Arcaned Machine 10
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January 23rd, 2011

Arcaned Machine 10

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned my snowdragon. This past week my drawing buddy Jori Baldwin made a couple of great snow sculptures I had to share with you.

Back to the comic: The visual in panel 5 is from my fuzzy memory of the beginning of Ultima Underworld but the idea of cut scenes taking away control from the gaming experience comes from all over. Baldur’s Gate 2: Throne of Baal repeatedly put an annoying, untrustworthy character in the scene whom you couldn’t attack. Then at the end when she reveals she was the baddy all along and rubs your nose in not figuring it out I wanted to hit the computer with my anger. I was like “I tried killing you like 100 times but the computer wouldn’t let me start that fight! I didn’t fall for your plan!” What a terrible plot for an interactive story – and after Baldur’s Gate 2 being such an amazing game it was an extra kick in the teeth. I also think of the beginning of Resident Evil 4 (which I never bothered to continue with). I had been shooting zombies and then all of the sudden a bigger more threatening looking boss appears and it goes to a cut scene where my character decides the best form of attack is a running kick. Yeah, the same move that brain dented WWE wrestlers choose when there’s no folding chair nearby. Brilliant. Then they inject me with something nasty. Video games, if you’re going to take control of my character, please make me do something smart. How about you? What games have gotten your goat in that way?

6 Awesomes Comments!

  1. RavenBlack

    Neverwinter Nights (I think that’s the right one) really annoyed me not by seizing control of my character but by having a guy who is indestructible for plot reasons remain indestructible after the plot has progressed past him and, more importantly, after he has screwed you over for payment.

    The sequence of events goes:
    1. the guy offers to pay me to get rid of someone, he says ‘preferably without killing them’, and offers me an amount of money.
    2. I, playing the part of a mercenary selfish jerk, kill the target because that’s easier, and he only said preferably, he didn’t say I had to do it that way.
    3. He only pays me half. That wasn’t in the agreement, so I decide to kill him to get the other half.
    4. He summons a stupid number of monsters. Okay so far, I have no problem with him having strong magic. However, I kill all the summoned monsters, and go back to attacking him. He remains indestructible. Now it’s not cool – I would only be *a little* irked by this if he was indestructible and there was no reason to attack him, but he didn’t fulfill his side of a bargain – in medieval-setting surely that’s grounds for stabbing someone?

    Here’s a hint for indestructible guys in games – just do your own stupid quest if you don’t want to pay for it! It will be less work for all concerned!

  2. Ribusprissin

    and yet after being stripped you still have your starter gear … which you used to ACCUMULATE your good stuff.

  3. Lars

    I’ve been playing Far Cry 2 lately. They do a pretty good job with justifying the loss of control during plot-critical cut scenes: they happen when you’re sick/injured close to death. So it makes sense that you can’t lift a finger. On the other hand, the circumstances of *how* you get so close to death are pretty well out of your control. Like getting malaria. But then I suppose that’s realistic enough.

    The Half Life series has been a pioneer in making your circumstances match the degree to which your control is taken away, to the point where you can hardly tell the difference between a “cutscene” and any other script-triggered action in the game.

  4. Bok

    The last truly painful example I remember is Doom 3. You walk into a complicated room with gunk and clotted spiderwebs creating all sorts of nooks and crannies. Oop, there go the controls. Now I’m seeing myself from the outside, walking straight into the room without checking for demons first like any sane player would do. Oh, there’s a boss, a giant demonic arachnotaur thing. It’s walking towards me! Why am I just standing there with a dumb look on my face and not running for cover?!
    Argh, the cutscene’s over and I’m starting the fight RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BOSS. Yeah, that’ll go over well.
    Personally I don’t mind losing control that much, provided it’s needed for the story. This example is particularly frustrating because it doesn’t do anything for the story or in fact do anything but annoy you. It’s ONLY there because the developers wanted to show off and give you a good look of the boss before you fight it, but it actually works counterproductively; instead of scaring the player by showing a horrible monster, you’re reminding the player that it’s just a videogame by yanking the controls from them, then annoying them by making them start the fight in a poor position for no reason other than accute cutscene induced paralysis. That’s not scary. That’s bad game design.

    As for the Half Life series, I still haven’t gotten around to play HL2 yet, but I definitely agree the first game did a good job at, well, not having cutscenes actually. (I can only remember one scene where you actually lose control)

  5. admin

    RavenBlack – NWN was pretty terrible but the Hordes of the Underdark expansion was really good.

    Ribu – good point!

    Lars – I’m glad to hear some people are giving a good reason for lack of control.

    Bok – What you say about taking you out of game to show you a cool monster is true. I feel like if I’m spending times looking at the graphics, most monsters aren’t that scary. It’s the fact that I might die that is scary. When I see a screen cap of a boss it usually looks kinda boring.

  6. Steve

    There is something a bit like the obvious traitor thing in Paper Mario 1000 year door, but parodied. The villain in the cheap disguise actually says to the player that it is obvious and gloats that there is no way to tell Mario.