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RainVillain

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#1  Edited By RainVillain

Hey just a quick harmless question that isn't meant in a "what do they even DO here?!" kinda tone but more in a "I wonder what a day in the life is like" way.

Specifically wondering about the staff members who don't have their hands full with tech/video/audio stuff, like the Jasons and Vinnies of the world. And I understand full well why Rorie is super busy. Oh and I know Jeff has largely complained about being pulled into meetings a lot, which I can understand with his position there.

So I guess my question is more about the Brads, Dans and Alex', whose jobs now seem like more of a question mark to me since unedited video content has largely replaced written content (barring the occasional review, of course).

So between quick looks, what do they do for most of the day? I'm sure they're busy but I'm kinda struggling to figure out with what? Are they at their desks playing the games they'll talk about on the bombcast/and or prepping for quick looks? In a lot of Mailbag episodes it usually looks like they have Giant Bomb or Twitter open, and not much else going on.

Have they fielded a question like this before? Sorry if the information is available, and again, this isn't meant in an accusatory way but out of genuine curiosity.

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RainVillain

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#2  Edited By RainVillain

@encephalon said:

Yeah... they just straight up ran out of time. That's the only explanation for how threadbare everything about the narrative is. Even if they were dead set on having Chapter 10 and on be a more focused, linear train ride, surely there's a way to make that systemically interesting in the same way the road trip portion was. When you get to their pale imitation of FFVI's World of Ruin, and Talcot's sitting there telling you about all this cool shit that everyone else did while you were gone, it should be clear that they're sprinting to the finish line.

Totally agree with all of this (though, being a fan of open ended/ambiguous games like Souls/Borne and Team ICO games, I found the threadbareness of the narrative to be an extreme positive).

And to your point about the train ride, I noticed on the train at one point as it was riding past outposts I noticed Cindy's big yellow truck -- to me this is an obvious sign that those early areas of the Niflheim continent were meant to be more explorable and that they ran out of time.

(you can see the truck at the 3min mark of this video, though it shows up multiple times when you have the freedom to walk around the train.)

Yeah, Talcot's catching you up on the last 10 years was a definite bummer, and a good example of what @ghosthouse argues when he talks about "Show. Don't Tell". I almost wish the World of Ruins had been left more ambiguous. "Is Cindy still alive?!" is a more interesting mystery to me than "Ok but why didn't Cindy come out and say hi to me?" :(

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#3  Edited By RainVillain

@ghosthouse:

That awkward cut at the end of chapter 2(?) to the Kingsglaive scene was done so haphazardly. And its not the last time they try to do it. I suspect, but hope otherwise, that they will attempt to fix the story by just sprinkling in more scenes from that movie where they seem to fit best.

Yeah those Kingsglaive scenes felt jarring and out of place. And yeah I'm worried the team's takeaway from the story criticisms will just be to add more scenes from Kingsglaive, or just add new scenes in general, which I also don't think is a great idea.

But Noctis is mostly silent and stoic throughout the entire game and despite the entire plot revolving around him, he probably has the least amount of actual dialogue.

I dunno, from chapter 9 on I think he really comes into his own, and I thought Ray Chase (voice actor) should a lot of depth and variety from that point on. I was really impressed by Noctis arc. But, again, opinions. :)

The game is just riddled with so many literal plot holes where they didn't even bother explaining the random disappearance or sudden changes of several characters who were built up to have future plot relevance (Cor, Iris, Aranea, Ravus etc.).

Agreed that all those characters were woefully underdeveloped (or at least under utilized), but I don't think I'd say they are plot holes so much as omissions. I don't want to devolve into semantics but you did say "literal plot holes" and like, maybe I'm missing them? The characters you mentioned I feel like they did explain what they'd been up to (not arguing with you about how they handled that, but not plot holes imo).

Worst of all, some of the most important plot points are entirely miss-able, told over the in game radio that you have to manually find and listen to.

Show. Don't tell.

I'd argue this game does "Show. Don't Tell" way better than most FFs, but you can read more about that in the novel-ass length first reply to this post. The long drawn out explanations and convoluted lore dumps from past FFs have always been the series' bread and butter, and I'd argue that is more the antithesis of "Show. Don't tell" than what XV did.

And obviously it's subjective but I enjoyed how much of the details in the game were hidden and tucked away. But you're talking to someone who put 80 hours into the game before fighting the last boss, not to mention turning off the minimap and deliberately getting lost to better "immerse" myself and get to know the world through pure exploration and was pouring over every little detail. So I'll agree their storytelling took on a way more ambiguous turn than past entries in the series. I'd also say it's better for it.

People talk about Chapter 13 being the worst, but for me the 3 minute power plant sequence was so insane, out-of-place and bafflingly stupid that that's where I lost all genuine interest in the story they were trying to force down our throats for the second half of the game.

Yes, that part was pretty fucking terrible haha

And when it came down to the end after more lengthy quick time events, it was so obviously reaching for peoples emotions, that it all just felt so forced and undeserved.

I dunno, I feel like this has been Square's MO since FFVII. The only difference is now the drawn out cinematics are (slightly) more interactive than before. The last LAST boss fight in VII and in X are both unloseable, glorified "QTE"s, in that they are their for the spectacle, and the cathartic payoff.

edit: also, not trying to be argumentative, or change your opinion on the story. But more just trying to get at the crux of your comment, which was that you didn't understand how someone could defend the story.

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RainVillain

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#4  Edited By RainVillain

@shirogane: Oh right, completely forgot about Aranea! You're right that she's the best. She very much has that Beatrix from IX thing going on, but it's a shame we don't get to know her beyond "badass mercenary". I hope she becomes an (optional) permanent part of your team, at least for Chapter 15 (I think Tabata alluded to this in that DLC roadmap announcement iirc).

Speaking of Cindy, I wonder if this is what she looks like in the World of Ruins.

And yeah, Shiva's design is what it is. I just was kinda rolling my eyes over the fact that the only fully clothed woman in XV ended up being the one who was wearing the least by the end of it...

@buttle826 thanks. And yeah that's why I gravitated towards this topic, as the TC I thought was fair with his criticism, which I find kinda hard to find? Most XV discussion I've found online seems to really devolve into hyper positive/negative hyperbole, which I don't find much fun. Who needs a wankfest when you could have an actual discussion!! gamefaqs in particular is just totally unusable right now because of this.

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RainVillain

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RainVillain

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#6  Edited By RainVillain

I enjoyed the story and game quite a bit and definitely cried during the "wedding" scene at the end. This wasn't because of marketing or anything (in fact, I'd been avoiding trailers for this game for the better part of two years -- and sounds like I made the right call) but because I thought this was an extremely high point on a game I enjoyed thoroughly.

...I just deleted a paragraph explaining why I thought the entire end was wonderful and why it made me very emotional, but arguing over something as extremely subjective as "why did I/didn't I cry over this video game" seems like a huge waste of time. It'd be like trying to explain a joke, you know?

That said, I tend to think streamers tend to ham it up/play into the fact that they have an audience. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but I also don't think stuff like that and reaction videos are a good way of gauging public interest. We're all a little different when we're being filmed, for better or for worse.

Also, are you actually seeing lots of people saying XV has the "best story ever"? Because to me the consensus on the storytelling has been that it's actually one of the worst parts of the game. Just wade into any message board forum if you're interested in reading why XV is the worst game since Custer's Revenge and how Tabata should bow apologetically for a minute straight ;) I think you're in the majority when it comes to being critical of the storytelling.

That said, I actually did think this had one of the better, most coherent FF storylines and found its ambiguous storytelling a huge draw that has kept me interested in the mysteries of the world and characters long after having finished the main story (my play count is now pushing 100 hours...).

But let's talk specifics.

Everything Luna dying onwards was a complete mess, and as I was venturing through all those copy-pasted corridors (many rest areas in C13 were identical), I started thinking back on how FF XV was supposed to be this 'epic', 'tear-jerking', 'emotional' game.

No one's gunna argue with you that Chap13 was way too long. The repeated assets (and especially the repeated dormitories) didn't bother me so much because the visual monotony/repetition of a war barracks/bunker thing totally makes sense to me. But yes, WAY too long. I read they're patching the Ring to make it more powerful but imo that wasn't the problem (I actually thought the Holy Dodge looked badass and was fun to pull off). They just need to make the whole thing muuuch shorter. Or at least until you get your party back. From that point on I'm fine with it, since it's ostensibly the "final dungeon" in the game, so it makes sense that it would be long and arduous (...just like the annoying final dungeon of many FFs). And yes I know we still have the World of Ruin to contend with, but all of that is practically a straight line to Ardyn

Because on paper, objectively, FF XV doesn't earn one single beat of its story.

I'm gunna let this use of "objectively" pass and not get annoyed with it. Especially since I disagree with it. :)

The camaraderie between our four heroes is fine enough, but completely, completely devoid of depth thanks to character-building being resigned to the Brotherhood anime.

Game does a terrible job of making you care about these characters from the get-go if you haven't watched Brotherhood (why there isn't a Brotherhood Viewer on the game's main menu goes over my head...). That said, I completely disagree that the camaraderie is only found in the anime and that the characters are devoid of depth. From Prompto's insecurity/budding inferiority complex, to Gladio's exhaustion and seething impatience at having to look after a whiny, precocious Prince, to the entire party dynamics (both mechanically and narratively) crumbling to pieces when Ignis loses his eyesight. You can criticize the storytelling (Prompto announcing to the group he was born in Niflheim says hi) but to say these characters are devoid of depth seems like a hard argument to make.

Iris, on the other hand, is a good example of a character who would have zero depth to her without the anime. I think if you don't know about the Noctis-Gladio-Iris dynamics, and how Noctis stood up for her in front of her intimidating brother, then her nonstop gaga-ness over Noctis in the game would feel very cheap and one dimensional -- it's still not a great story arc, but at the very least the anime contextualizes it and so is a good example of what you were saying.

Luna's death comes out of nowhere, and chances are you'll be too busy scratching your head during Chapter 9 as to WTF she and the team were supposed to be doing anyway to be invested, and Ardyn, whilst you CAN piece together his story and anchor FFXV as some revenge tale overall, ends up highjacking the story and taking the focus completely off the Niflheim invasion/warring regions setup.

I agree with you that I was scratching my head on my way to Altissia (so hang on, what's this about getting Leviathan's blessing? What about the Royal Arms? Are we still getting married..???). This was really mangled in my opinion. That said, her actual death was pretty shocking to me! And the full on cinematic of adult Luna talking to young Noctis I thought was very evocative and powerful, and helped convey the bizarre, unrealistic dynamics of their relationship (Luna was an ideal to him, more than a person, having not seen her in over a decade -- since he was a child). That whole scene, I thought, was beautiful and showed a certain maturation and coming to terms with reality for Noctis.

And yeah, Ardyn does "hijack" the story, but that's by design? Like, you can dislike it, but I found his story very interesting. And it's not like it came out of nowhere. If you're willing to discuss Kingsglaive (which I think is a must if someone is going to even try and engage with XV's story -- and yeah that's a whole other criticism lol), then right from the get go Ardyn is the baddy. He's the one we see talking to Regis. He's the one we see whispering and swaying the Emperor's actions. It's all Ardyn. The Kefka influence is obvious from the start -- and his look in the movie is literally that of a One Winged Angel. xD

But if we exclude Kingsglaive, then again, it's all Ardyn. It's clear from the get go he's helping you out in ways that seem... not conducive nor helpful to the empire? He's operating on another level.

A lot of people complained about the Emperor only being in one scene in the game -- this didn't bug me at all and also gives me a chance to point out something that I LOVE about XV's storytelling: more ambiguous, environmental storytelling. We are never explicitly told where the Emperor has gone, though there is a radio (or newspaper?) that mentions he's gone missing. And then we fight this super strong monster in Chapter 13 a few times. It seems unusually strong. As you progress in chap13, you learn that Niflheim had been experimenting on people, turning into deamons. Around that time you also see that main weird throne room where the Emperor gave that speech earlier in the game to Ravus, Aranea et al. Except this time the room is empty except for... the Emperor's robes. Weird. And we've also seen generic Niflheim suits devoid of bodies littered around the base. When you fight that tough deamon a second time and hear its dramatic speech you realize... that was the emperor. It's an amazing, relatively anticlimactic moment for who many thought was the main villain. To me that was one of the best moments in the game and seems to show that XV's storytelling has taken quite a few cues from the Souls/borne series. Using gameplay mechanics (random tough boss), environmental details (emperor's robes), and little incomplete pieces of information (news of emperor missing) to lead the player to coming up with their own conclusions.

To me that's an extremely satisfying tonal shift to how the story in XV is told. And it's full of those types of "unspoken" details. It eschews long, drawn out, convoluted monologues in favour of brevity and ambiguity. I realize a LOT of people will dislike that, but as someone who LOVES the storytelling in the Souls game, this was definitely such a welcome addition to the series. And that emperor example isn't a one-off. So much of the story and world is pushed to the sidelines, to the details. Like theories about Prompto's mother. Or analyzing the cover of the Cosmology book. Ravus' turmoil and the notes he left behind. Who's the real Izunia? What exactly was Ardyn talking about re: Gentiana's face? Everything beyond the relationship between the four lads seems mysterious and implicit instead of explicit. For better or for worse. I'm not going to argue this is a better way of telling a story. But personally, this is way more effective and satisfying.

Also, I'm not trying to blindly defend the game. A lot of these aspects that I like (the ambiguous storytelling) are probably side effects of them running out of time for the second half. I'll bet they meant for the storytelling to be way more "Final Fantasy" but they had to wrap it up to get the game out in 2016. I also bet the DLC will explain away a lot of the issues people had with the game (Ravus' intentions being made more explicit; Prompto's backstory with the Niffs, etc.). I think the things I like about this game's story are actually happy accidents and a bit of a fluke? haha.

As for other things I liked and didn't like about the game. I found its depiction of women to be a really low mark in a series that has always had a really strong cast of female characters. I mean, I like all the women in the game but all of them have, um, issues.

Luna: gets killed to fuel Noctis' anger. A literal plot device.

Iris: Her character arc doesn't really go much beyond fawning over Noctis. I like that in the World of Ruins she becomes a badass deamon hunter but that isn't seen.

Cindy: that outfit. (again, this would be less of a problem if she wasn't the only woman with a name you meet for like 10 hours lol).

Gentiana: becomes a 90% naked blue lady near the end haha

All these characters are really cool but they don't get the screentime to really develop.

Also, unrelated: I hope they patch the camera so that when you're fighting near bushes/trees they become transparent. This is the worst thing I've ever seen in an FF game.

OH, and they should patch the endings to include the names of all the composers. Right now it just lists Yoko Shimomura and that's... very disingenuous.

Jesus christ I didn't mean for this reply to be so long. Um... what was the question again?

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RainVillain

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I feel like none of the bombduders have said anything on twitter or anything about any of this... which is weird, since the rest of the internet has been quite vocal... Pope's tweet in particular comes to mind.

Hoping the giantbomb guys have simply been to busy to sound off on this, and aren't in fact trying to avoid this brouhahaha since they've always seemed very chummy with Palmer. That would blow, and if Palmer shows up on another livestream I'm done with GB

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@rickrockmann: I think a more consistent 30fps frame rate would be a "fair" upgrade.

And that Sony quote iirc was just talking about features and framerates; they could patch multiplayer games to look better I think.