“I’ve got other people with money to see.” –Kuben Blisk
On this day five years earlier, the sound of an alarm clock shakes me from my sleep. Blearily, I rub my eyes and prepare to start my day. However, it’s no ordinary day: on a typical day, I would wash up, get dressed, eat my breakfast and then drive to work. However, this day is different: I’m fulfilling a long-standing dream of flying out to Japan with the family. Although the itinerary states that this is a lightning tour, whisking us from Tokyo to Osaka up through Saitama, Yamanashi, Nagano, Gifu and Kyoto over the course of five days, before heading on over to Hong Kong to visit the other half of my family. Excitement for this particular vacation was enormous: this represented my first time travelling out of country since a pair of conferences a year earlier, and it was also the first vacation I’d taken since I began working. Having finished all of the preparations the night previously, this particular morning saw me drive to the airport for a direct flight from home to Narita. Upon touchdown, we found the shuttle bus that took us to the Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport, which overlooks the countryside and is elegantly appointed. After a hasty dinner, I was surprised to find that night had already fallen in full. Deciding against exploring the area nearby, I retired for the evening ahead of what would be a fantastic vacation. My vacation had come at a curious time: it had been booked for over a half year, and at this point in time, I’d been with my first job, a start-up, for just a shade over half a year, as well. The founder had bootstrapped said start-up, and six months into my work, I’d already delivered a rudimentary iOS app for a computational oncology firm based in the United States. Our founder, and the president of the American computational oncology firm, had spotted the potential in mobile apps, leading my start-up to pivot from a 3D visualisation tool, to a mobile platform intended to bring health data collection to users through smartphone apps. The concept was a revolutionary one, and at this point in time, our company had a number of brilliant and dedicated people looking after things, so I was able to go on vacation without worrying about the work that would pile up in my absence. In this way, I was able to enjoy what would become my favourite vacation in recent memory, and I came back to work refreshed and ready to go. Before I’d set off on this journey, I had spent the previous month playing through Titanfall 2, which had caught my eye when it first launched. Upon finishing Titanfall 2, I had been thoroughly impressed with the gameplay. More recently, nostalgia led me to play through Titanfall 2 again, and this time around, having already known how Jack Cooper’s journey concludes, I was able to appreciate other details within what was a superb narrative.
In particular, the presence of the Apex Predators, mercenaries led by one Kuben Blisk, and their role as Titanfall 2‘s primary antagonists, proved to drive the story and characterisation in ways that wouldn’t be possible had Cooper and the Militia directly fought against the IMC. The additional personality that each of Kane, Ash, Richter, Sloane and Blisk brought to the table indicates the size and scale of the IMC, but because the Apex Predators were mercenaries, Titanfall 2 had implicitly shown players that right from the start, the IMC were consigned to failure in their attempt to utilise the Fold Weapon against the Militia world of Harmony; after IMC’s fuel depot on Demeter had been destroyed, they were denied access to the Frontier, and in a bid to destroy the remnants of the Frontier’s Militia, the IMC have resorted to hiring mercenaries. Conversely, for pilots like Cooper, their motivation lies purely in protecting their home. The strength of their conviction rather outweighs the motivation the Apex Predators have for completing their assignment: mercenaries will fight on the behalf of anyone who offers a sufficiently large sum. Politics and ideology are irrelevant to groups like the Apex Predators, and it is not inconceivable that under different circumstances, Blisk and his crew may have fought the IMC instead. It is for this reason that Cooper and the Militia are able to have their victory in staving off the destruction of their home world. While Cooper’s achievements at the end of Titanfall 2 are doubtlessly impressive, the game also provides subtle cues to players that, while the IMC are doubtlessly a threat to freedom and the like, the Apex Predators themselves are not irredeemably evil, despite its members acting in dubious ways. In particular, Blisk is shown to have a sense of honour. He expresses a begrudging respect for Cooper and, after Cooper defeats Sloane, invites him to join the Apex Predators if he so chooses. In addition, Blisk is very precise and detail-oriented; he refuses to kill Cooper despite General Marder’s protests, stating that Cooper was never part of his original contract. That players never have the chance to fight Blisk directly suggests that the Apex Predator’s way of thinking is not intrinsically evil or macabre. Although it is respectable and honourable to demonstrate loyalty and fight for one’s way of living, the flipside is that there are cases where one must also consider fighting for themselves.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Titanfall 2‘s soundtrack was what ended up persuading me to give the game a go: I previously had played Titanfall during a trial period, and Stephon Barton’s compositions had captured the gritty nature of warfare between the IMC and Militia. In particular, MacAllen’s Endgame had been a particularly standout track: about forty-five seconds into the track, the iconic Titanfall motif can be heard, and there’s a sort of somber finality about the war being fought. The emotional tenour conveyed in this track evokes a feeling of departure, and thanks to the wonders of shuffle mode, I listened to this song while flying out of Taiwan’s Taoyuan Airport at the end of my journey there in December 2014.
- My vacation to Taiwan in December 2014 had been a first: traditionally, I travel during the summer months, but that year, I’d been busy with the Giant Walkthrough Brain. After arriving on December 24, we did a counterclockwise tour of the island, beginning in Taipei before heading over to the Xitou Yaoguai Village, a Japanese-style village that was constructed in 2011. This eccentric site features many Japanese features like torii and Japanese lanterns. Despite being a well-known attraction in the area, the fact that it was located in the deep forests of Taiwan’s central island gave it a bit of an eerie vibe, and that evening, I developed serious stomach problems while trying to turn in at the Leader Hotel, an old hotel surrounded by forest with a wing that clearly looked like it was not in use.
- These stomach problems went away after leaving the area, and I was able to enjoy the remainder of my trip without issue, including a delicious all-fish lunch in a restaurant under the Kao-Ping Hsi Bridge. In fact, the only thing I wish I was able to try was the grilled squid I’d seen at the night markets: although night markets are sanitary owing to government regulations, I decided to exercise caution to avoid unnecessarily putting strain on my constitution. As we moved from west to east, we travelled along a narrow, winding mountain road that took us through Daren Township. From here, we headed north towards Taitung.
- I remember that evening particularly well: we stopped at a vast jade warehouse on a remote country road under the mountain, and after hearing a pretty guide explain the details of jade production in Taiwan, we headed for dinner before retiring at the Yih Shuian resort. There were numerous sulfur hot springs here, but I decided against trying them out: unlike Japanese onsen, swimsuits were required. The next day, we travelled north towards Hualien for Taroko Gorge. The trip would conclude with a train ride to Yilan and a visit to Jiufen Old Street. This vacation proved remarkably fun even with my constitution troubles, although back then, I only had a Nokia Lumia phone with a weak camera and therefore, did not take very many photos.
- On a return trip to Taiwan, I’d love to explore the Taitung and Yilan side in greater detail: this mountainous side of Taiwan has stunning scenery. With this being said, spending time in larger cities like Taichung, Tainan, Kaohsiung and Taipei would allow me to sample the foods at night markets, as well. On my to-do list, Taiwan would be second after a trip to Japan: my desire to visit Takehara or a ryokan has not diminished. Such vacations remain in the planning stages for now, but since I did listen extensively to the Titanfall soundtrack, hearing the music brought back old memories of my Taiwan trip.
- Stephen Barton would return to score Titanfall 2‘s soundtrack: familiar motifs make a return, and this time around, Titanfall 2 would feature a full-fledged campaign set on the planet of Typhon. Here, the gorgeous mountain scenery and vast research labs, coupled with use of Traditional Chinese characters, gave the planet a distinctly Taiwan-like feeling. As I made my way through the campaign, I was thoroughly impressed with how the game handled. Movement was smooth and responsive. However, what stood out was the fact that every mission was unique in its own way, making use of a specific gameplay mechanic to challenge players and keep things fresh.
- My decision to pick up Titanfall 2 for myself came while I had been queued up for a late February meeting with my financial advisor to get my investments renewed: I received an email that had indicated that both Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare had been going on discount. After my meeting ended, I hastened to get back in front of my computer and ended up buying both titles on sale: Titanfall 2 had been going for 60 percent off, and Infinite Warfare‘s Legacy Edition was going for a third off, allowing me to, in effect, pick up Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered for the price of one game.
- I subsequently made my way through both campaigns and found enjoyment in both. Although Infinite Warfare had been widely criticised for being a knockoff of Titanfall 2, I ended up enjoying that game quite thoroughly. Titanfall 2, on the other hand, was universally acclaimed, and a large part of this was the fact that the campaign was so solid. The combination of novel gameplay in every level, coupled with the fact that the campaign’s missions slowly opened players up to what Pilots could do, and a companion that greatly served to ease the overwhelming sense of isolation on Typhon made it quite memorable.
- Although this isn’t usually discussed in great detail, Typhon itself proved to be a well-done location for Titanfall 2‘s events; the game opens in a verdant tropical valley with waterfalls and steep cliffs, and transitions over to a sewage processing facility. As Cooper and BT get closer to Major Anderson’s position, they pass through a vast underground complex that surpasses even the sewage processing facility in size. Once the pair reach Major Anderson (more appropriately, what’s left of him), Cooper explores a derelict IMC research facility, and then to get their findings back to the militia, they hit a communications site set in a karst landscape.
- The terrain and vegetation on Typhon brought back memories of Taiwan, and I remember during one lunch break at work, I decided to see if I could find the Xitou Yaoguai Village. Because I’d travelled Taiwan without a good set of offline maps, I had next to no idea of where precisely our destinations were. One of the search terms I’d put into Google was “Ghost village”, and while this approach did eventually lead me to Xitou Yaoguai Village, I also stumbled upon, purely by chance, a remarkably well-written travel blog by a web-developer and travel photographer named Alexander Synaptic.
- In this blog, Synaptic details various haikyo around Taiwan, and in one post, he writes about the Mingxiong Ghost House, a famous haunted house in Taiwan located just a ways outside of Chiayi in the Chianan plains. Although the precise story of how this once-gorgeous stone mansion fell into ruin is unknown, what is known is that the site is very famous, to the point where a café opened next door to provide visitors with refreshment after they’d finished visiting this landmark. At the bottom of the post, the related articles ended up sending me to Synaptic’s bike tours across Taiwan.
- By coincidence, Titanfall 2‘s soundtrack came onto my music rotation, and I listened to Burton’s majestic compositions while reading about Synaptic’s travels through Taiwan’s central ranges, an unforgiving region lined with narrow mountain roads and tough conditions, as well as down the sunbaked eastern coast. The striking scenery fit remarkably well with the Titanfall 2 soundtrack, and since then, I’ve felt an inexplicable connection between Titanfall 2 and Taiwan. Subtle hints, including hanzi characters, and a subtropical climate, reinforces this connection to me.
- I don’t mind admitting that I spent a little more time than I should have browsing through Synaptic’s blog; his writing style is precise and informative, and I absolutely love the pictures that are posted. In the months leading up to my Japan trip, and shortly after I purchased Titanfall 2, work had slowed down somewhat because the start-up I’d been with was mid-pivot: after I delivered my first-ever commercial iOS app to a computational oncology firm in the United States, our founder saw the potential for a genericised app for handling medical follow-up surveys.
- At this point in time, the details were still being hammered out, and I was asked to develop a functional mock-up of what the app would look like. At the time, I wasn’t particularly versed in things like UIKit or Autolayout (another developer handled that), and therefore, spent most of my time working with the JSON parsing code, as well as designing survey formats that could be stored to a backend and then parsed within the app to deliver questions for users. This was a realm I was a ways more familiar with, and because this had been more tedium than difficult, my days ended up being a ways slower as a result.
- As such, I did slack off during quieter moments, browsing through both Synaptic’s blog and Google Maps to see if I could find those same spots for myself. Through these virtual travels, I fell in love with Taiwan’s eastern side, especially the Huadong Valley extending from Taitung to Hualien. This valley consists of a vast plain surrounded on both sides by mountain. There’s a tranquility about this place found nowhere else in Taiwan, and I noticed a large number of bed and breakfasts located in this valley. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself waking up on a hot summer’s morning at one of these bed and breakfasts, sitting down to a scrumptious breakfast before biking off for that day’s itinerary.
- In reality, I’m not too sure how well I’d be able to navigate such a trip: my Mandarin is weak at best, but I imagine that ahead of such a trip, a little touch-up and having some translation apps would probably be helpful. While enjoying the sights of Huadong Valley is within my wheelhouse, wandering Taiwan’s haikyo is probably something I’ll leave to the pros. Urban exploration has long fascinated me, but there’s an inherent danger about it such that were I to go on such an expedition, I would prefer to have a good guide handy.
- For now, my exploration of haikyo is limited to video games, where there are no threats like broken glass or asbestos to deal with. Exploring the derelict IMC facility and seamlessly transitioning to a functional facility was probably one of the most innovative modes of gameplay I’ve ever seen, comparable to Portal and SUPERHOT. No games since Titanfall 2 have been this creative or enjoyable: many games of the present are completely fixated on in-app purchases at the expense of gameplay, and these trends have resulted in increasingly inferior games of late.
- This isn’t to say there aren’t good games: DOOM Eternal and Ace Combat 7 have managed to maintain good gameplay without sacrificing it for cosmetics. While skins make sense in third person games, I’ve never understood why people care for them in first person games, when one can’t even see what they’re wearing. Since the success of Titanfall 2, even Respawn has entered the battle royale cosmetic shooter realm; Apex Legends is a spinoff set 18 years after the events of Titanfall 2, and with the IMC defeated, Blisk founds the Apex Games. Although Apex Legends is most certainly not the kind of game I’m interested in playing, it was interesting to learn that Blisk was the founder: Titanfall 2 denied players a chance to fight Blisk.
- Despite being the antagonist, I never felt any animosity towards Blisk or his Apex Predators. Blisk himself openly expresses respect for Cooper and declines to kill him, stating Cooper and BT were never part of his contract. Five years later, I’ve seen now for myself why Blisk was adamant about Cooper not being a part of his contract; scope creep can make even seemingly simple projects into monstrosities that seemingly cannot be completed. When I signed the original agreement for that Xamarin project, the expectations were that I would spend about a month on the project, get the bugs sorted out and then walk the computational oncology firm through the App Store submission process, which had previously given them trouble.
- Had we stayed within this scope of work, I would have wrapped up mid-September and had time to focus on our own product. Instead, this project expanded in scope as I continued working on it. Fifteen bugs became sixty, and I was asked to implement features that hadn’t been covered in the original contract. This pushed the project out to October, and I remember being contacted to fix a “high priority high severity” bug while I was out in Vernon for a well-earned break (the salmon run had been going that year), only to learn that it was a user error that produced the bug (they downloaded an outdated build).
- This experience immediately sees parallels in Titanfall 2, being equivalent to General Marder asking Blisk and his Apex Predators to go after Cooper. Throughout the course of Titanfall 2, Cooper and BT-7274 become such a formidable pair that they are able to begin picking off Blisk’s subordinates. In this way, Kane and Ash are killed after underestimating what the pair are capable of. From the player’s standpoint, this follows logically, but I imagine that for Blisk, Cooper represents an unexpected thorn in their plans. However, despite Cooper and BT-7274’s actions, they are not successful in stopping the Apex Predators from bringing the Ark to the Fold Weapon.
- Revisiting Titanfall 2 meant having a chance to explore more thoroughly, and here, I managed to find the only EM-4 Cold War in the campaign. This burst-fire bullpup grenade launcher fires small, but highly-damaging rounds in fours, and against the foes in the campaign, they are quite effective: a single hit will vapourise IMC soldiers, and even the Reapers will go down in a few bursts. Playing games again is fun for this reason: I get to discover new things about them, and oftentimes, revisiting a game under different circumstances impacts how I feel about a given scene.
- In the case of Titanfall 2, I see a fantastic story that has aged gracefully, and with five more years of life experience, I also see a convincing tale of why scope creep is undesirable. Had Marder managed to convince Blisk into accepting that killing Cooper and BT-7274 was a part of their scope of work, Blisk likely would’ve died by the player’s hand. My Xamarin assignment with the computational oncology company indeed saw scope creep of an unreasonable extent, and I got the distinct feeling that the Winnipeg team was actively working to prevent me from finishing my tasks.
- Reading through the commit history, it was similarly clear that the previous developer who’d been working on the mobile app was competent, but similarly hampered by the Winnipeg team; the changelogs show that the endpoints were added very late into the game (about a month before I was asked to start). There is little doubt in my mind that the fact I was nailing down issues, and fixing a fatal flaw in their user onboarding flow (transforming a ten-step process into a three-step process), was making their developers look bad, so they were attempting to save face by throwing more bugs at me, and even introducing changes prior to demos that they knew would cause the app to crash.
- Thus, what was supposed to take six weeks at most doubled to twelve weeks, and I was left exhausted by this project. Looking back, I know now why Blisk states to Marder that Cooper was not his problem; Cooper represents a low severity, low priority issue to Blisk in that since he’s already delivered the Ark, he’s done his work. For me, my contract was explicitly stated as ending once I submitted the app to the App Store, although this was later expanded to “taking care of any high priority, high severity bugs that the Winnipeg team introduced”. Dissatisfaction at this project for dragging out as long as it had, coupled with the fact that it ultimately cost us the other deal we had, led me to resign from my first startup.
- Although the work had been engaging, I was not able to see a future in which we would be successful: that the Xamarin project was allowed to expand in scope as it did also gave me little confidence that we would be able to work on our own products without being interrupted constantly by external factors. Had I continued, I likely would’ve continued to suffer as a result of the Winnipeg team’s incompetence. When I transitioned over to my next position, another startup, I found myself far happier, and under a new founder, I ended up cultivating a diverse range of iOS skills, from UIKit and Autolayout, to things like writing my own networking wrappers and reachability tests, push notifications and payment handling through the Stripe SDK. The only reason why I ended up leaving this position was because investment dried up after the results of the 2020 election. With revenue dwindling, the founder and I shared a conversation about our directions.
- Unlike my first start-up, whose founder has fallen off the radar, I’m still in contact with my second start-up’s founder and occasionally lend my time to help out with a side project. Curiously enough, towards the end, my second start-up’s founder also asked me to lend my skills for another project, but this time, armed with significantly more experience, I delivered a product I was proud of, and one where there had been no scope creep because all of the lines were clearly drawn in the sand. More importantly, unlike the Xamarin project, I was also fairly compensated for my work: with the second start-up’s project, I was involved in every step of the process and knew exactly how much the client was paying, as well as how the funds would be dispersed.
- Conversely, with the Xamarin project, I wasn’t involved with discussions when money was concerned, and although it sounded like the payout was considerable, in the end, my compensation only equaled the sum of my travel expenses. Considering the amount of trouble the Winnipeg team put me through, I was definitely shortchanged by this turn of events. Experiences like these reshaped my experience with Titanfall 2 a second time around, and so, while Blisk might be an antagonist, I completely empathise with his sentiments in the present; considering the amount of experience I’ve accrued as an iOS developer (and all of the ancillary know-how I’ve picked up), I agree with Blisk’s thoughts: “I don’t work for free”.
- Blisk’s remark, that he’s got “other people with money to see”, shows that his skills are in high demand, and that he’s able to make his own call as to what assignments he wants to take. Since there are other clients implied to be bidding for his services, Blisk no longer regards Marder as his employer, hence his attitudes towards the end of the game. Others have argued that this lessens Blisk’s character: from this point of view, Blisk is only saying this because Cooper has thoroughly beaten his team of elites. However, given the tone Marder takes with Blisk, the opposite is true; Marder sees Cooper as a threat to the IMC, but Blisk simply has no interest in doing what’s outside of his original scope of work.
- My experiences doing contract work at start-ups to help keep my lights on has meant that I look at Blisk’s character completely differently now, and for this reason, I’m glad they chose not to have Cooper fight (and defeat) him: it shows that Titanfall 2 understands the other side of things. The me of five years earlier had been more similar to Cooper, fighting loyally for a cause to both learn and protect. I only left my first start-up after it became clear there was no future, and I was fighting right to the end. This was, in part, because I was not confident in my skill as a developer at the time. Correspondingly, the me of five years earlier was a little disappointed at the fact that Cooper never did get to take Blisk on.
- According my site’s archives, I reached the penultimate mission of Titanfall 2 mid-April. Fighting through the various IMC warship en route to the Draconis, I was fighting off a minor head cold at the time. However, a cold was not enough to dampen my spirits: at this point in time, my Japan trip was only a few more weeks away, and I was very much looking forwards to my experiences. After my experiences in Taiwan, I was most excited about the fact that I was rocking an iPhone 6: despite only sporting 16 GB of internal storage, this phone had an eight megapixel camera and shot images of a decent resolution.
- Moreover, access to the App Store meant I had access to offline maps, which proved instrumental in helping me to remember which destinations I visited. This bit of technology allowed me to record my vacation in greater detail than any vacation I’d been on previously, and so, I am able to recall specifics about this particular vacation with a much higher precision compared to something like Taiwan. Owing to an incident when I was migrating machines a few months ago, I lost all of my original photos, which were carrying the EXIF and date information, but since I uploaded my images to social media, I at least still have a majority of the photos I took.
- As noted earlier, I will be returning to revisit this particular journey later this month. However, rather than share the vacation photos a second time here, I will be recounting how this vacation shifted my perspectives. I will be fitting this discussion around Go! Go! Nippon!: this game acts as a virtual simulation of what an idealised first-time trip to Japan is like, and while it began as a bit of a joke, this visual novel is surprisingly well done, providing players with some useful information about Japan, along with an amusing scenario that makes the game more immersive than its premise would suggest.
- Having said this, I’ve never actually written about Go! Go! Nippon! despite having beaten it twice. The game has received two expansions, once in 2015, and again in 2016, which dramatically upgraded the resolutions and number of destinations one could visit. As such, the time has come to correct this, and for my play-through this time around, I will be going through the 2016 expansion: my last play-through of Go! Go! Nippon! was for the 2015 expansion, which proved to be a remarkably enjoyable one. Games like Titanfall 2 are more commonly seen in my wheelhouse compared to things like Go! Go! Nippon!, but I will remark that, while I’ve got a bias towards FPS and action-oriented titles, I am generally open to a wide range of games.
- Towards the end of Titanfall 2, as a clever callback to the overpowered MK5 Smart Pistol of Titanfall: the Smart Pistol was originally able to instantly kill a Pilot in the multiplayer. While automatic target acquisition took some time and only could occur at short ranges, a skilled Smart Pistol user could decimate foes in close quarters without retribution. However, the Smart Pistol was useless at medium and long ranges. To mitigate these issues, Titanfall 2 has the Smart Pistol become a boost rather than a loadout weapon, and while retaining most of the original Smart Pistol’s functions, the MK6 cannot be fired unless one has a lock, and players will be alerted to the fact they’re being locked onto.
- In the campaign, it becomes a weapon that Cooper can reliably fall back on: after securing the Ark, Cooper is captured, and BT-7274 is destroyed, forcing Cooper to retrieve the SERE Kit and reach a drop point to continue the mission. Having the Smart Pistol offsets the overwhelming odds, and this is the only point in the campaign where the Smart Pistol appears. The speed and efficiency players have here is a culmination of everything one has learnt throughout the campaign, and it is expected that one can make full use of their weapon and environment to reach the drop site for a new Vanguard-class Titan equipped with the Legion setup.
- On this date five years ago, I was on a plane bound for Narita. On that day, I certainly wasn’t thinking ahead five years; today, I’ve finished another workday, and by, this point in time, I feel like I’ve settled in after the move. Housekeeping has become smoother, and I’ve found enough time at the end of a day to write. I’ve also resumed my anime schedule, and at the time of writing, I’ve now finished Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, which I look forwards to writing about soon. In addition, settling in means being able to capitalise on both the fact I’ve got several brilliant parks and good restaurants within walking distance.
- Over this past weekend, I had a chance to try out the pizza place just across the way: we ordered a Greek pizza (purple onions, green peppers, black olives, feta cheese and tomato slices), alongside a house special pizza (an all-meat pizza with pepperoni, sausage, extra cheese and crispy salami slices) and honey-garlic wings. Having not gone out for pizza for quite some time, what stood out was the fact that the pizzas from this particular place (a 2-minute walk) were packed with toppings. I’m not a pizza connoisseur, and the mark of a good pizza for me is the toppings: a winning pizza has a flavourful and healthy amount of meat, vegetables and cheese.
- With this, I’ve beaten Titanfall 2 again, but this time, it’s under different circumstances. Five more years under my belt means I’ve been able to see the story from another angle, and in this way, I’ve also found that Titanfall 2‘s answer to the question I’d posed whilst playing Project Wingman is simple: mercenaries don’t really care for ideology and concern themselves with a job well done, so it was interesting to fight on both sides of the fence (as a mercenary in Project Wingman, and against them in Titanfall 2). I imagine readers tire of non-anime posts here, so my next goal is to swiftly wrap up a post for Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, and then kick off Go! Go! Nippon!: since I moved to my current desktop, I’ve lost a host of save files on top of my old travel photos. This means that I’ll have a chance to go back through Go! Go! Nippon! with a fresh set of eyes.
While I passed through the Meishin Expressway cutting through the farmer’s fields near Shiga, my iPhone began playing BT’s theme. The me of five years earlier had admired the majesty and scale of Titanfall 2‘s soundtrack, as well as the game’s movement system and visceral gunplay. I hadn’t yet caught onto the fact that Titanfall 2‘s portrayal of Blisk was strikingly similar to that of a software developer. Blisk is described as being in his line of work both for the fact that it pays well and because Blisk loves the the thrill of a challenge. In addition, Blisk is particularly fond of testing out cutting edge hardware and weapons, as well as experimenting with different solutions and pushing himself to complete assignments at all costs. Blisk is loyal to no flag or ideology, serving a client only until his task is completed as stated. As a software developer, I’m surprisingly similar: although some problems are frustrating, there’s a certain satisfaction in solving them. Working as a developer means being able to play with beta builds, new SDKs and even cutting-edge hardware. I’ve similarly worked on assignments (both in an organisation and as a consultant) where I stop development once the stipulated milestones are reached (and out-of-scope work is described as such). Seeing the commonalities between myself and Blisk led me to appreciate Titanfall 2 in a new way, and at present, I understand Titanfall 2‘s choice to let Blisk live by disallowing players the chance to fight him. Looking back, I’d been similar to Cooper in that I had been loyal, to a fault, with my first startup. As I accrued more experience, both professional and personal, realities meant that it became easier to see what drives Blisk’s character; Titanfall 2 has Blisk end the game by stating to Marder that with his current contract over, Cooper is no longer his problem, and that he’s got people with money to see. For me, the first start-up I worked for ended up failing: with the paycheques no longer coming in despite having delivered a working app, the time had come for me to move on, as well.