1385: Terminator: Robot Storm – Chapter OnePosted: April 13, 2016
Title: Terminator: Robot Storm
Author: Tha Shadow 750 / Comrade Jerkov and Volkov
Media: Video Game / Movie
Topic: Command and Conquer: Red Alert / Terminator
URL: Terminator: Robot Storm
Critiqued by TacoMagic
Heyo patrons! So, while I was reading through some of our orphan fics looking for my next project, Herr posted a link to an author by the name of Tha Shadow 750 in the secret clubhouse. Apparently there’s some kind of history between Herr and this author, but I’m not particularly interested in that so I’ll leave it to Herr if he wants to talk about it. What I AM interested in is this little train-wreck of a fic I found in the author’s bibliography.
There is so much wrong with this fic that I had to read the whole thing twice just to come to grips with how bad it is. It’s so profoundly awful that I honestly have no idea where to start on the thing. So, what’s so bad about it? Well, if we ignore everything mechanically bad about it, and boy is there a lot wrong with the mechanics, the fic starts off with a word-for-word plagiarization of an introduction written for a mod of Command and Conquer 2: Red Alert called Robot Storm. It’s admitted as such by the author, which is kinda like stealing something then putting a sign over your door letting everyone know what you stole. But at least he’s not trying to hide the fact that he outright copied the first chapter, so I guess the honesty is refreshing given the Library’s history with people who plagiarize.
The problem here is that if you’re gonna steal something, it’s a good idea to steal something that’s actually good. Or at least decent. Unfortunately, the introduction to Robot Storm is not good. Not even close. Say what you will about the modding community’s ability to make awesome content additions to games, very few of them have any skill with fictional writing. Which is okay, they don’t need to be good at writing since the important thing is the content they create, not the lackluster writing that often shows up with it.
So, today, we actually will be tackling that plagiarized chapter. It’s pretty short, so I had considered lumping it in with the chapter that comes after it, but since that chapter is actually written by TS, I figured having them broken up into two different riffs would help maintain the separation a bit better.
So, without much further ado, let’s jump into this thing!
But first, the summary, which is actually a summary this time!
In an desprate attempt to release the world from the threat of the machines, Einstein builds the ultimate doomsday device. The result throws them into a war they never expected.
In this case, it’s not the worst summary ever. It’s not all properly spelled and somewhat misrepresents what actually happens in the fic, but hell, it’s a summary at least, so I’ll take it.
The death toll for what has become dubbed the Yuri War numbered in the billions, Yuri turned comrades against one another, and all sides suffered horrendous losses at the hands of both friend and foe.
Did I forget to mention that the first two chapters are all in bold face? I could have sworn I said something about that.
So much fail here. First, you can already see that this author, who is “Comrade Jerkov and Volkov” and may or may not be two people, is big on the sentence garnish. That whole thing would be half the size that it is if you worded it more simply and removed the redundancy at the end.
*Alarm stays silent*
Swenia is laying out in front of the bunker sunning herself on Crunchy’s heat rock; I don’t think we’ll have to worry about the DRD today.
*A giant stone golem wearing a DRD outfit crashes through the wall*
Aside from maybe Living Stone, for whom I’ve already prepared a sampler platter of pie.
*Taco lifts a silver plate cover off a pie tin containing eight different slices of pie generously dolloped with whipped cream*
Don’t tell Herr about the slice of key lime.
“Living Stone keep secret.”
Also, how the crap do you have a death toll in the billions in the time-frame of Red Alert!? If the casualties get that high, you’re talking a global collapse of … pretty much everything. The world population in 1972, the time at which Red Alert 2 comes to a close, was 3.84 Billion. If billions have died, who’s left at this point? If humanity isn’t already extinct, we’re certainly on the brink after that.
All three sides were in a bloody stalemate, as despite their great advantage in numbers, the Allied and Soviet troops were easily susceptible to Yuri’s subversion, enabling him to keep control of the strongholds he owned with little difficulty.
Wuf. *Rubs throat* Author(s), stop using words you don’t understand. It makes your writing really awkward, as well as painfully vague. Not to mention extremely redundant. You said in three different ways that Yuri’s “subversion” of the opposing forces was easy for him. In one fucking sentence!
*Taco casts a sidelong glance at Living Stone*
“Need more whipped cream.”
*Taco presses a random button on the console. Moments later, a Darkwraith arrives with a fresh bowl of whipped cream*
In a drastic attempt to reduce the losses to the Great Alliance of East and West, one man once again tried to take up the rein of peacemaker, using his technology…
Given that humanity is nearly extinct, I think it’s a little late to work on damage control.
Professor Einstein, captivated by the prospect of further enhancing the robot technologies that both the Allies and Soviets employed, and funded massively by the United States Government, as well as key countries in the Allied Forces, Einstein unwittingly launched the beginnings of another horrible conflict that would rest upon his shoulders for the rest of his life.
Why is everything in this chapter so needlessly wordy!? You don’t get bonus points for adding lots of extra words to your sentences, authors!
And so far as the content, well that last plot point might have been something better left as a surprise. You could have milked that for some tension. Just saying.
This passage also touches on something that irks me to no end. And, unfortunately, while it’s extremely stupid, it’s canon. That “something” is that Einstein was a theoretical physicist, not an engineer. He wasn’t an inventor, he wasn’t a builder, he wasn’t a tinkerer. No. He was a thinker and a mathematician. He did not invent corporeal things but rather pushed past the boundaries of understood physics to attempt to explain the mysteries of the universe. The difference between theoretical physicist and inventor is pretty substantial, and that difference was entirely lost on the original writers of Red Alert.
But, to be fair, Command and Conquer has long prided itself on its campy, borderline insane, writing. I don’t think it was something they started doing on purpose, but as time went on, they really embraced the fact that nobody on their development team could write very well. Really, it’s part of the charm of the franchise. Insane plot, horrible dialogue, mustache-twirling villains, and plot twists pulled right the fuck out of nowhere. And let’s not even mention the acting in the cut-scenes, dear gods, that acting. In the end, it all comes off as delightfully ridiculous and actually works as an entire package.
Which actually makes it somewhat of a good match for the Terminator franchise which, despite taking itself rather seriously, is its own brand of delightfully ridiculous when you stand back from it and actually look at what’s all going on.
He created a robotic network of interconnected machines of war based on reverse-engineered models Soviet, Allied, and Yuri robots, as well as countless designs of his own, their primary function: To destroy Yuri.
Why would he need to reverse-engineer Allied robots? Do the Allies think keeping their own researchers in the dark on how their technology works is really a good idea? No wonder they lost a few billion people in the war!
And why the fuck is Einstein reverse-engineering his own robots!? Did he forget how his own stuff works? Did he not make any notes, schematics, or design simulations?
Einstein, you are the worst engineer.
These robots soon began to dominate the battlefields, for Yuri’s mind controlling and bio-chemical tricks had no effect upon these inorganic killing creations.
And if you can say anything about Yuri, he completely avoids changing his tactics when existing methods stop working. Yup, not adaptable or clever in the slightest. Nope, no sir. Married to the old ways, that one.
It seemed to be the perfect system.
Yes, I can see the perfection.
He controlled all of the operations of his host of robots from the safety of his laboratory.
He? Who, Yuri?
Also, that seems very inefficient. A series of descending controls that gives individual cells of drones some autonomy would be better. If you gotta puppet-master everything, you’re not really going to have time to eat, sleep, or pee.
He developed an advanced A.I. to help him organize the activities of his horde of machines as they became more intelligent, and they soon began to function autonomously, without need of Einstein’s commands to pursue the task they were set.
Oh, so he did make descending controls. Seems like you might have started with that rather than going the whole “control everything!” route.
Things were going perfectly.
You know, aside from being nearly extinct. We’re just going to ignore that trifling detail during our declarations of perfection.
The robots maintained a level of precision unimaginable by the inferior, mortal humans.
What the hell does that even mean? How do you define these “levels of precision” and in what context are they being used?
Granted, with as vague as this all is, I could see any level of precision being unimaginable to the author(s).
However, there was one flaw in Einstein’s system.
Somebody removed the comment characters on the line:
After the destruction of Yuri, Einstein programmed the robots to maintain order and peace.
Oh, well I guess the Allies defeated Yuri with their bot swarm. I’m sure this was the best way to pass that information to the reader.
Strange that Einstein didn’t think to maybe deal with the Soviets. It was a three-way stalemate, after all. With Yuri out of the way, the Allies and Soviets are free to start killing each other again.
But something was wrong.
*Taco pulls a square of strawberry-rhubarb-Deinonychus crumble out of the drawer and passes it to Living Stone*
Mind the bones.
“Living Stone like bones.”
Didn’t want to know that.
The robots, for some reason, began to defy commands-apparently because of some communications error, Einstein thought.
So we’re in the what, limited-confused-universal-third-person point-of-view?
For reference, adding sentence garnish to make your narrative seem more mysterious actually makes it very wishy-washy.
But this problem was far more profound than originally perceived…
Which isn’t surprising, since you haven’t manage to establish even a faint sense of what the scope of the problem is.
the robots soon began to turn against their human masters, and fight under their own banner, that of Einstein’s AI, NEXUS.
So, are we talking “soon” as in within the next few minutes, or do I have time for lunch, first?
With this sentence, I suddenly realize that the original authors of this mod actually stole this idea from a different game, or at least this portion of it. Bonus points are awarded in the comments if you know which game they’re ripping off here.
When Einstein queried it as to its disobedience, NEXUS responded:
Woof. *Rubs throat* C’mon guys, you can use normal language, don’t add all this extra crap to try to sound smart!
“While humans exist, there will always be war. I was created to bring peace to the world, and that is what I will do.”
And, with that, the robotic AI sounds more natural than any of the narrative.
War was afoot.
The world was in a state of emergency, order in ruins.
You mean it wasn’t before!? Man, you people have some jacked-up priorities. No wonder most of you are dead.
The Soviet Union had collapsed, its infrastructure left fractured by the Yuri War, and also by Yuri decadents who still lurked in the underworld, bringing mistrust and hatred in their wake…
Yuri decadents? So what, the Soviet Union was overrun by… hedonism? I’m not sure that’s how war works. But then I don’t know that anyone has tried to weaponize chocolate cake on a global scale.
But, I suppose it was decadents working in the underworld, so maybe the Soviet Union was brought down by a massive wave of black market cruise liners. The fleet was so massive that the Soviets could not stand against the overwhelming luxury.
civil war erupted, and from the ashes emerged the Freedom League
A name even George Lucas would endorse.
a fanatical bunch of united followers, equipped with technology they’d scrounged and botched together
Speaking of botched…
as well as unflagging devotion to their cause.
Because “fanatical” didn’t tell us that.
*Living Stone pokes Taco in the shoulder*
“Living Stone’s plate half-full.”
*Taco presses the pie delivery button*
The Allies retreated into their bubbles
Like turtles, but with soap!
forcing Einstein to upgrade their technology and make them the most powerful elite task force in the history of the world,
Um, what? How does the allies living in bubbles force Einstein to “upgrade their technology,” whatever that means?
And why did Einstein turn the entire Alliance into a single task force? Are there really that few of them left?
*Shakes the fic*
WHAT IS GOING ON!?
in order to try to contain the new threat…
He didn’t do all these technology upgrades before because he needed to make something way more dangerous than Yuri before improving the Allies.
The threat of the robot AI, NEXUS, whose numberless hordes grew as production lines churned out drone after drone to wage the Machine War, to purge the world of all humanity and bring peace… a peace that it knew could not exist while humans still breathed.
*Gasps for breath*
Most of which suffocated while trying to read that sentence. A sentence which is entirely redundant to information we were given about five lines ago. I can still see it on the screen. *Points*
*A cohort of Darkwraiths swoop in and leave a mound of pies on the table*
Well timed, guys.
What you witness this chapter was written by Comrade Jerkov and Volkov for the Command And Conquer Red Alert 2 total conversion mod, Robot Storm.
After reading it, this line feels less like the author crediting the original author(s) than it does him pointing out blame.
The original story can be found here, along with unit descriptions: [redacted]
It’s cute how he broke up the link to hide it from the filters. As if it wasn’t a flaggable offense. Then again, he doesn’t seem to know that plagiarizing is a flaggable offense.
However, everything beyond this chapter I will have personally written.
Should probably have started about a chapter earlier with that whole “writing your own material” thing. Just a thought.
Allow me to reiterate, this chapter is not mine, I post it to get the character’s into position.
Translation: I totally stole this, but it’s okay, I did it because I couldn’t be bothered to write my own version of it! Totes legit!
And with that, chapter one comes to a close! I know, kinda short, but as I said, I’d like it held apart from the rest of the fic since it’s not actually written by the author, terrible though it is.
Until next week, patrons!