The Time I Was a Madman in Half-Life 2

MSfire012

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Sometimes when I play Half Life when some character talks to Gordon I talk back to the game, as if I was Gordon talking. It isn't the same as having a interesting character with a good voice actor and well written dialogue, but it's better than a silent character in my opinion.
 

Sectan

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Aug 7, 2011
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While I don't disagree with your opinion, I felt that Gordon had some type of implied personality. I probably just made it up for myself through my playthrough, but I got a sense that he was a man who didn't waste words...at all. Ever. He had more of a physical presence that an aural one. A point and a nod was enough to convey what squad members were expected to do. A look in your direction let you know how he was feeling. A bash in the head with a crowbar meant he didn't like you. Everything Gordon did was in earnest and you got a sense that the NPCs respected him for that. I just imagined all of the conversations included Gordon responding with a facial expression or a shrug. Something along those lines. I never thoughthim standing stock still like a psychopath.
 

Bindal

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Unless you're counting both episodes as one game, there were FOUR Half-Life games starring Gordon Freeman:
Half-Life
Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2 Episode 1
Half-Life 2 Episode 2

Then there were also Opposing Force and Blue Shift with Shephard and Barney - but at least in the case of the latter we know that he speaks in his own game (in at least three places, scientists clearly answer a question YOU must have asked) and in HL2 and Ep1, he is talking.
And Chell from Portal is confirmed to be able to speak - she just doesn't want to during gameplay.

Also, last time I checked, in Call of Duty, both Masons were pretty chatty fellows even when you played them... It were usually just the Infinite Ward guys, that kind of forgot how to speak when you played them.


Just a few things I wanted to note.
 

Olas

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Dec 24, 2011
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Maybe Gordon Freeman really is mute, or suffers some form of autism, that would actually kinda make sense. I can't think of anything in the series that would disqualify that theory. Stop being insensitive to Gordon's condition goddamnit!

Anyway, it's easy to see how someone from a background in film or some other medium where dialogue is more central would feel weird about characters like Gordon, Chell, Link, Samus (shut up, it doesn't count), and but you're applying traditional real world logic to a video game. You just have to accept that video games don't always work like real life, and suspend your disbelief far enough to allow that or stop playing.

Giving a character dialogue has inherent limitations, either you have no control over what they say in which case it breaks the immersive feel of you being the character, or you have to choose from a very limited set of dialogue options which is still imperfect and breaks the flow of cutscenes. I personally prefer my protagonists silent. Besides, actions speak louder than words.
 

Paragon Fury

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Jan 23, 2009
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The hell you talking Blackburn from BF3 not talking? He talks ALL THE TIME. Cutscenes. Gameplay. QTEs.

And Freeman is just a deep thinker.

 

ritchards

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Nov 20, 2009
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What's better? A mute character that doesn't respond, or one that does but utters completely stupid rubbish?
 

RJ Dalton

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Personally, I always thought of Gordon Freeman as being literally mute. As in, some sort of birth defect makes it impossible for him to actually talk to anyone.
Of course, this could just be that before Half-Life, the only shooters I'd played were Deus Ex, Thief and Perfect Dark, none of which had silent protagonists. He was literally the first silent protagonist I'd ever encountered, so I didn't know it was a thing. You may have guessed that I didn't play Half-Life until long after it was released.
 

SadisticFire

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Paragon Fury said:
The hell you talking Blackburn from BF3 not talking? He talks ALL THE TIME. Cutscenes. Gameplay. QTEs.

And Freeman is just a deep thinker.

Yay I don't feel alone in knowing/liking Freemans mind. Terrible shame Machinma won't respond to his contract to upload the next few episodes :c

But why'd I come here.. Oh right. It does feel kinda strange that Freeman doesn't talk, I just had a habit of putting my own dialogue in cause I'm weird. I do think there's difference between blank slate / psychopathic murderer that just stares down.
 

2clueless

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Apr 11, 2012
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I thoroughly enjoy my time as Gordon Freeman.

The games are absolutely linear, so I am more than happy to sit back and enjoy the events and stories unfolding before me. You are locked into a Neutral Good alignment. At any given point you know you are probably going to be the one to take on the danger and do the right thing. You hopefully are going to save the girl/world.

While Gordon may not intereact as fully with the world as others, I do not believe his silence takes anything away from the awesome drama Valve has created.

ritchards said:
What's better? A mute character that doesn't respond, or one that does but utters completely stupid rubbish?
I definitely would choose silence over idiocy.
 

Luca72

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I don't mind Gordon Freeman being silent, but maybe it is time to move away from the silent protagonist thing. I actually thought Booker DeWitts' responses to things made Bioshock Infinite more interesting.

Here's my theory on Gordon Freeman by the way. He was a new guy at Black Mesa, barely more than grunt in the eyes of the scientists who had been there for years. Whenever he was about to give his input or explain what was going on, he gets shrugged off with the scientist he's trying to talk to basically saying "go throw that switch and get this door open newbie".

Then the G-Man puts him in stasis - for like 15 YEARS. Gordon isn't even frozen there, he's just silently aware of the passing of time. His body is frozen but his mind is still wandering around in that interdimensional darkness.

So by the time he makes it to City 17, he is an absolute and total nutter. The right man for that particular wrong place.
 

DoPo

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Jan 30, 2012
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Bindal said:
but at least in the case of the latter we know that he speaks in his own game (in at least three places, scientists clearly answer a question YOU must have asked)
I sort of assumed that while Freeman isn't chatty, he at least does say something every once in a while. Or nods/waves his hands around or otherwise interacts. Makes sense, otherwise the other people would have been creeped out, I guess. They do react in other ways to your actions, after all.
 

My name is Fiction

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Sep 27, 2010
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Ah another ME centric thread!
As Gordon Freeman I will enlighten you all in why I never speak.
The truth is I was wearing a helmet the whole time and I couldnt speak through it.
Now here comes the "Well I dont see a helmet." argument. Well you see in 1999 Valve was thinking of a MGS/Halflife spin off but it never got off the ground. The only evidence of this is that Otocon installed active camo into my helmet!
Here's some lost dialog from the scene with the rocket launch in episode 2.

*count down begins*

"Hay Alyx... I'm sure you still cant here me but I just want to get something off of my chest."
"If this rocket thing works and I didn't end the world again I just wanted to say, um... Well if there is still a Red Lobster thats unoccupied by combine perhaps I could get you some cheddar biscutes?"
"I've had alot of fun, with the killing... and without you I probably wouldn't have figured out how fun it is."
 

bafrali

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I think people should really get over this silent character thing. It is not like other developers are swooning over the concept. If anything protagonists have been more foul-mouthed and obnoxious than ever. Play something else if silence bothers you that much. Some of us prefer silent types you know!
 

thatsthespirit

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Nov 18, 2009
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I think this article shows more why silent characters work, than the opposite. The very fact that the player feels invited in answering as freeman, nodding, acting like a maniac, or whatever, HELPS the player get into the skin of the character. When the character says anything, either by inflection or choice of words that does not correspond with the players experience, it creates a distance between the player and the character.

The silence of freeman may keep you from fully getting close to him, but it also keeps you from fully getting distanced to him. And that makes it easier as freemen to get to know other characters and those are the ones that are written to grow on you. Again the fact that the writer cares for alyx shows that this has worked and worked well.

ALSO! Thanks for that freeman's mind youtube thing. Very cool.

If you've never read it, I can recommend the half life and death of gordon frohman. http://www.screencuisine.net/hlcomic/
 

thatsthespirit

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Nov 18, 2009
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Here's a counterpoint; Why fleshed out protagonists aren't always good(may contain spoilers).

Forcing main characters to have a voice, to express opinions and stances on issues might distance the player from the game.
My prime example being Bioshock: Infinite
Booker Dewitt, a depressed gambler that sold his infant daughter to cover his debt, who murdered native americans and became an alcoholic with a suicide wish, who by the way was also a Pinkterton who beat the shit out of workers when they went on strike.
How the FUCK am I, or anyone, supposed to relate to that?!

How could I possibly don that mantle?

Further on, when you enter a flying city with robot horses, robot men, magic drinks that grant you superpowers and you face off against armies of men, Booker doesn't give a shit.
He is unsympathetic, egotistical, violent and a man of vices. It doesn't make him a bad character, but it makes him thoroughly unrelatable.
I'd love to read about him in a story, but to play him distances me from the game and I'd much rather play a silent character or one with dialogue choices at least.

Give me Gordon Freeman over Booker Dewitt, any day.

Addendum:
I prefer not to play scripted characters in games, because I want to shape the experience to my enjoyment when I play.
If I have to fit someone elses shoes, it becomes a job of sorts.
It's different from a book or a movie where you might think a character is doing something wrong or doing something stupid.
In a game, if you're forced to do something you don't agree with, it becomes infuriating.
 

Steve the Pocket

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CardinalPiggles said:
Throughout all three of the Half-Life games and episodes
Um, did I miss something? Something rather big?
I think the writer missed something. Something rather big. Something called the first Half-Life game. He should probably play it sometime.

thatsthespirit said:
Now, I'm not an author, I don't write books (more on why later) but I'm pretty certain that a key lesson in Fiction 101 is "have a character." And games don't, they have a gun. You play as a pair of shoes.
One of my favorite sight gags in Wreck-It Ralph was having the "player" in Hero's Duty be a robot with a screen (think the doors from Monsters, Inc. but shaped like a monitor and with a solid glass pane across it) for a head. It's the sort of gag that wouldn't have worked quite as well in a world where FPS protagonists were largely known for being chatty.