229: Snap, Crackle and Plot

Snap, Crackle and Plot

Whether they provide a little color to a game world or simply give the more obsessive among us something to collect and pore over, audiologs have become a staple of modern games. Graeme Virtue dissects the recordings' lasting appeal and adds a few messages of his own to the archives.

Read Full Article

I may have over-read that, but there is another "advantage" to audiologs: You save a lot of work.

I'm just thinking about the one Audiolog in Bioshock where (not really a spoiler imo) you listen to the audiolog a girl makes on New Years Eve, where, in the middle of a party, a huge explosion rocks the place.

Making that an actual in-game-cutscene would require to not only create an intact version of the hall the party is in, but also to animate lots of characters at the same time, later on panicking and running in all directions. And of course, there is a giant explosion.

With the audiolog, all that is left to the player's imagination.

Recently published a column on the audiolog phenomenon myself, though I explored the resonances with golden-age radio drama. I think it all comes down to the power of a) story, and b) the human voice. Plus it's comforting to be reminded that the oral tradition isn't going anywhere. Enjoyed your take on the subject. Cheers.

http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2009/11/start-press-the-spirit-of-radio.html

Frybird:
I may have over-read that, but there is another "advantage" to audiologs: You save a lot of work.

With the audiolog, all that is left to the player's imagination.

Which may sound like a bad/lazy thing to some people, but I love it. It builds up a certain (and additional) suspense and atmosphere to a game.

Something else that's resembling to the audio log phenomena is the written logs (e.g. codex in dragon age, baldur's gate, etc). Although I don't read every single codex, I read many, and I think they add, just like audio logs, a whole new dimension to the game and its world.

Frybird:
I may have over-read that, but there is another "advantage" to audiologs: You save a lot of work.

I'm just thinking about the one Audiolog in Bioshock where (not really a spoiler imo) you listen to the audiolog a girl makes on New Years Eve, where, in the middle of a party, a huge explosion rocks the place.

Making that an actual in-game-cutscene would require to not only create an intact version of the hall the party is in, but also to animate lots of characters at the same time, later on panicking and running in all directions. And of course, there is a giant explosion.

With the audiolog, all that is left to the player's imagination.

I agree 100% with you. I always listened to the audiologs in Bioshock. In my opinion people lose alot of info, history when skipping the logs. Suchong finale log was great btw...just saying ;)

There will always be a subset of people who prefer to quickly breeze through a game. But then there are those who like to take the time to explore... audiologs are a great part of this exploration process for me :-) Adds a nice bit of depth to the game, as well as the thrill of the hunt to find them all.

In F.E.A.R and F.E.A.R 2 there are telephones and "screens" with background information or "I heard there was trouble over there and called to see if you're all right..." right next to a bloody streak that just might of been conceivably a human being at one point. Unlike those who breeze through games, I look for these glimpses of background story and as Lincard1000 said, its adds to the thrill of the hunt. ("Gotta catch 'em all!")

Interesting article. When playing Bioshock I realized that it was the perfect way to have a deep, interestign storyline in a videogame. The problem with storytelling in videogames is that you need to have interactivity; so either the player feels railroaded and isn't so much roleplaying as a character as fighting his battles as he does his own thing, or the player has choice but it limits how well the story is told, as there are several small details essential to telling an interesting story that fall apart once the creator ceases to have complete control over it. Bioshock solved it elegantly. There are two stories in it: one is the hammy, basic, boring video game story. It tells the story of a GUY who goes to a FANTASTIC PLACE where people attempt to SHOOT HIM, then his discovers a HORRIBLE TRUTH about one of his TRUSTED MEN as well as about HIMSELF. Then he shoots a BAD GUY. The other is an awesome story of a place built on dreams and willforce, and how it falls apart; how trusting in one's own instincts, refusing to yield, may spell doom for one and all he loves. This story is excellent, because the player has no control over it; he arrives after it happened.

Bottom line: Yea, I guess audio logs are pretty cool.

i just dont get get it. system shock 2 logs are way superior to bioshock. game as well.

In one of Edmund McMillen's flash games, Time Fcuk, you're continually receiving little audio messages from your future self, which become more disturbing and nonsensical over time. It messes with your head, and it's great.

Sigh.
*Continues to pine for System Shock 3.*

DaxStrife:
Sigh.
*Continues to pine for System Shock 3.*

This man feels my pain, the audio logs in System Shiock 2 were amazing.

That one from the autopsy "begining incision" ahhh nurse hold him down , Nooooooooo"

classic

I like audiologs, but didn't like BioShock... I mean, to me, it was just boiled down gameplay... sadly, I never played System Shock outside of a demo, but even that suggested it was more satisfying than BioShock turned out to be... I dunno, BioShock just didn't grip me at all.

they can be really good if done right, Doom 3 did it very well and the audiologs were some of my fav things from the game, I was annoyed when they did put them in the expansion since all thats left is a really pretty but kinda meh shooter

therandombear:

Frybird:
I may have over-read that, but there is another "advantage" to audiologs: You save a lot of work.

I'm just thinking about the one Audiolog in Bioshock where (not really a spoiler imo) you listen to the audiolog a girl makes on New Years Eve, where, in the middle of a party, a huge explosion rocks the place.

Making that an actual in-game-cutscene would require to not only create an intact version of the hall the party is in, but also to animate lots of characters at the same time, later on panicking and running in all directions. And of course, there is a giant explosion.

With the audiolog, all that is left to the player's imagination.

I agree 100% with you. I always listened to the audiologs in Bioshock. In my opinion people lose alot of info, history when skipping the logs. Suchong finale log was great btw...just saying ;)

That explosion took place many years previous to Jack's arrival in Rapture.

I don't get how people say SS2 logs are better, out of curiosity about that game I watched some gameplay of it, and the voice acting was sub-par. It sounded like the dev team just used their own people instead of hiring actors to do the voices.

Worgen:
they can be really good if done right, Doom 3 did it very well and the audiologs were some of my fav things from the game, I was annoyed when they did put them in the expansion since all thats left is a really pretty but kinda meh shooter

Doom 3 may have my favorite Audiologs. Rather than going too much into the "huh, i just heard a strange noise" and "AAAAAaaaaaAAAArrgh!" territory, they were mostly reports of the increasingly strange occurences prior to the incident of the game that seemed not to be too unlikely/paranormal.
And there is something eerie about standing next to some sort of science fiction machinery while hearing some worker guy calmly reporting how one of his colleagues got his limbs cut off by that thing the other day.

wouldyoukindly99:
That explosion took place many years previous to Jack's arrival in Rapture.

Of course. The theoretical cutscene i described would've been a flashback or something. Nothing would've stopped them from inserting that, but the way it is it's probably better for them and us.

Frybird:

Worgen:
they can be really good if done right, Doom 3 did it very well and the audiologs were some of my fav things from the game, I was annoyed when they did put them in the expansion since all thats left is a really pretty but kinda meh shooter

Doom 3 may have my favorite Audiologs. Rather than going too much into the "huh, i just heard a strange noise" and "AAAAAaaaaaAAAArrgh!" territory, they were mostly reports of the increasingly strange occurences prior to the incident of the game that seemed not to be too unlikely/paranormal.
And there is something eerie about standing next to some sort of science fiction machinery while hearing some worker guy calmly reporting how one of his colleagues got his limbs cut off by that thing the other day.

Id have to say my fav one was when they were talking about the teleporter experiments and one of the ports ran long and the guy came back covered in scratches, I mean I had been almost casualy plowing my way tho all manner of demons but that log gave me chills

I followed the Science Officer link and then proceeded to laugh myself unconscious.

One of the best things about audiologs is that they allow you to pay as much or as little attention as you want. If I'm exploring an area that seems clear of enemies, I might keep walking around while it plays. If it seems unimportant or uninteresting, I can just keep going. If it's telling an interesting or important story, I can stop whatever else I'm doing and give it my full attention.

I would feel bad for people who ignored the audiologs in Bioshock. Diane McClintock's story (for example) had a cool arc that matched the locations you visited. Some of my favourite characters in that game have zero screen time.

I don't know about anyone else, but I must have listened to the ones with Bill McDonagh in them at least a dozen times each.

Seawater is colder than a witch's tit.

One of my favorite things about Metroid Prime was the total absence of dialog in favor of documents you would find scattered throughout the world. A beautiful world devoid of human contact with a rich story may not be a healthy fantasy...then again it may just be my love of subtitles.

I would've liked Halo if it had bothered to let me know what the characters were saying...

I love Audio logs

Best logs I've ever heard were from the Malkavian Primogen Alistair Grout's Mansion in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines. An ancient mad scientist Vampire's records of his experiments as well as eerily accurate observations of other characters and predictions of future events hidden in the mad ramblings recorded on old fashioned real tape voice recorders.
They added a LOT of atmosphere to an already atmospheric mansion/asylum.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here