Paul is still on the road. I was going to line up a guest, but then I just… didn’t. So instead we’re getting another one of these things. It’s a random list of short unrelated topics. None of these are long enough to carry a post, but if we shove them all together then maybe that somehow adds up to worthwhile content.
Or maybe not. Look, I don’t know what the rules are here. All I know is that I need #content for the Content Gods. So let’s get to appeasing…
Pulled in too many directions at once
We have two weeks of my Star Wars™ Jedi: Fallen Order™ EA™ retrospective left. If I was on top of things, then I’d already have the next retrospective in the proofing & polishing stage. Instead I’ve barely started. The last couple of months just vanished and I’m not even sure where all the time went. I didn’t even get a video done in those months! What was I doing the whole time?!
I guess I decided to cover Watch Dogs: Legion for my next retrospective, simply because the game is still fresh in my mind. On the other hand, I’d really like to cover Prey 2017 at some point this year. But it’s been four years since I played the main campaign of Prey. I’d need to play the game through a couple of times and then let it simmer for a few weeks before I could even start writing.
(A lot of people think I can just write this stuff off the top of my head. That’s flattering, but the truth is that analysis takes a lot of time. I’ll know right away that a game is bothering me, but it takes time to figure out the why and how.)
Aside from that, I’m torn between “the thing I need to work on” versus “The project I can’t stop thinking about.” I’ve said in the past that I really loved the gameplay of HuniePop, but I wasn’t really comfortable with the whole “naked anime girls” thing. I really want gameplay in the same style, but with some other premise or theme. The release of HuniePop 2 has me thinking about the genre again. I have a bunch of ideas how I could modify the game to lean into the “puzzle game” feel that I like so much.
Yes, I suppose I could start a programming series. But this would be less about technology and more about gameplay mechanics. That might be good, but like I said: I really need to get a new retrospective out the door. Also, the match-3 genre is heavily art-focused. Strip away the art, and you’ve just got a big grid of colors. I’m not sure if we’d be able to stomach weeks and weeks of ghastly 2D programmer art. One or two posts might not be so bad, but after a month or two of MS Paint-level art and one of us will wind up going crazy. If not you, then me.
The story began five years ago. Some random abusive asshole left an angry message on his ex-girlfriend’s phone. He was upset about being dumped / having a restraining order filed against him. Something like that.
So he told her, “Look for me on the news tonight. This is all your fault!” Next he jumped in his car, driving on Route 8, going from Slippery Rock to Butler. This is a two-lane highway, and is infamous for being winding and hilly. At night, the road is very dark.
A woman named H was driving home after a long day of work, heading north. Dumb Selfish Asshole was heading south. He got going real fast, and then deliberately drove into the oncoming lane as soon as he saw some headlights. With a combined relative speed over 100Mph, both drivers died on impact.
While I’d normally have compassion for someone in enough pain to kill themselves, the sheer self-absorbed idiocy of choosing a manner of suicide that requires you to kill one or more strangers just fills me with boundless rage.
H was a mother of 3 daughters, the youngest of which was still preschool aged. This was a shocking and traumatic event for all of them.
This left H’s husband J as a single father. The problem was that J had a lot of health problems. He had advanced diabetes, serious heart problems, and numerous additional complications from those things. He wasn’t up to the physical stress of taking care of the girls, so he hired my wife Heather as a nanny.
So Heather has been working for the family for the last 4.5 years or so. Back in January, J contracted COVID-19. He wound up in intensive care, then a ventilator. In the end, his body just wasn’t up for the fight. He died last week.
So now these three girls are orphans. They have other family to take care of them so they’ll be fine in the end, but I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose both of your parents to chaos like this.
So let’s wrap up this post by answering a mailbag question. This is supposed to be a question for the podcast, but I strongly suspect Paul wouldn’t have much to say about it. So it’s better to answer now.
Silent hill + Remedy
Dear Shamus and Paul,
I thought this was interesting because of your professed love for both Slient Hill 2 and Remedy’s storytelling. I know they knocked it out of the park with respect to gameplay in Control but I don’t think I’ve seen them do something similar to SH style gameplay.
What would you think if this was surprised announced?
All the best,
Wow. That article is quite a rollercoaster. I went in strongly disagreeing with the title, but the author Andy Kelly made some points I really agreed with. And then it all fell apart because of my general ongoing gripes regarding Remedy.
Obviously for this thought experiment to work we need to ignore the fact that Remedy prefers to work on in-house IPs, and they’re probably in the middle of making something else right now. Let’s just set those concerns aside and go through this article a bit at a time:
There’s no point giving Silent Hill to a developer who’s just gonna fill it with zombie nurses, groan-worthy Pyramid Head and Robbie the Rabbit cameos, and upturned wheelchairs lying around every corner. Since Team Silent’s closure, and Silent Hill being outsourced to western developers, the series has (with some exceptions) been too reliant on clunky references to—or failed attempts to replicate—moments from the original games.
Okay. I strongly agree. This is indeed an ongoing problem. As I’ve explained in the past, Silent Hill 2 is generally seen as the high water mark of the series. In that game you play as James Sunderland. If you want to know the story, then check out this post from the first year of this blog, way back in 2006.
In that game, the hospital level had quasi-sexy nurses. Big tits. Exposed legs. But they were unsettling in their movements and appearance. More importantly, they were a manifestation unique to James. The hospital isn’t supposed to be the “sexy nurse level”. He was seeing sexy nurses because of problems unique to his past and his particular personality problems.
But then came a never-ending parade of bungling tone-deaf developers who didn’t understand this nuance, so they just make the hospital a standard location that everyone visits, like Silent Hill is a theme park. And they put sexy nurses in there because they thought the nurses were for sexy cheesecake fanservice funtimes, and not a deeply disturbing look into the confusion and neurosis that James was working through.
(Aside: Can we get a remaster of THIS game? Please? Heck, I don’t even need a remaster. I’ll take whatever you got. Just start SELLING the stupid thing again. There was a PC port years ago, but it’s out of print and you can’t buy it anywhere these days. Used copies are going for collector’s prices. Considering all the worthless remasters we get these days, it’s crazy that nobody’s willing to take this legendary and in-demand title and put it up on Steam. Who’s in charge of this mess?Oh right. It’s Konami. Silent Hill 2 isn’t a Pachinko machine, so they don’t give a shit about it.)
Almost every aspect of the game has been cargo-culted like this. Everyone keeps copying the surface-level details while being oblivious to the nuance and thematic stuff that made Silent Hill 2 such a mesmerizing experience.
When you play one of its games, there’s no mistaking which team is behind it. And I feel like [Remedy] would approach Silent Hill in the same way MachineGames did with Wolfenstein, taking an established, beloved series and imprinting its own idiosyncratic personality onto it in an exciting way.
My problem with this is that I don’t think MachineGames did a great job with the Wolfenstein games. Sure, The New Order was pretty good. But Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus flopped on gameplay, bungled the technology, performed horribly on environmental design, and got lost up its own ass in terms of storytelling. The cutscenes were obnoxious, terribly paced, and horribly self-indulgent on the part of the writer.
Part of what makes Silent Hill so scary is how strange it is. These games (well, the good ones anyway) present their settings, characters, and stories in an abstract, offbeat way, with the woozy half-awake feel of a restless nightmare. The town shifts and distorts around you, and the laws of space, physics, and time are stretched and twisted by the evil forces that control it.
This is something Remedy is very good at, whether it’s Alan Wake’s trippy dream sequences, the nightmarish funhouse level from Max Payne 2, or most of all, Control’s mind-bending setting. Towards the end of the original Silent Hill you’re lost in a place called Nowhere: a bizarre, unsettling labyrinth made up of rooms and corridors from places you explored earlier in the game.
I agree that Remedy is a good fit in terms of setting, mood, and art style. However, I strongly disagree that the developer would be a good fit for Silent Hill. While they might nail the atmosphere, the gameplay designer at Remedy is the exact opposite of what this franchise needs. Remedy games are driven by a senseless, monomaniacal drive to have a tedious protracted gunfight in every. single. fucking. room. The constant combat smothers so much of the fantastic work the storyteller is doing. Control and Alan Wake were both undermined by the designer’s habit of taking a spooky, slow-burn story and turning it into Max Payne.
The Silent Hill series has been bedeviled by moronic designers that want to turn it into a stupid shooter. Remedy would doubtless repeat this mistake, and would probably even go further than previous teams.
But if you could find Mr. ALL SHOOTING ALL THE TIME PEWPEWPEW! and lock him in a closet for a couple of yearsDon’t forget to feed him! I’m pretty sure he eats bullets., then Remedy could certainly make a really interesting Silent Hill game.
I’d certainly play it.
 Oh right. It’s Konami. Silent Hill 2 isn’t a Pachinko machine, so they don’t give a shit about it.
 Don’t forget to feed him! I’m pretty sure he eats bullets.
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