Choose My Adventure: Brain bug mischief in Project Gorgon

As soon as I knew I was going after something called “brain bugs” in Project Gorgon, my mind immediately jumped to images of the infamous intellect devourer from Dungeons & Dragons. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what they are, and I can think of no finer place for these creatures to show up. They’re a perfect example of the stuff that D&D generally seems to be backing away from over time but that serves as a lovely legacy of the days when it would churn out new monsters to kill no matter how silly the remaining concepts were.

This is where something like that belongs. A brain walking around on four legs and using psychic powers while slashing at you. Silly ideas taken very seriously. Thank you.

My overall results in Project Gorgon were a bit more mixed this week, as it turns out that brain beasts also have ties to the psychic mantises, which are at once viciously difficult opponents at my current progression level and also my new favorite things in the world. I want to play one. If there is a curse that turns me into one, please let me know about that in the comments. This is what I want with a passion.

Thank you. This is what I expected to see.The game tries to convince me, through text, that the psychic mantises are really scary huge bugs. This does not work. I used to live somewhere that had a lot of mantises in the areas, I frequently had them outside my front door. Give me a praying mantis and I am happy. They are so cool, and the prospect of “giant praying mantis but it’s pink and has a hat” is not terrifying at all. It makes me want to subscribe to its newsletter or whatever.

It took me a bit of searching to find the mantises, though. First I had to go digging around following the vague quest directions (this isn’t a complaint, it’s part of the game’s structure), then finally stumble across the right place after first finding a set of docks and a few other tidbits here and there. I also found several things I wanted to forage, but I couldn’t forage them without a saw (which I don’t know where I can get) or more levels in foraging (which I don’t know how to get because I have yet to find things to forage).

This is, honestly, one of the flaws that I’m finding with Gorgon in general. It’s not a crippling weakness, but it’s notable that the game gives you so many options for what to do but then makes it sort of hard to know where to start with some of them. Case in point: after thoroughly exploring the first city you come to and selling a whole bunch of junk for cash, I finally found the supposedly “first” guard you meet… who gave me a minor task to talk to another guard, who just gave me a bunch of money. Oh. Well, thanks.

It seems like a slight error in guidance. Then again, it’s also one of the things that feels very much like the sort of game this wants to be. You aren’t out of options if you don’t find this little task, but you are rewarded if you do. I feel like it needs lightly more pathing to get you started, just so you can start off with more of a wide-open feeling instead of quite so much “and what do I do now exactly.”

I am hard-pressed to call this a serious mark against the game, but it does need to be noted.The other big problem that I’m noticing is… well, once you get over the initial weirdness and discovery of the game, it starts falling into pretty rote grinding. Like, the autopsy skill right away was amusing, but once you’ve learned it… you just do it, over and over, and at least thus far it never gets more interesting or involved. Autopsy everything and hope you get useful information. Hit stuff with swords over and over and level up your sword skill. Reasonable? Yes, fairly. But not tremendously novel.

Right back in the “fun” category, though, is the way that you level up NPC favor with gifts and with what are essentially individual quests, and the way that every single NPC has both something useful to offer you and a notable personality of some sort. Even for a world that is explicitly cobbled together piecemeal by what’s available, the setting of Project Gorgon winds up being compelling and interesting, partly because the NPCs pull off a trick that I always appreciate in that they know everything about the world while you don’t.

Case in point: that first guard I mentioned above? He doesn’t like elves. His justification is that elves aren’t really people, but he makes it pretty clear through brief dialogue that what’s really going on there is that he personally dislikes elves and he’s picking out the statements about them that personally conform to his stereotype. But he doesn’t go into lengthy history or even make a big deal out of it, it’s just subtly made clear through discourse.

It’s a trick other games do well to establish their world and that is oddly uncommon in a lot of MMOs. It’s not starting by hitting all of the big lore beats and explaining everything to you, it’s starting by giving you a zoomed-in picture of a tiny part of the world that lets you extrapolate from there and tries to feel real at that level.

Hark ye! A place to hide from the cops.I also found out, almost accidentally, that I can hold down the Alt key to see all the objects I can interact with in the area. That’s helpful!

Anyhow, I managed to net my first death at the pinchers of a psychic mantis, which gained my first level in the game’s Dying skill, and I also spent time exploring, trying to gather information about foraging and such, and generally picking up some relevant tasks. It seems like brain bugs are going to take a little more work for me to really take them out, but I think I can manage that while I walk around and discover more stuff hiding throughout the game.

Also, I inadvertently managed to advance the other “main story” quest whilst I was fumbling around. This is not quite a game where you have distinct tracks for all of the various things you’re doing, you wind up sort of stumbling from place to place.

Whilst I continue to explore around and paw at the game, this week does not have a normal poll to buff things out. Instead, I’m turning to the population reading this series of articles because they’re always there, the people who know the game and are curious to see what a new player’s take on the game is. You folks know the game better than I do, and thus, I turn to you for advice. Is there anything I should be doing or fun things to discover that I haven’t discovered yet (or at least, haven’t mentioned discovering)? What useful stuff have I not yet picked up on?

There’s no time limit on those suggestions since it’s not a poll, so feel free to share those with me until I come around next week with a new set of ambiguous explorations. Until then, you can mail me at eliot@massivelyop.com or offer other feedback down in the comments. I’m certain someone would like to say stuff in praise of intellect devourers or otherwise offer feedback on the nature of the game. It’s hard not to have opinions.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Eliot each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. Especially if that fate involves lizards and cats.
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9 Comments on "Choose My Adventure: Brain bug mischief in Project Gorgon"

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Bryan Correll

He doesn’t like elves.

Make sure you get your favor up with him a level. Then his attitude toward elves becomes a bit more…..complex.

PS You didn’t die until you fought hat-mantises? I’m much better at leveling dying skill than you are apparently.

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astrid

I’m finding it surprisingly hard to come up with suggestions on what to do here. Wandering about and exploring and discovering things for yourself is what makes the game such fun, and I don’t want to spoil that experience.

Well, let’s start with some practical stuff: Don’t forget about the other players in the game. If you are stuck looking for something in particular, like a saw, asking about it in game chat should get you a quick answer. The game also has an extensive Wiki that can be accessed in game by typing /wiki . For the saw problem, try typing “/wiki handsaw”. There are also always the game’s forums for more involved questions – http://forum.projectgorgon.com/ . ( Of course, be warned that the Wiki – and my typing below – may contain spoilers.)

Other items that a new player may find useful are a shovel, a butcher knife and a skinning knife. Marna in town teaches first aid and armor patching which are pretty essential.

The new UI added a bunch of nice features – if you go to Settings > GUI, there are all kinds of things to toggle on or off. I personally really like “show object names” which will always show the names of all usable items, so small stuff like a coin on the ground becomes much more visible with the “coin” title floating above the item.

There is a dungeon on the initial island which I didn’t see mentioned. If you haven’t explored that yet, it’s definitely worth doing. The dungeon teaches one ability that comes in pretty handy when dealing with brain bugs. There are a couple ways to get back to the island; it’s probably easiest to take a boat.

Unfortunately, there is no curse that turns players into a mantis (yet?). Part of what makes mantises hard in the beginning is that they are highly resistant to slashing damage, and a lot of new players use the sword skill which of course features a lot of slashing abilities. (You can see resistances you know about by hitting the i button on the monster portrait.)

My general advice is really to just wander about, stick your nose into things, talk to the NPCs, see which mobs are easy/fun to kill and do whatever looks interesting. Also, don’t be afraid to wander into other zones: This is not a linear game where you finish all quests in zone A before moving on to zone B. Serbule Hills to the south is another newbie zone, with a slightly higher overall difficulty than Serbule. Eltibule to the north is higher in difficulty than Serbule, but I found some mobs in Eltibule to be much easier to kill than those mantises in Serbule.

The crypt in the southwest area of Serbule is a pretty popular newbie dungeon. You will not be able to complete the whole dungeon as a new player, especially by yourself, but you will likely be able to reach a couple interesting places.

There are assorted other combat skills you can pick up. If you are happy with sword, there’s no reason not to stick with it but if you are more of a mage or range attack person, fire magic, archery and mentalism can be learned pretty easily in Serbule, and there are many other combat skills in other locations. I personally like knife a lot, learned by the stone circle to the southeast of Serbule. [Knife isn’t popular with that many players; I think because they expect it to feel like a traditional rogue build which it doesn’t – it has a backstab ability but no sneak.I play knife as a self-healing evasion solo “tank” and don’t normally bother with backstab.]

One thing a lot of new players miss is that bows are off-hand weapons, so, just like shield, archery can be combined with all skills that require a main hand weapon – sword, staff, hammer, fire magic, etc. I find trying out new skill combos to be a huge part of the fun in the game since there are so many options to choose from.

In other fun stuff, PG normally has special weekend events that can range from simple buffs like reduced NPC training cost to more complicated events like an invasion by a horde of hungry rabbits. If you don’t normally play on the weekend, it may be worth logging in just to see what’s up. We have a patch coming this Saturday, so I wouldn’t expect anything too crazy for this weekend, but maybe the next. Also, there’s a player-organized poetry jam every Sunday at 4pm eastern time which tends to feature dance buffs and free drinks.

Ok, that’s probably more than enough for now…

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silverwillow_sogboggen

I made exactly the same “mistake” speaking with the “guards” somewhat late. But it actually worked out for me as the larger sums were even more useful at that point. I’ve been playing about 6-7 weeks and have found that the role of “mind-wiped Prodigy” is helpful to live within. I’m trying to survive and make a life, not just pursue the agenda of someone (or something) else, i.e. “main quest.”

I think you’re trying to avoid spoilers, so I only will say what you’ve already picked up on. Speak at length with every NPC and raise favor as you are able. Some favor requests can’t be completed until much later, but you won’t know which ones off hand. The tips on those load screens are usually targeted toward us newer players (and I think that was one of those tips.)

Spoiler Alert:
[[[The closest thing to a spoiler I’ll make is to suggest that you head “south.” An NPC or two in the main town may have a favor down that way, and there is another newbie friendly area in that direction.]]]

There…I said it…sorry…couldn’t help myself.

drivendawn
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drivendawn

Indeed it is called Serbule hills and you can get bard started there pretty quickly. Also a good low lvl dungeon that is easy to get in a group in is The Crypt south west of the townof Serbule. If you are lucky you could get Necromancy skill while your there. ;)

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Bruno Brito

Well, it IS a oldschool game, so the grind is quite present.

I’m enjoying too, but it seems like a harsh game to play alone.

drivendawn
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drivendawn

The saw you are looking for is in serbule city. The npc is in the garden. If you are facing the windmill she’s to the left right after the opening in the brick wall.

Mukit
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Kickstarter Donor
Mukit

‘The saw you are looking for is in serbule city. The npc is in the garden.’

This gave me a Zork flashback. Thank you!