Manifold Mischief

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

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sugar Shack 54: Serving the Blues at Christmas

Sugar Shack 54: Serving the Blues

Normally, I love winter. I love the subtle susurration of falling snow against my windowpanes. I love how warm my house feels when I come in from the cold. I love the Christmas rituals of shopping and gifting. I love the feeling of connectedness with others, be they red pill or blue pill.

So, I found this newest mission exquisitely satisfying. After so many missions where bluepills were treated like mushrooms or background noise, here, they are properly at the center. It’s not just loot, pillage, and burn. The bluepills are people, not fruit waiting to be gathered. This was the most satisfying aspect of this otherwise simple mish: it gives the chance for us to be doing something for others.

Some might argue that the stat hack mish with Seraph is not so different. But the center of that mish is cracking the code of highways and byways to find the safest, most expeditious way to escort the bluepill across town. The escortee is almost incidental, really. Here, it’s not about harvesting the blues, it’s about making a difference in their lives. What a change!

I liked other aspects of this as well. For one, it’s repeatable. More than that, we see some new item types: snowflakes, presents, and white gloves, along with some buffed items. In this connection, let me suggest that for future stuff like this, it might not be too difficult to take existing items (like open-toed heels) and change the color. Like the pumps, which already are identical across the various shades. The banter from the collectors is pleasant; the use of masks for the collector and Scarlett is delightful! My single regret is that the presents cannot be stacked, thus they take up a precious four inventory slots. Harsh, this.

The initial pick-up is straightforward. Run to a nearby office, score the gifts, and make the deliveries. As always, be sure to talk to everyone before and after. The character commissioning you with the deliveries could be more developed and perhaps positioned to be developed more in subsequent story arcs. It might even be possible to use an existing neighborhood exile contact for tasks such as this. Rose, Madame T., and especially Sister Margaret come to mind in this connection.

Loot aside, the bluepills are well-designed. Each of the four has a different emotional take on things. The body language perfectly suits the speech. They respond when you give them the presents. They have well-prepped dialog and body language if you talk to them after the gifts. Very nicely done, and very engaging! Similarly, the Operator’s comments about season and weather are apropos and entertaining.

The heavies in this mish are thuggish snowmen who appear out of the blue and immediately start pelting you with snowballs. They are big, they are ugly, and they are unpredictable. Oh, and they are incredibly accurate. They could even hit me inside buildings while I was waiting for the elevator doors to open! Moreover, they seemed to appear and disappear, perhaps suiting their capricious seasonal nature. Yet they were easy to deal with, since they loitered but did not give chase. Nonetheless, those snowballs must have had rocks or code-bombs inside!

Something which would add value to this mish (and others) would be including more references to other personalities in Megacity. This could be done in two ways:

The dolorous bluepills could refer to them in their complaints, such as:
- “I just got this letter from The Landlord, raising the rent again! Now what?”
- “Someone named Hypatia keeps bugging me about my Dad’s old books, but I gave them away! Why won’t she leave me alone?”
- “Operetta’s still mad at me for my blog about her concert! Can’t she ever get over it?”
- “How come Silver’s being such a twit about the warranty on my PDA?”

In addition to the abominable snowmen, the misher might encounter nondescript redpill attackers. They could call out “Look! Easy CQs!” or “While we’re waiting for The Architect, let’s get some action!”. Alternately, they could include references to the other Megacity backstories: “I heard someone saying in The Succubus that this one has some green vials. Get them!” or “The Coroner needs some spare parts and you’re going on the block!” or “We’re looking for Mercury’s PDAs, and the trail ends right here, right now!”.

Of course, when they die they cry out, “I knew it! Sploiting! I want my Operator!” and expire.

Thinking back to Exiles I’ve known and served, I’d also recommend Rose as a likely sponsor for mishes like these. She has good intentions, and keeps screwing up. It would be entertaining to have her commission these, and the first three go perfectly, and in the third one, the recipient gets something like a coupon for fries, a tie, socks, or a flashlight.

Lots more could be done, but I’m trying to think within the likely design confines for a mission, and avoid anything too complicated. Even so, thinking ahead to 2007, it may well be that some mishes such as this could be added to the Halloween zombies.

Nonetheless, I’ve done this mish about 40 or 50 times, and still like it. After assassinating half of Megacity, it’s nice to be dishing out warm soup instead of hot lead for a change.


This review and many others may be found at manifoldmischief.blogspot.com, along with other writings relevant to MxO.