The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing, Xander77

Part 15: Edgar Maddison Welch Cosplay

Edgar Maddison Welch Cosplay

Previously on ATOM RPG posted:

Would you expect Jay from Redlettermedia to be running a Nazi rape torture snuff film dungeon?

Previously on ATOM RPG posted:

: If a lamb is a man then a chicken must be a woman. And an egg...

Welcome back! Last time on ATOM RPG, we got subjected to a load of drivel which I think was supposed to be funny? Oh, and a new party member and a house. Today we're going to go resolve the Pizzagate quest. Sure, we COULD do the main plot, but why would we do that when we have a bunch of stupid shit to do?

Gozhin runs off. Now, before we get too deep into this update, I want you, the readers, to know that the game goes places I personally find extremely offensive and vile, so hold on to your hats because we're going to accord it the respect it deserves (none).

This is an actually good random encounter!

This caravan is under attack by bandits, so we end up watching as the caravan guards kill all the bandits. Then we loot the bodies, sell the loot to the caravan, and get a pile of rubles. EZ!

The game starts throwing this loading screen at us, which kind of hints at future events. Even Dark Deity, a crappy Game Maker Fire Emblem clone (that I plan to LP because boy does that game do almost everything wrong) had the sense to keep loading screens gated behind events you'd already seen.

This is Peregon. It sucks almost as much as Krasnoznamenny.

I'm gonna cut this jackass' spiel short - we need to pay a fee to enter the tent city, and we have to buy one use passes or we get attacked by guards. Hexogen is angry, Fidel agrees to do it, I'm not transcribing this shit because it's boring.

This is an encounter. I have no idea why it exists, what it's trying to convey, or why we care.

We have the opportunity to shower this nameless lady in questions but I cut straight to the point.

: Are you waiting for someone?

: [Personality] Weird of you to call the love of your life an asshole. What happened between you two?

: [Success][The woman curses under her breath and spits on the ground]

: Yeah, something happened all right. Me mum was plenty sick last year, and the doc gave me a list of medicine that was worth more than my whole household! So I started working on the side, selling stuff here in Peregon. That's when Erast found me. He started courting me, ya know, calling me his sweet little lady, untouched by civilization, his Neolithic Venus, his honey bun... This guy's mouth dropped honey!

: [Intellect] Do you know what the Neolithic Venus looked like? Doesn't sound like a compliment to me.

: Fucking bastard! So when he was sweet talking me, he was insulting me at the same time? I'm not surprised. Anyway...

: I didn't understand why, but after a few hot nights in the bushes the guy started avoiding me. No more beautiful words, no more gifts, no more watching the sunset. He even stopped asking about my mother's health! A few days later, he told me he's planning to run a caravan up to the North Pole to trade matryoshkas for seal skins with the chukchas. He told me it's gonna take him eight years, but when he comes back we'll get married and everything else.

: [Speechcraft] Assault him and you'll ruin your whole life. You need to forget this silly idea and move on.

: [Success][The woman sighs]

: Good luck on the road.

She wanders off holding a knife, never to be seen again.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: You lost?

: Nah, you waiting for someone?

: Yes, the love of my life, a fucking asshole.

: Some shit went down, huh?

: Yup! I had to work to cure my sick mom, but then I met Erast. He started wooing me, calling me "my favorite semen repository"! Such honeyed words!

: That's not a compliment.

: Bastard! Anyway, he pump and dumped me, than said he was going to space to meet Jesus but he'd be back in eight years and we could get married. So I'm waiting for him to get back so I can shank him with this knife.

: Don't go to jail for that scumbag.

: You're right. I won't. Thanks for the talk, I must go now.

It's a big problem this game has that it is just full of random, incoherent shit. Look, I get that this game wants to be a conspiracy story, and that people like Philip K. Dick and the Illuminatus! authors included a lot of random seeming crap to assemble their conspiracies. If we look at PKD his books actually go places and a lot of the paranoid seeming crap fits into a wider hole.

This is just random! Why is there a literal god in the forest who shoots us with lightning if we give him meat? No clue! Why is Marina Tsivigun wandering the wasteland looking for a man to fuck the crazy out of her? No idea! Why is Dr. McCoy from Star Trek in the starting village? Who cares? The ultimate result of all of this is that the player stops caring about all of the random one-off bullshit references that go nowhere. If you read actual conspiracy fiction part of the fun is tying all this crap into a greater plot, like in the X-Files where you could track the mythology of the government selling the planet out to the aliens (and said government suppressing all the supernatural crap Mulder was obsessed with). When we do get plot it's clear the developers have no real idea how to lead the player from place to place, so we get things like an investigation where the bandit guy just tells us he's a bandit, or Beard sending us to a death ambush done by guys with a note that says "Beard did this". So when this lady wants to spend 5 text screens blathering about her boyfriend who as far as I can tell is not a character in this game my eyes just glaze over.

Now, you can kind of connect some of this shit to the unfolding conspiracy - like Toilet Kruul being authorized by the Chamber of Commerce to run the sewers and perv on women - but this just raises the question of why? It's really easy to lose the plot thread because it doesn't matter to our character at all. Sure, we're being sent out to find General Morozov, but we don't have anyone watching us, we don't need to make reports, and we can just kind of wander into the wasteland and no one will ever check up on us. In the X-Files, Scully is dragged into all of this crazy crap because it's her job. Philip K. Dick's protagonists are usually personally affected by the conspiracy, whether it's Bob Arctor trying to infiltrate the Substance D ring as a cop, or Joe Luckman investigating the death of his friend. Even Dan Brown, one of the greatest hack authors ever, makes the conspiracy matter to Robert Langdon by having the conspirators inadvertently frame him for murder.

Here we're just a detached observer with no real pressure to actually do anything. The game even confirms this in the first five minutes by showing how Alexander just fucks around with no consequences. Hell, we even have jokey dialog from Fidel about how we're explicitly asking for rumors so we can do odd jobs for money. What the hell is the point?

Ugh. Moving on. I'm sorry, but I'm having real difficulty making parts of this game actually interesting.

There are two caravans parked at Peregon always, so if you need to unload a pile of crap this is a good place to do it.

Anyway, here we are. This is the barbeque joint the old postman spoke of. Let's take a look at the proprietors, shall we?

It's... Jay Bauman from Redlettermedia!

: How much of what?

: [The man glares in your direction as if seeing you for the first time]

: Oh, are we going to talk meat? Let's trade!

: Why did you offer, then?

: I see. Let's change the subject.

: About your joint...

: [The man's eyes slowly open and close, then he livens up a bit]

: Ah, you best talk to my buddy over there.

: Got it. Care to answer some questions, though?

The game is really arbitrary in how it gates stuff off. Sometimes it wants charisma, sometimes it wants speechcraft. Hope you have a guide!

: Fine, I won't bother you then.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: As you approach the rumored den of pedophilia and torture, you see the developers have included the likeness of a real celebrity as potentially responsible for it!

: How much?

: Whoa man I'm not a prostitute.

: No, I mean are you here to buy meat?

: Uh, yeah, this is a barbeque joint, isn't it?

: Well, I don't do that anymore. You'll have to talk to that guy.

: Ha ha you're not nearly cool enough to talk to this guy!

I think this guy is Jack Packard, who's another RLM host.

Now, I will be absolutely fair to the devs and point out that the assumption dialog is incorrectly translated, per Xander77, the Russian is "how did you know I was hungry?"

Of course, they didn't bother to check it, so we get a tired Twitter idiot joke.

: Mmmm, sounds tasty.

: You talked me into it, you devil. Show me what you've got.

Now, you might think that "Ivan" here has some meat to sell.

: [Speechcraft] I'm a big fan of meat and all sorts of herbs and spices. I'll be your best client ever! Can you give me a discount based on that fact?

: [Success][A shifty fire lights up the man's eyes]

: Amazing. Now let me take a look at your stock.

Despite him talking up his raw meat, he doesn't actually have any. Good job, devs!

: That settles it, but first can we change the subject?

: Maybe we can talk some more?

: Care to tell me about yourself?

I'm fishing for a specific option here and forgot where it was in the tree.

: So that's how it is. I better go then.

I remember the old man gave us a memo, so I check it out.

: About your joint...

: Ummm... The cooks are signalling - six new portions of chicken meat need to be picked up from the usual spot.

: [Confounding your expectations, the man's smiling face changes not at all. He shrugs and calls out to his partner]

More inaccurate prose. On a meta level, we do not expect "Ivan" to stop smiling because that would require the ATOM devs to draw more portraits instead of writing banal NPC dialog. Having him do the dialog without noting the change would convey the same effect - that he expected to be called out in the slaver code.

: They're earlier than I expected. Did you hear our friend, Anton? We need to travel out of town for an inspection. Yeah, right now. Thanks for letting me know, buddy!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey, traveler! Would you like to make a cliched transphobic joke? Creativity is hard!

: Nah I want your meat. The edible kind. That's, uh, not attached to you.

: I got meat in my inventory to trade...sike!

: Tell me about yourself.

: I used to be a good cook...then the bombs fell! So I opened this dope meat roastery joint, just like that dude in Fallout! Uh, I mean, a totally original idea!

: Uh...Hillary called...she's got some cheese pizza for you.

: Whoa, thanks for the heads up! Let's go!

: It sure is great that the writers don't have the creativity to do anything more than the most basic, cliched shit.

This is the smart way to do the quest. The dumb way is to ask the local guard to check it out, and because this is a conspiracy story he is of course in on it and you fail.

This lets us go down into the basement.

We're instantly attacked by a knife wielding idiot who dies to our combination of Cossack Steel and military assault weapons.

Then the game tries to write a check it's ass can't cash. Some of this works, some of it doesn't. Here we have a weird pagan bull idol that I think is used to burn people alive along with a vaguely ancient Greek looking painting.

Here we have dead bodies in a morgue. May as well keep looking for evidence.

Conveniently these idiots just left notes lying around explaining all their evil plans, because coming up with an interesting plot or something for the player to do is hard. We have a "creepy list", a poem, and a "grease-stained note".

We can't go to Trudograd, but I can tell you right now two of the names on this list are the two leaders of Peregon. In fact, the guy telling us we needed to buy a permit mentioned that Nikolay Siplovsky is the head of the Peregon guard. This is Pizzagate. This is literally Pizzagate. You might be asking yourself if we can use this as leverage against these men. The answer is no.

This is the grease-stained note, informing us that not only is the BBQ joint serving people but they're murdering slaves underground for the entertainment of the rich. They're Beard's employers, if you were wondering, and why the Peregon guard did nothing (if you'll recall, Beard was arrested but not hanged).

I have no fucking clue. Maybe it's a reference?

We can search the place to find various torture implements we will later resell for money.

This room was apparently crossbow target practice of shooting people for fun.

This is some kind of rape and torture room, as implied by the condoms in the dresser.

Here's the Nazi torture simulator, which has more condoms and a spiked club.

I mentioned that I found parts of this update offensive, and this is it. Jay and Jack are real people. Sure, they do a lot of edgy humor in their Redlettermedia videos, but taking them and putting them in this game as pedophile sex traffickers running a Pizzagate murder dungeon isn't funny. It's offensive, because this shit is so beyond the pale, and as far as I know they didn't consent to it.

Atom Dev (link in OP) posted:

Hey guys, so I already posted into ReviewBrah's reddit so it's only logical to post here as well. Being lazy has nothing to do with it. Our game's NPC picture style is an homage to games like Might and Magic VI - IX or Arcanum, where real life pictures were used as base for character portraits. Mostly, we use free stock images. We use a celebrity either if we don't know the guy and he popped up in the "free stock image of man" google search for some reason, or when we want to pay tribute, a homage of sorts. The RLM references, for which I am personally responsible, are just that. I love the guys, always did. My favorite Red Letter Media is Rich Evans. So when I started creating something that will live longer than me, I wanted to line it with tiny references to what I like in life. Like a time capsule, you know? From my native Russian poets, to the RLM guys, I packed every frame of the game I got a chance to work on, it became truly dense, there was a lot going on. I never looked at it in any way other than respectfully paying a homage. Still, I tried asking for permission. Here's the copypasta of what I already mentioned in the ReviewBrah reddit:

Draw portrait based on picture.

Ask for permission from RedLetterMedia official email, promising that if they are against this tribute, feel it's made in poor taste, or somehow used to sell the game it will be gone in a matter of days.

After two weeks of radio silence use artwork in good faith, because the guys are probably too busy to reply to a weird homage by some slavic guys that created some obscure awesome nod to old school CRPGs with a twist on the classic Fallout universe. I literally got replies from only 4 people I wanted to make a homage to. These replies were along the lines of "why are you even asking, lol thanks bye" so I kinda presumed it was okay.

TL;DR What we do - we do out of love and respect to the most important creators in our lives. If you really believe this homage to be an attempt to cash in on Mr. Bauman's fame, or insult him in some strange manner we can make this image gone.

Thanks for reading!

The problem is that this isn't some cute homage where they show up in the Krasnoznamenny video store making fun of shitty movies, this is portraying them as murderous child sex traffickers. I don't know any culture where being a murderous child sex trafficker isn't an insult, and I think it's extremely shitty that instead of actually getting Jay and Jack's input to put them in the game they just went "oh, they ignored our email, let's have these two men we supposedly like running a child sex dungeon. Tee hee!"

This is some Terry Goodkind level shit, except that even when Terry Goodkind wrote his crappy Clinton caricatures he didn't have the Bill Clinton effigy be an actual pedophile. Plenty of his fictional villains were, but I think it's worth noting that for someone these developers claim to to like they did them worse than noted hack writer Terry Goodkind did his political enemies. This isn't respectfully paying a homage or a funny reference. It's not like using DeForest Kelly as a doctor because, well, he played one on TV, this is taking real people and turning them into child sex traffickers. It's not funny. I can see how the "filmmaker/critic -> snuff films" train of thought could be funny, but this is just vile slander. But wait, there's more!

As you might guess, trying to leave triggers an event.

Yeah, the game isn't done putting the RLM guys through the wringer.

That was gonna be way too hard to do in Unity apparently.

We can play dumb and get him to admit they brought rich people down here to make snuff films raping and torturing slaves, but let's get this over with, shall we?

: Maybe you won't believe me, but the man who put me onto you was a strange, yet mild-mannered old postman.

: [Anton shivers at these words, though as of right now you don't know why. The blood drains from Ivan's face until he looks like a corpse someone's propped up in place. His gun almost drops from his slack fingers]

Is the old postman involved in some other conspiracy bullshit? Do you even have to ask?

: Fuck, fuck, fuck! You're dead now!

: You freaks will never get away with this!

: We always got away with it before. Today's no different.

: Hey comrades crooks and butchers, maybe there's a way for us to avoid this bloodshed?

: I'm afraid not, grandpa.

We don't meet the prereqs for the other checks and "Ivan" just calls us a dumbass.

: [Dexterity][Attack first]

However, dex is the best fucking stat that every PC puts at 10, so...

: Shall we dance? [Attack]

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Noo! How could you have discovered my pedo snuff film hideout? I disguised it so well by selling the tastiest long pork!

: I was sent here by an old postman.

: Oh fuck me! I'm murdering your ass!

: You won't get away with this!

: Bitch, you have 6 dexterity, we're gunning your ass down first.

: Maybe we can settle this peacefully?

: Nope.

: Marx damn! That was a sick ninja roll we lack the budget to animate, but rest assured it was totally sick!

Right away we have two big problems right off the bat, and their names are Fidel and Hexogen. Now, in a solo melee run we could dash to the room on the lower left, cutting off all these assholes' fire lanes and forcing them to come to us and die 1 or 2 at a time to Cossack steel.

Unfortunately no single PC can take gunfire from all these jackasses at a time, and while I believe you can order people to move to a specific square it's a pain in the dick due to the crap UI and Fidel is too slow to actually move before he gets gunned down. And no, the entire squad gets cutscene moved here. No being smart and setting the team up for an ambush!

Thus we're forced to make a suicide run into the enemy team. We still are exploding these guys on contact.

Oh, yeah, that was Jay. After the game turns the Redlettermedia guys into child sex slavers, it has you kill them. I think there's a nonviolent way out of this, but if you didn't make the right choices at character creation or meet the arbitrary unrevealed Speechcraft requirement, you're fucked. This is just appalling.

Unfortunately, we go down and I have to do everything in Peregon again because it didn't autosave on entering Comet Pizza. This fucking game.

Incidentally, this is what happens if you try to be smart and tell people to hide - Fidel is slow as shit, gets caught in the open, and focus fired to death. He has our best armor too.

Ultimately we're going to have to get through this. We could go level grind, but that requires interacting with this game's tedious systems and will ultimately take us longer than the actual solution: save scumming.

Because this game is so heavily RNG based, all we have to do is reload until we survive the first turn. Then we keep huffing drugs. Hexogen will reliably one-shot dudes with burst AK fire, and Fidel will too once he gets in range.

This requires a lot of reloading. It's worth noting we can't really mitigate this with strategy or tactics, as we cannot control our party members directly and the system is so shallow. Even Age of Decadence has nets and bolas and shit where you can use powerful limited consumables to tip fights. The closest ATOM has are grenades, and those are level gated so we can't actually just yeet a grenade into these idiots. They also have - say it with me now - an RNG chance to stun, so we can't even lock down these idiots to survive. This fight manages to be both vile slander against Redlettermedia AND tedious to play!

I finally get a rush of brains to the head and save on the second second turn I make it to. The game lets you save mid-combat, so I assume save scumming is part of the intended experience.

So, uh, they're all dead! Of note is that despite the narration stating that "Anton" is pointing a gun at us, he doesn't have a gun. Good going, devs!

We get these. I'll save em for a rainy day for some reason.

A random encounter gets us a new level and one of the best perks in the game.

Specifically, this one. You can't carry over AP to the second turn, and it happens right after your existing turn, but now we can run 10 squares and do an aimed slash on some loser, probably killing him instantly.

There's also nothing really locking this to melee, so you can absolutely do this with an assault rifle or something and just burst fire people.

Hexogen has a short conversation with Fidel as we enter.

: And what happened then?

: Then? Well, I remembered I have neither a wife nor a shower. It was a flash flood! The river came out of it's usual borders and washed all the bunnies away! So I started harvesting them, and gathering them in my shack.

So I stop by Abraham's to see if the developers were nuts enough to have Hexogen go off on him.

Holy shit! I just realized the Jewish character is literally rubbing his hands together because he thinks he's going to take your money! Remember, this is the character whose kippah gives a +10 barter because Jewish stereotypes.

: I am more interested in how your business is going...

How the fuck did I miss this?

: [Barter] The thing is though, that I don't have that much of said hard-earned gelt. Could you give me a discount out of the kindness of your heart?

So we take a look at his stuff and...

So I am given to understand that the merchant's Barter skill compared to yours is what determines your sell prices. We would be selling Abraham expensive rifles for 1 ruble that other merchants would by for 1600 or so.

I'm not even gonna sugarcoat this, this is shit.

At least we bought 23 speechcraft ranks out of it, along with some first aid and survival.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Oy vey! I am Jewish, and like money!

: What the fuck, ATOM devs?

We can go back to the postman and tell him we stormed Comet Pizza - uh, the "lamb barbeque".

: Regarding our conspiracy...

: It's hard to admit, but you were right, man. I saw it all... [Tell him what you saw]

: [As he listens to your blood-curdling story, the ex-postman transforms right before your eyes. Unhealthy twinkle[sic] disappears from his eyes; his back straightens. The man takes his cap off, spits at his palm and smoothes[sic] the grey tuft of hair at the top of his head...]

And this dialogue right here serves the exact same function as the narration, which is a botched attempt at written imagery in a visual medium with the full power of the Unity engine.

: Learn? What can you possibly learn from these monsters?

: Nothing unusual... Fear. Hate.

Yup, the postman has his own bullshit conspiracy going on, thank you very much!

: Wait. What lesson?

: [The man gives you a wide kind smile]

: The lesson is, if you want to make barbeque, go for it. But leave delivering the post to the postman...

What shadows? Krasnoz is pretty brightly lit at daytime and there really aren't enough buildings clustered together to cast much of a shadow over anything.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Did you find the evil sex child slavers?

: Yeah, it was weird! They had a nazi rape dungeon under the barbeque shop, and they were working with that Beard dude to torture slaves. Also the owners looked like Redlettermedia for some reason. Look, I have a paper that implicates the leaders of Peregon in this shit. Maybe we could show people the sex dungeon and the evidence and...

: Suddenly, the old postman transforms into a completely different character!

: So I was right! What a cunning plan... someone else might have said "I could learn how to hide evil criminal activities"...but I can't stand that. You've done well, here's a fat stack of cash.

: Wait, what the fuck?

: You taught those two a lesson, did you not? Illuminati confirmed.

: The old man disappears at the speed of cutscene before you can capture him and force him to explain this new, "mysterious" plot twist further!

So, yes, we killed Redlettermedia at the behest of an evil postman conspiracy. We'll see them again later in the game. The sad thing is, I'd planned to spend a small part of this update talking about how the idea of a conspiracy driven RPG was a good one, but ATOM implemented it badly. I'm not inclined to extend the developers any credit anymore. This is just vile. We've got the unlicensed use of two real people transformed into child sex traffickers AND blatant anti-Semitism. Again, I need to reiterate that per the developer's own words, they do not have permission from RLM to use it as an inside joke, this is entirely an "homage" of turning these two into cannibal child sex slavers and then having the player murder them while another NPC gloats about the fear in their eyes. Fuck this game.

Next time: Time to rig an election.