Dishonored EP19: Listen to Your Heart

By Shamus
on Apr 24, 2013
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

Another episode of fun mechanics, rich environments, and bland characters. To expand a bit on the question that Rutskarn posed: What do you think of games that allow you to skip or miss content?

Allow me to refine the answer I gave in the episode: We’re really talking about three different types of content:

  1. Mutually exclusive paths. You can go through Route A or Route B, but you can’t see both areas in the same play-through. You can either blow up the Collector base or preserve it.
  2. Optional content: We can skip this section if you don’t want to be distracted from the main mission. You can decide to help Jacob or just ignore him.
  3. Hidden or obscured content that’s only accessible to the diligent, lucky, or thorough player. You can only do the mission for Conrad Verner if you find him, if he’s still alive, and if you made the right choices in the past.

If there are only one or two nuggets of optional content, then I find it slightly annoying. I don’t want to play the whole game again just to see the five minutes I missed. However, once you get enough optional content it starts to justify a second play-through. And if I am going to do a second play-through, then I want as much alternate content as I can get. So I guess my answer is that when it comes to optional content, I want “Nothing or a double helping“, as Pippin Merry says.

But that’s just my thoughts. How about you: What do you think of games that allow you to skip or miss content?

Also note how this ties in with the save-game stuff we talked about yesterday. Some people like to save, go down one path, then re-load, and take the other. This is often difficult or impossible with checkpoint saves.

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From the Archives:

  1. Thomas says:

    Good checkpoints save should still let you create multiple save files at any checkpoint you choose. There has to be a really clear design decision going on before it’s okay to not let people have multiple save files at places of their choosing.

    It’s bad enough not being able to name the multiple save files you can have in AP, never mind not have them at all. (One of the weird things about XIII-2 is you can have multiple save files but it takes multiple minutes to create one, compared to a couple of seconds for a normal save. I have no idea why that is)

    • Adam says:

      I’m having a hard time thinking of any games that use a checkpoint save that actually have any “missable” content worth going back for. (Aside from BS:I and AP, as was discussed in the comment section for the Experienced Points article yesterday.) Most games that use a checkpoint system and nothing else are highly linear, or near enough. (Halo, with its sprawling levels connected by invisible load areas springs to mind.) The kind of games where you’re either marching from point A straight to point B, or where point A inevitably leads to point B, but you can fool around as much as you want along the way.

  2. Entropy says:

    Actually, the door straight on is either locked or unlocked, depending I think on whether you’ve spoken to Granny Rags and Slackjaw. If you haven’t met the trigger, you just go on, door unlocked. If you have, there is one of Slackjaw’s men in the room, and he tells you where to go.

    That key Josh nicked off Granny Rags was the key to get through the area.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Yees. I do like Campster very super huggy much, but the way he kept insisting that there’s an ellipsis path around this… :< But but but there isn't! Literally. Oh well. This is basically just like backseat gaming/driving, I just want to shout "No, wait, no, you are wrong, why are you wrong, oh and you are on the Internet and wrong and nobody can be allowed to be wrong on the internet sdfdsdsgdfs".

      But.

      I want to also bring up a serious point.
      So.. Campster didn't see this part, Shamus didn't see this part, Rutskarn didn't see this part? It literally is unlocked (hell, forced even) if you did any single of the following: Met with granny rags on first level; met with slackjaw on the second level. … So – the three people that have praised games like Deus Ex and Thief for being super-branching with many side-paths and alternatives… apparently ran through Dishonored without exploring or paying attention to side missions. … Do you see a slight problem?

      • Jacob Albano says:

        Rutskarn is wrong too. You can reload your pistol by tapping F (or whatever key you have bound to interact).

        I love the whole cast, but I’ve been consistently baffled by how much everyone but Josh seems to have missed.

        Also, regarding the availability of this area: it’s only unlocked if you do any part of Gentlemen Callers in the first level. Meeting with Slackjaw has nothing to do with it. I didn’t have to do this in one of my non-lethal playthroughs, and I had to do the Slackjaw quest for that.

        • X2-Eliah says:

          Ah, I see. So it’s the granny/slackjaw thing in the first level only, not the second. Thanks for the info! :)

          • Chris says:

            I think this whole conversation thread is indicative of the problem, though. Again, so much of the difficulty in talking about this game seems to be that it hides itself from players – it changes things in the levels without telling you, it judges you without telling you its criteria, it locks doors for some players and not for others without giving anyone any notice. Much of this is in the name of “replayability,” but I’m not sure we can say such replayability doesn’t come at a cost. I said this was a concern of mine earlier in the season, and I reiterate: it makes discussion of the game extraordinarily difficult. Indeed, we still didn’t know enough to give a meaningful commentary despite having four people play through the game multiple times. And even now, in the comments, it’s taken at least two people just to sort out how this silly door gets locked properly.

            And I have to ask, how much of that is the players’ fault? It certainly can’t be mine for lack of trying – I’ve watched the game played through once, I’ve played through it twice, I’ve played through the latest DLC one and a half times. Yet I still haven’t seen everything; I’m still often wrong in my estimation about what the game does or doesn’t force players to do and for what reasons and at which points. How many more playthroughs, wiki investigations, GameFAQs inquiries, and Let’s Plays does one need before being able to confidently say anything about this game? The game masks much of itself in decisions you don’t know you’re making without clear consequences; so much so that discussing the how’s and why’s becomes guess complete guess work like this thread shows.

            All of that said, Spoiler Warning is a live recording of off-the-cuff commentary. Our goal with the show isn’t to be “right,” our goal is to be insightful and, failing that, entertaining. Fact-checking ourselves isn’t really possible; if you want to see us simply be right I’d suggest you turn to our blog posts and the like. In the mean time we’ll continue to react to games based on our experiences with them – and those experiences may be incomplete simply based on the nature of games. This was the first time through this section of content for 3/4 of the cast, and we couldn’t just stop talking to observe Josh play through it and then talk about it later – our whole shtick is running commentary. When these sorts of things happen – when the game presents new content we’re unfamiliar with – we’ll keep talking and reacting based on whatever our understanding of the game is. Sometimes in games like Dishonored that tend to hide themselves from players that understanding will be wrong. But whose fault is that when a game filled with hidden randomness offers players so much unknowing choice and so many unspoken consequences?

            • Jacob Albano says:

              Oh, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you guys are bad people for being mistaken about some things or anything…I didn’t even find out about the reloading trick until I pressed the key by accident during the Oil Drop challenge in Dunwall City Trials. When I said “Rutskarn is wrong” I was just continuing the joke about EVERYONE IS WRONG.

              To be honest, one of the things I like most about the game is the fact that it’s so easy to miss things. Did you know there’s a petrified whale on top of Granny’s hideout? In most games it would be explicitly shown off by having the camera pull away to linger on it for a few seconds, but instead it’s just there for the player to notice on his or her own.

              I’ve got 164 hours in Dishonored so far. It’s just beaten out Deus Ex: Human Revolution as the most-played singleplayer game I own. I’m quite certain that I’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to see and do; my most recent discovery is that you can send a bolt on its way after shooting it during Stop Time by hitting it with your sword. I’ve heard that the guards will go kill the torturer after you expose the Lord Regent on High Chaos, but I’ve never seen it — there are so many little vignettes in this game it’s completely impossible to experience everything in one playthrough or several. So no judgement from me there.

              I guess the only real point I have is that it seems the majority of the cast went through the campaign more quickly than it was designed to be played. The Thief training callback in Daud’s base, the roofs of various buildings, all the alternate approaches to spaces that none of you knew about…again, it’s impossible to experience all that Dishonored has to offer in one playthrough, but it’s a game deserves to be savored. You’ll miss out on so much great stuff if you rush through it instead of exploring slowly and deliberately.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              I don’t personally believe anyone’s at fault in this specific instance, mostly because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this.

              I agree that there are some details, like the Chaos system, that ought to be more clear. This is information vital to the player in making moment to moment decisions.

              On the other hand, I like that not all of the content of a game is forced upon you. I like it when games are confident enough to have content that not everyone is going to see. I means that I’m free to play through in my own way. This encourages conversation because any two people can have differences in their experience and those differences, after a watercooler conversation, can inspire them each to play again.

            • anaphysik says:

              I’d like to point out that it’s “no fucking shit” that Josh constantly sounds like he’s the one that knows all the special ways through areas and suchlike – because *he’s the one driving*. All he has to do is take the same routes he did in his playthrough (while ignoring routes that he never took, one perhaps that the rest of you did take), and he’ll look like the genius that Corvtbert isn’t!

            • WJS says:

              You criticised the game for being anything other than a linear run before, yes, and it didn’t make any sense then either. You’re seriously putting hypothetically talking about a game afterwards above actually playing it.

      • Chris says:

        I met with Granny Rags and did the thing where you knock out the three chaps that were about to bust in her door, but I never did the quest where you poison the potion – mostly because I was trying to do a low chaos playthrough and, as we’ve pointed out, it’s not clear right away whether poisoning a bunch of dudes is chaotic or not. So I decided to skip the whole thing in case it ruined all my stealthy sneaking.

        As for Slackjaw, I literally never met him in my playthroughs. I found out about him later – part of the problem with the Golden Cat level was that it felt like content recycling since you go through the docks you just went through all over again. Without knowing how much (or whether anything) changed, I basically blinked my way through that whole area without exploring under the assumption that there was nothing to be found.

        The thing about games that involve player choice and random chance – every playthrough is as valid as any other. I’m disconcerted by the notion that there’s something “wrong” about not meeting up with Slackjaw and Granny Rags. That content is optional for a reason – it’s content that players can choose to do or not do. Sometimes they choose to not do it because they’re speed running, sometimes because they’re trying to min/max their good/evil levels, sometimes because they’re role playing a certain character type, and sometimes simply because in a game with so much exploration it’s possible to miss things. It also helps shape every playthrough as a unique story; it’s your personal version of Corvo’s journey. Maybe that means poisoning the brew for Granny Rags and being forced to choose between a crook and a cannibal later in the game as a result, or maybe that means never meeting her the whole game because Corvo was played with a focus on vengeance and wouldn’t let sidequests get in the way. One playthrough isn’t more legitimate simply because it explores the systems or content more thoroughly.

        Celebrating the fact that these options for a personalized, expressive run of the game exist doesn’t mean I track down every side quest in every game and carry them through to completion. My play through – like yours, and like all others – was my personal journey through the game. I love the fact that the game offers me the choice to go about these objectives in a creative way; to do a bit of roleplaying; to express myself both spacially and as a character. All of that is awesome. But I don’t celebrate those sidequests because it’s more stuff to do; I celebrate them because it gives players that empowerment. Granny Rags’ mission is awesome not just because you can do it, but also because you can not do it.

        • X2-Eliah says:

          Hm. That’s interesting, though – as far as I’m able to find any info on the missions, the knock-out-three-guys should have been well enough to get to the final confrontation. So looks like even the info on wikis and such is incorrect at this point, and there’s something more that’s required for the trigger (my feeling? you have to be aware, somehow, of who Slackjaw is).

          Ah well. Anyway. Mostly this is not meant as a serious thing or such (obviously I’m not saying you should now go and play the game 100% thrice-over or anything), I just found it a bit amusing that the folks who argue so much for freedom in games didn’t seem to make use of it and went just for the obvious objective-marker stuff, apparently ;)

        • Gilfareth says:

          I’ve noticed that while Campster will respond multiple times in a video’s comments with all of the words*, Shamus, Josh, and Rutskarn don’t seem to come in very often. It’s actually quite nice to have a more active member of the conversation both in the show and in the comments.

          *I mean this in the best way possible. Don’t stop giving us words of entertainment and insight.

  3. Trevel says:

    Merry, you mean.

    Not that it’s easy to tell the two apart…

  4. IFS says:

    Heh, I remember for that part where they talked about how dangerous you are, and how you can appear at any moment I sneaked into the room and perched myself atop the door to the rooftop, where somehow they couldn’t see me. I actually got knocked off the door because they all left without noticing me and closed the door behind them.

  5. Cyranor says:

    I’d say I agree with Shamus, some optional content can get annoying if you get locked out due to x,y, or z on the other hand second-play through worthy content I want as much as I can so that its like a new game. I think that is part of the appeal of sandbox games like Skyrim, Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, etc is that you can play through it again with a much different experience. on the other hand you have games like The Witcher 2 where you take on path in the middle of the game that completely alters the 2nd and 3rd acts. I love this about it in that it not only makes it feel like the choice had world changing consequences, it encouraged me to replay it just to see the whole other side of things.

    • Thomas says:

      The worst type of optional content is where you get locked out by progressing the plot. I’m tired of doing my very best to avoid completing main missions in fear of missing content. Even in small ways, when there’s a fork and you go left and suddenly it drops you into a cutscene and you realise you’re never going to get the opportunity to see what was to the right

      • Dragomok says:

        Yes, that’s just horrible.

        • Ringwraith says:

          I like games which try to drop hints about points of no return, though only if manage to weave it into dialouge a bit, even if it comes off a bit awakward regardless.
          Having a text box appear saying it is a point of no return is a bit jarring, (yes, I have seen a game do that before, though at least it recommended you to make a new hard save!)

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I HATE when story events lock me out of optional content. ESPECIALLY when there was no heads up.

        JRPGs have a massive problem when it comes to that.

        • Ringwraith says:

          The example I mentioned where it comes up with a text box saying it’s the point of no return and advises you to make a hard save was a JRPG, though it is the only point of no return in the game just before you kick off the finale.
          Though the series it belongs to was never big on having stuff you could miss and never find again in general. Or grinding for that matter.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        The EveryGame version of this is killing the last baddie in the area, going to cutscene, and knowing you’re never going to get to search the bodies, for one reason or another…

  6. anyGould says:

    I’m with Shamus on the all-or-nothing plan.

    If the missed content is only a minor issue or a single moment (e.g. keeping the coupon in Little Inferno), I’m far more likely to just YouTube the video and see what I missed.

    If I’m going to play through the game again, I want to do something *different* the second time through.

  7. Corpital says:

    They killed all the servant while Emily could see it? Sounds like a case of heavy braindamage caused by breaking too many bottles with theirs heads.

    But much more important…I am utterly confused by the episode text.

    “Mutually exclusive paths. You can go through Route A or Route B, but you can’t see both areas in the same play-through. You can either blow up the Collector base or preserve it.”

    I must be getting old, because all I remember are two nearly identical endings with only two differences: Blowing the base up allows you tell TIM to fuck off and gives you a whopping 10war asset points less.
    Vast amounts of exclusive contend, indeed.

    But since I am unable to provide a better example for it, I’ll just sit in the corner and be ashamed.

    • False Prophet says:

      My guess is Shamus used Mass Effect because it’s a recent example most readers of this site will be familiar with, that has all three types of content, even if it doesn’t really do a good job with some of those types. Games with two alternate endings like BioShock or Infamous might be a better example of “Mutually exclusive paths”, but don’t have many good examples of the other two.

      • Corpital says:

        Aye, one could get the impression, game designers are petrified by the mere thought of a player not seeing a few minutes of their magnum opus.

        And just to join the crowd of people mentioning Alpha Protocol: AP had some mutually exclusive levels. Yay.

        • Sleeping Dragon says:

          Far as skipping content and ME2 are concerned I think loyalty missions are much more interesting. First off they are skippable but they aren’t only chunks of content for the player, they are also actual, relevant events in the game world. What’s more, under certain conditions the game strongly encourages you to skip a lot of this relevant content to create the sense of urgency.

          While I know some people were annoyed by it, especially because the one way to eat the cake and have it was blocking Legion for most of the game and he was a great character, but the first time I played ME2 this was something that I thought was pretty bold. I intended to recruit as many characters as possible before doing loyalty missions because I wanted to see all of them, decide who I like and take them with me to watch their reactions and interactions to the events (and I figured I would be operating on game time where the events would politely wait for me with no consequences whatsoever), so when the crew got kidnapped I had very little done in terms of loyalty and the game did present me with a choice “we may not be ready but if we work on this the crew may be dead.”

          Now, I will admit that it would have worked better if I cared about the crew more (as it turned out the one person I really liked, Chakwas, was the one who survived anyway so yay me), and it’s not that much fun when you know how to game the system, but the first time it was something really interesting because it worked on several levels, it was both an in-character choice to go after the crew or ensure we’re as ready as we can be, and an out-of-character choice to skip a lot of content in favour of, possibly, doing what’s right (but would we be able to succeed).

        • Ringwraith says:

          Well, they were not that mutually-exclusive, as they always took place in the same areas, just with different enemies.
          The embassy being the prime example of this, and being one of the only examples.

  8. SyrusRayne says:

    So, I just noticed this – somehow, over your rambling, yet addictive vitriol – that Cecilia shares the voice actress of Sunny Smiles from New Vegas. She’s doing the opposite of what happened back then; she’s making a boring character at least a little bit more interesting, rather than making a potentially interesting character boring.

    “Potentially” interesting is kind of hyperbolic, but I always felt Sunny Smiles was a missed opportunity.

  9. newdarkcloud says:

    I actually didn’t know you could skip this whole section. In both my playthroughs, the Shantytown was locked so I had to get the key from Granny.

    Interesting.

    • burningdragoon says:

      I thought it was if you do any quests for both Slackjaw and Granny, then you have to do that side part because Granny has the key and if you don’t than you can’t do it at all.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      You can’t skip it per se at this point – you can avoid it with meta-knowledge, by not meeting Granny/slackjaw at all… But if you did either of those things, and are now in this level, then there literally is no way to skip this diversion.

      • GM says:

        ha ha meta knowledge i had none and the door was not locked, through i did one favor for slackjaw to get rid of the brothers.

        • Nick says:

          Yeah, the best strategy for a Clean Hands/Ghost run is to NEVER EVER talk to Granny Rags so that you can skip this bit – the game has a tendency to count Granny as a casualty even if you just steal her key and run for it

          • newdarkcloud says:

            That may have been the casualty I got on my original playthrough that I had to go back and do again in order to get Clean Hands and Ghost.

            I had exactly 1 kill, so when I beat the game, I had to replay the Flooded District and the next missions to undo that.

          • WJS says:

            Really? That’s weird. Are you sure it isn’t counting her killing Slackjaw? Hmm. Can you make her mortal by burning her cameo and then just knock her out? Or do you actually have to kill her for some reason? If nicking the key and legging it works (gets you past the locked gate), I don’t see why it wouldn’t.

  10. silver Harloe says:

    The discussion about content is weird when juxtaposed with discussions about consequential choice.

  11. Johan says:

    The fact that you can STILL say “wait, I’ve never seen this part, I took a completely different route” does speak well to the levels, you’ve got to admit

  12. Astor says:

    Oh, guys, if you’d only been after every bone charm and rune as our Most Refined Reginald “Corvo” Attano goes around doing, you wouldn’t have missed neither Granny Rags cooking up some Slackjaw Beef nor Little Weepertown.

    And you would have been one rune and two charms the richer if I may add.

  13. General Karthos says:

    I love optional content, personally. I’m an absurd completionist, but usually only on my second play through, sometimes not until my third or even later. It depends on how drawn in I am by the main story. If I’m drawn in enough, I will complete some sidequests, but inevitably go back to the main story.

    I have a couple of games of KOTOR at various levels of completion where I am doing every single side quest. One where I’m Dark Side, and one where I’m Light Side. I just have to plug my X-Box into my new TV and continue them.

    And unlike Shamus, I will go through a game a second time for five or ten minutes of content I missed the first time, if I like the game enough. So games like Oblivion, Skyrim, Baldur’s Gate, basically all sandbox games? I very, VERY rarely finish them. But I have a lot of fun in the meantime.

  14. hborrgg says:

    @the 20:00 rampage

    Specifically it looked really awesome right up until Josh got bogged down trying to loot corpses.

  15. Adalore says:

    Ah, I have literally never seen the term “Cameo” used that way before. But it turns out to be…
    Noun
    A piece of jewelry, typically oval in shape, consisting of a portrait in profile carved in relief on a background of a different color.
    A short descriptive literary sketch that neatly encapsulates someone or something.

    So I am guessing it was her Lich style phylactery(thank you handy 3.5e monster manual)

    • I’m sorry to appear to be picking on you, but you brought it up and it’s really a weird blank spot, so here goes:

      What is wrong with you people?

      This is the same vodcast that had a semi-rant on how nobody knew what a phylactery was but was familiar with the term “horcrux.” How can steampunk be as prevalent as it is today without knowledge of cameo brooches coming along for the ride?

      Josh and Rutz also missed the obvious joke of saying “A cameo? But that thing looks nothing like Stan Lee.”

      Nerd re-education camps for everyone!

      • MetalSeagull says:

        I had never heard the word phylactery. If I had to make a guess at it, I’d have said it had something to do with condoms, or at least the prevention of something.

        But my mother and both my grandmothers had cameos. I think there’s a picture somewhere of me wearing one, as well. Although I was aware that they were a bit of an old lady thing, I didn’t realize they were so old fashioned as to be forgotten about.

        • StashAugustine says:

          “I had never heard the word phylactery. If I had to make a guess at it, I’d have said it had something to do with condoms…”

          This would make an excellent D&D game.

        • Mormegil says:

          I remember seeing Maverick (the Mel Gibson movie). I was talking about it to a coworker the next day and asked her if she liked the cameo. She said “the big brown one? I loved it but I’m surprised you noticed!” I was sitting there thinking “um yeah, sure, accurate I guess, but not how I would have put it.”

          I was talking about Danny Glover’s bit part, she was talking about Jodie Foster’s brooch.

        • Brandon says:

          You would actually be on the right track by guessing “prevention of something”… phylacteries prevent permanent death.

  16. Syal says:

    I was surprised nobody commented on the body spazzing out on top of the wheel. I kept waiting for someone to mention it and no one did.

    And now I have to mention it, just so it can have been mentioned.

  17. Nidokoenig says:

    I think the basic point is that whatever a game does, it should be consistent about. If it’s going to lead you by the nose and herd you back to the mission area as soon as you stray, having a single side alley with a secret seven hours in is rubbish. It’s taught you not to waste your time looking and then punished you for trusting it. Unless it’s been building a theme of not trusting what the game/the questgiver tells you, that’s just wrong.

    Games should aim for consistency and verisimilitude, otherwise things get weird and the player’s left grumbling about cat hair moustaches.

  18. McNutcase says:

    I have some problems with the “two helpings” method of providing alternate content, because I have trouble forcing myself to play differently. I typically settle into a “preferred” playstyle fairly rapidly, and then it’s hard for me to break out of that on subsequent playthroughs. In the original Fallout (drink!) I have no idea how to play a character that doesn’t tag small guns, energy weapons, and speech, and I ALWAYS stack agility – so I always have Small Frame and Gifted, and ALWAYS take the extra AP perks no matter what. I’ve tried playing melee lunkheads, I’ve tried playing sneaksie types, and I ALWAYS wind up building a small guns to energy weapons character no matter what.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      This is an issue that I have. In games like TES, I seem to lawyas fall into my comfort-zone character, even when deliberately trying differing builds.

      In games like dishonored.. even there I had to force myself to play as high chaos character.

    • Karthik says:

      This. As much as I praise player choice in games, I usually end up playing the same way every time. I’ve never finished my KOTOR sith run, Jade Empire closed fist game or Dishonored high chaos playthrough.

      I’m playing Knife Of Dunwall true to Daud’s character, as someone with little regard for human life, but the game simply isn’t fun this way. There is no narrative pay-off (heck, even the Outsider chastises you in that tired drone of his every chance he gets) and the game itself has lost all challenge. I can’t even play Mass Effect as a non-biotic class, because everything except combat is the same and combat is more of a drag.

      Why would I spend my leisure hours forcing myself to play a certain way when it’s hard and unsatisfying? That’s basically work.

      I blame this on ham-handed game design. This usually happens in games with silly (pseudo-)morality systems or severely imbalanced playstyles–or with games that have completely divorced narrative and ludological elements. I played through the two big Witcher 2 paths and enjoyed both immensely.

      • Trevel says:

        I think you’re making a mistake here: the idea that the variety in sandbox games is there for YOU.

        If you like playing a stealthy small-guns goodie-two shoes, then you get to do that. The guy who wants to play a barbaric murdering melee — gets to play that, too.

        The point isn’t to make sure that you personally can play the game in the way you like and then in the way you don’t like; the point is that people can find a class/build/setup they DO like and then play it that way. I liked playing as an adept; my brother loved his infiltrator. Why should we switch?

        — which is why it amuses/annoys me sometimes that this most important choice is made at the start of the game when you have no idea which you’ll enjoy, rather than later on after you’ve tried them all.

  19. Taellosse says:

    In broad, I agree, the more of this sort of content, the better. But with respect to second playthroughs, I’ve got a strong preference for there being more of the first type. And the more substantive the differences between different paths, the better. The conclusions of many of the plot threads in Mass Effect, for example, were disappointing because it held little weight – whether you killed or rescued the Rachni queen, you still had Rachni Reaper forces to deal with, and they still played a HIGHLY limited role on your side (consisting of an email message and a slight numerical shift in your readiness score). I’d have been much more compelled if, for example, killing the Rachni Queen meant there were no Ravagers in the game at all (even if they were switched out for a different unit that filled a somewhat similar role), the mission to deal with the captured Queen simply doesn’t happen (or you’re putting a stop to something else), and you actually get to see them helping in the fight if you let her live both times.

    My completionist tendencies means that types two and three aren’t really likely to be skipped on any playthrough, unless it was really boring the first time, and it offers nothing useful or interesting later. For example, I’ve only ever played Pinnacle Station in ME1 once, when I first bought it, and despite replaying ME1 to completion 4 times, and playing through Virmire at least twice more, I’ve never repeated it, because it was just pointless combat with a boring, barely-there story, and a kind-of-pretty-but-mostly-useless location awarded as a “house” at the end. The ME3 Citadel DLC offers essentially the same thing, except that you get the house as soon as the DLC is accessed, rather than it being tied to the pointless combat thing, and the pointless combat thing is entirely optional (but can net you extra credits, in case you can’t quite afford all the weapon and armor upgrades you wanted, so it can at least be useful). Plus, Citadel has a more interesting plot (even if it is a bit silly), and lots of really nice character interaction with your friends, all of which is lacking in Pinnacle Station. When I eventually replay the entire trilogy, I’ll definitely be including Citadel in my run of ME3, but probably still won’t bother with Pinnacle.

  20. Neko says:

    I think a game allowing you to skip content is a sign that the game trusts the player to make the decision to see the content or bypass it. Games that grab the camera away from you, that make quest NPCs unkillable, that render prior decisions meaningless by having the event happen anyway – these games do not trust the player to play “properly”. It feels forced.

  21. Irridium says:

    Huh, I had no idea that you could just go through the door under certain circumstances. I wonder what would happen if you visited granny when you could have just run through.

    Also, with Daud (or Duad, whatever. I swear it changes every day) being a more interesting character, and speaking of interesting characters, this gives me just barely enough reason to post this!

    It’s an interview with the actors who played Adam Jensen and Vaas, Elias Toufexis and Michael Mando, respectively. The results are pretty great.

    Also, I’d watch the hell out of a buddy-cop movie and/or tv show starring Adam Jensen and Vaas. Or a sitcom. Or anything as long as it starred the both of ’em.

  22. burningdragoon says:

    I had to fight Granny Rags on my no kills/ghost run. It was… tricky.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Ah, heh, yeah. Especially back when it was bugged and added a kill even if you just sleepdarted/choked her out.

      I ended up just doing this – freezing time, grabbign the keys from her, isntantly blink to the exit, cut down boards, jump into river. No fighting whatsoever, and no letting the granny even properly aggro. That way you can, with luck, have nonlethal and ghost checkmarks at the end of the level.

      • ChoppazAndDakka says:

        My no-kill run was ruined by that. No matter what I did I always had a kill on this level, and the Granny Rags encounter was the reason why. I couldn’t do the freeze time trick because I never took that one, and needed one more rune to unlock it. So it was literally impossible for me to finish the game with no kills thanks to this freaking encounter. It really soured me towards the level.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      The funny thing is since Slackjaw is the non-lethal for the Pendletons, a no-kills run HAS to do the Granny Rags thing.

      I got no kills/unseen by taking the key and Blinking like hell. I left Granny Rags and Slackjaw to their fates and didn’t interfere.

      • Jacob Albano says:

        It’s only Granny’s quest that causes the door to be locked. Slackjaw’s quest has nothing to do with it.

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Interesting. I only did the first part of Granny’s quest. I didn’t poison the stills b/c I was afraid that might count as a kill or several.

          So just talking to Granny and/or doing the first part must trigger it. But then that clashes with hat Chris was saying.

      • ChoppazAndDakka says:

        I blinked like hell away too. I grabbed the key, immediately hit slow time, and blinked as fast as I could to the exit, even ignoring the rune. I couldn’t get away before time went back to normal. At best, I would jump in the water right as she aggroed, meaning I got away but she still was alerted. As such, I ALWAYS had a kill because the game was bugged. I went through the level 3 times, even managing to ghost it once, and despite never killing anyone still always had one kill. I don’t have the patience to go through the game again without ever talking to Granny Rags just for the achievement now.

        • burningdragoon says:

          Yeah I tried just running to the exit, but I couldn’t do it right. What is nice enough is that if you go straight for the cameo she’ll teleport up to you right away, but then teleport away again without technically aggroing. I was lucky enough to not have it still count as a kill for me though.

  23. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well the knife of dunwall may be better than the original game,but it has one cripling problem:It starts with the outsider.

    EDIT:Mentioning the outsider puts this into moderation que.Weird.

  24. Phantos says:

    Mutually exclusive paths. You can go through Route A or Route B, but you can’t see both areas in the same play-through. You can either blow up the Collector base or preserve it.

    There’s a part like this in Final Fantasy X. You get a different cutscene depending on dialogue choices, and how often you throw healing potions at certain team mates in battle.

    If Dishonored were Final Fantasy X, then it would actually reward Josh for throwing bottles at people.

    • Hal says:

      Hm, I’m not familiar with that part, but FFX does hit my list of games with truly annoying optional content. The celestial weapons and the monster arena, to be fully experienced, require obscene amounts of grinding. I tried to see much of that stuff back when I was in college; now I curse myself for wasting so much time on that damned game.

      • Thomas says:

        I think the OP weapons are part of the JRPG tradition, I’m not fussed with them being nearly unreachable because they aren’t really actual game content. It’s for the people who can min-max insanely and from the sound of it, a lot of those challenges weren’t even hard enough for those people

        • modus0 says:

          Dodging 200 consecutive lightning bolts without saving or leaving the area isn’t challenging, it’s tedious. Unnecessarily tedious.

          • Syal says:

            Collecting balloons on a bird that doesn’t want to go in a straight line, dodging other birds, is probably the most irritating time I’ve put into an RPG.

            Including grinding 50000 gold out of dogs that drop 650 at a time.

  25. Cinebeast says:

    This episode was fascinating. Well, so was the last one, at least for me. See, when I played Dishonored, I obviously missed some details, because quite a bit of this endgame stuff is new to me, particularly the encounter with Granny Rags and Slackjaw, which I’ve never seen before.

    Let me give you some insight into my views on Granny Rags (and Daud, for that matter):

    In the first assassination mission, I came across Granny in her apartment muttering to herself. I had missed Samuel’s mention of her entirely, so I just assumed she was some random nutter. I choked her out and never saw her again — Imagine my confusion when I beat the game and saw she had been played by Susan Sarandon. “Why the hell get an A-list film actor for a bit part in one level of the game?”

    As for Daud, I didn’t catch any of the nuance that you guys pick up on — I went up and killed him, and never got the cinematic opportunity to listen to his confession and choose to spare him. I just figured him to be a generic “leader of the creepy gas-mask assassins.”

    Plus, I played the game low-chaos, so watching this LP has painted the entire game in a completely new color for me. Thanks, all.

  26. Weimer says:

    What if Granny Rags was the Outsider? Oh man, a creepy aunt/grandmother figure talking about “presents” and “little friends” while demanding Corvo to stab people would be pretty nice.

    That, or the Outsider could be sort of a dual personality thing. One half could be a deranged and violent psychopath while the other would be a bit aloof but a proper gentleman/woman, depending on your chaos meter.

    That, or the Outsider could be a drunk madman with muttonchops wearing a silly hat.

  27. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Okay, if we’re discussing skipping content I’m going to address a certain thing that I kinda disagreed on with Shamoose for quite a while. Every now and then the team will discuss how something makes no sense and then he will say “and it doesn’t matter if there is an audiolog/book/terminal/something that explains it, this should be provided in the main game.” I… have some problems with that statement.

    Now, on the one hand, I understand where it comes from and I agree that, depending on how close you’re used to analysing games, something that appears stupid or to have no justification can break immersion or even frustrate some people out of playing the game and I’m not saying that such a reaction is unjustified just because there is some superhard hackable terminal hidden in some remote location that explains why character X would betray the PC. On the other hand myself I kind of like this sort of thing, it rewards my “poke your nose into all sorts of places” playstyle, it often offers a lot of interesting details that would make no sense as just exposition spewing forth from a character’s mouth or waiting conveniently in the player’s path.

    Now, going back to the “trust” issue that Shamus discussed sometime back, I think the ideal situation is where the writers create this strong feeling of trust with the player by delivering strong, believable plot and characters and only then throw in this kind of “obscure but relevant” content. Basically when considering something like this the player can think “I wonder why that happened, must have missed something”, and then they can replay the game or search for an answer on the net, rather than “Bah, this was so stupid, the writers just pulled it out of their collective behind.” Sadly, we don’t live in this kind of ideal situation.

    On a somewhat side note, this is something that I often do when GMing pen and paper RPs, some characters, even some of the key ones, have motivations and background that will not become apparent in the game unless the players both decide to investigate that particular angle and do succeed in that (both of which aren’t a given) and possibly even some where discovering this stuff borders on impossibility, but the people who have played with me for a while will know that I know this stuff and if it never comes up in the game once the adventure or campaign is over they can simply ask me stuff like “what was that guy all about?” or “what would have happened if I just grabbed the McGuffin and turned it on?” and I will provide answers.

  28. MrGuy says:

    Regarding “skippable content,” I think the important thing is less “does the game have any?” and more “does the game have a clear and consistent approach to it?”

    I don’t mind having branching “either A or B, but not both paths” if that’s a pattern – having choices and “you can’t do everything” can work really well and aid replay value. But it sucks if there’s only one such choice in the game – then it feels forced and arbitrary. I’m not going to replay to find “the other option” that’s 5 minutes of content at hour 8 of the game. But give me 5-6 such options, sure. Now I want to make that investment.

    Similarly, hidden areas. If you want to reward me for exploration by having hidden content, great. But have a bunch of it in a bunch of places, so it’s clear that exploring is expected and rewarding. The recent Fallout games were really good at this (I loved Oasis, for example), and you didn’t have to wander terribly far to discover your first “hey, here’s an interesting spot.” Done poorly, you’d have a game where there was no interesting hidden content on levels 1-5, and then taunting a player with “ha ha, you totally missed the hidden content on level 6 because you gave up looking around!” Dude, I stopped looking because your game made it clear there wasn’t anything to find.

    In other words, like everyone else reading Spoiler Warning, I like things that are core to gameplay, and hate things that are tacked on and poorly integrated. Imagine!

    • ACman says:

      Dont play Witcher 2 then. Theres a choice there that effevtively locks a third of the
      Content of the game away.

      • Irridium says:

        While this is true, I’d say it communicates that you’ll be making the big choice pretty well. And it’s not just five minutes of side content, like MrGuy says he doesn’t like, but the entire second act of the game. Which makes playing through again a more palatable choice.

    • ACman says:

      Dont play Witcher 2 then. Theres a choice there that effevtively locks a third of the
      Content of the game away.

  29. Gilfareth says:

    Today I learned: Rutskarn is afraid of old people.

  30. RTBones says:

    Me, I dont mind either branching or optional content – as long as it MEANS something. Dont give me a branch just to say you gave me a branch, give my choice implications. At the same time, if I choose optionally to NOT do something, make that decision actually have some impact.

  31. Hieronymus says:

    Am I the only one that imagined the horror going through that guard’s mind as Josh burst through the door, murdered his buddy, and then ran past and up the stairs, all in four seconds?

  32. Bentusi16 says:

    In Quest for Glory IV, there’s a puzzle consisting of a series of nine squares that you can set to different colors. The solution is in a poem written nearby.

    Bad Boys Yell
    Good Girls Giggle
    Rich Girls Run

    It sort of reminds me of the month puzzle except it’s more interesting and slightly less hamfisted and it doesn’t rely on the fact that the player doesn’t know something the character would understand immediately.

    • modus0 says:

      To be honest, Dishonored does minimize the hassle for the “in-game reference” for codes by having a book nearby that essentially provides the answer.

      The secret hidden in the Overseer Abbey Kennel is the same thing, the clue is parts of their scriptures, with the book listing them right nearby (and the game essentially tells you to look in that book too).

  33. Ringwraith says:

    The pistol will actually reload if you don’t use it for a while, although it highly likely you have the reload upgrades by that point so all Corvo has to do is flip it.
    Switching it out and back in works too.

  34. guy says:

    I actually got stuck on the second Knife Of Dunwall mission could not find the legal district key which kind of sucks.

    The Granny Rags fight is a lot more fun if it takes you a little bit to figure out that you need to destroy the phylactery before you can kill her.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      If you’re still stuck, the key is in one of the apartments in the upper level of the area. From the top floor of the guard house, you can use the balcony to climb up to an abandoned apartment with the corpse of a hatter. The key is near him.

  35. WJS says:

    I know mana potions are fairly common, but are they really so plentiful that you can run through most of the game in timestop? That shit is expensive.

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