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Head Scratchers / Transistor

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New entries on the bottom. Spoilers, naturally.

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    What is the nature of the Process? 
  • From the talks in game, it seems like Process was an existing entity, but it's nature is undetermined? Is it a gestalt of all people in Cloudbank? Is it a rogue nano-mechanical process?
    • The last. It's pretty clearly the service programs/robots that ran Cloudbank's infrastructure, and something the Camerata did triggered its "factory reset" function. What exactly powered it is unclear, but we know what its function is at least.
  • Given the style of the game, the process was kind of the operating system / programming framework, kind of like an engine.


     Reviving processed people 
  • ENDING SPOILER! Red can recreate the entire city as she possesses the Transistor, and with it, every bit of processed data of Cloudbank. If that's the case, why doesn't she simply remake everything and revive everyone trapped in there, including the man she kills herself to be reunited with?
    • The people are not the city. Only the architecture is malleable, you couldn't modify flesh and blood people. When someone is 100% processed, they don't leave behind a trace nor a corpse. If you notice the corpses whose traces you find, you see that they are at about 65-83% Processed. Fully processed means they are completely reverted back into blank data, no memory. The citizens are essentially turned into building blocks.
    • Royce mentions the Transistor is a one way trip. You can get IN, but you can't get OUT. So, those who have been fully processed... are stuck like that. The best you can get is preserving a trace of them.
    • If the final boss is any indication, some of them might be able to get out. But people who have been killed before being logged in the Transistor, which is basically everyone except Red and the Camerata, would probably have no such luck. Red's friend is even listed as non-recoverable, so he would never be able to get out. And even if the Camerata did get out, judging from the fight with Royce you need to kill someone to escape the Transistor, which would allow out two of them at most. Three people and a talking sword do not a city make.
    • This is all based on the prevailing theme: no one really understands a thing about either the transistor or process. Royce got the farthest, but even he was in the early stages. It could have been very possible to restore everything. One of the problems though: nobody really wanted to. If the Camerata retained control, they’d run the risk of getting buried under their own changes. Who knows what Royce would have done on his own. Red and Blue weren’t exactly curious personalities.

    What exactly happens when somebody is processed? 
  • What exactly happens when somebody is processed? The first boss you fight, Sybil, is shown to be processed and completely out of her mind as a result; the boss fight is set up in a manner which suggests you're putting her out of her misery. However, at the very end of the game, Red processes herself, and... wakes up peacefully in The Country, fully restored, voice and all. Is it ever made clear what determines a person's reaction to processing?
    • Sybil is only mostly processed. Her meter hovers around 83%. She was also Camerata so there may have been some experiments that led to her absorbing Cells and becoming the monstrosity she is.
    • Red and her boyfriend are fully Processed by getting stabbed by the Transistor. They weren't being turned back into building blocks by Process, they were directly shot into the device. The other traces who are collected by the Transistor are shown to be stored in metaphorical silos (the ones you use to break Royce's line of sight during their boss battle), and even then, they were shown to have been partially processed somewhere around 63-84%, meaning they left behind a corpse. The Camerata likely killed them via partial processing, absorbed their trace, THEN fully Processed the body now that all was left was a husk.
    • Red was only partially processed in the beginning of the game. Perhaps she was grazed by the Transistor or her friend had defended against an initial attack, which is why Red's trace is in the Transistor as Crash() but she is still physically in the real world. (Or, as real as Cloudbank gets.)
    • Actually, the Transistor only needs sufficient contact with someone to record their trace and derive a Function. This is how Royce, Grant, and Asher provide Flood(), Tap(), and Void() via levelup unlocks, potentially before you even meet them. If you look at the "trace status" on their bio pages, they're listed as "recorded" as compared to Red's "intact", Mr. Nobody's "non-recoverable", or anyone else's "integrated". Presumably, processing someone and integrating their trace instead of just recording it would do more than just produce a personality-appropriate form of Process-blasting... but I never quite figured out what the Camerata needed integrated traces for...
    • Maybe they were creating a sort of portable Think Tank. Majority of the victims had some sort of skill or useful trait like Tennegan's outstanding charisma. Presumably, they could use these absorbed traces and inject themselves with their skills, or at least create some sort of super-human facsimile with the vitality of Olmarq, Platt's intelligence, and Yon-Dale's creativity.
    • The act of being Process appears to be a sort of "delete" operation, basically removing an object and freeing up the memory. In another way of seeing it, the "Process" are an out of control garbage collector in Java/C# that's freeing up memories that are still in use. In most cases, a program (people in Cloudbank) that has part of its memories deleted tend to just crash (dies). In other cases, like Sybil, the program may have bizarre behaviors. The Transistor's behavior, on the other hand, appears to perform a function pointer reassignment. Instead of deleting the remaining function of a program, it just change the pointer so that the Transistor itself can invoke it.
    • I don't think that what happened to Sybil, and/or what happened to most of the rest of Cloudbank by the end, and what the Transistor does to the "integrated" citizens is the same thing. When the Camerata makes someone "disappear," their physical body dies (on account of having a large object impaled though it), and their mind/soul is absorbed into the Transistor as data and converted into a Function. In the case of Mr. Nobody, Lilian, and Preston, their physical body was then left to the whims of the rouge Process - which is why you later find them converted into piles of white bricks after being "fully processed" - but this wasn't necessarily the case before the Process got lose, and it definitely wasn't the case before Royce figured out how to bring out the Process in its raw form. Most of the "integrated" subjects would have had their corpse disposed of deliberately by the Camerata, which may or may not involve the Process somehow, but wouldn't have the same results as with Sybil and the others; they just disappeared. And, as discussed above, it's possible that not everybody who was taken alive by the Process shared Sybil's fate.

    What does The Camerata want? 
  • I completed first run of the game but still unclear. From what I gathered, The Camerata wanted to put an end to always-changing nature of Cloudbank. by going around integrating traces of those with right mind, personality, skill and knowledge, so they can use the collected data to build a permanent perfect world. Am I right?
    • Consider the phrase "everyone in Cloudbank has a voice". Given that they outright said they were "just 4 voices" and they were going after the "most influential voices". Their plan was probably as simple as trying to fight the tyranny of the majority (or put themselves at the head of an autocracy, to be more cynical).
    • Then why did they bother to integrate their traces? Shouldn't they just kill the targets?
    • They all had useful traits and personalities, like charisma, creativity, or mechanical skill. Under different circumstances, I wouldn't be surprised if absorbing a Trace would just give you a new ability, but can actually enhance you as a person.
    • When Red uses the Transistor, each Trace she picks up gives her a new way to use its powers. Presumably it works the same way for the Camerata. They wanted to build a perfect world, but their capacity to do so was limited by the tools they had (their own Traces). Absorbing others was a way to counteract the problem.
    • The Camerata do not necessarily intend to put an end to Cloudbank as it is, in it's entirety. They see the ever-changing nature as a tragedy; because everything constantly changes, nothing will ever last, nothing will ever be important enough to last, and no one can ever appreciate anything no matter how brilliant the creative individuals are. Hence, "When everything changes, nothing changes."
    • I interpreted it a little differently. The reason they were collecting the consciousnesses (traces) of people is because the city was in a constant stasis due to the majority votes. As an example, some people might like rain or snow as an occasional scenery change, but this could never happen, because majority of people would always vote for a clear (or slightly cloudy) sky. They wanted to change this by simply changing the voting system—instead of everyone having the right to vote, only a few select individuals would have that right. All of them individuals of note, and most importantly, all of them individuals who had similar feelings as the Camerata. The result would be a city where things could actually change.
    • I took it as they were wanting to capture the 'souls' of the people who had an inordinate amount of control over the city- each person, barring a few, were people who had some deal of sway over the populace. Some of the traces were high ranking members of the government, which meant that they were voted into position in a democratic world, and we see one trace, Grant, was basically the president. Others were people who had skills or abilities that let them directly effect the world, like Farrah and Royce. Finally, we have those who while not in a position of power or with unique crafting skills, who tend to attract a following and shape opinion- people like Red and Shomar, celebrities. The goal was to not just silence their control, but to take it for themselves. If each trace represents a way a person can affect or manipulate the world and it's people, then by collecting them all one could have a method to disproportionately control the entirety of Cloudbank. Another way of looking at it is that due to the patterns of society, people like Red's vote counts for 5 normal votes because of how she affects others, while a normal person counts for only 1. If all the people like Red voted for the same thing, it could potentially overwhelm the majority. Collecting them all in the Transistor means whoever holds it now has a personal majority, which is what they were seeking in the pure democracy. However, since there is a kind of 'dual reality' where people don't realize that they're just programs on a system, one could also notice that every important character is not just a person, but a function that existed within the process, and anthropomorphisation of that function. Red gives the crash button, because she's a sad vulnerable person who spreads this melancholy with her music- the Crash() function which hits targets and makes them vulnerable. In computer terms, the Camerata's goal is to create a class file/executable that has access to every other major function, and be the new operating system.

    How did the Camerata lose the Transistor in the first place? 
  • The game seems to imply that the reason the Camerata weren't able to kill Red as they originally planned was because her unnamed friend took the Transistor blow for her. The image in one of the scene transitions shows her falling backwards away from Kendrell's attempt to skewer her. But where was Kendrell when Red removed the Transistor from her friend's corpse? He wasn't there at all. It seems like he just left the Transistor (the Restraining Bolt for a murderous army of robots and the lynchpin of his entire plan) lying on the ground and walked off.
    • It's implied that the Transistor teleported both Red and her friend away from The Camerata. Not sure how or why though.
    • The Breach function and the fact that her friend has no dossier in city records implies that Red's friend had mad hacking skillz, and we already know he has unusual strength of will. Perhaps once he was in the Transistor he spirited her to safety... or, given that his corpse is still nailed to the wall next to you, more likely teleported Grant away.
    • My view is that Red not being alone ruined everything. It was mentioned in Sybil's file that she lied about whether Red would be alone, and every other file mentions a meeting where the victim was alone. Now, obviously having the victim be alone makes it much easier to cover up the crime, but what if the Transistor can only "download" one person at a time? Or that Royce needs to put in the metadata about their next victim or something along those lines before the trace can be truly captured. This could explain how Red's man being downloaded by the Transistor broke everything, there was suddenly an influx of data that was uncategorized (which was the majority of Mr. Nobody's "being") and since it wasn't stored properly he suddenly seized control. In the flashback scene we see Red appear to digitize into the area, which implies to me that Mr. Nobody managed to activate some sort of emergency transport with the Transistor for both her and his body.
    • This is a fun theory, but is undermined by the fact that Red uses the transistor to absorb traces along the way, including several of the Camerata. Perhaps the Camerata would have their own data entered already, but some are simply bodies you find along the way.

    Who wrote the entries in the Transistor's database? 
  • The limiters are written by Royce, but quite obviously the descriptions of the characters in the database aren't. They sound somewhat mechanical and a little omniscient (85% that Sybil is lying? That's... precise...). It seems a little weird if it's the process, or indeed admins, and I don't remember ever seeing any comment about this.
    • Maybe the Transistor automatically interprets the traces. Storytelling convenience is at play here.
      • It has to be automatic. Nobody else could have written Mr. Nobody's file. Obviously nobody in the Camerata wrote it, since they didn't know he existed until it was too late and they lost the Transistor; and obviously neither he nor Red wrote it, since they'd know more about him than that. Since they're the only people with access to the Transistor at that point, the only other option is that it wrote it itself. This also explains the somewhat weird wording at times (eg. the 85% chance that Sybil is lying, the confused-robot-tone used for Mr. Nobody's file.)
    • It was most likely handled in the registration office, and then information collated from public sources later. The only person lacking information is Blue, who admitted to procrastinating.


    Why does the spine affect Blue? 
  • Is there some explanation for that or is it just to give the story some more flavor and the characters a chance to communicate in a different way?
    • Signal interference, one would assume. Ever heard a radio glitch out because a nearby phone got a call? Might be something like that.
    • But the Transistor is the control mechanism of Process. (Which the Spine is one.) Why would it/he go drunk?
    • Another way to see it is that the Spine is a MASSIVE process. A massive process that takes up a lot of processing power to run. What happen to your computer if you have a process that's taking a very large percentage of your computer resources? Everything slows to a crawl, including your (as an operator of said computer) ability to affect the system.

    Locations in Transistor 
  • Is Cloudbank really the only city/place out there? I understand narratively why Red doesn't just kick rocks on out of there but is it just impossible to leave Cloudbank and go to another city with people or barring that, a village or forest or something?
    • The true nature of Cloudbank as a place is left ambiguous, but it's heavily implied that there is nowhere else. None of the characters ever seriously consider leaving, and there is never any mention of people fleeing the city, despite escape being the obvious action in the event of a city-destroying disaster. The Transistor seems to believe that it's possible to leave, but everyone else regards it as unthinkable. If the theory that the events of Transistor take place in a computer is correct, it explains the psychological inability to leave Cloudbank. The Man in the Transistor may be able to leave or consider leaving due to the Transistor's inherent reality warping powers.
      • There is an offhand reference in Preston Moyle's file to some people wanting to search for him in an "offline district", but Administration forbidding it. This heavily implies that Transistor is set in a transhumanist "simulation" of sorts, although it's possible none of the residents physically exist outside it under normal circumstances (they needed Administration's permission to investigate "offline districts.")
      • Its also loosely implied that Blue is an outsider to Cloudbank, as well as being comfortable with leaving it. Of the characters we hear about, they’re all pretty much described as ‘leaders in their respective fields.’ All of them are described as being embroiled in conflict due to a desire to change the status quo. ‘Leaving’ Cloudbank might have less to do with *actual* death, and more to do with abstract / professional death. We see characters commit suicide, because its either that, or starting over in obscurity some place else. This is something, someone like Blue would be comfortable with since his attachment is almost solely to Red. For the society elites though, this could almost be considered a Fate Worse than Death. ‘Going to the country’ can be treated as both ‘relocating’ and ‘exhistential suicide.’

  • Perhaps I'm misunderstanding how they work, but why didn't the Camerata just take Red alive? All of the Camerata excluding Sybil manage to have their Traces extracted while they're alive, meaning the Transistor doesn't need them specifically.
    • Everybody targeted by Camerata have some sort of influence over Cloudbank. Killing her is part of their plan.

    How did they get separated? 
  • The fight between Red, her man and the Camerata is left deliberately vague, but even more vague is how Red, Him and the Transistor got transported halfway across the city. Any theories?
    • One is that the Man managed to access an emergency teleport function in the Transistor. The other is that Sybil sent them across town to keep Red safe. Or maybe the Transistor just glitched as part of whatever gave Red user access to it in the first place (theorized to be related to the fact that the Man never voted or interacted with Cloudbank's systems in any meaningful way).

    "Skip Town" 
  • Early on, when you get the bike, the Transistor suggests "skipping town." Does he mean another borough of Cloudbank? Because I don't think he means "going to the country."
    • I'm not sure if the citizens of cloud bank actually realize that there's nothing beyond their city. The Transistor's comments on the Visitor's Bureau, and Asher Kendrell's Trace's mention of Cloudbank's inconsistent and obfuscated history point toward this.


    How did Red lose her voice? 
  • It's never said how or why Red can no longer speak after being attacked by the Camerata, what could have caused it? I know it's just an excuse for a silent protagonist, but it's still irking.
    • It could be a side effect of being in close proximity to the Transistor malfunctioning after it stabbed Mr. Nobody. Note how Red's selections were Music and Linguistics; presumably they became dysfunctional during this time (it may be relevant that the same event led to a non-recoverable trace of a guy with no selections being loaded into the Transistor).
    • I believe it stems from being partially processed by the Transistor. Her Bio mentions that her music (her voice) caused controversy. The processing of her voice was what allowed the creation of Crash(); As a function, it retains the same ability to destabilize. She lost her voice because it BECAME Crash().

    Copied Functions of living people 

  • How could Royce Bracket be simultaneously inside and outside of the Transistor?
    • His trace is probably logged the same way Red's is.
    • Notice that if you look at the profile of any of the functions created by people who were abducted and killed with the transistor, their trace status is listed as "integrated",but Royce, Asher, and Grant's statuses are all "recorded". As they are the functions you can can get prior to meeting those characters, the assumption being that they recorded their data into the transistor because they wanted their traits to be a part of it but wanted to still be around to control what they had started. Sybil's trace is integrated because you can't get her data until she is killed and fully integrated into the transistor.

    What is Red's motivation? 
  • Her objective initially appears to be the Camerata, presumably for revenge or because she believes they're behind the Processes attacking her, but she ends up cooperating with Royce to stop the process and fighting him to stay alive, only to choose to die afterwards anyway. Why struggle through that when it appears she's too late to save anyone, and when she intended to end her own life? Did she hope Royce could get Mr. Nobody out of the Transistor, until his "no-one comes out" line sent her over the edge, and if so why didn't she just let him kill her? Was it all just to go to the country on her own terms?
    • I think she and her lover both hoped that putting the Transistor into the Cradle would revert Cloudbank back to normal, perhaps restoring all its people in the process. Perhaps Red actually didn't believe that but didn't want to disappoint Mr. Nobody by joining him before "it was over". (Remember how he called Asher and Grant cowards upong discovering they had committed suicide?) Another interpretation is that she simply had a goal—stop the Process, never mind what happens once she does. After realizing nothing changed, except that she now had the brush to paint a lifeless city but no way to actually put life into it, that goal was gone, and she had no reason to stay in this world any longer, as the last user.

     What sort of Unobtanium is the Transistor made out of? 
  • Seriously, Red drags it around for, what, days, with one end on the ground giving off sparks and that doesn't wear the Transistor down in any way or gouge huge grooves into whatever surface it gets dragged across...
    • Nanomachines, son. Any damage to it is healed.
    • The city of Cloudbank is implied to be digital in nature, so the ground might not give any true resistances to the Transistor.

     Heart of the Process 
  • Why does the Spine have a heart? Do the other Process have hearts too?

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