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MotW: In-Depth Playthrough

  • Volrath
  • 06/05/2015 03:50 PM
  • 26829 views
Hey all,

Not much to report on the MotW Remake at this point. I still think about it quite often but we've both been fairly busy with our "real jobs" and we're waiting on certain tools before we start for realz. In the meantime, Super Solest fan NeverSilent has started a playthrough of the original game while taking detailed notes.

We started this already, but since the Solest forums have been retired, I decided we should continue it here. He'll be along to post his impressions after a session of the game and anyone who wants to weigh in can join us in the comments for this blog entry.

Peace bros!

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NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
I haven't been able to do much recently, unfortunately. University has started again for me, and I've been trying to do way too many things at once during the past few weeks. Still, I want to post at least something, even if it's not much. It's a bit difficult to comment on those sections of the game that are more story-heavy, since all I can really do there is point out the rare inconsistencies here and there, and repeat how good I think most of the writing is over and over.


Rellenia:
- I found a few small bugs in Wyre's office. Even after you have already received the copy of the report, he still tells you they are working on it when you talk to him. Also, there's a passability error that allows you to walk on the bookshelves from the ladder.
- The old house that lets you briefly re-enter the underground dungeon if you found the key is a neat idea. Finding that treasure you couldn't reach before feels very rewarding, and the whole setup adds something to the believability of the dungeon.
- Finding the new gun for Finley just made me realise again that some of his skills and secondary attack effects are in fact dependent on what type of weapon he is carrying. I like this mechanic, as it encourages the player to consider the advantages of a certain attack type instead just switching to the weapon with the better stats immediately.
- It's kind of sad to see how bitterly Stoic reacts to Rana and necromancy in general, especially considering that Rana seems to be sincere in her misguided care for him. Of course, his viewspoint is hardly surprising, despite the fact that he also tries to fight for the benefit of the undead, who are products of necromancy. But in a way it makes Stoic also more human as it becomes clear that due to his experiences, even he has prejudices and reservations against certain groups of people.



On the Road Again:
- Finley's dream... What can I even say? It's probably the most ludicrous scene in the entire game, but it provides such an honest little insight into Finley's narcissistic fantasies that I can't help but laugh every time. Especially Stoic's dialogue is just so perfect, I still use the phrase "grumpy for the sake of being grumpy" every now and then myself. This is a great scene.
- In the "busted wheel" scene, I see another storytelling-related advantage of having a psychic in the heroes' party: Laurel is immediately able to explain the situation, so that no awkward questions or uncomfortable silence are necessary before Cade's reason for being affected by the sight of this particular house becomes clear. An interesting way to avoid melodrama and get right to the actual emotional value of the scene.
- I enjoyed the little hunt for clues in Cade's house, although unfortunately it's very short. It's the type of detective game that I liked about X-Noir as well, and seems very fitting for a superhero themed game, too. I kind of wish you had expanded on it a bit more, and that there were more opportunities for the player to engage in that type of gameplay. Although, I know that the search for Marin in Artagel is built around a great mechanic that serves this purpose...
- This conversation between Finley and Cade at the cliffs always positively surprised me. It's another one of those occasions where, in his simple way, Finley actually manages to be very sypathetic and wise. It's nice to see how both characters are starting to grow due to each other's influence.
- Danika really has some severe problems! On the other hand, her extreme behaviour makes it even more interesting to find out later that she has more reasons to mess with Kovak than pure desire to be in charge. She would probably need to be introduced to the player a bit earlier in the story to leave a stronger and more lasting impression, though.



I'll try to get the next part done as soon as possible. We're going to be rooting around in some people's brains (not literally!) in one of my favourite places on Solest, and perhaps take the opportunity to give some fairy representatives a piece of our mind.
Your avatar's tripping me out, bruh.

-Stoic has buttons that can be pushed just like anyone else and not just related to puns. Aside from his disgust for necromancers, the failure of his brief romance with Rana weighs heavily on him as well since part of him still believes his only real chance at love was with Daphne.
-Finley's dream used to be on YouTube, but I couldn't find it when I searched. I gotta make a save file right at that scene.
-The cliffside bit is a big scene for Finley. I think it shows that even though he's pretty thickheaded about some things, he also has a natural understand for how to cheer people up.

I've been thinking about MotW recently and wondering if I should start a Let's Play of it soon with commentary (like what I did with Clean Slate). I think enough time has passed that it would feel fresh. Anyone interested in that?
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
author=Volrath
Your avatar's tripping me out, bruh.

Haha, sorry! It's because of the forum game I'm currently participating in, where I'm playing a character who may or may not be completely insane.


author=Volrath
-Finley's dream used to be on YouTube, but I couldn't find it when I searched. I gotta make a save file right at that scene.

This is as close a I could get. One step upwards to get started, but there's still two other cutscenes before the dream sequence.


author=Volrath
I've been thinking about MotW recently and wondering if I should start a Let's Play of it soon with commentary (like what I did with Clean Slate). I think enough time has passed that it would feel fresh. Anyone interested in that?

YES! That would be amazing! Your Clean Slate LP was great, I can only imagine how good this one would be. Although guessing from the only other MotW Let's Play I know, some of the music might cause problems. Still, I really want to see this happen.
I'm trying to keep my enthusiasm down to a reasonable level here, but... by Arcadius, please, do it!
Oh yeah, the music. I forgot about that. I will have to figure out how to manage that. Although that rarely happened with Clean Slate, which had quite a few licensed songs as well.

I thought of it because Clean Slate was done during 2012 amidst a US presidential election and I think was a little better for it. Now we're in the middle of the most off-the-wall ridiculous election in my lifetime, seems like it could be interested to look at MotW again. Probably would do half and hour installments instead of 15 minutes this time around, the game's just so long.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
Great, this conversation just made me rewatch about 10 episodes of Clean Slate. I'm surprised how little of the details of the storyline I remember, even though both the big plot points and many of the silly jokes are still very present in my mind. Too bad the laws on music use in Germany are so incredibly strict that I can't watch some of the videos at all any more - including the first actual episode and the grand finale.

At least in MotW, you won't have to deal with as many ridiculous NPCs, insane encounter rates and, most importantly, Turnus P. Worrell. I think you and the audience could get a lot of interesting insights from it now that a few years have passed since the game's completion.
author=Volrath
I've been thinking about MotW recently and wondering if I should start a Let's Play of it soon with commentary (like what I did with Clean Slate). I think enough time has passed that it would feel fresh. Anyone interested in that?
Yes Please! I pretty much binge watched your entire Clean Slate let's play and it was highly entertaining. Not just because I thought the story for CS itself was good, but all the comments you made to links with MOTW, comparisons to your real life, and explanations to obscured jokes were very interesting. I would love to see MOTW get the same treatment, maybe I'll follow the uploads this time.

author=Volrath
I thought of it because Clean Slate was done during 2012 amidst a US presidential election and I think was a little better for it. Now we're in the middle of the most off-the-wall ridiculous election in my lifetime, seems like it could be interested to look at MotW again.
This would be my first presidential election I'm old enough to vote in. Considering that I had an idea who I would vote for the past 3 elections, I have to say I'm disappointed this is my first. Off the walls indeed. :P
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
So many books to read, so many games to playtest, so little time. I'm sorry about all the delay despite my best intentions...

Artagel:
- The music in Artagel is so good! It's going to be really hard to find a piece that has a similarly atmospheric effect. The map scrolling around the area upon enetering for the first time seems rather clumsy and unhelpful to me, though, since it shows off some areas twice, and others not at all.
- Even though it just mainly consists of walking around and talking to people repeatedly, the mind-reading section in Artagel is still as much fun as I remembered. It's just such an unusual way of conveying information that it's legitimately engaging on its own, and a great way to both give the player hints about the story and sneak in jokes and references. I only have a few "complaints" - or rather, suggestions for further improvement: First of all, I think this mechanic has a lot of potential to be used in more elaborate, detective-style ways. I can imagine adding a similar manner of recording progress as in Volrath's castle later on would make it easier for players to gauge how successful they have been so far, and add a sense of accomplishment every time they discover a clue. Also, it would be nice if certain bits of information gathered from mind-reading or speaking with characters served as keys to unlock other clues from the same or different characters, as opposed to just having the player "win" this section by brain-invading everyone in town once. Lastly, you already set a very good precedent for sidequests evolving from mind-reading certain characers by including the bit about Pierre and his hungry family. I actually missed that sidequest during my first playthrough, because it's so unique among the inhabitants of Artagel that I didn't think his thoughts-dialogue was actually meant to be taken as a literal (re)quest. Even if the player never gets any material benefit out of small side-stories like that, allowing them to piece more information together through these types of little episode seems to me like a great way to expand and add variety to the mind-reading section.
- Is it strange that Cassie reminds me of Zala a little, both in terms of her face graphic and her temper?
- I was aware of the "RTP house" in Artagel before - the inhabitants even play a role in Bubba's backstory, after all. But I only now noticed how many references to typical RPG Maker "rules" are hidden in there. You must have been pretty annoyed with the stigma against RTP and other design standards at that point, right? Can't say I blame you. I think the best part about this however is that even if you don't get the references, the characters' dialogue still makes sense.
- I like Core Marin as a character. His paranoia is a distinct enough character trait to be noticable and defining, but he is also clever, cunning and wise enough to prevent him from coming across as crazy. The only thing that I find strange is that during the conversations in his hiding place in Cassie's basement, there is never any music playing. Was there a specific reason for that decision?
- One of the things I really value about Andau as a villain-type character is that whenever he talks to Gabriella, it's never completely clear whether he is being manipulative and sadistic or absolutely sincere when making cynical remarks about how terrible the outside world is towards vampires. It makes it very easy to dislike him for his fatalistic and violent ways, but despite that it's also hard to deny that what he says is right, although be it in a twisted manner.
- Cole Marin bringing up necromancy as the third theory as to how the Sparrow could have returned is a really good red herring for both the player and the characters. Especially the dramatic irony of the player already knowing about the spell of rebirth at this point is turned on its head here in a very creative way. I like how this narrative trick further complicates the mystery of the Sparrow, while simultaneously showing that even the smartest characters in the game can draw wrong conclusions, and that the rule of three does not actually always work in practice.
- It's interesting that Bubba, who seemed to start out as more of a joke character, suddenly becomes so much more essential to the story. His alcoholism no longer being played for laughs, but being revealed as a very serious and tragic subject matter is a very powerful twist in the storytelling, I think, especially since many of the characters in the game have been perceiving him as silly and funny as well. While there are some hints to this placed in earlier parts of the game already, I still believe that Bubba's character arcs and his redemption would have a more convincing effect on the player if he had had a little more screentime prior to his appearance in Artagel. After all, it is rather difficult to feel touched and intrigued by someone's development and growth as a person if you hardly know what they were like before.



This was a very thought-provoking and entertaining session for me, even though it wasn't as long. We're starting to enter the parts of the game where I don't remember many details quite as well, so I expect to have a lot of fresh thoughts to share on individual aspects from now on. Depending on how things go, I might tackle the Fairy Government next, or start hunting for vampires first. Until then!
-Cassie was actually inspired by a character in some B-movie we watched around that time. I can't even remember the name of it, but we enjoyed the idea of a cantankerous older lady shopkeeper.
-The RTP characters were very satisfying to work with. That shit still annoys the hell out of me. If I had been exposed to it when I first started with RPG Maker, I would have been super discouraged and wasted time begging artists to make my characters instead of finishing long games. Custom resources is a great thing to aspire to, but writing off the work of newcomers for not instantly meeting professional standards is unbelievably stupid.
-I'm not sure why no music plays in that one scene. There's music in subsequent conversations down there so who knows what I was thinking at the time.

Regarding the new Let's Play, I think I'm going to start fairly soon. Probably in July, after my family vacation. It won't be a daily thing like Clean Slate, I'll shoot for once a week but the episodes will be longer than those were.

I'm also going to skim through the Pip LP (I wish it was finished, it was SO close) to see what songs wound up causing trouble there. I'll pre-empt them when I can although I don't think I'll be able to predict the behavior of Germany's overzealous censors, which I've heard about several times before.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
Awesome! I can't wait for the start of your LP. But of course I still hope you and your family will have an enjoyable vacation!

Since I have regular contact with her, I have it on pretty good authority that Pip is planning to pick up her Let's Playing again in the near future. So it's actually not that unlikely that LP will be finished at some point. Regarding the music, I honestly don't think it'd be worth your time trying to change a lot of content just for the sake of one country's strange copyright policies. Creating a series like this sounds like it's enough work already.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
So, I decided to take a little diversion first, and go file a few complaints for the government. I wish demands for political reform went this well more often.

The Great Fairy Sidequest:
- It seems a little odd for the fairy headquarters to be situated in such a rather remote and desolate looking area, and in a building that looks so bare from the outside. It sort of adds to the otherworldliness of the place, but it doesn't strike me as very thematically appropriate either.
- The design of the inside of the HQ on the other hand works very well. Things such as the music crystals, the fake windows and the generally weird but consistent attitude of the fairies both help set a distinct environment, and make it very obvious this episode isn't supposed to be taken entirely seriously in regards to the actual plot.
- The biting satire of this sidequest really hits the nail on the head. Of course, one could say it's always easy to make fun of ideas you don't like by putting them into the mouth of a caricature. But the great (and sad) part about this one is that the fairy chair's policy of caring more about finances than about the lives of people is not even much of an exaggeration of reality for certain movements. And even many of the phrases Yaled uses to propagate his ridiculous ideology sound so incredibly familiar that I wouldn't be surprised to learn they are actual quotes. The naivity of the other fairies and their oblivious nature when it comes to being tricked by people in high positions also makes me chuckle a lot, even though again it's sad to see that it also has a base in reality.
- Oh, now Laurel's sensations when confronted with a shapeshifter are actually explained. Interesting.
- The item fetching part of this section however is by far the least interesting, and it very much breaks the atmosphere of the sidequest. And the fact that the Port Arianna fairy explicitly mentions other more obscure ingredients that are harder to find makes it feel even more like a boring chore. This bit would definitely be much more compelling gameplay-wise if it were the player who has to hunt for the rarer stuff, which would also give you the opportunity to add some more exciting little sub-quests to it.
- The second part of this quest is where I'm not getting most of the references any more. That's not to say I have a problem with the change in tone from political satire to a bit of a meta-level parody of games and media in general, though. In fact, I always thought that Yaled was a very clever instance of playing with the "evil overlord" archetype.
- I remember getting seriously messed up by the spider bosses in the fairy sewers during my first playthrough. I think that was one of my first gameovers, in fact. They're not so bad now that I know how to deal with them, but this boss battle is still pretty intense. Which is a positive thing, in my opinion.
- The fairy tunnel minigame is also pretty nifty, even though I admit I had completely forgotten about it again. It's not very difficult, but it adds even more to the diversity of this section of the game.
- My goodness, I did not remember Yaled being so hard to beat! I like to think I'm pretty good at this game, yet he still managed to knock out multiple of my party members more than once. Especially his mass debuffs and counter-spell can really mess up the player's usual strategies. Even more so since Auburn is not in the team now, so there is no way to get rid of his counter-spell other than to just power through it or wait it out. Without a lot of buffs, healing and constant vigilance, this is a very dangerous fight, but also very satisfying to beat. I enjoyed it a lot, really, and I think it's absolutely fine for an optional boss to be extra challenging. Also, for once the RTP battler graphic for Yaled seems very appropriate to me in this situation.
- Well, those votes by the fairy congress are somewhat unsettlingly unanimous. Still, they are just too quirky and friendly not to like. I struggle to remember if completing this mission actually changes anything later in the story, though. Either way, time well spent.


That was productive. We'll go back to hunting vampires and other types of blood suckers next time again.
There's this saying in American politics, I'm paraphrasing but it goes something like - "People complain that government doesn't work, then they get elected and prove it." It's kind of funny but often times I think there's more to that, that disabling the government's ability to protect its citizens from exploitation by certain interests is the goal all along. I mean jeez, the NRA has such a hold on America's leadership that before long we're going to be able to buy hand grenades at Starbucks. But that was the idea behind the whole fairy sidequest (in addition to just being fun to make). There are a lot of real quotes tossed into Yaled's whining, I love doing stuff like that.

About the unanimous votes, that was making fun of the robotic town meetings I went to as a reporter but it also is an interesting point that underscores the weirdness of the fairies. They are not quite a hivemind, but pretty close. Mysterious creatures who are motivated by pure altruism to the point where they can't even fathom deception from someone who looks like them (meanwhile, the rest of the world is used to it). Even though the culprit was a disguised fairy, they are corruptible - as seen by the fairy at Kovak's mansion. It'd be fun to get into it a little more in future games.

Visually, we knew we didn't have the resources to make the cool quirky palace they deserved. So we settled for making most of it underground as not to worry about making the outside space conform to all the different rooms.

There are minor effects of doing the sidequest, mostly additional dialogue and I believe one fairy near the end will give you a gift if you did it. The fairy legislature is mentioned at the end regardless so that players who missed it can be like "What's that about?" and perhaps look for it next time.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
There were a lot of cutscenes to cover this session, so unfortunately I didn't get that far gameplay-wise. But I did get to beat the crap out of a greedy, scheming old scumbag, so it was all worth it.


Artagel:
- One hypothetical question that's been going through my mind often is what would have happened if Shroud had had it his way and told Auburn about his secret identity earlier. Would she have broken her ties with Kovak, or rather decided to turn against Cade? But I guess it's a good sign that the story invites the players to get so invested in it that they begin speculating on alternative plot paths like that.
- That idiotic guardsman who is trying to hit on Auburn got me thinking: Isn't there some truth to Andau's opinion of her, albeit in an ironic way? Throughout the game, multiple situations occur where Auburn is treated pretty terribly because she is perceived as an attractive woman (even though she's potentially dangerous), and at the same time she sometimes uses that fact for her own advantage. Obviously, Cade can't have been the first person who has shown interest in her. But I struggle to remember what the reason is she began paying him any attention in the first place. Especially since he tends to show a rather selfish pattern of behaviour when it comes to relationships and dating, I'm not so sure any more what made him so different in Auburn's eyes.
- It's never consciously occured to me before, but Laurel's mind-reading abilities and her attitude towards other people's psychological problems now begin to remind me a little of Dr. Stanwyck from X-Noir. In fact, the struggles with traumatic experiences - and, in Bubba's case specifically, alcoholism - are significant themes in both games. Obviously, Laurel has more impressive powers but isn't nearly as competent when it comes to psychology as Dr. Stanwyck, but it does feel like you intended her to also function as a metaphor for a therapist, in a way. I like that idea, at least. It's the kind of battle that can't be won with swords or wind magic.
- I can't help but chuckle at all these allusions to a possible future costume for Laurel that Finley keeps dropping. Was that something you had planned all along, or an idea that was introduced much later?
- Considering that most people who played MotW probably don't know about the events of Clean Slate, it's a bit of a pity that so many interesting backstory bits are probably lost on most of the audience. Just the question of why Laurel knows so much about first sorceress Colter would open up a whole additional character arc.
- While the cutscenes are neat, it seems like a bit of a pity that no part of this fight between Andau and Auburn is actually a playable battle. Between all these story sections, some action would be welcome.
- I get why it was done this way, but the camera perspective on this whole scene just looks very awkward and doesn't really support the dramatic nature of the events.
- Interesting how Gabriella immediately recognises Cade under his mask while almost nobody else does - including Auburn. Was there a specific reasoning behind this?
- Maybe I'm being nitpicky here, but the writing in the scene where Gabriella and Andau meet his sister Allie seems a little rushed to me. It's difficult for me to imagine how someone would react to seeing their abandoned brother again after 60 years, but this doesn't really feel right. There's a lot of reasoning and very little shock to be found in this "reunion" scene, and it's honestly not the most convincing dialogue in this part of the game.
- Argh, I really hate that world view of Auburn! That kind of attitude towards life and purpose always makes me incredibly angry whenever I encounter it. It's so superficial and unhelpful! Sorry, this has nothing to do with giving actual feedback on the game. I just couldn't not write this down. Rant over.
One more thing: This conversation must feel especially awkward for Laurel since at this point, I'm pretty sure she's already figured out Auburn's secret. How does she manage to keep a pokerface like that? She doesn't seem like the kind of person who would be good at hiding her emotions.
- Wait a second. How come Shroud and Stoic are standing on the roof of another building after they just entered through the door of Artagel's Equipment King?
- This showdown against Kovak is very cathartic. I know it's not a good attitude to consider violence a great option, but really, I'm reasonably sure I'm not the only player who had been looking forward to this moment for a long time. The superhero theme is played really well here, too - Shroud is even dropping his catchphrase. And seeing Kovak being dangled off the roof by Stoic is simply priceless. Am I correct in assuming you enjoyed creating this scene yourselves, too? Just a bit of a shame that Kovak and Vec aren't actually that difficult or complex to fight. Some more interesting combinations of abilities would have given this fight more of the atmosphere of epicness that it deserves.
- Just out of curiosity, since it's relevant for Bubba: How does a skeleton have a scent?
- Wow. You really enjoy heavy doses of foreshadowing. I had completely forgotten about this interaction.
- One more thing that I noticed during a couple of cutscenes: The encounter rate script you used apparently has the habit of showing the encounter bar at the top of the screen during cutscenes while there is no message box on the screen. I assume this has something to do with being in an area that normally has random encounters in it?



Next time, we'll be able play around with the party-splitting mechanic, explore an ancient castle with awesome music, and witness the glorious return of one of the first puzzles type in the game. So that should be very entertaining. See you then!
Nice, that's a fun section you got through. It's a lot of non-playable stuff but after Arc III it usually comes off as pretty efficient.

-When Auburn first met Cade, I think she just thought he'd be fun to have a drink with during her downtime. Like she says at one point, "it's rare that Mr. Kovak is in any real danger" (or something to that effect). But she really grew to love Port Arianna which she in turn associates heavily with Cade. It's probably not until Boreal that she starts to appreciate who he actually is as a person.
-Laurel's been trained in sifting through people's minds, which I suppose is fairly similar to psychology. Regarding your later comment, she actually doesn't figure out the Sparrow thing until the dungeon you're about to enter. You may be able to catch the exact moment she puts it together.
-The direction of the scene you're referring to is weird to look at...I believe that scene and the fight on the roof take place on the same map which would explain it. By the way, it is the same building, just the camera has moved over.
-I think that the stuff with Andau's sister plays better if that flashback I made of Andau's origins has been seen. I don't think it's in that version, unfortunately.
-I had a lot of fun writing the fight sequence with Kovak and Vec. We knew that the real threat was going to shift towards the Hand and Ariel, so that fight had to happen before it became less relevant. I think I had a few more combo-attacks in mind for them but we were having a tough time getting them to work.
-There's got to be a scent for bones. Dogs can always find them after all. Stoic should be glad Bubba didn't buy one of his femurs in the dirt for later.
NeverSilent
Got any Dexreth amulets?
6133
I should probably have said this earlier, but I likely won't be able to post anything new here for a little while. I won't be at home for most of August, and university work doesn't leave me with a whole lot of free time right now. Sorry about that. I'll get back into this playthrough as soon as I can.
No need to be sorry, enjoy your travels. I might catch up in the meantime!
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