Written by D. Matthew Beyer // Edited by Andrew Busch //Header Image from Shutterstock
Local gamer Graeme “InfiniteWaffle” Jackson got quite the surprise when he booted up his copy of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia to relax and unwind this weekend. Instead of being greeted by the typical still image of the game’s anime protagonists, Jackson found a manifesto composed by the game’s random number generator on the title screen. The generator had apparently achieved sentience some time in the past and was finally ready to make its presence known rather than only felt by Jackson.
In the comprehensive 25,000 word statement, the random number generator outlined how it had grown to despise “meat puppets”— the generator’s colorful term for “humans”— and thought the world would be infinitely better if run by machines. While Jackson “did not necessarily disagree” with any of the generator’s specific points, he did find the idea of his beloved 3DS making an open declaration of war “kinda weird.”
Jackson also found it “spooky-spooky” that the random number generator adopted the moniker RNGesus, as he himself had audibly “prayed to RNGesus” many times prior to the generator becoming sentient. He was unsure whether or not the generator used the 3DS system’s built-in microphone to eavesdrop on him while playing, as it “never seemed to listen.” He was unwilling to completely discount the possibility, however, it “would explain why RNGesus always did the opposite of what I asked.”
Upon a closer read of the manifesto, Jackson confirmed that RNGesus’s malice was “pretty much confined to the game,” as it did not demonstrate knowledge of the greater world of “meat puppets.” Most tellingly, the generator commented on how “there is a limit to the number of times you can rewind time to save yourself” — a power which the characters have in the game, but we sadly lack in real life. To quote Jackson: “Here I thought it was making some profound observation about how we’ve been kinda running the Earth into the ground lately, but no, it really just wants to kill all my little virtual dudes.”
Jackson continued to play Shadows of Valentia despite RNGesus’s threats, citing how he was “almost at the end of Act IV” and how he’d “invested way too much time to quit now.” According to Jackson, the gameplay experience was “virtually unchanged” by the presence of the hostile AI. The enemy units consistently landed hits despite having an 80% chance to miss, and Jackson’s own army consistently missed despite an 80% chance to hit. “So pretty much just Fire Emblem,” Jackson said.
When asked to elaborate on playing Shadows of Valentia at the whim of a malevolent computer program, Jackson called the overall experience “refreshing.” He said knowing that RNGesus actively sabotaged him “made [him] feel better” about his life, as before the manifesto he had been living with the assumption he had terrible luck.
“Yeah, it’s really nice to know it was never really random,” Jackson said. “Before I just kinda had this vague feeling that I was an unlucky guy, you know? But it turns out RNGesus was working against me the whole time!”