Some of my jobs are sort of big-small. They require much more thinking than writing. Generally they involve staring at the wall for forty-five minutes, giving up in frustration, and then getting the answer on the bike ride home. If that doesn’t work, a ten minute chat with my wife, who’s also a writer, usually gives me the idea I need.
So, I had to write an ending for the Early Access version of the game (it’s temporary until we have the narrative available). My first thought was to give an emotionally satisfying ending; but G felt that we didn’t want players to feel they’ve completed the game when we haven’t even completed the game. I needed to come up with something for Arthur to say that tells the players (a) there’s more coming (b) something about Arthur’s frame of mind.
Good action movies ramp up the pace nonstop starting around halfway through. But the filmmakers need to check in with the characters. So we contrive to pin down the hero and the heroine somewhere for a little while. They’re hiding, so they have nothing to do but talk. In TERMINATOR, it’s the scene in the culvert where Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese finally get to know one another. Kyle talks about John Connor and what he means.
So this is that. A brief time where Arthur is in no danger, and can check in with himself.
This is where it’s helpful to have something to say. Fortunately, there is a bit of philosophy at the heart of the game. “Is there a true self?” as Arthur is fond of asking himself. If you take pills to be happy, is that happiness true or untrue? Someone close to me hates taking his anti-depressants because he feels they make him be not-himself. Someone else close to me takes anti-depressants because he feels that he’s not himself without them – the depression is the external thing.
Like all good philosphical questions, there isn’t really a right answer to that one. Obviously, the game takes a side. But that doesn’t mean that Arthur knows what the right answer is.
So when you play through the EA release, you’ll get a bit of philosophy. But don’t expect emotional closure. For that you’ll have to wait till some time after the snows come.