The Network
Big Heroes, Little Gods

Nova Barlow | 22 Dec 2009 12:05
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Authors not only use the Mission Architect to tell isolated stories, but flesh out and advance the backgrounds of characters or supergroups. Eric "Arch Mage" Recla, for example, creates weekly stories for his super group but still manages to sneak a bit of personal storytelling into his busy schedule.

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"I have a villain that I try to tailor my missions around to make him seem larger than he actually is," says Recla. "It's hard to take over the world in this game, but it's easier to at least give the impression you're trying."

Some, like popular mission author Ascendant, use the Mission Architect as a vehicle for humor. In "Saul Rubenstien's Discount Task Force" (No. 1012), he introduces players to Saul Rubenstien, "the very incompetent agent/manager of my main character," he says. "In the arc, he sends you and your team on a series of misadventures. Saul's a long running joke with me; back in the early days of CoX, I had set up a series of keyboard binds that simulated Ascendant talking on the phone to various people in his life. Saul, with his horrible, awful judgment, was the breakout hit of the phone scripts, so it seemed only natural that the first mission I wrote would be centered around him."

Other authors, such as Michael "Redbone" Cannon, take a distinctly different approach to writing. His arc, "Sabrina's Tale" (No. 1237), was named "Arc of the Year" in the 2009 Architect Awards. "'Sabrina's Tale' came from a script I wrote 15 years ago," Cannon explains. "When the MA was announced, I revisited the idea in a highly streamlined form. I didn't have to worry about keeping the action moving, just keeping the story moving." Cannon also uses the system to play with the form itself. "My goal with a tool like the Mission Architect is to do things that haven't been seen yet or in a way that hasn't been explored in the game. I like to experiment with the system, either in mission construction, the 'hook' or the style."

Similar to the selection at your local video store, this experimentation leads to a lot of diversity - and a lot of junk to sift through to get to the good stuff. Catchy titles such as "test" and "My Farm" sit next to "Naughty Cat-Girls of the Third Reich" (No. 41119) and "Space Erotica 5" (No. 150402), and beside masterpieces such as Shadow-Rush's "The Missing" (No. 37636) and Minimalist's "One Million Eyes" (No. 71933). While some cite the large number of junk missions as ironclad proof of why players can't be trusted to make their own fun, the axiom "one man's trash is another man's treasure" also certainly applies.

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