The Walking Dead EP15: All Aboard

By Shamus Posted Thursday Jan 10, 2013

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 173 comments

Link (YouTube)

So now I think we’ve gotten far enough into the game that I’m ready to talk about choice. As we discussed, Episode 3 is pretty much a snapshot of the entire game. For the record, here is the splash screen for Episode 3:


Sure, it shows Lee in the driver’s seat. But when you play the episode it’s actually Kenny driving the train and all you can do is choose when to stop and start. This is The Walking Dead.

(Also, I love how these splash screens contain deliberate misinformation, like Duck leaning out the window.)

I liken the choice in TWD to playing Half-Life 2 for the first time. It might feel like you’re choosing a direction. You’re left with the impression that perhaps there are other side-paths that you haven’t taken or details that you missed. Then on a second play-through you discover that the path you chose freely was the only path available, and suddenly the gameworld seems smaller.

Of course, most shooters are like this, but Valve is very good at hiding the rails. In a lot of shooters, I find myself bumping into the chest-high walls, impassable doors, and invisible barriers that make up the player’s playpen. But in Valve games the designers are usually pretty good at using lighting, coloring, and audio cues to draw the eye towards the intended path and away from the walls of contrivance.

In TWD, Kenny serves this purpose. If you side with Kenny then you’ve made a choice to side with Kenny and you feel like you’ve accomplished something. If you disagree with Kenny then Kenny overrules you and you bump into the metaphorical chest-high wall. Hey! Why can’t I go this way? This looks like it should be a valid direction!

This is a big reason why we’re seeing so much disagreement over whether or not the choice in this game is real or if it means anything. Yes, making a choice makes something more engaging. Valve could just turn Half-Life 2 into a literal rail shooter, where the camera glades through the intended path and you click on dudes to kill them. You’d never bump into the walls, but you’d lose the perceived freedom that makes the world feel like a place and not a series of shooting galleries.

Simply offering the player the opportunity to press forward or examine things in greater detail can feel like a choice, even if they’re only choosing when to move on.

You can argue over whether or not this is “real” choice, but the fact is that for people who can’t see the rails, it feels like they’re making a choice. This gives their actions weight and creates an emotional impact, because they feel like they’ve shaped to situation around them, for good or for ill.

The downside is that this type of thing can’t work forever. Like Half-Life 2, TWD left me with the impression that there were alternate paths and roads not taken. Once I compared notes with other players, the waveform of possibilities collapsed and the spell was broken. In the next game, instead of asking, “Which decision is best?” I’ll end up asking, “How will they nullify this choice in the next half hour?”

I realize that we cant have infinite choice, but I think TWD would have been stronger and led to a bigger payoff if just a couple of the big decisions were allowed to stick.

When the game asks “Do you want to kill Larry?” the player thinks they’re being asked if they’re choosing whether Larry will live or die. In reality, Larry dies either way, you’re just choosing if you want his blood on your hands. If you choose to kill him, you’re left with the impression there was another outcome.

In a situation like this, expectations are everything. Just as with the end of Mass Effect 3, it doesn’t matter what the author intended, what matters is what the player thought they were getting. If people feel cheated instead of fulfilled, then something has either gone wrong with the expressed intent or the execution.

This game was very experimental. We saw them messing with mechanics, tone, and character types throughout the whole thing, and I doubt the formula is set in stone. While I loved this game, my loyalty to the series as a whole will probably hinge on how they handle choice and consequence in the future installments.

Also, Rutskarn mentioned Hobospy, his diceless tabletop RPG. You can read more about that here.


From The Archives:

173 thoughts on “The Walking Dead EP15: All Aboard

  1. Adam Rhodes says:

    More like “All A-Bored”!

    Nailed it.

  2. Deadpool says:

    If you are nice to Lily, she will ask you to come with her, then leave without you anyways for no reason.

    1. Khizan says:

      It’s not “for no reason”. She was tricking you. She wanted you off the RV, and this gets you off quickly and peacefully.

      1. Deadpool says:

        And the reason she wants to go alone is…?

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          The reason is obvious,of course.

        2. Mormegil says:

          She is a paranoid crazy person who is unable to trust anyone and will murder people who call her names. Leaving on her own is about the sanest thing she’s done in the last hour.

          1. Thomas says:

            Yeah. Lilly is pretty distraught by what she’s done if you take her into the RV. And since you were being nice to her to get asked the question, she’s already confessed that she’s worried shes going crazy. It makes sense that she’d run. She was just giving into a moment of weakness when asking. (Is it ever established if there’s UST between Lee and Lilly?)

            1. anaphysik says:

              Larry does give a very ‘farmer’s daughter’-style speech (a sort of “don’t try any ‘funny business’ with mah li’l girl”) to Lee at the end of Episode 1. (Which was especially bizarre because I called her a bitch & generally did NOT want her or him in the group <_<)

        3. newdarkcloud says:

          So that she can join up with some assholes in the comic, of course.

          1. zob says:

            Which was retconned after after the release of “The Road to Woodburry”. She is not that Lilly anymore.

            1. Zukhramm says:

              Which is good, then she can come back and die in season 2.

              1. zob says:

                Or she can be the player character with game long redemption arc.

  3. Tvtim says:

    Definitely one of my favorite episodes; the arguing made it funnier than usual. I do like the commentary and dissection of the games, it helps me to look at games differently than I did before, but those funny moments when you guys argue or just start talking over each other and end up in a vocal car wreck are what keep me watching

    1. This had to be the whitest east side-west side conflict in the history of anything.

      Weird Al needs to write a song about it.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Dont hate ali g for being black.

  4. Khizan says:

    The picture doesn’t show Lee in the driver’s seat. The driver’s seat is behind the far left window, the one with the bloody hole in it.

    1. Vlad says:

      Yes, but you don’t know that when starting the episode and seeing the image for the first time.

  5. John says:

    “While I loved this game, my loyalty to the series as a whole will probably hinge on how they handle choice and consequence in the future installments. ”

    So you are going to decide whether to be loyal to the series or not by buying multiple sequels?!

    1. Shamus says:

      More like, the way they handle Season 2 will determine whether or not I’ll bother with Season 3. The point being, they can’t just repeat what they did this time around.

      1. silver Harloe says:

        Get ready for disappointment?

        “Hey, there’s a semi out front backing up to deliver another load of cash.”

        “Awesome. Hey, I have an idea, let’s do something very different than what we did just before the trucks started lining up.”

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I have to say that this is pretty likely unless Telltale takes the time to look over the criticisms of the game and its script.

        2. Shamus says:

          You can watch some interviews with the developers and it becomes clear that they were trying things and then seeing how fans responding it to. They had a ridiculous amount of latitude with regards to the game. I find it very hard to believe they would suddenly change their internal company culture based on a single successful title.

          This is not to say that the next game will be good or better, only that I don’t think we’re going to see them mindlessly adhering to a formula just because of sales.

          1. SougoXIII says:

            I can only hope so, Shamus.

          2. silver Harloe says:

            I hope you’re right. I saw some of the interviews and they seemed very concerned with what choices players made, and had all kinds of stats they could analyze… but I fear having all that data may make it harder for them to analyze soft information like what people liked or hated.

          3. Asimech says:

            Considering the changes in the Sam & Max series I think it’s likely they won’t just repeat the same design decisions simply for a cash grab.

            They might do it if they think that’s what players want, of course. But that of course remains to be seen.

          4. Deadpool says:

            I will say this however:

            In an interview, the developers claim that your decision at the end of episode 4 would have real, important ramifications in episode 5…

            So it is possible that they truly believe this game gives players REAL choices… Or it’s just an advertising lie…

            1. Thomas says:

              I did notice that on some of the Playing Dead stuff, on the other hand they simultaneously talked about how some of the lack of choice was directly tying into the theme of The Walking Dead in general. And the incredible lengths they’d gone to to map some of the choice. As far as I can tell a person’s relationship with you really is based off every single line of dialogue you’ve ever had with them. (Or maybe they create this incredibly complicated mathematical equations for them and then choose to ignore them and base them purely off did you throw the brick etc…)

              It sounded less like they all knew exactly what they were doing than it felt in the game, but again, as you pointed out, if they were fully aware of what they were doing then they’d also have to lie in interviews to make it work

  6. Isy says:

    Dammit, game, why didn’t you tell us Doug had been to Belgium when he was alive and it might have made an interesting conversation?

    Oh Ben. I’m guessing the SW crew will (ep4)drop him, because no one likes him and they’re trying to butter up Kenny. Which I think is a pity, because I think Kenny’s story ends much better than Christa pointlessly trying to kill herself over an unneeded walkie talkie. I feel bad, though, because I really think what happens later is crap, shoddy, shoved-in-your-face writing to make you hate him. In fact, I’d probably call it the worst part of the game. Right now Ben is a good character who made a mistake, which you could hate him for or you could understand, and (like I did) think it was also partly our group’s fault for being unreasonable short sighted murderers. And they should have left it there.

    In fact, in my playthrough Kenny had been just as big a threat to Lee as Ben had been. But the game was still trying to go “nooooo, Ben is the worst person ever, and Kenny is your bestest friend in the universe and you’ll do whatever he says.” It’s like in episode 4 the writers realized some people might be having this problem, and so said “Shit! We’d better make Ben screw up literally everything in episode four or our final choice won’t be very good! Oooh, what can we make him do? Put Clem in danger! Put Clem in danger again when she’s not actually in danger! Get everyone killed by zombies by failing to notice zombies actively pounding on the door! Confess his crimes in front of Kenny at the worst possible time!!

    This isn’t bad writing. This is Mass Effect 3 writing.

    I feel like, when I was holding him at the bell tower, he was saying “Just drop me. Before the malevolent writer-gods that control my being cause you more pain.” And I looked into his eyes and said “It’s okay, Ben. They’ll screw us either way.” And I pulled him up.

    1. Thomas says:

      But they called everyone out of it. And that could have been a Katawa Shoujo moment where the game narrative lines up perfectly with the players will and then slaps it around and forces it turn learn a life lesson.

      It doesn’t come in the right place for it to work like that though. It comes after a pro-Ben choice and you want the anti-Ben crowd to be hit by it. Instead you hit the people who probably wanted to be nice to him in the first place. Also wanting to get rid of a character is a little more gamey than choosing a person to pursue in a romance novel

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      I do hate what they did to Ben. I can forgive him for being a out of his element and in over his head. However, the writers were really trying to make players hate him. Ultimately, I (Ep 4)dropped him to because he asked me to.

  7. Shamus, I’m trying to think of a game where choices do matter.
    And I’m led to BioWare’s Knights Of The Old Republic (not to be confused with the MMO).

    From the top of my head I can remember the following:

    1. Gender choice affect NPC dialog and behaviour, romance options can change due to this.
    2. You can turn at least two NPCs from darkside to lightside, and one of them is even a potential companion.
    3. You can kill/do certain things that will make other NPCs react differently, and may/may not change some minor things down the road.
    4. You can turn one of your companions (a different one) from the darkside to the litghtside, or you can join the darkside with them.
    5. At least one of the companions are purely optional and you can miss out on a lot of side story.
    6. Almost all companions have a lot of sidestory that you can choose to explore or not.
    7. You can go lightside or darkside, this changes more or less the final act of the game.

    The Dragon Age games (so far) did hold onto a lot of this, but they only have one ending really with some “coloring” instead.
    Mass Effect (up until near the end of ME3) seemed to have the potential to best KoTOR, but alas it did not.

    KoTOR2 while broken and unfinished seemed to go further (gender choice changes which companions you can get), dark/light influence on companions. Ironically it has just a single end though, so due to that KoTOR is still the stronger in my opinion.

    Spec Ops The Line while being surprisingly linear, is also surprisingly clever in it’s callback (at the end) to your earlier choices. And the end of the game itself has a few minor variations you can take.

    If KoTOR is the shining example of RPGs then Spec Ops The Line is it for first person shooters.

    I’m trying to think of others, but games like FEAR, or GTA series (even 4 which let you change at one point which NPC dies) does not come close. Heck Half Life series has less choice than GTA series. Adventures like The Longest Journey and Dreamfall while awesome is pretty much as linear as Half Life. Other games like No One Lives Forever (1 and 2) are also linear, great but linear (NOLF2 is highly recommended folks).

    I’m trying to recall games that had an impact on me. (by that I mean, I think of games I’ve played as far back as I can recall, and if they “stand out” in my memory).

    Monkey Island 1 and 2 was awesome, but surprisingly linear. If Monkey Island was called Zombie Island instead and had zombies instead of pirates and was more gritty then The Walking Dead would probably be compared to that. The Walking Dead is what Dead Island could have been (that awesome trailer would fit The Walking Dead better really).

    I see that my list of cool games is getting long, but increasingly linear.
    The reason for that is simple. Cost. Then again. BioWare certainly have the cash and resources to do a production like KoTOR again.

    What would a modern KoTOR cost to make? Less than a Dragon Age or Mass Effect game I’m sure.

    Knights Of The Old Republic will actually become 10 years old this year. That’s a decade old game that still plays damn fine.

    BioWare, here’s a tip. Take the source for KoTOR, fix whatever minor issues there are. Make it handle widescreen. And make sure it runs on a modern system and Windows 7 and 8. Release it as the 10th Anniversary edition or something, add a soundtrack album and other goodies etc. And sell it as a digital download, lots of profit for very little effort. The KoTOR fan community will market the shit out of it I’m sure.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Alpha protocol is the most recent game with actual in game consequences to your choices.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          No,it wasnt.It had problems with balancing and bugs,but overall it was a decent game.And the choices and dialogue were done pretty well actually.

        2. newdarkcloud says:

          We will have to agree to disagree. It wasn’t the best game, but it did a lot of things right. Choice and consequence and story are what I am referring to.

          I should know. I played it 8-9 times.

          1. anaphysik says:

            And yes, we do need to get on with making that Alpha-Protocol-LP at some point. Once I get back to my apartment (& stop being a sick, can’t-speak, can’t-hear bastard), we can :/

            (I still think something like “Disclosure Alert” would be a good title XD)

        3. Jokerman says:

          It was amazing, i loved that game. Apart from smooth gameplay it had everything i wanted from a game :D. I said it before….but Alpha Protocol with Deus Ex:HR gameplay = Game of the year.

          1. Wedge says:

            I only played through it once because I HATED the shooty and (attempted) sneaky bits, but the way the game dealt with choice was fantastic.

            1. Jokerman says:

              I thought the stealth was bearable due to it being so easy, when you get chain shot the game is a breeze which lets you rush through to the decent parts.

              1. Gruhunchously says:

                Also, Precise Aim for the assault rifle. I put some points into that and I was clearing rooms in under fifteen seconds by my second hub.

        4. Galad says:

          I played it once and didn’t bother with it more. It wasn’t the insufficient polish or the bugs – I can’t even remember any serious bugs. It’s just that, the basic premise(your organisation is not what you think it is) is something I’ve literally seen 10 years ago in a game. And from then onwards, the story becomes as convoluted as it can be, and then some more, for no good reason. There IS such a thing as too many options.

      1. Dasick says:

        Xcom2012 and FTL are the most recent games with actual in-game consequences for your choices.

    2. Khizan says:

      How could you miss Fallout: New Vegas in that list? Three factions and a “Screw it, I’ll take over myself” option. Wipe out any given town that you choose, or help them, or sell them out. Murder everybody in the Mojave and leave it a desolate wasteland.

      1. Jokerman says:

        It did have some decent choice throughout, i really like games where you can kill anyone you like also….it gives you that power to act on your dislike for someone.

        Kaaaaiiiisaaarrrrr should of never treated me like shit :D

    3. zob says:

      There was this FPS game called Strife. Made in 1996 based on Doom engine. It had multiple paths and multiple endings, had a relatively deep story considering time of its release and genre. Oh and surprisingly enough, last CoD, BLOPS2 did some choice related stuff.

    4. Thomas says:

      I’m not convinced be KotoR to be honest. I mean we’ve already agreed that TWD was doing different things with choices and talking about the act of having choice in a game is probably a little too broad.

      But also KotoR didn’t have very flexible choice, instead it just had two railroads either which you could take. And if you look, none of your choices have in game consequence. It’s just you do storyline a on planet a and get resolution a. But resolution a won’t have any further impact on the story. (that wouldn’t be possible in Mass effect for example). In fact I’m pretty sure the end is just another example of that. You can do whatever you like for the entire game and then you get a choice of path a or path b for the end and path a leads to a good end and path b leads to a bad end.

      I’m not knocking KotoR (although the best writing in KotoR is written by a modder =D) but the choice is just very flat. I think the Fallouts did it more dynamically. (Incidentally Bioware also set a trend that probably changed the industry with KotoR. Or the first Star Wars game to do this did. They had a choice, they could have a dark side story and a light side story or they could have had a story where you try to be light side and the dark side choices are an option that will lead you further and further away from the light. They want for the former and so we got simplistic two tone non-interactive morality for years and years after)

    5. Jenson says:

      There’s also The Witcher 2, where the entire middle part of the game is different depending on what you choose. There’s also quite a few other things.

      Also, KOTOR 2 would be another one, at least based on your descriptions. It even allows you to go farther with the companions, and turn them into Jedi/Sith by either being friends with them or breaking them. Also if you beat the game when full dark side, your character appears on the title screen. Always thought that was pretty neat.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        Witcher 2 has a bad rap with the SW crew, though. No point in mentioning it here.

        1. anaphysik says:

          Does it? I thought Witcher *1* had more of a bad rap, & even then it’s mostly centered on how Shamus finds the main char (Gerard, or something?) detestable.

          1. Thomas says:

            Which one had you collect stamps of the ladies Gerard slept with?

            1. Dasick says:

              he prefers Geralt of Rivia, and it was the first game.

    6. BeardedDork says:

      I believe TWD was far more successful in this than people give it credit for. That’s why all this false choice talk kind of bothers me. The problem was directly cited by Shamus in “comparing notes”. If you actually play through the game a second time, while the same or I would argue very similar things happen the reasons for them happening change dramatically and it feels very different. Many of these “false choices” are the logical outcome of either choice. In my second play through I never felt cheated out of an outcome I felt I had earned. Instead a terrible thing would happen and I’d think, “yeah that makes sense too”.

      1. Dasick says:

        Define ‘false choice’.

        I define it as “a choice that is hailed as having impact on the story/system, but having much less than it was suggested”. By that standard, I think there are a lot of false choices in TWD (even though some of them can argued over, most of the choices you make do jack-shit in changing the story, even though they logically should).

  8. Isy says:

    I’m looking forward to discussing choice in Episode 4, since I think that’s the real culmination of the game’s theme when it comes to choice: it won’t change anything. You’re just going to die. I think Crawford is the ultimate symbol of that: they were ruthless, they killed the sick and elderly, they threw out kids and forced abortions, they did everything to make their perfect hardcore survivor society, and they all died anyway. But can you really say your choice didn’t matter, when it forged who you were?

    Well, some people will argue yes you can say it didn’t matter, but it’s still interesting.

  9. Vlad says:

    Unfortunately for m experience of the game, I realised in Episode 3 that none of my choices mattered, and became annoyed with this. After both finding out it’s impossible to save Carly/doug and Lily leaving after I had kept her, I started meta-gaming the decisions.

    “Oh, whatever decision I make is not only going to be invalidated, but also immediately invalidated?”

    In Episode 4 I think I might have taken Clem with me to Crawford anyway, but my thought process was clearly “If I don’t take her, she’s going to sneak up behind us at some point anyway”. Also, I left Ben die because I honestly thought he’d get bitten or something while I was pulling him up. Even at the end, I took everyone with me for Episode 5 because I didn’t imagine the writers would allow them to actually sit the beginning of that Episode out.

    So basically, once I saw it was an illusion, I assumed every choice had to be the same illusion and it affected my enjoyment of the game. Episode 3 did this and so it was one of my least favourite Episodes.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Same. This is where the illusion of choice broke for me. Surprisingly, I made similar choices you did, but I couldn’t figure out why. Maybe the shattering of the illusion had something to do with that.

    2. Doctor Broccoli says:

      In episode 4, Clementine will stay in the house. She’ll even kill a zombie. I also let Ben die but I’m fairly sure he’ll stick around in episode 5.
      The choices you make actually get more impact further down the story, which makes sense seeing as it’s less effort on the developer’s part.

    3. Abnaxis says:

      Funny thing is, not a single one of those thing’s you meta-gamed actually happens. Clementine stays in the house until you get back (game says she saves Omid, who then lived to the end in my play; I don’t know if he dies if you take her with you). Ben doesn’t die until a full episode later (and apparently keeps Christa from dying stupidly–she lived to the end in my game), and anyone you don’t take with you doesn’t come (I came back to see Kenny bruised and beat up from the boat being stolen).

      Or…was that the point you were making?

      1. Thomas says:

        I can confirm that a few of those things you speculated don’t happen or don’t have to Omid doesn’t die, Ben can be kept alive to Ep 5. I don’t know but I believe Christa almost always lives to the end (actually can Omid even die? I’m curious about it because it looked like you could leave him behind on the train, yet him and Christa being alive is essential to the end game teaser. But maybe thats why they had such a stupid teaser, so it’d work whatever happened)

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I think that the game (EP 5)forces your final survivors to Christa, Omid, and Clementine. Considering it’d be easy to have some real consequences for what you did in the game, this is kinda sad.

          1. Thomas says:

            Listening to the interviews and looking at the wiki, it’s amazing how much they do let you decide and change the story for. I think they just can’t have invested the effort in exactly the right things. I was shocked at the variations you can have in the last mission, they’ve written moments for every party composition. I guess I assumed they’d force them all to come with you and now I learn that you can even do that very extreme thing that you have the option of doing that’s not exactly harmless all by yourself.

      2. Thomas says:

        Omid doesn’t die, Ben can still be kept alive to Ep 5. I don’t know but I believe Christa almost always lives to the end (actually can Omid even die? I’m curious about it because it looked like you could leave him behind on the train, yet him and Christa being alive is essential to the end game teaser. But maybe thats why they had such a stupid teaser, so it’d work whatever happened)

        1. Khizan says:

          Omid, Christa, and Clementine cannot die.

          1. Indy says:

            Not only that, they’re the only ones who do not die.

            1. MrGuy says:

              Technically, there’s no proof that Lilly dies.

              1. Thomas says:

                We’ve got a lot of reason to assume she survived since she was then meant to go off somewhere and be someone in the comics

    4. Steve C says:

      In Ep3 I also became annoyed at the game. It all broke down for me at the train and so much so I decided I didn’t want to play anymore. Unlike Vlad I still felt my choices mattered. However I couldn’t make the choices I wanted to make.

      Lilly killing Carley/Doug set everything up for failure. I was Mr lets all be reasonable, we are stronger together than apart up until that point. I was on ok terms (not great) with Lilly and Kenny. I didn’t like either one of them. Lilly was always being the cause of drama/problems, and Kenny was a hothead and completely unreliable. I felt my tolerance of Lilly’s bullshit got Carley murdered. I felt betrayed by Lilly (not the game) and angry about it. The game did a wonderful job of making me feel the emotions it wanted me to feel at the appropriate times. I didn’t want to be tolerant of others anymore because of what the game had done.

      The game had purposefully put me into a certain mindset and now it started actively undermining it. I was in no mood for a puzzle sequence and I was in absolutely no mood to put up with stupidity from Kenny. I did NOT want to take the train anywhere. That was completely illogical and retarded to me and a lets-make-Kenny-happy idea. I was done with that (due to Lilly) and wanted to take Clem and leave. The fact that I (the player) was continuously being forced to go along with stupidity for no reason for the remainder of Ep3 broke the game for me. It transferred all the ill will I felt about what had just occurred onto the game itself.

      I was ok with my choices not mattering. My choices were defining Lee and his relationships and that was enough for me. After encountering the train the game was literally on rails. It wasn’t that the choices didn’t matter, it was I wasn’t being allowed to choose, Kenny was. I continued playing halfway through Ep4 in the hopes that it would come back. It didn’t and I never picked up the game again all because of this train.

      It didn’t have to be that way. The game could have made me agree with the choices being made by adding more driving forces. (For example the RV breaking down at the train… which it did NOT.) Once the game started becoming a dumb movie, I rejected being a part of it.

  10. Yup. That 180 thing threw me completely for a whirl as well.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I should have known someone will try to start another pun thread rolling.

      1. MrGuy says:

        Hopefully there won’t be much of a turnout.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          That would be unbearable!

    2. Abnaxis says:

      Please, please don’t start another protractored pun thread…

    3. silver Harloe says:

      Maybe it was confusing to some people, but the long, long, long discussion of it really made me feel like the conversation lost its compass.

  11. Hitch says:

    That ending reminded me of my childhood with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck arguing about how this week was next week last week.

  12. Lovecrafter says:

    Well Rutskarn, of course I don’t speak for every Belgian out there, but if you were to put a plate of Belgian waffles in front of me, I’d simply thank you for the meal and start eating. Those things are pretty popular over here as well, and who am I to turn down a meal?

  13. Nevermind says:

    When the game asks “Do you want to kill Larry?” the player thinks they're being asked if they're choosing whether Larry will live or die. In reality, Larry dies either way, you're just choosing if you want his blood on your hands.

    That’s very good way to put it: there IS a hard choice here; it’s just not about what happens.

    The way I see choices in TWD is that they don’t and shouldn’t affect the story as in sequence of events. They affect story as in character. Player’s decisions shape what kind of a man Lee is, and that, in turn, changes the story itself. The same events happen to a different man, due to player’s actions.

    This is actually somewhat like silent-protagonist trick in HL2 – you can always imagine Gordon doing what he does for his own reasons, thus shaping the protagonist and changing the resulting story.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I actually disagree here. I feel that the choices you make should have consequences in the long term. Again, this is why I love Alpha Protocol and New Vegas so much. For all their flaws, they do acknowledge the choices you make and change depending on what you did.

      1. Nevermind says:

        Well, “should” is a strong word to use here. What’s the alternative? Either we have a TWD-level story with “character-only” consequences, or a New Vegas story with “long-term” consequences. While I loved New Vegas, I still think that story in TWD is way better than in NV. Arguably, NV is a better game, but for me at least, overall enjoyment weren’t better in NV.
        These are different approaches, and I don’t mean to argue that one is better than the other. Just that TWD’s one is good.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Ah. I misread then. Nevermind.

          1. anaphysik says:

            You know, you could have said “I misread then, Nevermind.” instead XD

    2. Soylent Dave says:


      Lee isn’t important enough to shape the world around him; his (your!) decisions don’t create the universe.

      (arguably, no player character should be quite that important – but quite a lot of games imply that you are)

      What Lee’s decisions do genuinely shape is what sort of person he is, and how the other characters react to him.

      Your choices don’t change what happens (Kenny is actually the decider in most cases – he’s got the larger family, he’s in charge of the RV, he’s determined enough to push his ideas through etc.); they change who you are.

      I don’t think that invalidates the choices after all because the actions of the characters all (or almost always) make sense – they often end up doing similar things, but for different reasons. Mainly because the group has broadly the same needs and desires regardless of whether you’re friends with Kenny or Doug is still alive, or whatever.

      I don’t think that’s the same as the Bioware circular conversation engine.

      1. Khizan says:

        By this argument, ME3 is full of good and meaningful choices because they change who Shepard is when he makes them.

        1. Nevermind says:

          It does not follow. Any given choice could be “good” in the sense that it has meaningful consequences for the story events, or in the sense that it has meaningful consequences for the story character(s).
          But it can also be bad: when it has no meaningful consequences at all.

          Also, ME3 (main) story simply sucks, so even those choices that do change Shepard don’t feel as satisfactory.

    3. Dasick says:

      But see, once the player is making choices for Lee, then whoever that character is, it isn’t Lee anymore, it’s the player. Lee isn’t the one making the tough choices, and as a result, we learn nothing significant about Lee really is deep down.

  14. baseless research says:

    As a Belgian, allow me to say this:


    You’ll, be the first one against the wall when the revolution comes, “buddy”.

    1. LunaticFringe says:

      What are you going to do, surrender to the Germans at him? :p

  15. krellen says:

    Does Campster not realise that the bit at the end there is in fact prime podcast material?

  16. Mathias says:

    I’d say “stop trolling Josh, you guys,” but honestly, Karma has so far been far too kind to him, so troll away. Troll to your hearts’ content.

  17. MrGuy says:

    I agree that having some choices be sticky is a nice idea. The best example of they did this well to be is the Carly/Doug choice. For an entire episode of the game, how you made that choice determines which characters you have around. You get a nice romance subplot with Carly, but you get a magic laser pointer with Doug.

    Of course, keeping characters around is probably the single hardest thing to do, since they need conversation options, other characters need a way to react to them, you have to substitute their plot points/motivations. For example, it would have seriously changed the driving (hah!) motivations for Kenny in Episode 2 and 3 if you’d been allowed to actually let Duck die in the farm.

    1. Thomas says:

      I would have been okay if they’d allowed more closed non impactful decisions like KotoR (okay Roger Hà¥gensen I’m a hypocrite =D). For example if you could have saved Carley or Doug and then at some point they leave the story. Well I’ve still saved someones life. And if there were characters who left like Lilly, but they could either be dead or not dead, that would be good for me.

      And for example if when I chose to save those farmers lives, they didn’t kill them off by implication in the very next scene. That would have been good.

      Finally if Clem at the very end of the game acted differently according to the example you had shown her.

      Those were my conditions for choice and I don’t think any of those would have required much more work at all

      EDIT: Spoiler Warning is showing they actually put a lot of effort into differing paths, which is why it’s weird they make it so they all end the same way (sometimes at a lot of extra effort and ridiculous contrivance cough episode 5 cough.) Clem is the perfect example. Shes a character who can’t really have any say in what happens and how the group operates, and doesn’t even talk that much, so they should have just thrown in lots of little moments where she acted differently because Lee did x. (more of the manure moments =D)

      1. For that matter, depending how the plot goes in the longer term, you could do something like
        Decision point: Does the character live or die?
        If the character dies, they’re dead.
        If they live, they leave–but! they reappear later and do something, for good or ill. Like Gollum.

        Or even, you could have smaller decisions of how you treat someone, and whichever way they’ll drop out (sparing you the problem of different dialogue for different attitudes through the whole game) but come back later like Han Solo came back to help Luke against the Deathstar. And maybe when they do come back, whether they help or harm or what may depend on how you dealt with them before. Or contrariwise, maybe if you seemed like a patsy they’ll come back and try to rip you off but if you put the fear of God into them they’ll back off and perhaps turn out to have told other scavengers you’re a tough mark . . .

        So there are ways methinks to have interpersonal interactions matter but not require more writing through the whole bloody game.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      On the other hand, when you look closely, you realize that Doug/Carley were nearly completely absent in Episode 2. And on 3, they were killed off very close to the start of the episode. Regardless of who you picked, they do next to nothing and are essentially in the background the whole time.

      1. BeardedDork says:

        If you pick Carley you have the option of telling everybody about Lee’s past, and Lilly has no footing when she calls him out on being a killer too. If you pick Doug he saves Ben’s life and dies a hero. I wouldn’t call either of those things inconsequential

        1. Deadpool says:

          Why not? If you don’t admit you’re a killer, then Lily’s “argument” doesn’t sway anyone against you in any meaningful way, and Ben lives whether regardless, so what ARE the consequences?

          1. BeardedDork says:

            Well, Kenny doesn’t have the confrontational dialog with Lee in the RV if you have previously told him about being a murderer, and Ben is never in danger if you bring Carley because Lilly just decides that Carley is the traitor. In what way are these things not different?

            1. Thomas says:

              But nothing changes whats happened to Ben and Kenny forgives you very quickly and even comes to recognise why you’d keep it quiet. I’m pretty sure he forgives you within this episode.

              This is probably what ultimately I find most problematic is the consequence is always the same for wildly different journeys. Yet in terms of work it’s actually harder to do it like that! You can have all these different conversations with people and do all these different things and yet they always end up dead the same. You can choose to Save Bens life and yet they will go out of their way to script this huge scene where he dies in Ep 5 if you did so

              And the game is training us to think these deaths are pointless! In this very episode it started off with a women about to die a horrible painful inevitable death and Kenny gave us the logic that since her death was soon and inevitable it didn’t matter how those last few moments played out! It’s an anti-theme

              1. krellen says:

                You don’t play many tabletop roleplaying games, do you?

                What we have here in The Walking Dead is a game master who has a set plot in mind, yet still rolls with the player(s) to allow them a latitude of choice in the matter. They are not railroaded into picking Doug or Carley or doing x or y, but the plot moves on regardless.

                It’s actually a pretty good example of non-railroad-y railroading.

                1. anaphysik says:

                  What!? Did you go insane for a minute? It’s like the opposite of that! Walking Dead’s GM is far more like the kind utilized in DMoftheRings than anything else. At very specific times will they let you do something or some other thing (take food from car or don’t; no, shut up, you have no other choice), but someone else is always driving the plot, deciding where you will go & what you will do. The only real choices you can make are what your character says (even though it won’t change anything in a major fashion).

                  That’s not necessarily bad (though it often ends up being bad in tabletops – WDead actually has compelling writing, so the player is fine with generally only getting to choose their words, instead of doing what they can to spite the railroad (blah blah, ‘does the player trust the writer?’ comparison blah blah)), but I seriously hope you don’t believe that is *the* appropriate format for tabletops.

                  1. krellen says:

                    Railroading is not the best choice, but if you must do it, this is how (ie, let choices change things, but figure out ways to make those differences converge anyway).

                    1. Thomas says:

                      Okay it took me a few posts to get up to speed, because, yeah I don’t play tabletop games (which I’ve always found a little sad that I haven’t :(. When I was really young a friend tried to play one with me before I knew what one was and I just remember filling out a lot of forms and then going home. And at Uni a bunch of us tried to start and we spent a couple of hours filling out forms and we didn’t get past that bit =D)
                      … but the reason I feel the example isn’t good, is because all the things I was listing were ancillary(?) to the plot, I don’t even need these people to be there at the end, you can put them on a bus but some things done should matter. Surely a good DM should recognise the story opportunities created that didn’t affect his overall plot and given them time to play out naturally instead of almost literally reverse dropping a bridge on the characters he hadn’t expected to make it to the end but did

                    2. Shamus says:

                      Yes. There’s acceptable railroading and abominable railroading.

                      Acceptable: You save Bob’s life, but he dies later of something else.

                      Abominable: You kill Bob, but later he’s alive anyway.

                2. Alex says:

                  If a good DM let you choose whether to save Carley or Doug, they wouldn’t turn around and kill them off just to smother the choice. Mass Effect managed to get this right – Ashley / Kaiden aren’t living on borrowed time just because you had to pick one or the other in the first game.

                3. Dasick says:

                  In a tabletop RPG you can never revisit the choices. The illusion lives, and the DM provides more situations requiring decisions for you.

              2. BeardedDork says:

                Yes, Ben dies anyway, possibly giving the irredeemably dickish Kenny a shot at redemption, depending on the choices you make. You know who else dies? Everybody but Clem (and possibly Omid, Christa, and Lilly) Why should Carley/Doug get a pass simply because you saved them once in Episode 1, pretty much everybody else that you don’t actively want to die ends up needing several saves by the end.

                If I leave my house and want to go to LA, I can get on US 93 heading south I will eventually end up in Vegas where I get on the I-15 to finish my trip, if I go east a bit and get on I-15 going south I will also end up in Vegas. According to the logic at use in discussing this game these are both “just the same,” they aren’t, how you get there matters.

                1. Thomas says:

                  Personally when I visit a friends house they aren’t very interested when I try to explain how I took a left and followed the side road instead of taking a right onto the main road this time. They don’t seem to find it very important =D

                  And seriously, what have you given these people? A few days? Doug gets to slowly starve for three months sitting on top of an RV watching for zombies and doing some stuff with a bell before he gets the same fate he would have had right at the start. I have personally used this logic in this very game when making decisions for people. Heck I shot the zombie lady since she was going to die anyway and this was a little less painful.

                  It gets even worse with some of the other events. What am I buying them? An hour or two. An hour or two with yelling and fear and running for their lives and then they die in a horrible painful way.

                  Anyway I’m just working off how I felt when I played the game. It’s not like I played it and didn’t have any of these problems and then analysed them a decided that actually the appropriate response was to feel cheated and unresponded to. At the end I felt cheated and unresponded to and these are my explanations of why those feeligns occurred in me. I’m not giving this game a bad rap for the sake of it, just talking about my personal experience I took away from this game.

                  Heck I’ve spent ages arguing the cleverness of the choice and the brilliance of this game in long paragraphs with other people, here and in other places.

                  1. BeardedDork says:

                    My point is simply that the choices do make a difference and that the game does as advertised adapt to your decisions. Sometimes the changes are big more often not, but they are present.

                  2. Steve C says:

                    It’s not called “The Walking Dead” due to the zombies.

                    1. Thomas says:

                      Because the people are… okay yeah, I guess thats a subject choice which makes sense but I’m only going to consumer material if it doesn’t completely abide by it. I’m already nihilistic and despairing, I don’t need media to prove there’s no point to anything =D

                      @BeardedDork I’m actually fully okay with them lying if they chose too, it would have been very smart. I agree factually things change according to the choices, but for me at least, the majority of them change in a way thats just completely non-gratifying. It’s like your road example, I don’t actually care which way people drive to get to things

            2. Deadpool says:

              Kenny’s confrontational argument is meaningless and leads nowhere. Ben CAN’T die whether you have Doug or Carley, so how and why Lily chooses to kill the episode 1 survivor is inconsequential.

              Yes, the game recognizes your choice, but both of these are inconsequential. The moment the scene ends (You reach the train) its effect is entirely over.

              1. BeardedDork says:

                Ben does die, how and when are based entirely on your choices. For me Kenny’s best ending depends on him going with you at the very end.

  18. CTrees says:

    On what killed the train conductor: half his head was missing, and the window to his side had a relatively small hole. I immediately figured he had been shot from a distance with a high-powered rifle. Probably from someone in a tree or something, as it was kind of a high angle. Regardless, the intended cause of death seemed immediately obvious, to me.

    1. MrGuy says:

      And the train derails behind him for….reasons? It had to happen near the time he died, since the train still has fuel and is in running shape. Shooting the engineer won’t cause a train to crash…

      I had it the other way round – something (maybe a worn track that had worn out or been damaged by someone) caused the derailment, which is like being in a car crash. And since trains don’t generally have seatbelts, the engineer was thrown into the window, causing massive head trauma and killing him.

      Tough my way doesn’t make sense either, since there’s no reason for him to be thrown into the SIDE window. So I like your explanation better than mine. But it still doesn’t explain why the train is stopped here.

      1. Thomas says:

        I’m pretty sure he was shot. I’m a little confused about your thing about fuel, train drivers can’t fill up whilst it’s going right? So he could die and then not being at the controls something goes wrong someone on his journey and the train would still have enough fuel to get to the end of its journey (which is exactly where they choose to take the train).

        But in all seriousness, I assume this was an ambush. They put something across the tracks or did something to cause it to crash and took out the driver and looted the train.

        1. BeardedDork says:

          A train isn’t like a car, without someone at the controls it will just keep doing what it’s doing. It doesn’t stop on its own unless it goes off the rails or runs out of fuel. Somebody had to turn it off. Now that you mention it there’s no good reason for it to be where it is in the condition it’s in.

          1. TJ says:

            *pushes up nerd glasses* Actually, you have to adjust the controls of a modern locomotive every x minutes (5, 10? I don’t know the exact number) or it slows to a stop automatically, to avoid unattended trains running amok. Still, it’d then idle until it ran out of fuel or someone turned it off.

            1. BeardedDork says:

              Could be, last I was in the cab of a train, I was probably about 11 riding along with my Dad, it’s likely that advances have been made in the last 25+ years.

              1. TJ says:

                The only reason I know was a news story – apparently it also sets off an alarm when that happens that notifies the railroad. Apparently, the dude was watching porn on his phone rather than driving the drain :)

            2. In which case, someone could have ambushed the train then chased it until it stopped, looted it, and perhaps turned off the engine just to make sure nothing went weird while they were looting.

              1. Thomas says:

                I believe it’s crashed though, for whatever reason. Thats why Josh has to separate the carriages

                EDIT; Yep it crashed, the rear carriages are derailed. The other factors are the dead train person by the car, but I didn’t get a good look at him, the two cars near the front of the train (roadblock?) not on the road but with one driver still strapped in.


          2. Steve C says:

            Trains have dead man switches installed for exactly this reason. If the operator is incapacitated the train is designed to shut down. There’s always a switch, button or leaver that requires human input for exactly this purpose. Trains have this because they will keep going without it. It won’t shut down immediately but the train will shut down in a few minutes the next time it requires input and doesn’t get it. (Unless the dead man switch has been purposefully disabled by the engineer because he found it annoying. Which happens.)

            Point is that I found it believable that a working train would be sitting with a a dead operator. The broken side window told me nothing. Hitting the front glass may be more likely in a sudden stop but anything is possible. The operator doesn’t even need to have been sitting in the chair when it happened. It could have been a shot from outside, it could have been a derailment, it could have been anything that killed him. All that was relevant to me was he was dead and not in a position to get back up.

    2. Wedge says:

      I always assumed the conductor hit the brakes hard for some reason, causing the train to suddenly come to a halt, and his head to, likewise, come to a sudden halt against the window. Though now that I think about it I don’t think it’s physically *possible* to slow a train with a full load down that fast (based on my experience with Train Simulator 2012, which clearly makes me an expert).

      All of that aside, I still can’t come up with a single reasonable explanation for why the train shut off instead of idling until it ran out of fuel. The more you think about the whole situation, the less sense it makes.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        Chuck turned it off? Lee et. al. aren’t the first ones there.

    3. Abnaxis says:

      I always thought he shot himself. The blood is on the inside of the glass–I just thought the hole was made by an exiting bullet. The picture of his family beside him screamed ‘suicide’ at me.

      1. Thomas says:

        The blood would always been on the inside of the glass because that’s where his head was =D

        Relooking at it, I think his head did hit the window on a sudden stop. He’s right in front of the window and it’s a big jagged hole and his head is destroyed (in game bullets create holes). It would have been a very awkward suicide because he was facing the window, so he’d have to hold the gun to the back of his head.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          He was on a rotating seat. Maybe he spun around post-mortem? Otherwise, we would know it’s not a zomibe before going in the cabin :)

          Yes, the blood would have to be splattered on the inside, but I took the fact that there is blood splattered there at all to mean the blood was moving at high speed toward the window, opposite the direction suggested by a rifle shot from outside.

          Not that I know anything about ballistic blood splatter, but I take it as an unspoken movie/video game rule that blood splatters go opposite entry points

          1. Thomas says:

            Yeah I was being flippant =D I’m pretty sure blood would go in all direction in real life but in a game I’d expect it to go in one direction.

            At the same time I’d expect a bullet hole rather than have his head stoved in, even if thats not what would actually problem. We have an example of someone who committed suicide by gun from later on and they just have a small red hole on the temple. . So I’m in still in favour of the head crushing against window (but how did he end up in his seat?)

  19. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I haven’t played the game so it’s hard for me to say how well the illusion sticks (and I have seen a lot of people comment along the lines “this is the moment it stopped working for me”) but I am willing to work with the assumption TWD was aimed for something like a whodunit story where the reader is supposed to try and figure it out before the ending: it was only meant to work once.

  20. Kyoodle says:

    That puzzle was particularly irritating, you need the wrench but end up using it like a crowbar so none of the tools are intuitively the right one for the job.

    Also I had no trouble at all with the camera orientation or the side of the train Lee was on…I couldn’t even see where the confusion came from, the camera has to flip in order to show the other side of the train.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Same. It made perfect sense to my brain.

      I would say to Chris’s point regarding the 180 degree rule, that it is there for movies because movies are very passive forms of entertainment. You can only see what the director wants you to see, so they need to make that look as good and easy to follow as possible.

      In games though, you actively explore the space. They don’t need to worry about helping the audience keep track of placement because the audience knows the spacial layout of the area. While following the rule may help, it is more of a relative need than something that needs to be done.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        That would be true in games where you can control your view freely, but the camera in The Walking Dead is basically that of a movie and there fore the same concerns as when making a movie are there.

        1. Thomas says:

          I felt awkward in the carriage, I understood exactly where everything was but it was still a little bit jarring moving through it. It was probably partly that and partly because it was a high camera crammed into a narrow space.

          The 180 rule can be worse in games than in films when broken. When you transition from one place to another and the cameras pointing another way it takes a second to get bearings. In the older games when they got it wrong for leaving areas it’d do that thing where you run into an area and then immediately run back through it because you were going ‘forward’ but they changed the perspective round (and you’d probably be holding down the forward button). I bet they have to be careful with stuff like this in games like God of War

    2. Zukhramm says:

      I made a picture to explain what confused me. The first setup is the one in the game. The problems with that one is that the view of the car from A and C are very similar and it’s hard to tell which side you’re seeing, and standing inside of it at B, knowing which direction the camera is facing is impossible, as is knowing which exit leads where unless you memorize them.

      Number two is how I’d have expected it to be set up.

    3. BeardedDork says:

      The first time I played I went in and out the same door three times trying to get to the other side of the train, I was thoroughly lost there.

      Edit: I actually had this problem in the Box Car not the Cab.

    4. Khizan says:

      I used the spike puller without problems.

  21. Indy says:

    I too love the brevity and impact of that nightmare. Jarring, over in a flash and easy to forget just like a real nightmare. That’s the kind of stuff that builds immersion.

    On a semi-related note, the Walking Dead wiki has the stats for some of the choices in the game, more so than what is presented at the end of the episode, in fact.

    For instance, Episode 3 tells us that 35% of people picked the Spike Remover, 32% picked the Monkey Wrench and 33% picked the Spanner.

    Interesting fact that comes with those figures, in Episode 2, more people killed Andy St. John than killed both brothers. Which means some people let the outright creepy bastard live and decided to kill the one in the yard. People are strange sometimes.

    Also in Episode 2, 96% of people fed Clementine. 95% of people fed Duck. People are also pretty good guys some times.

    1. Entropy says:

      uh, no. It’s 55/45 kill/not kill Danny, 20/80 kill/not kill Andy. So most people killed Danny and not Andy, or neither.

      1. Indy says:

        Yeah, but the 20% that killed Andy is higher than the 18% that killed both. So some people let the creepy one live and killed the screaming brother in the field. I found that odd.

        And thanks everyone below who talked about the YouTube video. That’s also pretty interesting to watch.

    2. MrGuy says:

      Wow, it’s incredibly useless to track “which tool did you pick up,” mostly because they all do the same job, so they’re all equivalent (which makes me wonder why they had 3 in the first place…)

      Much more interesting, and NOT tracked, is your choice of weapon at the dairy in episode 2. You could choose a sickle, a stun gun, and one other item I forget but was also lethal.

      At the dairy, the choice is actually interesting – did you decide to arm yourself with a killing tool or a non-lethal weapon? Were you out for revenge or trying to keep from hurting people?

      It turns out not to matter since you lose it and end up with the pitchfork either way, but you didn’t know that at the time.

      It’s weird to me they have numbers on the choice that made no difference and had no character development implications, and didn’t keep stats on the one that did.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        There’s a stun gun in Episode 2? I didn’t know that. I also saw the sickle and some other bladed instrument.

      2. Abnaxis says:

        I picked the stun gun, but it was for ease of use, not for non-lethality. A sickle requires momentum, the stun-gun only needs to touch him with the sparkly bits.

        1. MrGuy says:

          Hmm..interesting thought I hadn’t considered.

          It reinforces my point that the choice of weapon in the barn is actually interesting.

      3. Zukhramm says:

        How do you know they didn’t track that one?

        1. MrGuy says:

          Because I clicked on the links in Indy’s original post on this thread.

          1. Zukhramm says:

            They’re not on the Wiki, but it doesn’t mean other things were not tracked. As said below, they’ve said they have access to pretty much everything.

        2. TJ says:

          Check the Playing Dead videos on Telltale’s YouTube channel – they have summaries of each episode with more odd stats, and in an interview, they confirm that they have access to every single choice and metric from the game. I don’t remember if they address that specific one in ep 2’s summary.

          I chose the stun-gun, but even then, he bats it aside and Kenny gets him with the sickle.

          1. Thomas says:

            Thanks for the heads up =D I was comparing the story to the Book of Eli and it turns out one of the writers worked on that film =D

            1. Thomas says:

              I love the interviewer. Its so cool to see an interviewer whose read/watched/played the thing hes interviewing about and is really invested

      4. Khizan says:

        I chose the sickle for a simple reason: I didn’t know if a stun gun would have any effect at all on a walker, whereas I know a a sickle through the head will drop one.

        Not being able to trust the St. Johns or their fence anymore, I wanted to be packing something of use against walkers and men.

    3. Isy says:

      I think the more interesting stat is how many punches people landed on Andy St. John (which isn’t on that site, but is in a related video). There’s a big spike at 6, which is the punch right when it shows everyone gathering around and watching you beat this man to death. That’s when a lot of people stopped.

  22. MrGuy says:

    Also, regarding Lilly.

    I would have been a lot more conflicted, and a lot more gut-wrenched by her flipping out if she’d been less weak as a character.

    The whole Lilly and Larry The Sociopath dynamic was really ham handed. Lilly is always, even in private, defending her dad. “You can’t judge him! He’s my dad! He’s all I have left!” Is a terrible non sequitur. The fact that he’s your dad doesn’t mean I can’t judge him.

    It bothers me that it could have been done so much better. If Lilly was telling you in private “look, I know he’s a massive asshole, but he’s my dad, and he’s all the family I have left. I know he’s terrible to everyone, but I can’t turn my back on the last family I have.” Hey, nuance. It would be awesome if she ever tried to back him down in public. You could even play this as her being conflicted on “how hard do I call him out when he’s clearly wrong and harming the group but may feel betrayed if I do it?” She could be apologizing for him behind closed doors when he’s out of line. You could do a lot with Lilly’s struggles between “keep my family together” vs. “keep Larry from tearing this group apart.” It could have made her one of the more interesting characters in the series. She cold have been a truly tragic figure, if she’d spent the woke series trying desperately to balance leading the group wisely and well vs. keep Larry from antagonizing everyone, and then in losing Larry turns on the group, the one thing she’s been trying to save. She lost it temporarily. “Oh, my god, what have I done?”

    But they didn’t. Lilly is always unwaveringly on Larry’s side, no matter how wrong he clearly is. And it robs her flipping out and killing someone of any impact, and any real nuance to the choice to leave her. There’s no remorse, no pathos. Would you like to keep a crazy person who murdered someone and who’s explanations “sorry,I was trying to murder someone else instead”? Yeah, no thanks.

    1. Abnaxis says:

      The thing that bugs me about Lilly/Larry is that Larry is always, unerringly wrong, to the point of doing a complete about face in character multiple times.

      Child spattered by blood? Clear he’s going to turn!

      Convicted murderer guarding a child? Leave him to die to protect her!

      Group of strangers in danger? Clearly they can’t be trusted!

      Group of strangers acting suspicious? Clearly there’s nothing wrong at all!

      It eventually came to a point where I had no doubt what was going to happen next places where I should have, simply because I knew whatever crap Larry was spouting would never be allowed to be anything but blithe idiocy by the writers.

      Were it not for Larry’s romantic trysts with the idiot ball, I would have been a lot more tolerant of Lilly’s defense of him. The fact that she doesn’t lampshade him on it just makes her as dumb as him.

      1. Mind you, I’ve met real people who are like this. Some people just have massively bad instincts. It’s not just that they have a bad morality that colours their choices, they also have a knack for evaluating any given situation and unerringly coming up backwards. It’s particularly strong on “Who shall I decide to date?”

  23. Annikai says:

    One of the funny things about that box of crackers is that you can only give them to Duck. Now I know it’s because of the side quest thing where Katja tells you that he needs food but to me it felt like Lee was thinking “animal crackers I found laying next to a zombie, better give these to the infected kid. No way I’m letting Clementine touch them.”

    1. BeardedDork says:

      I saved them for Clem and assume Lee gave them to her off-screen.

    2. TJ says:

      I never figured out how to kill the walker, which was really annoying – all conversations in the locomotive cabin have a background of loud zombie ‘rawr’ing and nobody comments on it. I guess they’re used to it by now, but I’m not!

  24. Wedge says:

    “So now I think we've gotten far enough into the game that I'm ready to talk about choice.”


  25. 4th Dimension says:

    Do you know what is the greatest shame in Doug dying to Lily? He never got to see the train. To start a train up. Think about it.

    1. TJ says:

      Aw man, I didn’t even think of that. Now I’m even more bummed about it. :(

    2. LunaticFringe says:

      I was amazed that no one in the episode pointed out the fact that Doug would’ve been massively helpful in getting the train started.

  26. Jacob Albano says:

    Regarding Lee’s infinite pockets that can’t hold more than one tool: Don’t forget about the blow torch later in the episode.

  27. TJ says:

    So if you watch the “Playing Dead” video from Telltale for this episode, they note that “less than 0.5% of players got the ‘Duckmageddon’ loss-state” in the train.

    I kinda want to see this :)

    1. Indy says:

      Yes Josh, if you haven’t already gone past it, please fail to stop the train. It’ll be a great game over, I tell ya!

      1. anaphysik says:

        It’s possible that by the next episode of this week they’ll have skipped past the conversation that can lead to Duckpocalypse, but there /might/ be a chance they hadn’t get that far.

        Anyway, for anyone that hasn’t seen it (and this is still an E3 spoiler, btw), here’s the scene:

        If Josh hasn’t seen Duckpocalypse, getting it is really easy once you know the trick (show blood, then be completely silent).

  28. TMTVL says:

    Assume the train is parked on a n-th dimensional non-Euclidean mà¶bius strip.

  29. Campster steals the show with the after credits closing line. *applause*

  30. LunaticFringe says:

    So apparently the train is really from Planescape. I didn’t have any issues with spatial reasoning when it came to the train, but then again I totally missed that zombie in the car, so what do I know?

  31. RTBones says:

    When you all started talking about being confused about which side of the train you were on/getting into/getting out of – I have to admit a little confusion because I wasnt confused by it. The sides of the train and the ins and outs and arounds all made sense to me. Have to agree with Josh on this one.

  32. Dasick says:

    The problem with that kind of choice is best explained by two points.

    1) It’s interesting to be making choices/decisions
    2) TWD and even something like Fallout New Vegas have a strictly finite, handcrafted number of those

  33. I realize that we cant have infinite choice, but I think TWD would have been stronger and led to a bigger payoff if just a couple of the big decisions were allowed to stick.

    Or if you had any decisions whatsoever.

    It’s one thing if you can’t choose the outcome, but at least the earlier episodes let you choose how you face that outcome. RE: Duck. The destination was the same, but you could take slightly different paths to that fate. This may not be as important as, say, choosing one of two characters to live or die, but it still felt like I was an important participant.

    By Episode 5, you stop being a participant and become an audience. A powerless witness on a mine cart that keeps stopping and starting, because it needs you to keep pulling back on the emergency brake. That is not a choice; that is an order. This game doesn’t even have the illusion of choice, despite saying it does at the start of every episode.

    Frankly, I don’t care what happens in the next season. This series failed at literally its’ only goal. Telltale had their chance to make a video game. I don’t know why they decided to make the last act a movie instead.

  34. Dasick says:

    I realize that we cant have infinite choice, but I think TWD would have been stronger and led to a bigger payoff if just a couple of the big decisions were allowed to stick.

    Any time the path of the story ‘branches’, that’s another story the writers have to write, maintain and keep ‘great’. Just a single great storyline is a tall order, so I don’t think it’s wise to expect your choices ‘sticking’ and being given a great story based on those choices.

    Also, games that have a more abstract story and aren’t tied to a detailed linear narrative are capable of giving if not infinite, then virtually inexhaustible supply of unique, ambiguous, meaningful (within the context of the game) choices to make. 4X, Xcom, Roguelikes, even Tetris.

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