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The stupidest plot devices thread


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I was looking over my library of Assassin's Creed games the other day, and I was trying to muster up the interest to play AC: Origins. I love the setting and the RPGish changes made in the game, but there is one major plot issue that makes it hard for me to ever get into. So without further ado, here is my thread on stupid plot devices:

(somewhat spoiler free, since they happen at the start of the game)

AC: Origins - You stab your own kid. The entire gameplay of these titles is based around you being this amazing warrior, capable of precise acts of skill in battle. You confront some people holding your son hostage. So of course, they cut scene you into a scenario where you plunge a weapon into your own child. I get they are trying to create some sense of vengeance against the hostage takers, but at the end the cut scene, it was pretty clear I was at fault. The reality is, if I could live with myself after a terrible act like this, I'd probably never want to touch a weapon again. The game does not give you that option, unless setting it aside and not playing was their goal. :shrugz: 

Dragon Age 2 - After fleeing from Westeros, or whatever the DA continent plagued with darkspawn is called, you end up at a city with a bunch of other refugees. When you approach the city gates, a group of refugees (or are they deserters? Does it matter? Their country was taken over by darkspawn) are trying to get in. Ok, so these guys have fled for their lives and they are desperate. But are they really desperate enough to attack a walled fortress city? They are, I guess, which is dumb. But then they also attack you, and you are basically forced by the game into massacring them. Yay for choice and consequence!

Wasteland 3 - This is a spoiler

Spoiler

The ending act forces you to choose between the Patriarch or Angela Deth. But it also makes your HQ go nuts and half the NPC's try to kill the other half of NPC's. This would make a bit of sense if you are choosing to depose the Patriarch, since he is a pretty revered figure, but Angela Deth has no real clear explanation about how she would have such a huge influence. It was a sloppy way to make the end chaotic, in a game that seemed to give you choices and possibilities at every other turn.

 

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Mass Effect 3 - Along with the color coded ending, anything with the space ninja was awful. You could beat his ass but there would still be a cutscene showing him dominate you.

 

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"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlshot

"I'm fine with humanity being wiped out" - majestic

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From all of DA2 that was what you chose? :)

 

Broken record me:

FO:NV Caesar as a character and every npc who tries to make the Legion out as not simply evil.

But it isn't just gaming. Movies/TV/Streaming/Comics have been bombarding people with crap narrative for a long time.

Why is the bad guy the bad guy and hates the good guy? Step brother neglected by their father.

Why does this admiral, while otherwise an amazing person (because nobody in the military can't be anything but a hero), have such hatred for that other character? Jilted lover.

In gaming it just stands out more because you have the illusion of agency that gets dispelled.

Unobtrusively informing you about my new ebook (which you should feel free to read and shower with praise).

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2 hours ago, Hurlshot said:

AC: Origins - You stab your own kid. The entire gameplay of these titles is based around you being this amazing warrior, capable of precise acts of skill in battle. You confront some people holding your son hostage. So of course, they cut scene you into a scenario where you plunge a weapon into your own child. I get they are trying to create some sense of vengeance against the hostage takers, but at the end the cut scene, it was pretty clear I was at fault. The reality is, if I could live with myself after a terrible act like this, I'd probably never want to touch a weapon again. The game does not give you that option, unless setting it aside and not playing was their goal. :shrugz: 

 

 

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Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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If I can tell it's a device - as if there's a huge sign being held up saying "GET READY - HERE COMES A PLOT MOVER" -  it's "stupid" - or at least, terribly over-used and/or not creatively re-worked to make it feel fresh or at least exciting/entertaining.

Which at my age - and the amount of ent. media I've consumed - probably explains why I increasingly move away from story-driven games.  :shifty:

2 hours ago, melkathi said:

In gaming it just stands out more because you have the illusion of agency that gets dispelled.

Agreed.
I also think many games often feel like you're just marching directly from one device to another, with not much in between to make you care why anything is happening. Which makes such stand out more and it's harder to ignore any sense of manipulation.

Edited by LadyCrimson
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“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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Jensen's stupidity in the cutscene with Zhao still bothers me

Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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1 minute ago, marelooke said:

Using "family" as a substitute to actually trying to get the player to form a bond with a character. Both Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 did this, but I'd be surprised if they were the only ones.

Happens a lot in movies/TV too.  Family/child in peril or some kind of noble-idiocy are some of the most over-used shortcut devices to create conflict or relatable emotional sympathy/motivation. Not that they aren't ever effective. Just so common I'm personally left rather cold by them at this point.

I can't think of specific game examples at the moment but something else that always annoys me is when there's some kind of misunderstanding that could be cleared up by a chr. saying a few sentences, but no chr. ever says them, despite them standing face to face 10 times repeating the same misunderstood accusations over and over.  Plot requires them to be at odds, so ... they are.

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“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
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7 hours ago, melkathi said:

FO:NV Caesar as a character and every npc who tries to make the Legion out as not simply evil.

That's something about the game that really gets me, the NCR is pretty bad in a lot of respects but everything the Legion does is unforgiveable unless you're an edgelord dipstick.  When your first encounter with them is the aftermath of having slaughtered a town it's hard to find a way to support them, safe caravans be damned. Wild Card makes sense, NCR makes sense, even House makes sense, but Legion is mustache twirling territory.

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"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlshot

"I'm fine with humanity being wiped out" - majestic

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6 hours ago, HoonDing said:

Being railroaded into death in Failout 3 before Broken Steel.

The obnoxious kids you were not allowed to nuke so you could just get on with it. I think it was called Little Lamplight? At that point I stopped playing the game and uninstalled it. It has been sitting in my Steam account unused ever since. Point Lookout was quite nice though. If it wasn't for the mess with the Microsoft Live requirement, I would probably have reinstalled it just to play that part again.

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“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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I'm playing Might and Magic 6 right now. The intro involves your party of adventurers in a fort being attacked by devils. A dragon arrives and to escape it you jump into the nearest well. Miraculously surviving the fall and asphyxiation, you begin to climb back out of the well. However, midway up, you find some sort of Mr Miyagi who lives in a tunnel carved into the side of the well I guess? He shares some exposition and begins the process of training you up into mighty adventurers. *cue training montage*

TL;DR: Wise hermit lives in a well you just happen to jump into.

Edited by Humanoid
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L I E S T R O N G
L I V E W R O N G

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8 hours ago, Humanoid said:

I'm playing Might and Magic 6 right now. The intro involves your party of adventurers in a fort being attacked by devils. A dragon arrives and to escape it you jump into the nearest well. Miraculously surviving the fall and asphyxiation, you begin to climb back out of the well. However, midway up, you find some sort of Mr Miyagi who lives in a tunnel carved into the side of the well I guess? He shares some exposition and begins the process of training you up into mighty adventurers. *cue training montage*

TL;DR: Wise hermit lives in a well you just happen to jump into.

That actually sounds amazing to me.

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Dragon Age Inquisition.

"Hurr, Warden Bob, our Warden brains are being scrambled by signal telling us we're all about to die. Mayhaps we should research it in our vast archives, or pool our centuries-spanning knowledge, or maybe just ask around if, incidentally, some of our ancient prisons recently lost a very dangerous prisoner WHO COULD DO EXACT SAME THING WE'RE EXPERIENCING NOW?

"Durr, Warden Billy, that's a stupid idea. Better we 100% trust this slimy douchebag who even looks like a cartoon villain and do this extremely stupid and out of character thing he says!"

 

 

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On 11/12/2020 at 5:57 PM, KaineParker said:

Mass Effect 3 - Along with the color coded ending, anything with the space ninja was awful. You could beat his ass but there would still be a cutscene showing him dominate you.

 

The introduction to ME2 also qualifies.

You get spaced, your suits integrity is compromised, and you suffocate (Long term hypoxia will give you massive brain damage), you fall down through the atmosphere of a planet and hit the ground, even if Shepard isn't a wet spot on the ground by now, the ammonia atmosphere will likely start melting what is left on the ground while people are looking for the body. But let's set that tiny niggle aside, the temperature on that planet is freezing, even if Shepards brain wasn't splattered the freezing of Shepards brain will likely turn it into mush.

Anyway, you wake up, you've got a bit of scarring on your face...

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Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary. - H.L. Mencken

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Too many games to list:

King: "Good traveler I only met 2 minutes ago, I have a task of utmost importance to the welfare of my kingdom. Allow me to entrust you with knowledge of the highest secrecy."

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I wonder if there is beer on the sun

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On 11/13/2020 at 3:11 AM, KaineParker said:

That's something about the game that really gets me, the NCR is pretty bad in a lot of respects but everything the Legion does is unforgiveable unless you're an edgelord dipstick.  When your first encounter with them is the aftermath of having slaughtered a town it's hard to find a way to support them, safe caravans be damned. Wild Card makes sense, NCR makes sense, even House makes sense, but Legion is mustache twirling territory.

It is, from a certain perspective. But that's the thing with moral relativism. Note that the complaint isn't that it couldn't work, but rather that it's "too evil" -- so much so that it threatens the suspension of disbelief. And yet there is no dearth of real-world counterparts of Caesar's Legion that have successfully convinced thousands that their values provide a solid foundation for building a -in their eyes- better society. That may seem abhorrent to us in our urban, Western, Judeo-Christian mindset but, after a nuclear holocaust and a century or two of contemplating the irradiated remains of the society that those values produced, we may be more inclined to listen to Caesar-like figures. "Mustache twirling" is relative, and it stands to reason that after wiping the slate clean, many people would have lost their reference frame. This is insinuated in the lore explaining that in many places humanity has devolved into primitive tribes. So absent higher values of "good", they'd settle for the next best thing: whatever works. And the narrative clearly states that work it does.

Regardless, I thought the beauty of it is that no matter what colors they wore, the game still often presented people as **** failing to live up to their own standards and working mostly towards their own selfish goals. The Legion was of course no exception.

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- When he is best, he is a little worse than a man, and when he is worst, he is little better than a beast.

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On 11/12/2020 at 4:57 PM, KaineParker said:

Mass Effect 3

Honestly, ending and space child wasn't nearly as offensive IMO as mars info about crucible, and Citatel teleporting to Earth. There are so many "wow, that's oddly convenient" moments even before the game completely falls on its face at the end. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/12/2020 at 6:11 PM, KaineParker said:

That's something about the game that really gets me, the NCR is pretty bad in a lot of respects but everything the Legion does is unforgiveable unless you're an edgelord dipstick.  When your first encounter with them is the aftermath of having slaughtered a town it's hard to find a way to support them, safe caravans be damned. Wild Card makes sense, NCR makes sense, even House makes sense, but Legion is mustache twirling territory.

While I agree it's hard to justify the Legion, this isn't completely unrealistic.  Throughout history there have been plenty of moments, that if you were just plopped into, would seem unjustifiable.  Nipton residents were ready to sell each other out for power.  They were addicts.  Even today the Philippines take a hardline on the drug war, killing many people.  So I don't think it's unbelievable to think people could justify the slaughter of a corrupt town.  

 

You have to remember that it's a wasteland where murder and slaughter are normal.  Sitting in a safe country it's easy to think no one would ever resort to these actions but it's just not accurate.

 

Personally I've never managed to finish a legion playthrough because I feel dirty.  But when people are desperate and there is a charismatic strong leader, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that people could justify something similar.  The ends justify the means.  Most empires are build on the blood innocent lives. Blah blah blah

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On 11/15/2020 at 8:26 PM, bugarup said:

Dragon Age Inquisition.

"Hurr, Warden Bob, our Warden brains are being scrambled by signal telling us we're all about to die. Mayhaps we should research it in our vast archives, or pool our centuries-spanning knowledge, or maybe just ask around if, incidentally, some of our ancient prisons recently lost a very dangerous prisoner WHO COULD DO EXACT SAME THING WE'RE EXPERIENCING NOW?

"Durr, Warden Billy, that's a stupid idea. Better we 100% trust this slimy douchebag who even looks like a cartoon villain and do this extremely stupid and out of character thing he says!"

 

 

that plot point are pretty stupid and forced

even with the nightmare demon added

clearly just a nonsense way of pushing player party into the fade

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