Last of Us EP4: A Garbage Block Puzzle

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Sep 24, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 99 comments

Link (YouTube)

When The Last of Us came out, actress Ellen Page accused the developer of ripping off her likeness. The similarity is pretty strong to me, but it was even more striking before the changes to the character’s face part way through development. Not only does that look like Ellen Page, but the voice is kind of similar as well: Both the actress and the character have that same middle-register, slightly rough voice that’s unusual for women. And of course the Ellen / Ellie thing didn’t really help Naughty Dog in their claims that the similarity was purely a coincidence.

The sad thing is that Ellen Page actually was starring in a videogame at the time this was going on. She appeared in Beyond: Two Souls, a game which didn’t do nearly as well. It was another adventure of the David Cage variety, and we all know how those games go. I’ve been saying that, “If your game is trying to be a movie, then Last of Us is how you need to do it.” Beyond (disclosure: I haven’t played it) is criticized for being the antithesis of this: It’s a game that’s low on gameplay and interactivity, and telling a story that’s muddled, meandering, cliche, nonsensical, and in no way good enough to stand up as a movie. Again, I haven’t played it, but having played through some of David Cage’s other work I’ll say that description sounds extremely plausible.

The whole situation is kind of screwed up. Imagine if someone had used CGI to rip off Bruce Willis in appearance and voice, and used their fake Willis to make the critically acclaimed Die Hard. And meanwhile the REAL Bruce Willis was starring in Hudson Hawk, which opened opposite of it.


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99 thoughts on “Last of Us EP4: A Garbage Block Puzzle

  1. Mr Compassionate says:

    Aww still no Mumbles D:
    Ah well I’ll deal with it.

    1. Eruanno says:

      If Mumbles isn’t around when they meet David & gang I’ll be sad.

  2. Grampy_bone says:

    I like how Hideo Kojima created blatant video game versions of Danny Glover, Mel Gibson, Kurt Russel, Richard Crenna, and Lee Van Cleef, to name a few.

    1. Cybron says:

      To be fair when he originally created them there was no real way to put actors in movies. And judging by MGS5 (and Kojima’s general Hollywood obsession/fanboyism), I’m sure if one of them wanted to be in MGS he’d be more than happy to go that route.

      1. James says:

        i love Metal Gear and Hideo Kojima, i hope MSGV comes to pc. ive missed is unique brand of crazy.

        1. DW says:

          You hope? It’s already confirmed! Ground Zeroes is on the way for PC too. :)

          1. Thomas says:

            Now you can pay for overpriced demos too! :p

            1. Rhom says:

              Hey now, we’re talking about Steam here, They could well give it a decent price! If not, wait for the sales and you could well get it for what it’s actually worth.

              GO PC!

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                Seeing how its a demo,you definitely cannot get it for what its worth,because that should be $0.

  3. Spammy says:

    After having seen a complete LP of Indigo Prophecy I am convinced that self-promotion is the only thing that David Cage is good at. Also, I learned that I hate David Cage.

    Also, Carla going from a brilliant police detective who is a crack shot and capable fighter to being afraid of the dark and doing basically nothing but taxi Lucas around and bone him after falling in love with his protagonist “charm” made me actually mad.

    1. James says:

      people that think some games go a bit mad in the second half or last third have never played Farenhight (Indigo Prophecy) that game goes absolutely bananas, with Necrophilia, and magic its completely insane, and i love it.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        To be fair though,it has an excuse for the second half.Not a good one,but its still an excuse.It was supposed to be a trilogy,but then was rushed out as a unology for some reason.

        Though Im not sure if necrophilia is excused by that.Its weird that in a video game that has both a cinematic sex scene and a sex minigame,its the minigame that is by far the better and more tasteful one.

        1. James says:

          speaking of David Cage Heavy Rain was actually good, granted its more the same game-play wise though the holding 6 buttons down to cut off the PC’s finger was actually perhaps the best use of thoughs mechanics i’ve experienced, and the plot is sane. though OMG uncanny valley good god.

          Beyond is more Farenheight then it is Heavy Rain, though Ellen Page and Wilem Defoe carried the game from something id never play or watch to something id watch if the LPer was interesting.

    2. Thomas says:

      David Cage fills an important role in the gap between the death of the adventure game and the continuing life of the adventure game. Unfortuately he’s David Cage

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        He has some interesting ideas, is able to oversee some very technologically impressive endeavors, but he insists on writing his material by himself despite overwhelming evidence that he should not. He’s like the George Lucas of video games.

        Also, naked showers scenes. If the female protagonist gets a completely gratuitous naked shower scene, there’s a good chance your playing a David Cage game.

        1. Thomas says:

          He really is the George Lucas of videogames =D (Well without the massive success). There could be greatness if he just let someone else write and edit for him, but he will never ever let that happen

  4. thebob288 says:

    I really like the contrast of watching this lets play thats set in this super gritty near hopeless world and then the credits start and the music is all jaunty and nonchalant I snicker every time it happens

    1. ET says:

      Well, obviously it’s the music playing in the protagonist’s head, ever since his daughter died. It’s his way of coping. :P

  5. Duhad says:

    Either 28 Days later or 28 weeks later had an immune kid as the center of the story. Then there was the Will Smith I Am Legend film that basically made the vampires zombies and had an immune protagonist. Lets see… The second Resident Evil movie… Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 obviously, especially in the comics where the military takes them from Blood Harvest to try and experiment on them for a cure before that fails hard…

    I am sure I am missing plenty, but ya, the protecting one immune person against the raiders and zombies is a troop that has been fairly well represented in the last 2 decades. To the point where I recall hearing about a story with the premise being that said immune guy was not on board and thinking that was a super novelty… was that on this show? My brain is full of holes.

    1. Thomas says:

      I want to flag Children of Men too, because I wouldn’t be surprised if Children of Men was a direct inspiration for the game. It has a similarly sad fatalistic tone and the journey’s the characters take are very similar.

      (Although that’s not zombies, the virus just stops pregnancy)

      EDIT: There’s always going to be tons of similarities because apocalypse stories run through the same kind of tropes but some fun coincidences:

      Children of Men
      – Protagonists child died at the outbreak of the disease
      – Set 20 years after the outbreak of the disease
      -The militant rebels who are searching for a cure are named after a creature starting with the letter F

      1. GiantRaven says:

        They’re both also not full-on apocalypse and have a strong form of ‘normal’ society still running.

        1. Lachlan the Mad says:

          And said “normal” society is highly fascist and militarised (although the Children of Men society isn’t super-cruel to all of its citizens, it’s just immigrants that are treated terribly).

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “To the point where I recall hearing about a story with the premise being that said immune guy was not on board and thinking that was a super novelty…”

      Are you referring to the cabin fever 3?

    3. ehlijen says:

      Also, Fallout 3’s The Pitt DLC had the miracle cure in baby form, as witnessed on spoiler warning. Though in that case it was literally just an inventory item…

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        What a shame it was a quest item. I can only imagine what could come of reverse-pickpocketing a baby into someone’s inventory.

        “Hmmm, I know that bonnet-clad fellow was sneaking around here somewhere… *gasp!* What’s this?! A baby, in my backpack? I’m a father now! I have to raise this child at once!”

    4. I believe the SyFy series, “Z Nation”, also centers around someone with an immunity to the zombie plague. I gathered that from the trailers, though I haven’t watched the first ep I have recorded.

      I turned it on, saw “SyFy” and figured, “Okay, they’ve done some decent shows in the past, maybe this will be one of them.” Then I saw the logo for “The Asylum,” the infamous knock-off movie studio who also brought us the Sharknado series as well as Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark, so I turned it off until I could read a review and decide if I should waste an hour of my life on it.

    5. Lachlan the Mad says:

      I’m fairly sure that several zombie video games have used “immunity” as a slapdash excuse to have the protagonists be capable of taking hits from zombies without needing to worry about their getting infected. I think that the Left 4 Dead games do this, as do some of the Dead Rising games.

  6. Exasperation says:

    Hudson Hawk was wonderful! I enjoyed Die Hard, but given the choice I would rewatch Hudson Hawk instead any day of the week.

    1. Lisa says:

      I second and third that. I loved that movie when it first came out, and was glad to find that I still loved it when I saw it a few years later.

      The Die Hards are … ok from my perspective. But for me they’re ‘watch once’ type things. I’m happy to watch Hudson Hawk again!

      1. You watch the first Die Hard usually because you heard it was good.

        You re-watch it because of Alan Rickman.

    2. evileeyore says:

      Ditto. Specially as now Denzel Washington has supplanted Bruce Willis as my “Everyman Action Hero”.

    3. Dragomok says:

      Seconded. Though the movie itself for me is about the same as the coffee is to the main character: I can never quite finish it. (Because it always run on television when I’m busy. I think I will need to rent it someday.)

  7. Thomas says:

    I love the combat AI in this game. I always wanted a game where you can duck behind cover and try to get them to lose sight of you and flank them as they approach your last known position. And if you watch what the AI are doing together carefully, they can do some really neat things, like frog leap towards your positioning covering each other as they move etc.

    I think the real trick to AI is not to make smart human AI. It’s to make _dumb_ human AI. Humans are really complex creatures and often the thought processes of someone you have no experience of can feel almost random. It’s too much for a player to take into account of along with all the combat maths. But dumb humans who are following the simplest thought processes (like, the guy was taking cover over here, lets look in this direction) make the game come to life whilst basically providing a simple little puzzle for the humans to solve.

    1. ET says:

      Yeah, this is the kind of AI I want more of in my game. Not see-through-walls, hive-mind guards, but ones who sometimes make mistakes, and put themselves in dumb (but logical) positions trying to find you. :)

    2. Ivan says:

      When Shamus said that line about dumping players in and watching them I was definitely thinking about how suddenly and randomly I would react to another player behind cover. If I were alone, like that guy was I would not try to play a game of peek-a-boo, I would either duck down and try to flank or find a place to hide and ambush the player. That’s only if I were to actually think about it though, usually I just bum rush them and hope they’re the one trying to be sneaky and are not expecting me to run straight at them. It works a surprising amount of the time but it isn’t great for the kill/death ratio :)

      I guess what I’m saying is that AI based on what a player would do isn’t necessarily realistic because a player gets to re-spawn. Also we’re playing for the “Glory” of that undefined kill death ratio and rather than just trying to win once, we’re trying to get as many kills as quickly as possible.

  8. djshire says:

    Was Josh drunk playing this? I thought he only did that for bad video games (and Honest Hearts)

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That part at 8 minute mark is so perfect.It shows exactly the worst horrors of an apocalypse.It shows the crappiest thing about the middle ages.It shows you exactly what will happen in the worst case scenario:When there are no computers or tv to help you kill time!

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    What did Rutskarn say at 11:25?

    1. Shamus says:

      “It would be really great if in this section of the game he just had dicks drawn on his face.”

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      Yeah, I had to listen to it about four times to catch it, relying on context, and even then he’s clipped off at the end.

      I kept thinking I heard “It would be really great if in this section of the game he just had to strong-arm the Le Faye.” Which isn’t a very good joke.

      1. GoofyFoot says:

        I thought he said “Dick Strong”, and I was like, “What is Dick Strong…is this a thing?”

        I’m somewhat relieved to find I just misheard it, but yet disappointed too.

        1. Joakim Karlen says:

          Roll Fizzlebeef!

        2. Daemian Lucifer says:

          This is Dick Strong.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That thing about sleeping,its not just a military thing.My father picked that up by working ridiculous shifts in a glass factory,and I know a bunch of doctors that picked up the skill by working crazy shifts in hospitals.

    So basically any job that has you working (somewhat) erratic hours can teach you that.

    1. Phil says:

      And I would think that, given how his daughter died, there’d be no way in hell he’d ever join the military.
      OTOH, I think this game tries to sell the idea that he is a survivor (more than just that he’s not a nice guy), so I could see a case for him having joined out of a sense of necessity at some point. Doubt it, though.

      1. SmileyFace says:

        Joel seems like someone who has few convictions, but holds very fast to the ones he have. I can see him just quietly HATING soldiers, particularly since they seem to have only gotten worse since he began hating them. He’s likely seen the tragedy he went through inflicted on a fair few people.

    2. ehlijen says:

      Also, by the time we get to this point in the game, he’s just been stressed trying to clear a checkpoint, survived a bombing attack, had to sneak through zombie infested tunnels, fight and sneak through gang territory and then push a dumpster around. I think it’s ok if one’s tired after that.

    3. Macfeast says:

      Elijah Wood was also notorious for this during the filming of the LOTR-trilogy, if I remember correctly. I think the behind-the-scenes at one point showed him sleeping in a wheelbarrow.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,whats the deal with the search lights?Why are they flailing around so much?Is reginald cuftbert operating them?

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,taking all bets now:How long before Josh stops punching the collectables?Only 1:1.01 odds if you bet on the “never” option.

  14. Benjamin Hilton says:

    If there is one thing that Naughty Dog is good at, it’s character dialogue.
    I loved the Uncharted games because no matter how silly the premise may be the interactions between the characters make me care about what happens to them, not because the game tells me to care in some exposition dump, but because I learn about the characters through their dialogue and they genuinely feel like real people.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    What Rutskarn talks about in the end:

    It looks wrong because no one can turn their had and has no peripheral vision.Put blinders and a neck bracer on someone,and youll see them moving in that fashion in real life.

    1. ehlijen says:

      And brace their arms to always point the gun the way they’re facing, eliminate recoil (yes, you lose accuracy if shooting while moving in modern shooters, but not feeling the recoil against your shoulder still makes a major difference in how people approach using a gun) and eliminate the ability to go prone. And, you might also want to replace the guns with Styrofoam cutouts to simulate how little effort games make you exert to turn them.

      Field of view is a necessity with monitors that most people can’t afford the hardware to avoid at the moment. But automatic gun pointing, no/limited exhaustion meter and no separate turn/head twist controls are choices made to keep the games moving quickly and stay fun, and I’m glad they’re (usually) made.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        “But automatic gun pointing, no/limited exhaustion meter and no separate turn/head twist controls are choices made to keep the games moving quickly and stay fun”

        Im one of those guy that likes fast paced shooters of yore.But Im also one of those that admits that change is not automatically bad(or good for that matter).Tanks,for example,in most first/third person games have separate controls for movement and turning,and they mostly work fine(Im yet to play a game I otherwise like where the tank sections are bad).Food/water/sleep bars made some sandbox games better,even though they were usually mods and not the vanilla game.

        But,admittedly,having too many controls on your keyboard/mouse or a controller can be difficult to learn and is usually not fun.

        1. ehlijen says:

          Separate tank turrets to track movements are just a different form of strafing, though. You’re still only tracking to axis, where the gun is pointing and where you’re moving to.

          Realistic movement requires a third: where you’re looking but not pointing your gun or moving. The only games I’m aware of that do this are the Steel Battalion games with their custom mega controllers, and those are quite a task to get used to.

          Maybe the Rift will change this?

          1. ACman says:

            Arma achieves this. You are able to point your gun, look and move in different directions.

            It is a soldier sim though. Also doing this without using something like TrackIR is unwieldy.

            (Some would say that controling anything in the Arma engine is unwieldly. I wouldn’t disagree.)

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      It looks wrong because you can not trip so you can run back at full speed safely. Also you are not running, sweating and breathing hard as you are WASD-ing, you are gliding so you can fire while you move.
      As to tactics a lot of reasons have allready been mentioned, but main problems are:
      1) it’s easy to move, you yourself are not getting tired.
      2) The Player himself is never in any danger.
      3) You know when you load a level that you are in danger, so you emidiatelly start searching for threats and jerking around to spot enemies, and stick to cover.
      4) You don’t need to be close to your friends to talk and interact, couple this with lack of pheripheral vision pleyers don’t stick together to cover each other.

      If you were to spawn a player with a group of people he knows how to fight together with, only allow them to talk if they are close enough so they need to stick together, make them not know when the danger will come (give them 30 mins of downtime (with some fun stuff to do in downtime) for every minute of action), make death more punishing so Player avoids it at all costs, give more inertia to theri actions and remove the possibility of running at 50mph over rubble. Oh and the pheripheral vision.
      Oh and put somebody in command, and now you will have people that might even work as an realistic team.

      1. Daniel says:

        What you're basically saying is that you need a milsim to get players to act realistically. The problem though is that the milsim genre is a really niche market and many people do not like to play them, and how serious people play these games varies greatly. If you want to get into or even try playing milsims with a serous crowd, it requires you go looking for a group (usually with an application process) and most people don't want to do that.

        Arma is the only series that comes to mind that has a large following of hardcore milsim groups; even then, the public multiplayer of Arma is filled with “less than realistic” games. Although I don't play Arma seriously, I do enjoy watching it get played seriously, and from my point of view, the appeal of it is the long sessions with tense gameplay. Dslyecxi, the founder of the ShackTac group, has a youtube channel mostly relating to his experiences of the game when played seriously. If you have a lot of time, his videos are usually 15 minutes to an hour long, you can watch some his videos to see how they react when given the ability to look, move, and shoot in different directions as well as only having one life and limited stamina. If you have 50 minutes to spare I would recommend this video as it has an amazing ending.

        1. 4th Dimension says:

          Ohhh, that is awesome. Thanks! And I was aware of ARMA/OFP before, but even they allow a bit too much running ableit for easier play.

  16. krellen says:

    Just at first impressions, but I get the feeling that Ellie wasn’t as much based on Ellen Page as she was based specifically on Ellen Page’s breakout role, Juno. I mean, just the outfit is pretty much exactly the same.

    1. SmileyFace says:

      It feels like early in the design process, someone pitched Ellie as ‘sort of like Ellen Page in one of those movies she did’, and they didn’t realize until later that they’d made it eerily similar.

      I don’t think anything wrong was really done in that case, since that’s deciding to model after an archetype that Ellen Page is very identifiable with and an easy placeholder for, rather than intentionally modelling it after her. In the end, it’s different enough and good enough that I don’t care.

      1. Thomas says:

        I think amongst comic book illustrators it’s fairly common to use celebrities as inspiration/baselines for character design and posing (and using celebrities less illustrious friends led to the infamous comicbook ‘O’ face). I wouldn’t be too surprised if they picked Juno as an example of how someone that sort of age moves

        1. krellen says:

          Which is funny, because Page was 20 when that movie came out.

    2. GiantRaven says:

      I could be wrong but I seem to remember Ellie used to look even more like Ellen Page but Naughty Dog changed it to the final model.

      1. krellen says:

        You are not wrong. Click-through on “part way through development” in Shamus’s comments for picture proof.

      2. Aldowyn says:

        Shamus mentioned that in the post, did he add that later or did you not see it?

    3. newdarkcloud says:

      I think a lot of it is due to the fact that “woman who looks like a woman I’d actually speak to in real life” is pretty much Ellen Page’s niche. She’s been kinda typecast into that kind of role, so when people think of that character-type, they almost instinctively go to her for inspiration.

      It’s also really unfortunate that she did Beyond: Two Souls instead of this, because that was a truly terrible product. She admittedly did really well in the role of Jodie Holmes, but her performance simply wasn’t enough to get over David Cage’s horrendous writing.

      For anyone curious about Beyond: Two Souls, Two Best Friends did an LP of it on their YouTube channel. I’d encourage you to watch it, rather than play it like I did.

  17. Ilseroth says:

    So I hadn’t read your rundown of Indigo Prophecy, I had the pleasure of playing that game myself, but for the record…

    Not sure if the ending statement was sarcastic or you somehow missed the psychoticness… but you mentioned something about the only thing it was missing was aliens.

    It had aliens, thats the entire premise of the origin of the radioactive artifact you get your powers from.

    So yeah. Funny game.

  18. Humanoid says:

    I guess this is sort of reinforcing Page’s point: I’m not familiar with her at all really besides that she’s a) a young actress; and, b) appeared in a high profile video game. Don’t know what she actually looks like, or what roles she’s appeared in. So actually up until I read this blog post just now, I had been of the belief that this was indeed her.

    1. Thomas says:

      My brother does know what Ellen Page looks like, and he assumed that this was actually Ellen Page too. In some ways I guess that’s actually kind of good for Page?

      At least people believe she doesn’t only appear in cruddy games

  19. The Rocketeer says:

    Speaking of voice actors doing their “standard” voice…

    I had my mind blown while playing Ace Combat 5. In a mission late in the game, three characters are being introduced to each other over the radio. They’re voiced by Steve Blum, Beau Billingslea, and Wendee Lee, otherwise known as Spike, Jet, and Faye from Cowboy Bebop.

    It never hit me until I had played through the game quite few times, but once you hear it, it can’t come across as anything but a Bebop Reunion Party.

    I tried to find a video of this, but either it isn’t in the mission I thought it was or it didn’t trigger in the playthrough I watched. :/

  20. Eric says:

    Why wouldn’t Joel take the guns and ammo of the two soldiers his group killed?
    Also, in this world where supplies are limited and every bullet is valuable, why are we crouch-walking around waist-deep water? That seems like a great way to ruin all of our weapons and supplies?

    1. Carlos Castillo says:

      Well a patrol did show up in the middle of their conversation about whether or not they should believe Ellie when she says she’s immune. They were probably to busy recovering / dealing with that to grab the soldier’s gear.

      Also present, Jennifer Hale, as the female soldier who calls in the dead bodies.

  21. McNutcase says:

    Two games in a row where there’s a heavy thing that needs to be over there. Are you sure it’s not still Marlowe Briggs?

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I was wondering that, but as we’ve reached the 1h20 mark without Rejoeld Cuftbert sending a small Air Force’s worth of helicopters to an untimely doom, I’m beginning to think it might not be.

      Possibly a sequel?

    2. lucky7 says:

      Marlow Briggs and the Brick that needs to be over there.

  22. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh,that dumpster.I dont mind that you can move it around,but the way you do it is just so wrong.It feels completely weightless,has no momentum at all.

    1. Thomas says:

      It’s the way you can turn it from standing point too. That’s hard for even really light things of that size, if you wanted to turn it you’d have to drag it round in a large circle

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Depends on what kind of wheels you have and how they’re set up. I move pallets with a pallet jack all the time and they’re surprisingly easy to turn – practically in place. Dunno if you could make a dumpster able to do the same thing.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          As much as I love The Last of Us, I was also surprised with how weightless the garbage bins felt in the game. It feels like they’re gliding on a friction-less plane instead of being hefted around by a nearly 50-year old man.

  23. Vect says:

    Having watched a full LP consisting of people who have played through other Quantic Dream games, I can say for certain that David Cage’s writing skills have not improved as of Beyond: Two Souls. It’s use of Non-chronological really doesn’t help things, characters are all largely unlikeable/uninteresting and since “Game Overs are a failure of the game design”, it’s essentially impossible for Jodie to really fail.

    1. GiantRaven says:

      If anything, I’d say his writing was getting worse. For all it’s terrible moments, Heavy Rain at least managed a consistent tone. I think the first half of Fahrenheit was a pretty good story as well but that went completely off the rails. Beyond Two Souls on the other hand, was complete dreck.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        David Cage is a man who is in desperate need of an editor, but too proud to admit it.

        I concede that these scripts he writes would be passable as initial drafts, but completely unacceptable as actual scripts. Even if, as I suspect, he just wants to write 20 hours movies, he fails in such a fundamental way that it seems like his only research is an hour on TV Tropes.

        There are at least three whole sections of Beyond: Two Souls that have absolutely nothing to do with any other section of the game, and should have been cut.

        Another problem is that motion-captures and fully voices every single scene in all of his games. As a result, even if he realizes that a scene makes no sense, it’s usually far too late to do any editing because the scene was already recorded and the actors were already paid.

  24. Steve C says:

    This is the first I’m learning it wasn’t Ellen Page in Last of US. I always assumed it was.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Nope, Ellie was voiced and mo-capped by Ashley Johnson.

  25. I’ve played the game up to meeting Tommy and the thing to note about the cutscenes is that they’re from a different story altogether. The hand-wavy setting and setup is all relevant to the player and the gameplay, but the actual cutscenes are all almost entirely character driven. None of the scenes except the one at the beginning of this ep really do much to acknowledge your situation other than the fact that you’re in it, but focuses on the character’s internal development.

    I suspect this is why it felt so dissonant to Chris when he talked about the game in one of his Errant Signals. Even Tomb Raider’s development of Lara through cutscenes at least had some relevance to the player since they were directly connected to objectives the player had to complete, but you could skip every one of Last of Us’ better acted, better produced and better told scenes and you wouldn’t miss anything relevant to what the player does.

  26. Steve Online says:

    Uh… Ellie wasn’t modeled on and voiced by Ellen Page? News to me.

    1. Zeta Kai says:

      Yeah, I had thought that she was involved & paid for her likeness. I barely follow most media nowadays, but even I know who she is (the girl in Inception who the kid from Third Rock had to explain everything to, or the third Kitty Pryde) & what she looks like well enough to think that Ellie WAS her.

      1. Naw man, it’s the kid from Growing Pains who explains everything to her. The kid from Third Rock only has like, one conversation with her.

  27. Aldowyn says:

    This is the first time I’ve watched a SW season where I haven’t played the game and I actually need to pay attention to the dialogue. Makes it a lot harder to follow :O

  28. Saying she looks like Ellen Page is odd, she does not look like that to me.

    In fact if you said she looked like a teenage Lara Croft then I’d see the resemblance to Lara Croft in the latest Tomb Raider game.
    In fact the development photo linked to looks even more so.

    I think the issue here is that Ellen Page have (had?) a typical Teenage Girl that is beginning to look mature but still has a bit of tomboyish look.

    It would be interesting to see the original model/stock photo they used as the basis, who knows it may even be possible that Ellen Page is in a stock photo collection somewhere.

    Also there is at least one comparison photo out there where Ellen Paige looks eerily like Justin Bieber.

    As to the voice, again tomboyish.

    Take a look at this

    If you look carefully the nose is different, the eyebrows are different, the mouth is different (Ellen has smaller lips).
    So what is it? pony tail and lots of forehead can be seen?

    The issue is that it is Ellen Paige that when in the right makeup/hairstyle/lighting looks like Ellie.

    I looked at some images from Beyond and Ellen page looks less like Ellie there and they uses the real Ellen’s face as a 3D scan for that if I recall correctly.

    Here is Lara Croft

    But I’d love to have spied in on during the design phase of Ellie.

    Did any journalists go deeper into this story or did it only ever go as far as clickbait usually go these days?

    The reason I ask is that Ellen Paige actually looks uglier than Ellie (both the new and old look of Ellie), and in Beyond Ellen’s character has that odd (slightly creepy) face that Ellen has/makes most of the time.

    To make an analogy, if the protagonist girl in The Walking Dead games was white the she’d probably look similar to Ellie in Last of Us.
    It’s the look that fits with a “young teenage girl survivor”.

    No here’s Ellen Paige with a “Ellen Paige” face×439.jpg

    Does no look like Ellie to me. It is only in certain angles/shots that they might look similar.

    I’m not saying the Last of Us designers didn’t rip of Ellen Paiges look, but I’m not saying they did either.

    BTW! Isn’t Ellie missing the trademark dimple grin and huge cheeks of Ellen Paige in bot the old and new Ellie looks?

    Also note that Ellen Paige herself is looking less like “Ellen Paige” as she gets older/thinner (those puffy/babyfat cheeks of hers).

    Where did this Ellie/Ellen thing start originally? Was it Ellen? A Tabloid? A Ellen fan? Somebody with a grudge against Last of Us devs? Or was it a serious journalist that put their thinking cap on and put 1 and one together?

    I can honestly not remember any longer how all this started and my DuckDuckFu (for those of you that use DuckDuckDucGo) or GoogleFu is not good enough to find the origin of this story.

    Is there an in-depth article on this out there? (an article with “Hey look at all these images of Ellie ad Ellen where they look the same does not count.)

    To me Ellie looks a tad generic, if I could make faces like that I might end up with something similar, personally I think Ellie’s face looks a little too mature though for the apparent age (is the age ever stated?).

    I think all this mess is unfortunate as it would be interesting to compare Ellen Paige’s character from Beyond to Ellie in Last of Us and to Clementine in The Walking Dead.
    And maybe a few other characters from other games (not that there are that many).

    Where a very young/teenage girl is a survivor of some event and is the protagonist or female protagonist of the game.
    Which girl seems realistic, which has a fitting voice/tone/look/vibe, which behaves naturally.

    Shamus you got two girls at home that you could bounce questions/opinions off of and maybe write a article on these (and other?) characters.

    Also, as to Ellie’s voice, here’s an interview with the actress that voice her

    Take a good look at the shot of her at the start (try to pause it when she is not smiling/looks “neutral”), imagine her hair darker and her face/age younger, kind got a Ellie thing going on there.

    My guess is that an artist got told to base the look on a younger Ashley Johnson (the lips, nose/eyebrows match), and fell into the “Ellen Paige” valley.

    1. “If you look carefully the nose is different, the eyebrows are different, the mouth is different (Ellen has smaller lips).”

      The differences can’t be that striking if you have to look carefully to notice them. Juuuuust saiyan…

      1. Abnaxis says:

        Eh, I don’t know about that. Facial recognition is a strange beast, it depends on how exactly your brain is processing the two images whether or not the actual differences are striking or not. This is where a lot of the “all (insert racial subgroup) look the same” sentiments stem from.

        On the other hand, in what little modelling I have done, the process for photo-realistic characters is usually to take a reference photograph and reproduce in in as much painstaking detail as possible, using digital tools to make exact measurements for stuff like lip size and eyebrows. Otherwise I spend many hours saying “Dammit, that still doesn’t look quite right” and adjusting proportions.

        If I had made Ellie’s model as a ripoff of Ellen Page’s likeness, you wouldn’t be able to measure a difference like that. Maybe someone with an art degree can eyeball it better than me, however.

  29. Vermander says:

    I would like it if both video games and animated movies/shows would get beyond the need to cast celebrity actors. We’re not actually going to see the actor’s face, so there’s nothing to be gained from hiring Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie to voice your animated character. Having a celebrity’s voice come out of a cartoon bug is pretty distracting. I’d rather they just hire really good voice actors instead. I really think it’s a completely separate art form unto itself.

    Frozen was Disney’s biggest hits in years and had almost no big names in the cast (possible exception or Kristen Bell).

    I’m partial to anyone from the DC Animated Universe myself (Kevin Conroy, Phil Lamarr, etc.) many of whom used to be recognizable actors and have now transitioned into full-time voice acting.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      One of the issues I have nowadays is that I can recognize a lot of the really good voice actors out there like Steve Blum, Laura Bailey, and Yuri Lowenthal.

      Speaking of, it seems like Yuri Lowenthal finds his way into a LOT of video game and anime roles.

  30. As to the subject of AI in games.

    The issue is twofold, the game (and thus the AI) has absolute knowledge, something the player does not.
    So you either have to gimp and AI (to ensure the player has a chance) or you have to emulate real thinking.

    Now let’s just take human enemy AI, Shamus said to put a human in the AI character and ignore the bunny hopping, fair enough, but there is one flaw wit that.

    Unless the player knows how to roleplay (, and I’m sure Rutskarn could write a whole article series on this alone… ;) ), is that a player would “play”, while an actual being would consider things as “poking my head out might get me shot in the head, a hit in the leg could be lethal if I bleed out) and so on.

    Now if the AI is modeled on the health system of the main player character then re-generative health and such could be used obviously.
    Hmm, does any games out there let NPC pick up health kits and use them if hurt? (enemy NPCs/AI that is).

    A player in AI skin would do stupid things like run out into the open, do suicide runs, glitch through walls and what not.

    The trick is having a human play within the constrains of the game, and then roleplay within those as well as if those where normal.

    Enemy1: Damn the player have me pinned down, I’d better move over there, oops chest high wall.
    BZZT, try again.
    Enemy1: Damn he’s got me pinned down, I’d better move over there by walking around that chest high wall.
    BZZT, almost, try again.
    Enemy1: Damn the enemy have me pinned down, I’d better move over there, once I get around this wall.
    Ding, correct.

    It’s very difficult to think like that when designing a game (more so when designing a game AI).
    Now a chest high wall might as well be a infinite high wall as far as an AI or the player is concerned so that’s not a huge issue.

    What is worse to deal with is how people play “If I stick my head out I might get shot, I can probably handle a bullet or two though”.
    In reality you never think like that, one bullet could be lethal even if it does not hit you right in the head.

    Instead of gathering player data under those constraint it might just be easier designwise to make an AI that can do no more/less than the player character can.
    It the player can’t traverse chest high walls then neither can the AI (if also a human for example).

    The AI should have the same health system as the player, and if meant to be the same physically the same health even (unless the player is superhuman vs normal human AI).

    If a player can not see the AI unless they “see” them then neither should the AI be able to see the player unless they see them.
    The only exception is if the player has some tool or ability (radar/scanner/a NPC spotter?), the AI may/may not have access to the same (depends on the enemy).

    Then comes the AI intelligence which really boils down to the following.
    If the AI spot the player, how slow are they at tracking the player, do they think that the player that was just spotted is in the same area as last seen?

    If seen, how long of an exposure is needed to be “spotted”, and when is it “It was nothing, just my imagination.”.

    Is there AI directionality? If so, how wide is the sight cone and how far does it reach, and is it graded (100% right in front of the face and 0% at the end of the far distance of the cone and 0% at the far left/right edges of the cone?).

    (Now there’s a prototype project for you Shamus, AI, make a green player “dot” and then red “enemy AI” dots and then make gray “walls” or obstacles and make it a 2D top/down view, and see how “natural” you can make the enemy AI behave.

    A well designed AI would need various variables to feel human.
    “guts” where -1.0 is a coward and +1.0 is heroic (how likely they are to take chances or follow you or risk their own life to get the player).
    “experience” where -1.0 is fresh rookie and +1.0 is seasoned veteran
    “observant” where -1.0 is practically blind and +1.0 is practically a laser tracker.
    “lazy” where -1.0 means they’ll give up as soon as the player is out of sight, +1.0 means they’ll hunt you to the end of time.
    “dilligent” -1.0 if they aren’t payed enough to search for you, +1.0 if they take the time to search an area the player was in.
    “memory” if -1.0 they barely remember seeing the player, if +1.0 they know the exact direction and speed the player went at.

    How well an AI is designed depends on values like these (the names and value ranges are just quick examples).

    Why ranges like this though? Because this allows variations, it would be odd if some where not more or less lazy than others, some may actually have not that good eyesight during the night.

    You have a min and max value for a characteristic of a AI (the min max range may vary for enemy types (human and non-human) for example, or sub types (civilian and military), and then personality (lazy or careless etc).
    Then pick a random number with that range.
    Also note the range of possible values may vary depending on time of day or weather condition (environment modifiers).

    The range may be affected by how rested the AI is or if the AI is scared, if someone (the player) killed 200 of your fellow soldiers and you knew this is the same character you’d probably be scared too (that’s an insane kill ratio, actual soldiers in combat do not do that many kills).

    For those hearing the phrase “dumbing down the AI” then this it what that means, putting restrictions on the AI. If not you’d have an AI that would know where you are at all times; after all the game control the world and have absolute knowledge of all that goes on.
    If an AI feels like it’s cheating it’s probably because it indirectly is (compared to how you are playing).

    A generic AI is very hard to make (there are AI libraries out there if I recall correctly),
    but one tailored to a specific game may not need to be that hard to make (depends on the game).
    But again the issue is roleplay as the AI designer need to roleplay as being one of the AI characters to properly tune or code them, and that’s not easy to do. (meta information tends to sneak in all the time)
    “Bah, the player would never do that/go over there” is a mistake as a designer, the thought should be “would this character (AI) check over there?”.

    Sure when they are called Mook 214 and Super Mook 2 and Elite Mook 56 there is not much character there, but a random number from a range of values could make them feel more varied.
    “Player: Haha! That mook is is coward, he’s hiding from me, hahaha.” stuff like that gets remembered as “good gameplay”.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “The issue is twofold, the game (and thus the AI) has absolute knowledge, something the player does not.”

      Actually,its not true that AI has absolute knowledge.AI is,like everything else,just one of the procedures of the main program,so if you bar it from using global variables,like absolute player position,it wont know them.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      You can see a lot of similar issues like this when playing the multiplayer in an Assassin’s Creed game.

      If you can get a party of players who are all into it, blending in and trying to find each other in crowds of NPC lookalikes, then it can get really fun.

      But there’s usually at least one person who will fuck it up for everybody by running around like an idiot and climbing up rooftops, only to get shot. That guys tends to really ruin the game for everyone else.

      Getting players to behave like AIs is tough, unless you really restrict what they can do.

      1. Yeah! If he AI is an ass to you then it’s probably a bug, or you are being played with by one of the best devs out there, if an AI is actually programmed to be an ass (i.e. troll you) then I’d say that is brilliant design, but it would only work with that one AI in a game.

        I’d love to play against such an AI but I’d also hate it (for the same reason). I doubt a game where all AIs behave like that would work so well.

        I can’t recall a single game where there is a AI programmed to actually troll/”play with” the player. (sure, cheating by heavily scripting a boss fight may appear to be similar but it’s really not, well. depends on the boss fight I guess).

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