Manifold Mischief

Mission reviews, essays, and documents of record regarding The Matrix Online. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

SugarShack 08 Mission Reviews: Lotus!!!

Long, long before my turn at beta ever came up, I used to peruse the MxO site regularly, studying every word that Tyndall wrote about Megacity and its inhabitants. I longed to learn more of the Library and its books that would open portals to realms unknown, and dreamed of indenturing myself to the Librarian to learn his secrets. (To this day, I believe the construct access books were originally intended to be obtained from him, not some random bookstore.) Others too, caught my fancy in those dark days of ignorance, illuminated only by my imagination. The foremost of these was Lotus, sultry songstress of the International.

Tyndall herself admitted to fascination with Lotus and her haunting slogs; I daydreamed of meeting her on missions and talking to her, imagining myself sitting in the tea house, sipping Formosa Oolong, intoxicated with her melodies, perhaps studying the Librarian’s mysteries… Oh, what a rush it was, like reading Keats while listening to Enya or something.

Alas, I got into beta, stayed with the game for more than a year, and never had either opportunity. The Librarian is nowhere to be seen, and until very recently, Lotus was merely a cut-out for Tyndall. And when she turned up at The Jade Room (Jurong, -120, -6, -199) recently, I could not bring myself to talk to her initially, so great was the inner burden of my expectation. But speak to her I did, and give me critical missions she did. I report on them below. This was a very special occasion for me.

Mish 01: Carry a Tune

This is fairly straightforward; I was tasked with carrying a music CD from Bouzerah to Minnie. Minnie, it turns out, has been seriously injured during a fight with enemies of Lotus, and _needs_ the power of Lotus’ compositions, Track 9 in particular, which possess a healing effect. This is a very creative idea; it would be good to see more done with imaginative notions like this.

Mish 02: Change of Tune

In this mish, initially quite similar to the first, you recover an illegal copy of Lotus’ music from a server and take it to someone who needs its palliative effects. However, this copy has been tainted, so instead of healing it does something quite different! You must stop it before too much harm is done. This time, Lotus is angry! And who wouldn’t blame her? It’s as if you put on a CD labeled Tracey Chapman, and out comes Eminem!

Mish 03: Dissonance

You plant a bug (perhaps using the Sony rootkit!), and then find the thieves who have stolen the mix. You find them and get the tape. But others need its healing immediately, and you must quickly get it to them.

Mish 04: Suicide Notes

Lotus has heard of some experimental work being done with the neural network effects of music, and needs you to obtain some samples for her. These are then delivered to some other appreciative exiles, who don’t show the congenial response you might expect.

Mish 05: Crescendo

This mish must be a record industry executive's fantasy. Together with a team of Lotus’ operatives, you must overcome a group which has been pirating Lotus’ work. “You’re the only one I can count on” Lotus told me breathlessly. There is a crunch with Blood Drunks, and many a /throat gesture. When the tape has been put on, one burly Elite Guard blurts “I like flowers” (apparently some mods in some games take their inspiration from the elite guards- go figure!). In addition to eliminating the pirates, you must reboot their server.

At the end the cryptic Lotus gushed to me, “You’ve exceeded my expectations again, Sugaree. There’s something special about you, I just cannot put my finger on it”. I wish I could say the same about this suite of missions. Granted, my expectations were so inflamed with anticipation that perhaps no one could have satisfied me. But more feedback from Lotus during the mishes would have been nice. And more backstory would have been nice: why people were stealing her music, what her goals were, her relations with other exiles, etc. The textual allusions to music, mostly in the mission titles, were witty. If the designers had actually, you know, _used_ some special music for these mishes (just two or three five-second segments), the effect would have been delightful. Also, since the story brims with parallels to the music industry’s efforts to squelch music sharing, some more direct allusions, ironic or heartfelt, would have been good.

One logical objection to all this is that Lotus could simply have emailed her music to any and all who needed it. Perhaps she was worried about network traffic analysis, and wanted the human touch to minimize the chances of detection. But making excuses for mission features is outside the scope of this review.