Why I'm not happy with the new story set up for Below Zero (and other small nitpicks) [Spoilers]

ChingBlingChingBling a galaxy far far awayMembers Join Date: 2017-11-05 Member: 233846Posts: 6 Fully active user
The new story draft for Below Zero begins with Robin receiving a message that her sister, Sam, has died. Robin goes to investigate her death, and Sam being Robin's sister, Robin obviously feels emotionally driven to find the cause of her sister's death. However, the player behind the character, does not share this same emotional attachment, as Sam is a character they would have no knowledge of. This creates a disconnect between the player and the character that they control. A solution for this would be to keep Sam's death as a plot element, but make it so that Robin is notified of Sam going missing instead of her dying. This creates a mystery for both Robin and the player, and as the story goes along, have PDA entries in same vein as the Goodall Family Logs to help build up Sam's character, and allow for the player to see Robin's emotional attachment to her sister, rather than feeling like a third wheel who's just tagging along because they have to. This would also set up a reveal of Sam's death after the player has built an attachment to her, and would turn into an investigation of Sam's death. The player and Robin would both have a similar drive to find out how Sam got killed.

Now for the small nitpicks that aren't related to the story.
1. The switch from temperature to oxygen gauge should be instant, once you're above the water you have no need to see your oxygen and vice versa.
2. This is the smallest nitpick in the world, but in my eyes, the game starting on land (yes I know the original story started on land, but that was more of an opening segment, the game started for real in the water) just feels wrong for a game that's primarily underwater.

Comments

  • CoreadorCoreador USAMembers Join Date: 2016-01-12 Member: 211310Posts: 12 Fully active user
    We don't KNOW that she's dead. We only know Alterra TOLD us she was dead... Maybe a cover up? Alterra business practices as discussed in Subnautica and Below Zero seem to be pretty shady.

    And now we are AWOL from Alterra (after working for a company they recently aquired) instead of being an Alterra employee. Maybe they want to set Alterra up to be the antagonist? And it would make more sense for us to be consorting with a known criminal (Marguerite) and looting Alterra sites if this were the case...

    These are just my thoughts; I have no connection to the devs and don't know what they are actually planning.
    UUestley
  • ZiranosZiranos NorwayMembers Join Date: 2020-03-07 Member: 258583Posts: 2 Freshly registered user
    thank you for putting what were also my thoughts into words. there's so much about the version 8 story i loved, especially Robin and Sam's personalities and relationship, because like you said, the player has the opportunity to become familiar and connected with them, unlike in the new story.
  • ZiusdraZiusdra WAMembers Join Date: 2020-03-10 Member: 258646Posts: 10 Fully active user
    I agree, I feel like if we're going to remove the sister dynamic between Robin and Sam then it had better be done REALLY well.

    As to the dramatic entrance... There's a PDA named "Departure" in the player's new inventory and I wish that it had been voiced over and read aloud over the dramatic entrance of the escape ship departing during the meteor storm.

    "The freighter came through. I almost can't believe it. So I'm actually doing this--heading to 4546B with little more than a napkin drawing of Sam's base to go by..."

    And they do underplay the possibility of Sam still being alive, so much that I think that if she's still alive, that's meant to really surprise the player, like a twist. But I think that the story would be more powerful if they didn't do that. What if they overplayed the chance of Sam still being alive--showed Robin having hope that her sister is still alive and that Alterra is doing some kind of cover-up--only to reveal, in the end, that Sam is dead and that throughout this game Robin has been trying to cope with it, come to terms with it. Robin's relationship with Margereit could have sisterly overtones, could remind her of fights she used to get into with Sam. Perhaps Robin helps Margereit soften up. The revelation that Sam is actually dead and what Alterra was really covering up could be really powerful if they do it well.
    UUestley
  • HerobrinesbestminionHerobrinesbestminion Members Join Date: 2019-12-07 Member: 256209Posts: 38 Advanced user
    the only problem I have with the new story is: I lost to many people, not only in subnautica, but in movies, games etc.. I always like to ask myself: what if someone survived? why do all the people always die? you can unleash someones great potential by just letting it look like someone died. My life was full with darkness but nobody died the heartbreaking way (yet) exept my soul that comes back to life piece by piece....
  • BoffBoff SwedenMembers Join Date: 2018-08-12 Member: 242804Posts: 58 Advanced user
    edited April 6
    I'm still on the feb-update, I haven't gone into the nightly builds.

    But since the early-access, I always felt there was a weird disconnect with having a voiced protagonist in the first place.


    The new writer has some good experience.

    But the story is the emotional motivator (the carrot and the stick) and glue for the experience.

    And the pacing is of great importance.

    The first game had the panic of just surviving and finding the other survivors.
    THEN the multiple layers of different stories,
    the Precursors fight with the Khara virus.
    What they were doing to thee creatures on the planet.
    The Degassi.
    The Aurora (and how it was sent out to find the degassi)
    Sunbeam.

    It worked fairly well as you jigsawed the story together.

    But the new stories, random voice protagonist, and banter with sister? And then Maguriette turns up, having survived the events of the first game? and a new crashed ship, the mercury(?)

    What if the protagonist, *is* the Daughter of Maguriette(? is that how you spell her name) from the Degassi, so players from the first game had a connection to the new protagonist.
    And as we never saw the wreck of the Degassi in the first game, despite mapping the whole crater, so it would make sense that the wreck we find is the Degassi, because Margauriette was trying to get back there herself from the crater.

    The Degassi original Expedition, was scanning planets, and aimed to land at the pole after detecting the precursor signal from there, but the Degassi got shot whilst they were orbiting. Retconning the survivors abandoned ship straight away whilst the ship was still in space/low-orbit and they made planetfall near the gun, (straight drop down, from when (and where) the defence system began to open fire. Being a big a ship like the aurora, the sections of the hull survive, but whilst the aurora trajectory was honing in on the Degassi survivors position near the gun, the Hull of the Degassi, (retconning again), despite damaged, was shot at IN orbit and its trajectory was still aiming for the Precursor signals. Momentum and basic Astrophysics brought the wreck down in that ballpark area, like how the aurora landed near the Degassi survivors.

    So the Daughter of our Hard-nose warrior Maguriette, when growing up, of course, had to break off from "mum", and betrayed her by becoming a good little Alterra Girl.
    And if mum is a soldier, our rebellious little daughter (despite having physicality due to the genes) - chooses not to and becomes a Good Little Scientist.
    So you got the old Comming of age story of the daughter learning to survive and follow in her adventurous parents' footsteps and learn to atone for their divergent paths.
    - wait dammit, that's tomb-raider :D Got to avoid that trope ;)


    So we crash and survive due to the meteor storm (?) good.
    Just like the first game.
    1) Get out of Danger
    2) Find Shelter.
    3) Establish local communications with other survivors.
    4) Plan to Regroup with the other survivors if any, as they know more.
    5) Afterwhich, Establish Interstellar Communications and broadcast a distress signal back to Alterra.
    6) Plan to survive long enough for rescue.

    Then we can hit the plot twists and reveals of Alterra having ulterior motives.
    As our protagonist is used by Alterra as bait to lure out Maguriette from hiding since she's is keeping "the company" from getting the Precursor tech.
    So you got a choice to Complete Alterra's mission (which if you have explored enough, know is a cover-story).
    or decide to go work with your mum Maguriette, AND AL-AN, they quicks and easiest way, you re-activate the precursor tech planetary defence system (call-back from the first game), by giving it the Khara virus sample. Rhyming poetry symmetry storytelling stuff.
    Al-AN gives a handwavium teleporter goodbye and gives you a choice to follow him home, stay on the planet, or go back to earth (court-martial for you, lawyers against your mum, etc as you try to convince the courts and Media of Alterra diabolic plans to get the precursor tech for itself as well as the virus. )


    Exploration mechanics.
    The first game used "depth-modules" and the "radiation suit", and lack of food/water, to Lock the player to certain "areas" of the game.

    However, the dev-teams seams to have this circular malicious logic.
    The "key" you need to "unlock" the next section of the game, is behind the wall separating you from the next section of the play.
    But the tease that only works, IF you know the key is there. Which we don't, without the story it's just random exploration of nice scenery.
    This goes back to the first game, where the moonpool fragments, and the nickel for level 3 depth-module, are in the depths, your ships can't get to.
    and we see this again.

    And here was have the same logic by the devs for the sequel.
    Currently, we got the blueprint for a scanner room, and easy access to the materials to make it,
    But no magnetite, to build a HUD-Display, which would make the damned thing useful.

    The Rebreather and high-capacity tanks are exactly in the "dangerzone" of being under 100meter which you need the Rebreather to navigate.

    But it's not teased, or hinted at, (wip I know), but found by random exploration.

    The mines are REALLY hard to get down to without a getting the seatruck in there as well as the depth module to get down....kudo's for removing it ;)
    So you need the Prawn suit, which is not only down the bloody mine, but spread out, meaning the whole mine area needs to be explored.

    So you have to go in by sea glide, to start scanning for the prawn-suit-fragments, in order for you to you build it, to get back down there to explore for the prawnsuit-fragments.
    It is annoyingly circular game design.

    There are many areas, like the Sea-monkey caves, which are VERY hard to explore without a LOT of air in your tanks, and there is no motivating tease to keep you pushing further and further other than, they are there. And the rewards inside aren't relevant, nor that rewarding other than....yay, unlock.
    But we see a smarter use, instead of optional and hard exploration,
    The nests near the Lilly pads, forces you to navigate PAST the nests with the blue-prints, giving you the tools to reach the next area.
    If the tunnels in the early part of the game, was the same, being the only access point to say, the mine, or one of the alterra bases, but once there, you could create the tools to circumvent the tunnels again.


    HOWEVER, The mines almost work out nicely on paper, you have geothermal power generator fragments there as well, around the active-heat-vents.
    So your "risky" exploration is rewarded by being able to set up a safe-haven when you get down there by learning that the thermal generator can power a base to give you oxygen, making the exploration fun.
    Now the thermal spires didn't give off any heat for me, so I had to get ALL the way down and up via sea glide JUST to scan which is really repetitive.

    Of course you can find the drill arms, there but they are NO good because you need a moon-pool and in feb's update, the moonpool was REALLY hard to unlock, as you got to get REALLY deep to get to Marguerite's base, and it's only by level designers funnelling the adventurous player in there, and we got no story "carrot" to lead us out there so it's all "chance".

    To summarise.
    Lock the player into an arena by a constraint.
    Be it, the cold, depth, heat, local wildlife, food, material
    Bait and tease the path to the exit (the solution).
    Which forces an ingenious use of the current tool-sets to explore and traverse the available game area with hardship and bravery.
    The reward removing the constraints go away, beating that hardship.
    Rewards can be
    the new part of the story, a twist in the story, a vista, a joke, new tools. blueprint?
    Each area has little mini versions of the main arc, we got it already with the ice-basin,
    limping from cave to cave (albeit randomly) for warmth only to find out the caves are inhabited.
    and then we find out those big furry monsters are a resource we can take fur from.
    Just add in the blue-prints "in" their nests, like sea the monkey nests.














  • darrindarrin Frankfurt; GermanyMembers Join Date: 2019-02-15 Member: 250965Posts: 89 Advanced user
    edited April 6
    In regard of the story, I am also on a febuary build and that one doesn't really work for me. BelowZero is far less a game I'd love than Subnautica and surely not the game I expected when I got the EarlyAccess. But even worse, I never truly got used to it either.

    What I like most about the original game is that I make the decisions and have to deal with the consequences. Just as if this is my own planet (which is the reason why the end credit stating your dept is so great).

    With Below Zero, the devs chose a completely different approach. First, the map layout is way more vertical oriented and the game feels like I bought two separate add-ons. Especially the Glacial Basin feels like an unconnected, separate 'land zone' consisting of either some dumb, super high wall canyons or a multi-level speeder bike area (similar to a scateboard parcour).

    So even without a story, the game doesn't really invite me / motivate me to stay on one place. The ice - the central part in BelowZero - just feels like a random blockade put there solely to separate the content.
    • intro area - gives away many highlights too early (lily, nerak waterfall, crystal cave, precursor base)
    • shallow bridges - extremely lame
    • kelp area(s) - too small; feels enforced; complicated caves; annoying monkeys (already a max. depth of 240m)
    • twisty bridges - way too vertical & curvy with a max. depth of 400m
    • sanctuary - too simplistic and too uninspiring (no nearby alterra base btw?)
    • thermal spires - lame compared to twisty bridges (normal depth ~100m);
    • rocket Island - the 'real' start / center point; IMO the best place, but significantly less lovely than floating islands.
    • purple vents / sunken ship - area is lame, ship is simple cubic
    • sparce arctic / glacial - unnecessary burden to dive so deep; feels like a passageway area
    • glacial basin - unnecessary height level play in a confine area. Feels like an insect zoo
    • crystal cave - Second most beautiful place. Sadly no option/reason to stay there
    • glow cave - nice idea, but nothing to explore there (no larger cave); could be a game idea on its own
    • frozen specimen - cool idea, but too cubic & inaccessible. Inferior to giant skull in Subnautica
    • western wurm combat area - kind of 'ok' with the small caves below; still ridiculously high ice walls
    • artic spires - "... oh boy"
    • the mines - pretty lame; not a single habitat that survived; scale makes no sense
    • the rest - probably unfinished; enforced biome connectivity; more confined caves

    So 20h in the game and no area where I want to waste my time in or where I'd love to build a base. no area for an eskimo iglu next to some penguins; no kelp tower; no cool place for a hot spring spa; no 'descent'-like waterless cavern exploration; no tide-effect caverns; no cool isolated northpole base; no open sea; no marian trench feeling; no cool areas around alien artifacts; no underwater version of 'Aliens'.

    That's why I feel kind of guilty to have ever commented on the start of the story. Somehow the devs felt the urge to address this in a timely matter. That would have been something to fix later.

    But since I'm already at it:

    In regard of the story:
    The start doesn't work for me. A meteor storm puts the focus too much off the planet and into the orbit I can't reach anyways. And the new SkyMoths (or how should I call them) make a mockery of everything I could build in the game. Just go & search for another sky taxi, god dammit!

    And the story arch what to do to get the comm tower up was took way to long to basically achieve nothing anyways.

    But I don't want to be Margerite Maida's daughter either. I don't even like her to be in the game. The Subnautica trailer states 'Margerite and Paul being part of the planet now'... and that should be the case. To see her survive the Kharaa infection without even trying feels really bad for Bart as well. And it would feel like a soap opera or B-movie horror film if she and her daughter happen to end up on the same planet without the other side knowing anything about the counterpart. I'd love to stay an independent character (Ryley wasn't special either).

    And what's gonna be the story anyways? To give AL-AN a body? Well, this could work as it might create some cool dialog options (hopefully better than 'Picard'), but it's nevertheless a high risk maneuvre to integrate this in an game based on organic lifeforms of all sizes. And the schizophrenic concept of a voice in your head talking to you still feels odd. For me, a Borg concept ... err, I mean a Warper idea ... a ghost in an ipad story or an 'egg'/baby approach would have made more sense to me (although the latter would be 'typical female').

    Well, I would have even enjoyed it, if AL-AN would have control over my electronic stuff, like commenting on my music choices, 'optimizing' some of my blueprints while blocking other 'illogical' stuff.

    But to simply change the initial motivation to being informed that Sam is dead / gone missing doesn't sound like a better idea either. More like a type of Fallout 4 'go search your baby' story arch.

    In regard of pace:
    This is a nightmare in BelowZero febuary build. It's been a long trip to get to an island to repair an existing comm tower with some engine parts that just happened to be in a sunken ship 50m left to rocket island. And at the latest, I lose complete interest in the story as soon as I reach the Glacial Basin. That part feels so unconnected, just like a separate game.

    In regard of the exploration mechanics:
    Well, it got worse than the original game although it could have been improved easily. But for me, it wasn't the fact that you find the tools / resources that make your life easier in the regions you'd need them. This way, at least the initial visit was 'challenging' and you feel like you 'earned' it.

    I for one didn't find a growbed, no moonpool to dock/upgrade my PRAWN; nor did I find the power cell recharger for quite some time. And that made me question the dev logic on what to restrict. Isn't a growbed an essential survival blueprint to share? Is it technological too challenging to produce?

    Even worse, I don't even know for what I want a SeaTruck with a max depth of 150m for? Even the starting areas do have regions below 150m. And the story that some 'gone missing' didn't feel believable either. And why would they use one if they have flying cars?

    And to put it into a more general statement, I didn't felt like building more than necessary because most places didn't invite to build a base anyways (not to mention that there's no even sea floor to build a base on). Every underwater base is rendered useless once you enter the Glacial Basin because you surely don't want to travel back and forth (I went on an ice fruit diet there). And to be honest, I'd rather want to take over the existing Alterra bases on rocket island or in the lilpad hole than to build my own one. Heck, I'd even love to repair the snowspeeder base that reminds me of Hoth.

    The only 'cool' thing I discovered was the unreleased wall foundation.

    So all in all, the game currently feels like 'some independent, unconnected concepts arts' placed next to each other. And that's why I'd love if the devs would first focus on what they actually want to achieve with the game, why I should recommend it to new players over Subnautica and what emotions they want to create in the game.

    After they decided on that, they should build up a plausible environment first and only afterwards add some 'candy' areas in there.

    And once this is done, they should build the story around it. Because otherwise, we might see multiple reworks of the start of the story.
    Post edited by darrin on
  • BoffBoff SwedenMembers Join Date: 2018-08-12 Member: 242804Posts: 58 Advanced user
    edited April 7
    Well, looking at the experimental build on steam, the new intro is very slick, (albeit a little confusing as it sets up a whole new viewpoint to frame the gameplay with)
    We start in a cockpit in a shuttle bay that launches during the meteor shower, confusing the life-pod is still involved?)

    It looks like we are a civilian who has charted a ship to go track down our missing xeno-biologist sister (alpha Robin, who is now called sam ;) )

    So we go from the previous and rather confusing set up as an Alterra scientist living on the planet, who has NO IDEA, about the other facilities/equipment around her, which had been around for several months building up the bases, and had no idea about Magie from the Degassi, who just lived around the corner.
    How Maguarite survived the kahraa virus, and the other Degassi crew did not, sort of sullies the seriousness of the first game.
    Then she has to cross the void to get to the artic region.

    None of it makes much sense.



    And going off the new-build, it looks like they had already started to de-evolve the old story locations in the prior updates.
    There is more flow to where the initial upgrades (much needed) are placed in the experimental build.

    But with regards to developing locations and mechanics BEFORE the story-telling - I think they got the right idea.

    If you go from Valve's Half-Life approach (*cough* valve time, and how long between content releases)

    They have cabals, (just devs hanging together) just doing their own thing, aimlessly building gameplay loops, arenas to fight in, interesting mechanics, puzzle sequences, action sequences, with no particular game in mind, and with whatever assets are easiest to work with usually orange walls and crates (hence the nick-name The Orange Box).

    Then, as more devs decide to volunteer to help out, pitching their content idea, then the main project starts reaching a critical mass of enough content to make a game, they start "organising" all these little demo's of gameplay into a more cohesive form with the help of playtesters, so they could formulate a more accurate "pace" than the one they had cobbled together, and see which bits work.

    At the end of the day, it's the gameplay and the amount of time that developers can spend on these sections, that ultimately dictate the set-pieces, the environment and the story, not the other way round as many seams to believe.

    Now don't get me wrong, I'm not underselling the importance of a story and writing a good story is hard to do, and you need talented people, but it's a very fluid/flexible palette to work with.
    Rigging models, sorting our shaders, streamlining level geometry/code/mechanics/logic/ bug fixes.
    That is more a straight-slog of step-by-step mechanised and time-consuming work, which may or may not be okay to include into "this" game.

    The amount of cut content and doors not taken in game-production is mindblowing.

    But a good story can frame the same piece of content to make it feel different, and it can be done very quickly.
    Whereas trying to tweak weeks/months of work of building modes and programming code will also take more weeks/months of work.

    So for example.
    How Maguarite survived the kahraa virus, and the other Degassi crew did not, sort of sullies the seriousness of the first game.
    Then she has to cross the void to get to the artic region.

    IF Maggaurite had encountered a secret hidden archive and met another Architect, which had downloaded into her, then the precursor could have helped her use the teleporters to get to the artic region, and use the enzymes that had healed the peepers to keep the human alive.

    A couple of line of a made-up story, alters the events of the previous game whilst maintains the integrity of the original game AND we didn't even have to alter any code/graphics.



    Survival games work on gameplay loops filling up meters, and base-building, and having text files dotted around the environment to act as a story, without any custom made graphics.
    Subnautica gave us specific biomes each with custom graphics/mood/music and gameplay for each new area we unlocked, it felt like a proper singleplayer campaign but using the gameplay of an open-world- survival.

    But if you look at tomb-raider games, they are very linear affairs. The last one at least gave a few hubs to work out from.


  • TAJocelynTAJocelyn Members Join Date: 2020-03-16 Member: 258824Posts: 7 Fully active user
    How did Margaret survive the virus?

    We know that the cure was being dispersed by fish being sucked into the Sea Kings cell where they ate her droppings and carried a small amount of the enzyme back to the caldera where other fish ate them and survived.

    Why this didn’t work for everyone who ate the fish I don’t know.

    It should have.

    So the last we hear from Margaret she is fighting a leviathan and apparently loses.

    What if she was swallowed by the leviathan, carried off, and later regurgitated?

    This way she would have come into contact with the enzyme and is now cured.

    Now if she was dispelled outside of the caldera in the void she could have hitched a ride on a reef back where she could survive against the void and starvation while being transported who knows where.

    She could have seen the ice in the distance and mistook it for land and swam to shore.

    On shore she could have run into Altara who are or became hostile to her because she has the original rights to the planets resources that we know they are mining and selling.

    Then the rest of the story could happen just as the developers have said and work.

    Let's remember that Margaret is one tough bird.
    Cire555
  • darrindarrin Frankfurt; GermanyMembers Join Date: 2019-02-15 Member: 250965Posts: 89 Advanced user
    edited April 17
    My concerns isn't how Marguerit survives the leviathan. That's a piece of cake. Any explaination will do. A story could easily have her survive being swallowed alive. And in regard of getting to the artic region, a 'finding nemo'-like hitchhike on a turtle or whale would do. So not that hard to pull off.

    Nevertheless though, it makes no sense that she survived the kharaa bacterium for more than 10 years (the time between the Degasi and the Aurora). Architect data states that the infection takes days (peepers) or weeks until it becomes fatal.

    The Sunbeam took more than a week to get to 4546B, so Ryley is already pretty lucky. But even if we assume that Ryley had significantly more time due to the peeper enzymes, it just adds to how long Marguerit had to survive the infection. Not to mention that it takes a huge amount of time until such a cure would spread all across the planet.

    But the more important question is: For what purpose did Marguerit survive? To have a badass character in the game? (so something like the 'Avatar' movie antagonist).

    Or to give us something or someone that reminds us of the first game... aside from all the habitat pieces, most of the flora and fauna? Heck, as fas as we know, AL-AN could be the second class scientist that downloaded a corrupt file, got stood up to 4546B in order to find a vaccine and who uploaded his mind once the containment broke and kharaa went viral... maybe he's the reason why their quarantine failed in the first place.

    But like I stated earlier: Another reason why I don't like Marguerit to be in BelowZero is that it diminishes the work of Bart Torgal. It shows that Marguerit's concept of fighting everything and everyone rather than trying to understand what's going on actually turns out to be the only successful strategy ... and that Bart's curiocity and inventiveness was not.

    "What's the point of surviving here, if we have to kill everything that makes this world so wonderful" - Bart Torgal.
    Post edited by darrin on
    Cire555
  • darrindarrin Frankfurt; GermanyMembers Join Date: 2019-02-15 Member: 250965Posts: 89 Advanced user
    edited April 21
    I finally managed to get a glimpse at the april release... and it hurts me to say that it feels more like the start of an action game. It's basically the start of MassEffect Andromeda, except that the player doesn't start to shoot a few moments after he touched the ground. The only fact I like is that you're now not an Alterra employee anymore.

    So how about mixing this concept into the original start of the game?

    # a black sceen - Unknown worlds #
    a warm, elderly & manly voice - Cpt: Are you sure you want to do this?
    Robin: Definitely! She's my sister.
    #maybe a PDA screenshot of a happy Sam and Robin is shown #
    Cpt: Fine. But I still don't like this. Alterra already seized the system and will probably sue us if we get any closer.
    Robin: Oh that's fine. I'll take the shuttle!
    Cpt *mumbles something, probably remembering her flying skills*
    Robin: Relax. Everything's gonna be fine! Not every Alterra employee is evil, you know! There's Sam... and Jeff!
    Cpt: You have to admit that to ignore our calls is a bit strange, even for Alterra standards.
    #maybe a scene from space of a beautiful sunrise over 4546B with the satelite #
    Robin: But we've seen their satellites and bases. And it was you who said that it's probably just the weather and the debris.
    Cpt: Yeah, I know. Still, something doesn't feel right.
    Robin: Did age made you a scaredy-cat? Just going to visit my sister. It's not that I am going on an adventure or so.
    Cpt: My age??? *mumbles something; you hear someone else requesting his attention*
    Cpt: Alright kid, it's your call and we're already late on our flight. So if you really want to go, I won't stop you. Just promise me to stay on guard and to call me if anything goes wrong, ok?
    Robin - fakely annoyed: Yes, Sir!
    # scene switches to the shuttle entering the atmosphere #
    Robin: Starting the descent! Everything's fine. See you around.
    Cpt: Alright kid. We're heading out. Send my regards to Sam!
    Robin - not really listening anymore: Will do!
    # Robin watches some flying manta rays (maybe one doing a sideward roll) as something small hits the shuttle. Nevertheless though, she makes it safely to the ground right next to Research Side Zero #

    (It's actually the original base with the damaged PRAWNs, just add an additional landing pad and reposition things a bit to make it clear that this is mainly a transshipment base and these PRAWNs were used to unload stuff. This also helps explaining why there's a larger cantine but only 2 bedrooms)


    # Robin exits the shuttle and notices the damage. It seems it would be better to repair it before departing #
    Robin - thinking about what Cap would say: Oh, great!
    # She then hears an animal voice, raises her hand against the sunlight and is fascinated by the view #
    Robin: Wow. And the smell! This is amazing, Sis! *starting to recognize the cold, talking to herself* I better go inside and get me some coffee

    # She enters the base. But it seems abandoned #
    Robin: Hello? Sam? Jeff? Anybody home?
    # She explores the base, finds the laboratory with some bits of broken tech and the greenhouse.#
    (but no aquarium & no pictures of fish. This is in order to delay the best part of the game)

    # She finds a PDA voice message of Sam & Jeff talking about a nearby cave #
    Robin: O.k. So there you are... *picking up the PDA*
    # she leaves the habitat and enters the lily canyon to make her way to the crystal cave #
    (This should be the moment to activate the health & heat bar. The latter should have a different color or gradient btw. to differentiate them even better)

    # as she walks, she's fascinated that the planet isn't dead as she was told. Some static noise appears on the radio that eventually form up some sort of pulses or a whale song #
    (There shouldn't be any precursor tech ouside the cave. It should be unclear if the cave is natural or artificial. Furthermore, the path should lead downwards! The idea is that Robin will see the precursor structure from diagonally above, hiding the energy field from her view and keeping the hope up to find Sam here. And the structure itself is already a marvelous thing)

    Robin: No way! You must be kidding, Sis! And these runes. I wonder if someone already tried to decipher them.
    # She gets closer, sees that the entrance is blocked, no terminal, no response whatsoever. She calls for her sister. #
    # MAYBE there's a PDA that talks about how this matches their finding on other places #
    Robin: So where are you? Please don't tell me that you're in there!
    # She ponders about what she would do if she's in there #
    # Maybe there's a scene where she stands before some of the runes in fascination to indicate that she spends way to much time here studying the runes #
    # her stomach starts to growls and the water & food bar is displayed. There's also some sort of rumble in the background#
    Robin - talking to herself: Ok, ok. I'll better head back. Maybe I should try to contact Sam from there... or even contact cap.


    (Unlike in the previous versions, there's neither a lightning strike nor a meteor storm. Instead, the lily path is simply blocked by larger amounts of SNOW. This must have happened while she was in the cave, studying the runes. Maybe some lilies coiled up to keep it unclear if this might be a natural phenomena that the others were aware of

    #She makes her way back to the base and this time a louder growl is heard from further away as the base is hit by the avalanche. The comm tower breaks shortly thereafter. #
    Robin: No-no-no-no! Don't do this to me!

    # The comm tower breaking is exceptionally cool now, because that's the only thing of real importance. So to see the final push that makes it fall over is great to show how close she was to being rescued.


    (So it's more or less the old intro mixed together with the new character. This is a huge difference because Robin has no connection to the base, the tools or anything. Nothing had any value to her a few moments ago. And noone told her what to do. It was her decision alone. Maybe just a tiny bit of carelessness!)

    # As she gets close to the base & the shuttle, a message comes in. Maybe it was recorded by the shuttle while she was in the cave (no signal there?) #
    Cpt: We're leaving the system now. I know you won't like this, but I've dispatched a lifepod... just in case... *considering*
    Call me a fool ok, but this old boy has seen too many things to not worry about his precious little kid now and then. *he even seems to start to regret his decision* I know you gonna be fine. So tell Alterra it got loose, ok.
    Enjoy your stay!
    Over and out.

    # Robin receives the coordinates for the lifepod and must jump into the water if she wants to reach it. Now, she's on her own! #

    (It now even makes sense that the lifepod looks different and drowns instead of floating on water. It's not an alterra model! And it was probably better suited for a different planet)


    So no crash, no explosions, no meteors, no lightning strikes, no first contact, no imminent danger! And no direct goal other than to see how to make the best of the situation. You don't have to think about Jeff, you're not guided anywhere by anyone and you don't decide to be stranded on this planet.

    You might still be full of hope that you gonna be rescued or that you meet Sam. This might just be a setback. And the shuttle could actually still be intact (although temporarily unavailable). It would be cool to use it later in the game as some sort of fast travel. Just repair it, refuel it and unlock new landing sides.

    The landing pad Jevov crashed on f.e. could be intact and connect the Glacial Basin with the rest of the map. Suddenly, this part of the map wouldn't be feel so disconnected anymore. Heck, it could even be possible that the player will be able to build new landing pads later on (naybe similar to a Neptune launch pad) to ease the gameplay. I for one would love to build a landing pad on one of the water lilies!
    _____

    Now in regard of the rocket island:
    Both the comm tower as well as the rocket pad could become relevant for the end of the game. Maybe, Robin has to make a hard decision, whether to launch a missile (for whatever reason and with whatever load) OR to use the comm tower instead. This could be similar to the end of "The Forest", if you know what I mean...

    I even find it more plausible if the ship-engine wreckage found in the sunken ship would be needed to repair the shuttle or to launch the missile. It doesn't make sense for the comm tower. That one might need some other material to increase the range beyond this system.
    _____

    This brings me to the hardest part - Marguerit!

    I played the whole first game again to check the data entries. Marguerit IS affected! For her to survive the infection would only make sense, if she either became immune later on or that the original game told us only one side of the story.

    The latter is especially intriguing because it might explain some of the illogical stuff of the first game.

    - Why are the percursor bases so hard to find? Where they affraid someone could find out that they recearch a vaccine?
    - Why would they shoot down enemy ships rather than sending a warning first?
    - Why haven't they sent another team to either end the research or to destroy the planet?
    Did noone else know about this place?
    - Why was the sea emperor prison even below the power plant, although it means they had to create a huge ventilation system in order to create a unique ecosystem down there?
    - How does it come that the Kharaa bacteria is spread by water, yet they constantly pump water in all directions to spread the anti-kharaa?
    - Why can't even nano bots kill the bacteria?
    - How is it possible that Warpers - although partially biological - aren't affected by the bacteria?
    - Why didn't the precursors manage to control the Warpers or build some machines to research the vaccine, even though they are able to 'store' a mind in a computer?

    And so on...

    So maybe, the 'history' wasn't really how we have been told!

    Maybe someone actually engineered the bacteria.
    Maybe the researchers were afraid someone could destroy their lab.
    Maybe, the precursors and their A.I.s had different agendas and Ryley mixed things up because he couldn't differentiate A.I. from the actual biological race.

    All in all, it could mean that not just the vaccine, but also the bacteria has become more or less a local phenomena. Without infected host animals to travel far distances, the bacteria might actually never got to the arctic region in recent years.

    So to be forcefully dragged out into the void, pure luck made Marguerit survive the infection, because none of them ever thought about leaving the crash side.

    Don't get me wrong so! I'm still very much against her. It still feels bad! Not only for Bart, but also for Ryley because Marguerit could at least have tried to send an SOS signal.

    But since she's gonna stay in the game anyways, it wouldn't hurt so much if she's needed to present us the different side of the coin - one that might even be in contrast to what AL-AN is trying to sell us.
    Post edited by darrin on
  • grimnircrowgrimnircrow Members Join Date: 2020-09-13 Member: 263950Posts: 1 Fully active user
    ChingBling wrote: »
    The new story draft for Below Zero begins with Robin receiving a message that her sister, Sam, has died. Robin goes to investigate her death, and Sam being Robin's sister, Robin obviously feels emotionally driven to find the cause of her sister's death. However, the player behind the character, does not share this same emotional attachment, as Sam is a character they would have no knowledge of. This creates a disconnect between the player and the character that they control. A solution for this would be to keep Sam's death as a plot element, but make it so that Robin is notified of Sam going missing instead of her dying. This creates a mystery for both Robin and the player, and as the story goes along, have PDA entries in same vein as the Goodall Family Logs to help build up Sam's character, and allow for the player to see Robin's emotional attachment to her sister, rather than feeling like a third wheel who's just tagging along because they have to. This would also set up a reveal of Sam's death after the player has built an attachment to her, and would turn into an investigation of Sam's death. The player and Robin would both have a similar drive to find out how Sam got killed.

    Now for the small nitpicks that aren't related to the story.
    1. The switch from temperature to oxygen gauge should be instant, once you're above the water you have no need to see your oxygen and vice versa.
    2. This is the smallest nitpick in the world, but in my eyes, the game starting on land (yes I know the original story started on land, but that was more of an opening segment, the game started for real in the water) just feels wrong for a game that's primarily underwater.

    here where id like to see the story go..as a tutorial you play as sam on the ground at the robotics base with some prominent scientist you find an email on his pda about the architects and how they plan to use the kharaa virus to start a pandemic and sell the cure once it can be synthesized. you caught and a chase scene leads you to the gate at the back you activate it and run through all while talking to Marguerite that shell be there asap run thought he gate and theres a cut scene and you are now robin being told about your sister dying and kinda interogated on what she may have told you.. you opver ehar them saying about how youu and your siter needs to die but the guy on the com helps you escape as you go to find your sister with brings us back to where you start out now.. but you find random ctime capsules with messages from your sister and you can hack attenas to communicate with her to progress your story and alterra is activly searching for you and your sister and anyone else that helps noting alan is the key to reviving his civilization and in the end alan goes off to awaken everyone else and sam and robin are reunited maybe them and Marguerite build a ship and fly off to restart their lives.. so that re-adds elements of the sisters talking ...more suspense...more bad guys and a better story...but i cant really say i hate the story as is its just meh but i know how hard it is to create a story and have to build around what you can and cannot do
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