This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
MARC: This is the blog post where the developers of HRO talk about our favorite characters in the game. And I thought it might be interesting for us to say who our favorite recurring character is and who our favorite “guest star” is.
ERIC: Love it. Yes.
MARC: So my favorite recurring character — this will hardly be a shocker — is the science officer.
Commander Kondor. <in the accompanying graphic, Kondor is on the far right> Just a little background, Stella Kondor is a Chirchirroid, which is one of the alien races in HRO. They are famous as the sticklers of the galaxy — the rules followers and the referees and they’re the people who point and say “six items or fewer in the express checkout line!”
ERIC: And they’re very unpopular as a result.
MARC: But that is like, definitely, totally me. I really dig the whole “let’s have rules and let’s all follow them” thing. So I have a soft spot for her. Everybody in the crew also dislikes her for that dedication to order. There’s a lot of pushback about how she’s too much “by the book” and won’t bend the rules — like to give Dr. Singh the scans of the planet so she can tell if her daughter’s still alive on Kirmulis Majoris. And Kondor just won’t do it. No! No, that’s the rule!
ERIC: That’s very Kondor.
MARC: And I love that we later find out she has a very adventurous love life. Which is a beautiful combination of contradictions, right? She’s like this uptight paragon who is also an unapologetically equal-opportunity romantic. Plus the voiceover work is beautiful.
ERIC: Liz’s audition was a real surprise!
MARC: Totally! Right out of the box and I was like, “Oh! There she is! There’s Kondor.”
ERIC: So my favorite recurring character? I might surprise you, but I think my favorite character is Lieutenant Whitford. <far left in the illustration>
MARC: Why would that surprise me?
ERIC: I don’t know. I think he’s very funny. He’s so oblivious! He’s got a heart of gold but he’s completely oblivious to everything going on around him. Right? He sort of feels like everybody’s little brother that needs protecting.
ERIC: He entertains me in that way. I go back to his conversations and there’s always something that makes me laugh out loud.
MARC: It’s funny because of his lack of self knowledge, but also his lack of competence. When you pair those two things together…
ERIC: I don’t know about that. I’m gonna push back on that because I mean, he’s reasonably competent as a navigator. I think. Right?
MARC: Well, the one actual navigational problem in the game was not actually his fault.
ERIC: Yes. I feel like — as a navigator — he’s very competent. All the mistakes that we see him make — and we do see him make a lot of mistakes — are all security and password problems, personal problems, things like that.
MARC: And I think it’s suggested that he’s responsible for the genocide of an alien species.
ERIC: Well, partially responsible, but I mean, like, yeah, he has zero life skills. But navigationally he’s competent. <laughter>
MARC: Another interesting thing about Whitford is the distance between the player’s relationship with Whitford and what Whitford thinks their relationship is. It’s the biggest disconnect of any of the characters you talk to.
ERIC: That leads to some interesting exchanges because he seems to think the player is his best friend. Which I also find very endearing. Especially in that unlockable episode when Mr. Whitford --
MARC: — D. Carole.
ERIC: Right. Do we ever find out what the D. stands for?
MARC: I think his sister tells us if you ask her the right way.
ERIC: Right, OK — so I love that unlockable scene where D. Carole Whitford defends the player when the other junior officer start bad-mouthing them.
MARC: Oh, Mr. Whitford… OK — So who do we love for guest stars?
ERIC: My favorite guest star is Dr. Callis. <second from the left in the image>
MARC: Oh, really?
ERIC: That’s a surprise?
MARC: Only because I’m going to bookend your choice — my favorite is Jakulis Spitz. <pictured third from the left> For those of you who are following this conversation on the blog — that’s a thing because those two stories are mutually exclusive. So if you meet Dr. Callis, you would never meet Spitz.
MARC: And why do you love Dr. Callis? She has a boss hairstyle — I’ll give you that.
ERIC: She has style. Yeah, there’s no question about it. But also, the episode Dr. Callis stars in is a great exploration of obsession. She has such a commitment to her life’s work. I mean, she’s willing to put everything on the line to get what she needs — no matter the cost.
MARC: So I feel the same way about Spitz, the criminally-insane cult-leader.
ERIC: Also a character who is obsessed.
MARC: But that’s not why I love him. I love Spitz because he is such a beautiful example of redemption. What he has that Dr. Callis doesn’t is that Spitz can make the single biggest turnaround —the most radical change of heart — of any character in the game.
ERIC: Does he always redeem himself?
MARC: Not always, but it’s possible.
ERIC: But it doesn’t end well for him. Actually it doesn’t end well for Dr. Callis either.
MARC: Well, it’s obsession. When does obsession ever end well?
ERIC: Right. But I guess I identify with that. In both Spitz and Dr. Callis.
MARC: Dr. Callis is putting everything on the line — which is how you characterized it earlier — and I agree. She’s putting everything on the line. But she’s also putting everybody else’s everything on the line.
ERIC: Well, that’s the heart of obsession, right?
MARC: He says, obsessively. <laughter>
ERIC: Picking favorite characters wasn’t so easy! I mean, I was very close to choosing Hivemind 53.
MARC: Also a great choice. I love them.
ERIC: They bring a unique perspective to the game — as a group of intelligences inhabiting a single body — but I felt like they didn’t have enough screen time to count as a major character.
MARC: I felt the same way about Nurse Williams. As a character he makes some interesting choices. I also like the fact that he’s a poet. So I enjoyed writing for him, particularly, because his cadence and word choices are so specific. But again, I thought he wasn’t enough of a presence to be considered, you know, part of the main cast.
ERIC: So we can file those under “Honorable Mention.”
MARC: So thanks, Eric. I know it wasn’t easy to pick favorites with, what? Forty-plus characters in the game.
ERIC: My pleasure. I hope the readers enjoy the conversation.
Worthing and Moncrieff, LLC is an independent developer of video game stories founded in 2015.