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    Just Gotta Let Go: Life is Strange and Choices (Spoilers)

    Posted on Sunday, October 25th, 2015 by Malin

    I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about the end of the game Life is Strange. To sum it all up, people seem to be disappointed that their choices didn’t matter in the way which they had been promised. However, I think that statement comes with a lot of baggage due to the statement being used in a game that sort of changed the tide for the genre– The Walking Dead. In The Walking Dead, each time you made a decision it was always an impact that was made itself known quite quickly after you made the choice, and in Life is Strange, it isn’t quite so.

    The beauty of Life is Strange is not that you can rewind time and make everything perfect– it’s the fact that even with the capability of rewinding time, you have no idea of what good it will do in the long run. Ever since the beginning of episode 1 the player can alter the way characters see them, but they consist mostly of slight shifts that do not change the course of action of the story. Nathan may smile when he sees you and deliver his lines in a less contemptuous fashion, or Chloe might not guilt-trip you for not being on her side in a certain moment, but there are always plenty of memories and scenarios that have already pre-destined a character’s disposition towards you.

    And in the end… Does it matter?

    In the same way The Walking Dead killed off characters one episode after you could choose to save them or not, Life is Strange may feel for some as though all their hard work was for nothing. But I wonder if that is true. For me, Life is Strange was about exploration rather than the outcome of it. If anything, Life is Strange tells you that you cannot manipulate everyone and everything around you to suit your needs, as you have no idea of the outcome, no matter how far back in time you travel in order to fix it. Perhaps we as players are so used to feeling as though we are all-knowing Gods that we can’t deal with the fact that a game might leave us with nothing more but memories of things that never happened.

    We are so used to having “replayability!! everything will be different next time around!!” stuffed down our throats that a game that specifically is made to shift our thoughts of the story it represents as the game develops makes us feel as though we’ve been set up for failure, when in fact, we were taught the same lesson our main character was. Some things must happen, and you are only prolonging its outcome.

    Even so, though, DONTNOD gave enough blank space inbetween the time travelling that Max might still have made the decisions you made for her previously. Who is to say that Max will never find herself in the scenario of pouring white paint over Victoria just because one or two characters in the game aren’t at campus anymore?

    Personally, I have never been so proud of a game that uses tropes of many crime thrillers or horror movies and still manage to do it far more tasteful than I have seen in games previously. Max might have needed rescuing, but she manipulated her captor to clear the path for her savior as well as guide him towards victory. Thinking about it just now, perhaps it also restored a bit of her faith in adults.

    My personal favorite scene in Episode 5 was when Max does not take a picture of Mr. Jefferson as he lay out cold on the floor, his hands duct-taped, just like she had been moments before. There is a trope within horror where the pure victim becomes tainted by their captor in order to make the tables turn. The captor becomes the victim and the victim the captor in this scenario, but there is a certain type of strength in not letting the terrible things that happened to you corrupt you into someone you would never become otherwise.

    Perhaps I am bias as I did not mind Jefferson’s exposition dialogue since I myself was curious as to how he justified his actions, and I was so proud over the fact that Max got to deal with the aftermath– the trauma of having one of your rolemodels turn into such an awful, awful person. At first I wondered why her nightmare only consisted of men trying to chase her down, but then I realized that Jefferson probably put a chink into her trust for them. After all, the nightmare happened mere hours after she escaped the Dark Room, and it showed the fear she must have had at that moment, of all men wanting to either kill or possess her, intermingled with the fear of her friends not caring for her at all.

    The developers could have ignored Max’s inner self completely to create more of a story for the universe, but the beginning of the game was so devoid of Max’s inner feelings that I found it to be an absolute treat to know what she felt, and the universe had been set up quite neatly beforehand, with certain things left unsaid that I found were fine being left as they were.

    In the long run, I found that episode 5 set out to deliver what it promised; finding Rachel Amber and capture her wrong-doers. …and have an amazing adventure with an otherwise lost friend.


    Categories: Gaming | No Comments »

    Dreamer

    Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by Malin

    As I am here, writing this,  Zoë Castillo is staring into the abyss of dreams on my computer screen. It is the launch day for Dreamfall Chapters, and I have played nothing of the real game, yet hundreds of emotions have swept over me throughout the introduction. I had to pause. I had to collect my thoughts. I had to stop because tears were filling my glasses to the brim and I couldn’t see anything anymore. I haven’t interacted with the game in any way; I have just been a passive observer and yet it has affected me far greater than any game I have played in years.

    It is quite unbelievable how games and the memories connected to them can affect people this way. You grow up with them, and the good ones always walk with you on your own journey. I’ve waited eight years for this game, and so have many others. During those eight years I have grown up considerably, and the mere panorama of the worlds I’ve loved to walk in ever since TLJ’s release in 1999 was apparently too much for me to handle.

    I am still crying, and I find it odd, and… fascinating. Embarrassing, even.

    When Dreamfall: The Longest Journey was released,  Zoë and I were in the same head space. I played it during a summer of incredible heat amidst a depression of not knowing what my life held in store for me. I was barely seventeen years old, and her interaction with Wonkers is something I still have etched into my mind.

    As the game came to a close I felt lost and abandoned, but life goes on. I found a path and followed it, never truly looking back until I was at JourneyCon, the convention held by Red Thread Games in Oslo. As they played through Friar’s Keep I remember looking around me in the audience; seeing the amazed and happy faces of those around me. I felt very disconnected and slightly jealous. If this moment had happened when I was seventeen I would have been just as ecstatic as them, but I seemed to have gotten lost while growing up.

    What happened?

    I’d like to blame game making, even though it has brought so much joy to my life. When working with games and playing them on your free time it usually takes the edge off certain things. You start analyzing and appreciating the craftsmanship instead of being immersed. You applaud their makers and try to memorize things you liked so that you can develop certain aspects yourself.

    When logging into Steam today I was terrified of feeling the same thing while booting up Dreamfall Chapters.

    Instead I was met with too many emotions to count, bawling my eyes out over seeing a glimpse of April Ryan and the confident smile of  Zoë Castillo. The introduction made me feel like it was only yesterday I saw April on that bridge.

    I don’t even know what to say except that I am a tad bit jealous of the lovely people of Red Thread Games for making me feel this way, but I am also ecstatic over the fact that it was still possible.


    Categories: Gaming, Personal | No Comments »

    Project: Neverwinter Nights Quest- First Steps

    Posted on Monday, November 26th, 2012 by Malin

    Howdy-doody, I’m back from the dead! Sorta. Lemme show you what I’ve been working on~

    I am on a quest (heh!) to learn a scripting language and some Creation/Tool Kits for some added skills to my tool belt as a narrative and game designer. As my plan stands for the time being, I’m starting with reading the book Beginning Lua Programming (Programmer to Programmer) – one chapter per week. I really have no scripting skills except using a little bit of Kismet in UDK in school, and this book, is at least for the time being, really good. It explains everything in detail (sometimes a little bit too much, but it’s a good thing!) and there’s never anything I am left questioning. I’ve only read a few chapters so far, but, for the time being I am very happy.

    Anyway, I can’t really be using my whole week to read, now can I? Nope! Two of the work days I’ve planned for (…doing the fun stuff!), creating a quest in a specified Creation Kit.

    As I already had Neverwinter Nights installed, I decided to start there. Now, I like having a plan before I start doing things, so I read the amazing Toolset Manual and then planned what needed to be in my quest (specified with what I thought Neverwinter Nights’ toolset could handle), creating a dandy SCRUM-like planning; including how much time I thought each feature would take. After that I took all priorities marked with “High” and added them to the side; creating an MVP – Minimum Viable Product, to see if this was something I could achieve.


    When done with that, I wrote about two or three different scenarios that the quest could be… But none of them felt good. I was at a loss, so I decided to start dabbling with the level design hoping I’d get inspired. I ended up looking through all assets, seeing what was I was drawn towards – most of it being statues and water. I also knew I wanted a dungeon, because… Well… Dungeons are cool! At the same time I had a Word document open, writing down the ideas the level gave to me as I was creating it.


    I still have some question marks, and I’m not sure the layout is really enticing for the player, but I’ve got an outline that I’m really happy with. I’ve also sort of realized that my stories get way better when I get inspired with what’s available than the opposite. Heh. Lesson learned!

    It feels fantastic to be sort of “back in the saddle” – so many months have been spilled this year on writing a bachelor thesis and other academic papers that I almost forgot how happy creation makes me. I’m extremely glad to be back.


    Categories: Gaming, School, Writing | No Comments »

    Hamburg Internship Daedalic: The Rabbit’s Apprentice is ANNOUNCED!

    Posted on Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 by Malin

    Characters present in the images are Jerry Hazelnut (main character with his cute big hat!), Jerry’s mother, Edith the Squirrel and Spitzweig the adventurer!

    For 6 months I had an internship at Daedalic Entertainment in Hamburg, and 3 of those were spent working on a game by Matthias Kempke named The Rabbit’s Apprentice.

    The game got announced yesterday and images are starting to circle the web. I’m super-excited! I worked there to evolve the story and enhanced some characters together with the creator, while writing dialogue, hotspot text and puzzle logic for the game. I had a blast doing so and I’m extremely happy to finally be able to do the modernised version of “shouting it from the rooftops”; writing a blog entry about it and posting it on Facebook! Heh… :D

    Hopefully its official website will have more information to tell soon, but for now you have to make due with the one available: http://www.rabbitsapprentice.com


    Categories: Daedalic Entertainment, Gaming, Hamburg | 2 Comments »

    Lost in Wonderland. Well, soon; most definitely.

    Posted on Monday, July 4th, 2011 by Malin

    Oh God.
    I was not hyping Alice: Madness Returns.

    I am so glad I didn’t.

    I’ve started playing it, and every little thing makes me smile.

    I’m still not quite there yet when it comes to the creepy wonderland that was American McGee’s Alice… But this game is JUST SO BEAUTIFUL.
    I mean it. I am not talking just the graphical style, there’s just so much work put into the whole game. And from what I’ve seen, the pace of teaching the player new tricks is fantastically thought out. There’s a fine line between making a player too bored or too confused/ragequitting.

    IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY.
    Even the tiny tutorial images makes me want to die inside.

    PS. I have recently played an adventure game called Alpha Polaris. It has one of the best puzzles I’ve ever encountered in an adventure game these past few years. It gives me hope to see adventure game try to think outside the box, even though just a tiny bit. I was also thrilled to see they made their main character’s nose bigger than the usual (as I’d like to call it:) “Square Enix/Final Fantasy”-nose.
    Go, go, scandinavians! DS.


    Categories: Gaming | No Comments »

    Silent Hill 3 Making Of

    Posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 by Malin

    I am currently on the hunt for this in its original form. That is, on a DVD included with a brittish magazine from 2003. Ugh. Not an easy task. But I’ll be on the lookout! D:

    I thought I’d show it here since… Well, it’s so good! It’s also a fantastic example of what I talked about in my last entry: how to take inspiration for your characters from something that already exists: magazine covers, actresses and other characters. In example, Douglas in Silent Hill 3 was inspired by the priest in The 5th Element!


    Categories: Gaming | No Comments »