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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...

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Carefully Consider Every Decision in The Walking Dead: Season 2

Posted on Wednesday, March 5 @ 18:13:51 PST by


One of the most shocking moments in the first season of The Walking Dead still haunts me, not for how gut-wrenching it was at the time or even how unexpected, but because it clearly established to the player that the creators at Telltale Games want you to mull over every single choice they throw at you.

Obviously, with The Walking Dead: Season 2 in full force, you might be tempted to go back and play Season 1 over again. I couldn't do that. Maybe you're going to wait and play through Season 2 in one go, but perhaps taking life one moment at a time will allow you to see some of the more obvious curve balls coming.

Take Carley's advances in the beginning of Episode 3, for example. They seemed so far out of place that we probably should have guessed at what was coming next. Plenty of players probably got an incredible rush out of that experience but looking back at the entire episode, it felt like a lot was getting thrown at Lee, regardless of whether he continued the adventure with Carley or Doug, but that doesn't mean you can't make better choices in Season 2 knowing how Telltale's designers react to the collective decisions everyone makes in the simulation.

While it might not seem like much of a "sim" on the level of SimCity or Civilization, The Walking Dead is an adventure in the sense that you do make choices. Those choices might be largely binary and I may envy the freedom of a free-roaming action game, but it certainly doesn't take away from the emotional resonance you have playing The Walking Dead.

Knowing that the developers at Telltale are watching your choices and reacting to them will certainly make the new season a lot more interesting. For example, you might want to play through each episode as its released twice, just to pick both sides and see what changes.

I'd be tempted to do this too, but maybe we can break this and start considering the creator-experience-player-response cycle on a deeper level in each moment of our lives, virtual or otherwise. The Walking Dead's first season was certainly far more powerful when I only played it once.

That creator-content-player-experience cycle could potentially cripple any desire to continue developing games if players abuse the creator's content enough. Take, for example, Bioshock Infinite's horrifying levels of internet debauchery and Ken Levine's very natural reaction to those who might call themselves "fans" even though they're posting gifs of Booker having sex with his own daughter.

When you see that creator-player cycle in every moment, the bigger picture gets a lot clearer and the choices even get easier. Let's all stop abusing the experiences and characters we love from our favorite developers.
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