I will play every level in Eternal X and comment on them.

For topics about the story, help in a certain level, game discussion, or finding/discussing content.

Re: I will play every level in Eternal X and comment on them

Post Jan 19th '17, 07:26

Pfhorrest wrote:There's several different kinds or stages of "Jjaro"...


Oh, my. Was all of that supposed to come through from playing Eternal?
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Crater Creator

Post Jan 20th '17, 01:01

It's not ever spelled out all in one place like that, but each step is in there, though not in order. We learn from Leela at the end of Chapter 4 that the ancient Jjaro were human, and that's implied throughout Chapter 5 too. In Chapter 5 we also learn that those Jjaro have "mechanized descendants" who we are told will survive the destruction of the biological species. It's implied here and there (mostly in Chapter 4) that the "Jjaro" were essentially AIs, I'm pretty sure it's stated somewhere in Chapter 3 that Yrro and Pthia were like that, so those are the "mechanized descendants". And I think Leela explains after her ascension in Chapter 3 that those Jjaro escaped to "the Outside" like she just has, and like Durandal has, and that those are the godlike Jjaro we know of today. Leela explains a little bit there, and demonstrates for the rest of the story in her own actions, and Durandal explains a bit further in the epilogue, the relation between those ascended Jjaro and the W'rkncacnter.

I like to write stories where greater worldbuilding stuff not directly driving the plot is just implied everywhere by the rest of the stuff in the story world. Marathon inspired me to that, with things like the scale of the ancient Hulk rebellion being just implied by three little comments in three different terminals scattered across the games, or the player being a Battleroid, or for that matter the fact that time travel is happening at all in Infinity.
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Jan 20th '17, 05:25

Pfhorrest wrote:I like to write stories where greater worldbuilding stuff not directly driving the plot is just implied everywhere by the rest of the stuff in the story world. Marathon inspired me to that, with things like the scale of the ancient Hulk rebellion being just implied by three little comments in three different terminals scattered across the games, or the player being a Battleroid, or for that matter the fact that time travel is happening at all in Infinity.


This is something that RPGs can do very well. Series like Elder Scrolls or Dark Souls are known for having immensely rich tapestries of backstory and worldbuilding behind them. These games have NPCs to talk to and all sorts of doodads in the world to investigate to inject a lot more lore, though. I think Infinity's storytelling suffered quite a bit by having that sort of mysteriousness as beats in the actual story. The time travel itself is fine, but not just coming out and saying "hey this is happening" is kind of crappy storytelling when it seems like the SO actually has agency and knows what's going on.

So Eternal actually handles this pretty well by having the actual events of the story be relatively straightforward -- I think... but it has been a while :V Of course, having terminals be the vehicle for dumping the extra lore onto the player is a little inelegant when compared to how the above examples manage it, but that's an engine issue obviously. But just having a bunch of words thrown at you apropos of nothing can be a little much to handle sometimes.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 20th '17, 06:15

RyokoTK wrote: I think Infinity's storytelling suffered quite a bit by having that sort of mysteriousness as beats in the actual story. The time travel itself is fine, but not just coming out and saying "hey this is happening" is kind of crappy storytelling when it seems like the SO actually has agency and knows what's going on.


Out of curiosity, how would you make the time travel clearer in Infinity? The most obvious methods that come to mind are giving the SO a chance to speak, and/or having Durandal figure it out (Thoth could as well, but he'd probably be obtuse about it; Tycho seems to realize that something's up, but by the time that happens he's obviously snapped), but I dunno if that's the route you'd take.
welcome to the scene of the crash
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General-RADIX

Post Jan 20th '17, 07:01

I think the obvious thing to do is to have the entity about to send you through time say that they're doing so and why. Infinity actually does do that, the problem is that the entity in question seems to be Thoth or something with the same speech mannerisms at least, which means understanding anything it's saying is already difficult, and grasping that time travel is happening thus hinges on interpreting the [?poetry] of an alien [?construct].
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Pfhorrest
California

Post Jan 20th '17, 14:38

General-RADIX wrote:Out of curiosity, how would you make the time travel clearer in Infinity? The most obvious methods that come to mind are giving the SO a chance to speak, and/or having Durandal figure it out (Thoth could as well, but he'd probably be obtuse about it; Tycho seems to realize that something's up, but by the time that happens he's obviously snapped), but I dunno if that's the route you'd take.


I don't know who exactly I would have make the connection on the player's behalf, but I would say it in a fairly explicit way. Having that sort of nonlinear storytelling would work a lot better in a game that supported cutscenes, or NPCs that you can actually have a conversation with, so that you can see what's going on or at least probe a bit more deeply. Then again, I am not the most nuanced storyteller, ha.

When it comes to all the secondary and tertiary lore, then I think you can do that as much as you want, since it encourages additional reading of the terminals on the next playthrough.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 20th '17, 21:49

RyokoTK wrote:
General-RADIX wrote:
RyokoTK wrote: I think Infinity's storytelling suffered quite a bit by having that sort of mysteriousness as beats in the actual story. The time travel itself is fine, but not just coming out and saying "hey this is happening" is kind of crappy storytelling when it seems like the SO actually has agency and knows what's going on.


Out of curiosity, how would you make the time travel clearer in Infinity? The most obvious methods that come to mind are giving the SO a chance to speak, and/or having Durandal figure it out (Thoth could as well, but he'd probably be obtuse about it; Tycho seems to realize that something's up, but by the time that happens he's obviously snapped), but I dunno if that's the route you'd take.


I don't know who exactly I would have make the connection on the player's behalf, but I would say it in a fairly explicit way. Having that sort of nonlinear storytelling would work a lot better in a game that supported cutscenes, or NPCs that you can actually have a conversation with, so that you can see what's going on or at least probe a bit more deeply. Then again, I am not the most nuanced storyteller, ha.

When it comes to all the secondary and tertiary lore, then I think you can do that as much as you want, since it encourages additional reading of the terminals on the next playthrough.


I'd have to disagree with Ryoko on this one. As I've said before on these forums, I'm a big fan of Infinity's story and I really like how it was handled.

Explicitly coming out and saying what's going on in Infinity would have been a bad choice because it would have been pointless. The whole point is that the confusion encourages the audience to figuring out what's going on, or become lost; the audience has to engage with the story on a more personal level and actually struggle through the chaos that seems to surround them; you're supposed to fight with the narrative. If Infinity came out and explicitly said, "You're exploring alternate timelines to find one that doesn't end in an apocalypse" then this would defeat the impact of realizing what's going on; might as well just do a straightforward story at that point.

Which maybe they should have done. The fact that the story is confusing and that it is a style of storytelling that most people will not get excited by, these things aren't flaws. But, the fact that they tried to do this type of narrative in a Marathon game, where fans have preexisting expectations of how things are done, probably was a poor choice on their part.

I for one loved the story in Infinity, although I am a big fan of strange and experimental literature. The bizarreness and the confusion of what's going on is precisely what pulled me deeper into the story and what made me want to engage with it in a way I hadn't with the previous Marathon games.

However, nothing is perfect, and Double Aught definitely could have done a little more to clue in the player to what's going on without being explicit. And, although you didn't ask me, here's what I would have done to make it more clear as to what's going on:

Use the dream levels more effectively.

The dreams levels I think are obviously there to break up the different timelines and to drawn attention to the time travel narrative. I don't think they work at all in that respect and tend to just add to the confusion of "what the hell is going on".

So, what could be done to make the dream levels more effective in drawing attention? You could use visual imagery at the beginning and end of the dream level that reflects the levels you came from and are traveling to.

Let's say you finish Confound Delivery. You travel to a dream level whose starting area mimics the architecture at the end of Confound Delivery, then the middle of the dream level is just weird architecture, then the end of the dream level mimics the architecture at the start of Acme Station. And then you travel to Acme Station.

You could even have the same dream level repeated, with windows looking into rooms that look like starting areas to levels, but each time you return to the dream level a different window has opened up (while others are closed) leading to a different room and a different timeline. Double Aught tried to do this in Electric Sheep, but plain, grey, metal pillars just don't do a good job conveying what's going on, whereas duplicating architecture, or even showing screens of preceding/succeeding levels in the dream level terminals, could possibly accomplish the narrative goal.

Also, I would tone down the difficulty in the dream levels; maybe take out enemies altogether. It is not fun dealing with invisible S'pht'kr and it's hard to stop and think about what's going on in the narrative when you're dodging bullets and platforming. And then there's that one dream level with really narrow bridges over lava; that level was bullshit.
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philtron

Post Jan 21st '17, 06:10

philtron wrote:I'd have to disagree with Ryoko on this one. As I've said before on these forums, I'm a big fan of Infinity's story and I really like how it was handled.

Explicitly coming out and saying what's going on in Infinity would have been a bad choice because it would have been pointless. The whole point is that the confusion encourages the audience to figuring out what's going on, or become lost; the audience has to engage with the story on a more personal level and actually struggle through the chaos that seems to surround them; you're supposed to fight with the narrative. If Infinity came out and explicitly said, "You're exploring alternate timelines to find one that doesn't end in an apocalypse" then this would defeat the impact of realizing what's going on; might as well just do a straightforward story at that point.

Which maybe they should have done. The fact that the story is confusing and that it is a style of storytelling that most people will not get excited by, these things aren't flaws. But, the fact that they tried to do this type of narrative in a Marathon game, where fans have preexisting expectations of how things are done, probably was a poor choice on their part.

I for one loved the story in Infinity, although I am a big fan of strange and experimental literature. The bizarreness and the confusion of what's going on is precisely what pulled me deeper into the story and what made me want to engage with it in a way I hadn't with the previous Marathon games.


The big reason why Infinity's story doesn't work for me, but a very experimental novel like House of Leaves might work (although I didn't like that book whatsoever, surprise surprise), is that Infinity's narrative is constantly interrupted by the shooting and gameplay. There's a complete 100% separation of narrative and gameplay in Infinity because it's an early 90s FPS. And you can't go backwards in levels to review something you missed, so if you end up in a level like Foe Hammer and you're not sure how exactly that transition worked, well, you can just get bent and hope you had a save from the last level. There's just no real way to review something that was unclear, or like... On the third Electric Sheep, you can't go back and review the terminals from the first one for context without going back and replaying the game. Not to mention, there's 15 minute segues between the beginning and end of each level.

A game like Bloodborne can handle being exceedingly vague about its plot and setting because the player can, at his leisure, return to earlier zones and investigate all the items he's found for more details. And also because the connections from one zone to the next are at least coherent.

However, nothing is perfect, and Double Aught definitely could have done a little more to clue in the player to what's going on without being explicit. And, although you didn't ask me, here's what I would have done to make it more clear as to what's going on:

Use the dream levels more effectively.

The dreams levels I think are obviously there to break up the different timelines and to drawn attention to the time travel narrative. I don't think they work at all in that respect and tend to just add to the confusion of "what the hell is going on".

So, what could be done to make the dream levels more effective in drawing attention? You could use visual imagery at the beginning and end of the dream level that reflects the levels you came from and are traveling to.

Let's say you finish Confound Delivery. You travel to a dream level whose starting area mimics the architecture at the end of Confound Delivery, then the middle of the dream level is just weird architecture, then the end of the dream level mimics the architecture at the start of Acme Station. And then you travel to Acme Station.

You could even have the same dream level repeated, with windows looking into rooms that look like starting areas to levels, but each time you return to the dream level a different window has opened up (while others are closed) leading to a different room and a different timeline. Double Aught tried to do this in Electric Sheep, but plain, grey, metal pillars just don't do a good job conveying what's going on, whereas duplicating architecture, or even showing screens of preceding/succeeding levels in the dream level terminals, could possibly accomplish the narrative goal.

Also, I would tone down the difficulty in the dream levels; maybe take out enemies altogether. It is not fun dealing with invisible S'pht'kr and it's hard to stop and think about what's going on in the narrative when you're dodging bullets and platforming. And then there's that one dream level with really narrow bridges over lava; that level was bullshit.


This is good.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 21st '17, 14:36

RyokoTK wrote:The big reason why Infinity's story doesn't work for me, but a very experimental novel like House of Leaves might work (although I didn't like that book whatsoever, surprise surprise), is that Infinity's narrative is constantly interrupted by the shooting and gameplay. There's a complete 100% separation of narrative and gameplay in Infinity because it's an early 90s FPS. And you can't go backwards in levels to review something you missed, so if you end up in a level like Foe Hammer and you're not sure how exactly that transition worked, well, you can just get bent and hope you had a save from the last level. There's just no real way to review something that was unclear, or like... On the third Electric Sheep, you can't go back and review the terminals from the first one for context without going back and replaying the game. Not to mention, there's 15 minute segues between the beginning and end of each level.


That's why we have the Story Page. ^_^

Spoiler:
philtron wrote:However, nothing is perfect, and Double Aught definitely could have done a little more to clue in the player to what's going on without being explicit. And, although you didn't ask me, here's what I would have done to make it more clear as to what's going on:

Use the dream levels more effectively.

The dreams levels I think are obviously there to break up the different timelines and to drawn attention to the time travel narrative. I don't think they work at all in that respect and tend to just add to the confusion of "what the hell is going on".

So, what could be done to make the dream levels more effective in drawing attention? You could use visual imagery at the beginning and end of the dream level that reflects the levels you came from and are traveling to.

Let's say you finish Confound Delivery. You travel to a dream level whose starting area mimics the architecture at the end of Confound Delivery, then the middle of the dream level is just weird architecture, then the end of the dream level mimics the architecture at the start of Acme Station. And then you travel to Acme Station.

You could even have the same dream level repeated, with windows looking into rooms that look like starting areas to levels, but each time you return to the dream level a different window has opened up (while others are closed) leading to a different room and a different timeline. Double Aught tried to do this in Electric Sheep, but plain, grey, metal pillars just don't do a good job conveying what's going on, whereas duplicating architecture, or even showing screens of preceding/succeeding levels in the dream level terminals, could possibly accomplish the narrative goal.

Also, I would tone down the difficulty in the dream levels; maybe take out enemies altogether. It is not fun dealing with invisible S'pht'kr and it's hard to stop and think about what's going on in the narrative when you're dodging bullets and platforming. And then there's that one dream level with really narrow bridges over lava; that level was bullshit.


Yeah, I agree with you 100% on this one. I think implementing what you just suggested in both Infinity and Eternal would significantly improve each scenario.
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PerseusSpartacus
Somewhere in the 19th Century...

Post Jan 21st '17, 23:43

RyokoTK wrote:The big reason why Infinity's story doesn't work for me, but a very experimental novel like House of Leaves might work (although I didn't like that book whatsoever, surprise surprise), is that Infinity's narrative is constantly interrupted by the shooting and gameplay. There's a complete 100% separation of narrative and gameplay in Infinity because it's an early 90s FPS. And you can't go backwards in levels to review something you missed, so if you end up in a level like Foe Hammer and you're not sure how exactly that transition worked, well, you can just get bent and hope you had a save from the last level. There's just no real way to review something that was unclear, or like... On the third Electric Sheep, you can't go back and review the terminals from the first one for context without going back and replaying the game. Not to mention, there's 15 minute segues between the beginning and end of each level.

A game like Bloodborne can handle being exceedingly vague about its plot and setting because the player can, at his leisure, return to earlier zones and investigate all the items he's found for more details. And also because the connections from one zone to the next are at least coherent.


True, but I feel like this is a problem for all games in general, even Dark Souls/Bloodbourne. Whereas in a book you can flip backwards and forwards and read whatever you please in whatever order you please, in a video game you're very restricted in what you can do and how you're allowed to explore the game and it's narrative; even in Bloodbourne, in which maybe you can backtrack freely (Maybe? Do monsters not respawn?) but you definitely can't move forward freely.

I've always wished that modern games would just have a no-clip god mode so you could explore the world at your own pace and in your own way.

RyokoTK wrote:This is good.


I've finally received Ryoko's approval on something. Does this mean I've beaten the Pfhorums? Did I unlock New Game+?

PerseusSpartacus wrote:That's why we have the Story Page. ^_^


You're being cheeky, but that's still wrong. It's like saying, "You want Destiny to have a story? Just quit the game and go online to read the grimoire!" You shouldn't have to leave the source material (whether book/film/game) and go to some supplementary media to understand the source's story; everything you need should be easily accessible within the source material (even if it's difficult to understand at a casual glance).
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philtron

Post Jan 22nd '17, 04:59

philtron wrote:You're being cheeky, but that's still wrong. It's like saying, "You want Destiny to have a story? Just quit the game and go online to read the grimoire!" You shouldn't have to leave the source material (whether book/film/game) and go to some supplementary media to understand the source's story; everything you need should be easily accessible within the source material (even if it's difficult to understand at a casual glance).


Yeah, you may be right about that. Personally, I don't particularly mind if the deeper, more subtle parts of a story require a little bit of extrapolation and external reading, but I will say that the core elements of any story had better be easy to grasp just by engaging in the content the way you're supposed to, otherwise there's something wrong.
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PerseusSpartacus
Somewhere in the 19th Century...

Post Jan 22nd '17, 05:18

philtron wrote:True, but I feel like this is a problem for all games in general, even Dark Souls/Bloodbourne. Whereas in a book you can flip backwards and forwards and read whatever you please in whatever order you please, in a video game you're very restricted in what you can do and how you're allowed to explore the game and it's narrative; even in Bloodbourne, in which maybe you can backtrack freely (Maybe? Do monsters not respawn?) but you definitely can't move forward freely.


Monsters don't respawn unless you die or use fast travel, and bosses don't respawn at all.

Although you can't refight bosses or rewatch cutscenes, and there are certain points in the game where an NPC's state is advanced, much of the game's lore is really buried in item descriptions, which you can read at any time. And once you reach the end of the game you do have the ability to wander around wherever.

So it's still not perfect, and I think that you're right that it's a problem that video games as a medium have for storytelling... which is why I don't like that Infinity did that. But again, at least Bloodborne does it a bit better because you can tell how the player gets from point A to B to C, even if the backstory and motivations of all the characters (including the PC) are very deeply muddled and unclear.

I've finally received Ryoko's approval on something. Does this mean I've beaten the Pfhorums? Did I unlock New Game+?


New Pfhorums+, where you keep your XP and skills but all of the trolling gets tougher.

PerseusSpartacus wrote:Yeah, you may be right about that. Personally, I don't particularly mind if the deeper, more subtle parts of a story require a little bit of extrapolation and external reading, but I will say that the core elements of any story had better be easy to grasp just by engaging in the content the way you're supposed to, otherwise there's something wrong.


No argument here from me, but that's the kind of deep lore mining that makes a game's story really interesting in the long term -- the kind of thing Bloodborne does well, and Marathon games do well in general as well. That's just not what I was talking about. The time travel aspect of Infinity is, imo, really important to the main story beats, and it's just not clear what the hell is going on at all, and to me that's not to its benefit. I had no idea that was even happening until I stumbled upon MBO for the first time -- I just played the levels and stayed confused.
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RyokoTK
Saint Paul, MN

Post Jan 25th '17, 03:47

Pfhorrest wrote:The PiD monsters were used because the monsters I thought I had someone making for me (still W'rkncacnter dreams) never materialized, so I just used the W'rkncacnter dreams we'd already seen in PiD instead.


I just finished replaying Pathways Into Darkness, some beautiful people converted it into a free OSX app!
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pathways-into-darkness/id617234634?mt=12

The game still holds up well. Just keep your left hand on the Q and E keys and you wont even miss the mouse. My score was 82, I dare you all to beat it :)

Thank you for the nostalgia trip Pfhorrest, it was so nice to see the Marathon-PID connection come to life [MUp]
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