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About harlekin

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  1. @KestrelPi: The game was structurally broken by the two gating puzzles - both of which are presented even with pictures in the article. Both character arcs weren't developed to the detriment of the entire project. Where ACT2 failed most of all is story telling. Check, check and check. See the other points I brought forward as embellishments. Those are the three breaking points. Repetition (same areas, no new characters, ...) and lack of structure in the Shay stories puzzle design are significant problems as well.
  2. Thats the same conclusion that I have to come to as well - here in german speaking countries this is known (in the most inopportune comparison possible) as "veil of silence". Where everything that happened on account of the adults behavior in this story is swept aside by the story teller and everybody starts behaving like nothing of that kind ever happened. Even worse - Vella is painted as a willfully continuing traditionalist and Shay wasnt able to break his psychological dependence in any way, on the contrary it is even hinted at, that it would be deepning. That way (and I havent looked at the reunion of Vella and her family closely before, but the reviewer has a point) -- Double Fine tells the story of two highly pathological childhoods, and how to deal with them from an adult perspective - forget it, ignore it, dont confront it. Throw a bomb - make yourself ethically questionable as well. Get broken. Endure. Don't talk about what happened, hit people. The story prevents any kind of character development from taking place. I picked up on this being pathological for Shay - first and foremost, because he never was able to develop a real motive that was his own - but if you dont see it as just lazy story telling - preventing the development of a character arc for Vella can be seen as abusive as well. It takes a little stretch, but the grounds for it are there.
  3. There is a followup on Rock Paper Shotgut that ventures into exactly the same perspective that I myself came to hold as well. Again - I read this for the first time three minutes ago - because it was linked as a news item within steam. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/04/29/broken-age-plot/ It is remarkable how two people can come away from the game with this very specific, but same notion, entirely separate from each other (*doublepinkeyswear*). It doesnt warrant any sort of confrontation, it just stands as a post mortem on the project. Double Fine will have to draw their own conclusions on what went wrong along the way. And this is where I stop, because I only "needed" to make the point. If other people are able not to see it, thats also ok. (*I know, stop the passive aggressive, ...*)
  4. SPOILERS!, beware. . . . . . So for Vella there is no development throughout the journey other than to come to grips with her tribes values and copy them like a good tribesman - the end. Also this strangely fits into the narrative of the other sugar bunting people of "if it doesnt happen to you - do nothing at all". Combined with the final goal of "do as much harm to the people close to you as possible". (Because the bridge element hadnt any sort of foreshadowing. Also there is the wall. Also the bridge could be destroyed by just one of the other million minus one Mogs - but lets not go for plot holes, lets concentrate just on the character arcs.) And Shay will need therapy for the rest of his life. Because up to his very last action he was always a victim of circumstances and he wasnt able to fight even one of his fights (Malik (- as he turned out in ACT 2), distance, real friendship, doing something of lasting worth (even bridge building wasnt one of his goals)). Also, he just lost his best buddy in the final scene which leaves him even more emotionally dependent. If you are countering, that this is ok, because at least the mother had closure - I'm willing to call this a story about a parent learning to be able to let go - and destroying another persons life in the course of it. So glad that whoever created this story was able to face his daemons - while the child was not. Finish the two main characters arcs above anything else. Those are the ones people identify with. Then feel sad about mother or whatever is close to your own heart after it. -- Regarding the progression gates that were stumbling blocks for me - Here are some other peoples (less harsh) opinions about the "kill yourself" puzzle: http://steamcommunity.com/app/232790/discussions/0/620712364023239371/ Which show that it can be seen as fulfilling, when you get the endorphine rush of having figured it out (be passive long enough that you notice faint enjoyment or the snake getting drowsy), which is too bad - because up to this point the game had done everything to teach you not to wait this long. Even the first dialogue lines "smells like adventure", "its getting hard to breath", ... I guess teaching Shay to be passive and endure things is the true purpose of this game anyhow... 1. Be passive - to not get killed - to get a killing tool - to do the heimlich (I'm pretty sure thats not how it works...) - and then get kicked in the face to stop killing, to get a music instument, which is a shell, but not used as a shell, or as a music instrument, to then... 2. Look at a family picture, hopefully not soon enough that you have no concept of what you need to look for (oh wait, it is in the first area you unlock in the second storyline), or not too late - when the game teaches you that you cant look at other pictures anymore (because of a necessity to limit interaction options because of bad game design), to notice random symbols in the background, which put a hexapal in something called charging mode, which is one of at least four modes we know he can be put in. Have none of this hinted to in any form or fashion (If I were at my computer... (Shay has never been to the real bridge, but ok ...)), other than at some point you will notice some of the symbols. Let those two puzzles gate both character progressions. Got they are awful. Just dreadfull. Dont let Shay do the Heimlich. Dont let the Grabby Robot do the Heimlich. Dont let Shay play the big drum. Dont let Vella tickle the weaver. Dont let Vella die. Let Shay die. Dont let Shay confront Malik. Let Vella punch Malik. After he has become Quasimodo. Make a Mog just something "out of a million". Solve this entire side of the world with a bomb. ('merica eff yeah!) Introduce your baddy five minutes before he does an exposition drop via video conference. Let Vellas family be passive till the very end. Let Shays dad be still as uninvolved as possible. (Do you need anything, dad? No, just go away and let me do my work. Thats, spreading it thin... (double entendre)) Let Shays mother not learn anything - she even tries to grab him in her last action on screen. Let Shays best Buddy die. Take a dancing Hexapal from a child, then ruin it. Accuse another child of stealing money. Barter a fishhook to a women, then make her repeatedly voice how much she bought your lies, showing no tangible results. Don't solve the Guru plotline (Now hes jailed, now hes free!). Make a spacesuit that never is needed by anyone. "Loose" two other characters for it. Make a Fish fall out of the sky. EXTRACT a bird. Buy a cupcake with money. Find a wire on a terminal. Do many wire puzzles in a row, because they are fun. Let Shay fail his leap of faith. Could it be that there is just no way to enjoy any of this very much? The family was needed for the heart of the story in the end and therefore had to be dragged along - but I'm sure that you would have been able to get another stick somewhere else - so thanks for the contribution. And just let us reflect n their roles in cloud city one more time. 1. Giving relationship advice. 2. Consoling a depressend beauty peagant tween. 3. Fighting with a child. 4 Making money, in the least opportune place to put up flyers - with this being the only act to actually help their common goal - set up to fail, because they left their five year old in charge of doing it. Then they stumbled into a spaceship trying to confront Shay. Then they forgot all about it. And when they were put in danger in the last section of the game - they collectively resorted to doing nothing. Again. Thats a neat little setup you have going on there...
  5. No structure, is no structure, is no structure, is bad game design. I think we can agree on that. 12+ screens of exploring - where every one of these screens was explored by me already in the months back - so yes, some of this is a criticism of being dropped into an unstructured mess (the puzzle rooms concept was thrown overboard, so is this the "open world, sandbox era of adventure games"?), while some of it was genuine boredom (granted, probably not always on a concious level - but I couldnt hit the fast forward double arrows fast enough, more times than I could count) and asking myself how far back along a already beaten path they would have me crawl back. With the answer being, pretty much all of it. I even looked to fall through the same holes in the clouds because I was pretty much sure, the game designers had a thing for repetition. I stopped at the glass window, just to be disappointed - things like that. Also I am sure that part of the criticism over the knot puzzle people have is its dragged out nature (walking simulator?). Regarding the haystack problem. When you are starting to obfuscate your world by layering in abstractions, and then put another abstractions layer over it (in this on VR room you can change reality states by clicking on one button - whilst most of them are non functional, there are two functional ones), you better make sure that the player understands, what it does. I clicked on it once, It changed a meaningless message. I clicked on it a couple of times, oh puzzle solved, then something broke (a window) - moving on, but no - if I had clicked on it two times less, I would have seen another world state, and if I had clicked on it two times more I would have seen it loop around. So - your logic is skipable, which is a first problem. You are recycling a puzzle solving mechanism for a second puzzle, which is a problem. While in the meantime you are educating the player that the first obfuscation layer is mostly about limiting and gaining access and removing him from the third obfuscation layer which only occurs in one room of the 5 he has access to through the first obfuscation layer. *phew* So the player gets the clue that he should "open the door or at least get something to eat" - and the puzzle solution is to go into the bridge, enter obfuscationlayer one, then obuscation layer two, then click two times to activate a world state that he had skipped and therefore never seen before. Then pause within the first 10 seconds. All I'm saying is - you better catch it the first time around, or you will have a hard time getting your head around this conceptionaly. And then this turns out to be recycled once more, so it is the solution to two of the three puzzles you are trying to solve at this point. Lazy, uninspired game design. Also - you are concept hunting within 15+ screens again at this stage, looking for a recycled solution mechanism. (Which then gets recycled once more.) As for the puzzle design not being intelligent - actually you are feeling like you've been cheated more than once - the logical solution to a puzzle is dangled over you by the game multiple times, but then never turns out to be the actual solution anyhow. Its like the lesson the devs took out of the first act, where they pretty much told you the solution every time - they now went into the same design trees and falsified obvious solutions without removing them, then sporadically dropped a few item in at scripted stages to open a more abstruse path. While this being theoretically fine and within adventure game design tropes - none of the creative puzzle solutions was clever. I never had one positive "aha, now thats how its done" moment within ACT 2. Instead I started questioning the designers sense of "I'm so quirky" more than once ("really?!"). STFU fish and let me move on. Everything felt dragged out, off topic, and not very clever. As for gating progression with the kill scene - oh no, its not just "exploring dialog". No. It was a bad Idea, it is a bad idea. And combining this with pixel hunting for meaningless symbols on a family photo a dimension away - basically broke this game for me. Enjoyment wise. Also was the snake path funny, once youve endured it? No. Nor was the sign that followed. It just screamed lazy game design and worst video game tropes ever. The story is a nonsensical mess with "trust to trust yourself" being no possible replacement for a motive (hit him once for me, Vella!). Isnt that what girlie magazines with lip gloss on the cover teach you? (Also this basically also boils down to "follow whatever societal convention is current", if you think about it.). Shays story is outright pathological, and no - he wasnt able to make sense of it, rebel against it or even escape it in the end. "Mother couldnt save me, but my robot pal did" - may solve the story through the eyes of the mother (or its male creator), but from Shays perspective, this is an unconfronted story about dependence and abuse. All of which he ought to forgive, because all of a sudden his mom and dad became "very real". He actually is a sad and tragic character more than anything. Know your developmental arcs, thats all I can say. Yes your player character changed on one side of the 15+ screens (well actually on both). But I am pretty sure the family was just filler - and never supposed to be there in the first place (again, their motivations are all strangely construed, broken (lets all go on this spaceship now!) and for the most part, they are just dragged along for the ride. None of the characters on Shays side make any kind of personal connection with him - actually none of them even seem sporadically interested in his character (with the possible exception of the other pilot and and the underused spoon).
  6. You just attacked my character for the second time in a row. Questioning my motives and if they were truthful. And in the next sentence you are promoting a cival discussion. I see this as highly manipulative behavior on your part. I have argued through multiple examples of broken story arcs, characters changing motivations, and puzzle design forcing you to interrupt solving attempts and providing you with a unstructured "playground" of extraneous "hit your five puzzle quota to proceed" - that by all reasonable standards of story and game design, ACT 2 is outright abysmal. When I personally asked for different opinions on why this game was anything that should be viewed more favourably - I got an additional offering of "you are seing it wrong/others see it differently" and then another personal attack. So let me not stand back on this and raise you some additional points of failure in the story design. -- SPOILER WARNING . . . . . . The Vella story arc of "questioning the system" was outsourced to her five year old sister in favour of her becoming a fist throwing, tough woman, who is proud of also being able to bake - I guess she grew old very fast and now loves her peoples conventions. Fitting in with the whole theme of citizens of Sugar Bunting "Lets just stay away from other peoples problems, if they are not ours - it will solve itself", which was proudly featured repeatedly within the last minutes of the game. The Shay storyline ended with him literally jumping into the arms of his mother - from whom he emazipated himself just hours ago - being guilt tripped into excepting his parent who lied to him all his upbringing, because they turned out to be real human beings who just chose to raise their son by video conference and hide their presence from him the entire time. The Baddy was introduced five minutes before he phoned in a exposition dump (also via video conference). The Malik character turned out to be a psycho. And the woman who adhered to tradition in the end was just a witch behind a mask. The best genes turned out to be the prettiest women all the time, which is why a pageant was held. I guess Vella just got lucky, that she also got an inquisitive brain - from time to time, that is, if it is not disabled by the script writer at opportune moments. The entire suffering Shay was exposed to during his upbringing was necessary so he could choose one or more likely more than one girl out of five, in three separate cases. So I guess you better educate the witch that produced one of the pageants (not the one in the sea town, hmm.. was the major also a baddy?) to pick the candidates well, because she has a greater impact on the selection process than the pilot. Replaying an entire section within cloud city again - would have not been received well at all, if the game hadn't split into two and then released several months later. In addition, apart from the picturesque baddy no new character was introduced in the entirety of ACT 2. The "land beyond the wall" was a bait and switch if I ever saw one ("visit our port, bring cake"). The story was a cop out. And it was emotionally weird. The puzzle design forced, uninspired and questionable beyond what was even possible to critique about ACT 1 - and the first reflex reaction of this forum was to collect the good reviews this game was getting regardless. And otherwise remaining silent. Its a good thing to be the hip developer de jour I guess. And this is a fitting characterization, without any need to stretch at all.
  7. I'd be interested as well - because of what? Could you write a few lines? I would let another opinion stand in here beside mine..
  8. Probably because of how funny it was - and not because you were participating in establishing a side conversation for what is commonly called character assassination. Please do not see my reaction as too personally motivated - I'm just reacting in an equal fashion to prevent this angle from being played too vigorously. I also don't care about influencing people too much regarding their buying decisions, which is probably, why I'm posting this here and not on other forums. I would like this opinion to be able to get a bit of public recollection though - because in contrast to whatever reviews are currently coming out in favor of the game, ACT 2 a veritable mess. From conception onward. In the last weeks I read up on some of the controversy this studio and its founder were involved in recently - and just to make it short and stinging - it is primarily cashing in on appeal and goodwill - as far as the ratings are concerned. If this was a product created by an unknown studio and judged in its entirety - it would get nowhere near the recognition it is binding right now. That said - I very much enjoyed ACT 1 and the outset of the story - so I am fine with what is happening on some level. Its just the aftertaste that lingers with "they didnt even try" and "of course they are indie royalty - hipsters in their own right", that imho shouldnt go by unaddressed. I am happy that Rock, Paper, Shotgun picked up on some of the points. So there at least is one referential source we can point at to also see the other side of the story. I just read their review right now - so both our conclusions where able to develop separately.
  9. Not only unlike your post then. OOOOOH SNAP POW RIGHT IN THE GUT Best first post ever. I'll be here all week, try the veal and tip your waitresses, they're working hard out there. You're awesome. And you're campaigning to segregate people on a community level - because of their opinions towards this having been a rushed, messy and thrown together second part of a project that has lost almost all of its ambitions, story telling chops and confused randomly attached puzzle design with less clues with a more focused and "challenging" approach. DF was so afraid of this becoming the focus of the review media, that they shipped the game with the walkthrough attached, to testers. And no I am not one of the typical voices that call foul play - whenever the head of this studio appears in public, but I choose to call foul play here. -- SPOILER WARNING! . . . . . Vellas story was the story of a girl that proved that she could punch as wells as she could bake, because shes not only a girl - according to the games ending. Of course this was not anchored in any of the games developmental arcs - because she could bake, and probably punch before she even went on her journey. Also pageant girls are dumb? Shays story became a tale of how a pure child, when seperated from mother and father in an ideal pychological experiment - learns how to sniff out genes, by playing videogames and in the end sucessfully rebells against his mother, or not - who cares, has anyone ordered the Toystory 3 ending? The final struggle is a proxy battle to endanger as many people you personally care for as possible - while the baddies are busy being Disney villains somewhere in seperated rooms. At one point, when the story arc was lacking character motivation, everyone started working for money - to put up flyers. An old crank made a joke about a naive 10 year old. Also - the old lady in the beginning turned out to be a witch, and Shays mother and father were integrated into the feel good community of - well, essentially the two families and no one else. - So this is the highly artistic, personal expression of a story that was on the mind of the script writers for "several years". - With great innovative puzzle design approaches like - - "solve 5 partially unrelated puzzles in an open environment to proceed" - "kill yourself to unlock the progression on both storylines" - "look past the emotional content of a beautifully drawn family photo - to find the six random signs (which deus ex machina luckily enable something the game refers to as "charging mode"), that again, unlock further progression on both storylines" - enjoy being forced to switch storylines at non plot related points, because of puzzles gating progression - experience how a gatekeeper becomes an item, because the area it was gating was cut from the game. - experiencing the exciting prospect of revisiting bare areas, which had to be populated by randomly arriving family members to fake any sense of progression in time (at least the ship changed somewhat design wise). - experience a character telling you repeatedly how rad the fishing hook is, you just talked her into, without any need of something happening animation or design wise - with the payoff being one drawing in the credits. Oh, and by the way - I loved Act 1 - which is probably why I still give something about this being called out for what it is.
  10. Not even that - it was used because it was a convenient McGuffin. Something that could be used as a replacement of real character motivations. I probably would have shrugged my shoulders and not even remembered it afterwards, if it hadn't also be framed by a misanthropic punchline. Go Vella, punch Malik in the face a couple of times in the epilog. Theres your message.
  11. If it was a daily exchange - maybe. But this comes from the perspective of a story telling attempt. I love gritty, lashing out, cynical humor. In my mind its what made some of the best stand ups that ever were, and certainly has to have a part in society and our daily lives. But the joke in itself wasnt so much witty, as it was a missplaced statement. "You know - its, not anything, its money - it's something of much worth, society shows that I am right *wink*" is just not the thing the audience has to be reminded of at that point. If it was at the top of anyones mind at the end of that exchange - it is a thought that you'd better not voice, and then catch yourself reflecting on how cynical you have become in your life - that this was your immediate reaction. So why is this exchange between an adult and a child featured prominently (for those two characters story arcs) within the game? Because at this point, for whomever wrote this exchange the punchline became more important, than the heart of the story. With the pretext that introducing money as a motivator in the scenes before didn't work especially well additionally. It also makes me ask, what the overarching goal of the game was in the end. The attempt to tell a fable (an allegorical story in which every action has an archetypical meaning) broke at the latest, when Malik (Jackal) removed his mask, and Quasimodo turned up beneath it. The approach to tell a great children's story (which I did respect) had to be compromised for the sake of fanservice ("harder puzzles" (not better, or intelligently structured)). And the Hipster Lumberjack the game makes fun of turns out to be responsible for the dialogue and the transaction design within the game. ("You know, it has value, because it's money!"). Now this thread certainly isn't focused on any one of the aspects, I feel I have to criticize about the game, any more - but it is a description how I turned out to feel about the game, with the project coming to an end.
  12. It is my second language - but also, the emphasis was chosen by me to underline on what principle people are speaking out here. Yes, of course gramps doesnt want to jail the little fellow - its just a joke. But the guilt driven logic behind it, that raises the hand of societies norms to end in a grumpy laugh out loud moment, is quite real. If you want to integrate this into an exchange between an adult and a child - have something that catches it, that gives it context - but as it stands in the game - this is the end of the interaction between those two characters. Also it is the last time we hear gramps speak within the game.
  13. Of course not. Its just that her parents and grandpa have better things to do, like giving relationship advice or talking up a depressed tween. And the only thing this bake-sell of our little entrepreneur will ever amount to is getting one coin from our main protagonist - because all other members of the community where the girl set up shop, dont use or have any. Also our hero suddently pays himself free of his motivation to rescue the girl? Because this is the psychological effect - (look up why the Ice Bucket Challenge worked so well). The Boy sidetracks his primary goal to save her to satisfy her little sisters need for money? The hero as a fundraiser archetype, is something that would have been more fitting to our Hipster Lumberjack in game. Indeed, but then gramps does his funny Non sequitur about, how this is not very believable - in court. You know - where thiefs go. Even if they have the best intentions, are naive, and very young. Its the wisdom of age speaking... Yes, because at this point, we are more concerned with adhering to the societal concepts of money having more value (its the punchline) prima facie, than empathizing with the boys naive but very heartfelt interpretation of reality. *drumroll please*
  14. Yes - and sadly, its somewhat of a paradoxical truth, that both are right. Good game design is not hand holding ("heres your price") and it is not droping you into a 15 screens environment with five riddles to solve to reach a progression point, some of which are dependent on you solving some of the others, but not because out of an overarching logic, but just because a game designer as thrown a fit. And they are punishing you for having switched the story progression tree, because you were forced to in the past. The final puzzle is a good example of a challenging but ultimately well designed riddle. It might even be a tad too ambitious, because to set it up, you needed to introduce the dependencies BS that came beforehand. But a hot tip, while you are at it, don't chose your two worst puzzles in the game to gate the progression of both storylines. Not once, twice. and not at the end of those plot arcs - but dependet on the puzzle - on Shays side - I got the "nudge" to switch progression trees on my second riddle - right after I had learned, that gam designers are unfairly layering solutions of puzzles. So this was basically my process. - 5 riddles - 15 screens, 7+ people to talk to - are you serious. - Solved one, now the game is urging me to switch sorylines. - Switched storylines - better experience, the suddenly a hit and miss (get it, or its unsolvable) puzzle, which thankfully I got assisted in solveing for just the right amount. - Then the game is again urging me to switch storylines. Nothing remarkable had happend so far - apart from the game becoming a Disney level "bad people are ugly too" allegory tale with some plot twist that rivals George Lucas' plotdecisions in the prequels ("a million mog chothras") and I still wasn't closer to solve either one of the gating puzzles. Then I found out what they were. Do something primitive. And look beside a lovely family idyll on a photo reminiscent of happier times. At that point everything that Act 1 had built up was a faint memory and the experience basically ruined.
  15. Hi - I am a < ten year old girl and am collecting money through a bake sale to afford those flyers to see my sister again. Also, no bartering here hero. Cash or GTFO, no jokes. Hi - I am the hero, supporting you very much in that effort to collect money to print flyers to get to see your sister again - regardless if maybe I am the only person around here who can give you any money at all, but thats fine - you are happy and that is all that counts. Hi - I am the grandpa, suggesting, that the other 10 year old has stolen the money his dad gave him to sacrifices to the guru, out of nefarious reasons, because - you knw - its money. Hi - I am the little boy who collected the money to not be a burden to the guru, but maybe I just stole it, because you know its money. Also - money will help us all bring our sister/friend back, because - you know - its money. Motivation written into a McGuffin, so who cares - The ten year old commune girl, the ten year old backers daughters whos sister is missing, our hero, and certainly gramps all of a sudden work on a value through money economy, where everyone is glad in the end, because a transaction has taken place. Of course the bake sale is in vain, and the sister still isnt back, but everyone is happy, because you paid up, and thats what really matters. I have no problem with money existing in this world. I have a problem with it being used as a cheap plot point without any thought of what it does to the individual motivations as part of the story. Think of it that way - whenever you introduce the concept of money into a childrens book, as something that drives childrens motivations - you better know what story you are trying to tell. In here its not even worth the after thought. And therefore wrecks the embedded motivation of at least four characters. While gramps jokes about it. edit: Oh - and by the way, I'm taking your dancing robot away because it is needed. "Thats what they said when they took away my sister". STFU and let me switch those cables so it will never dance again. Also - represent the family as a bunch of people who are to afraid to touch the ships controls in the end, because - surly all problems eventually will go away. Thats the story Broken Age tried to tell, right?
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