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Firewatch Spoiler Thread | Henry Two Hats

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I lost my Forest Byrnes immediately due to a physics engine glitch :(

 

Yeah, same here. I put him down and he seemed to fall through the wall of the outhouse into it, but when I opened it he was gone.

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That is a really neat take on it, and it makes a lot of sense to me. I'm not so sure about the last couple lines with regards to this game though.

 

brkl: Man, those photos when it gets all smoky are just haunting. That's one point in the game where I took my time to appreciate the visual changes to everything. Nice shots!

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Cheers! I have a week's vacation coming up. I have a hunch 5 hours of that will go into replaying Firewatch.

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(Long time listener, first time poster)

 

You should listen to this interview of Sean Vanaman and Rich Sommer by Giant Bomb's Austin Walker : http://www.giantbomb.com/podcasts/talking-firewatch-with-sean-vanaman-and-rich-somme/1600-1503/

 

They explicitly talk about the intro and how it came about as well of a lot of other stuff. The whole interview is great an funny. Rich Sommer seems like an incredibly cool and down to earth dude - and is also apparently a massive board game geek.

 

Thanks, that was a very nice listen!

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Just finished it and loved it. I can see the criticisms people had about the meandering plot, but I feel like something more constructed and plot like would feel less genuine. Henry and Delilah try to construct a narrative with a conspiracy, but that falls apart (in fact Delilah continues to try construct a narrative about murder rather than an accident, and the whole time Ned is constructing a narrative around you). Instead the story is just about these characters, what they do and how they grow. Or... don't.

 

I identified a lot with Henry. I had a pre existing preoccupation with the idea that retreating into myself is one of my biggest flaws, and this game just shone a floodlight on that. Henry and Delilah's poor choices rang very true for me. Which made long silent walks so much better, thinking about their mistakes with regards them, and with me. The moment when Delilah says no to waiting for you was amazing. It comes full circle from being caught off guard, to realising that honestly Henry or I could be just as bad. Not to mention the selfishness of not considering that she's scared and wants to leave. I obsessively searched all of Ned's camp but she was already done, telling me to just get out and head north.

 

I feel like the characters are in a way no better at the end. I suggested Delilah move back to be with her sister, but I don't think that's growth. Delilah told Henry to go to his wife, but I chose to respond evasively, asking if Delilah would do that. Neither of them have grown into being better people, they've just been confronted with the reality of what retreating inward and shirking responsibility can do. The awareness can lead to growth, but the growth hasn't happened yet. Delilah may or may not inform people of what happened. Henry has not made it clear what he'll do next if anything.

 

It was also a damn beautiful game. And the audio was great too, the silences punctuating it were amazingly effective.

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I just wanted to add my voice to the ones complimenting this game.  Most of my gaming time these days is limited so I try to play only the games that I think are worth my time and have some originality to them and Firewatch definitely was worth it.  It impressed me right off the bat with that emotional intro.  And it was a treat to play a non-perfect but yet more-realistic protagonist which is an avenue I wish more games would take.  I really agree with SuperBiasedMan about how neither of the main characters got any better over the game.  I think that's an interesting choice in that we just generally assume characters (well-written ones, at least) grow over games yet at the end of the game I'm not sure Henry or Delilah are any different. Perhaps they've realized they really can't run from their problems anymore.  I keep thinking about Henry taking the hand of the rescuer on the helicopter at the end.  After spending nearly the entirety of the game avoiding people, he finally makes an actual human connection.

 

I do have to say though I was a little disappointed in how the overarching of mystery of the game was tidily wrapped up by the end.  It seemed like a little bit of a let down just to say "Oh yeah, the campers are safe, Delilah left, and it was all the fault of guy with PTSD".  There was such a build-up that just pinning it all on Ned at the end was just a bit too cursory for me. The Henry-Delilah relationship in particular seemed unresolved.  Not that I wanted or expected them to get together at the end, but to spend all summer talking and yet never meet seems odd. I know there was a comment of this mirroring online relationships but that doesn't seem relevant considering the era of the game.  I almost wish she were a figment of his imagination as that makes more narrative sense to me.  I'm still not sure what that conversation between Delilah and the other person when they were talking about Henry was about.  If anybody can explain it to me, I'd appreciate it.

 

Overall though, I really enjoyed this.  Great story, atmosphere, visuals, sounds, music.  I look forward to their next game.

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Delilah is just having a mundane conversation with someone, and if you go back and listen to it again, that's clear. She's in charge of more than just you, and is just talking to someone else.

 

Delilah & Henry's relationship mirroring online relationships makes sense even given the 1989 setting, because what's actually being represented is a short but emotionally important relationship (at the time) but looking back it wasn't as meaningful as you though. This could be a friendship with someone before they move away, or a summer romance.

 

I really liked that it spent all this time letting the characters voice conspiracy theories (that mirror what players probably thought) but it's all actually explainable. At its heart it's a fairly low stakes relationship story.

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Just finished my third playthrough, I really enjoyed my time with it. I wonder if it could have been possible to close the plot without a "someone was watching and guiding your actions this whole time" twist (regardless of whether that someone is Ned, Delilah or some conspiracy). I think many games use this plot point because it is a straight forward way to ensure that the challenges the game presents make sense.

 

 

In real life, since there is a huge amount of ways you can interact with your environment, almost every problem you are presented with can be solved (I'm talking about problems in the adventure/puzzle game sense of the word, not poverty, sexism, illnesses or the like). For example: http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2015/08/19/inventory-comic-book-artist-dog-umbrella/#gref

 

 

In games, however, since the player is limited by the input device used and by production constraints, mechanics have to be simplified. This means that it is really easy to make an impossible game. If you were to have an algorithm create a level in Mario Maker by randomly placing objects, it would almost certainly be unbeatable. On the other hand, if you were to place random obstacles in a corridor, one could probably pass through.

 

 

In narrative heavy games like Firewatch (or say, Portal), I think the devs feel the need to justify why the game is beatable, because when you have a puzzle that can only be interacted with using limited mechanics, it doesn't normally makes sense for it to be beatable - unless it was designed to be so by someone. Hence the test chambers in Portal, and, I think, the fact that Ned guides you through the game for a pretty long time (to the cut off communication lines, then to the camp, and to his hideout).

 

 

There probably are some other ways to give challenges in games a narrative context that explains there solvability, but I don't really remember ever seeing it done any other way, which is why I thought there was something a little disappointing about the ending - though that disappointment was cut short by the ending of the Henry-Delilah arc, which I thought was masterfully handled.

 

 

Apart from that - I think my only real criticism of the game is that there was no need as far as I see for there to be more than one choppable tree and one overgrown trail, and that I really, really didn't like the teens' dialogue. Sure, it wasn't important to the character development or the plot in any major way, but it came across as really patronizing to me as a young person. Also, the "drunk-talk" was handled much better with Delilah I think, than with Lily and Chelsea.

 

 

This post is getting really long, so I'll just leave these two videos that I found entertaining (sorry if they were already posted):

Sorry about my English...


 

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So is there any real branching going on in the game based on dialogue decisions?  I was expecting that making decisions about reporting the teens to the cops and stuff like that would have an impact on the way the game played out, but it seems like the branching is very minimal.

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Delilah is just having a mundane conversation with someone, and if you go back and listen to it again, that's clear. She's in charge of more than just you, and is just talking to someone else.

 

It seemed so much more sinister.  Maybe I was reading into it too much or maybe it was bit of a red herring put in there on purpose, but I liked the fact that I didn't know if I could trust her.  She could have been pulling my strings for all I know.  I'll definitely have to replay this to parse these conversations again.

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Yeah, the screen goes from full to letter box in that moment to help draw your attention to it, and the direction of the game and the choices made re: music and stuff is supposed to draw your attention to it, but it's a pretty banal conversation if you listen to it again.

 

I spent the whole time trying to draw her attention to the fact that she left her radio open, but didn't confront her about it as I didn't think she actually said anything too incriminating. It does kind of sound like she's saying that you don't know what you're doing (to be fair that's true, even if she's not actually saying that.)

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It seemed so much more sinister.  Maybe I was reading into it too much or maybe it was bit of a red herring put in there on purpose, but I liked the fact that I didn't know if I could trust her.  She could have been pulling my strings for all I know.  I'll definitely have to replay this to parse these conversations again.

This is one of the reasons I like the game so much: it does a great job of putting you in Henry's shoes and making it believable that Henry would be freaking out over some sort of conspiracy, because that's exactly what you do with the evidence you get, even though, as you and Henry eventually find out, there was nothing to freak out about in the first place and it was all in your head, more or less.

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This is one of the reasons I like the game so much: it does a great job of putting you in Henry's shoes and making it believable that Henry would be freaking out over some sort of conspiracy, because that's exactly what you do with the evidence you get, even though, as you and Henry eventually find out, there was nothing to freak out about in the first place and it was all in your head, more or less.

That's exactly my biggest complaint about the game: for me this didn't happen at all, as opposed to Gone Home, because Henry brings so much of himself into the game that I couldn't map myself onto him. It was like riding on the shoulders of someone else instead of being them.

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That's exactly my biggest complaint about the game: for me this didn't happen at all, as opposed to Gone Home, because Henry brings so much of himself into the game that I couldn't map myself onto him. It was like riding on the shoulders of someone else instead of being them.

 

I'm not sure if you two aren't saying the same thing. You, the player, come to act as Henry, and interact as Henry--you don't get to submerge yourself into the game, because it isn't your game. Things like Gone Home completely repress the personality of the protagonist, and that's fine, but this allows the game world to let you begin to understand Henry's problems instead of thinking of them as your own.

 

I much prefer this, to be honest, but both are interesting decisions.

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Yeah I never felt like I was Henry but I felt like I identified with him. Games are weird in the widespread idea that you are the protagonist character. Other mediums do this but games seem to do it so frequently that it feels odd to people when you're explicitly not the character. I like diverging from the player character because it opens up interesting new angles for storytelling that games too often neglect.

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Agreed SBM. 

 

Maybe it's that pretty much every single authored character (not avatar) doesn't look or act like me because I'm not a white man, and a video game's power fantasy isn't aspirational for me that this didn't bother me.  I almost never feel like I am the person I'm supposed to be playing as. The only exception I can think of is Cibele, and not much else.

 

It's interesting to me that people bring up Gone Home so much. In the case of Gone Home I felt like a big sister, because I am a big sister, not really because Katie, the character, did much to make me feel that way. I would be kind of surprised if men who played Gone Home really identified as a Katie, the big sister, rather than a big brother or just an intruder on an existing life. But the story isn't about Katie. It's about Sam and it's about Lonnie. You don't really need to be Katie for the story to work. 

 

I felt like Henry in this game because the game taught me that Henry was a little bit selfish, and a little bit sarcastic, and a little lonely. I could role play as that person easily. Henry was his own person with his own motivations and thoughts and feelings that didn't always match what I would do, but I could easily put myself in his shoes. Probably because most of the media produced and consumed expects me to relate to a male protagonist that I have little to nothing in common with.

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It's interesting to me that people bring up Gone Home so much. In the case of Gone Home I felt like a big sister, because I am a big sister, not really because Katie, the character, did much to make me feel that way. I would be kind of surprised if men who played Gone Home really identified as a Katie, the big sister, rather than a big brother or just an intruder on an existing life. But the story isn't about Katie. It's about Sam and it's about Lonnie. You don't really need to be Katie for the story to work.

 

I needed to be her!  Gone Home was one of the worst experiences of my life, primarily because Katie Greenbriar doesn't exist.  I have actual life experience of coming home from college to a house I've never lived in, in which my younger sister was adjusting to a new school.  But everything I brought with me just slid right off of Katie.  I dumped real emotion and experience into a black hole.

 

I think player perspective is extremely important.  Even if Henry was a mute with no backstory, and even if he wasn't the subject of the story (as you argue Katie isn't), the game still needs to acknowledge that the player has done things.  That a player is even there.  Maybe I'm totally wrong—does The Witness do this?

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I guess I should have said that I didn't need to be Katie. It worked for me even though Katie is not a real character. You know almost nothing about Katie except that outside of a couple old assignments you find where you figure out that Katie is a diligent student to be contrasted to Sam's more creative rebellious self & that she only writes postcards home, but makes pretty much no effort to call. 

 

I loved Gone Home because it was about sisters and leaving home to find out your younger sister had changed into her own person, but it isn't one of my favorite games. What I meant more to me than the game itself was getting to share it with my own little sister and talk about it.

 

I think Firewatch does succeed in making me feel like Henry the character has made choices (outside of my control) that matter, as well as the choices I made playing as Henry mattered, which is something I didn't feel was true about Katie in Gone Home.

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I'm not sure if you two aren't saying the same thing. You, the player, come to act as Henry, and interact as Henry--you don't get to submerge yourself into the game, because it isn't your game. Things like Gone Home completely repress the personality of the protagonist, and that's fine, but this allows the game world to let you begin to understand Henry's problems instead of thinking of them as your own.

 

I much prefer this, to be honest, but both are interesting decisions.

I was trying to say that I didn't like this part of it. I've never liked playing someone else in first-person games. I'm performing the actions, I'm making the choices, then I want nothing to snap me out of that immersive loop. Looking through someone's eyes but not inhabiting their headspace feels dissonant to me. If I'm meant to empathise with but not be Henry I'd much rather not be stuck in his literal head.

I think in the end the game landed in a sort of uncanny valley for me of realistic storytelling about believable characters - that didn't work for me because I was then asked to act as one of those characters even though their actions and words then didn't fit what I'd actually want to do. This is why Tom Chick's central conclusion rang true for me, that this would have been lovely as a film or novel but felt jarring/dissonant as a game. Both making the decisions but also not making them just bothered me.

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None of the experience of playing this would translate to a movie. I think that's just bonkers. It's like a critique based on a description of the game instead of the actual thing. I don't understand it at all.

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