At first, I worried about Bob Busby.
I didn’t think he’d last.
I’d portrayed him twice, first in a TED-like talk posted here on the OtherSpace blog and then in a real-time roleplaying scene.
And I wasn’t quite getting into him. He felt quirky and odd for the sake of being quirky and odd, little more than the Dude from “The Big Lebowski” channeled through a Steve Jobs costume.
And I thought that might be fine for a one-off character or someone who’s meant to be just occasional comic relief. But Busby’s supposed to be my personal storytelling connection to the new OtherSpace reboot.
He’s got to go deeper. He’s got to mean more.
So, imagine my relief on Wednesday night when I forced an encounter between Busby and his apparent rival, General Jensen of the Vanguard, in the Apollo Lounge on Earth and found what makes Busby matter – at least to me as the player behind him.
For those who may have missed his IF/IT talk, Busby came out swinging against the Vanguard as he did some cheerleading for the fast-track of faster-than-light technology development. He’s all about outrunning rainbows, it would seem.
When Busby sat down for a drink with Jensen, though, it occurred to me that for all his talk about wanting to break the light-speed limit, my character should be deeply conflicted about it.
Yes, his corporation could make vast sums of money by unlocking the key to rapid travel beyond Sol System. That’d please his stockholders a great deal.
But what happens next? What happens if he gets what he claims to want and we meet our interstellar neighbors, and they want to wipe us out?
He’s got to take the long view. He’s got to wonder what success will cost humanity in the final tally.
Now, Busby’s more than just a funny hand puppet. He’s a quirky stoner CEO who’s torn between one of his civilization’s greatest advancements and the potential for that accomplishment to end in obliteration. I can work with that.
Busby became even more interesting when it occurred to me that he’s serving as a proxy on a meta level. Here I am, after 16 years of an evolution that has seen OtherSpace grow, change, expand over the years, with all the highs and lows that came with it. Now I’m contracting the game’s scope down to the Sol System. I’ve seen what can happen to a game with myriad worlds, races, even universes. People get spread out. They clique up. Sometimes, bad things happen. Memorable bad things.
But a lot of good things happen too.
I think it’s healthy for both Busby and I to worry about the future.
And I think he’ll last now.