On Audio Logs

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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.

haha that was great
I remember having one left to find, and it was in a bloody corner on the other side of town

but generally I don't bother with collectibles
I guess the audio part of it should make you WANT to get them
like the intel in CoD, I might go collect them all, but it's for an Achievement (or two) not so much the intel themselves

Holy crap, I got quoted. Nice!

OT: Yeah, I've never really been a fan of audiologs to be quite honest. It just annoys me that I feel compelled to sit there and listen to one on the off chance that the story might be expanded on (which is never is), while all I want to do is something other than looking straight forward. The worst thing is when a monster shows up and you how have to start the recording all over again, in case you missed something.

As a few have said here, the audio/video logs from Halo: ODST were a great addition to the storytelling. However, what I disliked about them as well as *all* audiologs in the games mentioned here, is that one has to ferret out all the damned things to get the additional story bits the devs included. I played through ODST but I don't think I found half the a/v logs. I'm sure I can dig it up online somewhere but ultimately because I had to hunt them down I just wasn't going to spend my gametime killing Covenant and looking for the eggs the Bungie-rabbit hid around New Mombasa; I'm not going to play it through again just to find them all, either.

I'm playing AvP right now and have a FAQ opened to help me find the hidden audiologs (though I missed a few from the beginning level.) I doubt I'll go back to find the ones I missed, since I'd have to start over (or maybe just replay certain sections?) and they don't seem to be adding much to the story (unlike the ones in ODST.) Still, cool hearing Lance Henricksen voicing Weyland.

Reminds me, I should pick up the "Millennium" DVD full-series boxed set.

I remember the first audio logs I experienced were in the CD version of System Shock 1. They were good because they not only advanced the story but because they contained clues to puzzles and stashes of goods. The player was rewarded for acting in character and paying attention to the clues in the environment.

Audio logs fail when they are like Doom 3, not making sense and also sounding like "Oh no, he took away my chainsaw and he is using it on meeeee!"

The Lizard of Odd:
*snip*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.

The Talk Boy?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anjyiO754hU
"Hi kids, we're home early."

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

Systems Shock 2's audio logs were absolutely amazing, mainly because a lot of them were done by not just generic space marines but civilian staff, medical autopsies, engineers. Quite a few refered to the protagonist running around the ship so they gave the impression that you were not the sole survivor but others were running about just as terrified as you were

Edit, now tell me that log doesnt put you one edge http://www.strangebedfellows.de/shocklog/032_LOG0211.mp3

rembrandtqeinstein:
*snip*
Audio logs fail when they are like Doom 3, not making sense and also sounding like "Oh no, he took away my chainsaw and he is using it on meeeee!"

Truth!
It is so funny when a recording where they die is wedged somewhere where nothing is. As if recorded themselves dying, the murdering creature turned off the record button *immediately* following the kill before the screaming can die out, and some one else found it and decided they wanted to keep it hidden like it was the last jaffa cake at the market nestled in the mung beans.

something my serial bum chums Valve have always demonstrated very well.

Valve, oh Valve, we love you, we do.

Now give us Episode 3.

I think the best audio logs ever were the bloodstains in Demon's Souls. They aren't actually audio logs obviously but they're little things lying on the floor and when you activate them you see the story of someone else going through the same ordeal as you. You see their experience and unfortunate end. Best of all these are real people, not some random developer created characters and nothing adds to the atmosphere better than seeing another real person meet his end at the hands of the evil skeleton coming towards you that you should really start to pay attention to.

In Doom 3, you could go back to playing the game after having started the log, and it would keep playing as you roamed the halls of the complex. But as was stated about Bioshock, getting into a fight tends to drown out the audio log, so after you've gone through the menus to start it, it's easier just to stay there and listen. :/

Reminds of of a point David Jaffe talked about in the latest Bonus Round: There's lots of in-game behind the scenes story-telling, but most of it is really poorly implemented.

Audio-logs are a little distracting and unrelatable, but I guess a lot of people prefer them to reading. I like it when the game doesn't try to shove so much content down my throat and finds a little bit more subtle a way to get the story across. I tend to love minimal story telling like Ico or SotC, where you basically have to read the situation yourself without anyone telling you some shit about what'll happen, what has happened or something along those lines.

I find audio logs to be a great way to immerse yourself in an environment, but they can't stand on their own. A good audio log need to be found in an area that doesn't have enemies constantly attacking, but still builds up tension almost like your going along the same path as the person who made the audio log.
I still find diary pages to be a more intresting form of interactive story telling, mainly because the seem to require alot more thought as there being wrote down.

Messages scrawled on walls, scraps of paper, maybe a recording or two, an offhand comment from one of the tweaked-out, long ago waved goodbye to the last shreds of their sanity survivors or one of the bads you're about to shoot up. Together they produce a unique exposition, unraveling the fates of those that came before, or why things are in disarray. Alone, they just kind of leave something to be desired. Variation from location to location makes more sense, as not every location has access to all the materials at all times.

Good news. I figured what that thing you just incinerated did. It was a morality core they installed after I flooded the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin, to make me stop flooding the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin. So get comfortable while I warm up the neurotoxin emitters...

RJ Dalton:
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.

Thats probably a good use for them, making them unimportant but having stuff about the world in them. Like most notes you get on RPG journals.

You don't even play as a white guy in AvP, which only helps further convince me you didn't even beat the Marine Campaign. The first of which was saying they gave up on the dark corridors halfway through, when you in fact go back to the dark corridors immediately thereafter.

As for audio logs, they're annoying and break immersion.

Perhaps Shadowman (PC, Dreamcast, N64 and PS1), had a lot going for it. Main character : Black, not a beefcake, spent 50% of his time as a Zombie (in deadside and at night-time).

Visually you do see the aftermath of many nasty things (the playrooms level in deadside is a fantastic example of this)

The soundtrack is littered with hinting sound design nitted into the music that hints at past or maybe even future horrors.

Nifty stuff, and not an audio log in site.

However Shadowman 2 (2nd bumming as I affectionatly call it), didn't do any of this and failed to deliver the atmosphere of the first. - though it still didn't have audio logs :)

Despite having a number of flaws, Shadowman is full of atmospheric win.

I think it would be more interesting if you came across one or two audio logs now and then instead of the way it's handled now in every game.

When there's like 50 thousand of them laying around, you don't get the sense of urgency of what's in the logs. In Bioshock I can already see in front of my eyes what's happened to the place. A bunch of logs telling me stuff I missed out on only begs me to ask "show don't tell!"

If the audio logs don't contain backstory vital to what happened, I don't really care.

Whaaat? No update on FSG:TG? Don't tell us you've given up, I was just getting interested. WHY, YAHTZEE?! WHY?!

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

But, can you pay attention to them while doing so? Not everyone can multitask in that fashion.

As far as audio logs go, in my opinion, as long as they add to the fiction, like BioShock, then it can be done competently.

Well, this went about the length of most of his EP write-ups as far as I can tell. Maybe he just didn't have room for a game update this time? Relax, breathe, listen to some peaceful audio logs. ;p

I never understood why so many people (that includes you, Yahtzee) praise Bioshock that much.
It's basically a carbon-copy of system shock 2, there aren't many new ideas in the game, almost anything can be related to SS2.

Actually, audio logs do work better than written-down stuff in such games, where you explore some place where shit hit the fan recently. "Blimey, there are zombies gnawing on my legs, oh my!" is a little bit easier to record in audio format, rather than doing the same in handwriting while said zombies are gnawing said legs. At such moments, they just work better than written stuff.

That said, I did feel they were a bit hit-and-miss in Bioshock. They worked well when the recorded thoughts were about research in progress, because realistically, that's what scientists do. However, when it was "Har har, dem suckas really fell for my clever plans! Ain't I a smug bastard?", it felt a bit out of place. Why even record that, really, other than for artificial exposition?

Jbird:

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

But, can you pay attention to them while doing so? Not everyone can multitask in that fashion.

As far as audio logs go, in my opinion, as long as they add to the fiction, like BioShock, then it can be done competently.

My main issue with games that let you play while listening is that if you move too fast, you often will come across other dialog that will play over the audio log (or the audio log will play over the other audio). Which results in me standing around in one spot listening to it anyway.

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

I agree, they made sense in System Shock. Man was that game scary; "Nurse! Hold him down! Hold him DOWN! YYYAAARRRGGG!"

*snip*

The Lizard of Odd:
recorders aimed at kids (forget the name...something-boy) came out, EVERYONE had them and recorded the most random stupid shit.

I believe that was the Yakback.

Now im wondering what if some of the scientists that you found dead in half life had audio logs...

wait now that I think about I do believe one did(with the barnacle and stuff...technically it was a hologram) Also why shouldn't they have some. I never even noticed the water and the boats I just thought they were destroyed and washed up on shore (realizing later on how idiotic that is). Also l4d's writing on the wall is basically an audio log with writing as the words, I think at least.

but now I am just trying to make Yahtzee wrong, and I do a terrible job at it.

It's the future's Facebook/Twitter variant? Being isolated on non-civilian locations or secrective cities might merit a lack of a system similar to the internet. So maybe a log you can say that's as tough as a plane's black box would be a reasonable way to post thoughts during through the days/weeks/months.

I personally like Borderlands' audio logs the best, mainly because they take the absolute piss out of the whole trope of leaving audio logs, when the woman starts to give her audio recorder a name and personality. That's what always struck me as being odd about audio logs: granted, people write that way in their diary, but unless as Yahtzee says paper is completely absent I can't see why people would choose to record their thoughts instead of writing them down. It feels too much like they're talking to themselves.

Kross:

Jbird:

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

But, can you pay attention to them while doing so? Not everyone can multitask in that fashion.

As far as audio logs go, in my opinion, as long as they add to the fiction, like BioShock, then it can be done competently.

My main issue with games that let you play while listening is that if you move too fast, you often will come across other dialog that will play over the audio log (or the audio log will play over the other audio). Which results in me standing around in one spot listening to it anyway.

Same thing happened to me while playing Arkham Asylum. In some cases when it happened, I would stop in an area that was empty, and go back to play the log again.

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.

My thoughts exactly. I thought the audio logs in ODST were well done in that you could play while listening, and they actually connected to each other, forming an interesting story. I was surprised to find myself disappointed by the end of the game because I didn't find all of the logs!

Zohrra:

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.

I also like to take an occasional break from gameplay to read these things, especially in oblivion where there is so much interesting material to collect and read.

What about the physical size of the average audio log? The ones in bioshock looked to weigh around 25lbs and were 28"x8"x4", and both characters sucked them up like they were nothing. By the end, both characters probably weighed in excess of a ton simply because of all the recorders they were lugging around. Its even worse in futuristic games, where that amount of data could've been stored on the world's smallest flashdrive. I understand they need to be visible, but jesus fucking christ. One could create makeshift armor from the things.

CyricZ:

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.

Im not 100% sure but I think he may be referring to jet set willy, but he didnt jusmp down a toilet, Im not sure id like to know what hes talking about though

When I did my own review of the first FEAR game a few years back, I kind of harped on this point. Almost every other game that has done the "audio log" thing has made it seem ridiculous. I mean, in the first Bioshock, there are the corpses of a couple on a park bench- next to a ten-pound reel-to-reel tape recorder on which the guy brags about hoping to score with the girl. He brought that along with him? Don't get me wrong, the voice acting in System Shock 2's audio logs was frickin' sweet (look up Korenchkin's "Glory to the Many" recording sometime... STILL can't listen to that without shuddering), but is everyone's first reaction to Bad Shit Going Down to begin recording detailed reports of said Bad Shit, and then indiscriminately drop those recordings in their wake like extrememly heavy breadcrumbs?

The first FEAR handled it the best off all, I think- I'm far more inclined to believe that, during an invasion of heavily-armed supersoldiers, people just didn't get around to answering their voicemail.

Top-Hat man jumping down a toilet? Your wish is my command!

Hey Yahtzee, will you be having audio logs in your new space game your making?

The first FEAR game had good audio logs, they were messages on answering machines, they didn't spell everything out for you but as you progessed all the little messages came together slowly and in a way that helped the game along.

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