Jurassic Park Episode 3: The Part Where We Skip Everything

By Shamus
on Dec 26, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

103 comments


Link (YouTube)

Thanks again to Pushing Up Roses for joining us on the show. Everyone had fun and we’re all open to doing this again in the future. We’ll see what happens. Be sure to give her channel a look. I mean, where else are you going to go for smart, informed, long-form analysis of twenty-year-old adventure games? IGN?

I think we’re done with Jurassic Park, though. Actually, Chris said some smart things in the comments and they deserve to be in a post, so I’ll let Chris have the last word on Jurassic Park:


Last episode I asked, “What would a Jurassic Park game look like now that [Telltale] has improved their craft?”

This is what Chris had to say about that:

Honestly I’m guessing they wouldn’t touch a character/plot light, action-focused series like JP these days. I’m willing to bet it taught them a lot about what not to do when making an action sequence going forward, though.

Tales from the Borderlands is probably the most action heavy of the new breed of Telltale games, and how does it differ from JP? Just thinking about it sort of makes me want to do an ES on the subject, but let’s look at this scene from Tales from the Borderlands and compare it to JP:

1. Inputs are simplified and some attempt is made to standardize them. Like, in JP when I grabbed the fence it was “Mash A to grab a fence.” When I was picking up the woman it was “Hold LB and RB to grab, then tap Y repeatedly to lift.” The latter is probably more analogous to the action being performed than the former (“Hold with left arm, hold with right arm, apply effort/lift”) but the inconsistency makes all inputs feel random. Sometimes movement is done with swings of the right stick, but sometimes movement is done by tapping face buttons. There’s no consistency to anything and it feels sort of like I’m tapping random buttons to unblock a cutscene rather than engaging in a set of generalized mechanics. In later games this is largely fixed. Not entirely fixed, mind you – Telltale is a pretty slapdash house in some ways, and a lack of a core design ethos seems to be among them – but it’s certainly less of a problem in Borderlands. Right trigger is generally the “fire weapon/attack” button both inside the loader bot and on foot. Player-input based movement is reserved for “dodges” and other quick movements rather than every single directional switch, and it’s almost always a big easy to hit swing of the analog stick. Excluding the menu selection mechanics for the loader bot, you can play most of this scene with just your right hand. It makes the whole thing flow a lot more easily; the player gets what the game is generally going to ask of them and the result is an exciting action scene they feel a part of rather than “Oh shit I was supposed to press X to slam the door in the raptor’s face, not A! What was I thinking?!”

2. Inputs need to mean something.* They don’t need to reflect player choice per se, but the points at which you ask for input should be meaningful. Like, why were we smashing “A” to grab on to the fence? Some of these are in the next episode, but what is the point of making “mash B to close a gate,” “check the glovebox for maintenance shed access codes,” “hack your way through the jungle one swipe at a time,” and “press LB to pick up a dropped syringe” mechanics the game felt we needed to engage with? They don’t forward the plot and they don’t build tension they’re just… sort of there. Busywork for the player to do. Compare the “hacking the way through the jungle” scene with the walk to the St. Johns farm from The Walking Dead. Hacking our way through the jungle made us learn what, exactly? That she’s terrible with a machete because I can’t time my button presses right in their weird minigame? Like I said in the comments in the last episode, it’s the worst of both worlds: terrible character development, terrible gameplay. But the walk to the farm is the opposite: Lots of time spent on exposition, character building, and a bit of foreshadowing. When player input does come up it’s your opportunity to role play as Lee and pick how you want to respond to these strange St. John brothers, which is way more meaningful than tapping X and A to cut trees. The story gets to have its say and you get your little mechanical flourishes all without padding the game out with nonsense mechanics.

3. Failures in action scenes need to be soft where possible with the *possibility* of actual failure. This is one Telltale still has a bit of trouble with, but it’s definitely something I think we’ve learned from their games. You don’t want a game you can turn on and play itself, but you also don’t want to have characters immediately die when they screw up. JP has a mix of both, for some reason: Some QTEs result in a death animation and an immediate “Do it again, stupid.” Others fail soft – like the cliff, where you can miss a few bits and still survive. The standardized inputs I already mentioned help this a bit – death and screwups are less likely when there’s an agreed upon mechanic set. This is kind of hard to balance because you do need the possibility of failure there to motivate players… but it needs to be hard to get to or the stakes need to be easily communicated. The Wolf Among Us has some good fights that let you fail a bunch and let Bigsby get some bruises along the way, which is a good example of this idea. It feels like you’re choreographing a fight more than actually fighting, but in its own way that’s fun too: you can choose how “exciting” and close to defeat Bigsby gets before you decide he “wins.” No one wants a 10 minute QTE to end in “And then the died. Oh wait, no, do it again.” And no one wants a 10 minute QTE where they can get up and make coffee and nothing matters. It’s more of an art than a science, but JP feels like throwing poop at a wall to see what sticks with regards to this.

I could keep going, but I dunno. Jurassic Park seems like an important stepping stone for the studio; a failure that needed to happen in order to get some of these much better games out of it. I know we’re ragging on it pretty hard, but a lot of that stems from both loving the source material (at least in my case) and knowing this studio would eventually be able to do so, so much better. And they’ve been picking good IPs for it (if we ignore Minecraft for the moment). Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Tales from the Borderlands all have action scenes that are plenty enjoyable, sure. But they also emphasize characters and all of those action bits are backed by tension because we care about what happens in them. That’s the magic here – Telltale games are about characters, not systems and mechanics. The mechanics should help us to shape their adventure, but the mechanics are not the adventure themselves. And the slow obsession with constant interaction, button presses, trigger holds, and the ever-present fear of losing has slowly given way to the modern “help your friends through an adventure!” approach. And JP gets some credit for making that possible.

* Note: Not every mechanic needs to “mean something” or be integral in gameplay. I love when there are little touches and do-nothing mechanics that exist to build the world or character. But there’s a difference between optional interactions or intentionally systems-driven bits of a game and building a whole game out of “Hit the button at the right time to chop down a tree.”

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Footnotes:



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From the Archives:

  1. Richard says:

    “This video is private”?

    I got here early, didn’t I?
    Sorry about that, I’ll pop down the shops and see you in a bit.

  2. Dan says:

    In terms of games which do the “soft failure” well, Heavy Rain is in my opinion one of the best at this. The game benefits substantially from the story being able to continue without some of the main characters; it means you can have genuine peril for your characters, and failure at the events doesn’t mean the end of the game, the game continues and just turns out differently. Their quick-time events were also fairly forgiving from memory, but they felt tense since you were never sure whether a failure would be forgiveable or not.

    This may be the direction that Telltale is going for with the Game of Thrones series; numerous player characters means the option is there to kill some of them off for player mistakes whilst not forcing a “Game Over”. I don’t know if it’s possible in a single-protagonist game.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      This war of mine.You get a bunch of dudes and dudettes,and them tally how many will commit suicide while you loot the sick and elderly.

    • Thomas says:

      And even the characters have various levels of failure/success in their own narrative. Most ‘Quick Time Events’ can end in all sorts of different states which effect the story.

      You can beat up a psychopath and kill him, or beat him up arrest him and get info from him, or got beaten up and end up in a death trap which you may or may not escape from, or be skillful enough that it never comes down to a fight in the first place.

      And whilst the last one is definitely the ‘win’ state, each one of those others outcomes feels like an interesting contribution to the story. The story where the detective gets beaten up and escapes an elaborate death trap is as fun as the one where he wins the fight (or more fun) despite being a ‘failure’ by the player

  3. Benjamin Hilton says:

    ” AHH! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This isnt just the problem of video games and movies,but of real life as well:
    Why do so many people assume that herbivores are not dangerous?Even the small ones,rabbits and squirrels for example,can leave nasty slashes all over your hands and face(or even poke your eye out),and thats not even talking about all the diseases they carry.A big one,like a cow,can smash your bones simply by punting you with their head,or trample you to death.Yet so many people assume that just because they eat plants they must be docile.

    Heck,even Rutskarn here,who has berated the characters of this game for acting stupid,suggests that it may be a good idea to relieve a wild ton of hungry flesh from its food.A ton of angry flash that has horns the size of your thighs.

    • ET says:

      My bet is that a lot of people only see herbivores which are inherently docile. i.e. Cattle and other domesticated farm animals. If you anger them, they’ll trample you, but if you’re nice to them, they’re nice to you. Now as for wild animals, they tend to be more territorial, and willing to pick fights with you. :D

    • McNutcase says:

      As I recall, pound for pound, the meanest animal in Africa is the Cape Buffalo. Entirely herbivorous, and will wreck your day for lulz.

      • Lachlan the Mad says:

        My recollection is that the vertebrate that kills the most people in Africa is the hippopotamus (I say “vertebrate” rather than “animal” because the malarial mosquito is really nasty but it’s hard to track the responsibility). That said, a hippo is probably a fair bit heavier than a cape buffalo, so the buffalo probably wins on a pound-for-pound basis.

    • Jakale says:

      In Rutskarn’s case, I’m pretty sure that was more a “this is the solution the game is angling towards, you dumb JP employee man” comment over a safe method for dealing with a large, potentially temperamental creature.

      I would put a fair bit of that assumption on media.
      Carnivores: sharp teeth and claws, eat meat, so have to kill. Obvious dangers, easy villain material, so the main job is to showcase how dangerous they are. They also get used as villains against both humans and animals and get used a lot. By and large, when carnivores are protagonists they downplay, ignore, or find a friendly workaround for the killing thing.

      Herbivores: Only kill plants for food, which usually don’t get characterized, nearly always the good or at least neutral guys, so they don’t go attacking first and are often weaker until the climax where they find their inner strength. Inner strength may be intelligence based, not showcasing their actual real life dangerousness. You also rarely have them attacking humans, compared to carnivores. When they show up to do damage it’s usually fairly quick and foreshadowed so you know the character did something wrong and otherwise the animal would be fine to be around. Getting into bull pens is pretty common. You don’t get a lot of media where the heroes are constantly harassed by moose, beavers, or boars on a mission of murder cause it’s harder to build motivation for something that doesn’t want to eat the heroes to survive.

    • guy says:

      While they’re not exactly docile, they are less likely to attack unprovoked, and this is a young one and probably not that territorial. As a park animal she’s also quite possibly comfortable around humans. The guy does mention that the Alpha is a good bit meaner. Lastly, as a solo, younger herd animal it’s fairly likely she’d respond to danger by running away. And then coming back with friends, of course.

      However, trying to drag away the branch did strike me as a good way to get killed. It might tolerate their presence but not theft of food, and has them substantially outmassed.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh yeah,motherfucking T-Rex!

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Now that I think about it,who was the imbecile in the original that thought regular tranquilizer guns would work on dinosaurs?Even their young weigh at least a ton,and probably have the skin as thick as rhinos.Those guns should be huge,and the darts need to carry waaaaaaaaaay more drugs in them.

    • KingJosh says:

      “Waaaaaaaaaaay more drugs” is worth considering as a solution to most bad videogame mechanics and plot holes, actually.

    • Tizzy says:

      Actually, it appears that any animal wrangler worth their salt does not use tranq darts on reptiles. Because they are ectothermic critters, the effect of drugs is extremely unpredictable. No-one in their right mind would try that on dinosaurs: how could you possibly figure out the correct dosage? (And I don’t count trial and error: you wouldn’t do that on an animal worth millions of dollars).

      • Chris says:

        < nerdhat >

        Technically in JP canon the dinos are warm blooded!

        Your point stands, though: Dosage remains a big ??? for the scientists in the park and it’s part of why Muldoon wanted guns.

        To be obnoxious and quote from the novel again:

        …”We’ll try a thousand cc’s to start.” Muldoon cracked open the chamber, which was large enough to insert his fist. He slipped the canister into the chamber and closed it.

        “That should do it,” Muldoon said. “Standard elephant gets about two hundred cc’s, but they’re only two or three tons each. Tyrannosaurus rex is eight tons, and a lot meaner. That matters to the dose.”

        “Why?”

        “Animal dose is partly body weight and partly temperament. You shoot the same dose of 709 into an elephant, a hippo, and a rhino-you’ll immobilize the elephant, so it just stands there like a statue. You’ll slow down the hippo, so it gets kind of sleepy but it keeps moving. And the rhino will just get fighting mad. But, on the other hand, you chase a rhino for more than five minutes in a car and he’ll drop dead from adrenaline shock. Strange combination of tough and delicate.”

        (Note that this is after the dinos have escaped and started eating people, so he’s not doing wild experiments but trying to reign in the rex without causing too much property damage to InGen.)

        < /nerdhat >

        • Benjamin Hilton says:

          I’m a JP fan too, but to a certain extent even the books were a little silly. I mean in the original novel Muldoon as a LAW Rocket launcher…..I don’t care how hand wavey, boy scouty prepared for anythingy you play that, there is no way he should have been able to get his hands on one of those.

          It may sound like nit-picking, but it really did bother me. Once it was mentioned I honestly spent the rest of the book just thinking “O.K. but seriously how did he get to own that?”

          • silver Harloe says:

            Why couldn’t he get his hands on a LAW? Using the island as a base of operations, he’s outside of anyone’s police enforcement, with access to the black markets of the whole world… rebel militias in various countries around the world can get anti-air and anti-tank weapons. Seems like he could, too.

            I’m pretty sure the novel’s sins against computers are much worse than its sins against black-market procurement on an unregulated island off of Central America (with all its various ongoing civil wars and drug cartels).

            • Benjamin Hilton says:

              I guess I was just working under the assumption that he was a good guy, and thus Law-abiding…..no pun intended

              • silver Harloe says:

                Well, if I recall correctly, the only law on the island was Hammond’s wishes. And Hammond didn’t want weapons, so we know Muldoon was willing to disobey the “law” of the island. He should’ve gotten more and better weapons, to be sure, but I’m guessing he had trouble enough sneaking the one LAW in against Hammond’s whims.

            • Tizzy says:

              Actually, the novel’s sins are many… M.C. had a rare talent in making it sound like he knew what he was writing about, but the impression dissipates almost immediately when you scratch the surface.

              As for the movie… sigh… No, sorry Jeff Goldblum, but Chaos Theory is NOT “shit happens”. Actually, it’s barely a theory: more of a “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.”

              Also, it makes for some really cool t-shirts…

              • Chris says:

                Crichton may have given the illusion that he knew much about chaos theory, but holy crap does the movie irritate me when it dips its toe into those themes.

                Like, Malcolm’s point in the books was basically: Chaotic systems are unpredictable, and you have chaotic systems built on chaotic systems. You have millions of lines of computer code running just about every system on the island to save scratch, you have replicated dinosaurs using genetic manipulation with consequences you can’t possibly foresee, and have reintroduced animals from 65 million years ago into a modern ecosystem with no concept of what their abilities are. Something will go wrong because any control you think you have is built on predictions and assumptions that aren’t guaranteed to be true.

                In the movie the whole concept is boiled down to “Life, uh… finds a way.” And I guess Laura Dern telling Hammond he never had control in an unrelated way that makes no sense.

                • Grudgeal says:

                  Which isn’t helped by how the scene where Malcolm illustrates his point using the park’s counting technology isn’t included in the film. That scene was *the* real whopper in the book, and in the film it’s basically just, “well would you look at that, life *does* find a way”.

            • hborrgg says:

              My only issue is that it sounds like it would have been safer for the park owners to just give him a minigun, maybe a .50 cal machine gun. Dinosaurs aren’t that bulletproof, are they?

              • Chris says:

                I’d love the PR cleanup on that one.

                “A T-Rex got loose and ate two people, but it’s okay because we opened fire with military grade miniguns and brought the animal down!”

                *cuts to video of a T-Rex munching on a corpse before a minigun tears it open and showers nearby cowering people in blood and gore*

                “Come to Jurassic Park! It’s totally safe family fun!”

              • Alex says:

                Yeah, a high caliber rifle would be my first choice. Anti-materiel rifles used to go up to 20mm during WW2, but a 50 cal with explosive, incendiary and armour piercing rounds is sure to mess up any dinosaur’s day.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “Technically in JP canon the dinos are warm blooded!”

          Ive heard talk that this may actually be the case.While I can see that for smaller ones(and especially feathered ones),its hard for me to imagine warm blood working for something as big as a whale,but on ground.Especially if they stand upright.

          • Grudgeal says:

            I would say the opposite. Cold blood-metabolism plus that body mass would mean dinosaurs would need the better part of a century to grow to full size, and would be extremely limited in activity. That’s terribly, terribly inefficient.

            General consensus on dinosaurs nowadays is that they were most likely warm-blooded, and although there’s of course no definitive proof either way, all the fossil data and paleo-ecology models seem to support the warm-blooded view

          • ehlijen says:

            The counter argument is that being that big requires a warm blooded metabolism to get the muscle power needed to simply move.

            It is hard to imagine something that large finding enough food to support a warm blooded metabolism, but it’s also pretty hard to imagine something that big not collapsing under its own weight using anything less than warm blood powered muscles.

            I don’t know the answer, but I’m inclined to believe in warm blooded big dinos. Make for more awesome movie monsters as well.

            • One other thing that’s overlooked is the atmosphere was far more oxygen-rich when the dinos roamed the Earth, allowing for the kind of biomass they had to support.

              I’m not sure what would happen if you plopped an actual dinosaur into our environment. Shortness of breath (as well as arms, in T-Rex’s case), stunted growth, death?

              • Alex says:

                “One other thing that’s overlooked is the atmosphere was far more oxygen-rich when the dinos roamed the Earth, allowing for the kind of biomass they had to support.”

                No, it wasn’t. There was a spike of about 50% relative to today’s oxygen levels, but that was fifty million years before the first dinosaurs. By the time the T-rex showed up you were only looking at a few percentage points.

            • drlemaster says:

              I read somewhere there was a theory that the larger dinos may have been gigantotherms. Which, as near as I can tells, means they were effectively warm blooded, but with much less overhead. They were just so big they maintained a constant body temperature because it would take them so long to cool down.

    • Tom says:

      Adaptation decay. If I recall correctly, in the original books, there’s a passage that remarks the tranquillizer gun they use on the dinosaurs has a barrel you could fit your fist into.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,the woman that lost so much blood that she went into a circulatory shock* and fainted,simply woke up a day later,because she received a single injection.No fluids were given to her,not even by making her drink,and yet she just spontaneously woke up?What was in that syringe,alien stem cells?Or this guy actually is gregory house and he managed to do some medical miracle during the night.

    *I assume thats what the game meant,because that is what “in shock” is supposed to refer to.But with this game,who knows.It might have been anaphylactic** shock,or worse,an emotional shock.
    **Ok,technically this could be the case,maybe she is allergic to dinosaurs.But when someone is shown to receive a huge cut,then lose some blood,and then go into shock,the first assumption definitely should not be that they are allergic.

    • Chris says:

      You’re lucky we didn’t play ’till the end of the episode and watch as Harding injects her with a few drops of tranquilizer to stop her convulsions and she immediately wakes up and snaps out of it, then pulls a gun on them.

      This game is… this game makes no sense. I sort of love it for how bad it is, though, in a Marlow Briggs kind of way.

      We haven’t even gotten to the mercenaries that shoot things for no reason or the roller coaster puzzle that requires the cars be in the RIGHT ORDER or the T-Rex sequence that makes one wonder how the Tyrannosaur would ever find food on its own. So much fun dumb stuff I love it.

      • hborrgg says:

        The game definitely has been a welcome break from the touchy feely cannibal rapist murder towns of The Last of Us.

        Although it is impressive that they took the time to animate the daughter’s horrified reaction to her dad being impaled by a triceratops and then smashed and eaten by a T-Rex.

        • Richard says:

          Oddly he wasn’t impaled.

          They appear to have gone with “ran into and folded over the horn”. Dunno why ‘cos it’s not exactly less gruesome and he’s then immediately eaten.

          Impalement would probably have been easier to animate!

          • hborrgg says:

            Rewatching it in full screen yeah, it’s kind of unclear. He just sort of vanishes, maybe he was hit so hard he made a team rocket exit into the background.

            Also the scene seems to cut moments before the daughter raises her fists into the air and shouts “DIIINNNOOOSSSAAAUUURRRSSS!”

            • Lachlan the Mad says:

              It goes really quickly, but what I think happens is something like this;

              1. The Triceratops picks up Harding on its horn.

              2. The T-Rex bites the Triceratops’s horn.

              3. The T-Rex swallows Harding and whatsherface whole.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Whatsherface fell to the ground,but the dude has been swallowed whole.You can see his arm dangling from t-rexs mouth.The rest you got right,he wasnt impaled.

      • Ithilanor says:

        There’s a ROLLER COASTER puzzle? Whaaaaat?! There’s two parts to my reaction – first that there’s a roller coaster in the game in the first place, second that there’s somehow a puzzle involving it.

    • guy says:

      Admittedly I’m running on half-remembered First Aid training here, but I seem to recall that people can go into shock from various forms of massive trauma and may recover on their own. Obviously if it’s triggered by blood loss and the victim is still bleeding it is highly unlikely to end well for them. Now, you’re supposed to have anyone who passes out go to the hospital, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unsurvivable untreated.

      Checking wikipedia, it looks like you actually aren’t supposed to treat shock from blood loss with that much in the way of fluids because it can interfere with clotting. There are medications used to treat it, which is presumably what was in the injection. Also, her infected and possibly poisoned wound did get cleaned out.

      I can buy that a conflux of factors sent her into shock and between the injection and getting the wound disinfected, she was able to partially recover by sleeping. She was hardly all right when she woke up, though. Something’s wrong with her eyes and she’s clearly delirious.

  8. Tizzy says:

    I know I discovered Pushing Up Roses through this blog. I can’t remember if the link was from Shamus or from the comments. I was rally delighted to see that she was on the show, and I hope that we’ll get more such collaborations in the future.

  9. Of COURSE the Triceratops has primitive-looking graphics. Do you know how crappy graphics cards were 65 million years ago?

  10. Tizzy says:

    WHAT IS THE POINT of that whole hacking sequence???? I can’t think of anything more boring and dispiriting to put in there!

    I guess it’s an easy way to add minutes of gameplay without too much effort for the animators. But really, what the hell!? I think I would have walked away when the folder with the 4 jeeps popped up. Way to waste the player’s time!

    • Chris says:

      As a JP fan I really do adore the 3D VRML Unix thing showing up, and being able to navigate it (even in a really shallow, dumb way) warmed the cackles of my heart.

      But the hacking game itself, and really the whole puzzle associated with it, was all sorts of awful. They should have just let you explore the system unrestrained and maybe dig up some universe/story building images/logs/audio snippets/video files/whatever, then turn on the cars whenever you wanted to move on. Instead… X A B B X Y A B YAY YOU HACKED. Eh.

      • Tizzy says:

        I see. I’d always thought this bit was the most embarrassing part of the movie, especially since I’d started using Unix a month before the movie came out. But I can see how it could be a nice shout out for some fans.

        I like your story building suggestion, but I wonder how you can pull it off nicely in such a game. My problem is that, for me, this kind of story/world building only works if I can do it in my own time, rather than in the middle of a story sequence.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,if the rest dont want to continue,I vote for a Chris plays jurassic park to be a thing till the end of it.I mean this game is just…..weird.

  12. hborrgg says:

    That jeep was apparently able to plow through that half-ton metal gate they left lying in the middle of the track.

    Dang these Jurassic Jeeps are awesome!

  13. Kian says:

    Was the slider bar at the bottom of the security footage a shout-out to the movie? It really bothers me when what is supposed to be a live feed has a slider at the bottom that advances, as if it was pre-recorded footage. I can understand why it happens in movies and tv, since what is meant to look like live footage is actually pre-recorded. But a game has to go to the trouble of recreating the interface, so it’s actually more work to do the wrong thing!

    • Richard says:

      I don’t understand why it happens in TVs and movies, because I happen to know that it’s both easy and cheap to avoid.

      The fully live-action (so not added in post) method is a media server and those start from £FREE these days, and the quad-HD multi-screen ones can be hired for £600/day. Lower resolution/fewer layers is much cheaper.
      Even small amateur productions do this right these days.

      A production obviously needs the graphic artist to draw the ‘thematic’ elements, and somebody to program it, but you’d need them anyway.

  14. djshire says:

    You guys should have PUR and Mumbles on at the same time, that would be hilarious

  15. Thomas says:

    All the small decisions are really hard to understand in this game.

    Like just take that keypad sequence, and imagine that not only does someone have to sit down and think about it, but you then have to have people spend probably hours and hours coding that sequence and animating it. Someone had to consciously sit down and say “Okay we’re doing this and you’re going to devote X time of your life to making it happen?”

    And why did they do it? It frustrates the player and makes the main character look incompetent. At it’s best you it gives the player the satisfaction of completing the “open the glovebox directly in front of you” puzzle.

    It’s just weird. On a subconscious level the designers must have been making the assumption that they just need to fill the game with busywork for it to feel like a proper game.

    • Tizzy says:

      Busy work is the way I felt when I saw you had to guess which one of FOUR jeeps was the one that the game wanted you to pick.

      • Thomas says:

        Or the part where you are running away from dinosaurs and have to pick the correct one of four dialogue options to progress.

        It actively works against the intentions they should have been designing for. Having a little pointless chat in the middle of a chase scene

  16. Thomas says:

    I do love that’s it’s a bunch mid-level employees left on the island thinking they’re important after everyone higher up has abandoned the park, never to return, or is dead

  17. Grudgeal says:

    This game is just… This feels like it takes place on a piece of Planet Bizarro crafted meticulously to RESEMBLE the real world while still operating firmly on Planet Bizarro physics and logic. This whole thing is built entirely on Adventure Game Logic. Except it purposes to take place in something close to the real world (only with dinosaurs). The characters make no sense. Their actions make no sense. The puzzles, which are crafted mainly from character actions and reactions, make no sense.

    I have no ability to suspend disbelief in this game’s proceedings. The whole thing practically invites you to point out how utterly ludicrous it all is. In other words it’s perfect for Spoiler Warning.

    • Thomas says:

      On the other hand, it _is_ a really nice example of just how adventure games changed.

      There’s a really nice obvious divide between modern and old adventure games, where old adventure games are full of a lot of random busywork that was seemingly included haphazardly and new adventure games have a focus on conveying story over everything else.

      Old adventure games were good when they had a setting that clicked, or they embraced the random busywork with a solid sense of humour. New adventure games work if they get you involved in the plot and characters.

      Even though JP looks modern(ish) you can pretty much instantly tell from the bizzaro world design that’s it’s spiritually a King’s Quest game. You can see the same game design progression in The Longest Journey -> Dreamfall -> Dreamfall Chapters

      And Quantic Dream were following the same pattern with Indigo Prophecy* -> Heavy Rain but then they went off the rails and ended up at Beyond Two Souls.

      *Although Indigo Prophecy was start of the transformation rather than a full on Jurassic Park example

      • Thomas says:

        It’s kind of incredible how quickly Telltale changed. Dreamfall and Indigo Prophecy were trying to get to this point of the genre half a decade sooner and Telltale hadn’t learnt _any_ of their lessons by this point. Heavy Rain actually came out before JP and it’s so much more advanced in terms of using adventure mechanics to tell a story rather than waste time.

        And then suddenly they went from this to being miles ahead of the competition, in the space of 2 years.

        • I’d be curious to know how much executive meddling played a factor. I mean, yeah, Telltale hadn’t hit its stride yet, but is there any Jurassic Park game that was good?

          • Thomas says:

            It’s not just Telltale not hitting their stride though. If you look at any pre-Walking Dead Telltale adventure game, they all work on the “what you’re doing is random BS we made up” model. There’s not really even a hint of them even trying to make something Dreamfall-esque.

            Also this game was 2011. I can’t believe there was really that much meddling 10 years after the latest film sequel and before they’d even thought Jurassic World was a possibility. Even the author passed away before this game went into production

            • It’s a Spielberg property, though. I’m sure there were requirements from the home office regarding content and story approval.

              It could also be an equal share of the blame. The studio hasn’t been able to produce a good JP movie since the first one, after all.

  18. Spammy says:

    Just for the record Chris, even if everyone hates the game, you’re now my favorite for quoting the book and being only the second person I’ve known (the first is myself) who got that The Lost World was Michael Chricton doing a Take That against his own book and all the things he wrote.

    • Tizzy says:

      I rad both books, but that was a while ago (15 years or so). I can remember a couple of things changing between the two books, but I’d love to know more about how the Lost World is a “take that” against the original…

      • Spammy says:

        Chris elaborated on this in the comments of a previous episode, but essentially Chricton does a takedown of some of the things he said in the first book.

        T-Rex can only see motion: Probably the meanest, drops a mean insult at the scientst (not sure if in-universe or not) who proposed that. The T-Rex had adapted binocular vision and at least in the JP world is an active apex predator. Prey animals tend to immediately freeze if they’re surprised, if all they had to do was hold still then the Rex wouldn’t have an easy time hunting them. He says any incident of the Rex ignoring someone still was some other coincidental reason.

        Raptors have pack behavior: Pack behavior is something that is learned, not instinctual, and there was no previous generation of raptors to teach the JP raptors how to have a pack. In the book, Sarah Harding actually studies hyena packs in Africa, so we the audience can be extra sure that when she says that the raptors are too vicious and disorganized to really be a pack, she means it. Jurassic Park ends with a chapter in a raptor nest where they’re organized and shown to be nurturing parents. The Lost World form the get-go makes it clear the raptors have no structure and no cares about younger members.

        The whole tour of the labs: The Jurassic Park labs were basically getting dinosaur DNA and shoving them in (artificial in the books) eggs and hoping for the best. At no point in the book or movie of the book do you see anything wrong in the lab, any failures, any birth defects. In the book, Site B was a massive genetics lab where much of the testing and grunt work was done to make the process smooth and pretty enough to run on Isla Nublar.

        Vertically necked sauropods: This one may be Crichton’s science being off or a part of the book/movie adaptation, but in the novel they spend a long time bringing the kids to the eda that Apatosaurs have a long neck not so much to enable their feeding but to balance their whiplike tails.

        The 3D computer interface: All it takes is a few wrong button presses and the fancypants 3D interface becomes completely useless.

        Book!Lex being whiny and useless: Book!Sarah and Book!Kelly wind up actually being the most capable and useful members of the party in The Lost World. Sarah’s the only one with any big game experience and Kelly is the one who saves everyone in the end.

        Ian Malcolm: In both books Ian pretty much exists to get hopped up on morphine and philosophize. But The Lost World book ends on a pretty funny note where the last words of the book is a member of the party telling one of the kids to ignore all the Chaos Theory and scientific concepts, and focus on the real things, the sun and the wind and the sea, and to figure out the map and compass so they can get home.

  19. Ithilanor says:

    I like how the game seems to forget for a while that we’ve got an injured woman in the back of the car – first while we’re doing stupid adventure game “puzzle” stuff to open the shed to open the gate to move the dinosaur and there’s no sense of urgency, then while the car’s getting trashed and she’s presumably bouncing all around the back seat.

    I will say that the T. Rex vs Triceratops fight was surprisingly well-animated; there were some odd parts, but Telltale really got some good mileage out of their game engine.

    @11:00 when the girl is dodging the T. rex – clearly she’s using the jump jets in her Power Suit. If Samus Aran can do it, clearly normal humans can as well, right?

  20. Cinebeast says:

    I want to tip my hat to whoever (Josh? Chris?) chose the music playing in the intro and outro on this series. I got that reference.

  21. MadTinkerer says:

    “Be sure to give her channel a look.”?

    What peasant is not already familiar with her work at Retroware TV or (formerly) TheGuyWithTheGlasses? Who could possibly overlook the classic crossover she did with Kyle Oancitizen titled: Let’s Play Shorties!: F#@% Quest?

    I think you underestimate how classy your audience’s tastes are.

  22. General Karthos says:

    Chris does what one of you usually does, which is sum up pretty much exactly what I would have said, but with a fair amount more clarity. I really liked Season One of TWD, but I have yet to play 400 days or Season Two, mostly because I don’t want it to be over too quickly. I LOVED The end of Season One (I don’t know how to spoiler tag correctly, so I’l lstay away from that) but I moped around for DAYS afterwards. So I also worry that Season Two will be similar.

    I also fear that Season Two will be BAD, which would be more tragic for all the stuff that Season One did right. (As a fan of both the comics and the TV Show, there’s a lot they could have done wrong that they DIDN’T do wrong. I would have liked to have met a few more of the Greenes, but… hey, if it was a choice between more Greenes and more character development, I’ll pick more character development every time.

    My XBox signature is “Plot over everything”. I’d rather have a text adventure with character development than a game indistinguishable from reality with no character development.

    • Thomas says:

      I’ve heard goods things about Season 2 (except on the depressing front).

      If you haven’t checked out The Wolf Among Us yet, you really should. It’s the same brilliant story-telling with a little less bonus depression

  23. The Other Matt K says:

    This series actually inspired me to go back and re-watch Jurassic Park, and having done so, I’m actually rather impressed by how faithfully the game tries to interweave the narrative with the movie. The hunt for the Shaving Cream near Nedry’s jeep is a great example – it really does match the exact environment and scenario from the movie. The dino does end up locked in the car with Nedry. The canister does end up rolling down the hill and getting buried in the mud.

    So the scene does a great job of connection the narrative of the game to the events of the movie… and yet, the scene was pretty painful to watch in this playthrough, and I imagine equally frustrating in actual play.

    I almost feel like that was one of the big mistakes the game made – focusing on that connection to the movie as the priority, over developing its own narrative. At least from the episodes seen here, I feel like it would have been much stronger to have scenes in which you get invested in the characters the game introduces, rather than indulging in the connection to the characters from the movie.

    The connection to the movie isn’t a bad thing. But I think it should have been the focus later in the story, after you’ve had time to develop the game’s own cast. Then it would have been a nice reference for fans of the movie, instead of a scene that you need to suffer through while lacking any real investment in what is going on.

  24. guy says:

    That T-Rex vs. Triceratops fight is cool and all but strikes me as a bit weird. I don’t think predators usually lose one-on-one fights with herbivores smaller than they are, and I am confused about why the Triceratops felt like getting into one. I feel like the whole herd should have ganged up on the T-rex.

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