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500 Words On Bigby Wolf

Courtesy Telltale Games

When it comes to game design, I understand that it’s difficult to craft an experience that’s unique to every player. If all goes well, your game is going to be played by more people than you can imagine. When it comes to video games, you’re likely to have a protagonist and, if they’re not silent, they’ll have a personality. The challenge comes in when you cast that personality in such a way that it can be altered by things the player chooses to have the say or do. What motivates these choices? How do other characters react? And what impact will these choices have on the future?

Case in point: Bigby Wolf, from Telltale’s Fables adaptation, The Wolf Among Us. I just finished my first play of Episode 3, “A Crooked Mile”, and while this definitely feels like both a more substantial episode than the previous one and the right sort of complication the tale needed to maintain steam, something is bothering me. Bigby, as given in the beginning, is a somewhat gruff character. He’s not given to social graces for the most part, is viewed with either fear or distrust by most, and has a reputation of letting his temper get the best of him. I like this as a backstory, but not necessarily as a rule. Bigby now lives in a world of skyscrapers and concrete, a very different forest than that of his past. Would he really be so obstinate as to not change?

For my part, I think he would not only need to change, but he’d want to. Wolves are territorial, and Fabletown is Bigby’s beat. He’s been through enough to understand that he can’t just huff and puff his way through his situations. He has people he admires and others he wants to make amends towards, to ensure the past does not repeat himself. This guides the choices I make throughout the game.

What bothers me is that these choices do not feel entirely significant.

While the messages that tell me certain characters will remember things I say or do remain effective, it still feels like certain conclusions are foregone, if not inevitable. As much as I am allowed to choose my path both through the game’s branches and as dialog continues, all roads tend to converge in the same way. The story being told is by no means bad, but my impact upon it, both as a player and as Bigby, has yet to feel truly substantial, save for one or two fairly big decisions.

I still dig The Wolf Among Us enough to see it through to the end. The art direction, music, voice acting, and overall storytelling remains exemplary. The Bigby I am playing, however, does not feel terribly distinct from how he might be played by another individual. This is a complex character with deep emotions and individual, variable motivations. He can, and should, have modes of behavior and operation other than just huffing, and puffing, and blowing your house down.

Not Quite A Disconnect

Since returning from Boston, things at home have been dicey, at least as far as my connection to the Internet is concerned. This has made quite a few things problematic. I’m still trying to get all of that resolved, while getting rest and trying to minimize the amount of stress I’m inflicting on myself. I’m only being partially successful.

Hopefully things will return to normal by next week. I will try to get this week’s Friday 500 up on time. I don’t like letting things lag behind, not even something as ultimately inconsequential as this blog.

As always, though, thanks for reading it.

PAX East 2014 After-Action Report

PAX East 2014 Expo Floor

It’s been two years since I started attending Penny Arcade Expos. A year ago, I began working as an Enforcer for said events. It’s not a ton of experience, but it’s built on top of all I’ve done before. In light of that, I have to say this PAX East was the smoothest one yet, and one of the best convention experiences I’ve had in a long time.

In previous years, I’ve gauged the success or lack thereof in the experience on what I get to see, do, or play. I’ve had to readjust those priorities. Conventions and gatherings of the like-minded are awesome in and of themselves, and working as part of the staff for such a thing means having a hand in making that experience more awesome for other people. It isn’t easy, and it isn’t for everyone. But it’s a big part of why I’ve chosen to do it multiple events in a row, now.

That said, I’ve met a ton of cool people doing this. Not just the people I’ve worked with, but the people who make it to the event. I have definitely arrived at a point where I am more excited to meet people than I am to see exhibits, at least when it comes to PAX. I can see that changing when more games arrive that grab my attention, but for this time around my focus was entirely on how things were running in my theatre.

I hope everybody that made it out had an excellent time! I have to keep this short since I have a number of things with which I need to get caught up.

Wacky Weather & Whatnot

Test Pattern

Traveled home from Boston today, almost lost my glasses, got a nasty whack to the head, and apparently it’s snowing in places.

You know, I leave my apartment for six days and this sort of thing happens…

Anyway, back to normal tomorrow.

Many Lines on One Line

This is not a post about managing lines at PAX East. It’s actually a reference to this week’s Flash Fiction challenge over on Terribleminds. Chuck has once again admonished us to write a killer opening line, which is a fantastic exercise, but not really something I can build an entire post around.

Normally I would fire up the Brainstormer to fuel a Flash Fiction post, but I’m writing this on Sunday with PAX East still in full swing. I hope everyone who came had an excellent time! I will Brainstorm some Flash for later this week, give you guys a preview of a game or two from the Expo floor (if I have time to get down there), and sleep more between now and then.

Mmm. Sleep.

If you’re traveling, travel safe!