Prey 2017 Part 4: Good Morning Morgan

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Jul 28, 2021

Filed under: Retrospectives 132 comments

Last week I admitted that – much to my embarrassment – there were a bunch of details in the game that I’d missed. Then in the comments I discovered that I am not alone in this. Everyone seems to have gaps in their knowledge. Even more interesting is that everyone’s gaps are unique. We all know 90% of the backstory, but the missing 10% is different for everyone.

The terrible thing is that it’s really hard to fill in these gaps. If I claim that X, then someone else will respond with, “Hey. I never saw X. Are you sure about that? Can you cite your source?” And of course I can’t. We’re all just reading emails on hacked computers and fragments of magazine articles found in locked rooms. There are hundreds of these kinds of messages in the game, and it’s easier to remember what you read than where you read it. 

But I think there’s one misconception I should be able to clear up. Last week several people had the impression that in order to make a neuromod with skill X, a Typhon needs to consume the mind of a human being with skill X. 

Based on what the game tells us, this is extremely unlikely.

A connectome is a collection of knowledge acquired from an individual. When people talk about acquiring new connectomes, they talk about it in terms of “scanning”. It would be really weird if they were actually feeding people to the space-monsters but they talked about it in terms of being a scan.

Moreover, TranStar has hundreds of neuromods. It strains credulity to think that they all came from murdered people. Sure, Alex and Morgan can make a few death row inmates vanish without too much fuss, but there’s no way they’re casually luring hundreds of skilled professionals out to Talos-1 and then quietly feeding them to the monsters. Even if this were somehow the case, then we’d see tons of emails talking about running this grand conspiracy of mass murder.

It must be an enormous pain in the ass to get a grand piano into orbit. I have to imagine they wouldn't have one in the neuromod scanning room if it wasn't part of the process.
It must be an enormous pain in the ass to get a grand piano into orbit. I have to imagine they wouldn't have one in the neuromod scanning room if it wasn't part of the process.

One example is Gustav Leitner, a famous concert pianist. The team actually captured a connectome of his skills. You can see a piano next to some technical equipment in the Neuromod Division. There would be no reason to have that setup if the process was nothing more than “toss the victim into a cage with some mimics”. From the wiki:

During his visit, the medical staff discovered that [Leitner] tested positive for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, though whether he knew this or not is unknown. He would have been sent immediately to the Trauma Center, although he took the shuttle Advent back to Earth on February 22nd.

Also, Dayo Igwe (we’ll meet him later) is a huge fan of Leitner. He’s delighted to have the piano-playing connectome. He arranged to spend time with Leitner so he could fanboy over Leitner’s skills. He wouldn’t be nearly so excited or eager to talk about it if the team had lured Leitner out here to murder him. 

The backstory of Talos-1 is a patchwork of one-sided email conversations, magazine clippings, and overheard answering machine messages. It’s natural for us to all have a few gaps here and there. It comes with the territory. But this business with scanning connectomes is an important detail and I thought we should clear it up before I go any further.

With that out of the way, let’s get this plot rolling…

Good Morning Morgan

Good Morning, Morgan.
Good Morning, Morgan.

For years I’ve been half-heartedly pushing for TV Tropes to add a new trope to the index. I think we need a descriptor for stories that begin with the main character waking up to some sort of chaos or disaster in progress. I suggest “Good Morning Disaster”Good Morning Chaos works too. as a counterpoint to the trope Good Morning, Crono.  

Having the main character wake up to a sudden problem is the most literal way of putting the main character in the same shoes as the audience: They just got here and they have no idea what’s going on. This allows us to skip the usual exposition and start the story off with a bang. We can then backfill the why, where, and how once we’ve established the gameplay and gotten the plot rolling.

Some Examples

While the introduction of Mass Effect: Andromeda has you waking up (twice!) I don't think it qualifies for this trope, because you're not waking up to a disaster-in-progress. (Aside from the game itself.)
While the introduction of Mass Effect: Andromeda has you waking up (twice!) I don't think it qualifies for this trope, because you're not waking up to a disaster-in-progress. (Aside from the game itself.)

Knights of the Old Republic – You wake up on the Endar Spire, and the ship is being attacked.

System Shock – You wake up from your healing coma to discover that the space station’s AI has gone mad and killed everyone.

System Shock 2 – Basically the same as System Shock, except this time you’re on a spaceship instead of a space station.

Alpha Protocol – You wake up in some sort of medical facility. You’ve been kidnapped by your soon-to-be employer and the ensuing attack is actually them attempting to test your skills.

Mass Effect 2 – You wake up in a Cerberus base. All of the robots have gone mad and are slaughtering the staff. 

Prey 2017 – You wake up – supposedly in your apartment but actually not – and need to escape the alien creeps now infesting the station.

In movies, 28 Days Later has a similar setup. The protagonist wakes up in the hospital to find a zombie apocalypse has happened.

Please leave a comment if you can think of any other examples.

Through the Looking Glass

This looks cool and all, but to really appreciate it you need to see it in motion. Seeing two overlapping parallaxing spaces is trippy.
This looks cool and all, but to really appreciate it you need to see it in motion. Seeing two overlapping parallaxing spaces is trippy.

Morgan wakes up after the attack that killed Dr. Bellamy. It’s supposedly March 15 again. 

Morgan doesn’t know it yet, but this isn’t her second time living through March 15. In fact, it’s not clear how many times Morgan has done this. Possibly hundreds. The only difference this time is that she didn’t have any neuromods installed, and thus Alex didn’t have any way to wipe her memory. The best Alex could do is toss Morgan back in bed and hope she concludes the entire mess with Dr. Bellamy was just a bad dream.

But Alex has bigger problems to worry about. The Typhon have broken free and are currently tearing through the station. This chaos is going to keep him too distracted to worry about what Morgan is going to do when she wakes up.

What nobody knows is that the January and December robots have been activated and are now working to free Morgan from the simulation. 

January messages Morgan and tells her that she needs to escape her apartment. (I’m not sure why December doesn’t message you here. The game hints that January is an overall smarter and more sophisticated device, while December seems to be a bit dodgy. I guess it takes December a little longer to realize the station is in trouble. Or maybe the two robots had different thresholds for how bad things need to get before they’ll activate.)

The player needs to shatter the window of their apartment. Although, instead of allowing them access to the balcony, it reveals that the balcony itself is an illusion. They’re not actually in a penthouse apartment, they’re in a simulator. The windows are special screens using “Looking Glass” technology. This technology is a double reference. It’s a nod towards the now-defunct developer Looking Glass Studios that created this genre almost 30 years ago, and also a reference to Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, a story about traveling through a looking glass to an alien world. And it fits: The player needs to walk through this “looking glass” to escape their apartment. When they do, they’re travelling to a different world. They’re leaving behind the fake world of the simulation and finally seeing the reality of the Talos-1 space station.

The player doesn’t know what this technology is called at this point. If the game told you the name of the technology and then had you walk through it, then I would have rolled my eyes and complained that the whole thing was too on-the-nose. But as it stands, you don’t actually discover the name for another half hour or so, and you probably won’t notice the “through the looking glass” reference until you replay the sequence later.

I will say that the power output of these LG panels must be astounding. They need to crank out enough photons to simulate direct sunlight. Which means that if this technology existed, there would be some rather interesting safety concerns. These screens are capable of putting out orders on magnitude more light than a typical display. I wonder if they also heat up the room the way sunlight does.

Alex is a Lousy Brother

Alex spent a tremendous amount of money and manpower making sure Morgan didn't know what was going on.
Alex spent a tremendous amount of money and manpower making sure Morgan didn't know what was going on.

It’s amazing how much space is given over to this apartment simulation. The backside of Looking Glass screens act as simple windows, which means that anyone outside the simulation can look in and see Morgan at any time. There’s an entire control room outside dedicated to monitoring her behavior. She has zero privacy. Actually, it’s worse than zero privacy, it’s the illusion of privacy. There are lots of things people will only do if they think nobody is watching!

Outside of the apartment there are signs directing people to be quiet, stay out of the simulation when not in costume, and stick to the approved scripts. A lot of thought and effort went into keeping Morgan helpless and clueless. 

Alex evidently endorsed – and perhaps even personally orchestrated – this creepy setup for his own sister. I have to imagine that she was never supposed to learn the truth, even after the testing was over. There’s no way she would gracefully accept how she’d been treated. If I was assigned to the “spy on Morgan” detail I’d be terrified of the day she got out. She’s a company executive the same as Alex, and so it would be easy for her to end my career. The only way this can work is if she gets one last memory-wipe before the program ends. Otherwise, this is career suicide for everyone involved. And possibly literal suicide. Pre-gameplay Morgan was a stone-cold killer.

The First Container

At just four digits, you could plausibly brute-force this safe. Although that's more work than just playing for a few more minutes to find the code. (Which is more work than looking it up online.)
At just four digits, you could plausibly brute-force this safe. Although that's more work than just playing for a few more minutes to find the code. (Which is more work than looking it up online.)

In System Shock, the first locked door in the game has the code 451. In System Shock 2, the first locked door is unlocked with 45100, which you learn from an audiolog. In Deus Ex, there’s a supply cache in the first level of the game that can be accessed with 451. Deus Ex Invisible War was simplified and didn’t have codes you could type in, so instead your character begins the game in room 451. In Dishonored, 451 is the combination to the first safe you encounter. In Deus Ex Human Revolution, 451 is the code to the elevator leading to the tutorial level. 

My point is that 451 is traditionally used in the tutorial / first level of an immersive sim game, and so I expected the same would be the case here in Prey. 

Just outside of Morgan’s fake apartment, you encounter a safe that requires a 4-digit code to unlock. My first time through the game, I nodded sagely. It’s our first keycode, so it’s obviously time for the 451 reference! 

But no. 0451 doesn’t open the safe. Neither does 4510. 0451 actually the code to Morgan’s office, which you reach a few minutes later.Or much later, depending on how long it takes you to cross the lobby. The lobby is huge. This safe is actually… 5150?

(Don’t worry. I’m not going to cover every single stupid locked container in this game. In fact, this retrospective is going to skip an awful lot. But this particular container is our first one, and “first containers” seem to be important in this genre.)

Near the safe is a dry-erase board. The code to the safe was clearly written on the board at some point in the past, but by the time we get here it’s been erased. After a few hours of hardship and screwing around, we eventually obtain a recording made by Morgan back in January. If the player pays attention to the background details in that video, they’ll see the code on the dry-erase board was 5150. If they don’t mind a little detour, then they can now backtrack to open the safe.

5150

It didn't occur to me until 35 years later, but is the cover of 5150 a reference to Atlas Shrugged? And if so, is its usage here a convoluted reference to BioShock?
It didn't occur to me until 35 years later, but is the cover of 5150 a reference to Atlas Shrugged? And if so, is its usage here a convoluted reference to BioShock?

Being an aging Gen-Xer, I immediately recognized 5150 as a Van Halen album. But that doesn’t feel like a good fit. I suppose it’s possible that the designer was making an 80s rock band reference, but this doesn’t feel like the time or place for that kind of thing. In particular, that would be a really weird thing to do with your “first container”. It’s not like this game has anything to do with 80s culture.

But the Van Halen album is named after 5150 Studios, where Van Halen did their recording. And the studios were named after police code 5150, which at the time was used in California to denote a mentally disturbed person that has been involuntarily taken into custody. Or perhaps it was named after the Peavey 5150 amplifier. Or maybe it’s a reference to the IBM 5150, arguably the first in a long line of computers that came to be known as the “PC platform”. 

If Alex REALLY wanted to troll Morgan, he would have drawn a dickbutt over the code.
If Alex REALLY wanted to troll Morgan, he would have drawn a dickbutt over the code.

You could make a pretty good case for more than one of these. Morgan – with her scrambled memories and drifting personality – arguably qualifies as “disturbed” according to police code 5150. We find recordings of past versions of Morgan who were belligerent, suspicious, and difficult. The Morgan we see in this recording is talking about nuking the entire station, killing herself and everyone on board. Maybe that’s a prudent course of action by a scientist who’s done the calculations, or maybe this is the plan of a disturbed and paranoid individual. It’s up to the player to decide for themselves.

The IBM 5150. TWO floppy drives! Two of them! Imagine the storage possibilities!
The IBM 5150. TWO floppy drives! Two of them! Imagine the storage possibilities!

Furthermore, Morgan’s time trapped in Alex’s simulation certainly qualifies as “involuntary imprisonment”. Maybe Alex trapped her in here because he’s a control freak, or maybe he trapped her in the March 15 loop because she’s not herself and he doesn’t want her causing problems for the rest of the crew. I imagine the player would disagree with the notion that Morgan is disturbed. But Alex is the one who chose the code, and this might reflect his view of things.

Or maybe the developers wanted to give a nod to the IBM 5150 as the progenitor of the PC gaming platform where Looking Glass Games, first-person shooters, and Immersive Sims all began.

Or maybe they just really like Van Halen. I dunno.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Good Morning Chaos works too.

[2] And possibly literal suicide. Pre-gameplay Morgan was a stone-cold killer.

[3] Or much later, depending on how long it takes you to cross the lobby. The lobby is huge.



From The Archives:
 

132 thoughts on “Prey 2017 Part 4: Good Morning Morgan

  1. MerryWeathers says:

    For years I’ve been half-heartedly pushing for TV Tropes to add a new trope to the index.

    You’ve been dabbling with forces beyond your comprehension Shamus!

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I’m not sure 5150 is a reference to anything. Does it have to be?
      I mean, the code to Morgan’s (actual) living quarters is 0451, so the devs have met their reference quota…

      I loved that you could get the code from looking at the recording and recognising the room behind your recorded self, though. Another example of the game rewarding players for being observant and not spoon-feeding you solutions.

      …can’t remember the loot inside it being that great, though…

      EDIT: Oops, reply in the wrong place.

      1. Gethsemani says:

        The loot is randomly generated. In my current playthrough I got the Mimic Detection v2 chipset from it, some 2 hours before I got the Psychoscope and the v1 version of the chip. To say that the ability to detect greater mimics from the get go is a massive boon (especially as the chip itself is always found as random loot) is a big understatement.

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          Some of the loot is randomly generated, but I think it always includes Psi Hypo fabrication plans (something that comes in handy for a Typhon-only run since you have to lean a lot harder on Psi with that kind of build)

    2. Mr. Wolf says:

      Shamus should not be encouraging them.

      Neither trope is an exact fit, but Shamus probably wants Late to the Tragedy and Slept Through the Apocalypse.

    3. Boobah says:

      I did that once. Pointed out that there’s a trope similar to IAmNotLeftHanded. To me, the key points of NotLeftHanded were that it was a surprise to the audience, and dropping the pretense wasn’t a big deal in the larger scheme of things.

      So I pointed out that there’s another trope where the audience knows that the protagonist is stronger than they appear, but they believe something bad will happen if they use that full power; maybe their boss will punish them, a secret is revealed, or they have to let their super-powered evil side loose. Whatever, the point is that they need to decide just how much they want to win; they may even take the loss.

      Naturally, since I’ve never visited the site more often than once every six months or so (mind, those visits could last for a week or more; I can get obsessive) by the time I was aware they’d canonized my idea it was full of so many LeftHanded examples that it was virtually a clone of that page.

  2. Chris says:

    Does Resident Evil (2002) count as an example?

    1. Grimwear says:

      Hmm, possibly. While there is something going on they aren’t immediately in danger. I’d say more Resident Evil Apocalypse with Alice waking up alone in the hospital and wandering out into the dead city (though that scene is shown at the end of the first movie as well). Of course Apocalypse doesn’t start with Alice I don’t believe but rather Umbrella evacuating their scientists so maybe not.

      I’ve never seen it but doesn’t The Walking Dead tv show start with the policeman waking up in a hospital during the zombie invasion too?

      DOOM has you waking up in the middle of the demon invasion.

      Sekiro? You wake up in the middle of a coup.

      In that case maybe Dark Souls 1? Wake up in the middle of the asylum, though story wise Dark Souls doesn’t do well explaining what’s happening.

      Someone down below said Halo 1 which counts in my opinion.

      Haven’t played it but doesn’t Dead Space 2 start with you waking up in an asylum or hospital under attack by the creatures?

      Would SOMA and Amnesia count? Awaken to everyone dead, though threat wise nothing really there initially.

      Maybe Pandorum movie? Awaken on a ship trapped in a room, monsters have free reign within.

      Passengers? Crisp Rat wakes up because the ship malfunctions. Though it is apocalyptic in that the ship will explode, nothing really happens for the first year he’s awake.

      Origin (Youtube show) only ever watched part of episode 1 but group of people awaken on a ship to find that something went wrong, everyone evacuated and they were left behind.

      Gear of War 1? You get broken out of prison under attack by the Locusts.

      Can’t think of any more at the moment.

      1. tmtvl says:

        MediEvil: Daniel Fortesque is resurrected and finds his beloved Gallowmere under attack by zombies and demons. It’s more pertinent in MediEvil 2, where the museum where his bones were on display is actually filled with undead.

      2. Khazidhea says:

        The Walking Dead (TV) was the first example that came to my mind. Shaun of the Dead also, but that’s more due to obliviousness then waking up to it.

        The Fallout games? Tomorrow When the War Began series? Avatar the Last Airbender? Futurama?

        Perhaps also the Nonary Games? I forget many of the details as they were like playing an entire season of Dr Who at once, with each choice leading to a different sci-fi twist that eventually worked their way together to a semi-cohesive whole, but I’m pretty sure there were instances of waking up unaware of ongoing apocalyptic dangers.

        But its different enough that it might be a separate trope. Wool/Silo series might be in the same bucket?

        Looking it up now, these might all fall under the trope Slept Through the Apocalypse

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          The Fallout games?

          Actually they’re generally the opposite; Fallout 1 and Fallout 2’s openings are both entirely premeditated and known to the PC before the game starts. Fallout 3 maybe could fit if you cut off the growing up part and skip to Amata telling you that your father is gone. Fallout: New Vegas has you getting shot in the head in the middle of a kidnapping, then recovering at which point there’s no real pressure on your character at all. Fallout 4 maybe if, again, we disregard the pre-war stuff and skip to the freezing and gunshot.

          1. Khazidhea says:

            That’s true! I had been picturing the waking up in the cyrotube thingo from 4, but anything to do with the main stories of the modern iterations I actively end up suppressing, so the context/details escaped me.

        2. evileeyore says:

          “The Walking Dead (TV) was the first example that came to my mind.”

          The Walking Dead tv show mirrored the comic in that regard. I just checked to see which was first, 28 Days Later or TWD comic, and 28 Days predates the comic by almost a full year.

          1. The+Puzzler says:

            “A guy in a coma is abandoned by all medical staff in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Like most coma patients, he needs no attention and makes a full recovery. He is not eaten by the zombies while he is defenceless. I must steal this idea! It’s so realistic it’s brilliant! Well, more realistic than having to show the army losing a war against idiot zombies that could easily be run over by tanks, anyway.” – Robert Kirkman, possibly.

  3. Zekiel says:

    I imagine Shamus knows this having played the game through multiple times, but you can actually exit the apartment by breaking a fish tank in the corridor, instead of the main window, leading to a service corridor outside. If I recall correctly this doesn’t do the cool slow time effect that breaking the obvious windows does, but it does demonstrate Arkane’s devotion to providing alternate paths.

    Apparently Arkane also got quite frustrated in playtesting about how to clue in players to break the glass without just telling you to do so. I recall wandering around the apartment for a while trying to interact with everything before trying it.

    Also I love the detail that on this interaction there is an email (from January I think) ON YOUR COMPUTER that just says GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I liked that too. Particularly because on the ‘first’ day in Morgan’s fake apartment, there’s a load of bogus emails about preparing to go to Talos I.
      Another example of the attention to detail.

      1. Trevor says:

        I loved all the attention to detail in the world and so I reacted very negatively to the corruption timer in Mooncrash. I know it doesn’t really matter except on the final run but my experience of the original game was going very slowly through all the environments and soaking in all the details. I hated the mechanism that encouraged me to sprint through rooms.

        1. Zekiel says:

          Me too. I loved Prey and disliked Mooncrash, and the time pressure was one of the big reasons.

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      My first playthrough I remember throwing something at the windows and thinking “well that must not be it” when it bounced off, then taking another couple minutes to try wrenching them.

      1. Shamus says:

        I did the same thing. I’ve thrown Morgan’s chair at those windows several times, and it just stops and falls to the floor without making any sound. It feels like the game is telling you, “Nope. Try something else.”

        1. Jake says:

          I want to say I snuck out at the Heli-pad the first time. But its been a few weeks since I finished it on a replay in spurts.

          I really can’t remember.

          But its been a while.

    3. Awetugiw says:

      I escaped through the fish tank on my first playthrough, and I’m still a bit sad about that. The visual effect of breaking the window is so much more spectacular.

      1. Rho says:

        Another Fish Tanker here! I don’t recall why, exactly I did so. It may be that the thought if smashing the balcony never occurred to me.

        1. BespectacledGentleman says:

          I did that too. It didn’t occur to me to go back into the apartment after picking up the wrench when I’m being told to “get out get out get out”.

        2. Trevor says:

          The fish tank happens to be in the hallway, which is where you find the wrench. It’s natural to start wrenching everything just to see what happens. “Will something that is clearly glass break when I hit it?” is a question I will test out in every game. I wonder how many people wrenched the fish tank just to see if they could break the tank, not suspecting there was an exit there.

          1. Zekiel says:

            I think every fish tank in the game is Looking Glass and many hide secrets behind them. Even when I knew this to be the case, I still forgot to smash them most of the time!

          2. Awetugiw says:

            I did actually wrench it in order to try to find a way out. (I was expecting to find some kind of service hatch behind it, not a soundstage, though.)

            I think the location is indeed a major reason why some people exit through the fish tank. Thinking about it, I consider this a minor failure in signposting by the devs; given how much better the reveal is through the window, that should probably be the first breakable thing players encounter.

            1. Sleeping Dragon says:

              Apparently I’m a softie because I wouldn’t want to break the fish tank before checking other options because, well, fish…

              1. BlueHorus says:

                Not just you. I remember finding out about a secret area very late in the game because I took an ‘aquarium wall’ at face value in one area…
                It was only after I broke though it from the other direction that I suddenly realised ‘Wait, what was I thinking? No-one would cart that much water up into lunar orbit just for a luxury item that takes up room on a crowded space station – OF COURSE it was a screen!”

    4. Chris says:

      That reminds me of deus ex. I never read the ingame paper terminals. But then in the paris level i explored a bit and found a terminal in some dead end far away from the intended path. I wondered if they bothered to change the messages at that point so i decided to read it. Few of the usual messages, but then at the bottom you had READ ME. I almost jumped from my seat when i read it, almost like they were in my brain, knowing i would decide to read the papers right at that moment.

    5. Richard says:

      I never even considered breaking the window.
      Morgan’s supposedly at or near the top of a skyscraper, so I’d assumed I had to find something in the corridor.

      Glad I’m not the only one in Team Fishtank :)

    6. Henson says:

      I’m assuming this is why the door to the Balcony has “(Jammed)” next to it, to clue the player into thinking ‘this is currently inaccessible, but that may change later’ when you first wake up. That indication made me go to the balcony first. (although, I wouldn’t even think about exiting through a fishtank…)

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        Same. By the time I got the wrench I had already run into that “Jammed” indication and now wanted to see if I could break past it. I’m not sure I even noticed the fish tank.

  4. gresman says:

    Halo qualifies I think. MC is awakened on the Pillar of Autumn. I am uncertain whether or not the attack is in progress or starts shortly thereafter. Halo:ODST definitely qualifies, I would say.
    Vampire Bloodlines is borderline. You are awakened and after the trial the Sabbat attacks.
    The new Doom game maybe.

    Thinking of it that seems to be mostly a FPS/RPG trope.

    1. Geebs says:

      Day of the Triffids might be one of the first examples of “wake up during the apocalypse”. IIRC 28 Days Later was influenced by it.

    2. Thomas says:

      I think it’s common for anything that wants to start in Media Res, where the protagonist has no more information than the consumer. A disaster taking place that the protagonist doesn’t know about? He was unconscious when he started.

      Games are the most likely medium to want the protagonist not to have no more info than the player (so you can inhabit them without issue), then films, and books last (because books can tell you the characters thoughts to get you up to speed).

      Personally though, I really enjoy game protagonists having more information than the player.

  5. MerryWeathers says:

    Please leave a comment if you can think of any other examples.

    Here’s a real life one: A teenager was hit by a car and got sent into a coma, only to wake up ten months later into the pandemic and isolated due to quarantine procedures.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/feb/02/teenager-emerges-after-10-month-coma-with-no-knowledge-of-pandemic

    1. FluffySquirrel says:

      Bit disturbed about the whole ‘caught covid twice, while in a coma’

  6. Henson says:

    I love how Arkane left all these clues in the simulation for you that, in a second playthrough, you start to notice. The computer clock shows a time incongruous with ‘morning’. The floors show skid marks where set pieces have been moved back and forth. Stains on the floor don’t change when you ‘go up and down elevators’. The hallway engineer breaks character. If you look close, you can see your kitchen from the test lab rooms. It’s neat.

    1. Ninety-Three says:

      Additionally, the fake elevator is way too fast. It goes from zero to “several floors per second” in the blink of an eye. There are many reasons real elevators don’t go that fast, not the least of which is that the acceleration would be very obvious and unpleasant to Morgan.

      1. Geebs says:

        There’s a fair number of high-speed elevators in the world today which travel at 15-20 m/s. The acceleration is set up so that you barely notice you’ve moved.

        1. Ninety-Three says:

          That’s why I said “in the blink of an eye”, you can see from the floor indicator that this one gets up to full speed basically instantly. I think you might actually have to enter freefall to accelerate as fast as it does.

          1. Geebs says:

            Aren’t those displays just rough estimates though? Especially for express elevators that only go to a few floors of the building. I think they’re just trying to establish that Morgan is so rich, she has her own personal helipad elevator.

      2. Jabrwock says:

        I missed that because I assumed video game logic. Doh.

      3. Stanislao Moulinsky says:

        There’s also, in the kitchen, a “2033 edition” of a culinary book.

  7. Will says:

    The original Unreal had you waking up on the crashed prison ship.

    I don’t remember if you get knocked out in the experiment sequence at the beginning of Half-Life, though it may not technically qualify since you already knew things were going to hell before that point.

  8. Lino says:

    Typolice:

    hundreds of neuromods. it strains

    Should be an uppercase “i”.

    I will say the the power output

    Should be “that”.

  9. Darazel says:

    Not sure how other players perceived this, but the game really made me ‘trust’ the designers within the first 30 minutes with the flocks of birds you see during the helicopter ride. I saw them, and was really not impressed with how they were rendered, mentally downgrading my expectation for the graphics of the game from here on (not really an important factor for me personally, but it still caught my eye).

    After escaping the fake flat, on one of the first terminals around, there is an e-mail or something mentioning a ‘glitch’ with the birds within the simulation.

    That really impressed me, and caused me to conciously make the decision to give the designers the ‘benefit of the doubt’ from here on… if I noticed something strange, I would consider it as part of the ingame universe much more readily compared to other games. I thought this was quite clever by the designers… I don’t remember any other game from the top of my head which plays around with meta-expectation like this.

    Quite minor thing they did with a huge impact (on me at least).

    1. Zekiel says:

      I liked that detail too. But it is weird when you think about it. If a player notice the glitch, they just put it down to poor graphics. But if Morgan notices the glitch, what do they think? More sensible just to remove the birds from the simulation altogether if you can’t get them right……

      Course, the simulation did have another couple of imperfections by including massive letters proclaiming it was AN ARKANE GAME
      :-)

      1. Taellosse says:

        Yeah, but you as the player know, from the instant Morgan wakes up, that you’re playing a video game, so you’re FAR more likely to notice imperfections in the simulation than she is, when her default assumption is that everything around her is real. She’d look at those birds and, at most, think, “huh, weird birds,” until and unless there were enough accumulated glitches to catch her attention enough to add up to a “hang on, something seriously hinky is going on…”

        It’s sort of like the small details no one notices until a 2nd playthrough oted above, like identical stains on “different” floors of the same building, skid marks from relocated set pieces, or actors slightly breaking character – they’re all small details you overlook until you have the right context to place their significance into. Most people see what they expect to see rather than what’s actually there, unless they’re given a strong reason to look more closely.

        1. DGM says:

          >> “Yeah, but you as the player know, from the instant Morgan wakes up, that you’re playing a video game, so you’re FAR more likely to notice imperfections in the simulation than she is, when her default assumption is that everything around her is real.”

          But knowing you’re in a game can work against you too. I grabbed the tech’s lamp and threw it against the fish tank to see if the fish would react. When it didn’t I just figured the developers missed that detail. It wasn’t until after the reveal that it occurred to me that the fish not reacting was evidence of something being wrong in-universe.

      2. Alex says:

        A possible explanation would be that they discovered the glitch after the test already started, and so they didn’t want to change a variable even if doing so would make the simulation less suspicious.

    2. ColeusRattus says:

      I had the exact same thoughts about the birds!

    3. mye says:

      Igwe mention the bird too if you talk to him a few time.

  10. Trevor says:

    When a mimic eats a human brain it gains enough sustenance to split into three mimics. TranStar then puts a mimic into a chamber with a recycling charge and they get the Exotic Material needed to make the neuromods. The human brains are just food for mimics and so TranStar can use death row inmates to keep their source of mimics at a level necessary for production. They don’t need victims with special skills, just raw human brain material. I’ve been scouring audiologs and emails to see if anyone thought to try animals in this playthrough but so far no dice. I suspect it wouldn’t work because Human (Brains) Are Special, but it’s an interesting question.

    It seems that having a skill recorded for a neuromod does not remove your ability to do the skill, but the lore is a little squirrely about that. There’s a magazine that talks about a gymnast with a wasting disease who is depicted as passing on skills they can no longer use because of the disease. Similarly Gustav Leitner, the concert pianist, has his piano playing recorded on the station but you find out that he had lung cancer. In a further complication you learn he was possibly unaware of his cancer. I think they wanted to keep both avenues open about whether recording a skill removes it from your brain. I haven’t found anywhere where they talk about an Olympian walking off the podium to immediately record their skill.

    Also, Shamus, do you know to what point in the game your next article will go? I’m trying to match my progress in this playthrough to your articles.

    1. Shamus says:

      Next week we’re going to skim over hardware labs, then talk about Psychotronics. Psychotronics will then continue into the following week.

    2. Jabrwock says:

      It seems that having a skill recorded for a neuromod does not remove your ability to do the skill, but the lore is a little squirrely about that.

      I got the impression that the recording process was painless (they recorded the pianist and he left after the process was complete before they could treat his cancer), but the imparting of the skill into someone else via neuromod requires Typhon materials, which require victims to “farm”. So maybe the process is controversial for other reasons, like how some people used to believe taking your photos traps part of the soul.

      It felt like you were using the “consciousness” of the victim as a blank slate, to store a copy of the skill that you’re inserting into the new recipient.

      It brought up an interesting question about the shambling Typhons who seem to be semi-aware of their previous self. Are they like the “hey! who turned the lights out?” spacesuits from Doctor Who, forever stuck on a loop of their last thoughts recorded by the suit? Or more like they’re trapped and occasionally leak through? Does TranStar purify the materials to prevent that? Or is this what the Typhons are like prior to being harvested?

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        It brought up an interesting question about the shambling Typhons who seem to be semi-aware of their previous self. Are they like the “hey! who turned the lights out?” spacesuits from Doctor Who, forever stuck on a loop of their last thoughts recorded by the suit? Or more like they’re trapped and occasionally leak through? Does TranStar purify the materials to prevent that? Or is this what the Typhons are like prior to being harvested?

        Yeah, the phantoms will occasionally speak a few words of clear English which makes it obvious that there’s something of the victim left in there, and as far as I can tell this fascinating question is completely unexplored in the game. I never found any lore suggesting the scientists had even noticed this about them let alone tried to investigate it.

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          It’s mentioned somewhere (maybe in the Research notes?) that the Phantoms aren’t actually talking so much as parroting; that is, they don’t think the Phantoms understand anything they’re saying, they’re just saying stuff. I don’t recall there being any explanation regarding how the scientists came to that conclusion.

          1. Ophelia says:

            What’s also an incredibly cool detail is -all- of the Typhon’s vocalisations being mere parroting or remnants of the consciousness they eat is enforced by the fact that every single line is found in the audio logs. ‘What does it look like? The Shape in the glass?’ is found in the trauma center logs, for instance.

            1. Chad+Miller says:

              Huh, I never realized this. By coincidence I also played a bit more today and got to the Cargo Bay; Alfred Rose’s dialogue alone contains like four of the lines they use!

        2. Jabrwock says:

          I wonder if that information was “buried” as part of the “no it’s ok that we’re harvesting capital punishment criminals, because it’s as painless as dying via drug injection”. Maybe it’s a new thing? Or maybe the majority of time they never keep the Typhon around long enough to find out that there’s residual memories.

          1. BlueHorus says:

            This is a good theory. I bet it would have been buried even if it WAS just the Typhon parroting words.

            Like Chad Miller, I too found the document (I think it was only on scanning phantoms, then reading the lore entry unlocked?) saying that they don’t understand what they’re saying. Their speech is also a lot like garbled word salad, with little syntax or meaning.

            It’s consistent, too. None of the NPCs expect the Typhon to talk, in notes, or during your play time. Given how the aliens were supposed to have been discovered decades ago, it seems likely that it was tried multiple times, and just given up on.
            (It also fits because the Typhon being utterly alien and impossible to communicate with is an integral part of the story.)

            1. Jabrwock says:

              Although… since what we learn about the ending… this parroting behaviour is intended?

              So, what does THAT mean? Glitch? Or intentional?

  11. Gargamellenoir says:

    What did you do exactly with tvtropes? Did you create the trope on the wiki and link to it from the examples?

  12. Anorak says:

    When playing, I was under the impression that Morgan was fully aware of the sham room and in fact had helped plan the details of it. I have only played through the game once though, so I could just be making that up.

    1. Gethsemani says:

      As far as I understand, from 2,5 playthroughs, Morgan was down with being the test subject and thus losing their memory repeatedly. It quickly became a problem on the station that Morgan was interacting with the crew and kept forgetting everything (most obvious with Mikhaila whom Morgan was romantically involved with during at least one test cycle) which caused morale issues aboard Talos I and ran the risk of someone eventually figuring out why Morgan was constantly in a state of amnesia. At that point Alex and the board seems to have made the call to keep Morgan isolated from the rest of the station and the whole Simulation Area was made to keep Morgan unaware of her actual situation. It is unclear if the problem with Morgan becoming irritable, erratic and violent occurred before or after Morgan was put into the Simulation, but it could well have been just another reason to keep her contained.

      1. Chad+Miller says:

        (most obvious with Mikhaila whom Morgan was romantically involved with during at least one test cycle)

        This happened before the test cycles; Morgan broke it off because the tests would wipe all memory of the relationship and she didn’t consider it worth trying to maintain.

        It is unclear if the problem with Morgan becoming irritable, erratic and violent occurred before or after Morgan was put into the Simulation

        It was before. Digging around in the Trauma Center you can find conversations with the psychiatrist about it.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          It was almost certainly the personality shift that caused Alex to put Morgan into the Simulation permanently.

          That said, I may have missed some evidence of Morgan being ‘erratic and violent’ – or just interpreted what I found differently. There’s a subquest to find an audio log of Morgan talking to the station psychiatrist Dr Kohl, which is cited as proof of her being erratic and agressive – to me, though, she didn’t sound violent; she sounded like someone who was worried about the Typhon and didn’t feel like she was being listened to by her psychiatrist.
          It REALLY doesn’t help that Kohl comes across as a massive company crony who’s more interested in ‘doing what Alex wants’ and ‘keeping the Typhon secret’ than the good of any of his patients.

          My overall impression of Morgan’s ‘personality change’ (though there may well have been more than one) was that she a) grew a conscience and b) started to get worried about the threat posed by the Typhon.

          Still, that would definitely be enough of a shift for someone like Alex Yu to get worried.

          1. Coming Second says:

            Yeah Kohl is depicted as a very nasty piece of work who used his psych evaluations to bully and gaslight employees into subservience as well as creep on the female patients. How ‘erratic’ Morgan really got is ambiguous, clearly a deliberate choice on the devs’ part to allow you to interpret her character as you see fit.

  13. Retry says:

    On the topic of waking up to the zombie apocalypse, the walking dead tv show did the same exact thing as 28 days later. Don’t know if the comics did too.

    1. MerryWeathers says:

      It’s the same in the comics although it was a coincidence with the first issue of TWD coming out just three weeks after the premiere of 28 Days Later.

      1. evileeyore says:

        28 Days Later released in Nov 2002. The first issue of The Walking Dead was in Oct 2003.

        That’s… a wee bit more than three weeks of each other. ;)

    2. Ninety-Three says:

      I’ve noticed that zombie fiction is really fond of skipping past the initial outbreak, and I suspect it’s because no one has figured out a solution other than handwaving for how zombies could end up infecting everywhere on the planet when they can’t operate vehicles and only spread by biting. Even if infection can be slow enough that every major city gets a few cases via international travel (yet somehow fast enough that those cases are able to explode and eat the city), small towns and rural areas should be basically unaffected and get plenty of time to prepare.

      1. Coming Second says:

        I imagine recent events may have creators giving their zombie viruses longish asymptomatic gestation periods in the future. That very evidently helps spread.

        1. Christopher Wolf says:

          That mutate out so people in the narrative can turn faster.

      2. Shufflecat says:

        In the original Romero films the zombifying agent was never explicitly identified, but it wasn’t an infection spread through bites. Basically, no matter where or how you died, if you died in a way that left the brain relatively intact, then you’d be getting back up as a zombie in 10 minutes or so. Bites were lethal because of bleeding and/or toxic shock (because a zombie’s mouth is a petri dish regardless), but there wasn’t a “zombie virus” that was doing the killing.

        Night of The Living Dead establishes that the effect started worldwide simultaneously, and IIRC briefly implies that it might have something to do with a recent comet flyby, but that’s as far as the series ever goes to define a cause or agent.

        The modern idea of the “zombie virus” is… well, calling it “recent” is showing my age. I wanna say it’s something I recall becoming a thing in the mid-ninties, but not really taking over until the mid-2000’s zombie pop-culture boom. I wanna say it maybe started as a pop-culture misunderstanding of the Romero movies, or a conflation between them and other movies (like the Return of The Living Dead series, in which zombism is caused by a chemical warfare agent, but spreads in the familiar “virus”-like way).

        I miss the Romero-style unknown cause. The fact that it didn’t matter how or where someone died, and the mild cosmic horror implications, made things more scary and interesting than just a disease. I feel like the modern ultra-codified, rules-oriented approach to zombies is part of what’s made them boring. I’ve had frustrating discussions with (I have to assume young) people who think that, for example, RE2 REmake’s zombies are “not proper zombies” because they use slightly different “rules” than the dominant pop-culture “rules”.

        Never mind how often I see the word “virus” applied to explicitly non-viral infections, like The Lasts of Us’s zombies, or even The Thing (not a zombie, but arguably an infection in some contexts).

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          The fact that it didn’t matter how or where someone died, and the mild cosmic horror implications, made things more scary and interesting than just a disease. I feel like the modern ultra-codified, rules-oriented approach to zombies is part of what’s made them boring. I’ve had frustrating discussions with (I have to assume young) people who think that, for example, RE2 REmake’s zombies are “not proper zombies” because they use slightly different “rules” than the dominant pop-culture “rules”.

          I assume this is a transition from one thought to another, here? I mean, RE’s zombies are (and always have been) explicitly viral.

          This type of mismatch of tropes does lead to a beautiful moment in the Telltale Walking Dead games…early on there’s a dead person who stands back up as a zombie, leading to an extended debate amongst the survivors as to who slacked off on checking for bite marks. Then the newest arrival says, “Wait, you people don’t know?” and explains that, no, that’s not how zombification works in that universe.

        2. Henson says:

          Wait…Romero zombies are created just from people dying? Under any circumstances? That raises all sorts of questions: like, if you die in your sleep, you become a zombie? Does everyone have to sleep in separate rooms, and lock their doors?

          1. Syal says:

            You know how people sometimes wake up in the morgue after having been legally dead for a few days? Do you think that happens to zombies? A guy dies, turns into a zombie for a few days, and then recovers?

          2. Retry says:

            The book Feed was set in an explicitly Romero-like universe (at least two of the characters have George-derived names, after the accidental savior of the human race) and a huge aspect of the world building was all about the draconian safety measures they’ve taken against each other as potential future zombies and the isolation that entails. It also understood that “the zombie apocalypse” is a setting and not a plot.

        3. Sleeping Dragon says:

          On top of that the final scene of the original movie implies that after the initial outbreak, which is obviously dangerous to unprepared and surprised people, is likely to be contained.

      3. beleester says:

        The Newsflesh trilogy has the “dormant” form of the virus latent in everyone, but it only activates when the host dies (for any reason) or is bitten by a zombie. It neatly explains why the zombie apocalypse is everywhere and why even the military wasn’t able to contain it, but it still lets you make use of the traditional zombie bite tropes.

        1. evileeyore says:

          Not quite, it’s dormant in a lot of people because they can overcome it killing them right off, but a lot more aren’t infected, hence the…

          [SPOILER WARNING]

          [SPOILER WARNING]

          [SPOILER WARNING]

          [SPOILER WARNING]

          [SPOILER WARNING]

          [SPOILER WARNING]

          [SPOILER WARNING]

          … plot by the CDC to release a new strain of mosquitoes capable of carrying the virus (which infects and goes dormant in some people) in order to re-entrench their emergency powers control over the US.

  14. Ninety-Three says:

    This point was raised in the comments last week as well, but why did Alex go to so much work to keep Morgan in the dark? It would be simple enough to give Morgan a crash course on what neuromods are, then install some and use that as the reset point. As it stands, every time Morgan goes through the test procedure she’s supposed to intuitively use supernatural abilities she has no awareness of, then she presumably freaks out and brings everything to a halt while they explain what’s going on. Why all the work to build a fake life if you’re going to immediately blow it on “Oh yeah we secretly gave you superpowers in your sleep, don’t worry about it, next test chamber please”?

    Really there are a lot of things about the opening that only work sense because everything went wrong. January noticed they were wiping your memory and sabotaged the neuromods used in your tests, but how was that supposed to help anything unless the mimics happened to break containment on the same day? Even if Morgan figured out that something was up, it’s not like she had the ability to escape (frankly her odds would be better with the neuromods).

    1. BlueHorus says:

      Oh man, I’ve realised I’ve just written one of those posts that answers point-for-point. First time!

      why did Alex go to so much work to keep Morgan in the dark?

      It’s debatable, but the point of the memory loop seems to be a) maintain control of Morgan, whose personality is changing and b) speed the process of testing up.

      They DID start testing with a more informed Morgan, but then she started having second thoughts, building contingency Operators, and the memory loss was hindering her relationships in the station.
      And I’d be very surprised if she’d let anyone inject something into her brain with oversized needles based on a ‘crash course,’ on neuromods – I know I’d demand more information before agreeing to anything.

      every time Morgan goes through the test procedure she’s supposed to intuitively use supernatural abilities she has no awareness of, then she presumably freaks out and brings everything to a halt while they explain what’s going on.

      You can kind of of handwave this by saying that the sci-fi tech made from psychic aliens just works that way. While being tested, Dr Bellamy does tell you to perform the tasks in the ‘most natural’ way, emphasising that Morgan should try not to think before acting. So maaaaaaybe it wouldn’t have caused too much of a shock for Morgan to use those abilities, since as far as she can remember she’s (suddenly) always been able to do so…it’s not too implausible, since we are using memory-altering injections of alien goop directly into the brain…

      But at the same time, yeah, the proper explaination is most likely that the writers put atmosphere ahead of plot consistency in that instance. It works pretty well, first time through – doing what you’re told, only to have the scientist act baffled does create an air of dissonance and unease.
      Um, you told me to hide, in an almost featureless room – OF COURSE I’m crouched behind the chair. What did you expect?

      January noticed they were wiping your memory and sabotaged the neuromods used in your tests, but how was that supposed to help anything unless the mimics happened to break containment on the same day?

      Maybe the trigger WAS the Typhon escaping. January implies it was, and it always made more sense to me. It’s also implied that the Typhon waited before revealing themselves, so it’s plausible enough…
      Still a massive coincidence that one attacks Dr Bellamy in front of you, though.

      What interests me is how the ‘blank’ neuromods were supposed to prevent her memory loss. Presumably they still got installed and then removed, right?

      1. Henson says:

        The blank neuromods, from what I can tell, are as good as no neuromods. Nothing’s being added, so nothing can be taken away. Therefore, memory can no longer be reset before the first test day – or conceivably, the second day, or however many days January successfully replaces blank neuromods.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Well, if I were to transfer a load of junk data to a computer, then delete said junk data, there’s still be a load of junk data being added and then removed, which would affect the computer…

          But you can’t go too deep into that discussion without defining the exact rules of alien-matter brain-altering sci-fi tech, so I guess it’s kind of a moot point.

          1. Richard says:

            AIUI January basically replaced the ‘magic goo’ inside the neuromod with a placebo – coloured sterile saline, presumably.

            Same stuff that’s used in the Real World to practice giving injections.

            Except right in the eyesocket, which is presumably not much fun for anyone.

          2. DerJungerLudendorff says:

            I read blank as meaning empty. So you’re literally adding and removing nothing (except a few needles in your eyes).

      2. Ninety-Three says:

        January says it was set up to trigger if Typhon broke containment or Morgan was getting mindwiped. Morgan was getting mindwiped and no one the station seemed to know the Typhon had broken containment yet, so it was probably the first contingency that fired. But whichever one it was, how was blanking the neuromods supposed to help? If your memory had been wiped when they gassed you, it’s not like that would be a setback to January’s plans, so it’s not clear what the point was.

        1. Chad+Miller says:

          The memory wipe is a side effect of the neuromods themselves.

          Uninstalling a neuromod also reverses the process that it used to add the skills to your brain in the first place.

          By replacing the intended test batch with placebos, January ensured that this entire process didn’t happen. Therefore when uninstalling the neuromods, there was nothing to reverse and the mind wipe didn’t take place.

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            Yes but why? What is achieved by doing that? If January knew the mimics had broken containment (and for some reason was opting not to raise a general alarm) then it doesn’t actually help you escape (in fact it hinders you since you don’t have a bunch of very useful mods), and if it didn’t know then Morgan was still locked up and unarmed, and the researchers would’ve noticed Morgan figuring out the loop pretty damn quickly at which point they reset the experiment with clean neuromods. Was January planning to singlehandedly overwhelm security and bust you out by force?

            1. Chad+Miller says:

              Yeah, I’m not disputing that there are some gaps there; as I said last week, I think the “sure was convenient the Typhon attacked when they did” bit probably should have at least been lampshaded.

              That having been said…January wouldn’t need to overwhelm security. Security chief Elazar claims that she was already planning to raid the Neuromod Division to free Morgan when the outbreak happened.

            2. BlueHorus says:

              There might well have been other contingencies in place that we didn’t see to get Morgan out of the simulation had the station remained peaceful. Not the best argument, I’ll admit. But if January knew Morgan Yu’s passwords and had her authority, it’s possible it could have had other options…

              But yeah, I agree. I’m not sure HOW a small drone was planning to get Morgan free, then out of the Simulation Lab by itself.

              Still…as far as I can work out: January starts with Plan A (Make Morgan aware of the memory loop and get her out) – but then the outbreak becomes apparent, and January is forced to improvise. Large parts of Plan A become irrelevant; now it’s a matter of protecting Morgan, breifing her on the outbreak, and enacting Plan B (initiate the station’s self-destruct).

              EDIT: Ah, Chad Miller’s beaten me to it. The Chief of Security would have been a willing accomplice for any plan Morgan and / or January had – there’s loads of evidence that she was one of the only people on the station who seemed to take the Typhon threat seriously.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                There’s also the fact that January is not an actual person. It is unclear how independent operators can be made with custom programming but while January certainly shows a degree of flexibility it is also definitely limited in what it can or is allowed to do. For example, it can argue for Morgan to make the final decision but can’t execute it itself. It is therefore not unreasonable that Morgan gave it an instruction to be relased from the mindwipes if they happened and so January had to work towards that goal by whatever means were available to it.

                Of course the actual answers is that January as exactly as independent as the plot demands, and I mean this on more than one level.

      3. Mr. Wolf says:

        I question whether Morgan was consenting to anything by the end. Perhaps that’s why Alex eventually cut her out of the loop, she wanted to end the experiment early but had at the beginning agreed to see it through to the end no matter what. Alex is obsessed with what the “real” Morgan wanted, I don’t think he saw the later personalities as anything more than delusions, the ramblings of somebody who wasn’t of their right mind.

        While Alex obviously took it too far, I’m reminded of those people who are mentally infirm, or expect to be. Living wills, power of attorney, and the like. The contingencies people make when sound of mind for when they aren’t. I wonder how much freedom Morgan surrendered and how much was stolen.

    2. Gethsemani says:

      It is implied, if not outright stated, that most of the testing has gone excellently (you can see a black board in Simulation which shows how every test prior to the containment breach had been perfect). The idea is that Morgan goes in dark but because the neuromods contain Typhon powers she innately knows to use them to solve the tests, similarly to how a neuromod for playing the banjo doesn’t need someone to tell you how to pluck the strings they just need to show you a banjo and say “play”.

      Keeping Morgan in the dark was probably a cynical call because it was easier that way. As January says early on there are protocols for bringing someone who’s suffering from Neuromod Amnesia up to speed but Alex has ignored them. After all, bringing Morgan up to speed will only become a lengthier and lengthier process the longer the trials keep on going, so at some point it was probably just easier to stick with “it is your first day on Talos I” and keep Morgan in the dark instead of explaining three years of experiments and trials to her each time.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        No, the idea is that you uninstall all Morgan’s neuromods, then bring her up to speed once, then you say “We’re gonna install a bunch of neuromods and reset you back to this point like a dozen times now, cool? Cool.” Then you can jump straight from the installation process to the test chamber without needing any elaborate fakery, because you aren’t wiping the onboarding process.

        And regarding the tests, they clearly intended to test multiple neuromods at once, but how the hell was that supposed to play out? Test number one they tell Morgan to remove the boxes from the circle and she psy-blasts them, what happens next? Because I can’t imagine Morgan discovering she suddenly has supernatural powers and being content to proceed with tests number two and three.

        1. Wolle says:

          Neuromods are indistinguishable from memories (it’s in an email at Neuromod division), so Morgan should just remember that she has the powers and use them accordingly.

          1. Ninety-Three says:

            Morgan should also remember that human beings don’t normally turn into chairs, which implies a certain degree of “Wait, why are supernatural abilities suddenly real, why does no one know about them, why does none of this make any sense?”

  15. Viktor Berg says:

    Morrowind and Skyrim did the “you’re finally awake” thing.

  16. Jeff says:

    Every time I see “Good morning, Morgan” I’m reminded of Morgan Freeman, and end up hearing it in his voice.

    He once told Craig Ferguson a story about being Germany, where after his first night at a hotel everybody he met seemed to greet him by his name. This was early in his career, before he became famous, so he was quite confused. It wasn’t until somebody said guten morgen that he realized what they had actually been saying.

  17. Ander says:

    Slept Through the Apocalypse is the closest trope. Enjoy the Real Life section, esp.

    1. Ander says:

      Seriously, y’all, this is the trope y’all want. From the description:
      “Thanks to an extraordinary coincidence, Joe was in one of the only (if not the only) safe places from The End of the World as We Know It. Joe will usually wake up and find himself very, very alone, and get increasingly freaked out. That is until night falls and he’s relieved to find someone who is Not a Zombie Mutant, and won’t try to bash his head open to eat his delicious brain meats, honest! Luckily for Joe, this is when a savvier survivor will bail him out and lead him towards more safety.”

  18. Joshua says:

    Please leave a comment if you can think of any other examples.

    Space Quest 1 starts with the ship you’re on already being attacked, and you wake up from napping on the job.

    1. Sven says:

      In Space Quest 3 you wake up after an indeterminate amount of time in hibernation to find your escape pod has been captured by a garbage ship. So I think that one counts too.

  19. Coming Second says:

    The Portal games certainly use the Guten Morgan trope. In fact Portal 2’s intro plays a lot like a comedic version of Prey’s.

  20. Erik says:

    So that model of PC was the 5150? Good to know. That was the first model of PC I used; my mother bought it while I was in college back in ’81. She got the full max memory capacity of 256KB installed on the motherboard (min was 64KB) PLUS a multifunction board that had another 256KB (almost 640KB! amazing!) AND a realtime clock chip so that you didn’t have to manually set the date & time every time you rebooted it. (And another printer port, I think, and a couple of other things – it was billed as a 6-in-1 board.)

    Things have changed just a little since then.

  21. Syal says:

    I think both KOTORs do the “wake up to trouble” thing.

    I’d probably go with “Hell Of A Morning, Crono.”

    (Also I can’t believe “Good Morning Crono” has no Real Life examples. Apparently waking up peacefully has never happened in reality.)

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I think it’s more about the immediacy of the trouble which is why KotOR II wasn’t given as an example—the danger is hidden and approaching, rather than upon you as soon as you wake up.

      And I suspect real life examples for Good Morning Chrono would be People Sit In Chairs (i.e., something so common or ubiquitous that it can’t really be called a trope anymore because it’s so broad).

  22. Echo Tango says:

    Re: brightness of looking glass panels
    I don’t think these would need to be as bright as direct sunlight, if they’re controlling everything else in the room. In your screenshot you can see some spotlights behind them, which should be fairly good for creating relatively hard shadows from a (pseudo-) point light source, if they can shine through the panels to add bright spots. If the weather in the simulation[1] was always at least a bit cloudy or overcast, it would lower the amount of light you need, to fool a human about looking at daylight.

    [1] I haven’t played the game myself, so I’m speculating here.

    1. Richard says:

      If everything else is a little dimmer then the fake sun doesn’t need to be particularly bright.

      Human vision is entirely relative, both for brightness and colour (you probably remember the yellow/blue dress malarky from a few years ago), so as long as it’s the brightest thing around, it’ll be close enough.

      On top of that, Morgan only ever sees anything early in the morning so is starting from early morning – even a single 6W LED lamp can be blinding right at waking up.

      That said – it doesn’t actually take that much power to equal sunlight at short range over a small area.
      The shuttered fresnel lights you see on tripods all over the Talos 1 are certainly big enough to equal sunlight for a small to midsize window.

  23. Dev+Null says:

    For other examples of “Good Morning Disaster”, they don’t get much better than The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Arthur wakes up to his house – and eventually planet – being demolished. (This is true in the book, game, and TV series at least. I’ve mostly forgotten the Hollywood movie…)

  24. Roadent says:

    Typo:

    It didn’t occur to me until 35 years later, but is the cover of 5150 a reference to Atlas Shrugged?

    I assume you meant “3-5 years later”? Since 2021 is 4 years after 2017?

    1. Shamus says:

      The Van Halen album came out in 1986, 35 years ago. I saw the album cover many times (although I never personally owned a copy, wasn’t really my genre) but I was 15 at the time and hadn’t heard of Atlas Shrugged yet.

  25. tmtvl says:

    Does Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader count? You wake up and find yourself imprisoned by bad guys.

    Revenant: you’re resurrected to fight the Children of the Change cult, who have overrun most of Akhuilon, and a member infiltrates the castle of lord Tendrick and attacks you.

    Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura: you regain consciousness in the remnants of an airship crash in the mountains surrounded by wolves, boars, and kites.

    I believe AssCreed pulls it a few times: with Desmond in 2, with Ezio in Brotherhood,…

    Dragon’s Dogma your Arisen wakes up, goes to the village square, and then the village is attacked by the Dragon.

    1. evileeyore says:

      A lot of Elder Scrolls starts with the character waking up their situation as well…

    2. tsi says:

      Not sure some of those count as waking up to a disaster but instead starting your day as usual until plot happens.

  26. Mr. Wolf says:

    So did anybody else notice that Morgan’s Talos I apartment had the exact same floorplan and layout as Morgan’s “Earthside” apartment?

    And did anybody else intentionally strike the exterior window on a space station, just to be 100% sure?

    1. Jabrwock says:

      I hadn’t noticed that. Makes sense, but neat!

  27. Perhaps zombie media are particularly well-suited to “Good Morning Chaos”? As mentioned above, 28 Days Later and The Walking Dead start this way, and Dawn of the Dead (2004) leads off with a *very* literal example:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq-oVyxJJUs

  28. Paul Spooner says:

    I feel like the razor shards of plate-glass from the Looking Glass would leave life-ending lacerations on your arm if you broke them with a wrench.

    1. Fizban says:

      My immediate thought is trying to poke and retract immediately like you’re doing a kung fu snake move. Which would probably not help at all but be hilarious until the bleeding started.

  29. Rho says:

    I guess we could say it was a …

    Guten Morgan. (Sunglasses)

    (yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah!)

  30. The+Wind+King says:

    Blood, might be a good choice, you wake up in your crypt after most of the apocalypse has happened, and you have to go kill the asshole that put you there.

    Although you know about the pocalypse in that case, you just got to skip the beginning and middle acts.

  31. RFS-81 says:

    If you want to point someone to a document in Prey, prey.fandom.com is great! It has transcripts of all the e-mails and audiologs, and full-text search. So if you remember a phrase from it, chances are you can find it.

  32. Regarding the sunlight, I don’t think most of the light flooding the apartment is from the Looking Glass itself. On the far side of the glass are a couple of huge banks of spotlights, suggesting that bright light from the far side of a Looking Glass will be visible on the facing side? I don’t think that makes physical sense, but it seems to be the implication of the scene’s arrangement.

    EDIT: All I can think is that a Looking Glass can be calibrated to allow only light in a very specific part of the spectrum to pass through it? That would allow the “sunlight” to stream through without letting the whole rest of the room be visible. Or maybe it’s just any light brighter than the image on the screen?

    1. tsi says:

      Elex : There is a sequence where you’re left for dead and then you start in a hostile environment. Granted, the world was already in chaos.

      Soulreaver : The game starts after the world went into chaos as you are brought back up to your senses by a strange entity.

      Half life 2 : You are taken out of stasis in a world where the aliens are “winning”.

      Portal 2 : You slept for so long your bed has your contour.

      Vampire The Masquerade… well the world didn’t really change overnight but you sure did and that’s what makes it chaotic, especially if you pick the Nosferatu, the ugly ones if I recall correctly.

      Tomb Raider 2016 : You’re shipwrecked.

      Metal Gear Solid 5 : You wake up in a hospital that gets raided.

      I’m trying to remember older games but most have peaceful beginnings.

  33. Pink says:

    I’d have expected a reference to Morning, Morgantown, where every day’s just the same.

  34. Harry Black says:

    For years I’ve been half-heartedly pushing for TV Tropes to add a new trope to the index…I suggest “Good Morning Disaster”[1] as a counterpoint to the trope Good Morning, Crono.

    Can I sell you on “Good Morning Oh No”?

    1. Shamus says:

      Heh. That works too!

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