. I still wanted to see how it will actually turn out though, and I don't exactly have the 80+ dollars to buy XCOM 2 anyway, so I loaded my save and began the mission. I was surprised at how much of this game I remembered, and how much of the rest I got wrong. In my recollections of the game, I had a badass female heavy not wearing her titan armor who I was most afraid of losing, but I actually didn't have her at all. (Only after checking my memorial later do I remember that she died in an earlier mission).

Seeing all my old soldiers felt really nostalgic. The way the mission slowly introduces reinforcements over time made it even better, as pretty much every wave of reinforcement has one or two of the old gang as the leader. It's as if they are getting their own professional wrestling entrances. Oh, it's my ace sniper lady with the super jumps! Bishop and his white armour, high movement and reliable aim! The pink big boy with the huge fuck-off rocket blast radius! I knew exactly what everyone were good at, despite not having seen them in two years (two!! years!!!). It was great fun to command them around, just like old times. Well, maybe except when I accidentally blew up my MVP ranger with pink boy's rocket blast. I'm still a bit annoyed that the game failed to frame him in camera while targeting the rocket. The mission wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, and I ended up clearing the mission with only 2 casualties (a rookie and the exploded ranger).

It was back in the base where I immediately got overwhelmed. There are so many balls in the air and I didn't know what to juggle anymore. I have like, what, two satellite uplinks and two spaceships in production? I immediately fucked up and bought some useless upgrade I didn't want, because I completely forgot how much the currency is worth. Coming back to this save and clearing the base defense was totally worth it, but I don't know if I will continue playing it now...

Dragon's Dogma: Fantasy HR Simulator 2016

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There is something I recently noticed about the way I played Dragon's Dogma: I care too much about managing the pawns in this game. I love doing the hiring and the firing of those things. I've gotten into the habit of replacing pawns every time I return to town, or whenever I'm not happy with them. It takes FOREVER, but I just love love love doing it.

Then I noticed something else. What I do... is basically HR staffing work, isn't it?

I am so overly particular in the screening process. I search by level (or friends list), filter for classes, then read through the list of pawns like a stack of resumes. The list of skills is, well, a list of skills the pawns have, and I make a point of looking for specific skills that fit into the party I want. Sorry, but I'm looking for someone with High Anodyne AND High Halidom. THREE Affinity spells? An empty skill slot? Forget about it. I've even rejected pawns for being overqualified. Why would I do that? My thought is literally, "I don't think such an overqualified pawn is a good fit for my playthrough." There's practically no reason for me to not hire a level 200 pawn into my party. It's completely free, since the owner is in my friends list! It's not like pawns can quit to greener pastures or anything!

After the resumes comes the interview process. What sort of clothing does the pawn wear? Is there creative design in the character creation? What sort of personalities do they have? (Your Sorcerer is a Guardian/Medicant? Get out of my office.) This is probably the most arbitrary and emotional part of the process. A default-voice female pawn wearing a Set of Queen's Clothing is an almost guaranteed no-no, since there are a million of them around, therefore signifying parental neglect. A pawn with the restraint to not use any DLC equipment gets a lot more respect. Once I eliminated all but two pawns, I finally form my party.

I don't really do this consciously, but I also give the pawns a sort of probationary period afterwards. I would watch the pawns a little more closely in the first battle we get into. Sometimes they are clearly bumbling, or just standing around not doing much, which usually means that there is something wrong with their personalities. If I do find something wrong with them that I missed earlier in the process (a Guardian Ranger with a blank secondary?!), I would even consider going back to town to replace them immediately. This part doesn't really matter though, since my turnover rate is so high that it barely makes a difference. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Now, I do realise that this is a really ridiculous habit. I think I'm just projecting my fears as an employee with some sort of impostor syndrome onto my fantasy self. Honestly, I don't think this is helping me at all. It's kind of reinforcing my fears and making me more afraid of being on the other end in real life. That said... I do kinda enjoy doing it... haha. I think I will try to rein it in a bit, at least for the sake of time, but I do not know if I ever want to stop doing this HR fantasy roleplaying.

The other ridiculous thing about this is that I don't put as much scrutiny over my own pawn. He is a Scather/Challenger Warrior, but I would not mind even if he becomes a Guardian. He is my beautiful baby boy and I love him...

When you wish upon a star, even the Jamaican national flag can turn into a real boy.
When you wish upon a star, even the Jamaican national flag can turn into a real boy.

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