Damocles

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Official concept art of the Damocles mainframe.
Damocles 1.jpg Damocles 3.jpg
Alternate versions.
An early (pre-beta) view of Shinatama in a Damocles room, before the current open floor plan.
Close-up of Shinatama's station as seen in-game.

Damocles is the (quasi-canonical) name of a massive computer in Griffin's TCTF Regional HQ used to provide Konoko with tactical data (via Shinatama) and to monitor her Daodan symbiosis. The central area where Shinatama sits, near the top of the HQ building, is prominently featured in Chapter 6's kidnapping cutscene where Barabas yanks Shinatama from her "docking station".

Form and function

Damocles is a tall structure with cyberpunk elements. The final entity as seen in Oni is quite similar to the initial concept art except that the art had "DAMOCLES" printed on its chassis, whereas in Oni the name is omitted – and, for that matter, is never mentioned at all.[1] Even so, the name is considered canon due to it being repeatedly mentioned during Oni's development.[2]

Structurally, Damocles has a dominant central position in the HQ building's layout, as it is located at the top end of the vertical power line that spans every floor (the bottom end is in the basement where the Omega Vault is, and the three "power substations" are roughly in the middle).

Shinatama sits in a chair attached to the Damocles mainframe, and it is suggested that she is not just an operator but a key component of the system – Shinatama's seat has special sockets under the headrest, which connect to cables in the back of Shinatama's head. Indeed, Shinatama's nature as Konoko's "sister soul"[3] allows for a "neural link" between the two – a highly optimized wireless connection between Konoko and Griffin's TCTF HQ. The official purpose of this neural link is to exchange tactical data with field agents such as Konoko[4], therefore the Damocles mainframe officially serves as Konoko's tactical computer.

However, Damocles also serves the classified purpose of monitoring Konoko's Daodan symbiosis — by channeling, processing and/or storing the data that flows in through Shinatama's neural link. This monitoring is kept secret from low-level TCTF staff,[5] as well as from Konoko herself.

Damocles features a Marathon logo on the chassis as an Easter egg.[2] Unlike the "DAMOCLES" name, this logo appears both in the concept art and on the final in-game model.

Name and meaning

Etymologically, the name Damocles (Δαμοκλής) is a combination of "kles" (Greek for "glory"), and "damos" (Dorian Greek variant of "demos", i.e., "people"), thus meaning "glory of the people". A looser interpretation is "glory of the nation" or "glory of our land", making it a somewhat patriotic version of Pericles, which means "glory all around" or "glory far and wide" (Heracles also comes to mind).

In popular culture, the name is mainly associated with an anecdote of Greek/Sicilian history (4th century BC) known as "the Sword of Damocles", cited by Cicero in his Tusculanes.

Dionysius II, tyrant of Syracuse, had in his court a goldsmith named Damocles, who once declared that the tyrant had such great power and authority as to be more fortunate than any other man. Hearing this flattery, Dionysius offered Damocles to take his place, for a first hand experience of the supposed fortune. The courtier agreed and a feast was thrown, where Damocles was waited upon like a king, much to his enjoyment -- until he saw a sharpened sword hanging over his head, held by a single string of horsehair. Upon realizing the deadly threat, Damocles lost all taste for the fine foods and beautiful waiters and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate.

Abridged version of the anecdote as told by Cicero. See HERE for an actual translation.

Thus the name typically denotes risk and precariousness, and is appropriate whenever an enterprise is "hanging by a thread" and may fail dramatically due to a single event beyond anyone's control.

In Oni, Griffin's secret monitoring of Konoko indeed fails rather dramatically. A more subtle analogy with the anecdote is Shinatama's vulnerability while sitting on an otherwise empowering "throne".

That said, according to Alex Okita, Bungie West developers were oblivious of the ominous connotations, and used the name merely because it sounded cool[2] — perhaps as a connection to the Marathon character named for another mythical sword, Durandal.

Added value

Damocles Initiative.png
As a post-Bungie in-universe theory, it is fully possible that "Damocles" was deliberately picked by Griffin and his team to acknowledge the unpredictable nature of Daodan symbiosis and the very serious risks associated with Konoko. In that sense, Damocles is a fitting name not just for the mainframe, but for the project as a whole.

As far as the anecdote goes, Griffin probably identifies with the tyrant Dionysius — aware of the risks that his position/project implies, but committing to it nonetheless. Thus, despite Griffin's self-assured attitude in terms of risk management, he retains some humility at least when it comes to the name of the project (or one of its components).

(This is pure speculation, seeing as the name Damocles was completely dropped from Oni, and is merely an attempt to rationalize the name choice in light of Oni's plot.)

See also

  • Deadly Brain, another tall mainframe, but with a human brain at its core, and geared towards area defense.
  • Omega Vault, another "docking station" for Shinatama, also intended for area defense, Deadly Brain-style.
  • Sturmanderung, Muro's supercomputer (partly/mainly Daodan-related?). Bigger and badder than Griffin's.
  • Iron Demon, another big cyber-entity (not too Damocles-like, really — more like a Deadly Brain with legs).

Notes

  1. Indeed "Damocles" is never featured either in-game (in speech, text, or environment textures) or in the manual – even the internal texture names are simply TC_SHCOMP1 and TC_SHCOMP2.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 From a Bungie West staff interview:
    Harry Who did the first Oni trailer? The one yanked from the web rather often.
    Alex [Okita] I did the direction for it, Steve [Abeyta] and Chris [Hughes] did all the animation.
    Harry And the crate with the Marathon logos. A nice touch...You made Hamish [Sinclair] really paranoid with that one...
    Alex (grinning) That was our goal.
    Harry That's why that picture of Damocles has a small Marathon logo on it, huh?
    Alex Yeah (laughs) It kicks up some dust.
    Harry Any significance to the name?
    Alex It's kind of [a] cool name.
    Harry It's not gonna drop on your head or anything...
    Alex No, heh. Although it is kind of neat; it's a giant supercomputer which has all these cables going through the ceiling.
  3. The link between Shinatama and Konoko is emphasized by Shinatama's revelations in CHAPTER 08 . AN INNOCENT LIFE, as well as a couple of notes in the manual.

    I am an SLD, an android programmed with your brain engrams. I have seen everything you have seen, felt everything you have felt. They used me to monitor the growth of the Chrysalis inside you...

    Shinatama

    The brain of an SLD is created from the patterns and engrams of a human brain, often forming a close bond or link between the SLD and its human "pattern."

    Manual

    Shinatama is your SLD assistant, confidante, companion, and friend, and the two of you share a special bond, one that is both neural and emotional.

    Manual too

  4. Consoles in Chapter 3 suggest the experimental use of neurolinked SLDs in law enforcement and fire fighting, among other domains.

    SLD technology has reached its third design generation and prototype SLDs are in use in a wide range of industries including law enforcement, fire fighting, manufacturing, and aviation.

    A console in Chapter 3

    The neural link is not mentioned explicitly in this context, but it is stated that the SLDs are physically limited due to their childlike size – so, at least in the fire fighting and law enforcement context, they make more sense as neurolinked assistants.

  5. Text consoles at the TCTF list Konoko's Daodan symbiosis as "Clearance Gamma S16 and Above Only".