Man, I hate typing Tuesday into the subject line. Ah, well.
Didn’t start the next game, so I will comment on Divinity some more.
The more I ponder my ending, the more I’m intrigued.
I got the “bad” ending (I think). It was really bad. It was total failure. Rivellon was right and truly fucked. In thinking about that, I can’t remember a (non-linear) game where that could possibly happen. Other games have good endings and bad endings, but even with the bad ending the hero saves the day. Sure, Geralt could end up alone and unhappy instead of eating warm cakes with Triss, but, either way, he was going to stop the wild hunt. Even if you played ME2 as badly as could be and Shepard died (this could really happen, google it), the world didn’t end. It ended with Shep being all “Carry on without me!”
My ending wasn’t just “Lohse is unhappy,” or even “Lohse is dead.” It was EVERYONE is fucked.
And I’m not sure how I feel about that. I think that it might be cool if decisions along the way paved the way for it, especially if you didn’t see it coming (see, for example, ME2 where it turned out the rather mundane chore of upgrading the Normandy mattered). Like, if you chose not to do the Sallow Man quest and that made Braccus too strong and whoops you’re fucked. But what was uncool here was that the whole thing essentially came down to a dialog choice. Had I clicked “Yeah, sure, I’ll be divine” it’s a totally different ending. That’s sloppy and lazy.
It’s too bad, because having an ending that’s “everyone is fucked, you saved no one” is an interesting idea. They just didn’t implement it well. It could have been implemented well.
The other thing I’m still pondering is the whole “choose a PC” deal. Some of our more interesting chats revolve around when games do something new and it doesn’t work or sorta kinda works and we wonder if there was any way for it to work. The “pick a PC” deal was this game’s biggest innovation. It sure was different. We’ve talked in recent days about how that leaves confusing plot holes and how it led to narrative flaws. The more I think on it, the more I think this particular part of the game could NOT have been implemented better. While I applaud its innovation, I’m just not sure it’s a thing that can work without subverting its own story.
Or, wait, I take it back sorta. I’m not sure it can work in something this large. Maybe it could work in a three hour deal where it would be possible to play it through six times without losing so much damn time, something like seeing a story the size of, say, Gone Home from six different perspectives. But this? Something that would make you put 600 hours into it? Nope. I don’t see a way to implement it.
Unlike the bad ending, which could work, if it didn’t come down to one dialog choice.
100 hours and it all comes down to one dialog choice. I’m annoyed.
“The Day that Offers a Terrifyingly Realistic Preview of Perdition” is so long, though.
I still haven’t played any more of the next game, because I still feel poorly. Staying home today, so if I can gather the attention span I may load it later.
But as for this game… That’s an interesting point, about it all coming down to one choice.
For the sake of argument, though, could we say maybe that’s part of the point? You slog through all this stuff, make all these ultimately inconsequential decisions, and you think they mean something, but in the end, it just comes down to one real choice: do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?
Ha! Not really Jesus, of course, in this game, but maybe that’s kind of what they’re drawing on. We’ve talked about how a game called Divinity can be expected to have some religious themes. And whether or not to become a god, whether and how to use the power of divinity, that’s certainly the obvious one we’ve kind of been chasing this whole time.
But maybe this set of endings gets at another one, sort of a fundamental one for many religions, which is just are you in, or out? Those aren’t literally the dialogue choices we had here, nor does that binary question map well to the three optional endings, but the basic idea of one choice meaning everything, while all the other little decisions one makes in life are essentially irrelevant…I wonder if that’s in there.
Do what you want, be who you want, keep whomever you want around you as a companion. None of it matters to your ultimate fate: what matters is how you respond to divinity.
Leave her alone Naked Zeus! She has done nothing to you!
I can see your point, but if they’re getting at the idea that “none of it matters,” then I’m kind of irked that they took 100 or so hours to make that point. We played this game a LOOOOONG time, and to then have it make the point of “HA! Really, it’s this one choice, so there” makes that feel like a waste of time.
Of course, a counter point to that is why do we get annoyed when our choices, in the end, don’t “matter?” This is, after all, just a video game. If I had a nickel for every time I told my kids, when they were arguing about hall hockey or whiffle ball or whatever “Relax, guys, it’s just a game, it doesn’t matter” I’d have an island, and yet here I am irked at a game for making 100 hours not “matter.” After all, it was a good game. The fights were challenging, the characters were fun, led to mad bloggage. It was entertaining, for the most part. Why should I expect anything to matter about it in the end?
Also true! Does what we did to get to the end have to “matter” for it to have been worth doing? Are those hours of game time retroactively worth less than they would have been if every decision made a difference to the end?
It IS just a game, and maybe also your life is just a life, and whether or not you had some fun and some romance and some good conversation and some sweet loot, that’s the part we’ll remember.
In one sense, all that really matters in the end is your relationship to divinity, but in another, everything except the end IS what matters. The ending is–perhaps intentionally–abrupt and rather brusque. It’s less than 1% of the total time we spent in that game.
“We did all that stuff and it didn’t make any difference!” we can say, but we could also say “we did all that stuff, it was mostly fun, we had some good times, and the end doesn’t make any difference to that.”
Perhaps this is an atheist perspective. It’s more important to worry about the ending if you think you’ve got an eternity to spend doing something based on that decision.
Which the characters may be, but we are not. There is no going back to wander around and finish of stray quests. For us, it’s over.
Dude, you got deep. You must be hitting the dayquil hard.
See, I do feel like the 100 hours didn’t matter, and I’m annoyed by that, but then I think about how irrational that is. It’s completely irrational to think the game “matters” at all, let alone to be genuinely annoyed that it “didn’t.”
This annoyance isn’t always there in games. Back in the days when I had a Civ problem, I would play games on big maps and they’d take a lot of time sometimes, and I’d get to the endgame and there would be no path to victory. I’d lose. All that time, just to lose. But I never got annoyed with that. I never thought “AAAAA that was 20 hours! And it didn’t matter because I got the bad ending!”
So maybe it’s the promise of this type of game. These games make this tacit promise that you, the player, have a hand in shaping the story. Well, at the very least, we, the players, think they make that promise, or that they should make that promise. We don’t expect Civilization to make that promise because it has no narrative to shape.
But should we expect these types of games to make that promise? I might argue that we should. After all, the game explicitly tasks us with making the main character(s), right down to their appearance. If a story lets you do that, it should let you affect the rest of the narrative to some degree.
Dayquil. We must cling to it.
If by ‘Dayquil’ you mean ‘booze.’
Just kidding. I am not day-drinking on a vaguely unsettled stomach while coughing. Recipe for misfortune.
Interesting thought, comparing this to something like Civilization where you might also invest a ton of time and ultimately end up with a ‘bad ending.’ I think you’re right that a big part of the sense of this being a bit off is that this is a game that encouraged us to feel we were in control of at least certain things, that our participation mattered in the narrative.
Which is still true! What we did still mattered in the main story. It just didn’t matter to the end. So the issue is that disconnect. Which, again, I just keep coming back to wondering if it’s at least partly intentional.
Because as we discussed before, we have Wendigo at the beginning and the end: she’s our one consistent presence throughout, and she’s the one who’s still talking after the rest of the story is over. And your choices with regard to HER are obviously the only thing that matters to her, so all that other stuff we did is, from her perspective, meaningless fluff.
Similarly, from the perspective of the divine, all the choices we make that aren’t about how we relate to divinity are meaningless fluff.
And–in your extended metaphor–all the choices you make while living in a delusional fantasy are meaningless fluff.
Do what you want to do, spend your time how you want to, but when it comes down to it, regardless of who you are or how you got to that point, you’re going to face divinity. And reaching that choice point both forgives all previous sins (presumably we could get the ‘good’ ending even if we’d played the game as total jerks instead of just run of the mill, well-meaning wandering murderers), and disregards all previous virtues. No blame, no credit.
This is what matters to Wendigo.
Hey man, all Nyquil is is shitty booze. Go nuts.
Again, I see that, but there’s one line I got in my epilogue that complicates things (a line I dislike enormously): “You fixed the original wrong.” The game pointed out to me that the first naughty thing (the original sin, if you will) that the gods did, and gave me credit for fixing it. Of course, I had no idea I was doing that, so that either plays into your reading of it (which I can buy) or it means I wasn’t paying attention (also a distinct possibility) or it made no sense (a certainty). Or all of the above.
I can see your point about making this intentional. That said, if you’re right, is that good storytelling or cheap gimmickry? Do you like it if it was intentional? I’m leaning towards cheap gimmickry.
I had a nap. Booze-level disorientation waking up in the middle of the day!
I don’t remember having a line about fixing the original wrong. How did you do that, again? Because it’s certainly a Deeply Meaningful line in a game about divinity.
By giving the God King back all his shit or something. Cuz the gods cast him out into the void so they could be gods and stuff, veil, something something….
So fixing the original wrong was what led to the god king coming back and enslaving everyone.
Which is a Deeply Meaningful thing in a game about Divinity. Or at least called Divinity.
Hm. So wait. Our choices were: keep Source for ourselves (well, for Gannibog) and become Divine, cut off Source from Rivellon entirely like Lucian wanted, or share Source with the world.
Giving it back to the god-king sounds like cutting it off from Rivellon…but I thought you said that’s the “good” ending.
I’m confused. Maybe I misunderstood the choices we saw.
I’m confused myself. As an aside, I just went to the store to buy a loaf of bread and hot dogs for the kids, and left with that plus four boxes of pasta, four jars of sauce, some peanut butter, some mac and cheese and five cans of tuna.
And more toilet paper.
What’s wrong with me? I’m not even concerned!
Feeling better. I just went to the store and got flour and chocolate chips, because OBVIOUSLY if school and work close and we’re stuck at home for weeks on end we’ll want to make cookies. Then I got back and remembered we have plenty of flour, and what I actually meant to get was SUGAR. Sorry kids, those cookies are going to suck.
I’ll go back for sugar at lunch tomorrow. It’s a good excuse to realize I should also grab some pasta, sauce and toilet paper. You can’t be too careful!
I got flour, too. If I have flour, I have bread.
What’s wrong with us?
We’ve been swept up in the hype. We can’t help ourselves. It’s human nature to succumb to a crowd frenzy.
I would have been buying ALL THE TULIP BULBS in Holland in 1620. I can’t deny it.
In fact, I might go buy some right now, JUST IN CASE. Did you pick up flowers? GET FLOWERS. There’s no reason the post-respiratory-apocalypse can’t have some nice blooms.
It’s at a point now that if the dog food shelf was almost empty I’d be all “KIBBLE! NEED KIBBLE! MUST BUY KIBBLE!!!!!!!!” and I have no dog.
And tulips. Good idea.
These are indeed confusing times. But we’ll get through them!
With plenty of flowers, pasta and toilet paper.
I just like saying kibble.
It might be worth getting a dog, just so you’d have more opportunities to say it.
Probably not, though.
Absolutely not. Much to Nugget’s dismay as he’s obsessed.
Well, that discussion went pretty far downhill from its lofty beginnings.