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KestrelPi

Now the dust has settled...

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Now that the dust has settled, what do you think of Broken Age?

Myself, I have no regrets about backing and I largely enjoyed the game a lot. I still think that many of the elements of the story in the second act were poorly explained, especially in comparison with what I usually expect from Tim's worldbuilding skills. And I think that the puzzles that required knowledge that the characters wouldn't have are, for me, slightly story-breaking (the idea that the two characters have some sort of mystical intuitive link is good, but not really properly explored, and so doesn't wash for me). I don't think the Act 2 puzzles were as terrible as some commentators have said, though - I think clues were generally speaking well-signposted and they provided a few really satisfying moments for me.

I don't think I'll look back on it with the same fondness as those older 90s adventure games, and much of that is just because I was in my teens in the 90s, those games were formative, and so expecting the same thing at the age of 33 is not very reasonable. I do think some of it, though, is because those worlds were more coherent, especially after around 1993 when they started getting really confident with it and the puzzles did make a bit more sense within it.

Nevertheless, I think it was a very successful project in the ways it needed to be. What I would be interested in seeing is if Double Fine could create a game in a similar adventurey vein, but on their own terms, with the freedom to invent their own mechanics, and without pressure from backers (and I include myself in this) to make the game a certain level of difficult. They've created a fine game, but more they've got themselves a lovely engine in which to make story-focused games, and I'd love to see it stretch its legs a little.

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I loved it, the entire experience from start to finish is something I'd happily repeat.

If I was going to nitpick, I'd say that Act 1 was too easy for me, and that I still don't understand the logic behind the "computers as parents" thing. I wish we'd seen more of The Thrush and maybe given Shay's parents more of an interesting predicament (like Vella's parents had). I wish there had been something more interesting past the snake, and maybe a new area to explore. Other than that I loved it. Act 2's puzzles were perfect for me. I really enjoyed that the game started off easy and then getting harder.

I loved how so many things paid off in Act 2, as well. (Harmony being the ultimate hoarder after preaching the importance of "lightness", etc).

But that's all nitpicking. In short: I loved Broken Age.

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Now that the dust has settled, what do you think of Broken Age?

Myself, I have no regrets about backing and I largely enjoyed the game a lot. I still think that many of the elements of the story in the second act were poorly explained, especially in comparison with what I usually expect from Tim's worldbuilding skills. And I think that the puzzles that required knowledge that the characters wouldn't have are, for me, slightly story-breaking (the idea that the two characters have some sort of mystical intuitive link is good, but not really properly explored, and so doesn't wash for me). I don't think the Act 2 puzzles were as terrible as some commentators have said, though - I think clues were generally speaking well-signposted and they provided a few really satisfying moments for me.

I know a lot of people got upset at the idea what one player knows so does the other, but it didn't worry me at all and I have a possible reason why that might be. I'd interested to hear whether others think the same way or not.

There are two ways to look at the avatar in a game. With one world-view you are the character: if it's a first-person shooter that is pretty much the only viewpoint possible. The other view is that you are an external force directing the character(s) not playing the role of the character themselves. That third-party view was how I grew up with text adventures where you type a command e.g.'kill the troll' and get the avatar replying 'I'm sorry, I don't know how to kill the troll'. In that situation I can't regard myself as the avatar unless I like talking to myself.

I think some games can be looked at either way, but in Broken Age my view is third-person, I can see the characters walking around the screen. Sure they'll do what I want them to do (most of the time) but it's always me directing them and the things that I learn affect my actions directly rather than those of Shay or Vella. My suspicion is that a lot of people are regarding it much more as a first-person adventure in which case Shay learning something that then helps Vella breaks the illusion in a jarring manner, but that's not an illusion I had to begin with.

Does that make any kind of sense?

Oh, and yes, I enjoyed the game very much. Still need to go back and try for more of the achievements.

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Now that the dust has settled, what do you think of Broken Age?

Myself, I have no regrets about backing and I largely enjoyed the game a lot. I still think that many of the elements of the story in the second act were poorly explained, especially in comparison with what I usually expect from Tim's worldbuilding skills. And I think that the puzzles that required knowledge that the characters wouldn't have are, for me, slightly story-breaking (the idea that the two characters have some sort of mystical intuitive link is good, but not really properly explored, and so doesn't wash for me). I don't think the Act 2 puzzles were as terrible as some commentators have said, though - I think clues were generally speaking well-signposted and they provided a few really satisfying moments for me.

I know a lot of people got upset at the idea what one player knows so does the other, but it didn't worry me at all and I have a possible reason why that might be. I'd interested to hear whether others think the same way or not.

There are two ways to look at the avatar in a game. With one world-view you are the character: if it's a first-person shooter that is pretty much the only viewpoint possible. The other view is that you are an external force directing the character(s) not playing the role of the character themselves. That third-party view was how I grew up with text adventures where you type a command e.g.'kill the troll' and get the avatar replying 'I'm sorry, I don't know how to kill the troll'. In that situation I can't regard myself as the avatar unless I like talking to myself.

I think some games can be looked at either way, but in Broken Age my view is third-person, I can see the characters walking around the screen. Sure they'll do what I want them to do (most of the time) but it's always me directing them and the things that I learn affect my actions directly rather than those of Shay or Vella. My suspicion is that a lot of people are regarding it much more as a first-person adventure in which case Shay learning something that then helps Vella breaks the illusion in a jarring manner, but that's not an illusion I had to begin with.

Does that make any kind of sense?

Oh, and yes, I enjoyed the game very much. Still need to go back and try for more of the achievements.

It makes sense, and it's one way of looking at it, and for a lot of puzzle games I think that works. I think why that explanation doesn't work for me is that these are story games. They're setting out to tell a story and generally speaking in order for a story to be coherent you should be able to explain to someone what happened.

In the game The Stanley Parable, which I totally recommend playing, one of the central conceits is that there's a narrator telling the story but you can choose to disobey the narrator if you wish. It's a very interesting bit of commentary on the nature of storytelling and player decision making in games.

At one point, you reach a keypad which you don't know the code for, and the narrator gives you the code as part of the narration saying something like "Stanley had no way of knowing that the secret code was in fact 2 8 4 5" (or whatever it actually is), and then when you key that in, the narrator backfills the justification, "And yet remarkably, just by pressing random buttons Stanley managed to guess the correct code. Amazing!"

Its a funny joke, but I think there's a point behind it too, it's an interesting little comment on player knowledge versus character knowledge. In this game, it's done as a gag, and it works because it's obviously a gag and it's the sort of game to play with the player in that way, and it makes the player think about situations where they know more than the character they control, which is a special thing games can do which I think has the potential to be both interesting and bad.

In Broken Age, the Space Weaver puzzle in act 2 is very, very similar in a lot of ways. Vella doesn't know the right pattern, and the only way to get her to put in the right pattern is for the player to figure it out from a source that Vella has no access to. Except this time there's not really any payoff, no punchline and no point being made, and if I were to try to explain to someone what was happening in the story at this point the only thing I'd be able to say is "And then Vella somehow guessed the right space pattern" which is... not a particularly satisfying story beat.

Sorry to go on about it so long - but this aspect of the puzzling was the main thing that irked me about a game I generally really enjoyed!

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A short summary of Broken Age for me would be: Very very enjoyable.

Which can sound like "just ok", but it's far better then that.

This game for me, was a pleasure to play from start to beginning. And it feels pretty great to be able to say that without exaggerating, and feel that I can think about the art, characters, puzzles, music, dialogues and scene structure and really argue for why I thought it was such a good game. I've got 18.5h gametime according to Steam, and I wasn't bored or frustrated or felt that I wanted it to end during them. It was 18.5 enjoyable hours of gameplay.

And it's very rare that I with an adventure game from the last 15 years can say to myself that I didn't ever force myself to like it. Which I did with many of the early Telltale games adventure for example. And all the 3D rendered adventure games, with their stiff character models, like Syberia 1&2, or with Broken Sword 5 that I also backed. Or Dreamfall: Chapters which I bought and then just quit.

Some of the story elements does feel like they leave a lot up to the players to think about, and figure out for himself/herself, but that has given the game a lot more staying power then most other games I've played in the genre.

For me, the game nailed the aspects of the old LucasArts classics better then most other attempts by other adventure developers, but I feel that relatively few sees that in the same way I do.

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I loved the game, and the documentary, and wish I had been able to be a backer, but alas at the time I was a broke student with no means or time for these things. Broken Age has reignited my love for adventure games and an interest in PC games in general. The quality of its art, animation, voice-acting, dialogue, the sheer amount of unique responses and it's charm are far beyond anything done in adventure games since Grim Fandango, in some regards, or ever, in others. I loved the characters and the story and I thought the puzzles were great, I felt challenged but never cheated. Would happily back/buy at full price the next adventure game by Double Fine.

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Okay.

I liked the game but I gotta point some things out.

The whole idea about protagonist boy's parents being humans felt somewhat forced and not really planned that much beforehand. Then again they were careful how they showed Father's head in Act I being outside of the ship, supporting the idea that it might have been planned in advance. Also many puzzle elements were already in place that were used in Act II.

It was fitting that Act II has a harder difficulty as it was kind of "halfway point and forward" kind of situation in terms of the told story. However the whole thing felt rushed due there was enough plot related stuff to make Act III.

Which brings me to another point. There should have been Act III to have a proper conclusion to the story. The ending felt like it was made so because "well, we ran out of money. Let's wrap it up here."

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Okay.

I liked the game but I gotta point some things out.

The whole idea about protagonist boy's parents being humans felt somewhat forced and not really planned that much beforehand. Then again they were careful how they showed Father's head in Act I being outside of the ship, supporting the idea that it might have been planned in advance. Also many puzzle elements were already in place that were used in Act II.

It was fitting that Act II has a harder difficulty as it was kind of "halfway point and forward" kind of situation in terms of the told story. However the whole thing felt rushed due there was enough plot related stuff to make Act III.

Which brings me to another point. There should have been Act III to have a proper conclusion to the story. The ending felt like it was made so because "well, we ran out of money. Let's wrap it up here."

Mmmaybe. I actually think that maybe they just didn't assign as much importance to those story points as I did. To me the twist at the end of Act I was huge, and basically a lot of my enjoyment of Act 2 was going to depend on how they resolved the twist, and unfortunately they did a lot of stuff that felt like a copout, like seeming to handwave away the parents not being computers after all, and a pretty shallow exploration of the big forces behind it all. Again, to emphasise I did like it over all, these were just things about it I didn't.

I always recall that Full Throttle apparently had 1/3 of the game cut. But even so, it still feels like a complete, coherent story with a satisfying arc. So I don't think that 'ran out of money' explains this. They could have completed the game with the same budget and still not made the story decisions they did.

As for whether it was planned or not, my feeling is that the over all plot was sketched out but a lot of the detail was decided during the development of Act 2. Some of the writing feels like they knew where they were going with the plot, but it ended up a little ham-fisted because they'd written themselves into a corner by having to pull off this huge twist that would get scrutinised for months.

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As a person who grew up with Schafer and Gilbert's classic point-and-clicks, I must say that I was really impressed by Broken Age.

First of all, I remember seeing the original Kickstarter pitch video back in 2012 (I think), but -shame on me!- somehow forgot about it, despite the hype. I only recently literally remembered that this games was supposed to exist in the first place and finally played it on my PS4 this October.

It took me very few seconds to fall in love.

I was completely blown away by the art style, combined with the amazing music in the very first scene(s) and the voice acting.

Keep in mind that I knew embarrassingly nothing about this game and its plot, so it was a really beautiful surprise.

While it somehow didn't really feel as irreverent as Schafer's previous works, Broken Age immediately got me hooked and I really appreciated its fairytale-ish atmosphere. And speaking of atmosphere, I think Act 1 did a tremendous job at setting up the entire game's Universe (or at least part of it) and mood; there was a lot of build up and tension, climaxing in the jaw-dropping (for me) cliffhanger.

This is where the bad-ish stuff comes though.

Plot-wise, Act 1 was clearly setting up for something bigger than what we got in Act 2.

Don't get me wrong: the second part of the game was really fun and challenging, but from a narrative point of view, it kinda felt rushed, if not unfinished.

I was really looking forward for Vella and Shay to finally meet or at least speak to each other (they had a lot of "buddy comedy" potential; the top-notch voice acting also helped). Even more than that, Act 1 had the two Dead Eye guards giving a (relatively) long exposition regarding the whole Dead Eye God myth, going as far as talking about actual doomsday predictions; I believe they even mentioned something like "The Battle of Volgentor" -the supposedly final battle between humans and mogs. While I did really enjoy the twist that it was all a misunderstanding caused by Alex and his own "spaceship", the whole exposition, while silly and played for laugh, clearly looked like a poorly-disguised foreshadowing for something that was yet to happen (so I was kinda expecting the "All Myths Are True" trope to come into play as a double plot twist). And I actually think that this 'something' was indeed originally planned, but due to the well-known troubled production of the game, most of this was possibly scrapped to wrap things up in the climax of Act 2.

As somebody wrote before me, the "fourth-wall breaking" wiring puzzle (one of the final ones) was probably going to be explained with this supposed "connection" that Vella and Shay seem to have, as also pointed out by both Marek and the Thrushmaster. In the end, it came off just as a really tough puzzle, not that this is bad or anything.

The ending also felt a bit anti-climatic, albeit fittingly fairytale-ish, but as I said, that's mostly because I was expecting a bit of on-screen chemistry between Vella and Shay to happen (I eagerly played through the final act hoping to make these two meet, to be honest).

Despite all of these nitpicks, I absolutely loved the game overall, its characters and story.

I'll never stop hoping for a third Act, even though it's not going to happen.

Call me a fan. As in "guy that actually draws post-game fan-arts on Tumblr" fan.

Yes, that kind of fan.

TL;DR: Loved Broken Age. Not as great as Schafer's previous works, but a really solid point-and-click adventure.

Some narrative flaws, but still a really fun game.

The whole idea about protagonist boy's parents being humans felt somewhat forced and not really planned that much beforehand.

Maybe there wasn't enough foreshadowing/hints about it, but it didn't feel like a "plot-hole" to me.

I think it was indeed planned from the beginning, as (I presume, looking at the making-of-videos on the DF YouTube channel) Schafer probably already had most of Act 2 figured out halfway through the production of Act 1.

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Just played through the entire game a second time and really enjoyed it again. Now that I had a better understanding of what to expect and already knew about the plot twists coming up, I was able to better enjoy the dialogue and story on a deeper level. What I hadn't noticed as much before is the emphasis on (parental) relationships that is woven through the entire game (and is also clear by Tim dedicating it to its parents in the end credits). It's of course obvious with Vella and Shay, but almost every character is trying to find out what their purpose in life really is. Twyla is ashamed in facing her family after the maiden's feast disaster, but finds someone caring for her in Vella's mother. M'ggie appears to be more grown-up than her parents, particularly compared to her father who keeps following Harm'ny, despite the fact that he knows Lightbeard is a fraud. Dead Eye Dawn and Dead Eye Courtney are trying to break out of their daily lives, but keep each other from doing so for a long time. Alex response to the death of his parents was to go into cryo sleep. Althoug I'm having a hard time articulating them, the deeper themes hidden in the narrative, which sometimes have been integrated in the game mechanics, resonated with me more: I think it's a very interesting game in that regard.

The plot twist with Shay's parents didn't feel contrived to me as it ties in with these deeper themes. As Tim explains in an interview with Gameinformer it's about finding out that your parents are also just human beings. Shay also sais at one point that deep down he knew that his parents were real, but simply had forgotton about them.

Looking back, for me Broken Age has been a great success. The experience of the Double Fine Adventure was fun, but the game also turned out great. Within the confines of the adventure game genre, I think the design is absolutely stellar. It provides a good combination of inventory and logic puzzles and also has a nice build-up by starting out with some simple puzzles and ending with more complex combinations of inventory and logic puzzles. I haven't played DotT yet, but compared to Full Throttle and Grim Fandango I consider Broken Age to be Tim's best adventure game in terms of puzzle design. It's also an amazing game in the art, music, sound and animation department (and runs really well on OS X ;-)).

The only thing I was hoping it to have more of, is exploration. Tim has proven in his past games that he's able to create some very interesting and unique worlds that are really fun to explore and dream of. Broken Age's world does feel a bit small in that regard, as the only places we get to see are Meriloft, the Spaceship and a few screens of Sugar Bunting, Shellmound and Loruna. I would have loved to see more of it, as I always enjoyed those adventure games most that treated you with new places and locales.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to returning to Broken Age again in a few years. I think it's up there with Psychonauts as my favourite Double Fine game.

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I loved it, the entire experience from start to finish is something I’d happily repeat.

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