Prototype's Story Holes

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maninahat:

Yopaz:

Rangerboy87:
Somebody get this man a game writing job.

I have to agree with this. I'm not sure how good the games would be, but at least we'd get some interesting stories out of him.

They did approach him to write the new Duke Nukem game, but turned his proposal down because he wanted to portray the guy in a more ironic style.

Even if he did write for a game, there is no guarantee that they would actually use what he wrote in production. A friend of mine met Ms. Pratchett, the writer who produced the Mirror's Edge story. She was (reportedly) very jaded over them discarding most of her input.

Yeah, I know. It's a shame, but that game had more than story to keep it from being good.

That sounds like a far more interesting game than the one that was apparently delivered. (Should note I haven't played Prototype 2, partly because I have too many unplayed games and partly because the stupid GameStop ads made me cringe.)

Raiyan 1.0:
Well, the DNF script has already been accounted for. As for the 2nd person perspective horror game, I was talking about this: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/9423-Survival-Horror-on-a-Cruise-Ship

You don't see through your own eyes, but the eyes of surrounding CCTVs. :)

Ah, yes. I'd forgotten about that, thanks! Funny, when he described that I tended to think of Suspended. Completely different game, but it had that idea of being trapped and only experiencing the world through mechanical senses that didn't necessarily work the same as the eyes in one's own head.

It really bothered me in Prototype 1 how we don't see much of a reaction from Mercer upon finding out he's the virus. In fact, if memory serves, it was just bought up nonchalantly in a cutscene. This series has a few interesting ideas but unfortunately seems let the story fall by the wayside.

By the way what happens to Mercer's sister? Does Prototype 2 even bring her up?

In the "you're the virus" scene Mercer responds with inner monologue: "At that moment part of me died but another part of me felt relieved" or something like that. His sister gets brushed off in one of the later cutscenes with the woman-monster saying "she has become part of us".

Too bad Scourge Project was a failure, the plot was a bit similar to what you describe:

A hive-minded blob species that assumes human forms has made the mistake of assimilating a highly psychic human that was able to subjugate any part of the hivemind within range. The hivemind's plan was to create sectioned-off entities that are no longer connected via those psychic channels and thus not succeptible to the mind control, give them human shape and persuade those humans to kill the psychic human. The sectioned-off entities are your player characters, the real ones died to the blob stuff long ago and the ones you play are just copies that believe they are these particular people. However since the game was just a C-grade Gears of War clone and got completely panned (didn't help that it was buggy and had bad checkpointing) I don't think we'll ever see the second half of the story (where the player characters go and fight the hivemind).

http://www.schlockmercenary.com/ has a lot of amorphous blobs and nanomachine-induced memories and whatnot. The lead character is such a blob, he can devour power-armored soldiers in one bite but he also wields heavy weapons of the kind that can destroy a small starship. He isn't one for subtlety or guilt though, this is the webcomic that brought you "There is no 'overkill', there is only 'open fire' and 'I have to reload'".

You know, a lot of times when Yahtzee describes his ideas for game stories/mechanics they sound kind of dumb, or at least impossible to implement in any reasonable manner.
That said, Yahtzee's idea for Prototype 2's BioShock style big twist would have actually been pretty clever. A nice little way to put a deconstructionist spin on Heller being a walking cliche.

But of course Prototype's "clever storyline division" got allocated significantly less resources than Prototype's "fuck around division." Speaking of which, if Heller were to be an amalgamation of the creature's guilt it would probably be even MORE out of character when the player gets bored and starts finding new and interesting ways to murder innocent pedestrians.

Raiyan 1.0:
Well, the DNF script has already been accounted for. As for the 2nd person perspective horror game, I was talking about this: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/9423-Survival-Horror-on-a-Cruise-Ship

You don't see through your own eyes, but the eyes of surrounding CCTVs. :)

Oh! Yes, I remember that column now... thanks. :) Interesting idea, though to be honest, you'd have to do a ton of testing, since it'd be REALLY easy for the controls to not work just right...

beetrain:
It really bothered me in Prototype 1 how we don't see much of a reaction from Mercer upon finding out he's the virus. In fact, if memory serves, it was just bought up nonchalantly in a cutscene. This series has a few interesting ideas but unfortunately seems let the story fall by the wayside.

Honestly, that's another reason why I liked Prototype 2 over the first one, and admittedly I somewhat disagreed with Yahtzee about: I think Heller's a stronger character than Mercer was, at least from the standpoint it felt like he had a better motivation for doing what he did.

(Although, something Yahtzee didn't bring up that my significant-other did is the fact that, despite Heller presumably rebelling against Mercer and what he turned Heller into, there's several points where he seems rather joyous at the abilities he's able to learn... such as the ability to turn people into kamikaze bombs and all. The plot never goes into the potential losing of his humanity, though.)

By the way what happens to Mercer's sister? Does Prototype 2 even bring her up?

Here's hoping this works...

Visulth:
I wish there was a sufficient reason why the stories in AAA games are so poor, bland, and uninteresting. I bet there are plenty of talented people who'd love to use their skill at writing, and I bet there's a bunch of talented people with that skill on these game development teams. It's a shame none of it seems to make its way into the product.

It's because

a) publishers want to make sure their game has wide enough appeal so that more people buy it, and thus they don't want to alienate people with a "too smart" or "makes you question your life" story

b) Games with crappy stories tend to sell better for some reason.

c) Since (b) happens, why the heck would a publisher want to spend more money on hiring a decent writer when good writing doesn't have much impact on sales.

But yeah, I feel your pain. I miss games with great stories. (in fact I'm trying to change that. A bunch of friends and I are making an indie RPG, and we're making the story as good, compelling and awesome as possible)

I'm glad someone else remembered Mercer actually died and you were just the virus. When Dana came out with the line about him being her brother the first thing that came into my head was, "No he's not!"
I do like your idea though; it would have given an interesting moral dilemma for the player.
I can't help but think if you were in a triple-A company and gave that idea, you would have be fed to the companies mascot for showing ingenuity.

I kinda thought they were doing something similar, but dismissed it early on, remembering that the series wasn't exactly the most outstandingly written to date. Then I just went on throwing bio-bombs all over the place for fun, while Heller incongruously quipped about doing the right thing, without a shred of insincerity.

On the topic of the ending, however, anyone know what was going on when he turned into a giant grid? What was that even about?

GZGoten:
I really love InFAMOUS 1 and 2 which is why I never bothered giving Prototype a try but after reading this I'm really intrigued with it

is it as good as InFAMOUS 1 or 2?

Comparable to 1, for different reasons, though. The two of them balance each other out. While inFamous was more narrative-centered, Prototype is more fucking around-centered. Both are pretty damn fun.

The Crazy Legs:
... And it's times like this that keep me wondering why Yahtzee hasn't made more games. I mean, Poacher was awesome. The ideas he brings forward like this are pretty awesome. I would buy the games. WHO'S WITH ME?!

Yahtzee on Kickstarter! All the cool kids are doing it!

TheThirdChild:
I'm glad someone else remembered Mercer actually died and you were just the virus. When Dana came out with the line about him being her brother the first thing that came into my head was, "No he's not!"
I do like your idea though; it would have given an interesting moral dilemma for the player.
I can't help but think if you were in a triple-A company and gave that idea, you would have be fed to the companies mascot for showing ingenuity.

If nothing else, it would've led to an interesting 'final choice', much like at the end of Infamous 2, yeah.

BehattedWanderer:
I kinda thought they were doing something similar, but dismissed it early on, remembering that the series wasn't exactly the most outstandingly written to date. Then I just went on throwing bio-bombs all over the place for fun, while Heller incongruously quipped about doing the right thing, without a shred of insincerity.

That was rather what me and my significant-other noticed, yeah: the fact that Heller was ostensibly trying to be the 'good guy', but he didn't seem to mind at all the rather horribly grotesque abilities he picked up. I suppose you could say he justified it in terms of using it against Blackwatch, which, if you listen to the dead-drops scattered around the city, apparently needs a trope even worse than Kick the Dog...

On the topic of the ending, however, anyone know what was going on when he turned into a giant grid? What was that even about?

Yahtzee, why aren't you writing big games? You are far superior to those currently out there.

ssgt splatter:
I like Yahtzee's premise, I really do but the problem here is I think some people would get lost with that much information being thrown at them. It would be too much to take in at once.

That's kinda what the problem is with a lot of games, large exposition dumps. Prototype 1 had a good method, weaving the exposition throughout the story until the end where you go "Omygawd I'mma virus!?". You're given hints throughout as the story is told in flashback until a certain point. Yahtzee's story there may have been a bit much because you read it on 2 pages, but imagine if that story there got spread out over 10-14 hours. If you're engaged in it, it would be like any other story properly paced.

See i was thinking the entire time "Yahtzee needs to just write his own book based around this idea." ._. Please do it Ben! Please!!!!! Sometimes in life you just have those ideas that are perfect and THAT IDEA IS ONE OF THEM.

OT: I agree that dropping the significents of the original's ending hurt the game from the start. The first game was amazing to me because i predicted that you wern't really mercer early on so i LOVED the game for playing you off as the true worst enemy the whole time.

Not to mention Mercer essentially became the new Elizabeth Green(the main boss and hive mind of the first game). One virus defeating and encorperating an old virus.

I seriously doubt anyone is going to read all that, but I'm glad I got it off my chest. Been bugging me for a while. Anyway, I agree that the Prototype series is a pretty good case of wasted potential: I really enjoyed the plot twist in the first game, since it meant the you're essentially playing as John Carpenter's "The Thing". Sounds like all the story potential of this concept is totally wasted, though. And that sucks.

While it is one thing to come up with a really interesting storyline and overall plot, delivering that story, with all the little details and nuances, is an entirely different task.

Shannon Spencer Fox:

BehattedWanderer:
I kinda thought they were doing something similar, but dismissed it early on, remembering that the series wasn't exactly the most outstandingly written to date. Then I just went on throwing bio-bombs all over the place for fun, while Heller incongruously quipped about doing the right thing, without a shred of insincerity.

That was rather what me and my significant-other noticed, yeah: the fact that Heller was ostensibly trying to be the 'good guy', but he didn't seem to mind at all the rather horribly grotesque abilities he picked up. I suppose you could say he justified it in terms of using it against Blackwatch, which, if you listen to the dead-drops scattered around the city, apparently needs a trope even worse than Kick the Dog...

On the topic of the ending, however, anyone know what was going on when he turned into a giant grid? What was that even about?

That doesn't really add up for me, or, if nothing else, strikes again of how inconsistent he is. And writing the characters routinely as "Man, I just want to shoot some civilians!" isn't exactly great writing. Cartoon villains have those motivations. If they weren't all army types, I bet they'd all have giant twirly black mustaches.

BehattedWanderer:
That doesn't really add up for me, or, if nothing else, strikes again of how inconsistent he is. And writing the characters routinely as "Man, I just want to shoot some civilians!" isn't exactly great writing. Cartoon villains have those motivations. If they weren't all army types, I bet they'd all have giant twirly black mustaches.

Very true, though it also appeared to be somewhat unconscious on his part, and not really something he deliberately chose. ;) But, regardless, you do make a valid point there.

I must say, though, I am reminded of a conversation you hear while following after some Blackwatch soldiers as you track down one of Mercer's goons:

Sterns: 'You know, some of those female Infected are kinda hot, if you pop a bag on their head.'
Captain: 'Sterns, I have no idea how the **** you passed that psych profile.'

Maybe not exactly a lampshade moment, but it did make me snicker. ;)

Shannon Spencer Fox:

BehattedWanderer:
That doesn't really add up for me, or, if nothing else, strikes again of how inconsistent he is. And writing the characters routinely as "Man, I just want to shoot some civilians!" isn't exactly great writing. Cartoon villains have those motivations. If they weren't all army types, I bet they'd all have giant twirly black mustaches.

Very true, though it also appeared to be somewhat unconscious on his part, and not really something he deliberately chose. ;) But, regardless, you do make a valid point there.

I must say, though, I am reminded of a conversation you hear while following after some Blackwatch soldiers as you track down one of Mercer's goons:

Sterns: 'You know, some of those female Infected are kinda hot, if you pop a bag on their head.'
Captain: 'Sterns, I have no idea how the **** you passed that psych profile.'

Maybe not exactly a lampshade moment, but it did make me snicker. ;)

There's a few golden moments like that here and there, where the brutality of both Blackwatch and the player's actions are put into question against actual contemporary morality, but then it gets laughably waved off as said actions are allowed to continue. Nothing as poignant as having a support character disappointed in you for doing something evil, a la inFamous 2, but those moments are genuine joys to behold. Half of Dana Mercer's dialogue is deals well with that kind of stuff.

Now, see THAT kind of game would be fascinating.

Can some of these companies hire you please?

Holy shit, man. That's the most amazing spin-off player-made theory I've ever seen. I had never intended to play the games, but I still feel disappointed anyway.

Visulth:
I wish there was a sufficient reason why the stories in AAA games are so poor, bland, and uninteresting.

From what I understand, when a developer is going to make a game, they focus on gameplay first and then the narrative is built around it (unfortunately). When they receive the funds from a publisher, they usually have a premise for the story that is very basic and general before hand. Once those funds are secured and the contracts signed, the story and the gameplay elements are developed separately. That's why most details in the plot seem unrelated to any actions that occur during gameplay and that most of those same details come in the way of cut scenes (also developed separately). When all the assets are turned in and the developer's producer checks out the finished product, there is barely enough time to do any changes or add more things before release... =(

Also: *reads Yahtzee's premise* That's bloody genius! =D

I agree Yahtzee. All games would improve if they took inspiration from Doctor Who.

Formica Archonis:

Raiyan 1.0:
Well, the DNF script has already been accounted for. As for the 2nd person perspective horror game, I was talking about this: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/extra-punctuation/9423-Survival-Horror-on-a-Cruise-Ship

You don't see through your own eyes, but the eyes of surrounding CCTVs. :)

Ah, yes. I'd forgotten about that, thanks! Funny, when he described that I tended to think of Suspended. Completely different game, but it had that idea of being trapped and only experiencing the world through mechanical senses that didn't necessarily work the same as the eyes in one's own head.

There was a horror game called Siren II. The main conceit of the game was that the protagonists (there were loads) has the ability to "tune into" other people's vision. This was to solve puzzles, but one of the characters was blind and had to rely on the ability non-stop. He even has to eye hack his own guard dog.

Shame I thought it was a big pile of poo.

GZGoten:
I really love InFAMOUS 1 and 2 which is why I never bothered giving Prototype a try but after reading this I'm really intrigued with it

is it as good as InFAMOUS 1 or 2?

Haven't played either Infamous, except briefly in a best buy, so I can't really compare the two with any authority. However, I did play through Prototype 1, and I can assure you that it was amazingly good fun. The plot is a bit silly at times, and it does take itself too seriously, but my goodness is it ever excellent stress relief. You have all of Manhattan to play in, and you are just about the most mobile thing that there is. My favorite thing: Jumping off of a helicopter then diving face first towards a crowd of soldiers just to turn at the last second and smash the ground, throwing the entire crowd into the air. It isn't a hard game, but it is very satisfying.

I like the idea about how you're not actually controlling Alec Mercer in the first game, but rather a virus that has replicated itself with that man's memories and appearance. It kind of reminds me of the backstory given to Swamp Thing after Alan Moore took over writing. The hypothesis definitely adds a richness to a game that I remember already having the potential for such a twist with the mechanic of advancing the plot by consuming the minds of the important people.

Are there any of us who can say we wouldn't start surfing on housewives if we acquired powers like Mercer?

NO...I would not

what is it with people and being evil anyway?

maninahat:
There was a horror game called Siren II. The main conceit of the game was that the protagonists (there were loads) has the ability to "tune into" other people's vision. This was to solve puzzles, but one of the characters was blind and had to rely on the ability non-stop. He even has to eye hack his own guard dog.

Shame I thought it was a big pile of poo.

Sounds not entirely dissimilar to Yahtzee's opinion of Siren Blood Curse.

Visulth:
I wish there was a sufficient reason why the stories in AAA games are so poor, bland, and uninteresting. I bet there are plenty of talented people who'd love to use their skill at writing, and I bet there's a bunch of talented people with that skill on these game development teams. It's a shame none of it seems to make its way into the product.

I suspect that insuring that there are good story writers on the team and working hard to make the story interesting and consistent as part of the overall project is still not a strong priority for many development teams. A lot of dev companies probably still see story development as an ancillary element, rather than intrinsic one. And for games that are considered story-centric, you'd think that you'd see a TON of effort to get talented writers and give the story a huge weight of significance, but then you see story-centric games like Final Fantasy XIII that suffer from atrocious pacing, plot holes, and deus ex machina...things that someone with a measly undergrad degree in creative writing and no experience as professional writer (such as myself) can see a mile away.

This all leads me to believe that a great many video game story-writers are A) not the most talented writers out there, B) not given enough creative control over the process, i.e. they may write a good story but then the directors/producers of the project mess up their script for various reasons, or C) both A and B.

Yhatzee! You were thinking exactly what I was thinking about! I was even thinking about it the other day, wondering why people didn't notice it. "Alex Mercer died in Penn Station, the virus killed him when he released it and it used his body as a manifestation! That isn't really Mercer, just the virus itself." Though I never thought about it beyond that. I greatly enjoyed reading this!

Great ideas, you could also throw in a wandering plot-conveying npc called Zarathustra.

I loved the big reveal at the end of Prototype where it turns out you were the virus and not Mercer. It was one of the better written twists or plot points in a video game for a proverbial age.

Prototype 2 was fun to play, it's just a shame that the story didn't go anywhere. Like... at all. It made me sad because the initial set-up actually grabbed my attention quite swiftly. It would he been interesting to see things as Yahtzee put it. To me, I had always thought of Heller as something created by Mercer as a means to stop himself from getting out of control. Or that's what I had hoped.

In the end, we're forced to pretty much forget about game one, just like Yahtzee says. Thanks for the interesting take on the game. Ahhh, what could have been...

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