What do we call these things?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tagged: catan, epistemology, ascension, ico, shadow of the colossus

Somewhere back in my Ascension post, I mentioned that nobody uses the official terminology "runes" or "power" or "honor" in my group. Similarly, when we play Catan, do we talk about "clay" and "ore"? No. You build a city out of rocks and wheat. Sheep are a structural element. That's how the game works.

This is an obvious consequence of purely nonverbal game design. Board games often do this out of a desire to save money on translation -- they don't have to rework the card art in every country to say "moutons" or "πρόβατα" or "Schaf" or whatever. (Or rather, "laine" or "μαλλί" or "Wolle".) (Or rather, "wool", because the game was originally in -- no, never mind.)

Anyhow, videogames tend to do the nonverbal thing too -- sometimes for the same reason, but sometimes for artistic effect. Look at the Lego movie game series, which has endless fun with wordlessly grunted, growled, and groaned cut scenes. (Did you know that Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars uses many of the same voice actors as the TV show? Even though they never say a word? That's awesome.)

Sorry, what was I talking about here? Right. Ico. The original US release had half its lines in unknowable-language, and the rest in Japanese. Wordless as far as I was concerned, although the current PS3 version has English subtitles. (I'm not sure it's an improvement.) Then came Shadow of the Colossus, which was always subtitled, but only uses text when introducing the story and each chapter. The sixteen Colossi are never named.

They have names, although you have to look through supplemental material to find them. I never did, and I bet you didn't either. And that leaves open the question: what did everybody call them, when playing through SOTC that first time?

I got into a simple naming scheme very early, and it has served me well. I will now recite the Colossi as I know them:

(I really should put up images here, but eh, it's late. Please refer to this wiki page for a catalog.)

"Tooth Bastard" was Jmac's suggestion -- I'm not sure I named that one, although it's hard to avoid the tooth comparison. (Jmac says that the entire top of its head must have fallen off, but I can't see it.)

Yeah, I wound up calling two of them "Bull Bastard". It's the charging. Can't get away from it.

Feel free to append your names for these critters, in the comments.

Of course, we can't forget the protagonist, who is named Selfish Bastard. I mean, seriously. Or possibly Hubris Bastard.

The only character whose name appears in subtitles is Dormin, the god-daemon of the Forbidden Land. However, with all the shouting you do, there's no doubt that your horse's name is... Aro? Arrow? Ahrovh?

"Agro", according to the manual, but it doesn't sound like that to American ears. To be honest, I like to imagine that his name is Arroz. Spend that many hours wandering on a diet of lizards and fruit, and you would probably be dreaming of a nice bowl of rice too.