No real spoilers but we at least mention games
I’m going mad….this is starting to be like some short story late in a 19th century European author’s work…..you know..when they’ve gone mad…..
Junior has gone full moody pre teen. His timing sucks. The kids have colds. I have a cold. There’s still so much to do!
And I’m not playing games!!!! I’m almost tempted to boot up something mindless like fortnite. Junior has fortnite. It looks so very stupid, but a game’s a game, right? RIGHT? RIIIIGHHHHTTTT?
I could…what…pown newbs. Or is it Pohwn noobs? I DON’T EVEN KNOW!!!! I just know it looks really stupid and there’s dances involved! Nugget does some of the dances! They make him look insane! So maybe it IS the game for me!
I believe it’s “pwn newbs.” Because…canonical typos. Or something.
Anyway, perhaps we should actually be using this time to write a 19th century short story about someone who goes mad! We have a lot of material!
I have a cold too. Nasty, dry cough. It’ll probably turn out to be TB just in time for Christmas. I mean ‘consumption’ (more 19th century). Remember: it’s drug resistant now, so it’s totally primed for a comeback!
Otherwise…yeah. I don’t know. I’m also slightly insane from not playing anything, although because I’m sick I keep going to bed early and not missing it so much. If only I could sleep instead of coughing.
But it’s all going to be great! We’re gonna love it!
That feeling of terror and creeping doom and having too much to do is actually just perfectly normal excitement and enthusiasm and joy at witnessing the wonderful developmental stages of your precious, precious children.
Booze. We must cling to it.
Ah. Ok, we’ll go with that. If we ever really break down and play fortnite, which is very unlikely as we are not in middle school. Which, really, being able to say “we are not in middle school” is the best news of the week thus far.
So today’s insanity revolved around Nugget threatening to throw a tool box at me (the whole tool box) and Junior accusing me of stealing one of his T shirts (I said “What, so I can sell it on the middle school T shirt black market?” and he said “You ALWAYS steal my shirts!” Oooookaaaay…..).
So I’m gonna cling to my sanity by trying to talk about something from a video game.
So I was reading a year end wrap up today from a site that’s, you know, better at that shit than we are and was reminded that Shadow of the Tomb Raider originally shipped with the wrong ending. Specifically (incredibly vague spoiler), apparently the after credit scene WAS Lara getting a letter from Natla, the baddie in the very first TR games of yore. Eidos said that was a mistake, and blooped it out with a day one patch that gives us whatever the fuck after credit scene we get if we ever finish this game.
But that got me thinking, remember way back in the first one? That game ended with Lara reading “Croatoan,” an allusion to the Lost Colony at Roanoke, yes? And we were all “Ooo! That’ll be in the sequel.” And it wasn’t. And then we were all “Maybe it’ll be in the next one.” And it wasn’t.
Now it’s pretty clear that they had this idea for something in a sequel and then had second thoughts. Ok. That happens. Cool. But my thought, as related to games, is that, with games, you can patch shit. You can go back, after the release, after you’ve had second thoughts, and bloop out scenes like that. Shadow did it.
So would it be ok, desirable even, for Crystal Dynamics to go back and patch the first one so that Croatoan bit is gone? Make everything smoother? Or should we, as the erudite art critics we are, demand that things stay the way they were when they were put out into the public? Did Shadow “cheat” by editing itself after release?
(We gotta do something, here. I got accused of stealing T shirts. And I have to go buy MORE FOOD.)
Dude, I’ve seen you in Jr.’s T shirts. No blame. They’re SO INCREDIBLY COOL, how could you be expected to resist?
Next time just shout back, in a voice seething with emotion, “if you don’t want me to take your stuff maybe don’t have such INCREDIBLY COOL SHIRTS while I’m stuck here with all the STUPID BORING GROWN UP SHIRTS!!!!!!” and then storm off and slam a few doors.
Gotta speak their language. (Admittedly, whenever I try this, I succeed in momentarily startling them at best, but hey, it can be briefly entertaining if not really productive.)
Games, eh? Do we talk about games? Huh.
I do remember that mention of Croatoan! And how we totally expected to see it in the sequel and never did! Or in the next sequel! (Trequel? No, no, never mind, that’s madness.) I was kind of excited to see Lara tackle the mystery of the lost colony, too!
Maybe in the next sequel. Alternatively, maybe she went there in between the first and second games, and it was a dead end, and it was super boring, there were no interesting tombs or anything, so they decided not to even mention it again. “You know, we thought this was going to be a thing, we really did, but…uh…it’s not a thing, sorry.”
I do have a kind of knee-jerk “that’s cheating!” response to hearing that parts of stories, or endings, or whatever have been ‘fixed.’ (We weren’t sure how we felt about the changes to the end of ME3 either.) It’s a sort of “you made it, now deal with it!” reaction, as well as the sense of “I paid for it the way it was and maybe I didn’t WANT it fixed. And even if I did, maybe I don’t have the right to GET it fixed if that’s the way it was originally planned.”
But on the other hand, we rarely complain when games ‘fix’ other things that weren’t broken in the strictest sense–if they update the inventory system so all the food looks different, or change the way we swap gear, or whatever. Even if we don’t necessarily love the changes (“I was used to bananas looking one way and now I can never find them because they look different” or whatever), we don’t feel that the game has “cheated” in making them. I don’t think I’ve ever had a sense that “players/developers should have to live with the crappy inventory system the game shipped with even though they have a better one now, because that’s THE WAY IT WAS PLANNED.”
So I think we’re responding very differently to it when it’s about the narrative, than when it’s about mechanics, and it really becomes a question of whether or not that difference is warranted.
IS it fundamentally different to change a minor point in the story, than it is to change the way food icons appear? Or are they both just a matter of shifting things a bit in response to player feedback/updated technology/developer’s cool new idea/whatever?
Is there a sound reason that the story the game shipped with should be sacred and untouchable (even if maybe it doesn’t make any sense), but the inventory system is fair game?
I think maybe we’re accustomed to seeing video games (modern, complex games, anyway…I don’t know about Pac-Man or whatever) as to some extent ‘living’ documents. We accept that sometimes the rules of how to do things change a bit, or a minor but annoying bug gets fixed, or the way that things appear gets a little sharper, or whatever. Maybe we can see that there’s a historical value to keeping a copy of the original so we can see how it looked when it shipped vs. at some later point, or whatever, but we don’t feel any need to keep OUR copy at that original point.
But when we think about STORIES, we’re used to thinking of them in more permanent formats. Books, movies, TV shows, whatever: some finished document that’s presented as a final copy of whatever it is. And so we feel weird about a story just being able to change.
And it IS weird when we’re thinking about things on print, or pressed onto film, or whatever, because they exist in a specific physical form and it’s actually kind of difficult to make changes, and impossible to make changes to all the previous copies. Even if you print a new edition of a book, you can’t update all the first editions, and we tend to find it kind of suspicious if someone even wants to, like “why do you want to tamper with the record? what are you trying to hide in that first edition?”
Because we’re used to multiple editions of things stacking and co-existing and forming part of a larger history, if we’re interested in that. “When this character was first introduced she was described as x, but later on she become y.” We’re willing to accept rewrites and retcons and new interpretations–several different versions of Tomb Raider, to take an example at random!–but with the expectation that the originals (and/or the previous rewrites) will also still exist at the same time, and one doesn’t interfere with the other.
I think maybe we’re suspicious of changes to stories in video games (or in digital editions of books–remember that whole uproar a few years back when Amazon changed some people’s purchased ebooks?) because the change REPLACES the original information and leaves no way back, and we sort of instinctively distrust that ability to rewrite a narrative so completely.
I mean, it just automatically makes one feel dystopian, doesn’t it? In ‘1984’ they had whole buildings of people painstakingly rewriting history by hand, and at least you can see that it’s happening, but if the Powers That Be can just make some changes to all the ebooks by running a patch, the truth could disappear, a hundred intervening lies could disappear one after another, and no one would even necessarily know there’d been an update.
On the other hand, if we want to be a little less dark…back before there WERE all these physical formats for records, when people relied on oral traditions, I’m sure the stories changed all the time, for both sinister and innocent reasons. Because an oral tradition, perhaps more like a video game, is ‘alive,’ and is not fixed in a particular form. And probably everyone was aware of that, they all knew that “so and so tells this story really well, but always leaves the fun details out of that one” or whatever–they didn’t expect to get the story word-for-word every time they heard it, the way we do when we read a book.
Maybe video games have the potential to reach back to older ways of approaching narrative, to the point where the ‘storyteller’ (in this case a whole team) can judge the response of the audience and add more information, or completely change something, and it’s not because they’re trying to hide anything, anymore than Grandma telling stories by the fire was trying to hide her previous version of Cinderella, it’s just that they had an idea and thought it might work better with this twist.
In closing…I don’t know. But it’s an interesting question!
Way to go actually prompting some thoughtful discussion in this brutal week of all weeks.
I’ll take briefly entertaining. They do not get sarcastic irony. I was going to tell him, once I wash the stupid thing, that I was going to trade it to a third world warlord for blood diamonds and now mommy will have a lousy Christmas, but he would just slam the door.
We used to talk about games, I think. Then all this holiday shit…
Yeah, I was going to bring up ME3. I was one of the defenders of the changes to ME3, mostly because ME3 didn’t CHANGE anything so much as clarified/expanded on it. Added details. It didn’t say “Oops, our bad, reapers won” or something. I guess you could say that this change to Shadow didn’t really change anything either. She could still get that letter, but this ending didn’t commit to it. It’s like they redacted some of the story. Which…I suppose is a change, in a way, but not in this case so much. Not like, say, the American version of Clockwork Orange (the book, not the movie) that, for some reason, left off the last chapter of it, which totally changed both the ending and the tone of the book (and the public perception, as the movie was based on the American version, but I digress).
Hmm. Not sure about inventory/narrative. I was going to say that the inventory system is really just how you interact, that it makes it more real, whatever, but then I thought of something I REALLY don’t like: Colorization of old movies. This used to be a thing, remember? There was a push to take old classics and color them. This pissed me off. Still does. Now, that is really just making it “more realistic,” or “easier to watch” or something using new technology, right? But it DID change the way the art was presented, even if it didn’t change the narrative at all. If I was pissed about that, I should be pissed about inventory systems, too, but I’m not.
But, to go back to film, what about changes, not just to color, but to digitization? If you stream, say, Citizen Kane today, it’s been digitized and upscaled to 4K and all that shit. The actual physical films, with all their dust and scratches and flickers are melting away somewhere. Literally. More and more physical films rot away every day. Soon, the only way we’ll be able to watch any of the old films will be in stunning, streaming 4K! Colorized or not. The updates will, eventually, replace the originals. But we’re, at some level, ok with that. Right? Are we? And isn’t that the same thing? Sort of?
Interesting, too, that you go back to the oral tradition and how the teller can change little things here and there and it’s still the “same” story. One thing we’re not touching on in terms of what a game IS is the variable of the player. Even though we play games in a very similar way, we do little things differently. You got a whole quest I missed. I wound up with Triss and warm cakes. And yet we both, without question, played Shadow, played TW3. THAT’S in the same vein as oral stories having little differences.
Some games, those little differences even go from game to game. DAI would have been slightly different for you depending on what you did in DAO. Right? And we’re cool with that. So how come it’s one thing when the devs make a change, but I’m ok with knowing my story isn’t the same as yours?
I agree that there’s also something to the idea that it’s also partly about the general malleability of a game’s story when different people can play or experience it in different ways. (Though this is obviously true to different degrees depending on the game. Would we feel more strongly about changes to a highly linear game where pretty much everyone did all the same stuff? Unclear.)
Colorizing old movies is an interesting one, too! Or remastering, digitizing, etc.
I’m with you, I don’t like colorizing (remastering…I feel less strongly about, but I think largely because it’s presented as an attempt to clarify an original rather than add something to it–though I don’t know how much this is literally true), but one could certainly argue that it just adds a layer of realism to old footage (did you hear about Peter Jackson’s latest project?) and makes it easier for us to relate to it or whatever.
I think the thing that makes colorizing somewhat different is that–while you’re absolutely right that the old original film is deteriorating and we can imagine a day when only the colorized version exists–the colorization does not, in itself, delete or overwrite the original version in all its copies.
A patch/update has the potential to overwrite every version of a game that is in play on a connected machine, making the original version that was purchased not just out-of-date but GONE. And on that path, we can certainly argue that the likely existence of unplayed original copies that someone could potentially play without ever updating them serves the same purpose–that the original version still exists and there’s no need to worry about it being lost to history (if we think history cares). And this is probably true.
But in the version we have in our hand, the story might be different from how it was when we first got it, and I think that’s what maybe seems faintly troubling.
Again, no real conclusions, but this is an interesting topic.