On Audio Logs

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On Audio Logs

What happened to all the paper?

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Don't forget Yahtzee, in AVP you play a Latino-American!

So the guys who made the game aren't racist. They just think we're retarded.

... Damn them.

Hmm... best use of something is to not use it?

I like it.

No progress report on your Unity space game? Please don't say you have given up already.

I was a bit pissed over the treatment of the other campaigns in AVP. Aliens in particular. It was just so bland. Every mission was 'kill these guys', or 'avoid or kill these guys'. Seriously, that's the whole thing. Oh wait, I forgot something. 'Kill the predator'.

AVP2 was far better.

Only audio logs I ever enjoyed were from System Shock 2... that will forever be my favorite game.

Yeah I did hate going through all those menus just to hear the audio log in Doom 3.

In AVP they made it easier but considering that the logs were pretty short, I'm wondering why they just didn't play them automatically like in Bioshock.

I disagree on a couple of notes.

Audio logs are a good way for them to convey a story of some one, and give an insight as to what happened.

Case and point, in Bioshock 2 there is a man from whom is looking for his daughter. You find these diaries of him talking about what's going on, and what the bloke is thinking. It adds tension and story, and it blows you away when you hear him yelling at a big sister, or when you ultimately kill him as he became a big daddy. The way it was done was great, and it added to the atmosphere of the game and ultimately made it more ENJOYABLE.

Audio logs may not be perfect, nor may the be logical but it's butt tons more then not having them at all. They just need to be refined, and perhaps a more logical reasoning for it. Perhaps a person in the games only audio log series is part of a filming team, and as such would have access to a vast amount of audio reminders, maybe some ones in a mall, and there are a bunch of audio reminders.

Just my 2 cents.

"I'd like to see a mainstream game these days about a man in a top hat jumping down a toilet."

Would a man in a top hat collecting pies do? "The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom" have been getting alot of attention.

Audio logs are sort of the fast food of video game stories. Listen to them once, don't think too hard about it, enjoy the atmospheric chicken nuggets, and move on. Dead Space, for example. You hear tales from various characters scattered about, slowly progressing towards their inevitable doom. Which means a whole bunch of people apparently tried to do what you did, succeeded, undid it for the next person, then died somewhere at the end of the stage. When you realize that the placement of the logs often contradicts everything else it can stand out quite ridiculously. Bioshock managed to avoid it, it was believable that the people were all over the place. But why the hell is an engineer leaving audio logs in the med bay/cafeteria/plant laboratory/outer hull?

I personally enjoyed the readings (I'm a Bookworm yes?) but, if I had to choose between a poorly voice acted Audio Log and a poorly written...written log, I'd go with the written because we can at least skip over the written quicker.

I'd like to see a mainstream game these days about a man in a top hat jumping down a toilet.

We already have that, roughly, only his name is Mario, it's a personalized painter's cap, and the pipes are simple allegories to the can, rather than actually being the can.

...I assume. Oh dear God.

The only reasonable excuse I can consider for audio logs is with Bioshock...not only because Bioshock (the first) was done so extremely well in other areas, but that the audio logs had a reason to exist in the hands of every random person there. Some were the work-related logs (such as with Dr. Suchong) and need no wondering, but others like the random citizens?
Well according to the advertising on the walls in places, the 'Accu-Vox' were a brand new stylin' thing at the time. I remember early in elementary school when those small hand-held recorders aimed at kids (forget the name...something-boy) came out, EVERYONE had them and recorded the most random stupid shit.
So, it makes sense to me I suppose. Conveniently good timing, but still explainable.

I'd like to see a mainstream game these days about a man in a top hat jumping down a toilet.

See, making a simple comment about 'I'd like to see someone try a game like Mario today and have it fly' is bleh. But that right there? A man in a top hat jumping down a toilet? This I would LOVE to see. Immediately it brings to mind a most proper English gentleman bedecked in finery and the most amazing top hat ever with wee spectacles and a curly mustache leaping down filthy plumming to fight evil or something. It's amazing.

I disagree on a lot of this, though I *DO* think they could mix the exposition up a bit. I also tend to agree with doing more experimenting with games and storylines, however it can be argued that some recent attempts to do that have failed utterly, while a weak economy was largely to blame I do not think the industry chose to see it that way. Not to mention the fact that you (Yahtzee) have pretty much flamed many attempts to be creative with creative metaphores like people trying to make a helicopter out of bread.

When it comes to the racism aspects, I think the opposite is true. I feel problems mostly comes from trying to add in more minority and "hip" characters to a game. To put things into perspective Unreal 3 included a Black character who sounded like MC Hammer in the 1990s (Penny Arcade was on the money about this), I think that game would have actually benefitted from less diversity. Basically I think minorities should be left out of games unless the designers really feel a given character should be a minority. Basically token characters ruin games, and it's not just a matter of human racial diversity... look at say Sonic where they started creating a zoo full of anthromorphs with no real reason behind it I can see unless they wanted to make sure nobody's Yiff fetish was accidently left out.

I really like BioShock and Dead Space audio logs... but yea, I agree at times you're thinking why in the world did they just record that 10 second blip... and why is it sitting here?

Im actually rather fond of the audiologs. I loved the Borderlands with Patricia Tannis and her history on Pandora.

That was really itnriguing and I found myself listening to them intently.

They are also so much better than written logs as they can play whilst you do.

However...does feel everyone is doing them at the moment and the premise is getting a little dry

Too bad you never played ODST, Yahtzee, or you could have mentioned the spectacular execution of audio logs in it. The story is related to the plot, and actually does have ties to the main plot, but is more about a character you never see (duh, audio logs) who has plenty of personality. She is trying to get to her father at the ONI Building, avoid the corrupt police commissioner who wants to rape her, and just not get killed. Oh, and

And all of this is explained by the Superintendent AI being in control of the city, therefor allowing you to get them via it.

It's pretty clear that Audio Logs are much like every other design element: when used correctly, and in reasonable proportions to other methods of exposition (see: System Shock 1 & 2; Dead Space), they work well.

Over do it, and it becomes hackneyed.

How is that any different than anything else?

Just sayin.

On the other hand, it's nice to see Yahtzee actually saying something complimentary about Dead Space, other than the ' fighting a Shoggoth in a tumble dryer ' bit.

Personally not a fan of audio logs for one simple reason. In a game I am noramlly playing to be doing something. Listening to an audio log, al a Bioshock, means stopping to appreciate it or carrying on and not getting the full effect. I wouldn't mind it every now and then but I much prefer reading stuff as diaries or similar format. Another example forme was Mass Effect (have only played the first) I really enjoyed the universe they created but found myself twiddling my thumbs and just reading the out loud codez enteries as I got bored waiting for the voice to finish.

All my friends are always asking when I'll get an XBox 360 and log into XBox Live or when I'll be buying my first PS3 so they can play bland, fps game #13 with me over THAT network. The answer would have to be when they actually manage to make a game for either that I give a damn about. I'm just happy that I'm not the only one who remembers the days of the C64 and Atari. I mean, remember Mail Order Monsters? That would be an AWESOME game with today's graphics and technology. Not to mention that the multiplayer capabilities would be an instant sell. Or how about MULE for god's sake? People loved that so much that there's home brews of it on the internet. Yet, you will probably never see it as a new release. I'm still waiting for a new release featuring a gourmet chef riding a praying mantis and wielding a gun that shoots velociraptors :P

P.S.
No I don't own a Wii either....

I'd like to see a mainstream game these days about a man in a top hat jumping down a toilet.

The sequel to the critically-acclaimed Fun Space Game: The Game?

hamster mk 4:
No progress report on your Unity space game? Please don't say you have given up already.

My thoughts exactly! I was quite interested. Maybe he has nothing interesting to report yet.

HG131:
Too bad you never played ODST, Yahtzee, or you could have mentioned the spectacular execution of audio logs in it. The story is related to the plot, and actually does have ties to the main plot, but is more about a character you never see (duh, audio logs) who has plenty of personality. She is trying to get to her father at the ONI Building, avoid the corrupt police commissioner who wants to rape her, and just not get killed. Oh, and

And all of this is explained by the Superintendent AI being in control of the city, therefor allowing you to get them via it.

I have to agree. ODST was a spectacular example of audio logs done right. In fact not really being a fan of audio logs it was still my favourite part of the game, but I suppose it was more like a radio play rather than a log. The final log even had me choked up it was done so well.

Yahtzee says: The singular advantage of audio logs is that you can play them while you're doing something else, hence why games like System Shock 2 and BioShock had a hotkey for activating the last log you picked up. Although roaring monsters and gunfire have a nasty tendency to drown out the words, so I always ended up sitting in a toilet waiting for the tape to finish anyway.

Um, isn't this the immersion you've been speaking of the past little while? "Holy shit, I just found this audio log/diary that may give me a clue to what the hell is going on, but I better make damn sure my ass is covered before I take the time to read/listen to it so I can glean every last tidbit of information from it". That sure sounds like immersive gameplay to me!

The thing that annoyed me about voice logs, even is SS2, DS2 and especially in AvP was that it didn't make much sense in most cases and often didn't provide much exposition. In AvP, the emphasis was on collecting shit, not on understanding shit and since there was nothing to understand, we got audio logs about Private Nobody bitching to her audio note-taking gizmo about how the rookie (you) is getting wet-nursed by whoever the fuck was holding your hand. Thanks, Private Nobody, I feel closer to you already.

The other thing I don't understand is when they make these logs when they are about to die. Who is together (or pathetic, depending on your viewpoint) enough to record some meaningless "We're all going to die" horseshit when slavering monsters are battering down the door?

And don't get me started on written "we're about to die" notes.

I don't think the point of his article was that the story told by audiologs was uninteresting or unwanted, but more that the method they are sprinkled throughout the games doesn't make sense from an immersion standpoint.

Why are there dozens of tape recorders laying around? Why are they all significantly shorter then the capacity of the device they are stored on, especially when some are ongoing stories from the same person? Why are some of the stories from situations where a person couldn't reasonably make a recording, or about topics that a person would really have no reason to record and leave in a random spot? Not that anyone would likely want to sit down and listen to an entire 30 minute recording all at once, but the issue of "not fun" is a separate one from "doesn't make sense within the setting".

Dead space was pretty good about mixing in text based logs for places where audio didn't make sense. Most of the audio recordings were in appropriate places from what I remember, and mostly made sense in context (there were a lot of lab environments), even if the content of some was a bit of a stretch to be recorded.

It's certainly not a game breaker, and having the extra plot is a great thing for the people that want it, but that doesn't mean the concept couldn't use some more effort integrating into the otherwise immersive games they are found in.

See also: Chest high walls. GREAT in a cover based firefight for you to shoot over, but really hard to do while selling the realism of the battlefield.

PiCroft:
And don't get me started on written "we're about to die" notes.

I think Oblivion did a good job averting this, one diary you find on a Fighters Guild quest that sent you to a Troll infested cave had a final entry ending with "I hear trolls." This gives me the image of him putting the diary down after that and making his last stand.

OT I found I agreed with this a lot, I personally love audio and written logs in games if they are used well, I find myself collecting a few then checking them all out at once when I wish to take a break from actually getting anywhere.

THANK YOU for that "man with one eye wearing VCR earmuffs" crack at FPS games, I've been saying that for years and everybody just calls me a whiner. The only game series I play where logs are in any way important is the Metroid Prime trilogy, there the logs not only provide exposition but also hints at where to go next, not counting the object scans that tell you about the various nasties that want to slurp your tasty bounty hunter filling out of your battle armor and how to stop them from doing that. I think the closest thing to what you were talking about in this article was the beginning of Prime 2 where you scan the fallen space marines' bodies to see their last log entry. Their last words combined with the scenery make that part of the game kinda haunting, even before some of them come back to life as space zombies. Uh...the zombie thing isn't as cheezy as it sounds once you learn about what's going on on Aether.

Yeah, not much point to audio logs if you have to open a menu to play them. Fallout 3 did that too. It didn't over or inapropriately use them, but you had to go into your pip boy to hear them.

Other than that it depends on the game/setting and how you use them. Metroid Prime for example, did great in game story telling using only text, where you scan alien languages and feed them to your HUD. It was also a nice touch how it wasn't just after the fact recordings, but as you progress in the game you start coming across priate logs detailing your infiltration.

The best audio logs I've seen in a game were the voicemail messages from the original FEAR.

I like how Fallout 3 handled this. There were audio logs, slips of paper, and information on terminals that you could read and listen to, and as a result of the setting, most of the audio logs or terminal messages were centuries old.

Kross:
I don't think the point of his article was that the story told by audiologs was uninteresting or unwanted, but more that the method they are sprinkled throughout the games doesn't make sense from an immersion standpoint.

Why are there dozens of tape recorders laying around? Why are they all significantly shorter then the capacity of the device they are stored on, especially when some are ongoing stories from the same person? Why are some of the stories from situations where a person couldn't reasonably make a recording, or about topics that a person would really have no reason to record and leave in a random spot?

I was actually going to make a point about Thief, and how well done that game did note-based exposition, so since you brought up the point I fully agree.

To be honest I always found audio logs to be quite awkward, especially when they are found away from dead bodies or not in a locker or room belonging to its owner more than a handful of times. I always preferred written text.

In Thief, you found diaries next to beds, on dressers or on nightstands in people's bedrooms and offices, written by ordinary folk about the local goings-on which both gave clues to immediate goals and useless but immersive and interesting trivia that gives background story on your location or the wider political setting.

Notes were left in cubbyholes designated to the owner of a warehouse, left in "in" trays on desks, books were in bookshelves or drawers and so on. Or they were death threats issued by thugs and pinned to doors with daggers so you knew they weren't screwing around. They were all well-written and concerned topics that made sense.

I always found audio logs to be less "sensible". I can't really think of a word that describes it. Partially because of the capacity issue already mentioned, but perhaps because I'm still such a fuddy-duddy that I can't quite grasp everyone carrying around audio recorders and actually using them as often as they seem to be used in games, or using them in leiu of actually talking to someone. Bear in mind this is coming from a gadget freak, so make of that what you will :p.

You know, text logs never bothered me that much. In fact, I really loved them in Deus Ex. You didn't have to read them (except when they contained password information, which in that case you found the info quickly and even then didn't need because the game usually had other ways of completing the objectives), but if you did want to take the time to read them, you could find out so many interesting things about the world and what was going on in it.

Yahtzee does realise that you CAN play AVP whilst listening to it's audio logs, right? Obviously not...

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