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Blog: "How the player becomes the protagonist"
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Thomas Offline
Frictional Games

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Post: #1
Blog: "How the player becomes the protagonist"

On how the players can feel as they are the protagonist.

11-22-2010 07:02 PM
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davva Offline

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Post: #2
RE: Blog: "How the player becomes the protagonist"

awesome, gonna read it now!

11-22-2010 07:28 PM
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mattwestwick Offline

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Post: #3
RE: Blog: "How the player becomes the protagonist"

Well thats the conundrum isn't it. How to ensure enough immersion without alienating others.

From the people I have tested the game on, the ones who can't get into it tend to be narrow-minded and take an objective view on everything. You know,
Spoiler below!
religious types

For some people a game is a game and that's all. A little program where you shoot bad guys and get a score at the end. You can't really teach these people how to get into a game because of some attitude or personal reason you wouldn't want to get in to. Perhaps they will go home and play it themselves when no one is looking but thats not worth investigating. All you can do is provide a small alternative for them to keep occupied and hope they cross over. For a few this was the light/dark conundrum. It was simple enough to provide a direct consequence if they had no imagination or were too anal to immerse themselves in a silly game. Similar to why a lot of people enjoy solving puzzles like crosswords-simply for the satisfaction of completion rather than the enjoyment of the words and shapes themselves.

The ones that have really suprised me are non-gamers who don't know what to expect and get skilled enough with the controls by the time they need them. Often the best response comes from female players ( I prefer the word interacters, but thats crap) but women tend to be a little aloof when it comes to letting their hair down and getting immersed in a game. Pardon my sexism. I think on both sides it's a confidence thing relating to accepting a style of play or connnection.

One aspect in amnesia that I have noticed and wanted to shed some praise on is the method in which it can whip typical action gamers into shape: breaking them into survival horror mode. Maybe it wasn't intentional (I am sure it was) but they would run through the first few levels without much care, neglecting the story trail and seeing the puzzles only as a barrier. However when they reach the water monster level this play style can't work and so they have conform to the intended playstyle regardless of them having not read the hints or suggestions left for them. This was perfect positioning as all they had really missed was a tutorial section and minimal backstory. Things that they would have to learn the hard way after being caught out by an early "correctional" sequence like the water monsters.

On the topic of implementing a voice for the player character, I feel that the incidents of speech or conversation must by in synch with the player would say or do. Random events like Daniel muttering break the connection because you don't expect them. It feels like a spoiler, that perhaps something is about to happen and although this is excellent if something does, it inevitably feels fake when nothing does.

He said something and nothing happened: it's just a game with some lines tacked on.

However, random elements that are not overly distracting (like human speech is) are fine because they form part of the atmosphere and not the narrative.

If you want simple people to relate with a character you have to make the character simple. If you want them to relate to a complex character and all it's complex processes, the player needs to be largely intelligent. This is difficult to make without insulting or dissuading a large majority of people/consumers.

If you wanted to appeal to everyone you would have to start with a base template that is adaptive to the initial progress of the player. Sort of like select easy/medium/hard mode but more sophisticated.

Once I am done with my stress testing I will write a proper report that may be of some relavance to you gentlemen as just now I am just dumping all my thoughts without much style.

P.S. Thomas you refer to the player as "she" an awful lot. Are you thinking of someone or is this perhaps a hint for future works.

P.P.S Immersion is much like when you are dreaming. It feels real but if there is too much reference to the real world you wake up.
(This post was last modified: 11-22-2010 10:08 PM by mattwestwick.)
11-22-2010 10:04 PM
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Sexbad Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Blog: "How the player becomes the protagonist"

Strange thing for me about Agrippa... Since he can't speak in his husk, I figured that the machine you turned on read his thoughts and translated them into words. Therefore, I thought that it was also reading your thoughts and relaying them to him so he knows what you're interested in. It didn't seem awkward to me at all.

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11-22-2010 10:08 PM
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hollowleviathan Offline
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Post: #5
RE: Blog: "How the player becomes the protagonist"

Even in these comments, players persist in thinking that Daniel mutters things instead of perceiving memories of previous moments. And I am certain 'she' was just for pronoun diversity, simply replacing the neutral he with a neutral she.

I am disappointed more people didn't realize it was narration of the original penning of the diary pages, literally the words speaking to you.
11-22-2010 11:15 PM
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Bek Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Blog: "How the player becomes the protagonist"

I felt it was the old narration coming back to you, not you actually reading it out. These blogs are very insightful, I'd never even considered some of the things discussed.
11-23-2010 12:08 AM
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mattwestwick Offline

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Post: #7
RE: Blog: "How the player becomes the protagonist"

I have seen a lot of different responses to the content of the game.

Some people think one thing and others think the other.
I don't really see it as a problem as with fiction you can interpret what you want.

For a game like amnesia where your imagination is you're biggest threat, surely it shouldn't be too strict in explaining exactly what everything is. That should be left to the wiki page etc.

To take an example:
-Daniel mutters some things.
In a literal sense it is just some recorded dialogue coming from the speakers.
In the game it could be him actually talking, or it could be his mind, ot it could be ghosts, it could be anything. What must be excluded are plausable possibilities that are misleading or detract from the goal of the creators.

To provide a small example of these conditions:

If it was intended that most of daniel's dialogue was not spoken out loud in the game but actually his thoughts then more effects would be needed to signify this as thoughts rather than speech. If this turns out too corny for some situations then leave the dialogue as text only.

I am aware that there are audio effects running over the monologue however this is constant for the whole game and so it is impossible to differentiate between thoughts and speech.

So the problem is we don't know for sure which it is. Which makes us confused. Which makes us unhappy. (Note: this is a very minor problem that only a few will bring up anyway. But its nice to be perfect)

As I mentioned in a previous post. You can't satisfy everyone because we are all pre-coditioned and have different expectations. If you want to please more people. Make the style of the game adaptive based on player behaviour.
Basically if someone runs through levels quickly and skips through text diaries: give them more basic and to the point instructions on screen.
And if someone takes their time slowly making progress, then you cut back on the visual and aural aids and let them discover and feel for themselves.

Does anyone think this concept is viable? Obviously the appraisal of a players behaviour has to be done early (in tutorial or first level) and with less frequent checks later on as they progress down their determined route. I feel that you can catergorise the different player types and present a game that will recognise this and adapt to it.
(This post was last modified: 11-23-2010 01:31 AM by mattwestwick.)
11-23-2010 01:27 AM
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