Spider-Man Part 14: Standish Ruins Everything

By Shamus Posted Thursday May 9, 2019

Filed under: Retrospectives 55 comments

Spider-Man and MJ are supposedly a team now. Spidey is swinging around, punching out bad guys while MJ sneaks into villainous lairs to swipe exposition from the bad guys. In the last entry I mentioned that Spider-Man saved Oscorp scientist Charles Standish from the Demon gang. MJ figures she needs to talk to Charles Standish to learn how to find Devil’s Breath. The problem is that he’s now in protective custody with Sable International. If MJ is going to talk to Standish, then she needs to sneak into their fortified military compound packed with heavily armed goons who have itchy trigger fingers.

Here is what the writer intended to accomplish with this scene:

MJ needs to do something risky. Spider-Man can’t allow her to do that due to his overprotective nature, so he swoops in, misreads the situation, and ruins her interview. They don’t get the information they need and the whole thing causes division between our two leads.

That’s good drama. They just agreed to be partners, and now they discover that they had different ideas on what that meant and what each of them expected from the other.

However, this is not what the scene shows us. For reasons I don’t understand, this scene was mangled in its presentation. Here is what we actually get:

Standish Ruins Everything

Does Standish do this with everyone he meets now? The pizza guy shows up and he's like, OH NO, YOU'RE WITH THE DEMONS!
Does Standish do this with everyone he meets now? The pizza guy shows up and he's like, OH NO, YOU'RE WITH THE DEMONS!

MJ sneaks through a massive complex of Sable guards. Once she’s reached the tent where Standish is being held, she greets him.

Standish knows what Demon guys look like because they tried to kill him earlier this same evening. But for whatever reason, he assumes this young unarmed woman who openly greeted him is a Demon assassinYou could excuse this by assuming he knows that Martin can mind-control anyone, although that doesn’t fit with him lowering his guard because she’s got a press pass.. He then grabs a gun and points it at her. She shows him her press credentials and he realizes she’s a famous journalist. However, he doesn’t stop pointing his gun at her. Instead he lowers it so he’s pointing at her belly rather than center-torso. Outside, Spider-Man sees the outline of someone pointing a gun at MJ. He swings in and enters through the top of the tentWhat? Is there a skylight in this tent? Whatever.. Standish is terrified of Spider-Man for some reason, even though Spider-Man saved his life a couple of hours ago and they even had a nervous laugh together. Standish then backs away in sheer panic, trips over his own feet, falls down, and knocks himself out.

The noise of Standish’s antics alerts the guards outside. They rush in. Spider-Man grabs MJ and jumps out of the tent with her before the two of them get shot. MJ protests because she’s still trying to ask Standish questions even though he’s out cold.

There’s a time-cut here where Spider-Man swings home with MJ, and the story hints that she spends the trip berating him for this terrible screwup. That’s hilarious if you try to picture it, like a couple bickering while riding a roller coaster.

Once home she storms off, then calls Spider-Man on the phone so she can bitch at him some more. She’s angry that he made a small joke after Standish knocked himself out and she’s apparently offended by the idea of using humor to break the tension. “IS EVERYTHING A JOKE TO YOU?” she demands of the stammering and apologetic Peter.

Incompetent Cutscene

Standish has figured out that MJ isn't an assassin, but he's still aiming the gun center-pelvis while the two of them chat. He's even got his finger on the trigger. Honestly, this dingbat DESERVED to be punched out.
Standish has figured out that MJ isn't an assassin, but he's still aiming the gun center-pelvis while the two of them chat. He's even got his finger on the trigger. Honestly, this dingbat DESERVED to be punched out.

This situation is supposed to be the moment where Peter screws everything up because that’s kind of his thing. But as presented, he did absolutely nothing wrong. He acted reasonably based on the information available to him at the time. Standish was an incompetent dingbat and he’s guilty of multiple counts of willful stupidity. MJ misplaced her blame onto Spider-Man, was nasty to him, and unreasonably expected to be able to continue to interview an unconscious man while dozens of bloodthirsty armed paramilitary thugs converged on her position. Her outrage in the face of Peter’s profuse apologizing makes her seem like a vindictive bully.

This is a disaster of a scene. Elsewhere in the story we have sequences where Peter blames himself for things that aren’t really his fault. That’s fine, inasmuch as guilt and self-blame are his brand, but here the writer had an opportunity to have our hero make an actual mistake that was both serious and yet understandable based on his particular hangups. I’d even say that Peter needs to make this mistake in order for later scenes to work. Instead the scene depicts him as blameless. As a result, MJ comes off as foolish, emotional, unobservant, and verbally cruel. None of those attributes fit her character.

This is important because MJ is one of our heroes, and this scene makes her less heroic. She’s a reporter and she’s supposed to be good at gathering information and reading a situation. When her interpretation of the scene is so at odds with what we’ve been shown, it makes her seem like she’s failing in the area where she should be strongest.

As for her complaints about Spider-Man making jokes? Shit lady, did you date this guy or not? According to the story he’s saved your life countless times in the past, so you ought to have a pretty good understanding at how this guy works. If you’re ideologically opposed to quips in tense situation then you’ve got no business dating Peter Parker and you definitely have no business partnering up with Spider-Man.

How Did This Happen?

How dare you protect me from people pointing guns at me! What kind of superhero are you?
How dare you protect me from people pointing guns at me! What kind of superhero are you?

The thing is, this scene is pretty much an anomaly. It’s not like this writer has been struggling with characterization or mangling their scenes. They’ve been hitting their story beats and doing proper character-building so farEh. Not so much with Martin Li and Silver Sable, but those two will get their own sections later in the series and I wouldn’t blame either of these flawed characters on writer incompetence., which means this broken scene sort of comes out of nowhere.

I wonder if the script originally called for Spider-Man to directly knock Standish out? There’s nothing in the recorded dialog that conflicts with this. He even says “Oops! Sorry Charlie”, when Standish falls over, which doesn’t really make sense. Why is Spider-Man apologizing to someone who tripped over their own feet? Spider-Man disarms Standish and lands right in front of him, and I could easily imagine this was originally followed up by a punch.

Perhaps playtesters didn’t like the original version of the scene? I can empathize with a player that’s getting sick and tired of the writer grabbing the controls and turning Spider-Man into a dumbass. The problem of “win in gameplay, lose in cutscene” is pervasive in this game.

If this is the case and they re-designed the cutscene so that Standish fell over instead of getting knocked out by Spider-Man, then they didn’t really fix the scene. They just moved the problem around. (And made it much worse.)   Having Standish knock himself out with a pratfall allows Spider-Man to emerge from the cutscene blameless, but it does so at the cost of passing the idiot ball off to Standish and turning MJ into a shrill and unreasonable antagonist.

I think a better solution is for the designer to stop using cutscenes as a blunt tool for creating gameplay setbacks. Stop teaching players that cutscenes are always screwups. Save the screwups for moments like this one where it really matters to the story. The player will probably be more accepting of cutscene incompetence if these events are rare and they tie into moments of character growth rather than using them to un-do your progress during boss fights and chase scenes.

Or maybe I’m totally wrong about why this scene is such a mess. In any case, it really is best if you can ignore the nonsense presentation of the scene and just imagine that the mishap was somehow all Spider-Man’s fault. This moment is an anomaly in the story and the relationship between Peter and MJ will get a lot betterBetter as in “more interesting”, not necessarily “more amicable”. from here.

A Polished Experience

To take the edge off of all that complaining, I should point out that this is a ridiculously polished game.

First is the obvious stuff: There’s an enormous variety in the detail spread around the city. The cars, pedestrians, buildings, and infrastructure are different enough that you don’t find yourself looking at something and saying, “Oh, there’s another copy of that thing.” Yes, Rockstar pulls this off all the time in their Grand Theft Auto series, but it’s still really hard to do.

The animations are fantastic. I realize you come here for text and not video, but if you’ve got 7 minutes you’re willing to spend on a video, then I highly recommend this one:


Link (YouTube)

Professional animator DanFormerly the pitch-shifted squeaky voice of Extra Credits fame. looks at just one small move in Spider-Man’s move set and shows how much goes into making such a fun traversal system.

In the past, open-world city games have used flat windows on the surfaces of their buildings. If the blinds are open, then the window has to be drawn as if there was a black void inside. If it’s nighttime, then the whole window becomes a featureless glowing yellow rectangle. Even if some lunatic had the budget to model the interiors of all these buildings, there’s no way your graphics card could handle rendering it all.

Spider-Man has a very interesting solution to this problem. A special shader is used for windows, and that shader creates the illusion of having a room on the other side of the glass. According to this article at Gamasutra, the technology was first envisioned way back in 2007, but hasn’t been put into general use until now.

I realize it seems like a small detail in this still screenshot, but it's amazing how much more alive the city seems when we can see into these windows.
I realize it seems like a small detail in this still screenshot, but it's amazing how much more alive the city seems when we can see into these windows.

Hopefully you’re familiar with the concept of a skybox in videogames. This is a texture that “wraps around” the camera and contains details like the sky and distant hills. In rendering terms, imagine you put a box over the player’s head (or more accurately, over the camera) with a picture of the sky on it. This box is always the same distance from the camera, which makes it seem infinitely far away. A texture designed to cover all directions like this is called a cube map, and it gets used in a lot of different rendering tricks. The fake windows in Spider-Man are a bit like this, except the cube map is a picture of a building interior and it originates at the center of the virtual room instead of at the camera.

Obviously generating an entire room from a single flat polygon involves some cheating, and that cheating creates limitations and drawbacks. The trick with these virtual rooms is that they all have to be perfect cubes of a fixed size. The fake rooms can’t relate to each other to connect in any meaningful way. This can get a little weird when all the rooms are 3^3 meters in size, but the windows are less than three meters apart. Two adjacent rooms will appear to be larger than the surrounding space allows, meaning they should overlap. Also, the various rooms don’t agree on where the connecting doors and windows are located.

Still, these rooms aren’t supposed to depict a coherent building interior. The point is to give buildings the illusion of depth and detail to make them seem more lifelike. Complaining that these rooms don’t match spatially is like complaining that you can’t fly off and visit the mountains in the skybox. The windows look a little odd if you land on a building and look inside, but they look fantastic when you’re swinging by at high speed.

I can't show off alternate vocal takes in a screenshot, so here's more pictures of the game's magic windows.
I can't show off alternate vocal takes in a screenshot, so here's more pictures of the game's magic windows.

The last detail is the fact that the game has distinct vocal takes for when Spider-Man is exerting himself. If Aunt May calls Peter while he’s sitting still on a rooftop, then he’ll give a more or less normal response. If you decide to web-swing around while the conversation plays, then Spidey’s voice will reflect this and you’ll be able to hear the exertion in his voice. I don’t know if everyone in Peter Parker’s life is used to the fact that he always seems to be moving furniture when they call, but it’s a lovely extra touch.

This feels really extravagant. Gamers are pretty used to their avatar talking in a conversational tone in the middle of player-directed chaos, so it’s not like anyone would have faulted the game for not including this. Still, I appreciate the team’s fanatical dedication to their craft.

 

Footnotes:

[1] You could excuse this by assuming he knows that Martin can mind-control anyone, although that doesn’t fit with him lowering his guard because she’s got a press pass.

[2] What? Is there a skylight in this tent? Whatever.

[3] Eh. Not so much with Martin Li and Silver Sable, but those two will get their own sections later in the series and I wouldn’t blame either of these flawed characters on writer incompetence.

[4] Better as in “more interesting”, not necessarily “more amicable”.

[5] Formerly the pitch-shifted squeaky voice of Extra Credits fame.



From The Archives:
 

55 thoughts on “Spider-Man Part 14: Standish Ruins Everything

  1. CrimsonCutz says:

    When it comes to Peter Parker always being mysteriously out of breath when people phone him…well, I don’t imagine he gets many phone calls from many people really. Only people that really call him are MJ, Aunt May and Octavius. MJ obviously knows her phone calls may come while he’s trying to save a pizza truck, Aunt May has it figured out too and just pretends not to know, and Octavius seems like someone who would be too caught up in his research to notice that kind of detail (until he figured out Parker was Spider-Man all along, at which point it would click and he’d start keeping detailed notes on the matter in case it became relevant to his eeeeeevviiilll plans).

    When it comes to MJ sneaking into places and having guns pointed at her…oh man. I despised that scene for all the same reasons you do, and some you didn’t even mention. Namely, what on Earth makes MJ think she has the ability to sneak into the main camp of this big international mercenary company? She has no powers, training or experience that would make her think she could do it, and no reason to assume Sable International was so grossly incompetent as to not be able to guard their camps against random civilians. She pretty much just used her journalistic talents to get a copy of the script, found out that she’d make it through okay but forgot to look up the answers to her questions while she was at it. And then was apparently too dumb to understand that stopping someone from pointing a gun at her is an entirely reasonable thing for Spider-Man to do and has nothing to do with being over-protective of her specifically and everything to do with the fact that as a superhero, it’s literally what he does! It’s a terrible forced drama moment that only works because a bunch of characters become idiots for the sake of setting it up.

    Hell, their next argument about what’s reasonable for her to be trying to do makes a lot more sense and makes her way more sympathetic. She goes on a basic information gathering trip that you’d expect her to be suited for, gets caught up in something crazy, and then correctly points out when Spider-Man shows up that since she’s already there, she might as well help out and it would be dumb for him to prioritize rescuing her above others. That scene basically covers the same ground without making either of them seem like stupid idiots.

    1. Hal says:

      Definitely agreed. MJ comes off seeming extremely unreasonable in this scene. This “I don’t need you being overly protective of me” attitude comes off as supremely naive at best, especially given the context of their argument here.

      1. Kylroy says:

        Just in general, the MJ-playable sections seem like a bad idea. Journalists are not known for their incredible stealth skills, so making that her gameplay schtick seems off. And it means she’s putting herself in *immense* danger, danger that Spiderman is far, far more capable of handling.

        I get that they wanted to both have MJ demonstrate some agency and provide a different kind of gameplay, but this was a character-derailing way to do it. Off the top of my head I’m inclined to say she should be doing *journalist* things – interviewing people, researching information, staking out (not infiltrating) locations – because that is something she is far better at than Peter/Spiderman. I just don’t know how you make that a fun minigame.

        1. Thomas says:

          Some kind of crime scene investigation game? Matching bits of documents to find clues? You could imagine something fun there.

          1. Hector says:

            Or scouting a location as a perfectly normal reporter that Peter Parker could access. After all, if she schedules an interview with somebody, she can let Spider-Man know what the Obvious Bad Guy is doing ahead of time, what kind of dim-witted nooks are about, that kind if thing.

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      Namely, what on Earth makes MJ think she has the ability to sneak into the main camp of this big international mercenary company? She has no powers, training or experience that would make her think she could do it, and no reason to assume Sable International was so grossly incompetent as to not be able to guard their camps against random civilians.

      I mean, in real-life investigative journalists write exposés on international mercenary companies and do journalism in combat zones. If anything, “dating Spider-Man for several years” probably prepared MJ for the job far better than journalism school. On top of which, it’s a superhero story. That’s what investigative journalists do in superhero stories: get into dangerous situations pursuing the story and needing to be rescued by the hero. It’s Lois Lane’s whole MO for most of the Golden Age and Post-Crisis!

  2. Christopher says:

    Insomniac are really solid developers, and when they get that Sony backing, what they pull off matches Nintendo for polish. I have my issues with this game, but they’re all design decisions, not any sort of technical issue or obvious fault. They don’t exactly make deep games, but they do make fun ones.

    I think the conspiracy theory about it being a changed scene makes sense. In one of the many GDC talks, the director uses the dinner scene as an example of a scene they changed to make Spidey not look like a dick. Instead of fleeing the dinner off-camera at first mention of the Demons, he’s discovered as he’s stepping onto the window sill and there’s some charming banter. I can imagine something similar having been the case here.

    Having MJ out in the field, I still don’t think is the greatest idea. It’s not like they have a stress free relationship even when she’s not. It’s just less that he’s protecting her from people pointing guns at her that are not actually trying to shoot her, and more that he stands her up at every turn because saving people’s lives is more important.

    Having said that, the next big MJ segment is actually good, and by far the best in the game.

  3. PPX14 says:

    I realize it seems like a small detail in this still screenshot, but it’s amazing how much more alive the city seems when we can see into these windows.

    I actually find that image a little jarring in that many of interiors of these rooms look exactly the same!

    1. Kylroy says:

      I would chalk that up to the difference between a still shot (accompanied by text drawing your attention to the windows) versus gameplay where the windows are flying by and your focus is on your destination.

  4. Joshua says:

    I’m guessing the redirection of the gun was an animation error? Is this an in game cutscene or pre-rendered one? If the former, I guess I could see that they failed to notice the “stand down” or whatever character animation still left him as a threat. If pre-rendered, I guess there’s no excuse.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      This can’t possibly be an animation error, since it features into the story. Spider-Man thinks MJ is being threatened precisely because he sees the shadow of the guy pointing the gun at her.

      Plus, as far as I know, this game doesn’t have pre-rendered cutscenes.

  5. Pax says:

    The windows are fantastic, but obviously have some basic flaws. My favorite is when you can see a door on the wall that should be the outer corner of a building. Door to nowhere!

    1. BlueHorus says:

      That’s a selling point for that type of apartment – an exit for the unwanted guests that you never want to come back!

      I’d have one, if it were legal.

      1. Arkady English says:

        Lysa Arren, is that you?

      2. Kyle Haight says:

        I bet Spiderman could find a use for such a door…

        1. Mattias42 says:

          Spider-Man x Narnia crossover confirmed for the sequel!

          …I mean, I’m kidding, but he did team slash fight with G1 Transformers that one time, and that’s just the weirdest crossover I personally know off. So who knows? Maybe it could work.

          1. John says:

            I remember that. I also remember being confused because Spider-Man wore a mostly-black costume rather than the one I’d seen him wear in cartoons. I wasn’t much of a Spider-Man fan as a kid and didn’t learn about the whole alien-symbiote deal until much, much later.

            Alas, the collection of Transformers comics that I inherited from an older kid who lived down the street does not include those issues. He kept them because they were the most valuable ones. I take comfort in the fact that I do have issue number 5 with the super-cool painted Shockwave cover.

    2. Mortuorum says:

      My personal favorite is you look at two adjacent windows that should be looking into the same room and it’s two different rooms. Weird, but understandable.

      1. Hector says:

        The ‘N’ in NYC stands for Non-Euclidean. That’s why the city can gave all the separate super heroes running around mostly doing their thing, doncherknow.

        1. Chuk says:

          Non-Yuclidean City

          1. Hector says:

            Oh that’s Genius. I tip my hat to you, sir.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              I like that it sounds like ‘Non-Euclidean City’…said in a New York accent.

          2. Jason says:

            I had it as Non-Yu-Clidiean

  6. Hal says:

    First is the obvious stuff: There’s an enormous variety in the detail spread around the city. The cars, pedestrians, buildings, and infrastructure are different enough that you don’t find yourself looking at something and saying, “Oh, there’s another copy of that thing.”

    Gotta disagree with this, at least to a degree. The way in which the scenery is generated, such as pedestrians and building windows, isn’t as good as you’d want. In your screenshots up there, you can see several windows that look identical. I have a number of screenshots I took (I’ll see if I can upload them after work) where I’m looking at a grid of the several identical copies of a room all adjacent to each other.

    I get that these are going to collapse if you examine them closely, that they’re supposed to be seen at a distance and at high speed. Still, if you’re going to include randomly generated scenery in the game, then maybe do a better job of randomly generating it, hm?

    Same thing with the pedestrians. It doesn’t take long to realize how few models they have. Yes, your first time walking through a crowd of people, it’s pretty impressive. But once you’ve high-fived the same person a half-dozen times, you kinda see through the effect. And they’re all young 20-somethings. No elderly. No children. Nobody in between but young people thronging the streets.

    Worse is the way the city is populated. I get that NYC is big, but the game makes it crowded. Always. No matter what time of day it is, no matter which corner of the world you go to, there’s always dozens of people just milling around. For example, I have a screenshot of a small plaza; it’s kind of an alcove where there’s a few storefronts. I had just finished one of the “middle of the night” missions, and I swing by this plaza. It is packed. Dozens of people lingering in this area, for no discernible reason.

    Again, I get it. The system is made to make the city look busy and full, and sometimes you get these corner cases where the logic breaks down. It’s just one of those things where when it’s bad, it’s really noticeable.

    1. Eric Fletcher says:

      NYC actually does have dozens of people hanging out at 1am on Broadway and adjacent areas, near subway stops, and anywhere else with light and open businesses.
      It really is the city that never sleeps.

    2. Matthew Downie says:

      In GTA, they presumably don’t allow children because their pedestrians exist to be roadkill, and “child-murdering simulator” is not a good look. Does anything bad happen to bystanders in gameplay here, or did they just omit children to save money?

      1. Guest says:

        You can’t hurt them as Spidey, don’t recall if anyone else can injure them.

        Can’t say I mind, it’s not a difference I care about, I go out of my way to avoid kids, and I understand most people are as squeamish about having kids hurt in games, as I am keen on injuring immortal bastard “kids” who populate places like Little Lamplight, or twits in Skyrim who think insulting the Dragonborn is a good idea.

        Fuus-Roh-“Daddyyyyyyyyy!”

    3. Nessus says:

      I figure there’s probably an easy way to tie the window cubemaps to the distant LOD system, so the closer you get, the “smarter” or more procedural the cubemap selection is. Seems like the sort of thing that’d be easy to do, but would come during the polishing stage of the feature’s development, and thus might get triaged during crunch.

      Wouldn’t be surprised if the next game from these devs to use the cubemap window feature/trick does this, and the devs basically say “we wanted to do it this way in Spider-Man, but we didn’t have time”.

    4. Hal says:

      Okay, found my screenshots.

      http://imgur.com/a/5NKFMIV

      You know, Sony, you could have made it easier, or more intuitive, to move screenshots off the console. Some people might want to send it directly to their phones, for example. God forbid we should do something with it besides post it to social media, right?

  7. BlueHorus says:

    I also love the idea of Spidey and MJ arguing as he’s web-swinging her home. Random passers-by would hear disjointed, dopplered snatches of the argument as they passed over head, possibly with occasional interruptions of ‘Look out! Building!’
    and ‘Stop struggling, dammit! This is hard enough as it is!’

    Or maybe even ‘wheeeeeeeeee!’

    That kind of comedy would have fit the Sam Raimi films perfectly.

    1. Cubic says:

      “You should have taken the left at the Osborne Building!”

  8. Jeff says:

    The problem with the scene appears to be gross ignorance of firearm safety, which is why MJ doesn’t react properly to the situation. The writers don’t recognize that she is actually in even MORE danger than when someone is consciously holding her at gunpoint, because now they’re not paying attention to the lethal weapon in their hand.

    1. Nessus says:

      You could easily assume it on the characters instead of the writer. A lot of people have basically no knowledge of firearms or firearms safety (including a non-trivial amount of actual gun owners, in the US at least) so it’s actually very plausible that niether MJ nor Standish know just how bad/dangerous his handling of that weapon is.

      I’m not saying the devs DO know what they were doing here, and did it deliberately. Merely that in this case the plausibilty of the charachters not knowing is effectively parallel with (and demonstrated by) that of the devs not knowing.

  9. Decius says:

    It’s hard to tell for someone who doesn’t know firearms, but what Standish is doing in that second cutscene is not “aiming” by any means. He has absolutely no idea where the bullet and pistol will go if it fires.

    Why someone who doesn’t know how to use that pistol was allowed to keep it while in protective custody is as big a plothole as anything else here.

    1. Guest says:

      “pointed” then.

      As someone who knows enough about firearms, I know that distinction is purely academic, because the rule is, don’t point it at anything you don’t want to shoot. He’s got a gun pointed at her, sure, he’s incompetent, sure, he’s got a poor firing posture, but at that distance, the odds of her getting gutshot are very high, making him an imminent threat.

      It’s called trigger discipline son.

      1. Decius says:

        Yes- having your finger on the trigger and not knowing exactly what you are aiming at (or not aiming at anything) is something that only someone who has no business having a firearm would do.

        He has no idea what, or if, he’s about to shoot.

  10. MadTinkerer says:

    Man, this game is fun.

    Complaining that these rooms don’t match spatially is like complaining that you can’t fly off and visit the mountains in the skybox.

    YOU CAN’T VISIT THE SKYBOX!?! 0/10

    Boundary Break: “We hacked the game. Here’s what’s in the Spiderman sky box.”

    Make that 11/10

    1. Christopher says:

      You can’t visit Liberty Island without glitching your way over there, so that’s the actual big omission. Gotta use the giant statues you have lying around.

      1. Decius says:

        Dee Ell Sea.

  11. Scampi says:

    I just looked at the pictures and the video thumbnail and realized I really dislike Spider Man’s costume here. The upper body with the bright white lines (especially the gloves) and the suspender-like looking parts on the shoulders give me an impression of a mashup of a skater or maybe biker and Final Fantasy characters (think, say, Tidus for example) that looks really ridiculous and way too visible to me. Consider white clothing is way easier to spot at night, making the white parts really counterproductive during stealthy or general nocturnal activities.
    The feet, on the other hand, have some kind of sole that seems to be stable and doesn’t look like he could use his climbing abilities wearing this costume unless they work even through those thick looking soles.
    Just random thoughts that just now hit me for the first time.

    1. Nessus says:

      I low-key feell the same. I can see what they were going for (modeling the suit aesthetics on fancy athletic gear), but it kinda doesn’t work as intended for me.

      It doesn’t bug me so much on a functional level. Spider-Man’s costume is pretty high-vis regardless of the white bits, and it’s been kinda normal for his hand/feet stickiness to work regardless of what he’s wearing. But the white IMO doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the suit in a way my eyes find jarring.

      Also I find the soles inconsistent: I don’t like how there’s apparently no sole on the arch area. The fact that there is sole on the ball and pad implies some degree of necessity, so seeing the lack on the arch instinctively makes me picture him painfully landing or perching in something like a railing. Wouldn’t think Spider-Man of all people would want footwear that limits or omits what he can stand on. If his wall crawling power can work with thick soles, and his feet need them for safety or comfort, then either skate shoe soles (max contact area) or riding shoe soles (reenforced load-bearing arch nock) would be the ideal, not track shoe soles like those.

    2. Nessus says:

      Also though I’m not really seeing the “suspenders” thing. To me the blue stripes on the shoulders look like they’re supposed to suggest raglan sleeve seams, so it works/makes sense for me.

  12. OldOak says:

    Funny fact about the windows shader, you can try it at home, using Blender.
    The principle is nicely explained here (min 1:36, in case the link doesn’t do it) — it’s an ingenious parallax technique, by changing the UV depending on the camera view angle.

  13. Paul Spooner says:

    I feel like it’s comic-book writers job to write every character so that one could fairly append to any description of them the sentence, “Honestly, this dingbat DESERVED to be punched out.”

  14. Joshua says:

    “Spider-Man disarms Standish and lands right in front of him, and I could easily imagine this was originally followed up by a punch.”

    Thinking about this scenario, it still doesn’t work that much better. Standish is still a dangerous threat to MJ in that position, and it would be reasonable for Spider-Man to intervene based on the information that he has available. MJ might get frustrated at the situation because Peter didn’t realize that Standish was in the process of backing down (I guess?), but that still doesn’t deserve continual verbal attacks on him past an initial “Dammit, I was *so* close to getting the information, if only you hadn’t gotten involved”.

    For this scene to work in that way, she has to reasonably believe that no other outside observer would act the way that Peter did, such as Peter swooping in and knocking the guy out after he put the gun down or something. Of course, that would trigger player outrage in the manner that you describe.

    1. Nessus says:

      Isn’t Spider-Man’s usual MO in those situations to web the gun from a distance (preferably before the mook knows he’s there), rather than approach and punch? I haven’t played the game, but I feel like I remember that being his typical tactics in other media.

      1. Joshua says:

        At any point, if Spidey is webbing a gun, that probably means he has justification for believing that MJ is in danger, unless he’s webbing it when it’s not in the guy’s hand, like on a nearby table or holster.

  15. Guest says:

    Better idea-make the player make the mistake. The atrocious CoD Black Ops 2 had one great story moment where you’d asked to snipe someone in a hood, and if you follow everything to the letter, you’ll likely kill the wrong guy, a friend. It’s annoying in that game, because the difference between “choice” moments and “mess this up and you die” moments aren’t always clear, and the story really isn’t that reactive, but the game will press on from that mistake, and deliberately incite you to make it.

    Do the same here, Standish points the gun at MJ, make Spidey disarm him, and knock him out in the process. We’ve got stealth and action takedowns for this purpose, even being forced to make that mistake would be better than having Standish make the mistake. Even better? Use the conceit of showing previous events through dialogue for it. Have Spidey show up, see MJ in a standoff with Standish, have the player take him down, then have MJ explain it to him, triggering the stealth section and cutscene. Small change to the pacing, but it means the player is spidey, making his mistake, so you feel bad about doing that, and you also get to play MJ’s part after, which explains why she’s so annoyed-he thinks he’s rescued her, and she’s feeling like her effort there was wasted.

  16. isaac says:

    I actually really liked the standish scene because it puts spidey & mj both in the wrong. MJ wants to report on what this paramilitary organization is doing in the city and endangers herself without asking for spidey’s help because she’s insecure about getting his help. This results in her getting a lot of useful info for her news reporting but also results in her nearly getting killed. Spidey messes up by rushing into the situation and not actually communicating with MJ as she’s sneaking into the camp. Instead he goes straight into hero mode as soon as he hears that she’s in the camp and, while he ends up rescuing her, he also ends up making things worse.

    That’s why the grand central & osborne penthouse scenes later on the game work as a culmination of this arc. Both times, when Spidey & MJ actually communicate with each other and work together, they end up succeeding. That’s also why (in the third story DLC) when MJ decides to leave NYC to go report in a warzone, Spidey is okay with it.

    Their relationship begins from a place of misunderstanding & a lack of communication/trust and ends with both sides understanding that, in order for their relationship to work, they have to talk with and understand each other.

    MJ needed to accept that it is okay to rely on Spider-Man for help and Spider-Man needed to accept that MJ is an adult who makes her own decisions.

    1. CrimsonCutz says:

      Spider-Man tried to communicate and MJ hung up so she could be sneakier

      It’s hard for Spidey to be in the wrong here when the universe is actively rewriting its own logic to make it happen. There is no logical reason for Spider-Man to think MJ sneaking into this base is anything other than a suicidally awful idea, just like there’s no reason for MJ herself to think otherwise. We all know what they were going for, but the scenario doesn’t work for it at all. Spider-Man is only being over-protective if you assume he’s read the script and knows MJ will survive due to being needed for later scenes, from what he can actually tell in universe, she’s on a suicide mission that should get her killed a million times over and has a twitchy dude pointing a gun at her when he arrives. A superhero that *doesn’t* intervene in that situation, regardless of whether he knows the person or not, isn’t doing the whole superhero thing very well.

      1. Isaac says:

        I think he wouldve had a good reason to think that MJ could sneak into the Sable base since she’s proven that she’s actually really good at sneaking around dangerous places before (such as Tombstone’s hideout or when the Demons barged into the art museum).

        1. Decius says:

          If you’re reckless and you’ve been lucky so far, your life expectancy is lower.

  17. Dreadjaws says:

    The cars, pedestrians, buildings, and infrastructure are different enough that you don’t find yourself looking at something and saying, “Oh, there’s another copy of that thing.”

    Actually, I started noticing this kind of thing pretty early. In the visit to F.E.A.S.T. I saw a man leaning against the wall who greeted me and two steps in front of me I ran into his twin brother, who was even wearing the exact same outfit in identical levels of disarray. The worst part was in the ESU party, where just at the starting point I was surrounded by several identical girls wearing the same honeybee outfit, and there were even more later.

    The thing is, the game could have easily solved this by having less dense populations in certain areas, or randomize textures and models better (have a different head in the same body, for instance, or have a costume look older with a bump map or something like that).

    After this point I just couldn’t stop noticing it.

    1. Dreadjaws says:

      Oh, my God. Currently playing I noticed they even re-used Mary Jane’s model. She showed up right behind her in a cutscene.

  18. Aetara says:

    Alternate vocal takes was one of the little details I loved about the first Company of Heroes RTS. Units would have different responses (sometimes using different takes of the same lines, sometimes with totally unique lines) to being selected and given orders depending on whether or not they were idle, under fire, suppressed, pinned, or taking casualties.

    A squad of Volksgrenadiers (or more accurately, the NCO in command, who always served as the ‘voice’ of a squad when responding to orders) could be lackadaisically chiding the new guy to tie his boots one moment, and then thirty seconds later screaming that everyone is dying as they drop under heavy fire. It’s a small touch, but did so much for immersion.

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