Keyboard GeniusesKeyboard Geniuses is our occasional glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the community’s discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity.  

Myst Takes

Earlier this week, Sam Barsanti shared a report from Deadline about Hulu picking up Legendary Entertainment’s TV series based on Myst, the classic adventure game. Time will tell if the series will actually get off the ground, but as Abigail pointed out, in the event that it does, won’t it be pretty similar to Lost?

I really don’t see the point of making a Myst show after Lost has already happened, suffered a backlash, ended in a semi-satisfactory manner, and been over for five years. I don’t know if Myst actually influenced the show, but to someone who played it, the similarities were obvious. There’s no way a show based on the game doesn’t look like a blatant Lost ripoff at this point.

I suppose the show could stress the backstory from the books and be a more overt fantasy story, but that backstory was never entirely convincing. Riven came closest to making the game’s world seem real, but the later games never reached that level again.

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Future ex-Mrs. Malcom echoed that last sentiment:

Lost is very much locked into the world of 21st century American problems and is clearly set in 2004. Myst is deliberately an anachronistic fantasy set in an alternative world. People unfamiliar with the original game may be disappointed to find that the world of Atrus isn’t actually the government pulling the strings on an experimental program, as we’ve come to expect with all “mysterious island” shows post-Lost or even going back to The Prisoner. The challenge is up to the people making the show to create a fantasy environment that is original and convincing enough that the comparison to Lost is immediately forgotten. But I doubt the show will be committed to recreating the silent and lonely atmosphere that made the first two games so effective.

And Chico McDirk pinpointed another major difference between the two:

Lost also gets bogged down with the sheer number of people buzzing about; the Myst universe has, like, five. Granted, that means you need to come up with an original protagonist who isn’t mute, unless you want to shoot in the first-person perspective.

Limited only to Myst, you don’t have much to build on, but the series as a whole is something leagues beyond a “mystery island” show. I’d say the biggest complaint and comparison to Lost will be if they stick to the “gradually unravel the backstory” structure of the Myst series.

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Elsewhere, anxie took a more literal approach to adapting the games:

Episodes 1.3-1.7: Several hours of some asshole running back and forth between some cranks and levers trying to open a door somewhere else.

And Carade took this idea all the way to its shocking conclusion:

In the final scene of the final episode, the camera pulls out to reveal a 10-year-old kid, frustrated in front of his computer. It is surrounded by a makeshift map composed of post it notes. He says, “Man, fuck this game,” turns off the computer and goes outside.

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Make It Count

We’ve talked a lot in these parts about choice in Telltale Games’ episodic dramas. One of the most contentious questions is whether the choices in games like The Walking Dead really matter if, for the most part, they do little to affect the story. Normally, we’d get a healthy amount of opinions on both sides, but in the comments of Patrick Lee’s To The Bitter End essay about The Walking Dead: Season One’s final choice, readers came out strongly in defense of Telltale. Austin applauded the way these choices divorce themselves from our tendency to pick the option that would result in the best possible outcome:

I love The Walking Dead (and Telltale in general) because in a lot of ways, it makes sense that your choices only matter to you. Are you at risk of meeting zombie Lee again? Not really. I didn’t think Telltale would put that in the sequel, and getting the fuck out of Savannah and leaving him handcuffed doesn’t open up that opportunity. So the decision to shoot Lee was not one that was made out of in-game necessity; it was one that the player had to reconcile with themselves. Standing up to not stealing from the Stranger’s car doesn’t affect the game in any way (because the group ends up taking the family’s stuff anyway), but your own personal choice reveals whether you value survival or being a decent person.

There is no right and wrong choice in these games because you can’t get a better ending than what they are willing to offer. That’s freeing. Fuck it, I’m going to live how I want.

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And Aussie50 took the same side from a slightly different angle:

People love to complain about Telltale’s games being deceitful about how much your choices really matter, and that few if any decisions have lasting consequences on the overall narrative.

While I understand the complaints, I think they’re overlooking the most important aspect of these games. I don’t care that you’re decisions don’t lead to wildly different outcomes. What the decisions are supposed to do is inform how you want your character to act within the world, and this is Telltale’s greatest strength in these types of narrative-focused games.

Telltale excels at making you feel attached to the characters you control and the situations you/they are forced to deal with, as well as allowing you to shape and direct your character to be the character you want them to be. So while the overall narrative tends to play out largely the same, your experience can still be vastly different depending on how you direct your character.

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SirDigbyChickenCaesar also commended Telltale’s characters and posited that they’re a big reason why the games have been superior to the TV show:

Reading the article, I’m reminded just how much I like the game more than I like the show (and the comic). It uses the same formula—a group of strangers traveling through an unrelenting and unforgiving apocalypse—to much greater effect. The game’s characters are much more interesting and relatable, and I actually care about them. When the game says “_______ will remember that,” that really means something to me.

The game also has the same air of constant despair, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it through constant speeches or forced metaphors. (“We are the walking dead.” Really?! We fucking get it. Enough.) It also manages not to overdo the despair. Clementine, while she’s been through a lot, still has a strength and perseverance about her (although the end of Season Two leaves a cloud of doubt hanging over that) without being turned into some kind of hollow killing machine.

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And that’ll do it for another Gameological week, folks. As always thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll see you next week!