In a way, this is yet another thread where I ramble about the non-flexible nature of some Mission Stories, as I did in my “The Lack of Mission Story Fallbacks” -thread.
But instead of talking about all of the ways you can make Mission Stories more flexible, I want to talk about the tendency of some of the H2 levels to imply possibilities that don’t exist.
I want to give a couple of exampes:
Example #1: The Ark Society and the Funeral of Janus.
In The Ark Society, one of the major set pieces is the funeral of Janus, and the accompanying Mission Story lacks fallbacks/flexibility. But the problem I want to discuss here is this: It implies it could be done another way.
In this piece of dialog, a custodian can be seen being given the orders to fetch the dagger for the funeral. The funeral can’t start without it, but if it is delivered to the tower basement, it can start.
To illustrate, I decided to follow this custodian. He walks away and talks to a collegue, ending in the conclusion that he can’t weasel himself out of getting the dagger, then he continues to the building with the crate that has the dagger, but when he reaches his end location he just stands around doing nothing.
I approach him to try and hand him the dagger I’ve found:
No reaction. I also tried placing the dagger where he’d see it. Same result.
I decide to try the same with the mortician.
Needless to say, the result is the same.
Now, I respect the fact that adding a sequence where Janus’s body is moved out would be hard (though I’d probably solve it with just a cutscene if that was the case), but if this is the case, then why does the game seem to imply a path that doesn’t exist? This line of dialog you can encounter is too explicit in where the knife should go, and as a result a player might think they could deliver it there (or get it delivered there).
I think this is a question of (frankly) poorly thought out exposition. The funeral Mission Story needs to be set up correctly, and part of this is the dagger, but why is there a line of dialog telling an NPC to fetch and leave the dagger at a specific place?
In a game so centered around taking the part of NPCs, this is a major misstep in my opinion. One possible instinct for a Hitman-player here is to take the part of the custodian.
Unfortunately, the game is packed with this kind of exposition. Clearly thought to set up the main Mission Story, but unintentionally implying alternate paths that don’t exist.
In this case, I would not have this particular NPC interaction at all. Alternate dialog to be overheard could be civilians saying Janus is supposed to hold the dagger during the funeral and leaving it there.
Example #2: Chasing a Ghost, and the Elusive Tailor
Chasing a Ghost is generally a very good mission when it comes to flexibility in Mission Stories, but this example sticks out to me as yet another point where the game seems to imply as possible something that’s not possible.
This conversation can be listened in to outside of the tailor’s place.
To me, this implies a clear course of action.
…But alas, this doesn’t work. Again, this is an example of exposition that is meant to set up the main Mission Story where you become the tailor, but at the same time it implies this alternate approach that isn’t possible.
In this case, I would just drop the line about the royal guard and the Queen sending someone else.
In short, I want to express that I do understand that time and budget might make it impossible to make all of the Mission Stories in a mission as flexible as the ones surrounding the Kashmirian, but in those cases, I really would like to see some though put into not unintentionally implying courses of action that aren’t possible.
Maybe a part of the reason for this problem is devs planning for paths that are later scrapped, but then they need to make sure to get alternate takes of dialog like this, it really seems like a small thing to ask for.
There are other examples I could expound on like, for instance, the submarine mechanic in Three-Headed Serpent, who is supposed to be fetched by a guard, but if you approach him as a guard nothing happens… but I don’t want to make this novel length, so two examples are enough.
So, you guys agree? Have any thoughts on the subject?