I was brought up with a faith in peace.
Rage should never be released.
Do not provide the beast with a feast.
This wisdom is real.
Rage can make us feel so empowered.
Yet devoured is our common sense.
Still I weather the flame of other's rage,
And wonder at both my faith and my cage.
Is fire so toxic, my ire so caustic,
that is should never be engaged?
Rage buys us nothing sweet
But if your choice is ash or defeat
Would you hold your fire?
Or use your ire to give your beast a treat?
The best games are worlds we visit. Strange and wonderful places unlike anything we can experience here and now. We need fewer theme park rides, and more environments.
At times, Prey is both of these things, which makes the contrast that much sharper.
The exposition, were it delivered later, would have confirmed things implied elsewhere in the game.
The psychoscope is a powerful tool, and opens up an entire branch of useful abilities for the player. However, obligating is to get it in order to progress is heavy handed.
There is nothing in the game's design that actually mandates it. You COULD pick it up in the third act. You'd be doing yourself no favors, but there's a big gap between optimal play and mandatory gates to progress.
In the early game, the central elevator on the station is offline. We're forced to go through the Psychotronics division on our way to restore service.
This gives the Devs two important opportunities. First, they can drop exposition on us. Second, they can give us important gear in the form of the Psychoscope.
However, I argue that neither needed to happen at that specific time.
The industry has words for this. Pacing, gating, difficulty curve, learning curve, etc.. It's considered Very Bad to leave the player in charge of these elements for too long. If you really want to grab them, the wisdom holds that you need to put them in a hall, put a carrot at the end, and whack them with a stick a few times.
I reject this entirely. Let us go where we're not ready to be. Let us ignore vital objectives.
The game does have issues, several of which veer into spoiler territory. I've settled on one particular aspect to discuss however: The intersection of plot and exploration.
Prey (2017) is at it's best when it gives you the run of the station and lets you approach your objectives in any order. It's at it's worst when it locks the doors and funnels you towards specific goals.
This is a fundamental issue in games. Too often, the designers believe the player needs structure.
So I'm going to talk for a couple of minutes about Prey (2017): Holy crap what a game! I didn't realize how much I'd missed System Shock 1 until Arcane made such an adroit clone.
It hits (nearly) all the notes I care about in a game. Plot, exploration, plot, skill trees, plot, dialogue, plot, emergent systems, plot, audio logs, and plot.
The game is a masterclass in level design. The verticality, the multi-pathing, it constantly surprised and delighted me.
"School break! I can be the version of myself who does something other than homework!"
"Umm, that version of yourself is a disaffected 'creative' that plays video games, avoids chores, and whines about how everyone else's work is brilliant and impossible to match."
"Exactly! Have you seen Prey? The game is brilliant! I wish I could write half this well."
You're doing real good, whatever your position is.
I know it's a pretty blanket thing to say?
But I know folks. You're trying, despite complications
Despite the fact that it'd be much easier to give up.
I'm proud of you.
Keep going. I believe in you.
You have many, many folks around who believe in you.
Who love you.
Who care about you
When the camera's shutter speed equals the speed of a bird's wings... https://mamot.fr/media/Muip014dbJYnKxKR71A
"Each object a person carries represents a particular fear: of injury, of discomfort, of boredom, of attack."
Prey (2017) could be our story. It should be our story. The story of nobodies forced to survive and thrive against injustice imposed by the wealthy and powerful (the Yu family, in this case).
Instead it's the story of the powerful becoming aware of an injustice and deciding to work on it because they're just SO NOBLE.
Our unwillingness as storytellers to deal with 2nd person narrative and empty protagonists (especially in games) limits us to telling the same stories again and again. (4/2)
Setting this up so you're both at the top and the bottom of the heap weakens the plot.
This isn't just a problem in games, it's a problem in storytelling. We want stories about gods and kings, but also stories about paupers. So we set up kings, then knock them down so they can rebuild.
This feeds (and is born from) the myth that our leaders are exceptional and worthy of emulation. They're special and destined for the top, but only need humility to be perfect! (3/2)
Malfunctioning thought golem
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