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Old 01-25-2006, 02:23 PM   #41
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I finished Day 2 as well. It's much more gamelike - figuring out how to find out what's at the bottom of the pool. One of the first things I did was watch TV. I thought it odd that you couldn't talk about the news to any of the others. I would think it was natural to mention that the world outside is aware of the disappearence. When they were talking about their dreams, I fully expected them to say that they were the killers, so it came as a bit of a shock to hear Simone say that she identified Trilby. I noticed the Sir Roderick's portrait discrepancy, and immediately went upstairs to see if his wife's does the same thing ( ........no). Looking forward to Day 3 .
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Old 01-25-2006, 06:44 PM   #42
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Playing this game, it reminds you why the underground scene is so important. Taking the creative risk of making a game set in such a small, almost claustrophobic space is a commercial risk most developers could never take - as is making the game just long enough so that it rolls forwards like an express train without the main story arc getting dull or unnecessarily complicated.

The design of the manor reminds me of Yahtzee's beloved Silent Hill games; levels based on a large building with most of the rooms closed off, which open as you progress.

As for day 2; this is definitely where the story kicks in, and the payoff for the dull day one becomes apparent. This game has the scariest visuals ever produced on MS Paint, using music and shock tactics well to ramp up the scares; the discovery of AJs body makes you feel sick, it is so grey and lifeless, and as for the body in the bath or the realisation that everyone's dreams cast you as the welder... can't beat it for scares. Although this is jumping the gun a bit, I like the way death is handled in this game. It's always fair, clearly signposted, and used sparingly to rank up the tension; if you knew you couldn't die in this game, it would make a lot of the terror redundant.
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Old 01-26-2006, 01:00 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colpet
One of the first things I did was watch TV. I thought it odd that you couldn't talk about the news to any of the others. I would think it was natural to mention that the world outside is aware of the disappearence..
I'd never thought of that and now you mention it, it does seem strange. Unlike the problem with the order of finding people this wouldn't have needed much extra (watched TV or not watched TV) Maybe it just didn't occur to Yahtzee.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stuboy
Taking the creative risk of making a game set in such a small, almost claustrophobic space is a commercial risk most developers could never take - as is making the game just long enough so that it rolls forwards like an express train without the main story arc getting dull or unnecessarily complicated.
It's the very claustrophobic nature of the interiors that increase the sense of being trapped. As Snarky said, they don't take up very much of the screen but they work very effectively as a result. I think the game length is partially because its an underground game (and just produced by one person with no budget). It does work well though. There really isn't a lot in the way of unnecesary frills whereas some commercial games seem to add puzzles in to artificially increase game length.
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Old 01-26-2006, 05:03 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by stuboy
Although this is jumping the gun a bit, I like the way death is handled in this game. It's always fair, clearly signposted, and used sparingly to rank up the tension; if you knew you couldn't die in this game, it would make a lot of the terror redundant.
Yes, it works well in this game. The sequel got it wrong, though, by making the death sequences both too hard and relying on certain solutions that you'd be incredibly unlikely to think of for yourself.
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Old 01-26-2006, 05:07 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by RLacey
Yes, it works well in this game. The sequel got it wrong, though, by making the death sequences both too hard and relying on certain solutions that you'd be incredibly unlikely to think of for yourself.
I'm up for playing the sequel as a follow-on to this playthrough if people are interested. It would be interesting to compare the differences in approach between the two.
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Old 01-26-2006, 01:06 PM   #46
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I've just finished Day 2. I can't say I'm very much into the game, but it's not bad. Once again, there are some severe story-telling flaws: the story 'naturally' draws the player to the question of the hidden staircase (and I thought I'd find AJ('s body?) there), but... no, that's not it at all, you're actually supposed to think of having a look at the pool. That's a design flaw for a game, but, more importantly, it's a story-telling problem.

And the game is going too fast; the story has no time to breathe: you don't even have time to reflect on the fact that AJ's body should be all bluish and swollen (instead of what it looks like in the game) that, blam, another dream sequence (this is getting tired by the way). The game being too short really shows in that sequence too: the only bit of backstory is the mysterious story of the son and the father, and, guess what, you have a dream about a son and his father! I understand that this is an amateur game, but, well, I've already argued several times that it's extremely important to fit the story and the medium used to tell it, and this game shows the problem perfectly: if you want to build a ghost mystery, you need a lot of subtlety, something this game greatly lacks, in part because of its extremely short nature.

Oh, and the 'people moving around and disappearing mysteriously' system is feeling more and more problematic; I understand the technical difficulties, but, well, it really hampers believability of the story (and the atmosphere) and, once again, if your medium is not suited to the story you want to tell, then just tell another one!

(Gosh, I'm starting to sound like MoriartyL in the BASS playthrough...)

Oh, and two vital questions:

1) Is it normal that I have no music while exploring the house? There used to be some at the beginning of the game, but it stopped at some point on day 1 (when I first met Philip, maybe?), and never came back. It still plays in the cutscenes / dream sequences, though.

2) What are these people eating?
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Old 01-26-2006, 03:39 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurufinwe
I've just finished Day 2. I can't say I'm very much into the game, but it's not bad. Once again, there are some severe story-telling flaws: the story 'naturally' draws the player to the question of the hidden staircase (and I thought I'd find AJ('s body?) there), but... no, that's not it at all, you're actually supposed to think of having a look at the pool. That's a design flaw for a game, but, more importantly, it's a story-telling problem.
I agree wtih you there. Like I said earliier, draining the pool doesn't seem a logical choice. A hidden staircase is a much more likely source of an escaper route.
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blam, another dream sequence (this is getting tired by the way).
There is (to my mind) a good reason for this that isn't yet apparent.
Quote:
The game being too short really shows in that sequence too: the only bit of backstory is the mysterious story of the son and the father, and, guess what, you have a dream about a son and his father! I understand that this is an amateur game, but, well, I've already argued several times that it's extremely important to fit the story and the medium used to tell it, and this game shows the problem perfectly: if you want to build a ghost mystery, you need a lot of subtlety, something this game greatly lacks, in part because of its extremely short nature.
I'm a bit confused what you're getting at here. You say the game is too short and lacking subtlety at the same time as saying not much backstory is revealed. Isn't the bit by bit revelation of the backstory exactly an example of the subtlety you're looking for?
Quote:
Oh, and the 'people moving around and disappearing mysteriously' system is feeling more and more problematic; I understand the technical difficulties, but, well, it really hampers believability of the story (and the atmosphere) and, once again, if your medium is not suited to the story you want to tell, then just tell another one!
Again I'm not sure what you mean by this. In day 2 all 3 of the non-player characters stay in particular locations. (Phil in the garden. Jim in the dining room. Simone in the library.) The only person that moves about is Philip once you've got the metal detector off him and there's no sensible reason for looking for him before day end
Quote:
1) Is it normal that I have no music while exploring the house? There used to be some at the beginning of the game, but it stopped at some point on day 1 (when I first met Philip, maybe?), and never came back. It still plays in the cutscenes / dream sequences, though.
Yes, it's perfectly normal. See my earlier comment about sparing use of music
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2) What are these people eating?
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Old 01-26-2006, 05:13 PM   #48
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Old 01-26-2006, 06:07 PM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurufinwe
I've just finished Day 2. I can't say I'm very much into the game, but it's not bad. Once again, there are some severe story-telling flaws: the story 'naturally' draws the player to the question of the hidden staircase (and I thought I'd find AJ('s body?) there), but... no, that's not it at all, you're actually supposed to think of having a look at the pool. That's a design flaw for a game, but, more importantly, it's a story-telling problem.
I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to tell you that the hidden staircase will feature later in the game, so consider this mention foreshadowing. As for why you drain the pool, if you look at it, Trilby will notice something at the bottom, won't be able to make it out, and suggest "maybe if it was drained".

I agree that it's a problem that the game lets you go ahead and drain the pool even if you don't know the reason to do it, but this is a tricky problem which even professional games often get wrong.

I wouldn't call it a major storytelling problem.

Quote:
And the game is going too fast; the story has no time to breathe: you don't even have time to reflect on the fact that AJ's body should be all bluish and swollen (instead of what it looks like in the game)
That depends on how long he has been under water, surely?

Quote:
that, blam, another dream sequence (this is getting tired by the way). The game being too short really shows in that sequence too:
I disagree that the game is rushed or too short. In fact, I think it's exactly the right length. Short and sweet, tightly constructed without any unnecessary fat.

I will agree that it's a pretty simple ghost story, although you shouldn't assume that everything is as it seems...

Quote:
the only bit of backstory is the mysterious story of the son and the father
That's simply not true. You have the recent history of the house, with the mysterious murder/suicide. You have the history of the place over the decades as somewhere people have disappeared. You have the backstories of the other people in the house (or at least who they claim to be), and whatever took place between them before you arrived. You have the TV news letting you know what's going on in the world outside. Some of these things may become relevant later in the game.

Quote:
and, guess what, you have a dream about a son and his father! I understand that this is an amateur game, but, well, I've already argued several times that it's extremely important to fit the story and the medium used to tell it, and this game shows the problem perfectly: if you want to build a ghost mystery, you need a lot of subtlety, something this game greatly lacks, in part because of its extremely short nature.
I don't think subtlety is essential in ghost stories. Many of them are pretty on-the-nose.

Quote:
2) What are these people eating?
Yahtzee explains in the designer's commentary that the others ate all the food just before Trilby arrived, so much that they didn't need to eat for the next five days. And Trilby is too polite to complain. In other words, he didn't think about it.
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Old 01-27-2006, 02:25 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by stepurhan
There is (to my mind) a good reason for this that isn't yet apparent.
I'm willing to accept that. Actually, I thought about it some more, and my problem was really about that particular dream (which served no purpose storywise, and therefore felt more like an obligatory 'dream of the day').

Quote:
I'm a bit confused what you're getting at here. You say the game is too short and lacking subtlety at the same time as saying not much backstory is revealed. Isn't the bit by bit revelation of the backstory exactly an example of the subtlety you're looking for?
But that's the exact problem: there's too little backstory, and therefore it comes across as heavy-handed. It worked better on the first day (like the thing with the owner killing his wife and himself, which made you realise that something was going on), but this time it doesn't: you've got this big library with potientially lots of information, and the only thing the game gives you is that story with the father and his son. There's absolutely no reason (yet) to think that it should be especially relevant, apart from the fact that it's the only thing that the game chooses to dwell on. That's what I call a huge lack of subtlety.

Quote:
Again I'm not sure what you mean by this. In day 2 all 3 of the non-player characters stay in particular locations. (Phil in the garden. Jim in the dining room. Simone in the library.) The only person that moves about is Philip once you've got the metal detector off him and there's no sensible reason for looking for him before day end.
Well, to me there was, as I didn't immediately think of looking in the swimming pool. And there's another character who seems to appear and disappear mysteriously: AJ. I mean, he's disappeared from the start of Day 1, but his body only turns up in the swimming pool on Day 2. Where was he during Day 1? I hope the game explains that later, because for the moment it just feels like that problem with magically disappearing characters.

And, once again, this is a story-telling problem. This game is basically sending two contradictory signals:
1) Be careful, people are disappearing and dying, you should make sure to check if you can find them, because they may turn up dead any moment. Be afraid. MWAHAHAHAHA!
2) Well, characters are there when the designer needs them, and then the rest of the time they're just nowhere. Don't worry, move along, there's no point even noticing that.
You see the problem? And the consequence of that is that the game can't let the player realise that someone is missing and start worrying about finding them, and instead has to rely on the other characters repeating that someone is missing. Once again, this lacks subtlety.

Quote:
Yes, it's perfectly normal. See my earlier comment about sparing use of music.
Yes, I had missed that part of your post. I'm fine with the silent atmosphere, it's just that I was afraid of a bug.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stuboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snarky
I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to tell you that the hidden staircase will feature later in the game, so consider this mention foreshadowing. As for why you drain the pool, if you look at it, Trilby will notice something at the bottom, won't be able to make it out, and suggest "maybe if it was drained".

I agree that it's a problem that the game lets you go ahead and drain the pool even if you don't know the reason to do it, but this is a tricky problem which even professional games often get wrong.

I wouldn't call it a major storytelling problem.
I think it all depends on how you play the game. If you first notice the 'thing' in the pool, then it's quite logical that your mind would be set on finding a way to drain it. On the other hand, I started the day by talking to Jim, then going in the library (which was the 'new thing' of the day, and therefore (I thought) would be where the plot would progress), and got in my head that the goal of the day was to explore that secret passage in the kitchen. Why then would I even consider having a look at the pool? I think the problem for me worked in three steps, three connected design flaws:
1) The problem of the appearing / disappearing characters. See above. And that's why I didn't think AJ would materialise in the pool, and therefore I didn't think of looking there until much later.
2) The game relies too much on random backtracking. I mean, it's been two days, and it has already happened twice: Jim in the tree and AJ in the pool. I'm completely willing to have a look around each room everyday, of course, but if that means having to look at / use everything in every room in hopes that something will have changed, then I don't like it. Actually, I find that even worse than the eagle in KQ1 (which I mentioned in the BASS playthrough as an example of bad backtracking). Also, note how in both cases this problem is related to the first one (the characters moving around magically).
3) The designer expects you to play the story in a special order (that is, seeing that there's something to do with the pool first), instead of thinking that you could be seeing things a completely different way (and looking for a way to access the hidden passage).

Quote:
That depends on how long he has been under water, surely?
You're right, he probably just materialised there the exact instant you first decide to look in the pool on Day 2.

Hey, wait a minute, I understand! It's a game about quantum physics, Schrödinger's cat, and all that.

Quote:
I disagree that the game is rushed or too short. In fact, I think it's exactly the right length. Short and sweet, tightly constructed without any unnecessary fat.

I will agree that it's a pretty simple ghost story, although you shouldn't assume that everything is as it seems...
We'll see when it's over. For the moment, I think it is rushed and, because of that, lacks subtlety, but my impressions may change as the game progresses.
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Old 01-27-2006, 03:21 AM   #51
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All referencing to Kurufinwe's post above. Sorry, haven't got time to sort out the quoting.

I see what your saying about the backstory now. I'd be grateful if you'd revisit this topic after day 3 to see if that changes your view any (or if it doesn't why not) While backstory is limited I see it as a gradual progression revealing the mystery.
  • Day 1 - The house has a bad history of sudden unexplained deaths.
  • Day 2 - This all seems to date back to the mysterious disappearance of the original owner and his son.
  • Day 3 - ?

I agree with you about AJ (his disappearance at the beginning of Day 1 is impossible to justify given the layout of the house) I think having the other characters static simplifies the design issue of characters only being there when you need them. Day 1 they had to be mobile for the introductions (and so you get the disappearance syndrome) but Day 2 they can sit in one place and not create problems.

Fair comment about the order you discover things (and hence what you're expecting to do. I'm hampered here by the fact I'm replaying (so I knew the pool was key to Day 2)

Schrodinger's Mutilated Corpse would have made an interesting addition to my school physics text though.
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Old 01-27-2006, 08:23 AM   #52
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I don't know, I think that there is enough of a story. It is a short game, after all. Maybe it's because I usually play the types of games whare the story slowly unfolds as you work through the game, rather than it being in your face, so to speak.
One of the first things I did in Day 2 was click on the pool, so I had a strong directive to try and empty it. Phil also made a comment about finding some pipes with the metal detector, so that planted the seed about what needed to be done.
I'm definitely curious about the portrait changing, and the way people disappear. As usual, I like to conjecture about things:
Spoiler:
That statue in the trophy room, I'm sure it's cursed. I'm thinking along the lines of Shivers.
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Old 01-27-2006, 10:36 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by Kurufinwe
I'm willing to accept that. Actually, I thought about it some more, and my problem was really about that particular dream (which served no purpose storywise, and therefore felt more like an obligatory 'dream of the day').
It does in fact serve something of a purpose. In Yahtzee's commentary, he explains that:

Spoiler:
It is meant to make you think that the older DeFoe killed his son, and thus act as a red herring.

Quote:
But that's the exact problem: there's too little backstory, and therefore it comes across as heavy-handed. It worked better on the first day (like the thing with the owner killing his wife and himself, which made you realise that something was going on), but this time it doesn't: you've got this big library with potientially lots of information, and the only thing the game gives you is that story with the father and his son. There's absolutely no reason (yet) to think that it should be especially relevant, apart from the fact that it's the only thing that the game chooses to dwell on. That's what I call a huge lack of subtlety.
I'm really trying to follow your argument here, but I don't understand what you're saying. As I pointed out above, there's plenty of backstory. In addition to everything you learned in Day 1, you also find out in Day 2 about a hidden tomb and a secret staircase. How can you simultaneously complain that the game distracts you with irrelevant information and that there isn't enough backstory?

I think there's good reason to expect a book on the history of the DeFoe family to be relevant. Let's step through Trilby's reasoning:
  1. He discovers that he's trapped in the house, and that both windows and doors mysteriously refuse to let him out.
  2. He find out that others have also been captured, in ways that defy natural explanation.
  3. He learns that the house has a history of disappearances going back centuries.
  4. He hears about the mysterious, out-of-character murder/suicide of the last DeFoe heir.
  5. He notices that the house is full of artefacts from the original owner, whose personality has clearly set a deep mark on the building.
  6. A painting of the original owner changes overnight.
I have no difficulty understanding why Trilby believes the house is haunted, and that it has something to do with the history of the house and the family that built it and lived there. A history of the DeFoes is much more likely to be relevant than, say, the complete works of PG Wodehouse.

Quote:
Well, to me there was, as I didn't immediately think of looking in the swimming pool. And there's another character who seems to appear and disappear mysteriously: AJ. I mean, he's disappeared from the start of Day 1, but his body only turns up in the swimming pool on Day 2. Where was he during Day 1? I hope the game explains that later, because for the moment it just feels like that problem with magically disappearing characters.
Well, I think we know enough already to start answering that question. Wherever he was hiding during Day 1 (and if you think about it, it shouldn't be that difficult to work out where he must have been), we know he broke into the library that night, and did some research. Then he was killed, by someone or something, either in the library or somewhere else, and his body was hidden at the bottom of the pool.

Quote:
And, once again, this is a story-telling problem. This game is basically sending two contradictory signals:
1) Be careful, people are disappearing and dying, you should make sure to check if you can find them, because they may turn up dead any moment. Be afraid. MWAHAHAHAHA!
2) Well, characters are there when the designer needs them, and then the rest of the time they're just nowhere. Don't worry, move along, there's no point even noticing that.
You see the problem? And the consequence of that is that the game can't let the player realise that someone is missing and start worrying about finding them, and instead has to rely on the other characters repeating that someone is missing. Once again, this lacks subtlety.
Well, the only time (so far) that people have gone missing for no reason is during Day 1 when you're trying to gather people in the lounge. And I agree, that's confusing. However, I don't think it's a particular problem that the other characters keep telling you that they don't know where AJ is, since it's completely natural for you to ask them about it.

Quote:
I think it all depends on how you play the game. If you first notice the 'thing' in the pool, then it's quite logical that your mind would be set on finding a way to drain it. On the other hand, I started the day by talking to Jim, then going in the library (which was the 'new thing' of the day, and therefore (I thought) would be where the plot would progress), and got in my head that the goal of the day was to explore that secret passage in the kitchen.
That can't be right. You cannot look at the map until after you've talked to Philip and you've asked him for the metal detector. So you had at least some hint about another possibility to explore.

Quote:
Why then would I even consider having a look at the pool? I think the problem for me worked in three steps, three connected design flaws:
1) The problem of the appearing / disappearing characters. See above. And that's why I didn't think AJ would materialise in the pool, and therefore I didn't think of looking there until much later.
Again, I don't get it. It's been made very clear that AJ's disappearance is of a different kind than the other characters' random dematerializations. It's also obvious that this is a horror game, so there's a good chance he's dead. So why shouldn't he be in the pool?

Quote:
2) The game relies too much on random backtracking. I mean, it's been two days, and it has already happened twice: Jim in the tree and AJ in the pool. I'm completely willing to have a look around each room everyday, of course, but if that means having to look at / use everything in every room in hopes that something will have changed, then I don't like it. Actually, I find that even worse than the eagle in KQ1 (which I mentioned in the BASS playthrough as an example of bad backtracking). Also, note how in both cases this problem is related to the first one (the characters moving around magically).
It would have been better if there was some visual indication that something was up with the pool, definitely. However, it's possible to attempt and solve the puzzle without actually planning to drain it, which is a bit awkward, but at least means that it shouldn't be a player obstacle.

Quote:
3) The designer expects you to play the story in a special order (that is, seeing that there's something to do with the pool first), instead of thinking that you could be seeing things a completely different way (and looking for a way to access the hidden passage).
Well, there's nothing to keep you from attempting to access the hidden passage. You just won't get very far right now. I think the question is whether the path that is open is signposted at all. And yes, I think it is:
  • Your first task of the day should be to talk to the others. (For one reason, just to make sure they're all still alive.)
  • When you talk to Philip, there'll be a dialogue option about borrowing his metal detector. If you can prove the tomb is not in the back yard, you can have it.
  • Once you get the map, you'll see two things: a hidden staircase, and the location of the tomb.
  • Clearly, you can then use the map to convince Philip to give you the metal detector.
  • Once you have the detector, a careful player will be methodical and scan every likely surface, starting with the current screen.
  • Scanning the garden will inform you that you "need a point to start"
  • Move left one screen, and the pipe will provide that point.
If you missed one of the steps in this chain, well... that's what adventure games are about, right? You're not supposed to always be able to do it straight away. You're only supposed to have a fair chance.

Quote:
You're right, he probably just materialised there the exact instant you first decide to look in the pool on Day 2.
What?
No, his body was probably hidden there some time during the night. He has probably been underwater for only a couple of hours. It isn't like he was drowned.

It would be interesting to consider this game as if we were playtesters, and make suggestions for ways to fix the problems we perceive. So far, I have:
  • The interface
  • Animation during the intro
  • Trilby's initial motivation for trying to get out of the house
  • Not have people disappear unless they're supposed to
  • Allow Trilby to find the others in any order
  • Dynamic conversations that take into account things you do and learn during the day
  • Explain what the characters eat, and also where the others sleep
  • Some visual (or other) hint that something is up with the pool
  • Clearer indication that you're not supposed to be looking for the hidden staircase (yet)
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Old 01-27-2006, 03:07 PM   #54
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Just played it there, havent really got much to say on this day...

Well someone mentioned something about Trilby trying to find a way to drain the pool when he should be looking for a way out...wouldnt you try to find out what some big blurry object is?
But i was annoyed about how he didnt just jump in and look at it, allot of adventurers seem to have a problem with getting dirty lately, reminds me of a certian "Ew, I dont want to pick up that wet plank, wheres that slow kid?"
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Old 01-28-2006, 12:43 AM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snarky
  • Once you have the detector, a careful player will be methodical and scan every likely surface, starting with the current screen.
It's this step that I think ts the centre of Kurufinwe's problem with the whole pool issue. As PLAYERS we are scanning every available surface with the metal detector. In fact, going back a step, as PLAYERS we are trying to get the metal detector becuase there was a dialogue option about asking for it and Phil wouldn't give it to us straightaway (we AGers always like nicking other people's stuff )

But why would the CHARACTER Trilby want to do these things? The only diggable area of the house that we know of is the garden which Phil is already scanning. Trilby wouldn't be able to search elsewhere with it (at least not without tools to pull up floorboards or break concrete) so why not leave Philip to it while he explores other avenues? Having got the detector, why would Trilby search the lawn. Philip's already searched the lawn as far as he knows so why do it again? (Philip is presumably an expert at using the metal detector being a "treasure hunter" and all)

As Kurufinwe said it all comes down to Trilby realising something is up with the pool. Having spotted the blurry object he has good reason to drain the pool (possibly suspecting what the blurry object is already) Searching the lawn again then makes sense because he'd know he was looking for the pool drainage pipe, an item that Philip is likely to have detected but ignored (since he wanted to find a tomb, not drain the pool.)

I think you're right about the idea of looking at this as if we were playtesters. In this case soem sort of indication of the pool changing (slight murkiness due to blood in the pool?) would set PLAYERS on the right track by giving the CHARACTER a good reason to investigate the pool.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karmillo
"Ew, I dont want to pick up that wet plank, wheres that slow kid?"
Surely he should have tried to make the blurry object jump out of the pool by dropping a spanner into the pool from the top of the house.

Are we ready for more of the Hugo's House of Horrors discussion yet?
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Old 01-28-2006, 05:28 AM   #56
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hmmm, we need to wait till day 3 I think

wich is today isnt it? or twomorrow?
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Old 01-28-2006, 07:27 AM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snarky
I'm really trying to follow your argument here, but I don't understand what you're saying. As I pointed out above, there's plenty of backstory. In addition to everything you learned in Day 1, you also find out in Day 2 about a hidden tomb and a secret staircase. How can you simultaneously complain that the game distracts you with irrelevant information and that there isn't enough backstory?

I think there's good reason to expect a book on the history of the DeFoe family to be relevant. Let's step through Trilby's reasoning:
  1. He discovers that he's trapped in the house, and that both windows and doors mysteriously refuse to let him out.
  2. He find out that others have also been captured, in ways that defy natural explanation.
  3. He learns that the house has a history of disappearances going back centuries.
  4. He hears about the mysterious, out-of-character murder/suicide of the last DeFoe heir.
  5. He notices that the house is full of artefacts from the original owner, whose personality has clearly set a deep mark on the building.
  6. A painting of the original owner changes overnight.
I have no difficulty understanding why Trilby believes the house is haunted, and that it has something to do with the history of the house and the family that built it and lived there. A history of the DeFoes is much more likely to be relevant than, say, the complete works of PG Wodehouse.
When you put it like that, it almost makes sense. I'm not sure I can exactly put my finger on what bothered me, but I'll try. I think there are two things. (1) You never know that Trilby is making that kind on reasoning. I mean, it doesn't look like he's reading the book to find information on the first owner, but rather that he just opened it at a random page, and just stumbled upon that one paragraph that related to his situation. I think a single line from him, showing that he knew what he was looking for would have made the scene completely different for me. (2) Another thing that bothered me is that he seems to have no interest for the book on the floor. I mean, AJ (?) broke into the library looking for information; wouldn't it be interesting to know what books he had a look at?

Quote:
(and if you think about it, it shouldn't be that difficult to work out where he must have been)
Actually, no, I still have no idea where he could have been on Day 1. Unless there's a secret passage in the bathroom, which is the only place he could have got to after we first meet him.

Quote:
his body was hidden at the bottom of the pool.
Seriously, can you repeat that last sentence with a straight face? Hiding a corpse in two meters of clear water? This bugs me; it makes no sense. If (as a murderer) you want the body to be discovered, you'll put in a more visible place; if you don't want it to be found, you won't 'hide' it under a bit of clear water. Or maybe the pool has some sort of significance? But then I'd have appreciated a way to know that, and have the idea to look there.

Quote:
Again, I don't get it. It's been made very clear that AJ's disappearance is of a different kind than the other characters' random dematerializations. It's also obvious that this is a horror game, so there's a good chance he's dead. So why shouldn't he be in the pool?
Why should he? See what I wrote above. Of course, he could be in the pool. He could also be in the safe upstairs, hacked into pieces. He could be under some piece of furniture. He could be in some place we haven't explored yet. He could be anywhere, really. Does that mean that I'm supposed to have a look (and not just look with my own eyes, but by telling the character to look) at each and every item in the house? I agree that it's probably what I would do if I were in such a situation in real life. But as a form of gameplay, it's just awful. Really. I hate doing that. A lot.

Quote:
It would have been better if there was some visual indication that something was up with the pool, definitely. However, it's possible to attempt and solve the puzzle without actually planning to drain it, which is a bit awkward, but at least means that it shouldn't be a player obstacle.
Well no. I'm not interested in that. I'm actually quite good at solving puzzles like that, doing what seems to be what one should do to solve a typical puzzle, but with no idea of what it's actually going to accomplish. But I have no pleasure whatsoever doing that; it just makes me feel dumb, and makes the game feel even dumber. I solved about 80% of DOTT like that, and hated every moment of it. So, if that's how 5DAS is going to work, well, thanks but no thanks.

Quote:
Well, there's nothing to keep you from attempting to access the hidden passage. You just won't get very far right now. I think the question is whether the path that is open is signposted at all. And yes, I think it is:
  • Your first task of the day should be to talk to the others. (For one reason, just to make sure they're all still alive.)
  • When you talk to Philip, there'll be a dialogue option about borrowing his metal detector. If you can prove the tomb is not in the back yard, you can have it.
  • Once you get the map, you'll see two things: a hidden staircase, and the location of the tomb.
  • Clearly, you can then use the map to convince Philip to give you the metal detector.
  • Once you have the detector, a careful player will be methodical and scan every likely surface, starting with the current screen.
  • Scanning the garden will inform you that you "need a point to start"
  • Move left one screen, and the pipe will provide that point.
If you missed one of the steps in this chain, well... that's what adventure games are about, right? You're not supposed to always be able to do it straight away. You're only supposed to have a fair chance.
See what stepurhan said. I agree wholeheartedly with that. I must say it (really) didn't occur to me for one second to use the metal detector at the exact same place that Philip had been searching for days. Once I had (by chance, and after having lost a lot of time) looked in the pool, it all came extremely easily; but, once again, why should I have looked into the pool?
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Old 01-28-2006, 07:29 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colpet
As usual, I like to conjecture about things:
Spoiler:
That statue in the trophy room, I'm sure it's cursed. I'm thinking along the lines of Shivers.
That's exactly what I thought when I first saw it. Now, I'm not so sure.
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Old 01-28-2006, 08:40 AM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurufinwe
When you put it like that, it almost makes sense.
I think it's interesting to subject the game to some harsh criticism, but I also think it deserves a vigorous defense. When I look at the BASS thread, I'm a bit sorry that no one tried to argue with most of MoriartyL's points.

Quote:
I'm not sure I can exactly put my finger on what bothered me, but I'll try. I think there are two things. (1) You never know that Trilby is making that kind on reasoning. I mean, it doesn't look like he's reading the book to find information on the first owner, but rather that he just opened it at a random page, and just stumbled upon that one paragraph that related to his situation. I think a single line from him, showing that he knew what he was looking for would have made the scene completely different for me.
Interesting. I thought it was pretty well established where he was in his reasoning. He had told the others he thought the house was haunted, and didn't he say that his objective for the day was to discover more about its history? When he looks at the book, he mentions that it seems interesting. As for only extracting information from the one relevant chapter in the book, that's standard adventure game practice. (Take Gabriel Knight, for example.) Perhaps Trilby scanned the whole thing and determined that nothing else was interesting. Maybe the history covered the DeFoe's only up until they built the house, and therefore was mostly irrelevant.

Quote:
(2) Another thing that bothered me is that he seems to have no interest for the book on the floor. I mean, AJ (?) broke into the library looking for information; wouldn't it be interesting to know what books he had a look at?
Yeah, that bugged me, too.

Quote:
Actually, no, I still have no idea where he could have been on Day 1. Unless there's a secret passage in the bathroom, which is the only place he could have got to after we first meet him.
No, that's not the only place he could have gone to.

(Not a spoiler for anything in the game, really):
Spoiler:
He must have gone through one of the doors we found locked. Presumably, AJ had found a key.


Quote:
Seriously, can you repeat that last sentence with a straight face? Hiding a corpse in two meters of clear water? This bugs me; it makes no sense. If (as a murderer) you want the body to be discovered, you'll put in a more visible place; if you don't want it to be found, you won't 'hide' it under a bit of clear water. Or maybe the pool has some sort of significance? But then I'd have appreciated a way to know that, and have the idea to look there.
The pool apparently isn't as clear as it looks, since Trilby can't make out AJ's body with certainty even when staring into it.

Now, where else would you hide him? There's no place inside the house where he isn't going to be found at once (assuming you have access to only the same areas everyone else does). You could bury him in one of the holes Philip dug, perhaps, but someone (particularly Philip) might notice, and it might take more time than you have. (The pool is apparently quick-draining and filling.) The pool looks like the best of some pretty poor options.

Quote:
Why should he? See what I wrote above. Of course, he could be in the pool. He could also be in the safe upstairs, hacked into pieces. He could be under some piece of furniture. He could be in some place we haven't explored yet. He could be anywhere, really. Does that mean that I'm supposed to have a look (and not just look with my own eyes, but by telling the character to look) at each and every item in the house? I agree that it's probably what I would do if I were in such a situation in real life. But as a form of gameplay, it's just awful. Really. I hate doing that. A lot.

Well no. I'm not interested in that. I'm actually quite good at solving puzzles like that, doing what seems to be what one should do to solve a typical puzzle, but with no idea of what it's actually going to accomplish. But I have no pleasure whatsoever doing that; it just makes me feel dumb, and makes the game feel even dumber. I solved about 80% of DOTT like that, and hated every moment of it. So, if that's how 5DAS is going to work, well, thanks but no thanks.
If you never knew what to do in DOTT, you were clearly just not simpatico with the game. There's always a way for a player to anticipate the reason for each puzzle in DOTT. I'm not saying it's ideal, but now and then you're going to be in a situation where you are completely on the wrong track in where you think the game is about to go. In those cases, it's essential that the game allows you to use meta-reasoning to figure out what to do, even though you have no idea why you are doing it.

When I first played 5DAS, I didn't look in the pool, either. I just wanted a metal detector (even before Trilby asked for it), because a metal detector is obviously a jolly useful thing to have in an adventure game. Trilby's motivation didn't bother me at all. I just figured he thought the same thing.

Quote:
See what stepurhan said. I agree wholeheartedly with that. I must say it (really) didn't occur to me for one second to use the metal detector at the exact same place that Philip had been searching for days.
How do you know you can trust Philip? All those holes could be a ruse to make you think the back yard had been thoroughly explored. Anyway, it comes back to a metal detector being a wonderful tool. Like a crowbar or a rope, it's obviously useful in a wide range of situations. When you find a general-purpose tool like that, you have to systematically try it on anything it could possibly work with. That's just standard adventure game technique, like looking at all hotspots or trying every conversation option.
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Old 01-28-2006, 08:43 AM   #60
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DAY 3
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