My take on Fallout 4: I think the voiced protagonist is the One Bad Decision from which most of the major flaws in this game originate. When my character spontaneously says things without my input or consent, the writer is kind of making a contract with me: I’m designing a specific character for you, so I’ll handle the characterization. And then they fail to follow up on that. My character’s voice is there to intrude on my internal attempts at roleplaying, but there’s not enough of it to form an interesting character with a personality and a proper arc. So the protagonist either has a shift personality as the writer and I play tug-of-war over them, or they have no personality at all.
But then the protagonist is voiced, and individual lines of dialog are often given some emotion. But I’m the one choosing these lines, and I’m doing so using vague prompts. I have no way of knowing what my character will say when I click on “Agree”, and even if I get a mod to reveal the text, I still can’t tell how the line will be delivered. The game designer is pretending to allow me to roleplay, but they haven’t given me the ability to make informed decisions. So my dialog ends up being wildly inconsistent.
In other news:
After playing through the introduction, my daughter came downstairs and said, “Dad, did you ever notice how there’s a bunch of Mr. Handy Fuel? Like, in your house at the start of the game?”
“Yes”, I said guardedly.
“So that means Codsworth needs fuel, right?”
I nodded knowingly.
“SO HOW IS HE STILL WORKING TWO HUNDRED YEARS LATER?”
I sighed. “He’s not just working, but he’s been HOVERING for two hundred years. Also, he claims he’s spent the whole time taking care of your house. And yet the place is totally trashed and hasn’t felt the touch of a broom in decades.”
Esther went wide-eyed with frustration. “Just… what… are they DOING?”
I’m so proud of her.
Quakecon 2012 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Steam Summer Blues
This mess of dross, confusion, and terrible UI design is the storefront the big publishers couldn't beat? Amazing.
WAY back in 2005, I wrote about a D&D campaign I was running. The campaign is still there, in the bottom-most strata of the archives.
Why Batman Can't Kill
His problem isn't that he's dumb, the problem is that he bends the world he inhabits.
The Disappointment Engine
No Man's Sky is a game seemingly engineered to create a cycle of anticipation and disappointment.