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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:02 pm 
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"Back To The Future Episode 1: It's About Time" is out!

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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:07 pm 
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Kinda liked the setup of the BTTF game, but i don't like the walking, it was weird to get used to. also seemed very short and easy to figure out. Whats everyone elses thoughts on it (Without Spoiling it for those who have yet to play or finish it)


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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:13 pm 
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Story: Fan-flipping-tastic
Gameplay: Short and easy. The shortest and easiest Telltale game yet.

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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:39 am 
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Okay, let me preface this by saying that I'm about as big of a BTTF nut as you can get. In the 80's, when everyone was talking about Indiana Jones and Star Wars, I was the type who wouldn't shut up about BTTF instead. So, naturally, I was always going to have very, very high expectations for any BTTF game that seeks to continue where the films left off and which hopes to be recognized as official canon, regardless of which company developed it.

There are major spoilers below!

So, did I like the game? Well, honestly, I thought it was average. Not excellent, not fantastic, not "jizz in my pants" material, but at the same time, not a disaster either. I feel there's a lot to like about it. The graphics are very decent, the voicework is mostly great, and it's fantastic to see BTTF franchise getting some long-overdue attention. The fan-service was kept largely in check (to what I feel was about to the same degree that it was handled in the film sequels), the curse words/blasphemy words were kept in there, and bonus points to Telltale for using Alan Silvestri's authentic musical score for that extra touch of authenticity.

However, there were several factors that prevented this from being a stellar tribute to the BTTF films. Mostly a bunch of small things (and one major thing) that ranged from technical issues, to design decisions, and, to put it bluntly, what seemed like lazy writing or rushed work. Given that this game is based on a well-known, successful licensed IP which is held in high-regard by a very detail-oriented fan-base, I think it's only fair that TellTale is held to a extremely high standard on this title. They needed to get things as close to perfect as possible. In that light, my review won't be affected by nostalgia or biased by my love of the movies. I judged this game based on 2 factors: how it stands-up as an adventure game, and how well it adheres to the conventions set by the films. I really wanted to love this game, and I kinda feel guilty that I don't. I can say that I only just like it. As an adventure game, it feels very standard with nothing ground-breaking, and as a continuation of the movies, well, it's asking a lot, in light of the conventions it breaks or tries to redefine.

Biggest gripe (the major thing): The totally lame explanation of the Delorean's reappearance in 1986 due to the car being duplicated by the lightning strike in 1955. What the hell? Seriously, Telltale, that was a totally lazy cop-out. When I watched the game's excellent introduction sequence, I thought they'd envisioned something very clever to explain how the Delorean at the Twin/Lone Pine(s) Mall somehow got intercepted on its maiden voyage one minute into the future. Then, apparently, it turns out that Marty's only dreaming this? When the "duplicate" Delorean arrives in 1986 with Einstein inside he doesn't have the control watch around his neck, so it can't be the car from the Twin Pines Mall experiment. Now, I realize this is only the first episode in the series, and perhaps the introduction scene at the Twin Pines Mall might still factor into things and won't be revealed until a future episode (I truly hope so!), but I question the wisdom of providing possible red herring information about the Delorean's origin in the first episode, upon which many people (non-gamer BTTF fans in particular) will base their first opinions on whether they decide to recognize this as official series canon.

It's contradictory to learn that Doc (who, in the third film ordered Marty to destroy the time machine rather than travel back to 1885 to rescue him) has had the Delorean equipped with an auto-retrieval system all along, which is capable of catering to his own self-serving whims, purposely risking ongoing damage to the timeline. Are we now to believe that the Delorean has always been capable of replicating, like nanorobots with the potential to cause some kind of temporal grey goo scenario that cannot be stopped until a paradox inevitably occurs? (And is the driver duplicated too?) The Doc in the films would not be so irresponsible to allow this kind of chain reaction to unfold. He would work against it, rather than implementing an auto-retrieval system that would increase the likelihood of destroying our galaxy/the universe, just to save his own skin. Also, does this new revelation not create an anomaly of endless circumstances under which multiple Deloreans could keep duplicating and keep being sent to different points across the timeline, each one of them having an auto-retrieval system that kicks in to save Doc as he keeps getting into deeper and deeper layers of trouble? What irks me about this is that the films always covered these types of contradictions so well by setting specific boundaries and rules; limitations on what the time machine could and couldn't do. The weak explanation offered in this game seemingly undoes all of that in one fell swoop.

So, why didn't this auto-retrieval system kick-in when Doc was first stranded in 1885? Why does 1980's Doc not care if there are trees, structures, or people in the destination era that the auto-system will be traveling to, when 1955 Doc did? Why did Doc get a Mr. Fusion installed, but not a hoverconversion (when after his 1885 experience, he knows how useful hoverconversions can be to reach 88 Miles per hour in time periods where there are no paved roads? -- he even put one on his train!) Why is the Delorean programmed to return to the front of Doc's Garage, right outside a busy street with a Burger King where anyone could see it? Even if we're to accept this dumb auto-retrieval system explanation, why wouldn't Doc have just built a 2nd time machine exclusively for auto-retrieval purposes so that it can never interfere with any time traveling paths that the first Delorean made?

The way this was handled by Telltale, in my opinion, was very poor. More thought should have gone into making this work within the pre-established rules of the trilogy. As a fan who has always considered the original film plots to be a work of genius in terms of how well they protected against major contradictions, this aspect of the game alone was enough to put a damper on the rest of the experience for me. It makes me worry that the rest of the episodes might contain equally lame contradictions. I realize this may seem like a small issue or an over-reaction for some, but BTTF has always been about the story and the fine details. Even the tiniest of things that casual viewers wouldn't notice between different time eras (such as how even the non-important shops around the town square change) shows how much attention to detail went into making these films. Break this attention to detail, and you've broken a key element that's just as crucial to setting the tone of the films, as is the chemistry between Doc and Marty. The game's Delorean explanation seems like the writers didn't bother to think things through properly; it creates more questions than it answers. I hope this will be addressed properly in an upcoming episode. We can always hope that Doc was just bullshitting Marty about the duplicated Delorean and will tell him the real story later on!


Other assorted feedback and opinions:

-Honestly, Hill Valley in the 1930's prohibition era was a pretty boring choice of travel destination for the first episode of the series! I'm kind of baffled why they chose it. I found the place to be devoid of anything really interesting. All the characters you need to talk to are "conveniently" located within a short distance of one another in the same location. Having young and old Doc within such close proximity of one another seemed like a silly design move. Especially when you can see young Emmett walking around in the background while talking to old Doc!

-A mixture of gameplay that was overall too easy and featured two poorly constructed puzzles. The first relied on waiting around for an NPC to do something specific before you can carry on, and the second one was reflex based, with the same puzzle divided into 3 identically redundant segments, with the only difference that the speed gets increased each time.

-Walking around the town square felt dead and having your view limited by preselected camera angles was annoying. I'm a sucker for the small details, and I was interested to see how accurately the designers portrayed things. I wanted to explore the entire town square to see how all the shops and buildings compared to the movies at various angles, but I couldn't do that. Then I wanted to walk down Main Street (The road where the Delorean drives down when the lighting bolt strikes the clock tower in 1955), but for some annoying reason, Marty just stops in the middle of the street, with nothing blocking his path... he just won't walk any further! Gahhhh! The whole thing felt like I was walking around the deserted backlot at Universal studios, rather than walking around the bustling Hill Valley from the movies. Even their attempts to make the town seem more lively drew more attention to that fact that things were actually quite dead. Being able to walk into shops but not seeing the proprietor who talks to you served to further highlight the shortcuts TellTale took. There were only two pedestrians who'd exit the same doors every time, and I think one car drove down the street every so often.

-Overuse of recycled film themes: I grew bored of the "Tannen is a bully, McFly is submissive" relationship. Marty's grandfather was an uninteresting George McFly clone. There seemed to be no unique characteristics to his personality and nothing original or new in regards to his relationship to Kid Tannen. It makes things utterly predictable. Kid Tannen also seems like a cliched and lackluster villain so far. In the films, each movie usually had scenes where it set the stage for future characters who would later make an appearance (Buford Tannen being mentioned in BTTF2 for example), so at least the films provided a heads-up on what to expect. This game, however, just springs yet another generation of Tannen vs McFly characters on us without any historic forewarning. After the same thing happening so many times in the films, it just seems lazy to expect the same gag to work yet again. I know Telltale ran a fan poll on this, which is probably why they did things this way. But I think most BTTF fans are probably going to appeal to their sense of nostalgia without considering how it may affect the story. Personally, I think that a fresh villain without the familiar constraints of the Tannen/McFly relationship would have been a smarter move.

-The awkward control system (point and click to walk would be fine).

-The music, borrowing from Alan Silvestri's score at key moments, sounded great. But when walking around casually, it seemed a bit repetitive and like it was just "there". There didn't seem to be any specifically composed music pieces that were tailored exclusively to the main scenes, and sometimes even Alan Silvestri's music didn't seem to fit too well with certain sections (wrong mood). I noticed that when walking around Hill Valley's Town square in 1931, there was similar tense background music that plays before the Libyans arrive at the Twin Pines Mall in BTTF1. I think silence could have benefited the game in some places, as constant background music, when limited to only a few repetitive tunes, can get old fast. Also, the familiar shimmering music that plays when the time and date is revealed can also be used too often, and I think they're bordering on that...

-I was surprised to find that some of the character animation was quite stiff and rigid-looking. Half the time the shift key didn't work for running (or he would walk at running speed due to a bug). Marty has no transition animation for coming to a halt after he's running. Instead of the inertia effect, he just comes to an instant stop, which looks unnatural. The rigid animation could be noticed mostly in the first sequence at the Twin Pines Mall, but seemed to look better when the characters were standing further back from the camera. There were also a few clipping errors where people's hands disappeared through objects. To their credit, Telltale did try to animate the character quirks and traits of Michael J Fox accurately, which was pretty cool, but all around seemed like this Marty was a little more unsure of himself and not as lively as the way Michael J Fox portrays him.

-Standard cookie-cutter Telltale characters. By this I mean that the side-characters such as Cueball and Edna Strickland didn't really feel like BTTF characters. They seemed like the signature comedic recycled side-characters that Telltale typically use in their games. These characters have little in the way of individual personality and wouldn't look out-of-place if they also appeared in Tales of Monkey Island or Sam and Max (where they would be better suited IMO). The BTTF films were comedies on only one level, and I think the games TellTale has made in the past have been more focused on comedy as a staple element than the BTTF films are. Even small characters in the BTTF films had quite strong character development, but most side-characters weren't overly comedic in nature. The end result feels like some kind of LucasArts/BTTF crossover, containing a mishmash of characters which don't gel in the most agreeable way. Hopefully, they'll find a way to iron this out in future episodes.

-Einstein's model didn't look so crash hot.

-Where's Doc's train? He mentions Clara and his sons in brief conversation, but it seems like another shortcut taken to avoid showing them. Presumably these characters are stuck in 1931 too, so I wonder if we'll ever see them (or at least the train!)

-I know that Michael J Fox couldn't/wouldn't do the voice for Marty, and that TellTale got as good as an impersonator as they were ever going to get. This isn't really a negative, because obviously they were working with the resources they had available and if the original actor can't perform the role, it can hardly be held against the company. But I'll list this here anyway, just because it's something that was noticeable to me. There's no doubt the AJ guy sounds very much like Fox, but I would subconsciously find myself realizing that he was trying to impersonate Marty so well, that it actually drew attention to the fact that this wasn't really Michael J Fox. The guy did a great job, but I believe there are two parts to impersonating someone. The first one is being able to sound like the celebrity (which he does) and the second, and perhaps most important factor, is to be able to make it sound natural and not forced. I won't say that his Marty impersonation sounded overly forced, but just that that wavering, pubescent tone to his voice was probably used a bit too often. Fox sounded more like that in the first film, but in the later two (when he was in his late 20's) his voice had a more consistent tone. Then again, even some of Christopher LLoyd's lines seemed off-key in the game (one particular "Great Scott" sounded British!) I guess the project could have benefited from a voice director who knows the films well and who could coach the best performances out of the actors.

-There are no gargoyle statues on the clock tower in 1931 (seems odd that they would add them later, rather than when the tower was constructed).

-The inventory window being on a different screen could get frustrating if you want to try many different items on a character. That's quite a few clicks!

-Product placement played a big part in the BTTF films, with many brand names being showcased in various scenes and locations. In this game, these have all been replaced with parody names, which kind of draws attention to them for the wrong reason (i.e it seems like slapstick humourous signs have intentionally been placed where there should be none). For example, bank of America becomes Bank of Italy, Western Auto becomes Eastern Auto, and JC Penny becomes JPPinney. A small thing really, but I kinda miss not seeing real Pepsi and Nike logos all over the place!

-We're not able to drive the Delorean or manually key in the destination time onto the keypad (similar to Space Quest 4)? Aw, come on! We're playing a BTTF game, we want to handle the driving and time traveling ourselves. Hope we'll be able to do more of this in future episodes, rather than the entire thing always running "on-rails".

-Some illogical character decisions and actions: Why does Kid Tannen keep driving the car in a straight and orderly fashion when: A) He becomes aware of Marty clinging to the side of the vehicle after punching him in the face, and B) When Marty disarms him of his gun and it's evident that Tannen could easily start swerving to make Marty and Doc fall?

Why does Marty try to drill the jail wall open when Edna Strickland is in plain sight? And as a journalist, why doesn't she care?

It's logical to deduce that Einstein would know Edna's scent from the shoe. But why would the player assume Einsten knows who or where Arthur McFly is?

-By far the best thing about the episode was the young Emmet Brown. What a fantastic voice actor they got for him! He really helped give the character a strong non-cookie-cutter identity that set him apart from his older self. The actor was also great at nailing the tone and style of voice that Christopher LLoyd uses. Young Emmet really stood out as a unique character with his own quirks, aspirations, and goals. I just wish I could say the same for the other bland assortment of characters! Even old Doc didn't have much to do or say in this episode, and Lloyd also had the unfortunate task of delivering the line that ruined the game. :(

-The intro was excellent. I'm happy they included that throwback to BTTF 1, and I loved the ability to be able to change the dialogue up. I just wish that scene was part of the story, rather than a dream sequence.

-The last scene on the car was pretty entertaining (if a little far-fetched, even by BTTF standards!)

-Best restore game sequence EVER!


A few interesting things I noticed:

-Edna Strickland says that the Speakeasy is a video store in 1986. Not sure if this is an oversight on Telltale's part, but in 1985, that particular store wasn't a video store, but a building called "Abrams Brokerage Bonds Company". (Admittedly, the shop may have changed ownership in the 6 months between 1985 and 1986.) FYI, in 1955 this same store was the "Zales Jewelry" shop and in 2015 it's a "Pizza Hut". (I think I saw somewhere else that it's an adult video store in the alternate 1985).

-Edna Strickland calls out to Jack and Dianne, no doubt a reference to the 80's John Mellencamp song.

-The 1931 Soup Kitchen sits where the Saloon did in 1885. It's also the future site of Lou's Cafe (1955), Lou's Aerobic Fitness Center (1985), and the Cafe 80's (2015)

-The 1931 Barber Shop is still open for business in 1955. The Barber Shop signage is still there in 1985, but the building is vacant.

-The 1931 Police Station and Jail is on the future site of the "A Blast From the Past" antique shop in 2015, where Marty obtains the Sports Almanac.


Conclusion:

I wanted to put aside my bias on what I thought would make a great BTTF game and give Telltale the chance to prove themselves capable of the task. After playing through episode 1, I'm currently still standing by my original comments that I think the straight adventure format isn't really the correct genre for a BTTF game. The gameplay feels fine if you know how to make progress quickly, but if you happen to get stuck for any period of time, it can feel empty and dull, not like the tense race against time that it should be. I still think an open world, free-roaming, sandbox style game where you can explore all of Hill Valley at will, drive and skate/hoverboard around, mixed with adventure elements would have worked best for this franchise.

As an adventure game, it feels okay, but there's just something that's not quite right about the pacing and character relationships yet. It really feels like certain parts of the development have been rushed, and corners were cut when Telltale should have gone all-out to hook people on the first episode. Personally, I'll play this game through all 5 episodes, but if the major plot issues above aren't resolved in a satisfying way by the conclusion, I'll just disregard this game as being part of the official canon and pretend it never happened. :p

Still, I'd recommend people to play this BTTF game game and try it for themselves. It's not a bad game by any means. I'm viewing it very critically through the lens of the films' continuity and pacing. If you're not as pedantic a BTTF fan as me, you'll probably find this very enjoyable if you liked TellTale's other games. I still think Tales of Monkey Island is their best title, as their writing style and characters seemed perfectly suited to that series. BTTF isn't Monkey Island, though, and appealing to nostalgia alone isn't enough to cloud my judgment on whether this is a great game or just an average one. I think Telltale will need to do more than just rehash old puzzles and characters in order to bring this up several rather large notches from a decent game to an exceptional one.

Really, I guess I could overlook most of the picky stuff I've mentioned above, but that silly explanation of the duplicate Delorean is the main deal-breaker for me. They've got to figure out a plausible way of explaining that!


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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 1:37 pm 
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I don't have time to read the whole thread, but the whole DeLorean cop-out might not be a cop-out. He only mentions it in passing, but it could very well be a plot device. For instance, if the car was duplicated perhaps Doc was duplicated as well. That could be very interesting for the story. Of course, it could just be a quick explanation. But seriously, what else were they supposed to do?

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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:18 pm 
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Heh...great review, but I think you majorly failed to let your fanboy bias get the best of you, as you stated you were going to try to do. ;)

About the duplicate Delorean (this is not meant as a rebuttal, per se, just pointing out how I interpreted things):

Doc says that the duplicated Delorean was sent 70 years into the future from 1955--so 2025. Which means that Doc had to go to the future and get it before sending it back to that point in 1986. I felt like it was being implied that he installed the retrieval device in that specific Delorean after recovering it, so it wouldn't have been there when the lighting bolt sent him back to 1885 with the original car. Doc also mentions that in 2025, Griff Tannen steals the duplicate Delorean and starts wreaking havoc on the timeline, which Doc naturally sets out to correct. So he has a legitimate, urgent reason to resume time travel after the end of the third movie, even though he spoke out against it. So, Doc goes after Griff and the duplicate Delorean in the Time Train, retrieves the Delorean, installs the retrieval unit, and then goes back to 1885. At some point after that, Doc takes the Delorean with Einstein to 1931, presumably to undo some of the damage that Griff had done, where he gets into some trouble. When he finds himself in that bind and realizes he needs Marty's help, he makes the tape and sends the Delorean back to 1986 for Marty to find. Since he hasn't ever tested the retrieval system, he's understandably surprised that it works when Marty first meets up with him in 1931.

Doesn't really seem like a cop-out to me, honestly, but rather more like the complex interweaving of timelines that the series is known for.

Actually, a LARGER plot-hole in my opinion, comes in BTTF2, when the timeline changes but Marty and Doc both remain unchanged and aware of the events of the old "normal" timeline. This is a distinctly different take on timeline alteration from BTTF1, where alterations will cause Marty to be erased from existence (if he doesn't correct them in time.)


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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:59 pm 
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MusicallyInspired wrote:
I don't have time to read the whole thread, but the whole DeLorean cop-out might not be a cop-out. He only mentions it in passing, but it could very well be a plot device. For instance, if the car was duplicated perhaps Doc was duplicated as well. That could be very interesting for the story. Of course, it could just be a quick explanation. But seriously, what else were they supposed to do?


I mean it's a cop-out because regardless of whatever plot device they might utilize, they've invented a lame excuse for the Delorean duplicating itself in the first place. So, even the most clever device will be built on a weak foundation. It's never been mentioned that the Delorean was duplicated by the 1955 lightning bolt before this point in any of the films, so why is it suddenly now being mentioned solely in this game? The only reason seems to be that it benefits the writer at Telltale who couldn't come up with a more creative approach that doesn't tamper with the pre-established conventions of the films.

According to Doc's dialogue in the game, the car that got duplicated is the one Marty drove towards the lightning bolt at the clock tower in 1955. When the lightning channeled into the Flux Capacitor, the original Delorean was sent back to 1985, and the duplicate got sent ahead 70 years to 2025. So, if there's a duplicated driver, it'd be a clone of Marty who's stuck in that year. (Unless yet another duplicate was made when Doc got struck back to 1885, but that's getting heavy). Doc said he found the duplicated Delorean on a subsequent visit to 2025, prevented Griff from obtaining it, and then added some more modifications to it. But if the driver got duplicated too, that'd be even worse still! Then TellTale would really be messing with things by creating living human clones that operate independently of each other, rather than just one person traveling across multiple time eras. They shouldn't try to get clever with this, I really hope they won't take things to that extreme.

As for what else they could have done, well, how about this: I think a more plausible approach would have been if Doc was wanted by the authorities for questioning over his illegal possession of plutonium after the Libyan incident at the Lone Pine Mall. The Libyans would have survived the crash (as is implied in the BTTF novel) and ratted Doc out when questioned. Therefore, Doc wants to stay away from the late 1980's to let the heat die down and avoid arrest.

So he travels to a future year (say 1995) thinking it's safe, but is unaware that he's still on the FBI's most wanted list. Upon arrival in 1995, he's tailed by some government agents who end up grabbing Clara and his kids, but Doc manages to escape to the time train. He knows he needs Marty's help. He can't risk seeking out Marty in the current year, and he can't go back to 1986 by himself, because he's wanted for the plutonium theft. So instead Doc travels back to October 26th 1985 in his time train (the day of his first experiment with the Delorean). He goes to the Twin Pines mall, and while avoiding his second self, manages to gain access to his own van parked van with the Delorean still stored inside (prior to the experiment). He changes the time machine's destination date to May 14th 1986. (When conducting that first experiment with Einstein at the Mall, Doc doesn't key anything into the time panel, so presumably he's already set the time and date to 26th Oct 1985 1:21AM earlier -- only now it would bear the date May 14th 1986 instead). Before sending Einstein into the future, Doc also fails to double-check that the Destination display is correct, so he wouldn't notice that he's about to send his dog 6 months into the future, rather than just 1 minute into the future.

Doc also leaves a tape recorder hidden in the back seat with instructions for Marty to complete a mission (save Clara & his kids in 1995) and then instructs Marty to travel straight back to 1931 (a designated "safe" time) where Doc can be reunited with his family. Once Marty, Clara, Jules, and Verne are reunited with Doc again in 1931, Doc will use a similar remote control to send the Delorean (and Einstein) back to the Twin/Lone Pine Mall at exactly 1:22am on Oct 26th, so that it'll catch up with Doc's initial experiment, and subsequently be ready to take Marty to 1955 (otherwise a paradox would occur). Marty could then get back to 1986 from 1931 with the time train.

But things don't go according to plan because Doc gets arrested in 1931 and the Delorean is discovered and impounded, preventing it from being sent back to Oct 26th 1985. This would lead to a similar situation that's currently at the start of the Telltale game, where the Time Machine doesn't arrive at the Twin Pines Mall when it's supposed to. But in this case, that particular scene could be what happens if you fail your mission (which should be possible BTW). The scene would function as a Game Over sequence, where both Marty and Doc would fade out of existence at the end.

This way, the game becomes an intense race against time to get the Delorean back to the Twin Pines Mall to coincide with Doc's experiment on 26th October 1985. Of course, things are never so simple and jumping across several timezones would be necessary to fix a new series of predicaments that unravel and span across different eras, before the Delorean can be returned. Doc and Marty would have two Time Machines at their disposal in 1931, so if the Delorean gets stolen and taken to another year, they could chase the culprit in the train.

I think This would be plausible approach. It doesn't break anything established by the films and it doesn't ask viewers/players to accept new poorly thought-out conventions as official canon. It stays within the safe confines of what has already been established. But that's just one workable story possibility. By putting proper thought into it, TellTale could come up with several similar scenarios that explain the existence of the Delorean time machine without contradicting anything, and make a more intense game with a real race against time forming the story arc to boot.

--EDIT--

Ah, I was typing that while you posted, Lambonius. Need sleep now. Will read, contemplate, and reply tomorrow!


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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:58 pm 
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Anonymous Game Creator 2 wrote:
I mean it's a cop-out because regardless of whatever plot device they might utilize, they've invented a lame excuse for the Delorean duplicating itself in the first place. So, even the most clever device will be built on a weak foundation. It's never been mentioned that the Delorean was duplicated by the 1955 lightning bolt before this point in any of the films, so why is it suddenly now being mentioned solely in this game? The only reason seems to be that it benefits the writer at Telltale who couldn't come up with a more creative approach that doesn't tamper with the pre-established conventions of the films.


Well, I thought it was pretty clever and makes sense in the universe of BTTF. It was sent 70 years backwards AND forwards in time. It's a symmetrical event. I don't know, I thought it was really cool when he explained it and I was quite happy with it. Also, Doc didn't know about the duplicate in the films so there was never any reason to explain it. He found it by accident in his travels to 2025 AFTER the films.

Quote:
According to Doc's dialogue in the game, the car that got duplicated is the one Marty drove towards the lightning bolt at the clock tower in 1955. When the lightning channeled into the Flux Capacitor, the original Delorean was sent back to 1985, and the duplicate got sent ahead 70 years to 2025. So, if there's a duplicated driver, it'd be a clone of Marty who's stuck in that year. (Unless yet another duplicate was made when Doc got struck back to 1885, but that's getting heavy). Doc said he found the duplicated Delorean on a subsequent visit to 2025, prevented Griff from obtaining it, and then added some more modifications to it. But if the driver got duplicated too, that'd be even worse still! Then TellTale would really be messing with things by creating living human clones that operate independently of each other, rather than just one person traveling across multiple time eras. They shouldn't try to get clever with this, I really hope they won't take things to that extreme.


I think the time it got struck by lighting Doc was referring to was in BTTF2 when he was flying and Doc was sent back to 1885 (70 years forward and backwards as a temporal duplicate). Not the one that Marty used. For one thing, the Mr. Fusion thing is on the car (which Marty interacts with). Which also makes sense because when Marty's Delorean was struck by lighting it was channeled down by a wire and led STRAIGHT to the flux capacitor. Controlled scenario. When Doc was struck by lightning the lightning hit the entire car. Uncontrolled scenario. And he did say that the lightning bolt overloaded the time circuits. Probably because it produced the temporal duplicate.

Also, Bob Gale, one of the original creators and writers for the BTTF movies, was on the writing staff when making this game. So it's not just some Telltale writer who hacked a story together. This was thought up with Bob Gale's influence and input after which he signed off on it as being basically 'canon'.

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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:35 am 
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Lambonius wrote:
Heh...great review, but I think you majorly failed to let your fanboy bias get the best of you, as you stated you were going to try to do. ;)


Well, what I meant to say was that I'm not going to fawn over it, just because it's Back to the Future. I guess a lot of fanboys will see a better episode than is actually here just because it appeals to nostalgia and fan-service. In my opinion, this is a pretty run-of-the-mill adventure episode underneath the veneer of the BTTF franchise, and if the same time period, puzzles, and side-characters were being used in a different game without the Marty and Doc characters to drive it, it'd seem like a pretty boring plot with the kind of puzzles that adventure gamers often complain about. I find it a little ironic that these are the same kind of things people were greatly offended by with TSL's episode 1, yet the same fanbase mostly seem to be lapping up the commercial BTTF episode 1 which is affected by many of the same perceived shortcomings.

Lambonius wrote:
About the duplicate Delorean (this is not meant as a rebuttal, per se, just pointing out how I interpreted things):


Oh, you guys are right. I just watched the game scene again and in retrospect it makes more sense when Doc's talking about the lightning bolt that struck the Delorean back to 1885, rather than the one that sent Marty back to 1985. I guess they should have elaborated more on that instead of making Doc's dialogue so concise. Dunno why, but I always assumed he was talking about the first lightning strike event that occurred in 1955. I still think it's a bad idea to have a duplicating time machine, though. :p

I largely agree with your analysis of the events, but I interpreted a few things differently:

Lambonius wrote:
I felt like it was being implied that he installed the retrieval device in that specific Delorean after recovering it, so it wouldn't have been there when the lighting bolt sent him back to 1885 with the original car.


This is another thing Doc doesn't elaborate much on. But the reason why I thought the retrieval device must have been installed in the original Delorean is because when Marty first mentions why he traveled back to 1931, Doc says something like "Oh, the auto-retrieval system! I'd almost forgotten about that", seeming to imply that he installed it a long time ago. I found it kind of odd that Doc can remember little details about his 1931 rocket drill (which never even received a patent), yet he can't recall major features and changes he's added more recently to his most successful invention, the time machine!

Lambonius wrote:
Doc also mentions that in 2025, Griff Tannen steals the duplicate Delorean and starts wreaking havoc on the timeline, which Doc naturally sets out to correct. So he has a legitimate, urgent reason to resume time travel after the end of the third movie, even though he spoke out against it.


Doc's in-game dialogue seems to suggest that Griff didn't actually seize control of the time machine in 2025, and that Doc was able to prevent Griff from wreaking havoc on the timeline by getting to the duplicate first. This actually made me wonder how long Griff spent in jail after the hoverboard incident at the courthouse in 2015. If he was incarcerated for 15 years, (the same amount of time that Martin McFly Jr. would have been), then Griff would probably still be in jail in 2025. Though, the hoverboard sentence was probably lighter than the robbery one.

Lambonius wrote:
So, Doc goes after Griff and the duplicate Delorean in the Time Train, retrieves the Delorean, installs the retrieval unit, and then goes back to 1885. At some point after that, Doc takes the Delorean with Einstein to 1931, presumably to undo some of the damage that Griff had done, where he gets into some trouble. When he finds himself in that bind and realizes he needs Marty's help, he makes the tape and sends the Delorean back to 1986 for Marty to find. Since he hasn't ever tested the retrieval system, he's understandably surprised that it works when Marty first meets up with him in 1931.


In the game, Doc mentioned that he traveled to 1931 because he wanted to investigate one of Hill Valley's greatest unsolved mysteries, which was the bombing of the Speakeasy. Due to the generic nature of the tape recording Marty finds inside the Delorean in 1986, it doesn't seem like Doc would have recorded the message specifically when he was in trouble in 1931, as he doesn't mention any specific predicaments, times, or dates.

In that recording, Doc mentions "You've come to my aid in the past... or was it the future", indicating that the recording was likely made at least sometime after Marty gave him the bulletproof vest warning. But was more likely to have been recorded after their 1885 adventure, in 2025 when he presumably added this retrieval device as a precaution.

I could accept the retrieval device logic and Doc's contradictory nature (since he pretty-much establishes his hypocrisy by building a new Time Train at the end of BTTF3 anyway), so if he's still jumping around time, the retrieval system could be a logical precaution (and arguably even a sensible one).

What I still think is stupid, though, is the duplicated time machine concept. They should have just had Doc create a new Delorean and added the auto-retrieval system to that. It would have been easy for him to do and kept a larger number of fans happy. Judging by some other opinions from around the net, it seems like I'm not the only one to take issue with this.

MusicallyInspired wrote:
Also, Bob Gale, one of the original creators and writers for the BTTF movies, was on the writing staff when making this game. So it's not just some Telltale writer who hacked a story together. This was thought up with Bob Gale's influence and input after which he signed off on it as being basically 'canon'.


I dunno if Bob Gale's involvement is necessarily a guarantee that the game will be great. Look at the Star Wars prequels and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Hell, I think even Spielburg's movies have declined gradually since the 80's. It also seems that Bob Gale's only involved on a consulting basis but isn't actually writing the story. He and Robert Zemeckis were adamant against making a BTTF4 film, and I get the feeling Bob Gale's probably not being overly insistent that Telltale do things a certain way. He's likely allowing them a lot of creative freedom. When Marty and Doc speak their dialogue in this game, it doesn't seem like Bob Gale's writing style, and characters like Edna Strickland seems to be written in the style of TellTale's usual stock comedy characters, so it seems like Gale's influence is relatively minor (I could be wrong, but that's how it feels to me).

I don't mean to give the impression that I hate the game, because I don't. I just think, judging by this first episode, it falls hugely short of what I'd expected. I wish the best for this game and like I said, I hope these things will come to a satisfying conclusion by the end of the 5th episode, but right now I don't have a good feeling about it. This isn't the sentiment TellTale should be imparting with their first impression. I think it would have been smarter of them to establish the exact origin of the Delorean and all the other hard-to-interpret details in the first episode, instead of leaving it to guesswork. At least things would seem more solid that way, and we could start episode 2 with complete certainty about what's happened thus far.


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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 6:10 pm 
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I really liked the game. I put aside my pedantic cap, and just tried to enjoy the game and I found that I didn't even need to do that - it's a fun game. Yeah, granted, it's a little "easy" and such, but as I've read, the first chapter was really supposed to be more like a demo to get you into the game and the mechanics.

I found the characters delightful - though Edna might be "stock" Tell-Tale, I thought she was funny and interesting. I do think the whole "Tannen vs. McFly" thing was pushing it, but it IS a trope from the movie. And I think 1930's Hill Valley was a cool place to go to.

I think as the game unfolds, we'll get more of the stuff we like. But it's a pretty fun game so far.


Bt

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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 7:05 pm 
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I think Doc has an as-yet-unknown ulterior motive for traveling to 1931. Go back and replay Marty's initial conversation with him when Marty asks what he's doing in 1931. Doc looks kinda startled and says something along the lines of "OH! Uh...nothing...uh...nothing all that important..." And then he kind of recovers a bit and goes on to say a few things he was doing there--being nostalgic for old times, investigating a few unsolved historical mysteries (the speakeasy fire), etc. Makes you wonder...


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 Post subject: Re: Telltale Games take on Back to the Future and Jurassic Park
PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:31 am 
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Makes you wonder what Citizen Brown is all about...

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