Voices in the Air

Unfortunately, I'm guilty of having missed Richard Cobbett's Rock, Paper, Shotgun The RPG Scrollbars last week, even though it was a very interesting read on radios in videogames and RPGs specifically. While I apologize for the delay, it's still worth reporting on, if nothing else because it's reminding me that I haven't tried Dead State in spite of backing it on Kickstarter:

As a game mechanic though, I don't think anyone's done radio better than Dead State (from former Troika designer Brian Mitsoda). There's no music element at all, or at least none that we get to hear. Instead, he's the voice of the outside world in the survival/RPG mix, with each in-game day unlocking a new broadcast where the DJ tries to keep his sanity through music, to pass on information to the outside world, to talk with his handful of remaining listeners as they call in, and to show the effect of prolonged survival in impossible odds. He has about 50 broadcasts before leaving the station, going from moments of optimism to deep frustration and aggression, often mitigated or sparked by what happens off the air, like having a huge rant about how humanity deserves its current fate, then getting a call from one of his regulars just checking on how he is and hoping he hasn't given up leading to his next update being quieter, slightly more hopeful, and promising to cut down the swearing.

Wasteland 2 occasionally ventured into similar territory, though I don't think it quite went far enough like a lot of the game, the good stuff like the impossible choice between Ag Center and Highpool, two crucial towns under simultaneous siege that you have to pick between was too front-loaded. Even when you get to California, there's nothing quite like the horrific early game scene of saving one town at the same time that the other is on the radio in your ear, begging and pleading for help that absolutely isn't going to arrive because of your alternate choice, until finally giving up all hope and just going quiet. Likewise, it never makes the most of being in contact with your home base via radio, reinforcing your status as Wasteland lawbringers backed (supposedly) by an organisation instead of just random do-gooders.