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Some spoilers for the beginning of Life is Strange and the end of Gone Home

Butch:

So I started Life is Strange. Got to the first “butterfly choice” as I’m going to call them. Didn’t tell the principal the truth about Nathan there.

So far, so good. I’m into it. Though if the game expects me to keep track of all those people, no. I’m walking down the hall and she’s all ‘That’s Trevor. That’s Evan. That’s Dweezil.’ and I’m all “What? Who? Huh? Girl, for someone that’s bad with names, you seem fine. Me, on the other hand….”

But let’s put a bow on Gone Home, shall we?

So we were talking about digging deeper and all that. Learning more.

I noticed, in my last playing session there, that a major game mechanic in this game is also a metaphor: Turning on lights. You get to a new room, what do you do? You look for the light switch, or a lamp. You illuminate the room. Get rid of the darkness. You’re and English major. No need to explain the metaphor.

And it was turned on its head a few times, which was pretty cool.
For example, the greenhouse. The last real room you look in, and a room where I talked about growth and all that. There’s no light in the greenhouse. Well, no light for Katie to turn on. The light in a greenhouse comes from the outside. You just have to wait until the sun is up. You can’t make the light yourself. And it showed in the game. I had trouble finding everything in there because it was dark. Telling that’s the last room.

Also, the game ENDS in a darkroom. A darkroom, at least what’s in it, is ruined when the lights are turned on. Light destroys the art and beauty that’s being made there. It bookends the initial note from the game: don’t look. Don’t dig. Don’t turn on the lights.

And, to dovetail this with the more upsetting information of yesterday: Near the safe, in the room with so much of the evidence of Oscar’s evil ways, was that one, small room, where we were left to wonder “What awfulness happened here?” (Or, at least, I was, because I opened the safe) That room HAD a light. It didn’t work. When you tried to shed light there, tried to dig, you couldn’t.

Ooo! Another! The jump scare! In the secret passage! It’s when the lights GO OUT. LACK of light is scary!

We’ll start there. But here’s another incentive for you to replay: So I looked at what I got the safe trophy for. It wasn’t just “Open the safe.” It was “Open Oscar’s safe WITHOUT FIRST FINDING THE CODE.” Emphasis added. What? So it wasn’t just punch in the years on the chart? Punch in what has four digits around? There was a code TO FIND? WHERE? I didn’t find it. I just saw four digits and punched. Apparently, there was something to find. An inventory item. What?

Feminina:

The shifting meaning of light/darkness also somewhat mirrors the shift from “ooh, spooky” to “OK, this is actually a love story not a horror story.” Dark is scary! No, wait, dark is a natural part of the day/night cycle, and can also be nurturing and protective of art, love, and growing things.

I probably won’t actually play it again, because I’m still witchering and October’s not that far away, but it certainly seems as if it would reward replaying. I’ll have it on my ‘possible’ list. Probably ahead of No Man’s Sky, which has yet to really hook Mr. O’ and seems (based on his limited experience and our purely speculative discussion) like too much of a time commitment for an uncertain narrative reward.

Butch:

And back again. I mean, I think it’s kinda awesome that we starting thinking “Spooky horror!” and then “Nah, it’s cool, love story” and then, after this safe thing, back to “Ok, maybe some horror….” Light/Dark cycles, indeed.

They sure did pack a lot of interesting into this three hours or so, didn’t they? Puts their next game squarely on my “Things to pay attention to” list.

As for No Man’s Sky, oh dude, I’m 50 50 on time commitments with guaranteed narrative rewards. See these tantalizing yet unlikely witcher expansions. No Man’s Sky looks less and less likely.

Life is Strange seems to be all up in narrative, though. We should have plenty to blab about.

Is “butterfly choice” a good way to phrase these things?

Feminina:

Yeah, “butterfly choice” is good. Clear and to the point, and you will always see that butterfly when that kind of choice shows up, so it will continue to be a workable description.

That game should give us some good bloggage too. I think I DID tell the principle about Nathan? It’s hard to remember for sure, because of course you do both of them to see what happens before you settle on one, because that’s kind of the theme of the game…which makes it a little challenging to remember which one I stuck with at the end. I think it was “tell.”

I hope so, because then maybe we’ll get some things to compare! Although knowing the way we always seem to do exactly the same thing in games, it was probably actually “don’t tell.”

I guess as you go forward and tell me what you see happening, I’ll see if it’s different from what I remember, and maybe we’ll figure it out that way. I was kind of branded a trouble-maker from then on, which I think was because I reported it. But if you are also considered a trouble-maker, maybe it was because of something else.

This should be interesting.

Butch:

Ooo! I didn’t do that! I forgot that I could then go BACK to my original! I guess I thought the mechanic was “If you’re not happy with Don’t Tell, rewind and you can tell, but then you’ll be stuck with tell.” But you’re right, being able to pick and choose makes more sense. Damn. Now I’ve probably damned everyone to awfulness.

Probably we did everything the same. I almost feel like I can say “Well, you did this, because I did it.” Thus reminding you.

It can’t be THAT much different even if we make different choices, though. I mean, simple math tells you that if you have enough choices you have so many probabilities very quickly. They can’t make, like, 20000 separate games here. It’s 20 bucks. I’m sure that there will be variations within theme, but most of it will probably be at least similar. Has to be.

Feminina:

It happens! There was…more than one occasion when I would be struggling valiantly to solve some problem, and then would realize that I’d forgotten that the main mechanic of the game was rewinding time, and that rewinding time was thus very probably involved in the solution, so I had been wandering around trying all this other stuff for no good reason.

Then I would feel silly.

But yeah, you can rewind as often as you want. And also yeah, I’m sure the storyline can’t be THAT different…as with all games that offer options, there are probably, say, a couple of things that differ based on each choice, but they must loop back into the same main narrative, or we’d quickly lose all ability to compare anything.

Butch:

It’s cuz we’ve been spoiled by prompts. All that L1 to do the rope (also a main mechanic thing). If a big fucking L2 doesn’t flash, we don’t think.

Though in my defense, I knew I could rewind time. I just thought I would have to live with it if I did. Which was also silly, as I did it five times in class, and twice in the bathroom. I wasn’t all “Uh….what do I do?” I just feared the consequences of messing with space time.

As one does.

Feminina:

It’s nice of you to try to excuse my failure, but I can’t even really say this was about prompts. Yes, throwing a rope is a mechanic, but it’s one among many. Rewinding time is THE mechanic.

It’s like, I have ONE superpower, and then I forget to use it. It’s if I were playing SparroWoman (this superhero should exist) and thinking “A wall! However am I going to get over it? Maybe I can build a ladder!” Meanwhile, my less forgetful sidekick who never offers any actual useful advice is thinking “you can fly, you know. That’s kind of your thing that you do. Because you’re a freaking sparrow.”

One does, rightly, fear the consequences of messing with space time.

Butch:

I’m trying here, man! If I forgive your failures, you will be more likely to forgive mine when they inevitably happen.

Tell me you came up with that superhero and you didn’t steal it. Please. And don’t lie.

Maybe we were in character. I mean, Max JUST found out she can do this. It might not occur to her to do it ALL the time. And maybe she’s just as weirded out as I was! She doesn’t know if there are consequences! Shit, if I got a power that seemed to start with a waking nightmare about tornadoes (which, granted, I currently have issues about) and a falling lighthouse and shit, I might not be so eager to use them all the damn time. It isn’t like the superpower fairy just appeared and showered her with pink, sparkly power dust and said “Now you can do this whenever and it will be FUN!” No. She’s wary. So it’s cool. Cuz in character.

Yeah.

Feminina:

Good point. Max WOULD be wary, and isn’t used to thinking of herself as having a superpower, so, yeah, it’s all in character.

I feel better now. Thanks.

I just made up SparroWoman as I was typing…but I’m sure once this goes on the blog, someone will steal it and make millions. They’d just better make it awesome, that’s all I ask.

Butch:

Better than better! Staying in character RULES! SO deserves praise! We’re awesome!

Feminina:

YES! We are sacrificing convenience for the sake of character! We are truly dedicated to an immersive experience in the game world! We ROCK!

I credit our fine college education for preparing us to perform this valuable exercise in creative rationalization.

Butch:

It was all the D&D, it was.

Feminina:

We served a long apprenticeship at the tabletop in order to become this good at what we do, that’s true. It was all worth it, just for today.

Haha, no, actually it was all worth it because we had so much fun. I miss D&D sometimes.

Butch:

As do I. We should play in the home.

But I’ll probably still be playing Witcher expansions then, so maybe not.

Feminina:

We have a long, long to-do list for the home. But we’ll have so much time then! Surely we’ll manage to get to it all at last!

Don’t crush my dreams.

Butch:

Depends. Do I get breaks for booze and sports?

Feminina:

Well, sure. We’ll have time for everything! Including booze and sports! It’s going to be an idyllic time, I tell you.

Don’t crush my dreams.

Butch:

It will, it will, it will.

It’s my dream as well, Femmy. Mine as well.

Feminina:

It’s a sweet, beautiful dream.

We may even still have time to blog, grumpily, about kids these days with their brain implant hyper-games and how annoying it is that they have to hand-hold us with those fancy prompts that auto-activate the part of the brain that makes our hands move.

Dare to dream! That’s what the home is all about.

Butch:

That and jello.

Never forget the jello.

T SHIRT!

Feminina:

I can’t wait.

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