Beyond: Two Souls vs. The Stanley Parable

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ritchards:
"The Fat Controller" eh? I know a Doctor Who reference when I see one! (Or even when I don't see one.)

I thought it was a reference to Dr. Staurt Ashen who did a review of a transforming Thomas the Tank Engine knockoff and thought that Sir Topham hat was actually called the Fat Controller.

The Stanley Parable sounds really good. I liked the Demo that the Game Grumps did (which was specialized for them for some reason) but the demo sort of sold me on the idea of a five minute Stanley Parable ride where the audience votes and silly things happen.
A couple hours to play a half life two mod doesn't sound like a great use of money.

Oskuro:
So B:TS is.... a movie. And not a good one, it seems.
It feels like some people are trying to bypass the whole process of making an actual movie by making a pretend one.

Now give us a sequel to Poacher!!!

... Art of Theft? ....

... 1213?? ....

... Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment??? ...

What? no mention of the Dafoe/Triby games?

Seriously?

"My personal favourite, though, is to duck into a broom closet mid-way through the obedience path and refuse to leave, prompting the narrator to eventually conclude that you must have died."
So you got the Broom Closet "Ending"? The Broom Closet "Ending" was my FAvorite!

I'm kind of surprised that "The Broom Closet Ending" isn't proportionally as big as Portal's "The Cake is a Lie". What I'm not surprised about, however, is how similar the phrases are in context. After all, many design choices in TSP are imitations of Portal's design: a delightfully mean omnipresent voice whose being is actually stuck, a countdown until the player's death, revisiting a previous game's area that has been torn up, and let's not forget that first test chamber with the cube.

Portal is still Yahtzee's favorite game, isn't it? Granted, Silent Hill 2 drifts up there when he's in for a less silly mood in a game.

Swifteye:

ritchards:
"The Fat Controller" eh? I know a Doctor Who reference when I see one! (Or even when I don't see one.)

I thought it was a reference to Dr. Staurt Ashen who did a review of a transforming Thomas the Tank Engine knockoff and thought that Sir Topham hat was actually called the Fat Controller.

The Stanley Parable sounds really good. I liked the Demo that the Game Grumps did (which was specialized for them for some reason) but the demo sort of sold me on the idea of a five minute Stanley Parable ride where the audience votes and silly things happen.
A couple hours to play a half life two mod doesn't sound like a great use of money.

Strike that. Reverse it. The Fat Controller is only called Sir Topham-Hat in the US. His true name is The Fat Controller, although he used to be The Fat Director before the railways were nationalised.

Psychobabble:
Yeah Yahtzee, but does the Stanley Parable have tits?

Yes, but only if you get all the achievements.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
In brief, then, the games are hardly worth comparing, because while The Stanley Parable is actually a player-controlled branching narrative, Beyond: Two Souls merely puts on an illusion of one.

I take issue with this. While I will admit I have played neither of these games I have two main gripes about this statement.

First, you can have the illusion of a player-controlled branching narrative and still have a good game. Telltale's The Walking Dead is an excellent example. Seriously, all you can change in that game is some minor dialog and the order in which people die. Yet it still kicks people in the feels and has them drooling for more (me included, YAY CLEM!!!).

Second, I would argue that there are no real player-controlled branching narrative games. All the choices you can make in any game have already been thought of and made a part of the game. So you, as the player, are simply following a set path the devs have laid out for you. Giving you the illusion of freedom.

'The Fat Controller'. I love it! All it's missing is lots of sad face stickers.

I saw every bit of content in The Stanley Parable in an afternoon, but damn if it wasn't one of the most enjoyable afternoons of my life.

For everyone saying they might "check it out" - don't. Stop whatever you're playing right now and download the demo for free off Steam and play that. Then buy and play the game. It's not long.

Valderis:
Welcome to the master race Yahtzee.

Anyway. Beyond: Two Souls could have been such a cool game if it would limit you to just playing as Aiden through the whole game. Unable to go far from the girl who is just an scripted AI. By interacting with her and the environment you can alter the actions of people and the flow of the story. Be horrible to the girl as she grows up and she'll come to hate/fear you and will try to rid herself of you, be helpful and she'll come to rely on you and who knows what you can accomplish. Maybe even the plot of the game could change depending on your actions, be a monster and your revealed origin might turn out to be that of a devil, be good and maybe you'll discover you're her dead childhood friend watching over her, maybe even throw in secret origins like being an alien creature that needs a host body to survive. Of course the game would have to be in chronological order instead of the mixed up mess we have now.

Now that would have been an actual game, unlike the shit stain that was released. Because there's some really cool stuff in that game, to bad you have to swim through a mile of shit to get to them.

Aiden's the guy played by Willem Dafoe, right? Of course he's the devil! Haven't you watched that one car commercial?

Dear Alien Yahtzee,

Please use a wired connection. Thank you.

Love,
-screw.

Swifteye:

ritchards:
"The Fat Controller" eh? I know a Doctor Who reference when I see one! (Or even when I don't see one.)

I thought it was a reference to Dr. Staurt Ashen who did a review of a transforming Thomas the Tank Engine knockoff and thought that Sir Topham hat was actually called the Fat Controller.

In the Doctor Who story, Attack of the Cybermen, there is the line "It is a fact, controller." The controller had the same actor from Tomb of the Cybermen, although had put on a few pounds over the years, and the 'c' didn't come across all that well, so...

I'm sure it's your reference, I just overly spot DW references.

His comment about movies being only about two hours because they only got the narrative going for them reminds me of the Persona 4 opening, which is 3 fucking hours of nothing but dialogue and the short tutorial fight about 2 and a half hours into that stretch.

Darth_Payn:
Aiden's the guy played by Willem Dafoe, right? Of course he's the devil! Haven't you watched that one car commercial?

No, Aiden is the ghost thing that is linked to the girl. Willem Dafoe is just Willem Dafoe playing a creep who is some government worker who studies paranormal sites and events. Of course he's even scarier then the ghost, he's trying to be all sincere and kind which is creepy as fuck with his face and voice.

Ah, I see you found the "Broom Closet Ending" to be your favourite as well.

An Alienware machine? I can only assume they still make good machines that are way overpriced. I might build a new computer at the start of next year. I'm not sure since my current one is still going strong.

I figured B:TS was going to pretty much be the same David Cage bullshit that his previous games were. Nice to know I wasn't wrong and shall not be wasting any money on this one either.

Xman490:

So you got the Broom Closet "Ending"? The Broom Closet "Ending" was my FAvorite!

I find this post really disturbing...

The biggest question is which of these two games is a bigger piece of pretentious crap?

I'd say Beyond Two Souls.

Marik Bentusi:
To me the biggest difference between TSP and B:TS was player agency.

TSP is designed to be very reactive to your actions/decisions, limited as they may be. You may not be in control of it, but you're definitely the one steering the plot. The spotlight's on you.
In B:TS it's more like the course is already set and you're only allowed to interact when it has virtually no significance to the overall experience save for slightly different endings. The spotlight's on everything but you.

You're saying that like it's the most terrible thing ever. I don't mind more directed experiences like this, and don't say "Then watch a movie", it's already a game and we must meet it on its own terms. If a game wants to be a directed experience with no way to alter the narrative, then so be it, as long as it does what it wants to do effectively then there is no issue. B:TS does have some severe issues, but I liked it enough (my review on it is in the user reviews before you pounce on me). To use an analogy, calling a car crap because it's not a truck is kind of missing the point of both.

Is it wrong that when i hear the words 'upsetting amount of money' and Alienware in the same sentence I cringe a little?

Thoughtful_Salt:

Marik Bentusi:
To me the biggest difference between TSP and B:TS was player agency.

TSP is designed to be very reactive to your actions/decisions, limited as they may be. You may not be in control of it, but you're definitely the one steering the plot. The spotlight's on you.
In B:TS it's more like the course is already set and you're only allowed to interact when it has virtually no significance to the overall experience save for slightly different endings. The spotlight's on everything but you.

You're saying that like it's the most terrible thing ever. I don't mind more directed experiences like this, and don't say "Then watch a movie", it's already a game and we must meet it on its own terms. If a game wants to be a directed experience with no way to alter the narrative, then so be it, as long as it does what it wants to do effectively then there is no issue. B:TS does have some severe issues, but I liked it enough (my review on it is in the user reviews before you pounce on me). To use an analogy, calling a car crap because it's not a truck is kind of missing the point of both.

A directed experience with no way to alter the narrative doesn't have to be devoid of player agency or unfocus the player. Linear games do it all the time. In the go-to example of HL2 you have zero narrative choice/impact, but you're still very much in the spotlight. It's also possible without having to rely on making the player character a blank slate, as Bioshock Infinite or Deus Ex Human Revolution can show you. Player choice in these games is almost entirely restricted to the gameplay, but that's enough to make the player feel they're in charge, they matter, they're necessary, they have agency.

In BTS the main purpose of the player is to trigger cutscenes. Which is why Yahtzee says you might as well watch a movie and pause-and-unpause it every now and then to recreate the experience. If you make the player matter neither in narrative nor in gameplay, in my opinion you've just made a slightly more tedious version of a really long movie.

Of course, if you immunize something against all critique and comparisons by basically saying it set its own set of standards, then I don't see a point in discussing it. Unless you want to discuss the plot maybe, but that really wasn't the point of my original comment, so I doubt that.

Not sure why you think I'd pounce on anyone tho.

Marik Bentusi:

Thoughtful_Salt:

Marik Bentusi:
To me the biggest difference between TSP and B:TS was player agency.

TSP is designed to be very reactive to your actions/decisions, limited as they may be. You may not be in control of it, but you're definitely the one steering the plot. The spotlight's on you.
In B:TS it's more like the course is already set and you're only allowed to interact when it has virtually no significance to the overall experience save for slightly different endings. The spotlight's on everything but you.

You're saying that like it's the most terrible thing ever. I don't mind more directed experiences like this, and don't say "Then watch a movie", it's already a game and we must meet it on its own terms. If a game wants to be a directed experience with no way to alter the narrative, then so be it, as long as it does what it wants to do effectively then there is no issue. B:TS does have some severe issues, but I liked it enough (my review on it is in the user reviews before you pounce on me). To use an analogy, calling a car crap because it's not a truck is kind of missing the point of both.

A directed experience with no way to alter the narrative doesn't have to be devoid of player agency or unfocus the player. Linear games do it all the time. In the go-to example of HL2 you have zero narrative choice/impact, but you're still very much in the spotlight. It's also possible without having to rely on making the player character a blank slate, as Bioshock Infinite or Deus Ex Human Revolution can show you. Player choice in these games is almost entirely restricted to the gameplay, but that's enough to make the player feel they're in charge, they matter, they're necessary, they have agency.

In BTS the main purpose of the player is to trigger cutscenes. Which is why Yahtzee says you might as well watch a movie and pause-and-unpause it every now and then to recreate the experience. If you make the player matter neither in narrative nor in gameplay, in my opinion you've just made a slightly more tedious version of a really long movie.

Of course, if you immunize something against all critique and comparisons by basically saying it set its own set of standards, then I don't see a point in discussing it. Unless you want to discuss the plot maybe, but that really wasn't the point of my original comment, so I doubt that.

Not sure why you think I'd pounce on anyone tho.

I'm not immunizing against critique by saying that a work should be taken on its own merits, you can critique the hell out of a game by itself if you know what you're doing. Applying the standards of an entirely different game (and an entirely different medium) onto another just misses the point entirely. It's like me criticizing half life 2 for not being more fast paced or for not being an open world game like sky rim.

Taking this approach means that Beyond: Two Souls allows minimal interaction with the written narrative, which is poorly written, but it allows a different perspective on events (not to mention the various actions Aiden can do that allow for character interaction), which is not something you can do with film, which is a static medium. Yahtzee's reference to it being a movie with the pause button being used neatly sidesteps that fact that the player makes some pretty small but meaningful choices that alter the flow of the narrative (ie. choosing the ending, talking willem dafoe into killing himself, being slightly sarcastic, etc.).

Gaming is an entirely unprecedented medium, and no one knows what directions it can go. David Cage can't write a great story, but I have a feeling his approach to making games might prove influential down the road.

ccdohl:
The biggest question is which of these two games is a bigger piece of pretentious crap?

I'd say Beyond Two Souls.

Well, SP is at least trying not to look pretentious.

Congrats on your PC purchase! That is what I am suggesting for now when people ask me what console to get? I say why bother, the consoles are mid range gaming pc's and since most games are cross platform so.... Enjoy those super inexpensive games from Steam - 30, 50 and up to 75% off, Humble Bundle and GoG :)

There are some exclusive games and if that is a must have then of course go the console route.

I currently own a 360 and PS3 but this next generation may be the first that I skip purchasing one.

At the very least I will end up waiting a year or so to see how this tug of war between the console manufacturers play out.

ALSO: dual boot over to SteamOS - reason to do this would likely be a nice additional performance boost vs running Windows for gaming with all those other processes running soaking up performance.

Things will hopefully get interesting for gaming soon : )

Zombie Badger:

Teoes:
The Master Race will neither forgive nor forget Yahtzee's admission that it was an Alienware he bought. Your halo is slipping and was overly-expensive!

Yeah, real men forge their machines in the fires of Mount Doom into which they put their hatred, their malice, and their will to dominate all console peasants!

yeah, that definitely sounds like the design philosophy of my 25 pound case jet black steel frame with fans and grilles of varying sizes, plus it glows red when i want it to (although i have not installed a deep humming simulator, i am searching for one)

i look forward to when i purchase stanley and his parable on sale

flying_whimsy:

Teoes:
The Master Race will neither forgive nor forget Yahtzee's admission that it was an Alienware he bought. Your halo is slipping and was overly-expensive!

The Stanley Parable sprang from nowhere for me to everyone suddenly buzzing about it. It's on the wishlist, I'll try it someday.

The Stanley Parable has a demo on steam, and I heartily recommend trying it out. Whatever you think it's going to be, you're probably wrong. I know I was.

And you shouldn't call someone out on buying alienware (there are valid reasons), even ironically: all it does is perpetuate the pc elitist stereotype.

The joke flying over your head.

No one gives that much of a shit over which brand laptop you have, Alienware is like an inside joke amongst PC Gamers, as their products tend to be over-priced and aren't always as well built as other Dell products.

Nonetheless, what matters is the fact that Yahtzee might be more open to PC exclusives.

Though I am pretty sure that if he reviews an RTS and likes it, the fabric of the universe will be torn in half.

Akichi Daikashima:

The joke flying over your head.

No one gives that much of a shit over which brand laptop you have, Alienware is like an inside joke amongst PC Gamers, as their products tend to be over-priced and aren't always as well built as other Dell products.

Nonetheless, what matters is the fact that Yahtzee might be more open to PC exclusives.

Though I am pretty sure that if he reviews an RTS and likes it, the fabric of the universe will be torn in half.

The joke didn't fly over my head, which is why I said you shouldn't call someone out on it, even ironically, precisely because it is an inside joke that comes off more pretentious than witty.

Back to more OT: I'm hoping this will greatly expand Yahtzee's options for both playing and reviewing, particularly when it comes to poorly optimized ports and control interfaces. Just the same, I'm sure at some point we will have to listen to him complain at length about pc gaming when he gets something really buggy or has some other computer problems.

Just imagine Zero Punctuation: Windows 8.

All I want is to see Yahtzee do a video review of Stanley Parable and tell me what it is. I'm tired of people telling me to get it because it is so great, then when I ask them why, they either talk in dualities or just say "trust me". Maybe I don't trust you mysterious internet person! But I may trust Yahtzee....

Aeradom:
All I want is to see Yahtzee do a video review of Stanley Parable and tell me what it is. I'm tired of people telling me to get it because it is so great, then when I ask them why, they either talk in dualities or just say "trust me". Maybe I don't trust you mysterious internet person! But I may trust Yahtzee....

Well he did give us some good points about it, its a good look at why games are funny when they try to tell their story and their character, and the duality of this with what the player does goes against the established character or route we are supposed to take, the 'jumping out of the level' kind of inconsistency. It establishes a very good point, that games should work together with players rather than giving us the illusion of choice.
Its the old mentality vs the new one. I like it, whether its a good game depends on how into you get from a thoughtprovoking perspective. If you don't like the game because its not the sort you like, ie thoughtful storytelling with minimal gameplay, then you already know whether to get it.

Yahztee will only say good things about it, and thats never as fun as ripping a game apart.

Thomas was very excited to hear about the Fat Controller coming back to play with his Steam engines. 'I wonder if that makes the 3DS the Thin Controller', wondered Thomas.
Regardless, today it was Half Life 2 which proved itself a Really Useful Engine. In the meantime, Thomas Was Alone.

Evonisia:

Beyond: Two Souls really sounds worse the more I hear about it.

Terrible game, somewhat interesting though rather predictable story. That is basically Beyond Two Souls and Heavy Rain and any future game that has David Cage as the head man.

MrCalavera:

ccdohl:
The biggest question is which of these two games is a bigger piece of pretentious crap?

I'd say Beyond Two Souls.

Well, SP is at least trying not to look pretentious.

I would argue that SP is the easier one to categorize as pretentious, it's trying very very hard to be different and serve as a counter to your average mainstream triple A title, I guess it depends upon how much you think it actually works or not

Beyond Two Souls isn't really trying to hide that it's the plot of dozens of movies stuck together, one minute you're playing Carrie taking revenge on teenage bullies, the next you're in Blackhawk Down with the soundtrack made by Hans Zimmmer as well

I just don't see Beyond: Two Souls as trying to be pretentious when there's a mission where you infiltrate a underwater base belonging to the "Republic of Not-China"

ccdohl:
The biggest question is which of these two games is a bigger piece of pretentious crap?

I'd say Beyond Two Souls.

For something to be pretentious it has to be making a deliberate effort to be such, as defined by the official definition of the word. You can't be pretentious by accident.

The Stanley Parable is very aware of what it is and makes no attempt to be anything different. It doesn't try to impress or dazzle anyone with spectacle. It simply makes a series of observations and the level of enjoyment taken from it is dependant on the player.

Beyond: Two Souls, on the other hand, wants so much to be a movie that it treats the player like a malignant growth. It shuns any form of input by blatantly ignoring the action and continuing the story it wants to tell you. It wants us to be blown away by it's revolutionary storytelling. Apparently this is what all games wish they could be like. Yeah, this is a pretentious game.

Proverbial Jon:

ccdohl:
The biggest question is which of these two games is a bigger piece of pretentious crap?

I'd say Beyond Two Souls.

For something to be pretentious it has to be making a deliberate effort to be such, as defined by the official definition of the word. You can't be pretentious by accident.

The Stanley Parable is very aware of what it is and makes no attempt to be anything different. It doesn't try to impress or dazzle anyone with spectacle. It simply makes a series of observations and the level of enjoyment taken from it is dependant on the player.

Beyond: Two Souls, on the other hand, wants so much to be a movie that it treats the player like a malignant growth. It shuns any form of input by blatantly ignoring the action and continuing the story it wants to tell you. It wants us to be blown away by it's revolutionary storytelling. Apparently this is what all games wish they could be like. Yeah, this is a pretentious game.

Pretentious means trying to overstate the importance of something. It may or may not be an accident.
B:TS overstates the importance of a purely narrative driven game and thus is pretentious. Meanwhile The Stanley Parable is a narrative game about the problems of narrative in games. Its aim is to highlight the problems in gaming narrative and player agency and does so without overstating it. Thus as a work of art, it is far more superior than whatever nonsense David Cage tries to cook up...

Sarge034:

Yahtzee Croshaw:
In brief, then, the games are hardly worth comparing, because while The Stanley Parable is actually a player-controlled branching narrative, Beyond: Two Souls merely puts on an illusion of one.

I take issue with this. While I will admit I have played neither of these games I have two main gripes about this statement.

First, you can have the illusion of a player-controlled branching narrative and still have a good game. Telltale's The Walking Dead is an excellent example. Seriously, all you can change in that game is some minor dialog and the order in which people die. Yet it still kicks people in the feels and has them drooling for more (me included, YAY CLEM!!!).

Second, I would argue that there are no real player-controlled branching narrative games. All the choices you can make in any game have already been thought of and made a part of the game. So you, as the player, are simply following a set path the devs have laid out for you. Giving you the illusion of freedom.

Original Deux Ex (and games made by Warren Spector from 1995-2002) disagrees with you.

Rarely done these days, but a lot of focus in those games was on the idea of emergent gameplay. Sure, the actual plot might branch depending on what the designer predicted, but by ensuring that you never HAVE to kill someone to proceed, you could combine abilities and the enemy AI in unanticipated ways. Spector commented that he knew they'd got it right in Deux Ex when he was watching a playthrough years after the game came out, and seeing the player do things they'd never imagined, yet had made possible using emergent mechanics.

Azrael the Cat:
Original Deux Ex (and games made by Warren Spector from 1995-2002) disagrees with you.

Rarely done these days, but a lot of focus in those games was on the idea of emergent gameplay. Sure, the actual plot might branch depending on what the designer predicted, but by ensuring that you never HAVE to kill someone to proceed, you could combine abilities and the enemy AI in unanticipated ways. Spector commented that he knew they'd got it right in Deux Ex when he was watching a playthrough years after the game came out, and seeing the player do things they'd never imagined, yet had made possible using emergent mechanics.

image

First, I'll start of by saying that there is a lot of discussion to be had about the various aspects of emergent gameplay, and I have no intentions to hit them all in this post.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergent_gameplay

Second, it might seem like I'm being short with you but I'm just trying to address every point you have brought up. So with that, let's begin...

>"Sure, the actual plot might branch depending on what the designer predicted" - predetermined paths, illusion of choice.

>"but by ensuring that you never HAVE to kill someone to proceed," - predetermined play style, illusion of choice.

>"you could combine abilities and the enemy AI in unanticipated ways." - False, if this was true the game would not know what to do in those situations, illusion of choice. (expanded upon further below)

>"Spector commented that he knew they'd got it right in Deux Ex when he was watching a playthrough years after the game came out, and seeing the player do things they'd never imagined, yet had made possible using emergent mechanics."

This one is gonna take some talking. So as with the point above this is a false notion. They did technically imagine all possible play styles because they coded how all the abilities and the enemy AI would all work together. Now perhaps they didn't say "you can only do it this way" but instead said, "these are the rules that you have to follow in our playground". It is still a limitation of player choice to what the dev(s) said were acceptable actions in that playground. It is by this limitation of choice that I maintain there is no actual player agency in games, but rather an illusion of player agency and choice. If there was true player agency and choice you could do something the dev(s) never intended you to do. For example in Deus Ex, you could say, "Fuck this shit. I'm going to find a bar, get drunk, find a hooker, rent a motel room, and enjoy myself for the rest of my life." In games like GTA these actions are allowed and as such must be considered an illusion of choice. However, in games like CoD, Deus Ex, Splinter Cell, ect., ect., these actions are not allowed and would then be considered actual player agency. In my mind the only way to attain true player agency would be having an AI simultaneously coding the game and reacting to the player's input.

It simply comes down to how you view player agency. If I can think of something in a game I can't do then I say the game does not truly have player agency.

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