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Everything posted by Pillock

  1. My biggest complaint is that the game holds your hand far too much. Throughout episode 1 it does nothing but. But even I was a bit flummoxed by rosehips for a short while in my first game. It seems a strange omission, when it tells you exactly how to do everything else.
  2. Wow, the Aurora. It seems to be powering the electricity. Hmmm, I wonder if that radio works, then? I'll go and have a look. Now, where was it? Over there, I think, near the... "Holy shit, that's hot!" Affliction: Burns. You Faded Into The Long Dark. ...... ... What? What the hell just happened? I was on full health, wasn't I? Or was I? I can't remember if I checked my condition after passing out from the knock on the head. I definitely had checked my status when I woke up, because I knew I was a bit tired, and I'd also had to drink to top up my thirst. I would have noticed if my condition had got really low while I was passed out, wouldn't I? Anyway, to just suddenly die like that without warning? I don't even know what it was that burned me. Well. I guess it does present a good opportunity for me to give some general feedback about what I think of Wintermute so far. I'd got some way in to the Luminance Fugue episode (I still don't really know what those words mean when put together like that) and had made a fairly thorough job of completing the previous chapter, I think. I don't feel like trying again from a earlier save because, well, I'm dead. I failed: that story is over. I'd rather start again and maybe try and do things a bit differently next time. But to be honest, I'm not desperate to rush back into it to find out what happens. I may well park it for the time being and go and play Survivor Mode. The narrative hasn't succeeded in pulling me in and gripping me; I haven't experienced any particularly exciting or tense moments yet, nothing that's put me on edge or that's challenged me; I haven't been given any difficult moral choices to make, or any choices at all, really; I haven't managed to engage with or been compelled to care about any of the characters, playable or non-playable, who I've encountered; I never felt as though I was in any danger whatsoever from falling to any of the core survival problems - hunger, thirst, cold, rest. And then I suddenly died without warning to some unknown burny thing. Ah well. My over-arching feeling so far has in fact been that I've been playing a rather extended tutorial: dutifully fulfilling a linear series of prescribed tasks so that I can get past the preamble and go on to the main course - the real substance of the game that's hopefully more interesting and engaging later. But an episode-and-a-half in, I still haven't found it yet. "How far will you go to survive?" the game's tagline asks you. Well, I don't know - as far as the game tells me to, I suppose. I haven't had the chance to answer this question for myself, because I haven't been presented with any form of meaningful dilemma. I really, really don't want it sound like I'm rubbishing the whole project that Hinterland has spent years lovingly working their hearts out to bring to us. But I am going to concentrate mostly on highlighting where I see shortfalls in Wintermute's execution and delivery, where its potential hasn't been realised as far as I think it could have been, and hopefully making some suggestions that could improve the experience for future episodes. I love The Long Dark's premise, its scenario, setting and ambience; and I especially love the in-your-face contrast between beauty and brutality that confronts the player as they wander the wilderness. And while Wintermute does maintain that same atmosphere, the pacing of the narrative is frustratingly slow, aspects of the plot you have to follow are jarringly illogical and the dialogue is beset with continuity problems arising from any tiny deviation that the player might make from the intended order and method of completing tasks. Even some of the mechanics and the UI actually serve to detract from the feeling of involvement in a story. The rest of this post is going to contain direct reference to events and missions in Episodes 1 and 2, so if you don't want it spoiled, you probably don't want to read any further. The thing that got me hooked into The Long Dark in the first place was the uncompromising lack of any hand-holding offered to the player: you're dumped into the middle of the a hostile environment with very little equipment and no prior instruction, and you have to survive. Nature is harsh: deal with it. You die, but you learn enough from your brief initial attempts to convince you that you can do better next time. You realise that you are too cold, so you look for solutions: fire, shelter, clothing. You're hungry so you look for food: animals, plants, maybe scavenged loot. A cursory glance around the menu when you light your first fire will teach you that you can melt snow in order to quench your thirst. Tiredness is obviously solved by rest, and your bedroll is a prominent part of your starting inventory. It's obvious and it's intuitive and it's simple to grasp the concept of survival, but it's difficult and takes practice to achieve a sustainable balance between these needs while avoiding the dangers all around you; and that's the appeal that creates replayability. And it's great. Right from the start, Wintermute is the opposite of this. It tells you exactly what to do, even to the extent that if you try to improvise or use your own intuition you're bluntly told that it's not allowed. Do as you're told and don't try to be clever. This continues throughout Episode 1 and into Episode 2, well beyond the initial phase around the plane crash site where it can be passed off as a genuine tutorial. The player really doesn't need this level of schooling, and the game would be much more exciting if the player were left to find things out for themselves. And there are aspects of the UI that exacerbate this, as I mentioned before. The map is the prime candidate: where did you get it from in the first place? It tells you where everything is before you've had the chance to find it for yourself. It even tells you where to go for your mission objectives, which removes any need for real exploration, or for working things out through your own efforts. Then there's the journal screen: here you can find a list of prizes that you can win by bribing the local gameplay-instructor with easily-acquired treats. The 'Trust' mechanic is a fantastic idea with an incredible potential for creating thoughtful, dynamic moral choices that could change the direction and/or atmosphere of a play-through. But it doesn't do that; it's just a handful of largely unnecessary side-missions that don't affect anything else. In no way does spamming bandages out of the mountains of available cloth in the game so that you can get your hands on a fancy pair of mountaineering boots feel like you're genuinely winning the character's trust through your good deeds; nor does winning their trust (or losing it) seem to have any impact on how they interact with you or what they ask you to do in the main quest. I can't help feeling that it's a huge missed opportunity, and the fact that the requirements and rewards for each Trust mission are mapped out for you from the beginning makes it all feel shallow and false. I also dislike that the "collectible" items do not form part of your main inventory. By the time I was killed, I was carrying a very large amount of this stuff, including several large, heavy, bulky items, which didn't affect me on my travels at all. If carrying Astrid's briefcase is essential to the story, there are better ways of reminding (or forcing) the player not to leave it behind when they transition between levels; while I'm carrying Jeremiah's rifle, it becomes a mysterious ghost item which I cannot use, even after I've repaired it (I have deliberately carried ammo along with me for the purpose of using it on my way back); the medical kit from the Dam doesn't exist either - what if I'd got seriously injured on my back to the Trapper's homestead and not had anything else? Would I not have maybe wanted to use the supplies on myself? As it happened, I had loads of medical supplies already, so the trip to the dam was unnecessary in the first place. "Get to the Dam. Need Meds. Aaarrrgghh." "It's OK, mate, I've got 4 bottles of painkillers, 5 bottles of antibiotics, enough antiseptic to drown a deer, a whole bunch of bandages and 4 emergency stims right here. You'll be fine." "Don't argue with me boy. I need you to fetch me the morphine that I'll refuse to use anyway." In a similar vein: "You'll need a knife and a hatchet to survive out here." "I'm still on the look-out for them... ...Oh, no sorry, I must have forgotten: I've got two hatchets already, and I just found a brand new hunting knife in one of those fishing huts. I'm set." "Go to the old farmstead. There is a forge there with blueprints for making them." "Yeah, but I don't need to because I just said... nevermind." Or: "The farmer is... dead. I think the wolves got him." Really? How did Will know that? I didn't see any dead farmer. Oh, maybe that's what the wolf in the barn was munching on? But I didn't go in there so couldn't possibly have known that. There are numerous other instances where I found myself questioning the logic of the dialogue and the tasks I was being asked to carry out; questioning why I couldn't use this or that item; why I'm not allowed to go in here yet; why this character only eats MREs and that one only eats pork and beans; why Will trips over a corpse and bangs his head while he's stumbling about in the dark and didn't see it, when in fact I was using a lantern at the time and was deliberately approaching the body in order to search it. It felt as though I was battling with the storyline rather than participating in it, tiptoeing around the maps and trying to obey all the rules and instructions to the letter, for fear that any tiny deviation or error would upset the plot and cause it not to make sense. On top of that, there is no urgency or tension at all. Even when the mission instructions tell you must quickly collect firewood before Old Bag's fire goes out, or get Jeremiah's medication before he dies, you know in the back of your mind that it really doesn't matter how long you take: they'll still be there even if you leave them for a month. I've already written far more than I was intending to here, and apologies if it began to descend into a bit of a rant. I haven't completed Episode 2, so perhaps something was about to happen that would have changed my perception of the game, had I not succumbed to Sudden Violent Inadvertent Treading On The Wrong Bit Of Scenery syndrome - I don't know. If the game was about to come alive and become engaging and challenging and I should have had more patience, then I'm sorry. But I can only respond to what I've experienced, and I think I've seen a good 2 thirds of what's available to us. I'll sum up with some general suggestions - pleas of sorts - to the developers: Please, please, please just trust your player base a bit more. We are not idiots: we can handle a little bit of difficulty. We can accept failure. Would it be possible to allow some missions to be failed and for the quest to take a different turn as a result? To make the dialogue and plot just a tiny bit more dynamic so that it can cope with our own individual decisions? Let us improvise. Give us some puzzles to solve. We don't need to be shown in advance how to do everything and where - a bit of trial and error, searching for answers, exploring by ourselves, using our noggin to complete objectives: this would make the game much, much more fun. The narrative is so fixed and inflexible that I don't feel like I'm even involved in it. I don't feel that the decisions I take or the successes I achieve or the mistakes I make are having any consequence whatever to Will's fate or to Astrid's. And that's leading me not to care about seeing what happens to them. Which is a big shame.
  3. Lalalala, I don't want to know that yet, sorry! I'll get back to you when I reach that part again. I wasn't deliberately trying to fight the storytelling in order to undermine it and pick holes. I was genuinely trying to follow it as I thought it was intended to be followed. The 'battle' I mentioned was a result of a few occasions where the dialogue didn't match what I'd previously done, or the mission didn't make sense in relation to my inventory, for example. These things lead me into the mindset that I there was a fight going on between what I interpreted as the most sensible way of completing a mission and how the game's author wanted me to do it, and this caused me to try and second guess the author in order not to disrupt the continuity. I didn't always succeed, and I definitely didn't enjoy the fact that I felt that I had to do this at all. ie. The flexibility afforded the player in their movement around the world and order of completing tasks is not matched by the total rigidity of the script, plot and dialogue. This causes the two to clash. And when it does, it utterly breaks your suspension of disbelief and buggers up the experience. A videogame is supposed to be an interactive experience, not a passive storytelling.
  4. Why not? The ammo was mine. That's not a good reason! I was planning to go back and see Jezza without visiting the lodge this time, because, and I quote Will here, "I must stick to the task in hand." Anyway, I'm going to start again and see if I can cause trouble for the Old Grouch before I do that bit.
  5. I am more than happy if you are right about that. At the point when I died, I was nervous about the prospect of a dangerous escaped convict on the loose in the immediate area, and pretty suspicious about the wisdom of heading over to the Lodge to investigate the Forest Talkers at that point. But this only served to increase my frustration at the fact that I wasn't allowed to use the rifle which I'd just successfully repaired. And the fact that the aurora event was so clumsily introduced. (Obviously, instant death from electrocution is little aggravating as well.) I'm not criticising the actual content of the story's plot, really: I simply don't know enough about it yet. But I do think that the way it connects to what we as players are asked to do is a bit dissatisfying, and feels clunky. An episode-and-a-half to get to the exciting bit is too long for me when you've only got 2 to play with right now, and only 5 in total. "Do Not Go Gentle" is just flat-out boring: it's lacking challenge and decision-making opportunities and it's riddled with continuity problems and questionable logic. What's more, it's supposed to be one fifth of the entire game, and because "Luminance Fugue" starts off in the same vein, I don't think it encourages players to persevere if they reach a stumbling block, as I did. I think it needs to get moving much more quickly, as well as allow for much greater flexibility in the way the relatively unpredictable actions of the player rub up against the completely set-in-stone nature of the cutscenes. As a 3-act story (not that I know anything about that!) it may be working very well, as you say, but this is not a movie. I don't think what I've seen of it so far works terribly well as an exciting and challenging game experience. Yet. I'm not writing it off. I'm still optimistic that it will get better. Edit: The main jist of the problem as I see it is that all the events in the story are inevitable; therefore everything that I contribute is irrelevant. I cannot plan ahead and take sensible precautions to improve my survival chances, because things that will happen will happen regardless. It doesn't matter whether I treat the NPCs kindly or unkindly because the results are the same. Why did I bother searching high and low for the hidden cache with the flaregun in it, when you don't need it in Milton and you are presented with another one at the start of Episode 2 anyway? I probably cannot avoid the escaped convict, no matter how careful I am, if he's scripted to attack me out of the blue at some predestined point. I am almost certainly going to get into a fight with a bear later on: I'm not nervous about that because I know already that I can't do anything to avoid it or to change the outcome. Because it's all in the script. The game has taught me not to care what I do or how I behave or "how far I will go to survive", because it has also taught me that, so far at least, it won't make any difference.
  6. I understand the reasoning, but I don't agree with it. I don't see why you need two whole episodes out of 5 to act as tutorials for new players. The majority of the playerbase has been playing the game pre-launch, and knows all this stuff already. Besides, even if you are new, the survival mechanics are intuitive enough for you to figure them out with a bit of trial and error and common sense. There's nothing wrong with a bit of failure, dying and restarting if you're a new player. That, as I said, is what appealed to me about the game in the first place. It's too guided, too rigid. There's no room for the player to experiment and enjoy the feeling of freedom and exploration of the environment that you get from Survivor Mode. I also get that the main narrative has to be fixed, and certain requirements have to be set so that the player fulfils them to make progress. But there's no room for manoeuvre at all. It needs more flexibility and options within that narrative so that the player feels like they're actually affecting what happens. It doesn't feel interactive; it doesn't feel like a game:
  7. It's not a new suggestion, but it's just as relevant and valid as it ever was. +1.
  8. I didn't mind the books and paper: I just started to regard them as environment clutter after a while, which was fine. But more of a problem, in gameplay terms, was the fact that I was able to abandon a fridge full of food in the bank manager's house when I left Milton to continue the story. I hadn't done any 'survival' tasks at all except for picking up stuff I found lying about and I'd given all the MREs I found to Grumpy Old Bag; yet, I still left that house stocked to the rafters with food, clothes and firewood. I do hope that the difficulty curve in terms of available resources takes a significant jump in future episodes. Maybe once you've completed an episode, you could be given the option to try it with harder settings? At the moment, I don't see much reason to replay any of the bits I've done so far.
  9. The key you found isn't for the front door of the house. You need to find another one. (by the way, keys and other items that relate to the story are not stored in your normal inventory. You might have noticed that Astrid's briefcase isn't in there either. They go into a section called "collectibles", which you can view in the journal menu, and they don't count towards your carrying weight.)
  10. I don't think you need a bedroll in the first cave. The only issue is that in the initial tutorial section, the character seems to be sleeping on the ground without one, which is a bit of an odd thing to be teaching new players since they won't be able to do that later on. But that first long walk to safety before you reach the blue hut with the bed in is the only bit of the first episode where it actually challenges you to survive the elements, and I enjoyed it for that. Once you reach Milton, you've got loot galore and plenty of places to rest. It's a shame to dilute that initial tension, but I guess even with the bedroll you'll still need to make sure you're warm enough, so it doesn't remove it completely.
  11. P.S. I discovered that paper and tinder counts towards this, so I mostly just filled her wood bin with piles of old useless documents and newspaper. But she has an magically infinite 10-minute fire anyway, so I don't know what she was worried about in the first place.
  12. Is there not a way out of town without using the reward she gives you from the mission? I was very tempted to leave to die alone and just continue after Astrid, once I figured out where I'd have to go. I'd hope it's possible to ignore some of the missions, especially since it's becoming increasing difficult to actually like or empathise with any of the characters I've encountered (including Will and Astrid, for that matter).
  13. I've only ever hit one so far. And the little blighter went a ran off just as I was about to pick him up. I just wanted to pet the rabbits, George.
  14. Has anyone suggested tooth decay yet?
  15. Isn't there some expression about letting sleeping bears lie? Well, there should be.
  16. I don't mind. The last game whose release I was this hyped for was Rome 2: Total War. That had a huge marketing and PR push behind it, regular developer diaries, previews, videos galore, all creating a massive buzz. And the game turned out to be a huge steaming pile of dog... sick. So I'm glad if this is the opposite in every way.
  17. Just a little tidbit of information about this that you might find useful (and maybe not want to find out on your own), if you're interested :
  18. Sssssh! Don't jinx it, you maniac!
  19. Someone must have put him there like that! He was found lying face-down outside with snow covering his back, legs and head. Someone (probably at least two people) lifted him up and carried him into the trailer, placing him on the top bunk. Presumably he was already dead, or they would surely have cleared the snow off him and laid him face up? Quite why they did this is a mystery, I guess, but perhaps they just wanted to prevent his body being eaten by bears or wolves?
  20. The first thing I'm going to do after I've finished the first episodes 'properly' is to see if I can lure a bear or a pack of wolves towards some of the NPCs to see what happens. Maybe I'll even do it during my 'proper' playthrough, on second thoughts! Since it's meant to be all about moral choices and whatnot. It'd be a shame if it disallowed us from being as immoral as we can, if that's what we want to do.
  21. The thing is, the game is set in Canada, which is a real place. This means that the player has certain expectations as to how the 'world' will work when they interact with it. The more the game sets rules for the player which don't correspond to these real-world expectations, the more likely it is to jolt them out of their illusion of being 'in' the world rather than in front of a computer at home playing a game. And for a game like TLD, that is generally better avoided if at all possible, in my view. Therefore, I think it's unwise to dismiss discussions about 'realism' out of hand. It is valid to compare the game to the real world, up to a point, because the game is set in the real world, albeit a stylised version of it in imagined circumstances. The argument here is that maybe the game would be improved if our characters could have the option to substitute the bedroll for something improvised on the spot for indoor locations - the same as we already can for outdoor locations. Part of the reasoning for this is that it would feel more intuitive to the scenario being depicted. I don't see anything wrong with that. There is a debate about how it would affect the overall game-balance, but there is also a valid part of the discussion to be had around whether or not it improves the 'feel' of the game in terms of immersion and perceived realism.
  22. Yeah, I was talking in general about rope climbs rather than specific routes. For example, I once came to the top the waterfall rope-climb to discover that there was no rope there. So I just walked over the edge of the cliff and made my way safely down the rocks. The new weight restrictions on climbing just serve to further highlight the silliness of this possibility.
  23. Quite right. If an 'exploit' is known by the developers and they don't change it, it must be intended gameplay, right? Maybe they designed it specifically so that insect-walking down a vertical cliff while carrying a 50kg pack would more advantageous than using a rope which is literally right next to you.
  24. That's true. But it does lead to some fairly bizarre decision making: for example, you come across a small hut with no bed, so instead of hunkering down inside for the night you rip the curtains down and pick up some nearby sticks from outside, then sleep in a hole in the snow just outside the door. Or, you find a nice warm cave, and you have some spare clothes with you and some wood; instead of cobbling together a makeshift bed inside the (relative) warmth of the cave, you again have to sleep in the snow just outside the entrance. It just feels weird. And I've been in that position on a number of occasions.
  25. Yeah, that's the gist! It's a knock-on effect of the messy implementation of the weight limit.