Welcome to the first installment of The People’s Fiction, an essay series where I will be analyzing various works of pop culture from a politically leftist lens and revise them in a way that brings their dormant radicalism to the foreground. In this first part I discuss Red Faction Guerrilla, the 2009 destruct-a-thon developed by Volition and published by THQ. Though it is not known for its communist leanings, this game hides a politically inspiring potential that I hope I can bring to the surface. In order to do so, I will first have to dissect the game as-is. I won’t spend much time on summarizing its admittedly barebones plot, but the open world setting and its interaction with the demolition-centered gameplay deserves some attention. This is because in playing games, you don’t just internalize the work’s meaning through passive consumption, as with books or movies. Instead, the interactive system in which you immerse yourself has its own intentions, and its meaning can operate entirely independent of what the story is telling you. In the case of Red Faction Guerrilla, the story’s political engagement might be lukewarm at best, but taken as an immersive whole the game is brimming with potential. This realm of possibility is what I’ll be delving into in the second part, pointing out those key elements of the work that make it ripe for a revision. Since that revision is the point of it all, I’ll be getting to it last, laying out my vision of a remake that can hopefully do its revolutionary themes justice. Of course, a fair warning is in order here, for I do not have any experience with game development; my interest in the matter is armchair-motivated. Nevertheless, I do aim for some degree of feasibility, and so I will temper the scope of my imagination to the estimated ambition and budget of the original product. In short, I do not expect to be working with triple-A Ubisoft-style money-and-mindset here. Their various overambitious blunders could fill several essays of their own in this series, but for now I’m sticking to the commendable moderation of the folks at Volition. Let’s take a look.
A free Mason: what is Red Faction Guerrilla all about?
Red Faction Guerrilla is not hard to explain. Let me begin with its plot, which as I’ve said before is quite simplistic. One could dismiss it as ‘dumb’, but that’d be too mean-spirited to me. This is an open-world action game from the late 2000s: sophistication was not a primary goal in development. Appealing to plot archetypes works as a reference point, reminding us of similar stories and so sparing the game designers precious time. Furthermore, that simplicity allows for greater freedom of interpretation, as we can switch up the context of characters and events and create whole new meanings. This is perhaps the main reason why it’s even possible to deconstruct and reimagine Red Faction through a leftist lens. Had the developers appealed more rigidly to the worldview of its audience, the unintentional undertone of revolutionary sentiment would not have been maintained. It is an ironic blessing then that this audience did not demand much in terms of narrative.
A lack of sophistication aside, we need to get this plot out of the way. As it is, Red Faction Guerrilla takes place on the planet Mars, about a century from now. The Earth has quite predictably committed to cooking humanity alive for three hundred years of ecological hubris, and so its inhabitants are plagued by various resource crises which they hope can be alleviated by Martian imports. Great long-term plan right there, especially when it leads to the boot of the Earth Defense Force (abbreviated as EDF) stomping down on the off-world proletariat. In response, a certain ‘Red Faction’ has raised the banner of revolt. All this is established in the opening minutes of the game, as the main character arrives to the dusty scene. He is Alec Mason, a mining engineer who would like nothing more than to ignore the ongoing insurrection and salvage old infrastructure with his brother Dan. Tragedy strikes swiftly as this brother’s association with the Red Faction sees him executed by the EDF, forcing Alec into a reluctant pact with the local resistance movement. Like a true protagonist, his skills prove vital to the war effort, and what follows is a rather typical open-world campaign progression. The game space, divided into various occupation sectors, is liberated bit by bit. By the end, Alec has fully committed himself to the revolutionary cause, turning an initial lust for revenge into a sense of loyalty to the red planet and its people. Mars is freed, and the relation between earth and its colony is to be renegotiated on a more equitable basis.
So much for its plot then. To reiterate, it’s not bad, but it does call to mind the ambiguity between potential and shortcoming, both symptoms of its simplicity. In a more positive light, what sets Red Faction apart from other games in its genre is the gameplay, and the way it interacts with this setting of futuristic guerrilla warfare. In technical terms, the game runs on the Geomod 2.0 engine, a program which allows for intricate demolition gameplay. In practical terms, this means it lets you blow up stuff real good. Allowing the player to demolish almost every structure on the map to its foundations creates an experience that even to this day might be unparalleled. That experience is enhanced by the setting, and vice-versa. Most structures you’ll discover belong to the enemy, and so you can commit to a half-improvised strategy of chaotic destruction through gleeful abandon, like a real videogame guerrilla. It’s no coincidence either that Alec Mason is a seasoned mining engineer with a taste for salvage: this salvage is the in-game currency by which you purchase upgrades. With these upgrades tying back into your demolition skills, the developers have designed a self-enhancing cycle of annihilation.
If that loop sounds fun, that’s certainly the point of it, but to me this is also where play can intersect with meaning. As I’ve said in the introduction, through interaction with its systems a game can show you its intentions, and these can enhance or subvert the meaning of the narrative. If not designed with care though, play and story can get messy in their confluence, and the medium’s potential is lost. As for Red Faction Guerrilla, I’d say the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. The story tells you you’re an insurgent, one who has to resort to hide-and-run tactics and asymmetric warfare, and the game’s design makes sure that’s exactly how you learn to play it. Were it any other way, the resulting product would have fallen down that abyss of mediocrity it sometimes leans a little too close to.
Now that I’ve regaled this mostly positive assessment of Red Faction’s core, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty and highlight some elements that I think are either particularly potent, or problematic stumbling blocks on the road to revision.
Digging for some Martian gold: a sequence of problems and potential
The key to a good rework is a thorough analysis of the original. Trying to replicate previous success is a fool’s errand if you don’t know what made it work to begin with. On top of that, the very idea of repeating what has come before is tiresome; even if you can’t make any improvements, change is both unavoidable and necessary, because the alternative would be creating nothing new at all. So, for a good revision, I’ll have to keep what’s good, throw out the bad, and change whatever is left simply for the sake of it.
Starting off with the good parts, the easiest thing by far to praise about Red Faction Guerrilla is its gameplay. As stated before, blowing up military installations is not just good fun, but it also makes a broader point about the nature of an insurgency within the setting of Martian class warfare. What’s more, no game could be properly Red Faction without the mass destruction that’s come to define the franchise. If the point of my revisions is to expose the revolutionary potential at a work’s core, then this interactive demolition is about as close to the game’s core as it gets, and throwing it out would be self-defeating. However, that doesn’t mean one couldn’t improve this essential cycle of escalating destruction. Indeed, if there is one thing missing in the game’s representation of revolutionary warfare, it is the constructive and organizational side of operations. While an open world action game naturally leans to prioritizing violence among its main mechanics, it is not rare to see this sort of game incorporate more constructive elements from other genres. One example would be Fallout 4’s focus on settlement building, which despite its own problematic aspects at least offers a reprieve from the otherwise near-constant conflict. I would therefore suggest that the revision features some form of base-building or operational management. These might of course prove to be bothersome distractions from the core gameplay if badly implemented, but I believe that without them one reinforces the misconception that revolution only serves to chaotically destroy the old order. As leftists, we know that revolution ought to be a positive project at establishing a new society, despite the turmoil that so often accompanies. Thus, we should represent both these struggles in any game about revolution, including this one.
From this amendment to the central gameplay loop, let’s go on to analyze the setting itself, as implemented in both narrative and environmental design. Just like the demolition mechanics, it would be near-impossible for a revision to take out the Martian setting and consider it authentically ‘Red Faction’, despite the second game in the series actually taking place on Earth. If Mars is so integral to the franchise, let’s go deeper into the role this setting plays in the greater narrative. Going by the plot I laid out, it appears that the game environment serves to enable a parable about colonialism: the Red Planet and its inhabitants are being sucked dry of labor and resources for the good of the homeland, Earth in this case. The Red Faction itself is not too different in this sense from real-life anti-imperialist insurgencies, even if it can’t appeal to a larger benefactor in the way many third world revolutionaries benefited from Soviet assistance during the Cold War.
So far so good: Mars is the impoverished third world nation that bravely resists their oppressor through a nativist insurgency. Unfortunately, this straightforward analogy is overly reductive. In reality, the interests of a Martian setting and a neo-imperialist narrative are contradictory, precisely because the idea of space exploration as a ‘final frontier’ is illusory. Interplanetary colonization might be a well-worn trope, but any comparisons to the history of European New World colonialism are unfounded, and there is quite some evidence that things will work out differently. For one, the logistical difficulty of travelling to Mars and settling it dwarfs any challenge that settling the Americas might have posed. As such, the kind of mass extraction of Martian resources that this game’s plot is centered on might not be economically viable at all, even if Earth’s own resources were to be as exhausted as the game implies. Secondly, for good or for ill, Mars does not appear to have any intelligent life on it at all, and as such the gruesome encounters of modern colonial history will luckily not be repeated. Unfortunately, the developers attempted to compensate for this flaw in their neo-colonial logic by introducing a third faction of Martians known as the Marauders. These are ‘indigenous’ remnants of earlier settlement efforts, hiding out in barren badlands where the EDF does not go. The indigeneity they express is that of an ‘uncivilized primitive’, a stereotype I’m sure we’re all too familiar with. It’s a most uncomfortable analogue to actual indigenous peoples, particularly the native Americans. In a way, the game recognizes the absurdity of such appropriation, since the ‘native’ identity of the Marauders turns out to be deliberately designed by their founders, for keeping out intruders with feigned savagery. While clever at first glance, this only makes the issue worse, since the offense on the part of both writer and character is carried out so casually. Most likely the developers sought to emulate a post-apocalyptic or ‘barbarian’ aesthetic and thought that a harmless homage to Star Wars and Mad Max, the films of their youth. Yet by doing so they ignored the legacy of these visual motifs, which go back to the ‘planetary romances’ of the early 1900s. Born from a Western fascination with the exotic and ‘barbarian’, this genre was quite problematic from the start. Even if the idea of a native Martian culture intrigues me, I would want it to be nothing like this, so expect these sorts of allusions to be excised fully from my revision. Lastly, I find that the timeframe for terraforming Mars is greatly overstated within the setting, as such drastic ecological changes to Mars would hardly be feasible a century from now when we haven’t even managed to land a single human on its surface. As such, I think the fragility of life in the Martian colonies should be emphasized more, certainly in a gameplay loop where the demolition of infrastructure takes such a central role. Destroying life support systems should have an effect on the environment, and the resource flow of life’s necessities ought to be a constant struggle between the oppressor and the insurgent, preferably represented as such through the game’s systems. All in all, I do not find anything wrong with the narrative of an extra-planetary insurgency per se, but in this regard Red Faction Guerrilla does not take its own environment into account properly.
Now that gameplay and narrative have been dealt with, what is left? Well, my final point of contention deals with the game’s characters, primarily the protagonist himself, Alec Mason. For a game that came out less than a decade ago, his ‘30-something white man’ vibe sure seems archaic now. The blandness of many an action game protagonist has been mocked to death, and it is not something I would like to see repeated in any future franchise installments. Yet even in this inoffensive characterization, there are some positives. One of these would be the primary support character, a former Marauder named Samanya. She serves as your conduit for tool upgrades in terms of gameplay, whereas her narrative function is that of a prominent leader figure in the Red Faction. Despite expectations, she does not end up as Mason’s love interest, and her contribution to the final victory over the EDF is at least as great as Alec’s own. If anything, her ties with indigenes and proletarians alike would make her the perfect protagonist, and indeed she eventually got to star in a downloadable mini-campaign set before the main story. Someone like her could certainly serve as a model for the revision’s protagonist, even if she too ends up a little too generic. In short, Mars has women, but it needs more.
With all this deconstructing over with, I can finally get to my central proposal: a politically left-oriented rework of this game. Of course, I can’t make such a work myself, or even construct an extensive design document. Instead, what I hope to present here is a ‘vertical slice’, a general impression of the revised game that would highlight the key differences and their purpose. So let’s get to it.
Red Faction Guerrilla: A Revision
It is the late 22nd century. After more than a century of climate catastrophe and political unrest, the upper strata of global society have looked to the stars for refuge. Though space travel has not alleviated the world’s ills in any substantial manner, a class of eccentric entrepreneurs has come to see extra-planetary colonies as their own reward. These oligarchs have established great complexes across the surface of Mars, the Red Planet, even beginning the long process of making it more habitable. Though money is no object, this undertaking requires considerable labor, physical or otherwise, and so the greatest number of Earth immigrants have not come of their own volition. If anything, they are the members of a renewed serfdom, stricken by abusive employment contracts and as such condemned isolated misery on a near-dead world. Predictably, some of these workers have resisted, and the few that have managed to escape their lot have banded together with the few free communities left on Mars. They now call themselves the ‘Red Faction’ and swear to free their indentured comrades from the fate they once suffered. With industrial tyrants caught up in their internal squabbles, they have some chance of success, but the external threat the Red Faction poses might soon see the disciples of capital unite…
After this opening narration, the game introduces our main character, a young woman named Dinah Mason (I can have fun with names too you know). Her family is loyal to the Red Faction, and she grew up in the various free colonies that dot the more remote areas of Mars. Trained as a structural engineer, she excavates cave systems that serve as hideouts for the resistance movement. This expertise explains the demolition and construction skills over the course of the game, and the creation of a Red Faction base serves as the early tutorial mission for many of these mechanics. Unlike the original, I do no mean to use this initial affiliation with the Red Faction to incite a personal tragedy: basically, I’m not killing off Dinah’s parents/siblings/entire home colony to motivate her. Instead, the affiliation itself is what spurs her on. It is her sense of justice, complemented by a youthful curiosity, that will deepen her involvement with insurgent activities, and her close circle of family and friends support her in this, with some apprehension.
The first real assignment outside of the tutorial is a road trip. To get to the first ‘sector’ of the game world, Dinah will have to trek across the Martian wasteland in an off-road rover. This serves to (artificially) emphasize the scale of the map, introduce some means of resource collection, and simply highlight the beauty and variation of the landscape. The player should feel some affinity for their environment from the beginning; Mars might be inhospitable, but the true alienation of the setting should be in the oppression of the Martian underclass. Besides, not all places on the planet are equally uninviting, as the player’s first foray into occupied territory will show. Dinah arrives in a verdant valley, part of the Euphrates Valley sector, covered only by a thin layer of durable plastics to keep the ever-growing atmosphere contained. Here, she meets up with the local Red Faction chapters, to be instructed in the basics of insurgency.
Speaking of insurgency, this would be the perfect time to explain the general mechanics that go into managing the Red Faction. Like the original game, pivotal story beats are unlocked through performing side activities that free the various sectors of the map. However, this process of liberation ought to be more dynamic than simply watching a ‘enemy control’ counter tick down with every activity. Thus, I would like to propose the so-called TAS-system, TAS standing for ‘Threat-Authority-Solidarity’. Through your activities within the open world system, these three values will interact in various ways to determine the effectiveness of the Red Faction, the tools at your personal disposal, and the ultimate state of the planet when the day has been won.
Of the three values in the TAS-system, Threat is the most straightforward. It represents in its most direct sense the strength of the oligarchs’ occupation within a given sector. Get this number down, and the Red Faction will grow in influence until the opportunity arises for a complete area takeover (which would probably be enacted through a main story quest). However, once victory is attained within a sector, the Threat counter will be reset and renamed, for now it will represent the perceived threat to the sector from external forces. For reasons that will become clear soon, you’ll want to keep this ‘Perceived Threat’ value pretty high, just to keep those sector’s locals on-board with the greater Martian insurgency…
Of course, the effectiveness of the Red Faction can’t depend on the strength of their conviction alone. Besides a collective sense of capitalist threat, an insurgency also needs to be organized. The extent to which the rebellion’s organization is centrally directed, is what the Authority counter will determine. Each sector, due to the scattered and competitive nature of Martian colonization, has its own interests to look out for, and this concern with localism extends to each areas’ Red Faction chapters. As such, there is a general animosity towards centralism within the Red Faction, and it will take great player effort in each area to enforce the Authority of the center. However, the payoff will be quite significant, for as the resources of the sectors are cycled upwards into a central command, exclusive upgrades become available to the player, and the difficulty of some late game missions is also ameliorated. Despite these boons, raising Authority won’t be mandatory at all; though the path to victory becomes harder, a decentralized approach makes local insurgents easier to motivate, and the post-victory end-state of each sector might be more positive if they don’t have to commit so fully to a centralized war effort.
The last element of the TAS-system, Solidarity, is at once the most important and most unstable factor, greatly influenced by the other two variables. Like Threat and Authority, it signifies the power of the Red Faction, has a direct relation to the player’s abilities, and influences the state of the world. High Solidarity is a prerequisite for the most powerful upgrades and world-state improvements, whereas low Solidarity is sure to cause many disasters for the Red Faction, possibly even turning some newly freed sectors against the greater work of liberating Mars. So, to keep your comrades’ spirits in good order, you will have to keep Perceived Threat high and Authority low; your average Red Faction insurgent wants to feel like there’s a cause to fight for, as long as they’re not replacing one master with another.
Having explained these means of managing the Red Faction, we can return to the game’s actual campaign, right to the point where the player too will have been taught these mechanics through the ears of Dinah Mason. Yes, she is still in the Euphrates Valley sector, and here she will be taking on the forces of Martian capital for the first time. There are various approaches to take, each with their own effect on the TAS-balance, but the end result will be roughly the same: the first faction of oligarchs is overthrown, but the valley’s transparent covering is damaged, and the Red Faction will have to manage a tactical retreat into the hinterlands to not be caught in this now slowly dying ecosystem.
After this mixed success, the entire game world will open up to Dinah, and you have your choice of which sector to focus on. I estimate a game of this scale will need about five to seven sectors to give a good impression of the gameplay systems without overstaying its welcome. When conquering the first few areas, the oligarch’s response will be scattered at best, as cooperation is simply not in their nature; some might even try to use the insurgency against their own rivals. As the power of the Red Faction grows, expect the last two or three sectors to rapidly ramp up in difficulty, as all the capitalists band together against their own shared threat. Now there truly is no war but the class war.
When it comes to warfare, how does one pursue the Martian revolution in this revision directly? Well, though I’ve mentioned ‘side activities’ and ‘main story missions’ before, the missions will actually break down in two different categories, referred to in-game as ‘local’ and ‘central’. Generally speaking, the former will be of a gentler type, as the liberation of individual sectors can be achieved through mostly peaceful acts of strike and sabotage. Even when the authorities bring in scabs and strikebreakers, your reaction will consist of minor guerrilla warfare rather than an all-out offensive. The aim is to destabilize the local regime until it grows unprofitable and unmanageable: even the most idealistic oligarch would rather cut their losses and move on than commit all their resources to fighting you. Like I said before, only when your insurgency threatens the entire capitalist class will these corporations start to cooperate with one another. This then is when the mission balance shifts towards the ‘central’ type. Here, you are in a more total war. Dinah will have to disrupt enemy supply lines, repel attacks into Red Faction territory, and try to raise an army out of untrained laborers. Naturally, the TAS-system also comes into play here, as high average Authority will make central missions easier, as will Low authority for the local type. Taken together, this means that the temptation to centralize the Red Faction will grow as the game progresses, a tendency that I think is all too common to the course of many real-life revolutions.
Now that the general pace of the game is clear, let me get into some of the more entertaining details of the various sectors and their loathsome leaders. As you might have noticed before, I made a bit of a reference to ancient history by calling the first sector the ‘Euphrates Valley’. This is most intentional, as I think the model of classical rulership lends itself quite well to the model of corporate Martian colonies. As these societies are not necessarily run for any gain other than the oligarchs’ personal enjoyment, they rule over them as personal fiefdoms, in the vein of many a pharaoh or emperor. The comeback of indentured servitude might also lead to a return of ancient mega-monuments: I’m sure at least one of these monsters would want their own pyramid. Every sector should have its own twisted character, designed on the whims of tacky tyrants. McMansions built by McMartians. Taking over these areas will be a breath of fresh air, literally so if terraforming takes hold, and the remaking of basic infrastructure will renew the society entire. Maybe, with great player effort, even that initial valley can be restored to its green glory, workers treading over lush fields that were once the property of a few.
It’s not just the sectors that will get you and Dinah both riled up to fight, the men in charge of them will be nasty enough all by their own. They are the ones most responsible for any act of suffering one witnesses in their playthrough, of which there will unfortunately be plenty. Nevertheless, one should not come away with the impression that it’s the personal evil of these individuals that is most relevant. After all, if I’m to hammer home a systemic anti-capitalist argument, these five to seven bad apples might not spoil the bunch in the eyes of some players. One or two among them should appear initially sympathetic, willing to work with the Red Faction to some extent. This will not last, as the personal and economic interests of every oligarch are directly opposed to the workers. The capitalist can only give so much ground before the basic system of exploitation through wage labor collapses entirely. Furthermore, if there’s anything the businessmen back on Earth won’t like, it’s actually existing socialism in a place they cannot squash it. Expect them to provide substantial support to the counter-insurgency as the game nears its end. To call back to the original, this could be the founding of the Earth Defense Force, a capitalist venture clothed in ‘Earth-ist’ rhetoric. Usually, when a piece of fiction ramps up the tension like this, it’s because things have turned personal. This is worse. It’s systemic.
As it is systemic, do not expect Dinah herself to suffer much personal tragedy throughout the plot. Sure, some of her closest comrades might die in the fight for liberation, and this will harden her resolve, but let it be clear every time that it is the general suffering of the Martian populace that motivates her most. Solidarity is the name of the game in the Red Faction, and a lust for revenge does not make for good ideology. Dinah will defend her community, but this is one she will have committed too authentically. Of course, having grown up into the Red Faction, her familial bond is tied into her convictions; at a midpoint in the plot, perhaps one of the oligarchs could offer her and her family amnesty, to get them all out of harm’s way. The commitment of a story’s protagonist is often tested, and I would do the same. While this might come off as a moment for the hero to gloat about their own discipline, I mean more to imply that the idea of abandoning her comrades is utterly alien to Dinah’s nature: mutual love is what binds her to her Red Faction family, not blood and soil in themselves. This isn’t a test she can lose.
One last thing I’d like to mention about my revision also concerns tests. It is not just Dinah herself who will withstand her fair share of tribulations, the Red Faction entire could suffer some great setbacks. I mentioned before that a low Solidarity value could lead to disaster. What sort of disaster unfolds will depend on the Authority counter. If Authority is low, the sector that’s afflicted will simply seek to secede from the Red Faction, pursuing its own interests in relative peace. However, if Authority is high, the sector’s resentment towards the larger movement will be so great that it will pursue its own offensive against you, friend turned foe. The area’s Red Faction chapters will see themselves taken over by a group of demagogues, one new dictator for every sector turned against you. From a leftist perspective, this represents the risk of any revolution to go awry, precisely because the central organization tried to direct the effort too much. To me, authoritarianism is a double-edged sword, for that which enables massive societal change from above can also turn against its subjects. The group of underlings you empower might subvert your hierarchy if they smell weakness, and it is these middle managers that grow into the tyrants of tomorrow. Though the Threat might be the most direct concern in the revised Red Faction Guerrilla, you better watch the Authority you exert as well, for no upgrade can be worth such a perversion of revolutionary power.
I don’t know how to make a game. That may have been obvious throughout my essay, but it’s worth remembering when I seem to be insistent on ways to improve this piece of interactive fiction. Primarily, this was an exercise in evaluative imagination: to see what inspired me about the work’s triumphs and flaws, and how I might bring out its latent leftist potential. Even if my revision has plenty of flaws of its own, and I’m sure it does, it’s a means of expression that I hope is slightly more constructive than a sheer teardown, a format all to common to internet culture. Saying something is bad is easy. Turning these complaints into a consistent critique is more productive. To go all the way, and prove a work can be made better by one’s own example, that is the hardest thing of all. Unfortunately, to succeed at that would cement the arrogance of the critic, when in reality we owe our revisions to the ones who dared to make their flawed originals. With this current format, I hope I’ve found a humbling middle ground between critique and reconstruction. In the case of Red Faction Guerrilla, while it might not be the best game of its genre, it’s better than anything like it I could produce myself, and the labor put into it should be acknowledge and respected. Only in this limited sense of left-leaning commentary can I hope to add something to the collective experience of this game and the Red Faction franchise as a whole.
As it stands, no new entries of the series have been announced, and after Guerrilla’s 2009 release, only one sequel was produced, a linear shooter that was not as appreciated as its open-world predecessor. Still, the player community for Guerrilla itself is not yet dead, finding some new life after Steamworks integration (it was originally a Games for Windows Life release). Furthermore, a ‘re-Mars-tered’ edition of the game is in the works, with reworked graphics and a release on the most recent generation of game consoles. With the upgrade free to current owners of the original, now would be a great time to get into the franchise for those unfamiliar with it until now. Perhaps you too will be inspired by the leftist potential, most blatant in that raised fist of Martian solidarity, holding a hammer that the player will make plenty use of on EDF personnel. If you’re out there on the Red Planet, hit one on the head for me.