Comments on Storytelling in the 2800
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Comments on Storytelling in the 2800
03-13-2012, 08:34 AM
Okay, this will all sound harsh, but I am trying to be constructive in my criticisms. I should note I played the last 4 episodes in the previous 4 days (and repeated the first about a week before that).
Death is (often) cheap, and drama based on cheap death is cheap drama. Why would I care much about the death of Andrews? One episode isn't enough to make you care, even if the character has a bunch of dialog. All she really does is send you on some fedex mini-quests, hardly inspiring any sort of attachment. Yet its attempted to make her death part of some dramatic finale to the episode, which fails on several levels (see more on cutscenes and dialog near the end of post). If you want to build up to such a conclusion, you really do have to *build up* to it.
Also, the conference scene is rather flat. Other than 2 "Free Passes" to get through the dialog with the various species, all four conversations are carbon copies of each other, with <insert species dominate cultural trait here> with the same basic dialog tree structure. I think it would have worked better to exclude your own side's captain (ie you fill that role) and tailor the solutions to each of the other three as a mix of your faction's philosophy and theirs - which would come across as more Trek imo. As it is, you mainly just play a gotcha wordgame with them (even your own faction's rep).
Not much to say, this episode is basically a hodge-podge of what are normally filler side-quests in other MMOs. It has no coherency. If you want those side-quests (a terrible mechanic, imo), then make them true side-quests. Have the actual episode more focused. Expand out the part interacting with Hadron (and make something more interesting than sequentially running thru all frequencies...) and maybe even tie Hadron in to the plot longer term. Otherwise its just a throwaway.
Also, this episode suffers from a disconnect of player knowledge vs character knowledge. You as a player learn nothing you couldn't reasonably have inferred from announcement of this new feature series. Its really hard to create a suspension of disbelief. You need to have the character figure out what the player already knows quickly, and then spend time trying to flesh things out.
I'll just go on a tangent to storytelling for a moment and say, this episode sucked mechanistically. The shuttle vs super zippy little creatures/fighters is a poor use of how the space mechanics of this game work. Sure, if there was a fighter/joystick style of game play to access, it might have been fun.
Back to storywise - there are plot holes in this episode a planet could fit through. What's the point of sneaking up to DS9 in a shuttle if you're going to have several big fire-fighters with dominion fighters? What's the point of blinding the sensors at that point? Might as well have full-impulsed my Luna class thru the gauntlet after the Fed fleet creates a distraction. Also doesn't make much sense to send a small craft on what is possible a long range mission into the Gamma Quadrant.
The storyline with the Ferengi merchant was flat. Especially at the end - kill her or not? Oh, I can do the right thing and Eraun will just shrug it off... Here might have been a point to integrate Hadron further into the story (not that I particularly like him, just given his earlier appearance, this storyline might have been advanced partly by his "contacts" in the Gamma Quandrant). And what's with the random redshirt assigned to me? Was that merely to save on voice acting instead of recording dialog for both a female and male BO? He didn't add much anyway, better just to have text from one of my own officers. Just another throwaway character.
Another huge plot hole. How does it make sense for a facility to shutdown its primary personnel (ie holograms) in the even of a catastrophic release of prisoners? Sure, you can reset the system, just once you've basically fixed the situation. Given that non-holographic personnel are usually not at the station, how does this make any sense?
Boldy they Rode:
Flat overall. I think it suffers more from game mechanics than story telling. Though, in an attempt to make mindless jumping from one post to another interesting, plot oddities are introduced. Like, no one's going to be suspicious the stations defenses activated and blew up a Jem'Hadar ship? I was fully expecting that side bit to involve me tricking its sensors or something sneaky. No, I'll just blow it up, right above me...nothing suspicious in that. Or why jumping up right before the Klingon wreckage explodes somehow saves me? Shouldn't it expose me more to the explosion, and fling me off into space?
The arrival of the Enterprise was, underwhelming. Maybe if the Odyssey class hadn't yet been revealed it might have had more impact. Tho, it probably mostly suffers from the cutscene mechanics (again, see below).
Andrews had the best voice acting, Loriss the worst - sounded like an 18 year old drama queen - which I suppose is scary to think of such a person in charge of the Dominion fleet, but that sort of humorous scary is probably not what was intended.
Now, I'm one of those that actually will read long quest text, so long as its moderately interesting. This, however, does not translate well to long monologues. In nearly every case, it sounded like the actors were just straight reading from the script just handed to them, with the occasional forced intonation. They were monotonous. Andrews had a bit of this as well, but the cadence of the scottish accent did a better job of hiding it. When it comes to spoken dialog, less is usually more.
If you have a hammer with a lose head, probably better to use a wrench to hit the nail. Ie, if a tool isn't working well, best not to use it. The cutscenes come across as so artificial, and completely break up any flow to the story. This is mostly due to technica issues and glitches. Jem'Hadar ships just appearing in front of the wormhole, wait for a second, reorient, then kinda fly. Ships that are fighting either obviously standing still, or flying in plain old straight lines. The standard emotes, while they might be decent for the perspective players normally see them, translate poorly into cutscenes. They are so over-exagerated and cartoonish its hard to take the scene seriously even if the dialog was good. When something isn't working well, and its detracting, take it out and focus on other aspects that your tools do let you do well.