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Completed Let's become daemon cops in Unavowed (Finished)

Discussion in 'Codex Playground' started by Darth Roxor, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. orcinator Learned

    orcinator
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    I do wonder which ending the devs wanted you to pick.

    (it was the one with skeletons)
     
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  2. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Few quick thoughts:

    - The Underminer scene is pretty classic. Would've been better if more parademons started appearing for more drama, though.
    - I'm surprised the newspaper uses lorem ipsum, but maybe the way you handled the muse leaves reporters unable to write past the headline.
    - Evil ending is pretty neat.
    - Inclusion of end slides was a nice way to have reactivity for the choices that otherwise didn't affect the ending at all.
    - The merge ending is kind of weird. I mean, if there is no reactivity for the final choice at all, it seems a weird place to do the "1. Yes. 2. Yes! 3. Yes...?" fake choice thing. You could do all sorts of things with that last choice beyond a Grow choice of which thing to build first.

    I can definitely see why this felt suitably epic for a lot of players though.
     
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  3. Reinhardt Arcane

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    Best Deal!
     
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  4. Atrachasis Augur

    Atrachasis
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    An odd one, this. There are moments of promise, especially in the end game as we get a glimpse of long-term consequences and strategic thinking (even though it turns out to have been a fata morgana in the end), and there's certainly untapped potential for exploration (character development of Mel, as she, after having been a demonic lexicon for all her supernatural existence, suddenly borrows awareness and morals from a morally questionable individual; motivation of Codexia for creating her pocket realm - mental illness, at least from the psychotic spectrum, doesn't cut it in a world where demons and magic are real). The end slides are nicely told as well (showing, again, that this game seems strongest whenever it's not being a game at all).

    But it certainly feels like neither player nor character skill are ever really rewarded, thus removing a big part of what constitutes a game. I just can't imagine ever feeling as proud of having solved a "puzzle" in this one as I did, to pick one at random, after figuring out that horrible rubber ducky thing in The Longest Journey.

    Just based on my vague recollection of Darth Roxor's LP of it back then, The Shivah wasn't exactly heavy on puzzles either (or combat, for that matter, but that has never been a staple of the genre anyway), yet seemed much more interesting and appealing to me (and obviously, to a fair part of this crowd here as well). So what evokes this reaction? Is the narrative structure so different, with fewer failure states, less real branching etc.? Or is it the subject matter? Does this type of dialogue-centric gameplay work better with The Shivah's subject matter than with this supernatural hodge-podge we are given here? Or is it simply a matter of the quality of the writing? Dave Gilbert has certainly proven that he can write, but perhaps, to sustain the kind of gameplay that he has gone for here, at least in the eyes of this discerning audience, he'd still need to level up his Writer class a couple of times.
     
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  5. Egosphere Savant

    Egosphere
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    Cassandra Khaw
     
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  6. Erebus Arcane

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    I actually think that element is fine as it is. It's clear that Codexia (definitely an appropriate name) despises pretty much everything and everyone in the real world. Creating her own world, where everything will be to her liking, is a logical solution to her problem. And, for a villain, it's a more original goal than destroying humanity.
     
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  7. Alpan Learned Patron

    Alpan
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy
    Thank you, Roxor, for this enjoyable, 23-page exclamation of disapproval.

    I'm left impressed by the tenacious optimism and advocacy (I do not wish to call it white-knighting) you have displayed throughout this LP. Your rating, you'll find, is well-deserved. I look forward to Fallen Gods.
     
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  8. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    It's all lorem ipsum.
     
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  9. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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    Wow, the legit crazy feminist that said to be eating men's body parts? Truly a good inspiration for stories.

    I'm still convinced he was bribed with a copy of the game or something. Primordia thoroughly trashes this one and then some.
     
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  10. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    The fact you consider "a copy of the game" as a bribe proves that you acknowledge it has substantial value!

    :smug:

    Anyway, I always think it's an interesting thought experiment to start from the perspective that a game (or other work) is good, rather than bad, and then figure out how it could be good, rather than how it could be bad. Treating plot holes and inconsistencies as an invitation to contribute to a better story can be an amusing parlor game, especially when it has the fringe benefit of exasperating people who dislike the game.

    For instance, maybe the narrowness of the post-merge options is meant as a meta-commentary on how most people fail to recognize the potential in their wealth, power, and prestige and exercise it in boring and uncreative ways.
     
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  11. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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    Well, obviously it has value for you. I never said other people could like it.

    So, you admit it's more of a thought experiment that your real opinion about the game. :smug:

    IIRC you also mentioned you avoided reading too much of the LP for your eventual playthrough... But that probably changed seeing that you comment the ending.

    :abyssgazer:

    Me thinks you got infected by the muse's rampant creativity beam.

    It is a lazy copy of Primordia's Merge ending, that's why it feels weak.
     
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  12. baud Savant

    baud
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    It wasn't exactly secret:

     
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  13. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    lightbane Even the games I buy don't have value to me. :) I did ultimately try to at least skim Darth Roxor's last few posts. I never went back and read the earlier ones. And, of course this was all a thought experiment. I can't really assess the game without playing it. Ultimately, everyone commenting on the game based on this thread has to reconcile any apparent shortcomings the game has had with its tremendous success. One way of reconciling them is to assume that the market and critics are blind to its faults; another way is to assume that the market and critics are finding virtues that are being overlooked here. There's a pleasure in carrying out "brutal takedowns" but also a pleasure in fabulously optimistic rehabilitations. Post-modernism allows all such readings.
     
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  14. Egosphere Savant

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    But if you already start with the notion that the game is good, why would you try to figure out how it could be good? From that perspective, the game can live up to your expectations if it has no egregious flaws.
     
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  15. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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    Then why do you buy them?

    You should then, otherwise you can't get "the complete experience", as you say.

    The critics and the average consumer are retarded, you should know this by now. Chances are they fell prey to the hype and, since they don't know any better, they praise Unavowie due lacking better alternatives/bribes. I mean, besides the already mentioned Bethesda stuff, things like this are considered to have "good writing".

    Stuff like a new Goblins! entry with modernized graphics wouldn't sell much.


    Isn't "post-modernism" an excuse to write grimderp stories (aka the so-called "deconstruction") more than anything else?

    Also this.
     
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  16. CappenVarra phantasmist Patron

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    glad that's over, noble skaven
     
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  17. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    Nah, very few games live up to my expectations. Subjectively, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the game. But understanding how others could find its story engaging, etc., is a useful process.

    A variety of reasons. I used Primordia proceeds to back a few hundred games on Kickstarter on the theory that if my own lack of time, will power, energy, and gumption meant that I couldn't finish my own dream projects, I might as well use the resource I had (money) to support others in making games adjacent to my dream projects. So, for instance, I backed any game that vaguely resembled Star Captain, almost every point-and-click adventure, etc. I buy charity bundles because I think the developers are being generous with sharing their games, so I can be generous with sharing Primordia's profits. I buy some games (like Wasteland 3 or Starcraft 2) out of brand loyalty. And a while ago I used to buy blockbusters when they dropped below $5 on the theory that I should play them to understand the market, but I never had time (or a computer capable of running them).

    When did I say that? :)

    Well, I don't think so. As I said before, writing that draws an emotional or intellectual connection between the author and the audience is objectively good writing. If people connect with pratfalls and "I would do rivers first then trees," the connection is no less real than if they connect with aspects of Primordia. For myself, I am not interested in changing my writing to meet such an audience -- I would never give up my own connection with my writing in hopes that some stranger would connect with it. But it's still interesting to understand how Dave reaches his fans.

    I don't think so. Post-modernism seems campy as much as grim, especially in this game. Unavowed seems to have a sort of Itchy and Scratchy mix of hyperviolence with slapstick humor -- you can have a room full of mutilated corpses and then everyone in the party slips on a banana peel. Again, the question to me is why it works so well for its audience. There are more interesting answers than "the audience is dumb," which is a circular answer anyway. ("Why are they dumb?" "Because they like games I think are dumb.")

    From my own standpoint, "What are they connecting with?" is a more interesting more of analysis than, "What is flawed with this game?"
     
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  18. Atrachasis Augur

    Atrachasis
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    That may be true, but I think quite a few readers of this thread came to it actually expecting the game to be good or at least decent after being exposed to Gilbert's earlier work. I myself have played some of WEG's previous games and have been on the fence about buying a few more titles. I don't think anyone here started out hunting for flaws. Given the prevalent mood of disappointment, the question "what went wrong?" is an obvious one to ask, in the sense of "what is different from Gilbert's earlier games?".

    Furthermore, even though the question "what are they connecting with?" is of course legitimate, the answer may not necessarily turn out to be particularly interesting or instructive. The Unavowed is adopting a narrative structure that audiences have become accustomed to and conditioned to appreciate by, mostly, Bioware for years. That this has become an established standard in game storytelling doesn't mean that the instruments used to evoke such a positive reception are necessarily particularly sophisticated, rather than simply something that creators have figured out appeals to a large target audience.

    Indeed, The Unavowed doesn't seem to be free of such devices that provide audiences plenty to connect with but provide little substance underneath. The entire Star-Trek-V mind-melt vignette, sorry to put it bluntly, reeks of psychological pretentiousness. The subject matter of demonic activity is another example; feels suitably epic to wow a certain target demographic, but do the demons and magic spells really contribute to what might be an interesting tale - that of Codexia's madness and the misdeeds it drives her towards? Granted, the entire "Codexia is Darth Revan" revelation would not have been possible without the instrument of demonic possession, but this climactic moment isn't really exploited either, as has been discussed here, because there isn't any impact on the player character or playing style thereafter, other than a name switch. It might be possible to tell a similar tale, leaving the question of whether the supernatural entities are real or just figments of a psychotic mind unanswered. But then, I'm certain even without having compared sales numbers of the The Shivah and The Unavowed, a game without demons, magic and witchcraft in it is likely to hold much less mass appeal. So, yes, I can see that there's something that audiences are likely to connect with, but it's not something I would be particularly keen on in a game.

    Of course there's certainly more than that to the game. The craftsmanship leaves little to be desired for a game of this kind; the artwork is great in some places, and the dialogue writing, for all the holes that the Codex might poke into the plot, seems to be absolutely competent. And there IS some branching (actually, a ton of branching, so much that it is probably to the game's detriment), but unfortunately mostly on a small scale, which is sufficient to evoke the feeling of responsiveness to player decisions. Just like the famous Biowarian dialogues that don't really branch at all, but give you the impression of making an impact as long as you don't replay the game.
     
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  19. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    Well, I think the difference is pretty self-evident -- and Dave has been explicit about it. The primary story-telling tool shifted from puzzle solving (in its various permutations) to Bioware-style intra-party dialogues. The goal was to find a way to use the frame of an adventure game (i.e., the camera perspective, the interface basics) to hold the narrative content of a Bioware RPG (i.e., gathering a diverse cast of modestly flawed characters with hearts of gold, and performing very basic psychoanalytic interactions with them until they are cured of their traumas). It's not really an adventure game without puzzles or an RPG without combat -- it's a mostly new hybrid, I think.

    For that reason, I'd say that Unavowed bears only superficial similarities to Dave's early works. Even if those earlier games were designed to have very low-friction, entry-level puzzles, those puzzles still were the heart of the game. A screenshot from Unavowed may look like a screenshot from Epiphany, but a screenshot from Hexen can look like a screenshot from Daggerfall. Ultimately, the games have almost nothing in common other than frame.
     
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  20. Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis

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    if only...
     
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  21. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

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    You know the game much better than I do, but it seemed to me like it punctuated the tension that way several times, like when a plot arc about an utterly devastated family that has lost its only child ends with the child zanily bursting into flames, or when the dryad keeps popping out over the genie's shoulder like Bugs Bunny pranking Elmer Fudd. Heck, the "sad" ending where you're an eternal slave to a psychopath who uses your powers to torture and slaughter innocents ends with the lulzy "There's a dormant portal to a fey realm in Flushing Meadows." You don't just accidentally using "Flushing Meadows" as your last line of dialogue. Again, I know the Codexian Consensus is to assume unintentional tonal error every time the characters face-plant or a magical rainbow sprinkle donut is juxtaposed with self-immolation, but that's just not credible to me, given how hard a look Dave had for all of Crispin's humor in Primordia. I take all of that stuff as an indication of a writer confident in his control of tone and deliberately committed to not going "grimdark" with the game. (Itchy & Scratchy might not be the right example -- Army of Darkness, maybe? Shaun of the Dead?)

    Anyway, the tone might not work for everybody, but as I said, it worked for enough.
     
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  22. LogOS Novice

    LogOS
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    A funny name. It seems like the protagonists are all very much avowed.

    Alas, it is in the nature of humankind to occasion such exchanges in the search for meaning deeper than what is meant. So it goes.
     
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  23. lightbane Arcane

    lightbane
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    In retrospect, it's quite fitting that in our decaying society of today, The Muse Calliope has become a danger-hair, a rabid lunatic with mood issues.
     
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