Mington

Firewatch Spoiler Thread | Henry Two Hats

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My understanding is that people mean the specificity of Henry's character is at odds with their idea of immersion and embodying a player character in a responsive world. Which I understand even if I don't think that's all games have to offer. I might be wrong about that though, there's a Tom Chick review of the game that's supposed to argue the point well so I'm going to read it later.

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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.

I notice you're not engaging with my explanation of why I think so. Superbiasedman got it.

 

To clarify, my position is that:

- the experience of traversing and exploring the lovely game world would not translate well to a movie at all.

- the experience of the plot would translate to a fine movie or short story.

- the conflict between a strongly realised character (Henry) and the first-person perspective made me enjoy the game less

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I don't know, I feel like the plot is a commentary on playing video games so making a movie out of it doesn't scan for me at all. The game taped all those notes I collected on the window, making something I've done a million times look crazy. It's not all about video games, but being a game is tied to what Firewatch is a million different ways. You couldn't have this thing, but a movie instead of a game.

You're right that I'm not engaging with your explanation, osmosich. It's because I don't get it. I don't have a feel for what the problem is.

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I don't know, I feel like the plot is a commentary on playing video games so making a movie out of it doesn't scan for me at all. The game taped all those notes I collected on the window, making something I've done a million times look crazy. It's not all about video games, but being a game is tied to what Firewatch is a million different ways. You couldn't have this thing, but a movie instead of a game.

You're right that I'm not engaging with your explanation, osmosich. It's because I don't get it. I don't have a feel for what the problem is.

Well, I don't agree with your interpretation of the plot that much - I don't think it's a commentary so much as a reaction/playing with expectations, which also applies to a lot of genre fiction in other media, ie. the protagonist is important and there must be an Important Thing Going On. Nothing specifically video gamey about it in my view.

 

I don't understand what you're trying to say about the notes.

 

I know the artefact Firewatch is a game. I just think it's a game that made some choices that are at odds with each other that made it less effective for me.

 

I think it maybe summed up best as: when I try to recall my memories of playing Firewatch, I end up with memories that are not much different from having watched a (pretty nice) film. Stuff happened, The End. I don't feel like I did very much. That's not what I look for in games.

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I think Firewatch did comment on games as escapism we retreat into as well as worlds where we can build up a narrative that it's all about us, even though in life it's not (see Henry and Delilah's paranoid explanation).

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We had very different experiences. My memories are mostly about the place and the mood.

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I think Firewatch did comment on games as escapism we retreat into as well as worlds where we can build up a narrative that it's all about us, even though in life it's not (see Henry and Delilah's paranoid explanation).

I see your point, and agree with this interpretation of the plot but again I think a lot of genre fiction in other media also does this (action movies, fantasy and romance novels, etc.). It doesn't strike me as commentary on purely video games.

 

 

 

We had very different experiences. My memories are mostly about the place and the mood.

That does not contradict what I said, I can get place and mood from films and novels.

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I finally finished this last night on PS4. I liked it a great deal, and I’ll probably write something more in depth about it at some point, but here’s my general impressions:

 

I heard those wind chimes on the first day, on my way down to the lake. I went back and forth for a while around the rocky area, trying to figure out where they were coming from, and because I couldn’t find them I decided that they were probably a deliberate musical touch intended to in some way evoke the mystery and majesty of the rocks around me — a bit like how, in the game Proteus, the features of the landscape all have specific sounds associated with them, which fade in and out as you move around them. The idea that these are actual windchimes did not at all occur to me, so it was delightful to re-discover them at the end of the game.

 

My only moment of getting hopelessly stuck came when I was asked to return to the cave after finding Brian’s little camp. I thought I was just supposed to retrace my steps, especially as that little area seems to have a lot of rocks in a step-like arrangement — but of course I couldn’t get up any of them. I’d picked up the climbing gear, but it hadn’t twigged that I had to use it on the crack right by the camp.

 

The role of nerd culture feels significant in ways I can’t quite put my finger on. It only occurred to me later that the D20 and the hand-drawn map found in the tower probably belonged to Ned and Brian. I found that really affecting once it all came together. 

 

The occasional easter egg or fun reference aside, at heart I don’t think Firewatch is an especially ‘meta’ game. But I found it interesting that at least three of the characters — Brian, Ned and Delilah — have related to fantasy stories or games at some stage in their lives. And there’s a very real sense of people who have had to put away those games and dreams in order to come to terms with the sad realities of the real world, which have nothing to do with stats or dice rolls. 

 

Perhaps that’s part of what makes the sight of Brian’s body in its tattered ‘Crypto Castle’* t-shirt so tragic. Games today are no longer just about dungeons and dragons; they’re about finding missing children who loved to play dungeons and dragons before something awful happened to them. And I think we can all agree that's great because it's good to have such a range of experiences available in any medium. But there’s something so haplessly charming about the way Brian and Ned are characterised that you can’t help but feel how wonderful it must have been to live that way. 

 

(Incidentally, when you’re approaching Brian’s body in the cave and the definition word over the cursor changes from ‘Figure’ to ‘Body’: this moment is perfect, and probably unforgettable.)

 

* - I found it interesting to note that 'Crypto Castle' is also the name of a SF-based shared residence for hip young digital/creative/coder types. A coincidence, probably, but still...make u think...

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That reminds me. I loved the moment when Henry found the body. In my game his reaction was perfect. It wasn't overwrought distress or despair, Henry for me just said "Aw geez." It just fit so well in a scene where so often people feel the need to push big drama, but really it was a quiet, crushing discovery that takes time to process.

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Finally got around to finishing this today.

The photographs in the end credits is a really really great touch.

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Delilah tower on the boys map is named "Witch house". When I noticed that mid game I thought I uncovered some subtly foreshadowing and she'd turnout to be not a nice lady

Actually now that I think about it, is that actually the burnt out cabin. Oh well.

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Can someone explain to me what there is about the ending of this game that deserves hate? As in, Max Landis saying he "fucking hates the ending".... Like which part? Not to mention a bunch of people chiming in, seems as if it's quite the shared opinion. Did I miss the memo, these people say it so matter of fact like its obvious what's so bad about it and why we're all united in our hatred for it. What exactly did they expect differently? I honestly can't fathom it

I'm not saying I love the story, I have no real opinion on it which I guess is a compliment as If I saw problems I'd point them out. The story is what it is, a mystery was revealed, everything ties up relatively neatly.

Were people expecting you to meet dehlila at the end. I guess I knew from the get go that you never would... Or at least I would've been very surprised if you would have (perhaps being in the same room as her dead body after ned killed her when you asked her to wait for you :) I quickly put that theory to rest) as I had heard nels say on the designer notes podcast that they just couldn't afford to have fully animated npc's in the game

So yeah. What is making people say "I hate that ending"???

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What is making people say "I hate that ending"???

 

The game teases a sense out of Henry and Delilah and the player that there's something deeper, something mysterious going on. It draws you in with a bizarre bombastic premise of being researched for some reason. The game instills the same conspiracy feeling in you as in them, but then it pulls the rug out from under you, by revealing a very down to earth narrative. It pulls you out of escapism and back to real life. I'm betting that to some people that was either disgruntlingly jarring or that they genuinely didn't believe that had happened and were waiting for the later twist that revealed what it was really all about.

 

Firewatch is a pretty quiet game, which is not what people are used to so much, especially in games. I don't even mean with shooting and explosions. Gone Home has a pretty standard arc of building to an exciting dramatic climax. It gives the player exactly what they expect. Even if they don't know what will happen, they understand the nature of it. Firewatch implies that it's just like those games but then goes differently. The ending is intentionally not a big shift in Henry's life, it has no conclusion or final point. Instead it leaves you hanging in the hope that you'll think about it more.

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Can someone explain to me what there is about the ending of this game that deserves hate? As in, Max Landis saying he "fucking hates the ending".... Like which part? Not to mention a bunch of people chiming in, seems as if it's quite the shared opinion. Did I miss the memo, these people say it so matter of fact like its obvious what's so bad about it and why we're all united in our hatred for it. What exactly did they expect differently? I honestly can't fathom it

I'm not saying I love the story, I have no real opinion on it which I guess is a compliment as If I saw problems I'd point them out. The story is what it is, a mystery was revealed, everything ties up relatively neatly.

Were people expecting you to meet dehlila at the end. I guess I knew from the get go that you never would... Or at least I would've been very surprised if you would have (perhaps being in the same room as her dead body after ned killed her when you asked her to wait for you :) I quickly put that theory to rest) as I had heard nels say on the designer notes podcast that they just couldn't afford to have fully animated npc's in the game

So yeah. What is making people say "I hate that ending"???

 

I think it's a combination of things. The first is the contrivance of the conspiracy. So this guy is sort of a bad parent, and partly as a result of this, his kid dies tragically. His response? He locks the gate (doesn't just retrieve his son or anything, just locks a gate) and stalks everyone who goes anywhere near the body. For years. And then he gains the ability to listen to anyone's conversation, and does this to you, transcribing your conversations (wait, what? Why? He's just trying to keep you away), manages perfectly to follow you/evade you, concocts an elaborate conspiracy involving a moose research project, selectively pulls from recent conversations (apparently he's been taping all of the conversations as WELL as transcribing them), etc., all to, in the end, say: oh, hey, you found my son. I'm pretty bummed and was just hanging out. Sorry for the scares, and setting an enormous fire and all that.

 

The whole conspiracy resolving to simply a crazy person and wild imaginations on the part of Henry and Delilah isn't bad (although it is anticlimactic), but the sheer level of incredulous moments piled up onto one another gets irritating. Honestly, at the point it gets to, it almost makes more sense that there is a fucked up psychological experiment ACTUALLY studying them than the series of random, perfectly coordinated events by a single, education hating whackjob. And people like conspiracies: seeing them defeated or thwarted (or failing to do these things in more depressing narratives) is really satisfying. So we don't get the satisfying part, but we do get all of the crazy, and the implication is that this version is more "realistic." 

 

The second thing is the lack of a real resolution with Delilah. This part I would actually defend against pretty wholeheartedly, as it feels very natural and wonderful and the disappointment you feel as a player very wonderfully mimics the disappointment Henry would feel at seeing Delilah just go. Still it is another anticlimactic ending that frustrates promises the game seems to be making when it establishes a relationship between a man and a woman that is increasingly romantic and flirtatious AND we are given the direct physical connection to her tower via the trolley thing (that you still use at the end to get to the helicopter). This relationship not being consummated is a little on the side of unrealistic (After two months of flirting, people aren't going to travel at night to hook up?), and it's a bit of a betrayal of implicit promises. Again, since I see this as pretty much the point of the game, I would defend it as the "good" kind of disappointment.

 

But when you add these things up, as well as the game starting slowly, with giant gaps of time in between sections, and then building tension and building tension and adding some big drama points and really ratcheting up the intensity, you get people feeling really betrayed by the ending. And unlike Gone Home, where it's sort of your fault for imagining the dark, horror story ending we all pretty much imagined when we found the secret entrance, this time it wasn't our fault. We didn't imagine a conspiracy, it was very specifically (though, in hindsight, wildly implausibly) laid out and confirmed with physical evidence. I think a very satisfying ending version of this would be something like Foucault's Pendulum (poor dead Umberto Eco), where the conspiracy is a fake, but it becomes real, and the narrative becomes what it is striving against. Here, we don't even get that satisfaction. Just: A crazy guy did it! WHEEE.

 

So yeah, people are pissed at the ending. Partly they shouldn't be, and partly it makes 100% sense. I still think that the game is overall pretty great, and there is a lot about the ending I liked, but it has some significant problems, even on the level of art, much less on the level of entertainment--which is where many of the dissatisfied people are approaching it from.

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I did not expect to make it out alive at the end, which caused me to feel panicky and doomed.  A terrible choice when Henry let her get away so easily, it was like he was resigned to his fate.  Instead of death though this ending was just a long, sad glimpse into loneliness and middle age.

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I seeeee, thank you for that guys very insightful :tup:

The anticlimax vs the entitled baby.

Campo Santo should patch the ending like Mass Effect 3 making everyone replay the game. Only to have everything happen exactly the same apart from Henry has a sad wank over Delilah's left old underwear whilst waiting for the helicopter.

You wanted a climax!

This is why I don't make video games (Or why I should absolutely be making video games?)

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Hah Mington- what you describe has got to be a $7.99 DLC.  For the record, I was happy with the end though it wasn't a happy ending as they say!

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I suspended my disbelief long enough such that the actual reveal of what Ned was up to out there made logical sense, but my main issue was that it didn't really impact me all that much.  It sets up a Lost-style mystery, and in the end, it's not really that mysterious at all.  It makes perfect sense, but it is a bit anticlimactic.  

 

Part of my problem was that I didn't really connect with Brian.  I was looking for something bigger than Brian, so I sort of glossed over the stories Delilah told, just taking them more as world-building than as a core plot point.  So when I discovered his hideout, it was neat, and it made sense in the context of his character, but I just couldn't tell if I should be paying more attention to it or not.  When I discovered his body, it didn't really affect me all that much.  "Oh, I guess I was supposed to be paying more attention to this guy and not trying to invent wild theories in my head".  I didn't get enough of a chance to connect with Ned to care about his motivations.  

 

I think, ultimately, my biggest problem was that Delilah was fascinating to me, so I spent most of my time thinking about her character and sort of skipping over the other details.  Cissy Jones' voice acting was top-shelf, and the chemistry between Henry and Delilah was magnificent.  To me, most things happening in the game that weren't interactions between Henry and Delilah were just simply not as interesting as their conversations.  I actively looked forward to every chance I had to radio her, because I wanted to hear the conversation.

 

I tried to rationalize it as the mystery being incidental to H&D's interactions, because that's what I was really interested in, but the mystery took centre stage.  Something that ultimately ended up being not all that outlandish tried to compete with wonderful characters and dialogue.

 

I don't want to sound too harsh.  I really enjoyed the game a lot.  It's beautiful, it's well-written, clearly well-designed, and I found a lot to which I could relate in H&D.  The ending was unsatisfying, but in the right way - it really parallels some of my own experiences, and while I wanted a happy ending for H&D, it's increasingly obvious as the game goes on that getting that will be difficult, if not impossible.  H&D aren't good people, so they don't necessarily deserve a happy, or even satisfying ending, just because I, the player, really want one.  Everything about the ending made perfect sense to me.  I felt hollow afterward, but I imagine that's not dissimilar from how Henry would have felt.

 

Reading through this thread and others, it's amazing how much I missed.  

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It's funny you say they're not good people (in my head it reminds me of the main pair from The Last of Us when you phrase it like that) because I think they're generally pretty good if irresponsible people. As is Ned. Maybe I'm a charitable person but I think they want to be good, and do try to an extent. But all of them fail to address their responsibilities fully and that causes screw ups in their lives.

 

I also felt most invested in Delilah and the relationship (that I saw as strictly non-romantic) as a connection I wanted borne out, but instead it's cut as soon as it's clear how much Delilah values it. I thought that all mirrored Henry well, both how he felt and how he acted, so it worked well for me.

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It's funny you say they're not good people (in my head it reminds me of the main pair from The Last of Us when you phrase it like that) because I think they're generally pretty good if irresponsible people. As is Ned. Maybe I'm a charitable person but I think they want to be good, and do try to an extent. But all of them fail to address their responsibilities fully and that causes screw ups in their lives.

 

I also felt most invested in Delilah and the relationship (that I saw as strictly non-romantic) as a connection I wanted borne out, but instead it's cut as soon as it's clear how much Delilah values it. I thought that all mirrored Henry well, both how he felt and how he acted, so it worked well for me.

 

This is how I feel the vast majority of the time when someone says a character (or even often enough a real person!) is bad. I want to believe most people are good, even in the face of mountains of evidence indicating otherwise. (I do not think there are mountains of evidence indicating Delilah and Henry are bad people. Maaaaybe Ned, but I really just felt like Ned was bad at being a good person, rather than maliciously bad.)

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Firewatch is basically a Scooby Doo story, and I loved it. I was so disappointed when I found the research station and it looked like the game was going to be about being trapped in some weird social experiment. That seemed like both a huge step down in realism and a really tired video game cliché. So I was actually delighted when what seemed like a stupid plot development turned out to be something more interesting, original, and plausible. Old Man Ned was just trying to scare away those meddling kids who were poking around to keep them from finding out about his terrible secret.

I can definitely believe in a guy who pushes his son too far to be a climber and when a terrible accident happens he just can't deal with it. He can't face returning to civilization and telling people what happened, so he just stays there. He can't even bring himself to haul away or bury the body. He just locks the cave and tries to turn his back on the whole thing.

He's lonely and has nothing to do, so of course he eavesdrops on radio conversations. (The radios aren't bugged, Delilah just doesn't seem to know how radios work. Of course anyone on the same frequency can listen to them. The new radio is pointless; Ned can listen to that one just as easily -- and he does, making a tape of Delilah's "burn it" comment.) He panics when Hank starts poking around the old cave and tries various things to scare him off.

First he tries to start trouble between Hank and the girls, trying to make each side believe the other is harassing them. Then he cuts the cable. Then one day he forgets his clipboard (stolen from that research station) and when he goes back to get it -- disaster! -- Hank is there (or maybe Ned was hanging out by the lake and panicked when he heard Hank coming and dropped the clipboard in his haste). He ambushes Hank using his radio as bait. Then later when he hears them talking about Wapiti Station, he gets the idea to try to pin his eavesdropping on the scientists.

(I think my main problem with the story is the lack of consequences to Ned knocking Hank out. Hank probably has a concussion! He should've been flown out to see a doctor. I couldn't believe Hank and Delilah would both have so little reaction to him being actually assaulted like that, that they wouldn't immediately decide the stakes are now too high, get out of there, and notify the police.)

Ned is recording the conversation when Hank breaks into the camp, maybe hoping to get Hank in trouble for trespassing. When he hears Delilah's comment about burning it down, he realizes he can frame them for arson.

I'm not sure about the backpack. If Ned left it there as a decoy to get Hank away so he could leave the incriminating tape on his tower, the fact that he left the key there means he must have planned to trap Hank in the cave. I kind of like the idea better that it had been Brian's, but if so, the game is bugged, because I found that clearing earlier in the game and there was no backpack.

But Ned's plans fail when the fire gets out of control, forcing him to flee his hideout, and Hank makes it out of the cave alive with news about Brian's body. I would have liked to have been confronted with a choice between leaving Ned alone or reporting him to the authorities. Even if Brian's death was an accident, the bastard is an arsonist and tried to leave me to die in that cave!

 

I think a very satisfying ending version of this would be something like Foucault's Pendulum (poor dead Umberto Eco), where the conspiracy is a fake, but it becomes real, and the narrative becomes what it is striving against. Here, we don't even get that satisfaction. Just: A crazy guy did it! WHEEE.

I think the story actually was inspired somewhat by Foucault's Pendulum (Chris loves that book). Ned seems to get the whole idea to create the conspiracy of scientists from what Hank and Delilah say when they're trying to figure out what the hell his clipboard was about.


This is getting long. I'll just say I also loved the Hank/Delilah relationship. I love how it turns out. In real life, not every woman wants to hook up with you just because you have a few friendly conversations. I'm not surprised that a lot of gamers can't deal with that. Finding her empty tower worked way better than whatever uncanny-valley version of Delilah herself Campo Santo might have come up with.

And wow, I loved exploring the beautiful little world of Firewatch. The whole area is fairly small, but I wasn't expecting some huge Witcher-sized open world, and I think the handcrafted, designed areas were much more satisfying than acres of bland perlin-noise terrain. That cool cave at the end was bigger and more interesting than I expected. And I thought the hedges and treefalls were a pretty nifty way to gate off a few areas, giving me a few extra places to go back and find toward the end. That damn racoon scared the shit out of me.

I think my main disappointment is that they didn't steal some sort of mapping mechanic from Miasmata. I thought sure I was going to get to use that Firefinder sitting there. I was also a little disappointed that smoke and fire are obscuring everything at the end of the game. Narratively, it totally makes sense and works, but I was a little bummed that I had 6 pictures left on my camera and all the beautiful scenery was obscured. I would have liked to finally see Delilah's tower with blue sky behind it.

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Maaaaybe Ned, but I really just felt like Ned was bad at being a good person, rather than maliciously bad.)

Ned was an arsonist, an attempted murderer (trying to leave Hank to die in the cave), and he vandalized those girls' campsite, frightening them and stealing their boombox.

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This is how I feel the vast majority of the time when someone says a character (or even often enough a real person!) is bad. I want to believe most people are good, even in the face of mountains of evidence indicating otherwise. (I do not think there are mountains of evidence indicating Delilah and Henry are bad people. Maaaaybe Ned, but I really just felt like Ned was bad at being a good person, rather than maliciously bad.)

 

Henry's selfishness in the beginning about not being willing to even consider moving for his wife's dream job, then also not moving to be with her to support her once she started downhill, put such a negative spin on his character for me to start with that he really wasn't able to climb out of that hole for me.  Delilah not reporting having seen the teens even after they disappeared did something similar for her in my mind. 

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Ned was an arsonist, an attempted murderer (trying to leave Hank to die in the cave), and he vandalized those girls' campsite, frightening them and stealing their boombox.

 

After his son died because of him, yes.

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It's funny you say they're not good people (in my head it reminds me of the main pair from The Last of Us when you phrase it like that) because I think they're generally pretty good if irresponsible people. As is Ned. Maybe I'm a charitable person but I think they want to be good, and do try to an extent. But all of them fail to address their responsibilities fully and that causes screw ups in their lives.

 

I also felt most invested in Delilah and the relationship (that I saw as strictly non-romantic) as a connection I wanted borne out, but instead it's cut as soon as it's clear how much Delilah values it. I thought that all mirrored Henry well, both how he felt and how he acted, so it worked well for me.

 

Sorry, I should be clear - I don't think that H&D are deliberately and purposefully evil, but their decisions went beyond thoughtlessness and well into the territory of selfishness, like Henry's decisions re Julia's job and her illness, them not wanting to report two potentially missing girls because they think it will be easier if they don't, Delilah's nonchalant attitude about Henry getting assaulted, their general lack of desire to report or confront anything that might be upsetting or unsettling, etc.  

 

They don't seem to be cruel or evil people, but they appear to deliberately choose not to "do the right thing", at least according to my own morality, which is why I'm not surprised that there is no happy ending for them.

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