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Graeme
30th Jun 2010, 00:32
Whatever the story and whoever the main characters are, a Deus Ex game demands a multi-layered, in-depth plot. This doesn't mean simply that the good guy turns out to be the bad guy. In the case of Invisible War, there is a massive plot twist when you discover that, despite your preconceptions of a 'Denton' as being a nanoaug badass, it turns out that Alex Denton is a complete pu*sy. But seriously...Deus Ex demands a deeper, richer, fleshed out game world and story; that's what this thread is all about.

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Firstly, to articulate what I mean with some examples from the first game:

1. MOST BASIC LAYER:
JC Denton works for UNATCO which fights the NSF who, amongst other things, have stolen some Ambrosia. It turns out that Paul Denton is working for them and gets you to join them after revealing that UNATCO are actually the bad guys...and are a front for a group called Majestic 12 who are trying to take over the world. JC Denton joins forces with the Illuminati to stop them and their leader, Bob Page.

This is what I feel is about the minimal amount of the story you can get, if you play through Deus Ex without being too curious about yourself or about other people. Deus Ex provided a second layer though, beneath this simple one. Through conversations that you had to go and find (that weren't mandatory, basically) or some side missions, you get more of the story. Here are a few stand out examples of this:

2. 'NOT NECESSARY BUT REVEALING' LAYER:
Convo with Paul at the docks - if you talk to Paul a second time before you start the first mission, you already get an extra tidbit or two about the story and your place in it. Paul changes the topic from Hong Kong (already foreshadowing his betrayal of UNATCO), to your graduation...you hear about your parents (making a toast in front of government people) and get a sense of yourself (and Paul) being the first nanoaugmented agents.

Convo with Jock in the bar - if you buy a few beers for Jock, you can get him talking about his experiences doing work out in A51 where he claims the government has centralized surveillance. This gives you an idea of what's going on at the time (i.e. shady things going on in general) but makes more sense later on when you discover the Helios constructor.

Smuggler and Ford Shick - having heard a few bums here and there saying strange things ("Majestic. Maaaajesstic.") in the subways and so on, you can investigate the sewers in Hell's Kitchen to get your first glimpse of MJ12 troops, who have been doing scientific experiments on bums they take off the street.

Convo with Lebedev - you can talk to him on his jet and tries to convince you to hear him out. If you kill Anna (who was going to execute an unarmed prisnor), then he reveals the name 'Majestic 12' and tells you (I think) that you and your brother are 'engineered' (i.e. clones)...to be supersoldiers for MJ12.

Convo with Walton Simons and Jaime Reyes - JC confronts Simons on his augmentations. "Don't you work behind a desk?" The way the whole conversation feels a bit suspicious. Also the way Simons handles the prisoners is more than a bit iffy.

Maggie Chow (and Bob Page) - if you poke around the Versalife labs, you can see Maggie Chow talking to Bob Page. That, as well as some datacubes here and there (plus that hologram in Maggie's apartment) explain how she is using the DTS to create a Triad War so that an outside group can seize power. This is explained to you when JC explains it to Max Chen but you can get more details on it than the minimum if you poke around.

Convo between Chinese guards on super-freighter (minor but important) - it becomes clear at this point that by appointing Walton Simons the head of FEMA, and causing enough havoc with the plague while applying political pressure, MJ12 can use Simons to take over the United States:

Informed Guard: "Executive Order 10990. It lets us take over all modes of transportation."
New Guard: "FEMA can do that?"
Informed Guard: "If the President declares an emergency. Executive Order 10995. We can take over the media."
New Guard: "All of it?"
Informed Guard: "Any at all. Executive Order 10997. We can take command of natural resources."
New Guard: "So it's all legal."
Informed Guard: "The National Security Act also falls under our umbrella. And the Defense Production Act. If he plays his cards right, Walton Simons can pull off a bloodless coup."
New Guard: "All the better. Then we don't have to fight."
Informed Guard: "Exactly."

Lucius DeBeers - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydiPTmZmcvU (good video of it). Very revealing of how things are working within the Illuminati, what a snake Everett is and the source of the ethical decision you're left with at the end of the game...would the Illuminati be any better than Page at ruling the world? Absolute power corrupts...

These are fairly important in that they illuminate more of JC's story and of MJ12's. There is a third level or layer of this though...this last group of things isn't so much a collection of things that revealed the plot of the game so much as supplemented it by providing the world and the NPCs with a sense of curiosity about what was going on. For example:

3. 'NOT DIRECTLY RELEVANT BUT STILL CRUCIAL FOR ATMOSPHERE' LAYER
-newspapers
-datacubes (the NSF trail of datacubes that you find as you travel to the airfield)
-philosophical conversations (Isaac, Morpheus, NSF Commander, Sam Carter etc.)
-conversations with bums, in which they give their political views or whine about the plague
-overheard conversations (3 examples:)

A Conversation between UNATCO troops:
Sgt. Micheal Berry: "It's a question of who benefits society more."
Corporal Collins: "But who decides that? YOU?"
Sgt. Micheal Berry: "It's implicit."
Corporal Collins: "I think Paul just had a soft spot for the plague victims."
Sgt. Micheal Berry: "Every human institution is like a pyramid. Those with ability are at the top; they are more important."
Corporal Collins: "Maybe it's the foundation that's important, and when the foundation's gone..."
Sgt. Micheal Berry: "They make the decisions. They keep the machine running. Therefore, they must be protected first."
Corporal Collins: "I'm not saying Paul was right..."
Sgt. Micheal Berry: "It's basic tactics. Protect your command centers, your air ships, your industrial zones..."
Corporal Collins: "It's just... the rationing. Seems like the government could pay VersaLife to manufacture more."

A Conversation between MJ12 troops:
MJ12 Trooper 1: "An American?"
MJ12 Trooper 2: "UNATCO agent. Agent Hermann stopped by. He said we should shoot on sight."
MJ12 Trooper 1: "He looks German."
MJ12 Trooper 2: "Hermann?"
MJ12 Trooper 1: "No, the spy, Denton. How do they know he's in Paris?"
MJ12 Trooper 2: "UNATCO got Echelon IV back up. Trust me, they know where he is."
MJ12 Trooper 1: "They say Denton has a head full of secrets."
MJ12 Trooper 2: "Well, those secrets won't be very valuable splattered on the pavement."

A Conversation between NSF troops:
NSF Terrorist 1: "That's the difference right there. Just take a look at him."
NSF Terrorist 2: "Bad?"
NSF Terrorist 1: "They cut off his arm, replaced half of his face."
NSF Terrorist 2: "Hermann, right? He's a good soldier. Killed three of our men."
NSF Terrorist 1: "They'd've replaced his whole body if it would've improved performance. If that's how you judge a man -- by performance -- then eventually it's not about people but upgrades, versions, functionality..."
NSF Terrorist 2: "All I know is we could use a few mechs for ops like this."
NSF Terrorist 1: "Soon as we buy into the cult of the machine we're just like them."
NSF Terrorist 2: "Rhetoric, always more rhetoric."

These conversations (both heard and read) took the atmosphere to a new level for me. There is a unbelievable amount of stuff like this (in this third category) that supplemented the plot and made it feel all the more more immersive. This supplementation is crucial (as is the second category obviously: non-necessary major things that shine light on the plot).

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I read in an interview with the lead writer that DX:HR will be a game where you can discover as much or as little as the story as you want. If they are to pull that off (and I sincerely hope they do), then they MUST accept the fact that everything they do will NOT(in all likelihood) be seen or heard by the player on the first playthrough. In other words, they MUST do overwhelmingly more than someone can cover on one play through in order to lay the foundation for a game with a world atmosphere like the original.

My point: I hope EM invests some hours in writing and recording conversations that don't really matter to the plot or for a reward (none of the things I've mentioned qualify as sidequests), but rather for the sake of game atmosphere. Not only conversations, but newspapers, datacube trails that are irrelevant to the progression of the plot but serve to give the road I am travelling some more 'meat' to it.

Graeme

TrickyVein
30th Jun 2010, 00:35
Would it be any consolation (nay - encouragement I say!) to refer back to the thread someone started here based on the premise that HR will have somewhere around two, at least one-hundred thousand lines of dialogue?

Neveos
30th Jun 2010, 00:37
I never heard that convo between the mj12 troops, but i entirely agree with what you are trying to get across here. It was sooo well done.

Graeme
30th Jun 2010, 00:45
Would it be any consolation (nay - encouragement I say!) to refer back to the thread someone started here based on the premise that HR will have somewhere around two, at least one-hundred thousand lines of dialogue?

Quantity vs. Quality is my concern. Quality not just of the dialogue...but of the implementation of it.


I never heard that convo between the mj12 troops, but i entirely agree with what you are trying to get across here. It was sooo well done.

Yeah, I flipped through WikiQuote to get some of those and was amazed at all the things in there as I scrolled through. Those are just a few basic samples but there is a ridiculous amount of stuff.

TrickyVein
30th Jun 2010, 00:52
With that much dialogue or lines packed into the game, it's got to be put somewhere, now doesn't it? Where do you think it would end up?

And face it. DX had it's half ton-share of crappy dialogue lines. I suspect that HR will as well. But most of them will be successful, as you put it. That's just statistics, yeah?

Graeme
30th Jun 2010, 01:09
With that much dialogue or lines packed into the game, it's got to be put somewhere, now doesn't it? Where do you think it would end up?


1. They could go overboard with the sidequests and always be trying to make me do side missions to find out little bonus tidbits about the world, as opposed to expressing it more realistically in the normal interactions with other NPCs (and between NPCs). Whenever I hear a game that's intent on this 'choice & consequence' business, or 'sidequests', I get on my guard...it usually means, as it did in IW, that we are in for a heavy dosage of errand running, blatantly proposed to us with little in the way of meaningful rewards. Anyway, they could screw it up by making all the dialogue goal-directed as opposed to just 'out there'.

2. They could screw it up by trying to make you hear every conversation on your first playthrough. i.e. have really obvious NPC chatter in your road, as opposed to some stuff that you feel, when you do hear it, "Hey, I wouldn't have heard that unless I had snuck up on these guys or gone to this place or whatever". Doing it DX-style means accepting that a player probably won't hear a lot of your hard work the first time around, and one player (unless we play the game as much as we have the original) may never hear all of it.

3. The conversation could be too light. I want some philosophy...even Paul got on about the notions of unalienable liberties. You and Filben argued about whether or not UNATCO was an army or not...Leo Gold, Sam Carter, Isaac...these are all basically 'nothing' convos with no real point to them other than the most important point of all: world atmosphere/immersion. I think EM could very easily get stuck trying to make everything have a goal-directed point to it and not have philosophical debate just for the hell of it.

4. Similarly, all the conversation could be too intense. i.e. every 4 maps you know you'll find 1 guy who will have this big debate with you. The key is balance between THAT stuff, and the more general, "Goddamn but I'm tired of living like this."

5. As well, on the topic of sidequests...its very important to, if at all possible, make them relevant to revealing something more about the main plot. i.e. Rescuing Shick = revealed that MJ12 is in sewers testing out virus, telling you that they're the ones who made the Gray Death. Also to note, this sidequest turned into a business relationship between you and Smuggler that continued throughout the game (on your trips back to NYC) and got more personal when you basically saved his life by telling him to get out of the city. Even the Cat Lady's 'sidequest' had to do with MJ12 releasing animals into the sewers. Compare this to the arbitrary and boring: "go and collect 5 pieces of x, y, z and I'll give you this item", a la Oblivion or something. So they could screw it up that way to, by putting all the dialogue into a poor sidequest system.

6. The words could go into 'news' items but could be conveyed poorly such as in IW.

In short, there are a bunch of ways in which the number of words can be misallocated.

Corpus
30th Jun 2010, 01:11
I'm hoping they have explanations of how things work in the world, all the technology etc. One aspect I'd like to know about is how augmentations affect war at that time.

Neveos
30th Jun 2010, 02:29
Actually I think that convo happened while coming up from the Paris sewers, now that I think about it.

Plus, here is the full script of DX1 : http://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/250533-deus-ex/faqs/51057

Senka
30th Jun 2010, 07:00
Excellent post Graeme, took me back to DX just reading it.

pringlepower
30th Jun 2010, 07:42
5. As well, on the topic of sidequests...its very important to, if at all possible, make them relevant to revealing something more about the main plot. i.e. Rescuing Shick = revealed that MJ12 is in sewers testing out virus, telling you that they're the ones who made the Gray Death. Also to note, this sidequest turned into a business relationship between you and Smuggler that continued throughout the game (on your trips back to NYC) and got more personal when you basically saved his life by telling him to get out of the city. Even the Cat Lady's 'sidequest' had to do with MJ12 releasing animals into the sewers. Compare this to the arbitrary and boring: "go and collect 5 pieces of x, y, z and I'll give you this item", a la Oblivion or something. So they could screw it up that way to, by putting all the dialogue into a poor sidequest system.



i.e., don't go the path of the JPRG and interrupt your quest to save the world with giving out balloons to sad villagers, THANKS FFX-2