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Old 10-28-2011, 09:00 AM   #1
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Default The awkward relationship between character's will and player's commands.

Have you ever played an adventure-game where the PC (Playable Character) says something that's referring to you as the player and it all just seems kind of weird?
(Edit: Regarding serious stories only, as this annoyance can simply be fun in comedy-games)

For example in Gabriel Knight 3 occasionally Gabriel will deny some commands and say/think "Hey, are you trying to get me killed?" to which I always react "Who are you referring to?".

I would just be curious to hear what you guy's thoughts are on that subject, and yes I do have a feeling I might be the only one who freaks out about these things.

Some different variations I can think of:
a) The player's actions are the character's brain, and just like every human brain sometimes there's conflicting thoughts, like if you are standing on top of a tower you might get an impulse thinking "I should jump!" but luckily another part of your brain might think "What a crazy thought I just had".

b) Rather than the PC specifically denying some of your actions he will comment about the action, for example if you ask ppl for money in 'Discworld Noir' he won't say "No, I'm not going to do that" but rather he starts a inner monologue saying "I was tempted to ask him for money, but I decided not to resort to begging".

c) The "invisible force", I'm sure I remember some adventure-games (can't remember which ones) that says lines like "I felt like a strange invisible force was trying to make me do weird things",
This one is perhaps the strangest, are they saying that the character has no free will that every non-cutscene action he has done in the entire game is purely divine intervention?

Can you think of any more variations?

Last edited by Mad Manny; 10-28-2011 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:10 AM   #2
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Your Gabriel Knight 3 example is a simple case of breaking the fourth wall, which I don't mind at all, in fact in can be rather fun (didn't Rincewind ever tell you to stop clicking him?). It can probably be a bit weird when it happens in an otherwise serious game, but if the game has some humour in it, then by all means, destroy that fourth wall.

Otherwise I prefer your b) variation where the character just says he's not going to do something and then states the reason.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:11 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Manny View Post
Have you ever played an adventure-game where the PC (Playable Character) says something that's referring to you as the player and it all just seems kind of weird?


That happens constantly in games, there are millions of examples, and I don't like it. And nearly every third person game has this kind of thing when trying to use an incorrect inventory item ("Why would I do that?" etc). It's not neccesary but most designers are unimaginitive and can't think beyond the Sierra / Lucas Arts mould and so these fourth wall moments have become the norm, even in the most inappropriate games.

First thing I would say to someone desiging an Adventure game: make everything different to how it is done in Monkey Island.... because otherwise you get these games with these tired generic tropes.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:36 AM   #4
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Yes, mostly inventory, combining items and using an item on something...
Some more lengthy dialog of sort are plenty in Simon games.

You can't be serious?!
Stop clutching at straws!
Maybe you should change you're medication, because I don't see how that's gonna work!
Why don't you use it on yourself ?!

...referring to the actual player...

I also remember a game where the character knocks on your screen monitor and tells you something... but I can't remember where...

Mostly I don't mind,and they're funny, only a few exception I found... let's say annoying...

Last edited by kate me; 10-28-2011 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:45 AM   #5
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Aha thanks, I was not previously aware of this expression "the 4th wall" but yes that's exactly what I'm talking about.

Good point that in whacky comedy-games it can be fun to break this 4th wall intentionally, but that serious stories is a different matter, which is why I've updated the original post now to specify serious games.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cbman View Post
when trying to use an incorrect inventory item ("Why would I do that?" etc).
Yes! I agree with your entire post in general but specifically it's lines like that which I'm curious about, lines like "Why would I do that?" or even "I can't combine that with that" are not extreme cases of breaking the 4th wall, but still somewhat not right.

Would you (and everyone else) say there's any solution to that dilemma tho?

I mean sure you could change all those lines to "I just had this idea in my head but now that I think about it it doesn't hold up to scrutiny", but it could be argued that that would only be appreciated for 5 mins but for the rest of the game it would just become annoying and redundant.
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kate me View Post
I also remember a game where the character knocks on your screen monitor and tells you something... but I can't remember where...
Rincewind in Discworld 1


On topic, yeah - TimovieMan hit the spot, it comes down to whether designers are breaking the 4th wall. There're also a couple of variations - there could be a narrator in the game, who isn't talking directly to you, but rather to a main character, who is again - you. Larry, Sierra's Quests, Al Emmo... I'm not sure and i can't remember now, but there might be an instance where both narrator and main character really break the wall and start talking to you

Also, it's interesting to remember that game can be in 1st, 2nd and 3rd person dialog mode (i doubt i got the terminology right), not connected to view perspective. In a typical "1st person mode", you would pick up an apple and character would say - "I picked up an apple". In 2nd person mode, it would be "You picked up an apple", spoken by a narrator for example, who would in a 3rd person mode say "He picked up an apple", or "Larry picked up an apple".

Last edited by diego; 10-28-2011 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:20 AM   #7
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Now, how could I forget that ?! Thanks diego!
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:00 AM   #8
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Also and slightly offtopic, but the discussion has reminded me of the awkward but original use of "past tense" in Broken Sword, which i think really added to the atmosphere. It's just as the character was a narrator himself.

As for breaking the 4th wall, i agree it's more natural in comedies but i wouldn't write it off completely in more "mature" themes. It doesn't have to be always in some hillarious "Mel Brooks-esque" style, but can also serve as a break from monotony in a "serious" games.
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Old 10-28-2011, 09:19 PM   #9
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Hehe that knocking on the monitor screen sounds pretty damn hilarious actually.

My anterior motive for this thread is that I'm writing a dialogue piece myself and it's FILLED with the occasional 4th wall break, mistakes in narrative-mode and switching in grammatical tense, and in my case it's not hilarious at all just looks plain amateurish.
Luckily I believe I have it under control now tho.
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:54 PM   #10
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I remember playing a game where those comments were not only annoying, but abusive. Now that ruined the game for me very quickly. After replies like "Are you an idiot?" or "Go jump out of the window" I was frustrated to the limit and lost any interest in the game.
But usually the "That doesn't work" reply works in similar way. ANY decent (and non-abusive) reply will do after you repeat "That doesn't work" several times. So, here it is.
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Old 10-29-2011, 04:23 AM   #11
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Loooooooooooooooool "Are you an idiot?" now that's just classic!
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:09 AM   #12
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I had an awesome idea for an Adventure Game, where the character was convinced he was possessed, and the mystery was focused around finding out who/what was possessing him. The twist would have been that the PLAYER was the one possessing the character.

It was a cool idea, but I couldn't figure out a way to make it 'work'. Still some food for thought.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:17 AM   #13
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Pyke-that would be an original and interesting game-I'd play it!

Arial-I'm with you. I remember playing "The Lost Mind of Dr. Brain", and he would say insulting stuff that I did not appreciate. Still love that game, though.
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:58 AM   #14
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Oh yes, I remember those things quite clearly in Runaway games. For example in The Dream of the Turtle I remember I accidentaly used a glass shard on that drunk lemur in Brian's inventory, and Brian said something like "I don't wanna kill the poor guy" I thought it was pretty funny as well as some other lines I don't remember.

Also I remember in Monkey Island how Guybrush would sometimes say something funny and then turn himself towards me like he's talking to me e.g. “That’s the second biggest monkey head I’ve ever seen!”

So yeah, the main character adressing me, never really annoyed me, neither did I thought it was weird or unnatural, because I found it to be quite funny and amusing.
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