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Vague spoilers for puzzle types and locations in the Witness

Butch:

I shall continue to be positive. We’re six days away from positive. Let’s be positive. (Not that we’ll play it as soon as it’s out, but it’ll be there to make us happy.)

So I’m in my little no spoiler bubble for HZD but I did notice that they have touted that there are no loading screens. This made me say, at first, “Oh come on, none? Not even fast traveling?” I’ll believe it when I see it. But here’s a question: Let’s say there are no load screens. Is that…good?

Now, no doubt load screens are bad for immersion. I give them that. But load screens also give one time to catch one’s breath, to have a slug of booze, and, for that matter, serve as a place marker, like “Ok, now we’re on something else, so if you want to stop and go make dinner this would be a good place to do it.”

So while I’m all for immersion, and it would be a hell of a technical feat if it were true, I’m not so sure NO load screens is a positive.

Thoughts?

Feminina:

That’s a very interesting question. As you say, load screens, although essentially artificial breaks in what could be continuous activity, have been incorporated into our play style–much as commercial breaks serve a purpose on TV.

“Time to take a break! Go to the bathroom! Have a drink! Maybe even turn it off for the night and come back later.”

With NO load screens–with a completely seamless, continuous flow of activity–we have to decide for ourselves when to do these things. That’s a taxing mental load there!

On the other hand, there are no load screen outdoors in giant games like Fallout 4, so if we’re out roaming around for hours on end (which we’ve all done!) we have this same experience of having to decide for ourselves when to pause.

I personally am also in the middle of playing a game with no load screens (though, granted, also no particular ‘action’), so perhaps the transition will be easier for me.

But yeah, if there are literally NO load screens, if you just click to start the game and you’re there, or if you go through a door into a building and you’re instantly there…that will be quite the technical feat.

One pressing question arises: where will they put the helpful tips?

Speaking of games I’m playing, I did a few puzzles. Finished up in the quarry, went back to the forest, finished in the trees and am now down in that lumberyard sort of area on the other side of the stream from the quarry. Got a couple of lines of screens to do there. Everything is going great. Totally, totally great.

Those shadow ones got pretty weird and complicated by the end, huh? It was cool.

Butch:

TWO Yellow Boxes! You are CRUISING man!

You know it’s killing me that you haven’t….you know…..

Is this part of the being ahead? Are there times when I’m woefully behind you where you’re all “Oh my God why doesn’t he GET TO THAT????” Or are you too busy playing games to notice?

I did like that whole bit with the shadows. I liked pretty much all of it.

Here’s a question: That bit, in the trees there, is the load screen. (Speaking of load screens. It all hangs together.) Or at least the screen you see before it starts loading and you see the shapes. You know me, always reading into things. I wonder if they picked that for a reason or it was just pretty.

I have no knowledge on this.

As for the other topic, at least don’t make the load screens when you go in and out of buildings. Bethesda games? So cool when you’re running around all over the map seamlessly. Then you get to town, you want to check out like 25 houses, and load screen every time you go in and out. UGH!

The Witness, though, isn’t really a catch your breath kind of game. You can throw up your hands and say “Ah, fuck it, I’m having a drink” whenever without worrying “Is the fight over? Is the scene over? Is there some really important plot twist five minutes away?” HZD seems like a game that IS more like the typical game in that you can step away at a very inopportune time, or need a break to catch your breath.

It will especially be a feat in a game that, by all accounts, looks really, really good. And has technical flourishes!

Kotaku: I’m Just Saying, Look At How Horizon’s Protagonist Turns Around On Horseback

Check THAT shit out!

“One pressing question arises: where will they put the helpful tips?”

Oh dear God…..I FORGOT ABOUT THOSE!!!!!

Feminina:

THE HELPFUL TIPS, man. WHERE WILL WE FIND THEM.

That looks pretty sweet, all right. I’m into it. I mean, initially I only ordered it because it had a red-haired female protagonist and ROBOT DINOSAURS, but now I think we might actually like it.

Butch:

You have very simple standards.

Feminina:

Well, those are my very most basic standards. Preferred add-ons include looting, romance, fancy dress balls, heists, and where possible, a group hug ending. I have high hopes for at least some of these.

Ha. I’m going to make up a scorecard with boxes to check off for all the things I want, and that will add up to a final score for every game.

Red hair? Check
Loot? Check [probably]
Fancy dress ball? Check [we can dream]

And I did notice that the lovely orange trees are the load screen. I don’t know if it means anything. Maybe not. I mean, something’s gotta be the load screen, and the orange trees ARE pretty.

Although, purely from a practical standpoint, it must mean, at least, that they’re telling us “this game is not just puzzles. There’s something going on here.”

Because the OBVIOUS load screen, if you just wanted “smack ’em in the head obvious this is what this game involves,” would be, you know, a grid with a line, maybe.

They don’t choose that (because it’s not attractive and not immediately that interesting): they choose a pretty scene. A forest, and just a single screen…makes you wonder “what’s happening here?”

And, too, it’s an autumnal scene. Could be a forest in the fall. The melancholy beauty of the end of summer, when we know the cold of winter is not far off.

Thought arising from this: we have pink trees suggestive of spring blossoms, and green trees suggestive of summer leaves, and orange trees suggestive of autumn. Is there an area of bare winter trees I’m not remembering? A snowfield somewhere? Or is winter not referenced on the island, meaning, perhaps, that it is in fact yet to come? Meaning, perhaps, that all of this is just a prelude to winter? And since winter is thematically suggestive of death, is this all, perhaps, just an extended metaphor for life? We roam around solving little puzzles, figuring out bits and pieces of things an an often-inexplicable world, and then the end comes? Leaving us, perhaps, knowing more about certain things but still largely as baffled as when we began?

Hm. Had to ask the internet because I wasn’t sure if there might be some obvious snowy landscape I’d seen but was obstinately not remembering. It looks as if there’s a snowy bit, but I haven’t seen it yet. (Way to spoil, self!)

So perhaps the seasonal references are not specifically a theme of the game in the way I just speculated. Still, some nice poetic wordage for the morning, so I’ll leave it.

As to your question about being ahead, I think I’m usually too busy playing something else to notice. Although with Rapture, I had so much stuff burbling around in my head that I wanted to discuss, I did kind of feel like “you have to play more!!!!”

And we’ve talked about how similar this game is to Rapture in some ways, so I can see you experiencing similar feelings of frustration. Sorry, man! I’m doing what I can!

While carefully failing to notice the thing you want to talk about just to annoy you. There’s that.

Butch:

In this game, yes. High hopes. I also demand BEBHBBs, hot sorceress sex, dream sequences and ROBOT DINOSAURS!

There’s some hope.

Maybe “Mild sexual themes” is “Hot sorceress sex.” Could be.

You know what there WILL be?

Yellow boxes. Because there is ALWAYS a yellow box.

Which, yeah…..I……could’ve told you that there were snowy bits……. seeing as I’m at one……..

Jeez. Wait for me to tell you “Hm.”

What else did you spoil? Unsee! Unsee!

Too busy playing to notice. Sigh.

What’s driving me particularly nuts here is that the thing(s) are not in any linear anything. It isn’t all “Oh, ok, he’s almost done with Wendy, so next is Frank,” it’s “When is she going to fucking NOTICE??????”

Grumble.

Feminina:

We’re going to have a very interesting composite scorecard for the blog, once we start providing our own ratings.

I think you’ll be stuck with mild sorceress sex on this one, though. You know, sort of haphazard smooching, a flash of bare shoulder, and a nice fade to black.

Think of the teens, man! Won’t someone please think of the teens?!

And quickly remove all the interesting explicit content we know they’d like. They can look for their porn on the internet like everyone else, damn it.

But I will never notice what you’re thinking of. I’ll be at the end of the game thinking “I wonder what it was I was supposed to notice? Oh well, probably nothing thematically interesting.” Heh.

And sure, you COULD have told me there was a snowy bit, but you WOULDN’T, because you wouldn’t want to spoil. Whereas I can just spoil myself with impunity.

But I didn’t. I saw the one landscape with the frozen (?) statue leaning against a post or something, and then I was like “OK, there’s snow later, my theory is disproved” and I closed the browser window.

Although speaking of frozen dudes and other tragedy, I meant to mention that bit on the walk in the castle garden, after the hedge maze…when things get kind of blurry? And there’s, like, spilled darkness or something, and a half-marked human figure in shadow spilling out of a bucket?

I saw that a while ago, and it may be the creepiest thing so far. Even more than the dog. I meant to say something about it at the time, but forgot. Probably blocked it from my memory.

What is that? Were people carrying night around in a bucket, or was it just black paint that’s giving me the creeps for no good reason?

Don’t answer that. Rhetorical question.

Butch:

I could’ve HMMED! I’ve been waiting to Hmm for YEARS here! This is my moment of HMM!

This was up on the parapets there, right? Sort of in a corner? Said shadow has it’s hands sort of raised in apparent distress?

Haphazard smooching. I guess we’ll have to deal. We’ll make up for it in MEA. (You know, it does occur to one that DAI was raunchier than the other DAs. Think MEA will do the same?)

And you agree with me. You liked seeing Geralt in action.

When you finally meet some heavily armored, moody bug thing that can make his armor vanish in a flurry of laser lights, only to do….uh….whatever it is they do in graphic, strong sexual content detail, we’ll lose you forever.

And I may give up games.

Feminina:

Oh man, that’s going to be great. I can’t wait for the laser light show.

Ooh, or…take a trick from the Witness, and we’ll be able to go into dot mode and remotely trace lines from the top button on our lover’s clothes, and then as they turn seductively around, we drag the line all the way down their body, and their clothes disappear with it.

And wind up draped over a statue that’s staring at us and probably is part of a puzzle that we’ll have to pay attention to later if we want to unlock the door and get out of the bedroom, but never mind that now.

I think there’s a big future in sex scene mashups from different games. Someone on the internet should get on that.

And yes! Thank you. Parapets was the word I was looking for.

And yes, the shadow has its hands up, as if to say “I’m unarmed, don’t hurl paint at me!” or perhaps merely to implore the heavens. In any case, it doesn’t look relaxed and happy. I noted it as the first non-statue suggestion of a person, and wondered if I’d see more, but so far I haven’t.

It was weird, though. Very weird.

Butch:

Uh….oooookaaaay……..

While I lack direct evidence, I’m utterly sure someone on the internet has.

And….can we move on now please?

As you mention people in the Witness, another thing I noted is that the more spiritual/natural a place is, the less likely you are to see a person in it. The forest, temple, monastery….I don’t remember anyone. And the one place where man tried to “conquer” nature, I guess, where he tried to use it to get higher (the treehouses), there’s that burned thing with a weeping man that I can’t get to.

Feminina:

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has. I’m not going to look, though. Some dreams are too sacred to be realized in the harsh light of a computer monitor.

That and I don’t need IT flagging my search history.

Yeah, not much else was up there with the person/shadow. A bit where things get kind of blurry and you think “is something the matter with my screen? Or my eyes?” and then the shadowy figure, and some other sort of spilled paint/tiny endless pit of darkness. The darkness and/or the figure (what the darkness does to the figure?) certainly seems to be the takeaway.

And we never see it get dark here (just say “hm” if there are whole nighttime scenes I haven’t gotten to yet), so maybe darkness HAS somehow been isolated or trapped and is a danger to the bright world.

Hm.

Butch:

Oh right SHIT! It wasn’t just stuff on the floor! There was a little “cutscene” like thing, wasn’t there? I forgot about that…… I remember the paint thing because I went back there to look for……something…..but I got that scene thing a long time ago (I’ve had this game almost a year, after all).

I, too, have not seen night. Though we’ve been to dark places, for sure. Under the temple, under the windmill….

Indeed, in those places, the whole point is to find the light. Under the temple we had those dark rooms, and tried to find JUST the right way to use light to “see the answer.” The dark under the windmill gives us the most clear depiction of themes. And, if you recall, the game starts with us coming out of a dark tube into the light.

So night? No. Dark? Lots.

Feminina:

Well, now you’re remembering more than I am, because I don’t recall anything I’d describe as a cutscene. Just spilled paint (if it IS paint…ominous music), and the strange blurriness, and the human figure.

But yeah, lots of darkness underground and so forth, but it’s never night. Quite unlike the Rapture, where it was frequently night at odd times. Which was weird in another way.

Butch:

Well, not a cutscene per se, but as close as we get in this game.

Feminina:

A likely story. You’re keeping something from me.

As you should.

Butch:

I am. The cutscene. With the nudity. ALL the nudity.

Feminina:

Damn it!!!! Must get back to the parapets! Hell with the forest/lumber yard!

Butch:

Oh there’s nudity there, too.

WHAT Lumberyard? Am I missing a lumberyard?

Feminina:

That’s just what I’m just calling that area below the forest, across from the quarry. Because…um…trees…and they were harvesting trees to go with the rocks…more of a sawmill, maybe, than a lumber yard. But that’s the general idea.

Butch:

Ah. Makes sense. A place with NO YELLOW BOX.

What were the puzzles there?

Feminina:

Dude…there’s not a yellow box, but there’s a cord that runs to the yellow box above the quarry. I need to solve these puzzles to light up that cord to open up part of the puzzle on the box so I can get into the box.

This is the continuation of the forest you specifically told me to go to. I’m TRYIN’ to stay focused, man. And believe me, it’s hard…so many exciting things in other places…could be going back to the sun temple…could be checking out the town again…

The puzzles look to be Tetris blocks and trefoils combined. Good times.

Butch:

Ah right! That.

Well, you didn’t activate the treehouse one, or the greenhouse one, or the jungle one….

Or the…..stuff……

Feminina:

I know! That’s because I wasn’t trying to focus! I gave my “heck with this let’s go do something else” inclinations free rein.

Right now I’m controlling my natural magpie urges and powering through the point where I start to get bored with a puzzle type, specifically for you.

It’s because I was so impressed with the no-meat, no-cilantro chili. Otherwise, I would have been out of here by now.

Butch:

It’s ok. Soon….when you see…..stuff……then magpie away.

Cuz yellow boxes, as nice as they are, aren’t obelisks……

Feminina:

Nice! Nice use of vague terms and ellipses. You have learned well from my sterling example.

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