FPS Convention #14 - The Silent Protagonist

Mr. Grimshaw?

It always seemed pretty obvious to me that the Half-Life thing was simply having access to only one half of a phone conversation, to enhance the whole schtick of Gordon basically being a mass-murdering cipher rather than a character. I guess I never got upset about the lack of some third-tier voice actor doing a bad Bruce Campbell impersonation to tell Alyx she looked fine in her polygon tight pants.

The kind of self-awareness I’d actually like to see in my shooters would be a more straightforward fuck-the-fourth-wall kind. Allies would heave huge sighs of relief as you showed up, FINALLY, the guy with the quicksave! It’ll be tough-going ahead, the streets are a rat’s-nest warren crawling with hostile patrols–but don’t worry, there’s only the one way to go. That sort of thing.

I don’t care one bit about immersion. I can’t “be” a character when I’m using a keyboard and mouse, and doing things I’d never do.

I just hate listening to people yammer away. I want to do stuff and experience narrative, not listen to overly wordy exposition. The early bits of Half-Life 2 had too much chatter. But that game is still worlds above every other game on the market when it comes to how it delivers story.

I wish more games would integrate exposition into other activities. Like when Alyx was talking to you while you were walking to the lab. That’s perfect. You might miss the conversation if you’re lagging behind, but that’s your choice. Or she could just stop, and say, “Hey, keep up,” then continue.

That’s actually want I would like to see more of. People reacting more to what you’re doing. So if you’re looking at Alyx’s ass, she says, “Gordon, eyes up here.”

I was playing Dungeon Siege II, and I liked the idea of party chatter. What I didn’t like is that it paused the game for it. Why not just have the person start talking (very briefly) while you’re wandering around? As long as you keep the bits very short and interesting, I think it adds a bit of personality.

Indeed, the NPCs were completely oblivious to the notion that I was frantically trying to apply “crowbar science” to every object within reach. Certainly NPC dialog is a far different matter than protagonist dialog. I mean seriously, name job bye, and I don’t care if you do know where sailors hang out. As far as protagonists go, I’m partial to Garrett the master thief, who always seemed to have the right witticism for every absurd situation.

  • Alan

SiN Episodes is supposed to have reactive responses to where you’re looking. Knowing Ritual the ass will most likely be a hotspot.

What? No it isn’t. It’s shitty design. The first game did just fine by being smart enough not to put you into the situation where Gordon would absolutely have to respond.

I like characters, I like protagonists with personalities.

Just for a while, I’d like to live somewhere where people said “Oi!” in a completely non-ironic way.

That’s actually want I would like to see more of. People reacting more to what you’re doing. So if you’re looking at Alyx’s ass, she says, “Gordon, eyes up here.”

So what happens if you don’t look up? What happens if you slap her ass with a crowbar? What happens when you try to jump on her head? What happens if you…

I find that the silent protagonist increases immersion in the same way that limiting savs increases tension and exctitement. It simply doesn’t. I think it’s noble that the game develoeprs want to increase immersion or increase tension, but their solution is ineffective and detracts in other ways.

Fortunately, it seems like developers have gotten it through their heads about the limiting saves thing, for the most part.

This is a good point - the problem is bad dialogue, or over-exposition, or what-have-you, and it’s entirely seperate from having the character you’re controlling remain silent. HL2 suffers from over-exposition early on, and it still has a mute Gordon Freeman.

Didn’t Deus Ex do this to an extent? I remember getting told off by the boss (Manderly?) for going into the women’s toilet and I am sure one of the women was none to happy about it when I kept disturbing her.

Yea, so lets have more of those wondeful in engine cinematics that every game these days has to have instead, where the developers can all channel their inner Speilberg…

For whatever reason, I always make my guy compulsively nod or shake his head during the, ha ha, conversations he has. I think it’s stupid. The dialogue in HL2 wasn’t ass-awful, so whatever they might have written for Gordon would most likely be bearable.