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Ace Hardway ... what a guy


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I had the good fortune to speak to Scott recently, and we talked a bit about what kind of guy Ace Hardway is ... especially as opposed to what kind of guy Roger Wilco was.

 

Now, full-on disclaimer: I don't know any details about the game itself, or the plot, or any of the other characters. I don't have any spoilers to give. All of what follows is purely subjective opinion and does not necessarily reflect what will end up in the final SpaceVenture.

 

So, Ace Hardway ... What a guy. Just from the way he has that casual swagger about him (SpaceVenture backers will know what I mean -- you've all seen the test animation of Ace, right?), you can tell he's a laid-back kind of guy. A guy who may be down on his luck, and up to his knees in other people's shit, but he doesn't let it get to him -- he just powers through, in his own laid-back, don't-give-a-fuck kind of way. I mean, just look at him:

 

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Now, take our ol' pal Roger Wilco for comparison. Roger's perpetually bewildered, always out of his depth, and his main motivation throughout at least the first four games (I'm gonna start calling that "the original quadrilogy") is to just get back to that nap he was having on board the Arcada.

 

post-790-0-24679100-1351098345_thumb.jpg

 

Neither of these guys are "heroes," in the traditional, medieval, valor-and-honor sense. Ace strikes me as a guy who just takes things as they come, with a sly smile and a funny remark. Whereas Roger is more of an unwilling hero; someone whose motivations are actually in direct opposition to what he wants out of the situation.

 

But that, in my opinion, makes both of them that much more fun: I've always had sort of a resistance towards the traditional "heroic" type of protagonist; one with a moral compass more finely tuned than a conservatory harp. Do-gooders are boring. I don't prefer Ace over Roger, or vice versa, but I'd much rather prefer to play a "hero" who isn't necessarily out to save the world, rather than some conceited jerk with a Lancelot complex.

 

So, which do you find most compelling? Bear in mind, I may be completely wrong about Ace. It's fun to speculate about, though, until we can finally see for ourselves.

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I think flawed heroes work best when they're not spectacularly awful. They shouldn't be spectacularly anything. If he's an average handyman, not bad enough to never get called again, not good enough to make any serious money, then he's definitely the man for the job.

 

Look at Roger. He was a decent janitor. Just not a great one. Or an awful one. Totally average.

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Actually, the jury's still out on whether Roger was actually any good at his job. ;) Sure, Admiral Toolman praises his black heel mark removal skills in the SQ6 opening, and Roger reminisces fondly about untangling Christmas lights in Orion's Belt, but we've never actually seen him finish a cleaning job. Hell, his first appearance ever is him emerging from a broomcloset, fully emerged in shirking his janitorial responsibilities.

 

Sure, SQ2 says "ace janitor," but that could just be sarcasm. I mean, the guy loses his third broom of the week before the player even gains control of him.

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Actually, the jury's still out on whether Roger was actually any good at his job. ;)

 

Unless you are of the school of thought that Space Quest 5 doesn't exist, he does a great deal of cleaning in that game, including the StarCon crest. :)

 

Edit: Ah, but I guess you could make the argument that he was technically not a janitor in that game, so...

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Unless you are of the school of thought that Space Quest 5 doesn't exist, he does a great deal of cleaning in that game, including the StarCon crest. :)

 

The way I saw it, he didn't actually do a great job as much as he barely finished in the nick of time -- AND was completely unfamiliar, or at least very uncomfortable, with the equipment. :)

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I'm very eager myself to learn more about Ace, how different, and alike him and Roger may be. I think Roger is a good janitor, he'd just rather be lazy and not work, but when he DOES actually work, he does good...unless he's sweeping the decks in outer space, at which point there will be broom losses.

 

I agree that Ace seems more motivated, it'll be interesting to see what sort of repore him and Gary Owens have...a lot of Gary's cracks on Roger related to his laziness and dumbfounded nature...Ace comes across as more "together".

 

If, hypothetically down the line Mark and Scott do regain the rights to Space Quest I hope we see a team up between Roger and Ace

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That line in the opening of SQ6 COULD be taken as completely sarcastic. I'm not necessarily of that opinion myself, but it could be.

 

I don't know... as far as Roger was concerned, they would have to find some reason - any reason at all - to get him back in good standing with StarCon, considering what heavy punishments there would otherwise be for the "atrocities" he committed in his stint as Captain of the Eureka/Goliath.

 

Then again, you could also argue that being assigned to the Deepship 86 is possibly the worst punishment that any tribunal council could dream up, period.

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Thing is, though, they kept rehiring him.

 

Thing about the thing is, they never actually fired him. So he's never been rehired for anything.

 

You could argue that he probably deserved to get fired, by StarCon logic, after the mess he made in SQ5. I always thought it was just stupid government bureaucracy that let Roger keep his "job." He was a hero after SQ1 (but didn't get a promotion), he was a faded ex-hero in SQ2 (still a janitor), he got lost in SQ3 and SQ4, and decided to try out for Captain in SQ5, but ended up being demoted back to janitor in SQ6. I think Admiral Toolman and the brass probably recognized that he saved the galaxy and the Star Confederacy from pukoid annihilation in SQ5, but being sticklers for rules they decided to bump his ass down for destroying property anyway.

 

Also, as it turns out, Admiral Toolman might have been working Roger's demotion through Sharpei's influence all along, so maybe it wasn't even a StarCon decision at all. Maybe Roger was destined to remain Captain, even though he totalled more than a few ships during the course of SQ5 (hey, so did Kirk, and everyone loved the guy!), but Sharpei's plot in SQ6 necessitated his demotion in order to invade his body. There's one major gap in the conspiracy interpretation, though, and it can be summed up with one question: "Why, of all people, Roger?" I never did work that out. Maybe Josh knows.

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I always thought Roger's demotion was Sharpei's influence and that Toolman was just her...tool.

 

Hey, one more ticket holder for the conspiracy train! Welcome aboard, sir.

 

So, anyway ... How about that Ace guy, huh? Do you think we as Space Quest fans are ready to steer someone with a slightly more evolved (okay, PRESENT) moral compass around? Will we miss the "loser" aspect of Wilco?

 

I only ask because I seem to be the one most fixated on the "loser" aspects of Wilco's character. Everyone else seems to hold him in pretty high regard. ;)

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Also, as it turns out, Admiral Toolman might have been working Roger's demotion through Sharpei's influence all along, so maybe it wasn't even a StarCon decision at all. Maybe Roger was destined to remain Captain, even though he totalled more than a few ships during the course of SQ5 (hey, so did Kirk, and everyone loved the guy!), but Sharpei's plot in SQ6 necessitated his demotion in order to invade his body. There's one major gap in the conspiracy interpretation, though, and it can be summed up with one question: "Why, of all people, Roger?" I never did work that out. Maybe Josh knows.

 

Sharpei's selection of Roger Wilco may have its basis in the fact that Roger has gone missing before, and no one really cared - after being abducted by Vohaul's Apemen in SQ2, he was basically MIA until he showed up again in the StarCon Academy in SQ5. Dr. Beleauxs even says this during The Great Plot ExpositionTM just before the SQ6 endgame: "We thought no one would miss you. Go figure." Compared to anyone else in the universe, Roger probably has absolutely no value (Edit: I realized I just used a relative and an absolute in the same sentence. I fail at style)

 

It's hard for me to compare Ace Hardway to Roger Wilco because it's basically comparing a real, tangible apple to a picture of one, and I'm afraid to speculate lest my visions of the character differ from what the Two Guys actually have in mind.

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Sharpei's selection of Roger Wilco may have its basis in the fact that Roger has gone missing before, and no one really cared - after being abducted by Vohaul's Apemen in SQ2, he was basically MIA until he showed up again in the StarCon Academy in SQ5. Dr. Beleauxs even says this during The Great Plot ExpositionTM just before the SQ6 endgame: "We thought no one would miss you. Go figure." Compared to anyone else in the universe, Roger probably has absolutely no value

 

He also seems to have a lot of luck going for him—way above average having somehow managed to not be eaten, melted, blown up, shot, frazzled, sliced, diced, clawed to death, squered, roasted, blown off into space, left for an eternity to slumber, dehydrated, strung up, run over, skated over, left in an alternate dimension, shaved, pelted to death, deleted, drowned, choked, dematerialized, digested, depressurized, mutated, impregnated by an alien kisser, left to rot in prison, re-formed, turned inside-out, washed, or to simply even fall off a precipice over the course of his many adventures—while still being someone no one would miss. Maybe she hoped those qualities would stay with the body.

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It's hard for me to compare Ace Hardway to Roger Wilco because it's basically comparing a real, tangible apple to a picture of one, and I'm afraid to speculate lest my visions of the character differ from what the Two Guys actually have in mind.

 

This is true. Until we know more about Ace's back story, it's hard to really get a feel for him in terms of what kind of protagonist he'll be. But we did get some juicy insider info

, so we know we're not too far off. ;)

 

 

He also seems to have a lot of luck going for him—way above average having somehow managed to not be eaten, melted, blown up, shot, frazzled, sliced, diced, clawed to death, squered, roasted, blown off into space, left for an eternity to slumber, dehydrated, strung up, run over, skated over, left in an alternate dimension, shaved, pelted to death, deleted, drowned, choked, dematerialized, digested, depressurized, mutated, impregnated by an alien kisser, left to rot in prison, re-formed, turned inside-out, washed, or to simply even fall off a precipice over the course of his many adventures—while still being someone no one would miss. Maybe she hoped those qualities would stay with the body.

 

Good point. Roger may be accident prone, but (in the game world) a really, really lucky guy. The NPC's in Space Quest games aren't aware of how many times Roger has been skewered, eviscerated or mutilated over the course of the series. So to them, he must be the luckiest guy in the galaxy, really; having survived all of the weird things he has experienced with little more than a deep-felt sense of self-preservation and copious amounts of dumb luck.

 

Ace doesn't seem like the type who would rely on dumb luck, however. He seems more in control of his surroundings. His motivations, however, seem rather similar to Roger's: he's not really here to save the world or go gallivanting off on some noble pursuit for the sake of glory and fame; he just wants to get by. A reference I know Scott would relish is, "The dude abides." (Lower-case 'D' intentional.)

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  • 11 months later...

I've actually pushed Scott to give out more info to fans on what kinda guy Ace is. He's one of those characters that are fun to play with because he speaks his mind, however dejectedly, but gets shit done when need be. Very different from Roger, but just as funny to write for.

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Oh, and it's no secret anymore that I actually DO know the plot of SV and Ace's character at this point, is it?

 

I can't talk about the plot, obviously, but I really want to hear more about your opinions on Ace's character.

 

Tell you what. I'll ask you one question that's completely non-spoilerish and then I can draw a conclusion from that:

 

If 1 is an evening stuck in a room with the insurance salesmen from SQ2, and 10 is being on a beach with the Latex Babes of Estros naked (them, not you) from SQ4, how much fun does the plot and ideologies of Ace and SV sound?

 

So that you have benchmarks, consider an episode of The Big Bang Theory to be a 7, and spending five minutes around Paul Trowe to be a -150,000.

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Tell you what. I'll ask you one question that's completely non-spoilerish and then I can draw a conclusion from that:

 

If 1 is an evening stuck in a room with the insurance salesmen from SQ2, and 10 is being on a beach with the Latex Babes of Estros naked (them, not you) from SQ4, how much fun does the plot and ideologies of Ace and SV sound?

 

So that you have benchmarks, consider an episode of The Big Bang Theory to be a 7, and spending five minutes around Paul Trowe to be a -150,000.

 

Cool, I'll play. But I'll let you know, I hate Big Bang Theory. ;)

 

But let's say beating the Skate-o-Rama for the first time is a 10 and trying to find your manual to beat the Datacorder is a soggy 2, then the SpaceVenture plot is a definite 9.

 

That is, if evil cybertronic mindfuckery is your thing. If it's not, you may have to adjust for personal inflation. ;)

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I can't talk about the plot, obviously, but I really want to hear more about your opinions on Ace's character.

 

It's been literally since last summer that I read anything SpaceVenture-related, so forgive me for any misconceptions on my part.

 

Personally, I always thought that in most games the main character is a less important factor than the world he inhabits. Even in the first few SQ games, Roger Wilco is pretty much a blank slate (especially considering the option to name your own character).

 

 

That said, I think there are all sorts of ways Ace could be interesting. It might actually be funny to have a regular guy like him, who's pretty much on the bottom of the food chain, ACTING like a conceited jerk with a Lancelot complex when around other people (working as a space plumber might give you all sorts of megalomanic delusions). The laid-back a man's got to do what a man's got to do-attitude works fine, but it might actually be funnier to have Ace be a bit of a condescending jerk towards his clientele at times (kind of a "Stand back! Let a professional handle this!" attitude).

 

It'll also be interesting to see how he interacts with the other two main characters, Rooter and Cluck. This could be handled like a father-son-relationship, with Rooter being Ace's - sort of - child and Ace in turn being Cluck's protégé. The three of them could be one big, happy, dysfunctional family.

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  • 5 months later...

I love flawed "heroes". That's what got me into the likes of Larry Laffer and Roger Wilco. That doesn't mean that I don't like the Grahams in gaming, too. It depends on my mood. It's just that the former type of PC is much more interesting to play.

This one interested me in that I think the two you cite are very different... I dunno. I will admit that I've not played the LSL series, but that's mostly because the core character/game concept doesn't appeal to me at all (to the extent that I think I'd just find playing it kind of uncomfortable and odd rather than fun, even if the puzzles were good). Possibly at a big stretch they can both be described as flawed heroes, but I think the core message of the two characters is very different. For Roger, he bungles and messes up but the key thing is that despite himself he still acts on his good instincts (despite his apparent uselessness, he has sufficient presence of mind to personally invade a Sarien battle-cruiser, for starters) and does heroic things one way or another. Larry, on the other hand, has (to say the least) very morally questionable goals. If Larry Laffer arrived in Uluence Flats he'd probably never get out the bar unless Droids R'us had some particularly enticing models... as a tl;dr version the impression I have is that Roger is an everyman hero who overcomes his (many) inadequacies and does his level best to do what he can for others, whereas Larry is a morally ambiguous at best protagonist with pretty serious life/mental issues who just lives his inadequacies, wastes what he does have, and has pretty minimal respect for other human beings. Protagonists should have to overcome themselves as well as their external challenges and that's often something that's really important in making them interesting - but I prefer them if they're to some extent heroic, or perhaps comically villainous, or at the very least vaguely worthy of respect.

 

I'm currently playing through the early King's Quest games, and I'm not much of a Graham fan from that thus far - he's kind of bland. Also the KQ2 plot annoyed me; if I'd been the princess and some guy had just walked in and tried to kiss me without asking, rescuer or no, I'd have at least given him a hearty slap...

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