Addressing some of the common criticisms and concerns of the ER

#1 Posted by mithical (333 posts) -

I've been reading the comments on the ER videos so far and I've been noticing some common criticisms, concerns, and complaints. Rather than post my own comment on every video, I thought I'd share my thoughts here. As a bit of background info, I've played Chrono Trigger to completion from a new game, not new game+, somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 times. Once in my formative years at a friend's house a few hours at a time, twice on the DS re-release, and countless times through the magic of emulation in between. I've watched whole speed runs at least twice. Basically what I'm getting at is I'm right there with you guys who know all about this game and who can already point out 50 improvements to Patrick and Ryan's execution so far. Anyway here's what I've noticed.

One idea is they are not having fun and don't want to make these videos. This one is pretty simple - They wouldn't be doing it if they didn't want to. No, they don't feel they have some weird dedication to the viewers or anything. Remember the Happy Hour? Nintendo downloads section on the podcast? There were probably a number of factors but ultimately the crew cut 'em because they didn't wanna do 'em anymore. Most of the crew, anyway. That aside... what endurance run are you even watching!? Here's some snippets from Episode 8, the most recent episode as of this post.

  • 00:22 - Ryan tells Patrick to shut up for even mentioning the save file might be gone, yells "Yahtzee!" when save files are still there
  • 00:47 - Ryan calls Robo a "Piiiiiimp!", indicating he has formed an attachment to the character
  • 01:08 - They spend 50 seconds talking and joking about the quirky character of Spekkio
  • 02:16 - They react, yet again, to the great music in the game
  • 05:18 - They shout "Alright!" when they learn to use magic and "Aw.." when Bobo cannot.
  • 07:40 - They learn that everyone in the past could use magic and Patrick takes a moment to extrapolate that magicmust no longer exist in the present. He also refers to the present as "our timeline", grouping himself and Ryan with the characters in the story. It is a fair assumption to say he does this because he has formed an attachment to the characters and the setting.
  • 15:38 - Patrick remarks that he "really likes" how Marle has come along, even if his impression of her regular attack is misinformed because he keeps mistaking her crit animation for a regular attack
  • 19:57 - Patrick recognizes the control room where the party first learns about Lavos, something even I haven't noticed before. They react to the destruction of the world they are coming to learn more about and Patrick yells "Mode 7 like a bitch!". His love of mode 7 remains unexplained, but is observed nonetheless.
  • 22:05 - Ryan and Patrick get excited about seeing dinosaurs. Patrick remarks "Fuck yeah."

I COULD KEEP GOING. How can anyone watch these videos and think they're not enjoying themselves? Even when their own ignorance leads to them grinding in the forest, they still have a good time laughing about how they might have to go back one more time.

Secondly, there are complaints when they don't pick up on gameplay mechanics, misc. details, and miss key things that NPCs say. Try to remember that you're watching this video in an optimal viewing environment, probably doing nothing but absorbing the information that is displayed. Ryan and Patrick are on a couch somewhere, probably playing on the office's infamously dim TV, with distracting recording devices strapped on as they try to play something as complex as an RPG, a genre that requires constant attention to detail and critical thought. At the same time, they try and provide meaningful commentary for thousands of hungry viewers, which requires listening and responding to each other on top of their interaction with the game. Eventually their attention will slip for a few seconds, and that is all it takes to miss the ONE dialogue window where an NPC relays the critical information on how to progress. It happened when Lucca said "Maybe she's still there!", it happened when the Old Man said "You should return to your own era", and it's gonna happen again.

Much of the above applies to picking up on the nuances of stats and gameplay mechanics, but there is a little something more to this specifically. Knowing where to go next is something that Ryan and Patrick care about because they need that knowledge to play the game. You do not "need" to know that you can use healing techs out of battle to play the game. It is incredibly useful and maybe even pretty obvious what with the bright yellow text, but it is not completely necessary to play the game. Their progress up to this point is proof enough of that. What I'm getting at is that Ryan and Patrick simply do not care about leveraging the game mechanics to their fullest. This is certainly not how I play games, and probably not how most of us do, and that can be hard to swallow, I know.

Lastly, there is the idea that Ryan and Patrick blame the game for their own shortcomings. It's easy to feel like they are attacking the game, a game you probably care a lot about, and it is easy to feel the need to defend it. The game does provide clear direction in the form of automatic NPC dialogue. Nonetheless, you have to admit that Chrono Trigger and other RPGs from that era, for better (imo) or for worse, provide less direction than modern games. There's no quest log, there's no objective markers and there's no minimap (at least on the SNES version). There are also some pretty rough translations (for example the Defender description says it raises Vigor, not Stamina). I acknowledge this next one is open to interpretation but I believe it is this disparity between the old and new that Ryan and Patrick are referring to, more so than a flaw in the game itself, when they talk about a lack of direction.

At the end of Episode 8 Ryan remarks that there is a lack of focus, and while he missed the dialogue window telling him where to go, he has a point. He is not supposed to be in 65000000BC yet, but CT totally lets him go there anyway. It lets him visit almost every location, fight enemies and pick up items. Why does the game give you this freedom when it clearly wants you to go in a linear path? That's a fair question to ask and it's really what Ryan is getting at, even if he doesn't quite know it. Also notice that his tone isn't accusatory. He doesn't honestly think the game has done him wrong. If he were to take a second to stop and reflect on things, he'd probably tell you that it's likely he just missed something.

And that's sort of the trump card here, isn't it? Ryan and Patrick are very much aware that they aren't picking up on everything the Trig' is throwing down. In the last 20 seconds of Episode 8, Patrick says "Did we miss something...? I dunno, we'll find out tomorrow!". It's not that they are so arrogant they don't realize they're at fault; It's just that they are comfortable with occasionally being at fault. They aren't compelled to play perfectly or to apologize for not doing so. Their focus is not on the execution, but on the experience as a whole. On some level they probably even realize that is part of the charm of the ER.

This is why, despite all I know about Chrono Trigger that Ryan and Patrick don't (and despite that I find Vinny and Jeff to be a better duo), I am still immensely enjoying the Endurance Run. My hope is that maybe this will help you enjoy it, too.

#2 Edited by nail1080 (1975 posts) -

cool story bro

people take giantbomb videos too seriously, you included

#3 Posted by Klei (1768 posts) -

It's just a let's play. It's just fun to watch some bits of it, and then you skip ahead. No need to dissect it, dude.
#4 Posted by deathstriker666 (1337 posts) -

That's nice

#5 Posted by Sjupp (1910 posts) -

While this post seems like a bit of a waste to begin with, all of this is sound and mostly spot on.

Shame the people that are complaining are not going read this and just continue spewing their shit in the comments/forum.

#6 Posted by sixpin (1302 posts) -

Dude, relax. An in-depth analysis of a ER video is... Maybe take a break from the computer for a while.

#7 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@mithical said:

He is not supposed to be in 65000000BC yet, but CT totally lets him go there anyway.

He's not? I thought that was where you were supposed to go after the future. After all, you're introduced to Lavos, then you see him come to Earth, then you see him...uh...get summoned or something. It's been a while since I've played this, is what I'm saying.

#8 Posted by Spoonman671 (4749 posts) -

You wrote a lot.

#9 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -
@sixpin said:

Dude, relax. An in-depth analysis of a ER video is... Maybe take a break from the computer for a while.

This. Was to much to read.  
 
@OP. Take a chill pill. Way to much typing for some little issues..also...quoting times in videos....how many times have you watched them all ready? 
#10 Posted by Dagbiker (6978 posts) -

I agree with most of what you said. although im liking pat/ryan's let lose attitude as opposed to the mechanical leveling of vinny and jeff, although a patrick, jeff, vinny er would rock

#11 Posted by Mesklinite (809 posts) -

I'd say that having played chrono trigger to death. I find their version of the game hilarious and so much more charming.

#12 Posted by Mijati (948 posts) -

This ER is different to the other ones. That doesn't make it bad. People were expecting exact duplicates of what we had before when this is just as good but in a slightly different format.

#13 Posted by Hailinel (25201 posts) -

@Mesklinite said:

I'd say that having played chrono trigger to death. I find their version of the game hilarious and so much more charming.

Indeed. It's actually pretty funny watching them bumble about the prehistoric era before they're even supposed to be there. I wonder how long it'll take them to get back on the right track.

#14 Posted by mithical (333 posts) -

Yeah... I did write a lot, didn't I? I like to write, though. I don't do it often enough and that's probably why I end up writing small essays over weird stuff like this. My thanks go out to anyone who took the time to read it all.

I watched Episode 8 once, and then let it play again while I started writing a comment (this thread originally started as a comment). Whenever something came up that I thought was a good example, I paused it and noted the time. Then I realized I was getting kind of scientific so I ran with it and started using third-person observatory language for a laugh. I thought "and Patrick yells "Mode 7 like a bitch!". His love of mode 7 remains unexplained, but is observed nonetheless." was pretty good, myself.

I think I may have given the wrong impression; I'm not sitting here in a huff, writing a wall of text to make a bunch of idiots see the light and stop slandering my beloved internet icons. That's exactly the sort of behavior I was trying to help other people get out of. Yeah, yeah, stupid to even try, I know. It certainly doesn't help that the sort of person who might benefit from reading it is exactly the sort of person who would never bother to read such a long post. Hell, you guys who replied seem to have your head on straight and a lot of you didn't read it either. I guess I'm just an idealist. And someone who enjoys writing.

#15 Posted by Petiew (1354 posts) -

Maybe a little too indepth of an analysis? I just don't find it particuarly funny. I found both of the VJ endurance runs pretty hillarious, so I could look past them playing pretty bad whereas I've barely laughed at this one making the sections where they wander around lost seem dull and even more uninteresting.
 
Although it could also be due to the fact I think Chrono Trigger is one of the easiest jrpg's I've ever played, while Persona 4 can be tricky to understand at first, especially without any prior knowledge.

#16 Posted by AlmostSwedish (611 posts) -

You make solid points, but you forgot the part where the internet is completely irrational.

Also, Brobo would have been better than Bobo.

#17 Posted by Brodehouse (10106 posts) -

They have significant issues paying attention. So when the game gives them important information they're not reading and then they get lost.

This Endurance Run shall stand to show people why modern games 'hold your hand' so much. Count the amount of times our subjects are given information and either don't understand it, don't read it, or just ignore it altogether.

#18 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -

Your thesis statement is weak, C-.

#19 Posted by The_Nubster (2318 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

They have significant issues paying attention. So when the game gives them important information they're not reading and then they get lost. This Endurance Run shall stand to show people why modern games 'hold your hand' so much. Count the amount of times our subjects are given information and either don't understand it, don't read it, or just ignore it altogether.

They have significant issues paying attention to written text while sitting in a room cracking jokes with a friend for thousands of judgmental, bitchy viewers who have been pressuring them into doing this since the last one ended. It's not the most ideal environment at all, and it would be boring to watch two dudes play Chrono Trigger, or any game, seriously, because that would entail shutting up for large stretches of time.

#20 Posted by altairre (1244 posts) -

@mithical: I really enjoyed reading your post eventhough I already liked the ER and I will probably read your small essays about weird shit more often. Followed.

#21 Posted by FateOfNever (1855 posts) -

Wait.. people actually think they're not having fun? I think people need to go back and watch the Ryan/Brad Deadly Premonition ER to see someone "not having fun" with an ER.

That said, I don't blame them at all for missing the "directions" the game gives you. Having an old dude at the end of time telling you that you can return to your own time now and THEN going off on several other tangents about other stuff going on and about learning magic and about don't use that thing in the bucket behind me because- well fuck it, they're dead, and all of that, it's easy to not pick up on that. Just like going forward it's probably not going to be easy for them to figure out the next part. There is very little hand holding and direction telling you that you need to go into the past to stop Magus (especially since they barely did any talking to anyone in Medina village to find out that "magus was trying to summon lavos") and even if they DID read that, it's only a gentle nudge trying to tell you where to go next. Even when they DO figure out to go back to the past, what do you think the odds are that they'll figure out everything going on with Brog, "the hero", the masamune, and all of that? Going back and playing it now, even I couldn't remember the exact order to do all of that stuff in, and the game doesn't tell you by any real means other than exploring and talking to random people - random people who in most any other RPG would just be telling you useless bull shit about something that you either already know, or something that isn't important for some reason or another. And I like it this way. I like them playing it as people who don't really know what they're doing or where they're going, it makes me appreciate the storytelling in CT even more.

#22 Posted by NancyDrewFan123 (35 posts) -

I'm really enjoying this Endurance Run, but I do nerd out a little bit when they are playing pretty poorly. I have to remind myself that once upon a time I was not good at Chrono Trigger either. After a major story event, I found myself stuck for hours in the prehistoric era and unable to find the gate home. I drove myself insane.

I just worry they'll ignore poor Bucca :[

#23 Posted by Getz (3140 posts) -

I'm getting kinda mad at the dismissive attitude towards this article. The author's not "taking things too seriously" by being passionate about his choice of entertainment. Are the Giant Bomb guys taking video games too seriously when they debate their merits? The irony of this is that this post is antithetical to "taking things too seriously." It entreats us to take a step back and realize that what we're watching is a piece of entertainment, and to evaluate it as such. The ER is not a video guide or a review or a quick-look, and if it's not tickling your fancy then find something else to watch. You're not hurting for great content on this site. I weep for the attention spans of these forums. It's too bad any who might learn a thing or two from this will never read it.

#24 Posted by Brodehouse (10106 posts) -
@The_Nubster Persona was extremely text driven, Jeff and Vinny never ran into an issue where they couldn't help but button through dialogue. It's not like it's going regardless, they're intentionally ignoring and skipping important stuff, and then they get mad at the game.
#25 Posted by AyKay_47 (293 posts) -

The only way to fully enjoy this ER without losing your mind is to cheer for their eventual failure. That way you enjoy whatever funny commentary they come up with, and you don't yell at your monitor when they walk passed a closed chest they think is empty.

#26 Posted by VisariLoyalist (2998 posts) -

I think we should start an academic department on ER analysis. You can be the first head professor.

#27 Posted by The_Nubster (2318 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

@The_Nubster Persona was extremely text driven, Jeff and Vinny never ran into an issue where they couldn't help but button through dialogue. It's not like it's going regardless, they're intentionally ignoring and skipping important stuff, and then they get mad at the game.

Or they read it and then forget it? They're clearly not skipping text and intentionally missing things, because they keep it up on screen and joke about the contents of it. The problem is that they're more concentrating on entertaining than beating the game, and they don't blame the game. When they complain about lack of direction, they're not saying it should have more, they're just saying that it's different than modern games. And when they do find out where they go, they don't fault the game, they fault themselves. They don't get angry; they're just having fun playing a game. It's the viewer base that gets angry for no good reason.

@AyKay_47: In their defense, I thought they attempted quite a few times at a bunch of angles. What did that chest want from them? God, RPG chests are so fucking snooty.

#28 Posted by mithical (333 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

@The_Nubster Persona was extremely text driven, Jeff and Vinny never ran into an issue where they couldn't help but button through dialogue. It's not like it's going regardless, they're intentionally ignoring and skipping important stuff, and then they get mad at the game.

This... is exactly why I created this thread. I can only sort of blame you for not reading my post, so here's the TLDR;

They read 90% of the dialogue out loud because they care about the story and believe it or not, they don't want to get lost for hours. The "important stuff" they've skipped that has lead them astray from the critical path has been exactly 2 dialogue windows of text. You miss that one thing and you find yourself fighting for your life against cave apes throwing living rocks around when you should be laying waste to henches with magic. That's kind of the thing about these sorts of games and it is a fair criticism. In the case of missing Lucca's "Maybe she's still there!", Lucca doesn't react and drop that hint when you talk to the queen a second time. And "mad" at the game? Really? They've made one or two off-the-cuff comments about a lack of focus and have acknowledged it might be their own fault. In Episode 9 they talk to the Old Man and just sort of go "heh" when they realize he told them where to go.

#29 Posted by SongWriter1987 (134 posts) -

@mithical: The quotes from the ER made me literally lol.

OT, people who aren't enjoying the ER should shut up and go away. Chrono Trigger is awesome!

#30 Posted by Brodehouse (10106 posts) -

@mithical: Dude. As I said, this Endurance Run shows you why developers nowadays put a fat arrow on screen to where you have to go next.

#31 Posted by AyKay_47 (293 posts) -

@The_Nubster: It was basically an angle issue. If you watch closely in the second room, Ryan faces the top chest, but ends up opening the bottom one. Then, when he tries to open the top again, same shit happens, and the game tells him that the chest he just opened is now empty. Just had to move up a little more. Was extremely frustrating when he just kept saying "EMPTY! EMPTY! EMPTY!"...but also fuckin hilarious I guess.

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