Part 11: 7 Days, Part 2: The Mentally Handicapped in an Abattoir
7 Days, Part 2:
On the left we can see the nicest part of the revamped menu system, allowing for quick saving and loading by mousing over the top part of the screen. On the right we can see the arbitrary event flag necessary to progress. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Attention Dr. Somerset. Dr. Somerset please report to the cargo bay immediately.
Notice the complete lack of any equipment that could have brought in that locker.
Let's get this show on the road.
What is it?
It's a box. A metal box.
Now, now, let's do this by the book. Angela?
Examination of unidentified object, 27th July 2385. Object is rectangular, approximately 2.5 by 0.4 by 0.4 yards. Initial scans indicate it being constructed from a combination of lead and base metals. Initial scans also show no radioactivity, biological waste, or other hazardous material. Are the automatic hazard neutralizers activated?
Now, I have no idea why a game set in the future in a scientific environment made by a man who lives in a country that uses metric wouldn't use metric. Even if they did change to the imperial system, there's no reason at all to use yards as a basic measurement for anything that could potentially be picked up from space. Even if they did, Yahtzee doesn't know how yards work, because apparently that box is 7.5 feet long. Given that it's a bit smaller than the crew members, the man who created this scene either completely screwed up the perspective or decided to make everyone in the future be giants.
Then I am now opening the object.
Wait, there's a plaque on the side of this box.
Oh yes, here's one of the biggest problems with this game. As someone mentioned, 5 Days at least has a mystery behind it. The nature of the house and its past is unknown and only gradually shoved in your face, and as a result there was occasionally something resembling tension. Here, the end of the first day marks the return of our villain and signals the reuse of ideas that will characterize this game, and suddenly we know exactly what to start expecting.
"Do not disturb his sleep", then there's a date, and a little drawing of a hat. I think it might be some kind of signature.
Who the hell signs their name with a hat?
Ethically, disturbing human remains is frowned upon. We should take it to a better-equipped space station and leave it for researchers there.
Yes, I agree. This isn't something we should be concerning ourselves with. I'll patch a message through to high command and explain the situation.
So much for first contact, eh, John?
I'm just a little confused as to how human remains ended up floating around the Caracus galaxy.
A lot of people were buried in space around the beginning of the 21st century. I think it was sort of trendy for a while.
Even so, to have gotten as far as this galaxy after just a few centuries...
For some reason, a lot of people have problems accepting the fact that something as small as this coffin could find its way not only this far from Earth but also this close to what is presumably the only ship anywhere nearby (except the one taking pictures). This is a pointless complaint, because it's clearly supernatural and the characters clearly express that it's suspicious, as well as because it's easy to suspend your disbelief and the plot couldn't have happened without it. And this is even coming from somebody who complains about the way Yahtzee handles gravity.
Look, don't worry about it, alright? Now, I don't know about you, but I'm turning in for the night.
Hey, remember all those interesting aspects from 5 Days a Stranger? Let's do them again.
God, what a nightmare. I can't even remember what was so scary about it. That's odd, I can't hear the engines running.
This is a set of wrenches. Despite how it looks from the timing of this picture, John unfortunately does not pick them up using psychic powers.
In a rare moment of good engineering, engine failure doesn't really cause anything terrible to happen except for elevator malfunction. The generators apparently take care of every other aspect of ship life.
It's probably just a temporary power outage.
I just woke up and it was like this. I'm just waiting for the emergency systems to kick in.
We can breathe, there's gravity, the lights are fully on, we're in absolutely no danger... No, this isn't the emergency systems actually working, it's just how Chzo space works. Great. Speaking of...
Bannerless Space Lessons, Part 2:
Space is huge. It's so huge that it's impossible for humans to truly comprehend, since there's really no way of relating to the difference between 10^9 miles and 10^11. Either way, even small scale trips within our own solar system take very long periods of time, yet we're able to avoid consuming an incredible amount of fuel because of inertia. Once an object is moving in space, it doesn't require any more energy to keep moving. As a result, fuel only needs to be burned twice, to start the ship and then to stop it. Mid-voyage, there's no reason to use an engine. 7 Days presents the death of the engine as being a notable occurrence but not actually leading to any problems, and if a ship is well designed that would be exactly the case. In other words, Yahtzee got something about space right due to getting enough of the component parts wrong. I guess that works.
End of Space Lessons
The elevator isn't working.
I can't work on it if the doors won't open. The maintenance panel is on the inside.
What about the elevator shaft?
Hey, you wouldn't be trying to tell me how to do my job, would you? If there were a problem in the shaft, I'd know. We have alarm systems, failsafes, that sort of thing. You know your problem, John? You're too uptight. It'll all be working again in ten minutes.
This is the other failing that I've touched on a few times. In this game, everyone has extensively implied training on how to run a part of a spaceship. John's, for example, is in giving therapy and not actually running the spaceship. This would make for a boring game, so every character spends the entire game making you do their jobs for them. This results in absolutely nobody being likable and no reason to mourn for their inevitable deaths. Spoilers.
I hate the butter they serve with these things, so I won't eat it.
One of the breakfasts has butter and the other doesn't. It's literally just a 50-50 chance of being able to progress or not, and it exists solely to waste half a minute of your time if you guess wrong.
What are you doing?
I'm going into the maintenance shaft to see what's wrong with the elevator.
Well, if it makes you feel any better.
John sees no problems with using greasy hands to rub and then pull on a sharp blade in the dark. I can picture John as the type of person in infomercials who struggles with an unbelievably simple task like boiling water in the black-and-white "Before" shot.
It's called a machete. I'm going to go look for the others. Coming?
Er, n-no, I'll wait here.
I found this great story. Let me read it to you from a thing called a book. It has very realistic dialogue.
After some persuasion. What's going on?
The captain appears to have gone missing.
Nobody's seen him since yesterday evening. We were attempting to scan the ship interior when the power went down.
We decided to stare at the gray chunk of metal that pretends to be a control panel in spite of this, however. Thankfully the lights and every other part of the ship were unaffected.
The escape pods are all still here, so he must be on board somewhere. Weird thing is, I can't isolate the cause of the power outage. I tried to send a communication to high command, but for some reason it won't send.
Okay, I can understand cell phones not working in space, especially an unexplored region without satellite infrastructure, but they have a PA system if nothing else. They should also have something like walkie-talkies or some way to communicate with their captain of all people. But again, the future is set dressing and doesn't actually affect anything in the story
Since you're here, could you start searching the ship? See if you can find Adam, so he can get the engines back on.
He's sulking in the canteen. He's acting odd, like he doesn't care about what's going on. Confidentially, I think he's afraid of something.
Maybe the fact that his co-worker just shoved a bloody knife in his face. Still, I'm suspicious.
Yes, the places where I'm ending updates are weird. The days vary in length so much that it's hard to use them as a guideline, and there aren't many early-game dramatic moments to fit breaks to. As such, abrupt endings. Next time we'll find a captain.
I've been asking myself the same thing I did for 5 Days, that is, what I'd do differently today, but I'm drawing a complete blank on this one. This isn't the sort of thing I'd make today at all. It's pretty much just a token sequel. You see, at the time I was made greatly erect by the popularity of 5 Days, but I was terrified that if I didn't keep up the output then I would be abandoned and be left poor and flaccid again. So I put out more of the same. But in space.
Having said that, there is a lot in the concept of a mysterious unknowable evil in a spaceship (well, that was Event Horizon, wasn't it). If it were in 3D, more of a survival horror sort of jobby with extremely cramped environments... perhaps there's something in the idea of having to fight off and evade just one monster who keeps reappearing, rather than hordes of them. Maybe a first-person game emphasising cautious exploration with a flashlight, reminiscent of the 'room' bits from SH4. In the intro of the game you walk around the ship chatting with the rest of the small crew, then go to bed, but when you wake up the lights are off and the communicators aren't working, so the objective is to reunite with your colleagues and figure out what happened.
Anyway, getting back to 7 Days. The character personalities come from me using a sort of cheater's characterisation technique I learned a while back - assign each character one exaggerated personality trait, then refer to it as much as possible. At least it's better than just giving every character the same bland attitude. Unfortunately I still hadn't yet grasped the concept of an 'arc', of characters having to adapt and overcome shortcomings before the end. As I said before, pretty much everything except the murders in 7 Days is part of a big wobbly vehicle for the murders. Since any sense of the big 5 Days mystery about the situation (i.e. who's doing the killing) was lost, I attempted some lesser whodunnit sort of mystery (i.e. who's complicit in the killing).
As you may have already guessed the breakfast scene was added for no better reason than because people kept asking me what everyone was eating throughout the course of 5 Days. My whole attitude in the post-5 Days high was to throw things at a wall and hope some of it stuck.