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Gathering feedback for an article

#1 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 02:09 PM

Hello everyone!

I am currently working on an article for the Guild of Messenger's newspaper based on prior knowledge and how it influences our likes and dislikes- concerning Ages, in this case.
However, I needed feedback from people in order to illustrate my statements, which is why I started the following thread.
I would also really apreciate it if you mention whether or not you would mind being quoted in the newspaper. If not, that's OK, I won't mind. I just don't want to quote people if they don't want to.
So- what Ages did you like the best/least and how do you think that is related to prior knowledge, the "halo effect" or operant conditioning? In other words, did you just assume an Age was a certain way just because certain aspects of it reminded you of another place or vice-versa? If yes, then how? Please be specific (as in, mention what were positive aspects about an Age or place that influenced your opinion on another Age/place).
Thank you very much, I really apreciate it :)
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#2 User is offline   aander91 

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Posted 18 February 2011 - 09:03 PM

I think that the best ages are ones that really create a sense of scale. Another one of my favorite series is the Halo series, and Bungie has always managed to pull this off particularly well. Just about every level feels huge even if you only ever get to see a very small portion of it. Interestingly enough, when applied to Uru in particular, you get some of my LEAST favorite ages.

There weren't a whole lot of ages in Uru that I really fell in love with, and to be honest I think it was because they were TOO big. Gahreesen's high point for me was realizing the scale of the age. When you finally come out into the open air, it really is quite a revelation, however, I feel like it would have been better as eye candy and I didn't feel that it worked well in the gameplay. Once you enter the giant facility, you end up moving around cramped corridors and the sense of scale is immediately lost by forcing you through endless claustrophobia inducing hallways. I felt that Gahreesen would have been a much better age if you never once set foot inside the facility but were simply shown entrances and pulled away from it.

One of my favorite parts of Exile was actually one that was crushed with maturity. For the longest time I thought that the reflection in the mirror on the wall in the Amateria linking gate on J'nanin (woo) was actually just a window looking into an unreachable area. At the time, it kind of looked like the remaining areas had been frozen over and were lost for all eternity. The background music added to this, making it a very solemn and yet very inspiring moment. I really wanted to see what was down there, but couldn't.

I think this concept would have worked wonders for Uru, but it seemed like it focused on making sure you saw absolutely every angle of every area. At one point I've also expressed my dislike for the expanding on the D'ni that was presented to us in the original Myst. In the first game, you say D'ni being used as a prison but clearly it had served other purposes in the past. But what purposes? Did those doors ever lead somehwere? Were they blocked off or were they just there for decoration? Is this all that D'ni is? Why would someone write an age like this? What are it's purposes?

Questions like this add depth that almost nothing else can. Uru provides some really nice vistas but apart from that there really weren't too many instances when I really wanted to see what was out there. Then we have Ercana. Where the scale actually kinda sucked. It definitely could have been worse, but when you can only move so fast and you have to cover a lot of area by foot, it gets boring really fast. Some of the puzzles even require you to backtrack through long passages of tunnel. This was a terrible move in a game where many of the puzzles are solved by quess and check. Forcing your players to walk for 5 minutes straight to check was quite a downer.

I feel like a lot of the game was made in the point and click mindset. Ercana is a perfect example of this. Remember the giant bridge in Riven that seemed to stretch for like a mile? Do you remember how FAST you could cross that bridge? It only took about 4 seconds of rapid fire clicking, and it didn't have any impact on how the player experienced the world either. While it's not really the fault of the age designers, I just felt that 3d realtime really screwed up how you experienced the age. In Uru, you were forced to take in your surroundings just because there was nothing else to do. I never had this issue with point and click because you could take in the sights when and where you wanted to. In the end it made the ages feel more interesting and tangible and it made the environment feel more like a living, breathing, thing as opposed to giant billboards on a long and particularly boring stretch of highway.

That said, I still like Uru, but sometimes find it's weak points hard to overlook. One of my favorite ages was Kadish because of the cool take on the puzzles. They gave you all the answers, but you had to reverse-engineer them so to speak. To me it kind of felt like they we're trowing a curve-ball to the veterans and I really appreciated that. Generally it was always "Here's the puzzle, here's a slightly difficult to interpret guide, solve the puzzle." Kadish flipped that on it's head by forcing you to take the extra step and apply the guide to get your solution. It is also one of the few ages that I find to be truly rewarding upon completion. Uru is so littered with platformer puzzles that you don't often get a chance to do any mental crunches that Myst is so notorious for. To me, Kadish's end puzzle was essentially Cyan's way of showing me that they still had game, and I still feel awesome every time I solve it.
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#3 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 11:36 AM

Interesting. Would you let me submit that as a short article? Maybe we should have a "series" of articles about what fans really think of Myst's Ages. If you will, then I'd love to add it in there as it is an interesting way to look at it. But first, I will need to have both your permission and that of my fellow Messengers working on the newspaper.
However, the only problem was that it was not exactly what I had meant.
I was talking about prior knowledge. Here's a pretty lame example:
Consider three different people who think Riven reminds them of Thailand. The first one has lived there and knows the place, its history and people well. The second one has been there for short holidays where they liked certain aspects of its weather but disliked its food (just to give you a silly example) and the third one has only seen it on TV in December 2004. Now, though these people all think, for reasons unknown to us yet, that Riven is "like Thailand", I'm sure you will understand that the way they will perceive Riven will be very different due to their different a priori knowledge of Thailand (if I may call it that way).

The other thing was "are there any places that remind you of an Age and why?"
The whole article is about places that remind us of Ages, and Ages that remind us of places- or how we like a place/Age because of that reminiscence.
However, I still think your reply was worthy of being a separate article, if you will let me show it to the GOMe.

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#4 User is offline   aander91 

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 11:38 AM

Oh wow. Totally off-prompt. But yeah, feel free to snag it.
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#5 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 12:12 PM

Thank you! I'm showing it right now :)
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