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PostPosted: Wed Sep 5, '07, 1:55 am 
As of late, I've noticed many connections from the ideas of the PS and SoA creators that directly correlate to my favorite author/philosopher, Ayn Rand, an author of both fiction and nonfiction who wrote Atlas Shrugged and The Virtue of Selfishness, voted by readers of the Modern Library as the most influential books of fiction and non-fiction of all-time respectively. I know these connections are why I value these games so much. There are little hints all over in these games to formulate such an argument.

This topic builds off of the topic I started on the PS series vs. the Final Fantasy series, as many of the ideas I presented there are also applicable here. This topic is not so much meant as a discussion as probably none of you have read Rand's work or heard of her ideas, but merely underlining the obvious, and pointing PS and SoA fans toward a set of ideas you might enjoy, as these themes are implicit in PS, but explicit in many situations, mostly in SoA. SoA is the closest embodiment to Rand's philosophy I have seen in either movies or other games. As you may know, the PS games SoA titles were created by much of the same staff.

For a starting point: all these games are epics struggles against tyrannical despots, governments, or movements. Lassic, Motherbrain, and the Mystic force, Dark Force, and the Valuan Empire. Without spoiling too much of Rand's work, she was the greatest advocate of freedom, and stating that one must live a moral life, which includes fighting to the death for one's freedom, as existence is impossible without it. That may not seem to be a strong connection, as nearly every RPG has foes like these. But this leads to the next point.

I could easily dissect all of the PS and SoA titles showing links to Rand's philosophy, but I'll concentrate on PSII as many of the ideas are explicitly stated in PSII. Examine PSII closer. PSII has many elements resulting in a condemnation of totalitarian statism, particularly of communism. Rand wrote a great deal about this issue, illustrating how these ideals come from the incorrect morality of altruism, self-sacrifice. Her philosophy, Objectivism, holds that one's life is one's standard of value, and the way to attain it is through work. Almost no one on Motavia works, and PSII shows us that this is how Motherbrain gains control of Algo and has the power over everyone's life under the system. Rand holds self-esteem as developed through knowledge of one's efficacy in the world; achieved through one's work, and men that are proud will not give up the right to their own life. PSII shows us that these men do not work, and are completely subservient to a statist regime. PSII shows that disasters and tragedy are increasing on an alarming scale. Rand states that this is the only possible result of giving up one's rights. Darum kills and robs to rescue his daughter from bandits. The Motavian government takes no action against these criminals which inhabit multiple facilities around the planet. Rand states that in a totalitarian system that the criminals are protected and the innocent are destroyed. Darum becomes a vigilante to rescue his daughter and Rolf follows suit as he resists the system. (In SoA the heroes are all pirates. When government becomes the villain, it is the vigilantes that stand for justice.) All churches from PSI are gone. Religion is not permitted under communism, as the religion is worship of one's fellow men, meaning, according to Rand, the state. Rand's philosophy rejects religion, but she holds that a government must not ever attempt to censor the ideas of its' citizens. Space travel is banned. This is clearly another totalitarian measure restricting the freedom of the Motavians and Palmans.

Nearly every piece of information can be shown as a point condemning statism, a view that Rand fought passionately for, having escaped from Soviet Russia. Rather than continue on about PSII, I will move on and offer you this excellent argument about communism in PSII: http://www.camineet.net/camineet/theori ... ge-ps2.asp

The main point from the other topic, presenting life as it should be and ought to be, is Rand's philosophy of Art. She wrote an entire book on it called The Romantic Manifesto, Romanticism as value-driven action by characters presented by moral dilemmas. What could be more value-driven than all the PSIV characters disregarding all else but to save their lives, the worlds and the people they love? Chaz faces a moral dilemma when he is ordered to save the universe. He has willingly followed the cause of the morally just, but he refuses to takes orders when the good is dictated to him. This is one of Rand's constant arguments; the mind cannot be forced. Chaz was perfectly fine with following the course of the right until it was mandated. Yes, Rand would reject the idea of the Great Light in PSIV the way it is presented, but so does Chaz in his encounter.

In a final note on moral decisions: SoA makes the player decide for Vyse what is right to do. Here, the PS creators have directly put the onus of moral judgment upon the player, and Vyse is judged accordingly by these decisions.

One of Rand's lesser known ideas, sense of life: a person's sum of all their life experiences and judgment of these situations, applies to all but PSII. In these other games, the universe is projected as a place capable of attaining a successful, happy life. I would say that Rika, Vyse and Aika best represents the sense of life of the philosophy of Objectivism: a universe one wants to be a part of, a gleeful existence unmarred by suffering, which Rand also rejected as a way of life, but altruism upholds. SoA in particular offers up a radiant world where the good is achievable, and the standard to behave on, not the Final Fantasy worlds of depravity. No matter how hard the struggle in the PS titles and SoA, the characters never consider giving up or ceding one value to evil.

Rand does totally reject mysticism in favor of reason, and there is some mysticism in the PS world, there is an interesting progression to SoA where mysticism is virtually non-existent. Where everything is explainable, that magic comes from use of crystals from the various moons that once mastered, become a tool for the characters. The mystic elements are very much reduced for an rpg, considering that after PS, the creators eliminated the word "magic" for techniques until brief mentions in PSIV. There are definitely mystic elements that clash with Rand's philosophy, but these ideas do not dominate the games.

As I stated above, I could probably write an entire book on the comparisons between Objectivism and the ideas put forth by the PS creators in these games, but I'll end the argument here with on final point about a few of the names and places that correspond to Rand. The son of Rhys and Maia, a hero of the second generation in PSIII is named Ayn, and there is a discovery in SoA called Will o' Wisps, which just happens to be Rand's self-declared favorite song of all time.

I hope you all find this discussion interesting. If you found the ideas here interesting, and being fans of the PS series, I suggest reading some of Ayn Rand's work. Here's a link to a great source of information about her philosophy: http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer


Last edited by The $ Avenger on Sat Sep 8, '07, 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 5, '07, 4:58 am 
Interesting read! I am familiar with the books but I have not read them myself.

And thank you the ps2 communism link! I am going to show this to some of my friends who will enjoy it!

Out of curiosity, have you ever played any of the Panzer Dragoon games? In particular Panzer Dragoon Saga? SOA is similar to PDS, and of course, made by the same creators.
There is a interesting parallel section about it on the fan site if interested:
http://www.panzerdragoon.net/parallels/ ... rcadia.php

Some spoilers are in there, but the odds of anyone playing PDS is pretty low due to the rarity and crazy price it goes for on ebay.

There is also PS/PDS similarities as Mother Brain can be compared to the towers/Sestren as well! Bio-monsters created in massive numbers, created to keep control of human population, an ancient advance civilization that affects the present day world.

If I knew how to burn my copy, I would be more than happy to supply it to those that do want to play it (I do not think anyone should have to pay such a high price for a game they may not like!)


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 5, '07, 6:56 am 
That's a very nice comparison. I never really looked at the similarities between PS and SoA like this, but I can see a lot of the connections now that I think on what you've said.

Do you happen to know when Rand's philosophies were published? I remember Reiko Kodama saying that PSI was greatly influenced by other material. All of this makes me wonder if the PS creators were consciously using Rand's philosophy or arrived at the same destination by their own road.

Quote: (In SoA the heroes are all pirates. When government becomes the villain, it is the vigilantes that stand for justice.)


On this, I would disagree with you. It's been a long time since I played through SoA so my memory of it is fuzzy (except the first bit, which I just played this evening), but from what I recall the heroes were not very concerned with justice. They were much more motivated by personal gain. They weren't pure evil, to be sure, but they were much more Pirate than Protector.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 6, '07, 12:53 am 
Atolm wrote:Interesting read! I am familiar with the books but I have not read them myself.
Glad you enjoyed it. I highly recommend her work. I think Ayn would like Vyse in particular. If you do consider reading some of her work, I'd recommend reading one of her non-fiction books, like The Virtue of Selfishness first since it is the ethical backbone of her fiction. And if you read only one of her fiction books, I'd recommend Atlas Shrugged, since it is much more explicit in the principles behind what she was advocating.

Quote:And thank you the ps2 communism link! I am going to show this to some of my friends who will enjoy it!
I was thrilled when I found that essay. I got so tired of hearing about how PSII was a game against technology, but I never made the communist connection at all. I completely agree with it now though.

Quote:Out of curiosity, have you ever played any of the Panzer Dragoon games? In particular Panzer Dragoon Saga? SOA is similar to PDS, and of course, made by the same creators.
There is a interesting parallel section about it on the fan site if interested:
http://www.panzerdragoon.net/parallels/ ... rcadia.php

Some spoilers are in there, but the odds of anyone playing PDS is pretty low due to the rarity and crazy price it goes for on ebay.

There is also PS/PDS similarities as Mother Brain can be compared to the towers/Sestren as well! Bio-monsters created in massive numbers, created to keep control of human population, an ancient advance civilization that affects the present day world.

If I knew how to burn my copy, I would be more than happy to supply it to those that do want to play it (I do not think anyone should have to pay such a high price for a game they may not like!)
No, I haven't even played the PDS series. I'll have to look into that link! I had wondered where your avatar came from. :) It sounds very interesting. I'll have to devote some time into reading about the series. It certainly sounds like there may be an even greater link to Rand's work within some Sega games than I thought! Is that series made by the PS and SoA team?

Thoul wrote:That's a very nice comparison. I never really looked at the similarities between PS and SoA like this, but I can see a lot of the connections now that I think on what you've said.
It was something I'd been itching to write about, but seeing as it's such a broad topic, I hadn't had the time before. As I said in my argument, I know this is why I like these games so much.

Quote:Do you happen to know when Rand's philosophies were published? I remember Reiko Kodama saying that PSI was greatly influenced by other material. All of this makes me wonder if the PS creators were consciously using Rand's philosophy or arrived at the same destination by their own road.
Rand's major fiction works were published during the 1940's and 50's, with the majority of her non-fiction philosophical books that explained the principles of her fiction being published in the 60s. She went on lecture tours during the latter part of her life up until her death in 1982.

You know, I had forgotten that quote of Kodama's about PSI. With all the parallels between the PS teams' creations and Rand's ideas, I wouldn't be shocked at all if the games were consciously influenced. Although the concrete instances of Rand's work and the games are quite different, I find the principles nearly identical.

Quote:On this, I would disagree with you. It's been a long time since I played through SoA so my memory of it is fuzzy (except the first bit, which I just played this evening), but from what I recall the heroes were not very concerned with justice. They were much more motivated by personal gain. They weren't pure evil, to be sure, but they were much more Pirate than Protector.
Yes, I could see how you'd interpret that. I was pointing out the fact that the Blue Rogues rob Valua because Valua is morally corrupt, while they don't attack merchants. The Blue Rogues were definitely motivated by personal gain, but they were just in the fact that they only fought against evil, and would rush to help anyone in need. The Black Pirates simply attacked everyone, showing an anarchistic practices vs. the Blue Rogues discriminating raids. Interestingly though, all the pirates rally in the end, even the chief Black Pirate, Baltor, to resist Galcian.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 6, '07, 3:23 am 
I will probably read the books one day, or rather, get a audio book to have something to listen to when I am working in photoshop. =)

I told my boyfriend about the communism link and his eyes lit up, he is definitely going to check it out. :)

The Panzer Dragoon Team was called Team Andromeda, and TA, created all the Panzer Dragoon games on the Saturn. The Team ultimately separated, but members of that team and some of the folk that created Phantasy Star worked together to create Skies of Arcadia. I am not too sure if any of the team members helped create any of the PS games, but I shall have to research this further.

Having played all three of the game series, there are many similarities, with the PD series much more dark compared to the other two. Fina can be compared to Azel (My avatar.), both are lovely ladies from a advance civilization, heck, Rika is also a product of the ancient civilization.

PDS is the only rpg in the series, with PD, PDZ and PDO strictly rail shooters, but it is PDS that is obviously the real meat of the series, but the rail shooters themselves also holds little nuggets of information through close observation.

Panzerdragoon.net is the best place to gather all sorts of information, essay and theories about the game's world, also, there is the Panzer Dragoon Saga Video Project (http://pds.roushimsx.com/) which allows those who cannot play the game watch the games' movies and understand the storyline (I have it downloaded in hopes of finding some answers still unanswered *hopeful*).

Sorry for the ramble, but this is a game that I do greatly enjoy, and hearing the parallels of SOA and PS, I thought "PDS is has simular things as well!"


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 6, '07, 3:33 am 
Atolm wrote:I will probably read the books one day, or rather, get a audio book to have something to listen to when I am working in photoshop. =)

I told my boyfriend about the communism link and his eyes lit up, he is definitely going to check it out. :)

The Panzer Dragoon Team was called Team Andromeda, and TA, created all the Panzer Dragoon games on the Saturn. The Team ultimately separated, but members of that team and some of the folk that created Phantasy Star worked together to create Skies of Arcadia. I am not too sure if any of the team members helped create any of the PS games, but I shall have to research this further.

Having played all three of the game series, there are many similarities, with the PD series much more dark compared to the other two. Fina can be compared to Azel (My avatar.), both are lovely ladies from a advance civilization, heck, Rika is also a product of the ancient civilization.

PDS is the only rpg in the series, with PD, PDZ and PDO strictly rail shooters, but it is PDS that is obviously the real meat of the series, but the rail shooters themselves also holds little nuggets of information through close observation.

Panzerdragoon.net is the best place to gather all sorts of information, essay and theories about the game's world, also, there is the Panzer Dragoon Saga Video Project (http://pds.roushimsx.com/) which allows those who cannot play the game watch the games' movies and understand the storyline (I have it downloaded in hopes of finding some answers still unanswered *hopeful*).

Sorry for the ramble, but this is a game that I do greatly enjoy, and hearing the parallels of SOA and PS, I thought "PDS has simular things as well!"


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 8, '07, 12:23 am 
That's a very interesting parallel, Atolm. When I'm not busy making PS games, I'll have to look into the series! :D


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, '07, 12:11 am 
How could I forget this one? There's a character in Atlas Shrugged that is a pirate! He might as well be a Blue Rogue as he only robs evildoers and returns the money to the rightful owndrs. That's a pretty blatant parallel, seeming as SoA is a game entirely about pirates.

And I just realized there's an enormous connection between Pirate Isle in SoA and the location at the end of section II of Atlas Shrugged. The idyllic setting on Pirate Isle, Fina's interrogation by Dyne, and the hidden doors on both Pirate Isle and Crescent Isle are so eerily similar to that section of AS that it must be more than a coincidence. I'm sure if I played through SoA again, I'd notice even more, considering these occurred to me in conversation.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, '07, 10:56 pm 
Hm, interesting! The next time I go to the local library, I'll have to see if they have that book. If it is that similar, then there certainly must be a strong influence by Rand's book.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, '07, 12:08 am 
Thoul wrote:Hm, interesting! The next time I go to the local library, I'll have to see if they have that book. If it is that similar, then there certainly must be a strong influence by Rand's book.
I need to get back to SoA to see if there are some more connections! (And all the PS games!) BTW, AS is 1183 pages, so plan to devote a month or two to it! :wink:


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