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harlekin

ACT 2 is outright unfair, an unstructured, dreadfull mess

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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.. :)

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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.. :)

I think most of the differences come from people's own opinion on how a narrative experience should be structured.

Some prefer to give priority to a carefully rhythmed pacing; an easier puzzle structure helps in that sense, allowing the developers to craft the precise moments when a certain plot point should be transferred to the player. It also helps in creating an emotional bond, since switching too frequently to the logical side of the brain tends to interrupt that link.

Other people prefer when the authors give greater emphasis on the interaction and less on the plot itself. They prefer to be part of the world through indepth exploration; they also don't usually care for the emotional side as much as the ability to apply their own logic and watching its results.

Since I wasn't really invested in the plot up to the end of the part I (I admit it didn't resonate well with me), I think I could forgive more easily that it took a backseat in part II; that allowed me to go watch everything at my leisure and feel more interested moment-by-moment, even if I didn't actually care how it would have ended.

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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.

Character assassination is defined as "The malicious and unjustified harming of a person's good reputation." That's a little strong. Yes, Runko made a negative joke about your post, and I laughed, but I wouldn't say that either of us were "malicious". Neither would I use that strong word to describe your posts. On the other hand, if what we said was, in fact, character assassination, then I'd make a strong case that this thread was started with the purpose to assassinate the character of Double Fine, Tim Schafer in particular.

The way you feel about the game is fine. I'm fine with you changing the way others think about the game. Just be a bit more objective and civil about it.

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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.

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SPOILER WARNING

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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.

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I would let another opinion stand in here beside mine..
Good because here comes my huge response to most of your previous points harlekin – be warned I disagree with you almost entirely. I'm going to quote your criticism and then provide my own point of view on them, so it may be a bit all over the place since I'm purely responding.
Got dumped in a “you need 5 puzzle strands solved to proceed” setup. Is that good game design?
Maybe it is not ideal but it’s necessary in this day and age. Double Fine are dealing with an audience that is not used to playing point and click adventure games, they cannot make obtuse references to what the player needs to progress and so they have designed a system that clearly indicates to the player what is needed. Note that this is in contrast to the very linear system that was employed in Act 1. It is also incredibly important to have different puzzle strands if you intend to increase the difficulty as the player needs to be able to go off and do something different if they get stuck. Unless you have a better (and simple) method for how you can have many strands that need solving and a clear way of directing the player as to what they need to do without spoiling anything then yes this is good game design.
I started to wander around, and had 12+ game screens instantly open up to me - with no direct puzzle clues what soever.
Did you seriously just complain about having to EXPLORE an adventure game? God forbid that you have to explore 12 whole screens! Are you aware that Monkey Island 1 and 2 had 12+ screens available from the very moment you start the game? As for no direct puzzle clues, what did you do exactly to not get any clues? Did you just miss the clue the mayor gave? Did you miss the clue about needing to test the muck your dad is working on? Did the fact that Curtis changed his profession not give you a clue? I think maybe this sort of game is just not for you if you are going to complain about exploring an adventure game. You seem to think of it as an interactive story – in which case I recommend you go play something like To The Moon instead (wonderful “game” for the record) and don’t complain about something you were never going to enjoy.
This is not gamedesign, this is needle in a haystack structuring.
No, it’s an adventure game. You need to explore the world you’re in, not just complain about there being too much world around you – the fact that you missed something is NOT a fault in game design, it’s your fault for not discovering something. For reference a needle in a haystack structuring would be more like in Monkey Island 2 when you can obtain a bunch of junk items (you can have up to 52 items at once in that game I believe) as you are unable to determine which of the items you have are junk and which are useful.
If you are thinking, that the majority of people willcontinue through this mess of a design structure, you are more than mistaken. Also, none of the puzzles so far were what you’d call “intelligent” or fun.
The majority of people that enjoy adventure games will. They know what they’re playing and aren’t treating it as though it’s just too much to explore or that something is too tough to figure out the first time they encounter it, they know what they’re in for. Also I thought the puzzles were almost all intelligent and fun. I suspect differing opinions on this comes from how much frustration is built up trying to solve them – since it seems you were very frustrated you’re more likely to think the puzzle is stupid.
Try to kill yourself
Well no, explore the rest of the dialogue/scene. It’s the same as if you were to walk out of the space weaver room before it finished warping you to another place in act 1. Sure you can do it, but you miss out on valuable exposition (in that case seeing that the weave is there to be altered for some time). You sound like you tried to shortcut the game and weren’t willing to explore all the options. Did you go through all the dialogue in conversations for example? Why wouldn’t you see all the dialogue in this situation – the scene was never stagnant after all.
Dont enjoy a family picture.
So what you’re telling me is that you took an interactive item in an adventure game and assumed it had absolutely no value to you from a puzzle perspective? That’s the equivalent of not trying to use any items that you pick up because you assume they’re just there for storytelling. If someone was to say “This knife is here purely for comic relief, he can’t actually serve a purpose” and then got stuck where the knife was required would you blame the person playing or the game designer?
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.
You’re right that Vella’s arc started with her very able and strong – look how she kicks back the arm that grabs her when she’s first grabbed in act 1 – but her arc isn’t about becoming a fighter or a baker (nor about questioning things, she’s done that from the start too). Vella’s arc is about trusting herself, and her decisions. She’s a hotheaded girl but she needs to learn to trust that instead of following what others have been telling her and doing that over her own thoughts. She proves that her hotheadedness to overheat the spaceship is the correct decision in the end, and that trusting herself instead of the adult to resolve the situation was her best option.
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
Well, no. No it isn't. Shay’s story is about how someone can change their own fate through willpower. He has been brought up to be of use to Marek and his kind by selecting women when he’s 14 (unbeknownst to him) that will further their race. His willpower to defy Marek allows Vella to shoot down the ship and changes his fate completely. In the climax he shows that he’s going to change things even if he’s not quite sure to what end, and that that’s what he wants – some unpredictability and excitement in his life not what was decided for him. Also by the way it’s implied that Shay caused his parents to assume the computer role in his childish make believe world where he’s the spaceships commander not them misleading him. So really he didn't have any suffering in his childhood he just had to be brought up separate from Marek's people so that they did not influence him so that his choices at the maidens feast were the best possible. I suspect his keen ability to get everyone would have impacted the reliability of the maidens chosen anyway (note that Alex did not get a single sacrifice so it could be assumed he would not get everyone).
Replaying an entire section within cloud city again
You act as if nothing changed. You are a completely different character now, in a cloud city thats new to the character and where the dynamic has completely changed for the player. The characters are starting to question things now: the entire cast of the game is having character development and you’re grumpy because the environment is the same even if the dynamic is completely different?

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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 never questioned your motives, just your tone.

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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).

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Well, I really enjoyed it! It was a great length, the puzzles were fun, I wanted to see the story resolved, the characters were endearing and I laughed out loud multiple times.

Personally, the only thing I disliked was the meta-knowledge required to solve some of the puzzles (like the wiring puzzles). It places the players involvement into the narrative, rather than the characters discovering the solution naturally. That aside, I loved it.

I had a feeling early on in Act 2 that Vella would be able to trade items with Shay a vice versa via the garbage chute, but sadly that didn't happen. It would have had a Day of the Tentacle vibe.

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It sounds to me like you had some very rigid, preconceived notions about the how the game should work.

It also sounds like you might not have played adventure games before? You saying "the logical solution is dangled right in front of you, but never turns out to be the solution" leads me to believe that because that's part and parcel of many of the adventure games I've played, and I've only ever played the more modern titles that are alot better at being 'logical' compared to older games.

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No structure, is no structure, is no structure, is bad game design.
No structure? You just described how we were sent out to solve 5 different issues before we progress - or in vella's case 3 key things you must achieve before moving forwards. Is that not structure? Just because you don't like the structure doesn't mean the game doesn't have any. And having an open world equates to nonlinearity, not a lack of structure.
the puzzle rooms concept was thrown overboard, so is this the "open world, sandbox era of adventure games"?
Uhh I think you may not have played many P&C adventure games in the past if that's how you see this game. May I ask what your favourite adventure game is? That would give me an indication to what you expected. For reference someone like me (who's favourites are the monkey island games) is used to having many more open screens and things to interact with at one time - I believe monkey 2 had 14 screens open up after part 1 meaning you had a total of 28 screens to explore at any one time. Even more recent games like Deponia open up 12 screens once you finish the intro.
I stopped at the glass window, just to be disappointed - things like that.
You seem to have imagined that an adventure game is a puzzle game with story or some such, as most of your complaints like this stem from the genre itself not this game. Tell me one classic adventure game where you didn't have to backtrack and check over everything as you progress?
that he had skipped and therefore never seen before
Again the fact that you skipped a state in the room is entirely your fault. You assumed that you didn't need to see those states, nobody was forcing you or even enticing you to skip them, don't confuse your own impatience with poor game design. Had you not skipped those states then everything becomes very clear - where can I get some food?, oh I saw some before! etc.
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
Okay so this just screams that you aren't familiar with this genre of game. This style of problem solving is a typical trope of adventure games where the obvious solution is never the solution. What adventure games have you played where this wasn't the case?
The story is a nonsensical mess
I've already addressed the story, if you refuse to acknowledge the character arcs that take place then fine but you cannot criticise it for not having the arc that you wanted it to have. Nor can you say that it is nonsensical. You even fail to recognise character development in the minor characters (mother is willing to stop only allowing safe decisions and let her little boy take a leap of faith in the finale)
the family was just filler...
Not sure where you got this idea, what with them being integral to act 2. You criticise a family's motivations for looking for their daughter in the most logical place to find her? (Bird like the ones on meriloft flies off with girl, its probably a safe bet it went back to meriloft) What motivation are you looking for then? Do you only want a sobbing reunion or something? The only point I agree with is that they played such a background role in the finale that it feels as if maybe their involvement there may have needed extra writing to feel substantial.

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SPOILERS!, beware.

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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.

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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...

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Okay so considering how you have just ignored my questions about your history with adventure games it seems incredibly clear this is your first experience with them. I suggest you learn what you are getting yourself into before you commit yourself to the game or form unrealistic expectations of what the game is going to be.

So for Vella there is no development throughout the journey
So as I said before her story is not about tribes values or anything of that nature. Her development is about her doing something herself and trusting her own thoughts and ideas. In the start of Act 1 all she can do is ask others why they aren't dooing anything about the maidens feast and if they can maybe help her escape - like the conversation with the other maidens. Contrast that with the finale where she doesn't try to involve the adult present or just ask feebly for help but is independent and trusts herself which results in saving everyone even if the outcome is unpredictable to the player.
Shay will need therapy for the rest of his life.
For what? He experienced no tragedy or significant loss in his life. He was just a bored teenager that had outgrown his childhood lifestyle. Through the story he gets to explore the world, meet new people (makes connections with them even, dare I suggest friendships?) and most importantly he gets to be a real hero. Stop inventing your own storylines.
up to this point the game had done everything to teach you not to wait this long
How? When the game showed Shay getting hug attacks did he look like he was going to die? Did shay visibly struggle or say something along the lines of dying? Remember this is a different character from when we were in Act 1, and so it makes complete sense that he would react differently from Vella in the same situation. Even the link to the steam forums shows everyone appreciating the lateral thinking required and that its a satisfying puzzle even if difficult at first.

Your problem with Vella's family is so arbitrary. You don't seem to like that they're actually being human and helping others. As though its impossible for them to go looking for their daughter and talk to others at the same time. Why can't they get to know some of the meriloft citizens? We know theres more than just the people we meet living in meriloft so why wouldn't they be making money? Curtis certainly seems to have plans for making money so theres obviously money to be made. And its not like this is important to finding Vella, they just left their youngest daughter with a safe task that she could accomplish instead of going up and talking to strangers like the rest of the family needs to in order to ask questions about what might have happened to their daughter.

You really need to stop complaining about things that are key elements of point and click adventure games. Items are not going to be used for the obvious solution. Don't let that surprise you, accept it and think about it, how can you possibly use what you've come across so far? Everything in an adventure game is there for a purpose. Is it to provide backstory, and information? Is it because they could make a joke out of it? Or is it most likely there to be useful to your quest? Your refusal to accept this is why you have found this game painful, and you clearly dont have the right mindset for point and click adventure games.

Quite simply I don't think its fair for you to post your highly critical thoughts on a game where you clearly have little to no understanding of the genre or what is expected of this sort of game. If you're going to be so critical at least offer how you believe it would be better, because from what I can see the vast majority of people LOVE this game and you're being vocally critical for no reason other than to give validation to your frustrations.

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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.

Broken Age Act 2 is a poor game because of its terrible puzzles in repeated locations with little purpose. But the disappointment I felt playing it is so much more extreme because of its betrayal of everything it implied it would be about. Broken Age is, it turns out, not a game about the complexities of being a teenager, of the transition from childhood to adulthood, but in fact some dumb thing about funny looking birds and evil space aliens. And it’s this that most surprised and let me down.

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, ...*)

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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*).

Except for the fact that plenty of people came up with the same positive notions on their own as well.

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The RPS article claims that the game has a "patronising adult perspective that minimalises teenagers to spoilt brats." In other words, the author somehow came away from the game thinking that it was trying to show that the kids were wrong and the adults were right. What? The exact opposite is true. All the adult characters undergo a transformation thanks to the lessons they learn from Shay and Vella. Our teen protagonists also learn and grow a little bit themselves during their journeys, but their initial frustrations, complaints, and perspectives are never invalidated. They actually accomplish their goals and succeed in bringing about positive change in the world. Did the author think the Thrush were supposed to be the heroes of the story or something?

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Also the points made in the RPS article are completely different to the ones being made here. So I'm not sure how you can claim that it backs you up. I even agree with a couple of the points the RPS article makes, while the ones here barely even make sense

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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.

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@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.

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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*).
But did you? You had clearly already read the first critical article by John Walker on Broken Age act 2 before you voiced your complaints here - as seen by you referring to it on page 2. Just because he's released a follow up article that goes into more depth doesn't mean he hasn't influenced your opinion.

Furthermore I think that some of the criticisms leveled at Mr Walker in the comments hit the nail on the head. Just because the story did not go where he wanted it to, or live up to his expectations it does not make it a flawed story. Sure, it could have been a grander, more eloquently explored story of journey between childhood and adulthood but that doesn't mean that it is a dreadful or awful mess. There's a middle ground here, and that's exactly the space that I think it occupies.

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I tried to avoid spoilers. Mr. Fluffy. "Die" in quotation marks. One Situation you already have explored with Vella - to get a "slap on the fingers - dont do it" cutscene in act one.

The way I see it, that's a big part of your problem. You can't/shouldn't play adventure games (at least "classic" adventure games, which Broken Age was made as) with this approach - "I've already been in this area before under different circumstances and this thing happened, so the same thing is going to happen again even though the circumstances are completely different."

(Spoilers follow, select text to reveal.)

And it's not like the game doesn't provide enough hints that that is not going to go the same for Shay as it did for Vella:

- Shay's resistance to being hugged strongly is indicated in Act 1.

- One of the medals in Shay's room is a 1st place medal for "hugging marathon".

- There's also a picture in Shay's room where he's squeezing a snake around him tightly.

- Shay himself continually expresses enjoyment throughout the scene, though with painful-sounding voice.

You say that "Photo of Mr. Plushy also didn't help". Why didn't it? (Also, by the way, it's Mr. Huggy. :P) I don't see how that's anyone else's fault but your own.

"Ah yes, there's this obvious hint, but I didn't pick up on it, which is the writer's fault."

No. It's your own fault because you were thinking too superficially.

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Spoilers ahead, don't read if you haven't finished the game

Started with Shay. Got dumped in a "you need 5 puzzle strands solved to proceed" setup. Is that good game design?

Yeah, haven't checked it, but puzzles on Shay side felt a bit "overconnected" - aka you got stuck in half of one of them just to find out later that you need something you got by solving some other puzzle. I'd love to back the feeling with data and see how puzzle dependency chart looks like for Act 2 - is someone on creating it already? :D

that the other one I had leads to would only be solveable with knowledge from the second part, I hadnt even started yet

I have a mixed feelings on this one. Before playing Act 1, I definitely expected some DoTT-like mechanics that will require you to make Shay and Vella somewhat cooperate. There was none, so in Act 2, despite of actually wanting to see a mechanic like that, it didn't feel natural to go check other character side for some clues. I just got used to both parts being separate and self-contained, so it was hard to get my thinking out of this box.

Then suddenly, hardstop - you can only continue, if you have found some music(?) with Shay. Up until now have gotten no clue on how to solve Shays hard limit puzzle and hit the next hard limit with Vella.

However, when you already got your "hey, it needs something from the other character's side", Vella's puzzle is very easy. You get the answer pretty early in Shay's story and, at least for me, it's immediately apparent how it's going to be used. I just expected it to be used later by Shay, not Vella :) Shay's puzzle, however, requires Vella to check out a completely non-vital element for her. While you can't complete Shay's part without rescuing Marshal and talking to Alex afterwards, you can complete Vella's part without looking at the cute photo of Shay and his family at all.

Of course there's also a problem of relying on knowledge of player instead of knowledge of character. That's a separate issue.

On the other hand, I found the cooperation ("hugging" the ship and firing the death ray) in prologue brilliant. It becomes pretty clear what you need to do as soon as you use both buttons and see what happens. Then you just need to find out how to do that, on both sides separately. It makes sense plot-wise, it makes sense puzzle-wise, puzzles themselves weren't too easy nor too hard and solutions were actually quite rewarding... only the "reverting progress" could have been handled better, but IMO that's not a big issue. Once you grasp what you're meant to do, it's not a big problem - and you don't need to switch at all to grasp it.

BTW. Trying to appeal to players with “Ah yes, there’s this obvious hint, but I didn’t pick up on it, which is the writer’s fault.” attitude is exactly what makes modern adventure games so shitty...

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And it's not like the game doesn't provide enough hints that that is not going to go the same for Shay as it did for Vella:

- Shay's resistance to being hugged strongly is indicated in Act 1.

- One of the medals in Shay's room is a 1st place medal for "hugging marathon".

- There's also a picture in Shay's room where he's squeezing a snake around him tightly.

- Shay himself continually expresses enjoyment throughout the scene, though with painful-sounding voice.

You say that "Photo of Mr. Plushy also didn't help". Why didn't it? (Also, by the way, it's Mr. Huggy. :P) I don't see how that's anyone else's fault but your own.

.

You know what's really funny? You don't actually need ANY of those hints from the writing or from Shay's storyline. I only made that connection AFTER I solved the snake scenario.

When the snake falls on Shay, just watch the snake's face. It starts making a tired face really soon after it starts squeezing him. Dead give away that there is something different about it squeezing Shay.

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When the snake falls on Shay, just watch the snake's face. It starts making a tired face really soon after it starts squeezing him. Dead give away that there is something different about it squeezing Shay.

Oh yeah, that's another extremely obvious hint which I planned on including in the list but then forgot to.

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Initially I was just trying to hear all the funny dialogue, but then when I noticed the snake was getting tired, I knew I was on the right track.

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Initially I was just trying to hear all the funny dialogue, but then when I noticed the snake was getting tired, I knew I was on the right track.

Really, I think this is what makes the difference. If you don't rush the game, always wait for all characters to finish _all_ their dialogue and always exhaust all dialogue trees (and check back often to see if new options are available), act 2 was pretty easy. The wiring puzzles had me making some notes, but that's kinda what makes it fun.

It took me a while to get the tree to laugh, but I had so much fun making all sorts of combinations and hearing the reactions, it never bothered me.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: if you didn't like it, you were playing it wrong?

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Initially I was just trying to hear all the funny dialogue, but then when I noticed the snake was getting tired, I knew I was on the right track.

Really, I think this is what makes the difference. If you don't rush the game, always wait for all characters to finish _all_ their dialogue and always exhaust all dialogue trees (and check back often to see if new options are available), act 2 was pretty easy. The wiring puzzles had me making some notes, but that's kinda what makes it fun.

It took me a while to get the tree to laugh, but I had so much fun making all sorts of combinations and hearing the reactions, it never bothered me.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: if you didn't like it, you were playing it wrong?

I made the tree laugh on my first try, and then I couldn't make any more jokes. =(

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