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    jp's Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth (PS4)

    [September 4, 2020 05:43:32 PM]
    I finished playing this last weekend, enjoyed it and have an appreciation for a lot of the little things they did. Here's a few...

    (a) There's a few moments where the game uses "press the button at the right time" to get you to move forward (there is even a fail state in the game! I died at one point which was a real surprise). They're not quite quicktime events - because you can - to an extent wait to coordinate your button press. They're of the bar with moving cursor, press button when cursor is in certain section of the bar. So, you do a few of these - it's ok. BUT, there is one moment when the event starts and as the player is about to press the button - the whole event is interrupted/cancelled because an NPC acts! It was a genuine surprise and a super cool moment. (an NPC jumped in and stabbed another NPC - I wasn't expecting it, obviously, and they used a dagger I had given them earlier!)

    (b)There's an interesting "palate cleanser" in terms of how the story choices happen. Like most games in the genre there's a lot of scenes with two characters and you make choices for your responses and so on. So, the usual walking around locations talking to people there and doing things. BUT, there are moments where (usually when travelling between locations on a map - so, from village to village) you have to read paragraphs and then (sometimes) make choices. So, there's a combination of "choose your own adventure" style choices - read a paragraph make a choice and conversations with characters. I really enjoyed how it gave some variety to the pacing and mode of interaction.

    (c) The game is split up into three books, each with 7 chapters. I don't know if this corresponds with the actual novel (3 novels?). But, it was nice to have a sense of roadmap - like how far this was going, what my progress was, how much time I had left, etc. To be fair though, chapters within the each book aren't equal in terms of length and while I felt that some chapters were "too long" I also appreciated those that were shorter. Overall I can't say how long the game is - but perhaps 2-3 hours per book sounds about right?

    (d) The game has trophies and I was surprised by how the were distributed across the game. The large majority of them are concentrated in the first book with the last book only having 2 trophies (one is "finish the book"). I was also surprised that the game had "do X" for this trophy and "do the opposite of x" for trophy. I guess I find those annoying (requiring two playthroughs). I guess I'm now curious about what the "game design wisdom" is when it comes to trophies in games - how are trophies distributed over the period of a game's duration? Are there standard patterns that different studios use? Is everyone just coming up with their own strategy? Is there any research/knowledge about trophy design to increase retention, encourage players to finish a game, play longer, etc.?
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    [August 12, 2020 04:54:19 PM]
    I watched the show based on the novel(s?) this game is based on. But it's been a while and I couldn't remember many of the details - this has made the experience playing the game (so far) quite interesting and fun in unexpected ways. As I play the game, I remember things about the story, and this helps motivate me and drive my curiosity. It also gives me some context that, I think, makes the game less confusing and easier to get into and understand.

    I never read the book, so I wonder if the game's structure (into chapters and books) is the same as the book? The show wasn't structured this way, as far as I recall, so it's kind of strange to say that the videogame is closer to the source material in terms of structure and order of presentation than the tv show!

    I'm really enjoying the art style as well, having played most (all?) of the Telltale games since Walking Dead, it's been a nice reminder that these kinds of games don't all have to look or be stylized in the same way as Telltale did. I guess it's also perhaps a sign of how influential that initial art style was?

    This game isn't 3D made to look 2D though - so in a way it works better since there are fewer (from my experience so far) moments where the 3D "breaks" the 2D illusion as it where.

    I've finished the 1st book (all 7 chapters), and I'm ready to continue - but I've also been wondering if the game will let me deviate significantly from major book plot points/events? I suspect not, and it's mostly moot since I don't recall all the major plot points...but there was one moment that seemed interesting: you're playing a kid trying to help your dad (the Builder) and can set fire to an old cathedral - I chose not to, but the character tripped and the fire happened anyways. There's a trophy for that - which I thought was interesting (is it rewarding doing the opposite of what happened in the book?), and clearly the old place HAD to burn down. So, I liked that moment and it reminded me of the paper I wrote on the significance of inconsequential choices (the church will burn regardless, but I still cared about the choice I made).

    I wonder if that will be the general (or has been?) strategy for major plot points? Let the player choose - but force the outcome regardless.
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    jp's Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth (PS4)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Saturday 1 August, 2020

    GameLog closed on: Friday 4 September, 2020

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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