Friday, April 6, 2012

1-1: In which nothing new is learned

Welcome Back to Let's Play Radiant Dawn, Last time Micaiah, Edward and Leonardo managed to stomp a mudhole in the ass off some bandits, Jarod was confused about whether or not he was a new arrival or in charge of the BOF for 3 years, and a little boy condemned himself to death by mentioning his name. With that said, let's return to our heroes.

You know I think it's meant to be a story telling element that their safehouse is as run down as it is. I mean we never saw their original hideout but if the Dawn Brigade are meant to be on the run then it's good at showing what conditions have to be like. That is of course lost when the game never really treated them being on the run seriously in the prologue, but that's nitpicking and I know it.

Leonardo responds to Edwards bitching that they lost the war, but Edward just shoots back that they lost to Crimea, not Begnion. I would say that this isn't exactly correct, since Begnion had officially supported Crimea when they begun the invasion of Daein. But the sequence helps establish why Crimea isn't here and Begnion is.

But enough about that, Nolan and Sothe are back, rounding out the Dawn Brigade, apparently they had trouble getting here because the group let themselves be spotted in 1-P. Off screen they explain what happened 1 chapter ago, and the game fades to black, then Sothe drops the question

Of course she did. Don't be ridiculous. I always wondered if this line of dialogue changed if you never healed in that battle, probably not. Sothe warns her against doing so in the future saying it's a distinguishing feature. So is the silver hair Sothe, this bugs me quite a bit actually. Not so much Silver hair for the sake of silver-hair, but it really undermines a scene at the end of the chapter, and when we get to the end I'll explain why.

Regardless Sothe is right, and we have to go splits-ville before the BOF comes along and kills us, I have no problem with this course of action.

The area is SWARMING with soldiers it seems and we're going to take the path of least experience RESISTANCE to break through. Though Nolans comment here is making me ask how long have the DB been active? They never really give a time frame for their activities, oh well, feel free to debate this fact till you're blue in the face.

Why yes I am using cheats to grab these screen shots don't worry this isn't the main file

I decided to disregard Nolans Advice over Edward and send him to the front lines, though we will eventually wind up doing exactly what he said.

Here's our generic boss for the area, only notable by his dropping of a Steel Sword, in the main run, Leonardo put an arrow in his eye and Micaiah cleared the map on turn 7.


Well hey Sothe, nice of you to pop up out of nowhere, no it's cool, we had that fight back there.

Sothe don't ignore me, where did you come from? This is honestly just bad design, Sothe's gone for the mission, and then right after the missions done the game acts like he never left, and despite saying 'This way!' he's the one at the BACK of the group. Allow me to get my Multimedia Major geek on and ask what the fuck they were thinking with the structure of this scene? I understand the reason, Sothe can't participate because he trivializes the game (Especially my Sothe) what I don't understand is why they didn't have him join up LATER? I'll go over how I would have done it in just a bit. Just know this scene makes no sense structure wise.

But you guys aren't generics! It will never work!

Anyway not 5 tiles down we run into Nico, and despite being on the run, Micaiah stops to have a lovely chat with a boy she met not a day/few hours ago. You know she also met Sothe when he was a child and was unusually interest in him, and she's with her brand, somewhere in the range of 30 or 40 now.

MICAIAH! SERIAL PEDOPHILE! (That's a joke, to clarify)

So the BOF features Genome Soldiers censored by 4Kids? Seriously Moldy Onions is just an incredibly bad translation choice when we consider what happens in this very scene?

Okay so Genome Soldiers mixed with T-Rexes and censored by 4Kids, regardless the villagers say they will heroically fight against the 3 archers and 1 soldier chasing the 5 guys who outnumber them (counting the Rogue with 20 strength who could honestly handle Jarod at this point, also this is a joke)

HA HA, FORESHADOWING! Also if you haven't noticed, they are heavy handedly hammering Nico as a character so this next moment may have emotional weight, and it does.

This right here is what I meant by "Farsight is a plot convenience power" The same effect could have happened just from hearing the screams of the townsfolk, And while Micaiah doesn't "Choose" what she see's like she says in the Prologue, later on you'll see that she DOES choose what she see's, and given what we learn of Farsight in the future, this is pretty much here so Micaiah can be moved where ever the writers need her. This would be a problem on any character, from a new one to an old one. It pretty much lets the writers go "Oh here's the plot point" and whenever you ask in a reasonable situation "Well where was Farsight then?" the cop out is "Oh she doesn't choose what to see or how to see it" even though we clearly see her close her eyes and activate Farsight at will in this very scene and in many later scenes.

When I wrote 'IRD' I dropped the Farsight plot point, it's stupid, and it's simply there to serve as a plot convenience power. And no Anouleth, this isn't a shot at Micaiah, it's a shot at the power in general, slap it on Edward and it would STILL be as poorly implemented as it is now. I wouldn't even have a problem if she would just come out and say "I can activate the power at will, but I don't want to abuse it" and throw in some explanation about how it exhausts her. But instead she establishes "I don't choose what to see" and now chooses what to see. Again Farsight isn't anymore overpowered than Claude praying to Blaggi for visions (and then coming back as a spirit mentor after death), But it is much more poorly thought out.

Of course the horrible thing that Micaiah sensed is Nico getting an arrow in the chest in the barrage. boo? Really when this scene played for the first time I was more confused if this was REALLY the way they were going to characterize the Begnion Occupation Force. To put it mildly, by the time we hit 1-E these guys will be one Railroad track away from tying a maiden to it while twirling mustaches. They are just cartoonishly evil I can not take them seriously.

Regardless Micaiah runs back, and here's a scene that works great in theory, but fails in context.

She uses Sacrifice to heal Nico, and then falls unconscious from exhaustion.

Why this scene works in theory: It not only shows off Micaiah's caring nature, but it allows the player to learn about Sacrifice, and what separates Micaiah from any other Light Mage in the world.

Why this scene fails in execution: We already KNOW Micaiah has a caring nature, and what Sacrifice is, hell the Begnion Occupation Army AND the Townsfolk all know the power of Sacrifice.

What would make this scene work: If you have Micaiah act potentially distant to the townsfolk, and not reveal the power of Sacrifice (you can allude to it, have Sothe ask if she did 'It' in public) until this scene, then you set up in one single act that, as distant as she may act, she does care very much for these people, and it reveals the power to the player AND the enemy. You can even have Sothe go "Sacrifice, the power to give life for another" just to hammer the point in.

It's not that this scene is bad, because it's not, it's just pointless. Micaiah is up and at it in the very next chapter and the player has learned nothing new. The map could have ended with the DB escaping and no new information would have been imparted.

What? She's literally the only silver haired character in the game! How could she be anyone else than the 'Silver Haired Maiden'? and she's already shown herself with the Dawn Brigade, so even if Silver hair is common enough that other people have it, there's no reason to say this, I know, you should know, and Begnion just said it out loud.

Again, this scene is just confusing me in it's structure.

Oh not this shit again!

Oh here's Jarod, well last time he was simply told of a failure he executed a soldier, lets see if the writers intend to make him more plausible this time around.

Fuck no, he'll just out and out murder civilians! Okay here's why I don't like the Begnion Occupation Army, they lack the subtleties that Begnion is usually associated with. While later we'll see (with extremely poorly thought out plot devices) Begnion tricking and passive aggressively manipulating entire nations, right here we just have Grade A cartoon villains. Let's compare Jarod here with Valter. Valter is a bloodthirsty chaotic rapist, and yet even he comes across as more plausible, because something is clearly wrong in Grado and later on the game doesn't try to make me sympathize with Valter. He even mentions that he's prolonging the war because he loves the chaos of it.

Jarod here is supposed to be an oppressor, an effective villain would have said "Round up these people, then find their families, they clearly sympathize with known terrorists and need to be taken to the work camps. Then spread word of what happened on the street"

A. He's going to punish these people severely for standing up to him, but he wont kill them. After all that would be an open show of abuse.
B. He's doing it 'legally' so if Begnion does send an investigation team, he has justification for what he's done. Nothing is more hateable than a villain who's done horrific things and has the law to protect him.
C. He spreads an aura of fear across Daein and makes it harder for the Dawn Brigade to find refuge, merely saying you stand by them got these people and their FAMILIES thrown into the camps. Again it builds an aura or oppression and fear in the game.

So here's how I would have done the scene.

1. The Dawn Brigade flees through the crowd, not stopping for a chat, but the people recognize them as the people who helped them out with the Bandits.
2. The people decide to stand up to the BOF, who prepare to open fire
3. The screams ring out across the town, Micaiah hears them and runs back despite protests from Nolan (he's supposed to be the leader remember)
4. Micaiah, who's until this point acted very reserved, busts out sacrifice to save Nico's life, thus showing her power and her kind nature in one scene.
5. Sothe grabs Micaiah and makes a break for it
6. The people form up again
7. Jarod arrives, is informed of the peoples rebellion, and he says the above.

See how, rather than a bunch of shit the player already knows is being told to us again, we learn new things from that series of events? how the bad guy comes across as a smug dickhead who protects himself behind a veil of red tape as a prelude to the Begnion Senators? Rather than a murderous psychopath who literally has to hold out on the hopes that no inspectors are sent out. The scene plays out almost exactly the same, but with a bit changed in the past things are actually imparted to the player, this doesn't become a waste of time.

That is a nice sunset though. Edward and Micaiah talk about Nevassa being like home, and how they wish to return in the future.

I'm not saying ANYTHING. I just laughed for like a straight minute.

Anyway, see you all next time for Part 1, Chapter 2: The Case of being Incredibly Incompetent Freedom Fighters

EDIT: I mentioned I would say how I would have handled Sothe's absence, I would simply have made him play decoy to the larger force, and any question of "Will he be okay" is met with "He's a war hero and a soldier, don't forget that" then have NOLAN leading the group and shouting 'This way" with Sothe popping up behind them "Just had to finish off the last of the stragglers"

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