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Eagle Nebula
Eagle Nebula
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Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:10 pm

Armed with less Tutorial, more Mystery, and real Wings

by Blackout Wed Oct 14, 2015 3:45 pm

For awhile now, I've had mixed feelings about the updated introduction of Rearmed compared to the original for more reasons than just the current lack of more 'vague' detail in the opening cut-scene and the tutorial level(s) now being incorporated into the main story(though, I will briefly address the latter in the solution). To make this perfectly clear to start out with, this post is addressing what I see as problems with both the opening cut-scene and the first two (tutorial) levels of the game(while technically the second level is not a tutorial level, I'm grouping it under the category of "tutorial level" because both levels 1 and 2 very similar in style, and also that it makes it a lot easier for me later one when I'm explaining stuff). So let's begin:

Problem 1:
Within the tutorial levels, there are a few contradictions in the lore that present itself. I don't need to go into that here because I've already created a thread addressing this, but I bring it up again now so to restate another problem that my solution will try to resolve.

Problem 2:
In my factual opinion(̶b̶t̶w̶,̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶w̶a̶s̶ ̶m̶e̶a̶n̶t̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶f̶u̶n̶n̶y̶) there is a lot of expository dialogue in both the cut-scene and the conversation with (who is presumably) Blackmist(I've also already made a post about 'rewriting' the dialogue of the opening cut-scene to remove some of the more blatant exposition, among other things, which can be found here, but it's not necessary to checkout to have a comprehensive understanding of this problem of exposition I am addressing; tl:dr, you don't have to click it). Aside from the obvious negative effects of blatant exposition by characters, there is a more serious problem with the way information has been conveyed to the player in Rearmed compared to that in the original, which leads me into my next point...

Problem 3:
One of the greatest aspects of AwW1's and AwW2's story-line are that there is an established ominous sense of mystery surrounding the characters that adds a whole other layer to the narrative, especially when it comes to Blackmist. Rearmed does not posses the same level of ominous and mysterious atmosphere as the original. This is because the original does a better job at conveying this sense because of the superior way(s) the originial communicates information to the player in terms of achieving this end.

In my opinion, there is only one change between the two incarnations of the game that causes the large majority of damage to Rearmed in regards to the mysterious element of the narrative, and that is the way LW is resurrected. In the original, in a cut-scene immediately following LW's defeat at the hands of Vandheer, a monologue from not totally clear source(s)(presumably LW and possibly someone or something else) addresses the player directly throughout the scene as ethereal music accompanies the whole mystifying ordeal. Direct and accurate information is given by the narrator to a player who knows little behind the meaning of what was said, while in Rearmed, multiple beings appear who relay vague information to LW (through expository dialog) about how Lw’s been chosen to be given power in order to defeat Vandheer. To put it plainly, an element of mystery is lost in Rearmed’s take of the event because the way it was handled in the original was done so in a way that provoked curiosity rather than being told that the player is meant to be confused.

Problem 4:
If you've read my detailed post about my position on the progressively more "intensive" depiction of characters in Armed with Wings in general, you might remember the part of my introduction where I talk about how I started off my AwW journey by playing AwW2 and then backtracked to AwW1 after completing the second game. After the startling revelation at the end of AwW2 of AwW's divinity, AwW instantly became by favorite character. You can imagine my excitement once I began playing as at the start of the first game. I say all that to say that another bigger problem I have with Rearmed's take on the event(s) is that, simply put, LW is a lot less epic and cool.

In the original, immediately after his resurrection, Lone Warrior knows exactly what it means to hold the title of Armed with Wings and fully aware of the divine power he possesses in order to confidently seek righteous vengeance against Vandheer. To put it simply, he knows how awesome he is which, in turn, makes him more awesome to the player(the same going for Vandheer) especially when LW overpower's Vandheer in the end. In Rearmed, Lone Warrior is portrayed as not much more than a beginner almost completely oblivious to the person Blackmist and what it really even means to be Armed with Wings who was simply given some powers then told to beat up the bad guy and ask questions later.

Vandheer is, without a doubt, one of the most beloved characters in the AwW franchise. One of(but certainty not the only) reason why he is so captivating as a character(let alone a villain) is because of his totally uncompromised assurance of his dominance over any opponent he could possibly come into contact with simply by reason of his sheer godlike capabilities and power. When you first play AwW1, you're not sure how much strength you now posses as Armed with Wings, but simply by the evident reassurance that is conveyed to the player during the resurrection scene, you know LW is ready to take on Vandheer as a superior, which makes the final battle so much more epic: each warrior believes that he is beyond doubt stronger than the other. Neither so much as flinches. Armed with Wings has the upper-hand and he knows it. Vandheer is still dominant and does not care how strong his rival has become. He will simply crush him once again. Both are in control; only you are left uncertain.

While in Rearmed the same can be said about Vandheer, but for LW, not so much. Right before the final fight begins, Vandheer is clearly established as the one in charge(which is not a bad thing) but LW is depicted as a trainee who will have been lucky to even be able to stand up once he has thoroughly been annihilated. I bring this up because yet another big problem I have with LW being written this way is because when Vandheer inevitably loses, it downplays Vandheer's true power and therefore undermines his "awesomeness" as a character by being beaten by such a novice. Even Leo, literally Blackmist incarnate in human form, could not stand up to Vandheer without realizing his potential as AwW, and that was even after Vandheer had been out of practice for at least a decade.

In short, when you win in the original, Vandheer is no less "awesome", but you(AwW) are a lot more "awesome" because, in the way the narrative in the original written, AwW already is established as being "awesome" because of his sheer certainty and confidence to overcome Vandheer(established by the way LW lets the player know that he knows exactly who he is(god)). In Rearmed, Vandheer is a lot less "awesome" because he losses to LW who is established as being "unawesome" compared to Vandheer because of AwW's portrayal of just being confused and untrained.

Now you might be asking, "but Blackout, doesn't the fact that Lone Warrior is written to be the underdog actually help the player identify with him better and make him as a character(as well as the narrative and game as a whole) more interesting because of that?" and the answer to that question, is yes, but it's really hard to convince the player that a character who know's he's the strongest of them all(let alone the god of the universe) is the one who is at the disadvantage, which is what the original game does so well! LW is still the underdog because he losses everything at his defeat to Vandheer, regardless of his eventual deity. This is because of the way that his opponent Vandheer is portrayed as as being a total boss who doesn't back down to anyone or anything. The problem I have with Rearmed here is that Rearmed does not think that LW's crushing defeat at the hands of Vandheer is enough, so what the narrative does it that it downplays AwW's true capabilities by making LW oblivious to what he has become, leaving him still intimidated by his rival so in an attempt to help the player see that he is still the underdog that we should root for, however, with the consequence of resulting in loss of the "coolness" of his character because he is no longer put in a position of control. If you're still having a hard time trying to understand what I'm saying, think of how much less "cool" or "awesome" or "epic" Vandheer would be if he had almost no confidence in his abilities and trembled at any foe that might present the smallest of threats to his reign or existence. Not nearly as interesting as far as a powerful and intimidating Vandheer goes, right?

The solution to all of this is simply to emulate the original game.

First of all, cut the tutorial levels out of the story mode(something most everybody seems to want) and have LW's resurrection back into the living world immediately follow his defeat, and convey the information that the player should know in a manner similar to that of the resurrection scene of the original(most specifically a more ominous tone and a knowledgeable and competent AwW).

Second, create a new option for a tutorial and move those first two levels there(combining them into one would also be ideal for a separate tutorial) so that players can still experience the scenery and even get a cool animation Being thing(Blackmist, though, I probably would prefer if that Being canonically was not Blackmist if it would remain just in the tutorial) so as to wow first time players who will most likely after playing through the tutorial think, "Wow this guy put so much creativity and effort into just the tutorial levels of his game; I can't wait to see how much he's done for the actual story!" or something to that effect(and also so as to not waste the angelic animation effort put into all of it).

Both of these changes, if executed correctly, eliminate the problems of players having to go through these tutorial levels each time they want to play through the full story without sacrificing the work that was put into them, enhance the mysterious elements of AwW1 that have not found there way into Rearmed, and "fix" Lone Warrior as a character in the way I see how he has been changed for the worse.

Also, hopefully what I've said has made sense of such an extravagant title. Please share your opinions below :).
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