Also as a new feature, here's a table of contents so you can skip past the Plot Summary and get to the quick stuff, rather than ignoring the whole thing because obviously nobody's gonna go down there otherwise.
(Editor's Note: To further aid in this revolutionary idea I should retroactively add to other logs, the Plot Summary is now just a link to, well, the Plot Summary page.)
- Plot Summary
- Plot Analysis
- Word Map
- Top 10% Logs of this Cycle
- Cast (In order of Appearance)
- Final Notes
Hey there. I've placed the Plot Summary in its own page over here.
So anyway, enough blathering, I'll get to what I can see. The first patterns are plain as day: this is the Cycle where the old Quester lack of humility died in a fire. You can see it with how Garrick and Julian act like Gods and try to shape the planet to their wills. They initially get somewhere, only for their inability to empathize with anyone blowing them to bits. Julian's need to be the ultimate warrior just makes him look like a deranged asshole while Garrick's own inane need to kill Xavier without a reason screams of his wish to be the one true protagonist. Which is weird, because Xavier is only seen in some logs in this season. Killing him wouldn't have elevated Garrick to his presumed 'star' status. Of the two, Garrick was more out to lunch and faded out much faster, since he clearly just didn't fit in Alsa. He kept trying to roll-play away problems without even checking his dice before rolling. Granted, the system had some serious problems, but why... why didn't he at least check first?
Julian is more complex. Or I should say, his stark shallowness that destroyed him is simple but the stuff behind it is much more complex. He was originally an up and rising Quester who utilized holes in the system to become unstoppable. Once unstoppable, all he could see before him was total mastery of the entire game. As such, anything that set him back a notch at this point was unforgivable: he was certain he had already done all he needed to with Season 6 and beyond, so this world was nothing more than his personal oyster to change as he wanted. So he got greatly offended when characters in it actually wanted to protect it from his influence, and even more upset when other Questers doubted his mission.
So he took it very personally when the Casino was destroyed by two Questers who feigned ignorance but most likely destroyed it on purpose, and then let the last blow where he was defeated by a 'lower level' Quester be taken as a middle finger to his very existence. And so he left forever, OOCly called me (the GM) names, and then never spoke to me again. A rather absurd and childish reaction to events I didn't even fully control.
In fact, the game had been set up to try and give him another chance, a 'redemption' arc, especially since the destruction that occurred had incidentally opened up a new path for Julian to do exactly what he wanted--just sans the evil faction he'd brought in. While narrative choice is a big thing in SSQ^2, he never really adequetely defended his 'evil' allies, so he shouldn't have been surprised when they were wiped out. In fact, that was just a wakeup call to show if he wanted this, he'd have to try it again, and harder than the first time. But I guess, it was a bit too much of a feature to try and foist on a player who had been given victory after victory by the system being broken and my Monty Haul GMing. So I cannot be too surprised to see that things ended that way, in the end. After all, he was the player of SkyHigh, who had taken a poke in the eye as the ultimate offense (even though his character had a visor that should have blocked the poke).
In any case, had to note that first because that took up a great deal of the first third of the season. Anything else in that time was really just secondary to the drama playing out ICly and OOCly with the players at that time. Indeed, Garrick's ongoing feud with the dice, the reality of the game, and the OOC reality of the game were so distracting that my main plot never took off until he faded away, and then it stalled until Julian vanished. (Though I had begun to adapt to what Julian wanted, it was too little, too late.)
So with that in mind, the next part of the cycle involves Panzer. Panzer was a great force for good and for evil. The player bounced between trolling the hell out of everything to... figuring stuff out very effectively. So I both like and dislike what they did, and... that seems to have been the player's intent, since they were busy trying to pick and pry at the very edges of Alsa--helping me to define many things I'd never thought I'd need to deal with. ...And bringing in Maverick stuff over and over again, and over and over again, until I became very tired of it. (Look forward to when I get so tired of it, it gets exploded off the planet. Heh.)
Then there's the actual non-player related themes. That one is mostly about what heroism is, and whether or not people with 'designated hero' status truly deserve it. Based on how bleak the outlook of this season ended up being, the obvious answer is "no." Several puzzles are placed before the Questers, who fail to understand them. Soon they are degraded to nothing more than people who wander through dangerous areas pushing buttons. And they never really look at it too hard--they just do it. Even when Julian and Garrick were still involved, they didn't really notice this happening--rather they just complained rather than actually trying to change their fate.
Also, this was the first 'modern' SSQ cycle/season/whatever. Metal Man reveals his name as Xavier Ridgecrest, the Time Cops show up, and there's no more focus on video gamey things other than as a background thing. As such, this Cycle may be primitive by modern standards, but it's the first where I can say it's a fairly easy thing to connect to every other part of the story. Since this cycle did the setup for the Time Cop arc, explained a little about Xavier and also made it clear that the Questers were not the only force for good in the universe (and that they would have to re-earn their place after making such a mess of Nintendus.)
Things got a bit repetitive with all the missions--I sorta screwed up by having the players control the entire plot and everything. I think if I had to redo it, I would have taken some executive control to reduce the stupidity and repetitive nature of things. But of course, I considered SSQ^2 an 'experiment', so... I guess that would have not been in the spirit of things. Then again, unlike my beaming Cycle 1 log, I have gotten older and no longer see SSQ^2 as this amazing wonderful super-thing. It's more of an early work that had some serious issues.
My main other complaint is it gets too dense with random factoids. Does anyone care about the Mavericks? No. Do we really need a complex backstory behind every action Ael and Red Text does? Nope. It's just too much. After there having been too little plot in the past, Cycle 2 shows what happens when every little item suddenly needs thousands of lines of text explaining its every niche and crevice. And don't get me started on all the ink spilled between the Questers about whether they were good or evil. After a point they should have just gone, "Meh, we're here, let's just do what we want to do" even if it meant ignoring a million quandries. Since ironically, they ignored a lot of the plot hooks for trying to control their destiny due to... obsessing over whether anything they did was good or evil. Yeah... ironic much?
The main other thing is this was the "Spec Ops: The Line" of SSQ Cycles. This is where it was all deconstructed and destroyed, and put back together again. Unfortunately most of its content was lost on the players, so instead of there being some sort of realization... the Questers, or Alsan Questers as they would be called, would just keep doing the same destruction, inane things, and otherwise destroying the planet they were supposed to try to work with. Alas, all but too common in a game where the players have no real rails or plot suggestions to try and move them in the right direction. How can they know? Maybe they could try to know, but it's unlikely they could easily figure it out when given NO instructions.
Also I didn't really do an analysis of the main plot so here's that: The first part is where the Questers are building their Stadium and trying to hold a fighting tournament. It's screwed up by Julian allying with evil dudes, Garrick being really condescending and mean, and the Questers doing little to protect their Stadium. The next middle-third is just doing various chores to help the people of Alsa and fighting the Zero Virus/Mavericks over and over again. Then the final bit is about Time Cops and dealing with the Time Cops' irrational belief that they have to destroy the entire planet just to ensure Xavier dies. (And in fact, deconstructing that any of that is even needed.)
My final note for this analysis is that it may be a while before I analyze more SSQ^2. It's liable to get rather repetitive due to all of this. I don't think much changes, Quester-wise, until the very end, and even then it's just them being defeated by outraged enemies on the planet as they sort of continue to fail to understand what's going on due to a lack of concise explanation. As such, a ton of walls of text pile up for me to process, but they aren't the most interesting. Oh well...
Word Map (Made by Wordle)
Ah, finally something that doesn't take too long to make! Well, this one obviously isn't subtle. Ships and Panzer are central to this season, which by extension is due to Panzer doing so much off the wall stuff people do nothing but talk about her. In the background is also Deloth, who went borderline insane over all the things that happened. As we look further in the background, Metal, Ael, Digi, and Aribar and Julian are out there, sorta hanging out and observing things. In the distance is the other major NPCs such as Jack, Zero, Dr. Robotnik and such. Then there's even more Questers further in the distance. Non-Quester, non-NPC things such as the term "Maverick" (brought up relentlessly due to all the Maverick Hunter missions) as well as flying, fire, masks, kill, opening things, "world", etc, are there. And hidden in the background is even the first curse word that I've seen show up in these. Geez. That must have been a lot of f@#kin' cursing.
It's pretty clear anyway, when you look at all of this, that this season was definitely 'darker and edgier', since all the death and even some curse words got into this one. Then of course there's the more normal words like device and time (time devices were mentioned a lot) plus... fires, weapons... running, pointing... "whataver" and nothing. Very nihilistic and active cycle, if you go by the words showing up here. Anyway, the image speaks for itself beyond that. Only other thing I can say is it took the combined efforts of Julian, Deloth, Garrick, Dragoshi, and Panzer to get that sole curse word in there--it's unlikely to show up again since the next cycles don't have so much cursing in them, heh.
Number 3: Chapter 69: The Casino is Falling
For the longest time, Julian was certain that he was #1. That he was Always Right. His Golden Rule involved both not talking to crazies and him being infallible. And so, like anything, what goes up must come down. In this case, Julian neglected his fellow Questers and forgot how to defend himself. He had become so enmeshed with his need to be the best that he forgot HOW to be the best. And so, his hubris led him to be defeated by a loss of trust from his own teammates (Digi and Deloth) while also being horrible at figuring out external threats (a bunch of people with guns and tanks are definitely more powerful than one man with fists.) As such, this log deserves its #3 space, even if it is rather bitter.
Number 2: Chapter 53: Madness Returns
For the longest time, Metal Man was a badly defined character. He was completely random without any real backstory. In fact, his backstory just kept changing. This here, however, is the first time the REAL Metal Man, Xavier Ridgecrest, appears. While I don't want to be too self-aggrandizing here, what I can say is it's also much less annoying for everyone else: Xavier quits being just a random nuisance and actually has some backstory, allowing the plot to actually advance. Most of the future stuff that's going on now was based on this, and as such, it was quite an important milestone for SSQ as a whole. Without this, we'd still be... dealing with Metal Man's Plot of the Week, with his name constantly changing. Oh, and this chapter also thoroughly dissects what was wrong with the SSQ 1 Questers via 'Book Man', to put a final nail into that ancient coffin. (Although it'd take until chapter 69 to fully stomp out those beliefs.) ...Also Ael and Pandora are there and a lot of the main plot of this Cycle shows up, so, I have to say, it's pretty important.
Number 1: Chapter 78: Threats from Ael
Aribar breaks the central problem with the Time Cops in this one: "You've chased after Metal for a very long time. He's a horribly slippery, and insane, individual. Lately, I've been trying to think about why omnipotent Time Cops who could be anywhere and anywhere couldn't solve this simple case." The Questers actually outsmart the Time Cops, launch one into space to get rid of him, stop another bunch with a portal of corrosive acid... basically this is the one log where the Questers are doing well, and you can generally thank Aribar for that. It's more what the Cycle wishes it had been--a combination of plot followed by the Questers actually getting somewhere. As a result, it's best to read this one if you want to know what the 'intended' way of doing things in this Cycle was supposed to look like.
Dr. Robotnik - Eggman Empire's Emperor - Villainous Helper
Digifanatic - Quester - Casino Destroyer
Garrick - Quester? - PTSD Sufferer
Red Text - Red Text Satellite Operator - Evil Genius Manipulator
Aribar - Quester - Only Sane Elf
Deloth - Quester - Raena's #1 Fan
Kenku - Quester - Only Quester to Defeat Julian
Dragoshi - Quester - Doesn't Want To Touch Any Of This :x
Man - Westopolis Resident - Alone and Abandoned
Thug, Thug 2, Thug 3 - Westopolis Thugs - Generic Progenitors of the Thugocalypse
Julian - Quester? - Would-be Supreme Dictator of Westopolis Who Failed
Art - Westopolis Thug Operator - Exposition Machine
Rinith - Quester - Fuzzy Philosopher
Marley - GUN Commander / Mad Man - Opportunistic Ally
Andrew - Quester - Ill-Fated Fourth Waller
Receptionist - Capital City Hospital Worker - Theory Tester
Doctor - Capital City Hospital Worker - Anti-Crazy
Guy - Capital City Hospital Patient - Prescription Getter
Flaeyn - Quester? - Aggravating Asshole
BLU Engineer - BLU Team Member - So Many PHDs, So Little Time...
BLU Scout - BLU Team Member - Slow Losers Suck!
BLU Pyro - BLU Team Member - MMMMMPH
Evil Woman Voice - Team Fortress Announcer - TO THE ELEVATOR!
BLU Heavy - BLU Team Member - Gun Hugger
RED Sniper - RED Team Member - Dies In An Instant
RED Engineer - RED Team Member - Sneaky Sentry Gunner
BLU Medic - BLU Team Member - Wary Doctor
RED Spy - RED Team Member - Epic Quester Ship Attacker
Computer - Missile System Diagnostic - Warns of Oxygen
Panzer - Original Quester - Guerilla Repliforce Militant
BLU Demoman - BLU Team Member - Alchohol Connosseuir
BLU Sniper - BLU Team Member - More Similar to Alsan Questers than he would Admit
Rocket, Rocket 2 - Team Rocket Grunts - Doomed Cannon Fodder
Giovanni - Team Rocket Leader - Helicopter Controller
Rocket Soldier - Team Rocket Soldier - Hey, They Didn't Have Those In The Games!
Thugs - Westopolis Thugs - Even More of Them!
BLU Spy - BLU Team Member - Survived being Blown to Pieces
Oushi - Quester? - Destroyed by Rainbow House of Lords Wig
Toad - Mushroom Kingdom Retainer - Door Opener
Peach - Mushroom Kingdom Princess - Plot Explainer
Mario - Mushroom Kingdom... Hero? - Unstable Defender
X - Maverick Hunter - War Hater
Zero - Maverick Hunter - Destroyer of Dumbness
Sign - Mushroom Kingdom Billboard - Warns of Doom
Claw - Fake Maverick Reploid - Some Weird Guy's Science Experiment
Henchreploid - Maverick - Punching Bag
Vile - Maverick Commander - HE WILL NEVER LEAVE
Note - Maverick Piece of Paper - Warns of Panzer
Jack - Mad Man - Deathly Deathray Doom Dealer
Vylch - Anachronistic Hunter of Caldon Bell - Another Reality's Failed Idea
RotPanzer aka "Schatze" - Maverick Red Text-Inspired Panzer Clone - Deranged Anti-Time Cop Wacko
COMPUTER - BLU Engineer's Mission Computer - USED A COUPLE TIMES STOP
Guard - Galactic Federation Guard - Space Ship Councilor
Mechanic - Galactic Federation Mechanic - Spaaaace Instructor
Carrington - Carrington Foundation Chairman - Disappointed in your lack of pro-Alien Sentiments
Pandora - Time Cop Trainee - OH MY GOD! YOU PEOPLE LIKE TOTALLY SUCK!
Ael - Time Cop - Exasperated at Everything
Interpreter - Porky's Empire Agent - Ignored by Everybody
Masked Man - Porky's Empire Agent - Deadly And Silent
Metal Man aka "Xavier Ridgecrest" - Former Quester Leader - Anti-Time Cop, Pro-Old-Quester
Book Man - The Book's Last? Stand - Really Wishes This Was SSQ 1
Smash Dex - Former Quester Tool - Defies Destruction, Time, Everything
X Leader - X Leader - X-tra Weak
Alex Fender - Quester? - Weaksauce FLCL Reference Bucket
GF Operator(s) - Galactic Federation Operator - Out of the Questers' Price Range
GF Guy - Galactic Federation Person - Ditto
Zero Virus - Dr. Wily-Created Maverick Phantasm - Oh My God Just Make It Go Away
Waluigi - Mushroom Kingdom Weirdo - NUMBAR WAN TO DA EEENNND
Luigi - Mushroom Kingdom Hero - AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
Yoshi - Mushroom Kingdom Hero - *Ear-splitting screech noise here*
Willy Wonka - Hallucination - Irresponsible Factory Owner
Oompa Loompa 1 - Hallucination - Beyond the Pale
Oompa Loompa 2 - Hallucination - Buff and Deadly
Perry Mason - Hallucination - Grounded to Reality Even Here
Miles Edgeworth - Hallucination - Desperate to Win
Sam McGillicudy - Hallucination - MacGuyver's Less Popular Megaman Battle Network RPG Non-Brother
Eli Vance - Hallucination - Deserved Better in Half-Life 2
Oompa Loompas - Hallucinations - Even More Deadly
Green Ranger - Hallucination - Rita Repulsa's Secret Weapon
Sky High - Hallucination - Quester Bro
White Ranger - Hallucination - Helpful Per--BONK
Mr. Freeze - Hallucination - Ice To Annoy You
Will Smith - Hallucination - Rejection of Absurdity
Mailman - Zelda Setpiece - AOL's Lesser Cousin
Raphael - Yoshi's Island Raven - Aristotle's Feathered Successor
Master - Toad Town Dojo Master - Failed Mentor of Julian
Merlon - Toad Town Seer - Prophesizes Overpowered Magic
Weird. O - Toad Town Shop Person - Rip Cheato Fanatic
Mush aka Cray. Z - Toad Town Shop Person - Cannibalistic Maniac
Shield T. - Town Town Shop Person - Hates Smoke
Tarin - Koholint Inhabitant - Curses At Darkness
Marin - Koholint Inhabitant - Huh?
Nurse - Angel Island Hospital Worker - Healing Books Manager
Magma Dragoon - Maverick - SHORYUKEN!
Storm Eagle - Maverick - The Smart One
Serges - Maverick Leader - The Even Smarter One
Mask Salesman - Terminian Shop Man - Creepy Soul Stealer
Mask Sigma - Terminian Shop Man Disguise - Creepier Soul Stealer
Waddle Dee - Innocent Dreamlander - Victim of Meta Marx
Knight, Knight2, Knight3 - Knights of Meta Marx - Bad Puns Bump In The Nigh...t
Meta Knight - Knight of Dreamland - Very Shy Without his Mask
Meta Marx - Enemy of Dreamland - META MARX WILL RISE AGAIN!
Natalie - Quester - Digimon Trainer
Raena - Quester - Violent Renamon
Zalman - Time Cop - Inside Man
Eggrobo - Eggman Empire Base Defender - Perimeter Enforcer
Eggrobo2, Eggrobo3 - Eggman Empire Base Defenders - Reprogrammed Perimeter Enforcers
Megaton Fighter - Dreamlander Tournament Battler - ULTIMATE WARRIOR YEAHHH
Macho Grubba - Glitz Pit Leader - Scummy
Al - Al's Store Proprietor - Still Bitter
Tails - Mobius Hero - Skeptical of Questers
Find Y. - Toad Town Shop Finder - Finder, But Not Keeper
Office Person - Toad Town Shopkeep - Aisle 50
Register Person - Toad Town Shopkeep - Generic Register Ringer-Upper
Cellphone Man - Toad Town Shopkeep - Has a Plan (Full of caveats) for Everyone
Smithy - Toad Town Shopkeep - Not Violent in This Game
Ad Person - Toad Town Shopkeep - Gives A Lot of Options
Echidna, Echidna2, Librarian - Angel Island Inhabitants - Informative Helpers
Repliforce Drones - Repliforce Remnants - Reprogrammed by Panzer
Crazy Drone - Repliforce Remnant - Colonel Believer
A Zillion Other Drones - Repliforce Remnants - There Are Too Many Of These!
Sergeant Levis - Rogue GUN Sergeant - Julian's Worst Nightmare
Metool - Panzer's Pet - Scared by Schatze
Colonel Berge - GUN Colonel - Marley's Left-Wing Man
Craw Daddy - Upper Glitz Pit Division Fighter - Spear of Almost-Victory
Iron Adonis - Lower Glitz Pit Division Fighter - Brain Damaged
GUN robot, GUN robot 2 - GUN Robots - Defeated Panzer
Mine Guy - Mining Operation Supervisor - Skeptical
Scientist - Silph Co. Scientist - Evil Scientist!
Ghost Man - Silph Co. Victim - Wants to Go Away
Pokedex - Useless Tool - NATIONAL DEX REQUIRED
Darkrai - Godlike Pokemon - Cursed Silph Co for their Deeds
Eggbot1 - Eggman Empire Soldier - Even Eggman Wants a Time Device
Mercenary Man - Hapless Merc - Blows Up
Gray - Time Cop - Blasted Away
Signas - Maverick Hunter - Gives The Situation
LifeSaver - Maverick Hunter - Bad News Deliverer
Lyx - Time Cop Coordinator - Poetically Dysfunctional
I guess the other factor is as I age and these events become further ago, they both become more and less intriguing to me. It's been seen many times now what happened here--I've just been finishing it off so that I can keep a hold of it for future reference. But I have to wonder what it'll be like even further in the future. Since what this ended and what this established are both gone already, and a new world is going on now... this is a far cry from the attitude I had when I did the Cycle 1 summary anyway.
The world changes and fluctuates, and it's hard to say where it'll go at any specific time, but in conclusion, this Cycle showed what happened when the hubris of GMs and players collide in a space without many rules. Hopefully the next time something like this happens, though, I am more self aware and handle it better. Garrick and Julian really shouldn't have even been allowed to do anything after it became clear they weren't going to actually play the game so much as attempt to godmod what they wanted into it, and others like Oushi should have been prevented from joining at the time (it was fairly obvious after Keikyoku that the player wasn't ready yet.)