Friday, 7 December 2012

Why I Didn't Get Past Episode 1 of The Walking Dead

Player: Hi There
NPC: Hello. How can I help you?
Player: I don't know yet, I just know I have to talk to you. I can't do anything of meaning until I've talked to everyone around here. Eventually someone will say something that triggers the next event.
NPC: But surely someone gave you a reason to talk to me? Otherwise you're what, walking around making small talk with complete strangers for no real reason?
Player: Yup. I'm sick of this.
NPC: Sick of what?
Player: These conversations. First a head shot of me which some petrified facial expression, with at most an out of focus back of your head side of frame while I talk. And then it will switch to you when you have to talk.
NPC: Oh yeah, I guess you're right.
Player: And we continue like this.
NPC: I'd never noticed before.
Player: Once you do, you'll notice it all the time.
NPC: They do this in films quite a lot, too.
Player: That's true. Although in films obviously the actors can give a lot more nuance than these models, and it's really quite difficult to do good subtle gesturing and body movement in games so we tend to stick more to the head shots. And on top of that our dialogue is often more in-keeping with the length of novel text than film. Especially the diatribes you're likely to go on shortly.
NPC: I don't feel like I'm going to go on a diatribe.
Player: Trust me, at some point I'll ask you why the flowers near here are blue or something equally trivial and you will explain the entire botanical history or the world. It will be interminable. 
NPC: I presume you want to talk to me about something in particular but this conversation is astonishingly banal. It seems like this will go like this forever.
Player: Not forever, eventually I'll get to the point.
NPC: Why wait?
Player: I'm not sure. I'm normally in some sort of high pressure situation, but neither I or anyone I talk to seems to be in any hurry. And honestly, often I don't know the point until the conversation is half over.
NPC: Have you considered staying on task better?
Player: I'd like to but I have no control over what I actually say yet. I'd like to figure out what I need to do to trip the thing that move this scene on. You may have noticed it's starting to drag.
NPC: Surely you'd like to know something about me and why I'm here?
Player: Given I've never seen you before, seem unlikely to again, and you, no offense, seem pretty easy to figure out, why would I?
NPC: Add some flavour to your experience. A little bit of insight into the world you live in.
Player: Not really. I do need to move on here, but something tells me you'll want to discuss something else first.
NPC: Funny you should mention that. I do have some things I could talk to you about before I mention anything important. I'll just sit here in a small animation loop while you pick one.

1. Tell me more about these time wasting things...
2. Please tell me intensely personal things that you wouldn't share with anyone, never mind a complete stranger
3. Please read me verbatim the wiki entry for some obscure piece of lore.
4. Fuck it. Seriously, I've had enough.

1
Player: Is there any chance if I ask about these things that you'll highlight the things that actually matter?
NPC: More than happy to. Even if you do miss something, don't worry I'll happily repeat this over and over again if you want.
Player: I know. You told me that last time I came over here.

1. Tell me more about these time wasting things...
2. Please tell me intensely personal things that you wouldn't share with anyone, never mind a complete stranger
3. Please read me verbatim the wiki entry for some obscure piece of lore.
4. Fuck it. Seriously, I've had enough.

2
Player: So, do you have any terrible personal tragedies or family grievance you'd like me to pretend to care about?
NPC: Funny you should ask. Just the other day I was thinking about my sick aunt SKIP SKIP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SKIP 

1. Tell me more about these time wasting things..
2. Please read me verbatim the wiki entry for some obscure piece of lore.
3. Fuck it. Seriously, I've had enough.

Player: Hey, what happened to option two, I thought you'd repeat things.
NPC: Oh, I do, but only the meaningless stuff. That last one was a side quest. The pertinent information got added to your log.
Player: I didn't realise I had a log, but thanks for the heads up.
NPC: Any time. Now pick another option, I really shouldn't talk without being explicitly prompted to by you.

3
Player: Fuck it. Seriously, I've had enough. Who thinks this is how people converse?
NPC: Talk to you later.

New NPC: Hey, over here. Now that you've finished talking to that guy you can finally talk to me.
Player: Wait, didn't that last conversation unlock a side quest? I might go do that first.
New NPC: This is the side quest.
Player: So the side quest is to go through your conversation tree?
New NPC: Yup.
Player: Nope, I'm out. Sorry.

This is what happened in my head as I played through the first episode of The Walking Dead. Not because it had bad writing and characters, but in fact because they were very good. Good enough that I realised my dislike of conversations in games was a dislike of the mechanics themselves rather than, as I had previously assumed, the results of bad writing.

1 comment:

  1. I'd say worse is when there is a blindingly obvious option/solution in one of the "pressure" situations, but no one acknowledges it. Until you exhaust all other options of course.

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