Author Topic: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?  (Read 34862 times)

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Merlandese

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #45 on: January 06, 2012, 06:54:18 PM »
And I think even then, it's not exactly "erased" ... If anything, the old memories were merely bumped to the subconscious, much like the origin of his desire to go to the moon.

Interesting that you say that, especially because a perfect example of this concept is present in the game. Beta Blockers (or the relatively under-developed version we know today) work exactly like that. They don't erase memories (many believe erasing memories is impossible) but rather block them or lessen their importance mentally (like how the dinner you had three years ago this day is never truly forgotten, but is so unimportant it's likely you'll never recall it again).

Hypothetically, the end results of the technology have instances that mirror the effects of the Beta Blockers. If players are introduced to this idea in the game, and seem to have no issue with it when it's presented, it shouldn't be so hard to accept the possibility of it occurring again--that is, that the lifetime memories are buried rather than destroyed.

Instead it became a pure deus ex machina, a last-ditch escape from the awkwardness of his married life into an imaginary reality where things are much simpler and brighter.

I personally can't see how it was a deus ex machina. To be as such would mean something just swooped down from nowhere, without any logical implications from previous events, and saved the day. But what happened with Eva's move was pre-planned with a logical consistency (I think, at least) with everything that lead up to it.



That's the second time someone's said that, and I agree with Reives. If we can even be having a discussion on how these last events came into play, it can't possibly be a deus ex machina. With deus ex machina, there's nothing to theorize about--it just happened to wrap things up. But because there are ongoing conversations involving the deeper meaning or the decisions that lead up to it, it's not deus ex machina.

Zombieva

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #46 on: January 06, 2012, 07:01:57 PM »
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Instead it became a pure deus ex machina, a last-ditch escape from the awkwardness of his married life into an imaginary reality where things are much simpler and brighter. But it can't help but feel like a dull brightness, if not to Johnny, then to the player.

A deus ex machina is a plot device in which a seemingly unsolvable issue is resolved with something coming straight out of the blue to save the day, no? If memory serves, the ending being so "perfect" was brought about by the fact that River was so utterly important to John that he, himself, brought her into his new life.

Edit: I agree with Merlandese and Reives. Wait, if I was ninja'd, why did I bother...?

« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 07:05:31 PM by Zombieva »

Judedeath

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #47 on: January 06, 2012, 07:05:28 PM »
I can't link to the exact time but http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/deus-ex-human-revolution 2:30 in.
Old River was as dead as a doornail, this must be distinctly understood or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am about to relate.

Merlandese

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #48 on: January 06, 2012, 07:26:55 PM »
I'm now addicted to that show, Jude.

felipepepe

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #49 on: January 06, 2012, 07:30:09 PM »
I'm actually a little surprised by the quote, because I think an important point of the story was the fact that Johnny precisely wasn't exactly a strong-willed hero. On many levels, he was selfish, and this wasn't exactly meant to be a perfectly threaded love story as much as something simple as to make an old man die happy.
Humm, you're right. You know, discussing a story with its writer is a very interesting experience. The clash between what I wanted to see and what you wanted to show made me realize various points about the plot. Gotta say those details I overlooked helps understanding the story better.

Even so, I just a spoiled human, and I still wanted to see that scene with River showing Johnny the bunny. ;)

Wulfsten

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #50 on: January 06, 2012, 10:26:38 PM »

Personally, I don't think giving him this new set of memories resulted in his real memories becoming a nil matter. Everything that has happened, happened. Whether he had a clear recall at that one short point at the end doesn't change that.

This is exactly why I think it's still a brilliant game. Everything that happened to Johnny in his life was communicated artfully, with a spectacular subtlety of touch and emotional warmth.

Concerning my deus ex machina comment, I accept that from a factual point of view, Eva's actions did lead on logically from her experiences in Johnny's memory throughout the game. The thing that makes it feel like a deux ex machina to me is that Johnny's "new" life with River doesn't seem to have any connection to his previous life (beyond, as you stated, Johnny's subconscious longing for River), and does in fact, simply swoop down from above (the "deus" in this case being Dr. Rosalene and Dr. Watts, which is quite apropos considering the whole "playing god" thread of this conversation :P)

Yes, Johnny clearly does long for River, and as you said, that's why she ends up appearing in his "new" life. That's a lovely thought. But that's all it is, a thought. It's not a real set of experiences that we as the player can experience and get behind. That set of experiences, that the game so lovingly recreates, is left behind and, quite literally, forgotten. And so we as players end up feeling a bit forgotten, too! That was quite literally the entirety of the game for us to that point!

I understand that the ending makes perfect sense in terms of the premise; it's not unbelievable to me that that series of events would unfold the way it did. I'm arguing from the point of view of some (clearly not all) players, who might have felt that the characters in the game should have given more respect to Johnny's life experience. Failing that, the game itself should have recognised a bit more fully the tragedy of erasing this man's well-lived life from his memory. The cutscene with the beautiful sung melody was very fitting; I was right on board with that. But then there's a clean break in tone and we're expected to accept that the "new"life is the happiest possible ending.

I'm not saying there definitely should have been a different ending, just perhaps that the present ending should've been treated a little differently...
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 10:28:38 PM by Wulfsten »

Merlandese

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #51 on: January 06, 2012, 11:03:43 PM »
I think that's one of the sparkling ideas in Reives' decision to make the doctors our continuous eyes in the series. It may not have been obvious with the end of this game, but this experience will still live with the doctors, and we, as players, will certainly feel the resonance of Johnny's life in new titles--even if it isn't explicit. Because whether his memory was changed or not, Eva and Neil are now the only people who hold those memories and know that story. In a way they now carry the burden of the legend, of the truth, and of the heart of that patient. So it still happened, and it was definitely forgotten by Johnny, but Eva and Neil remember.

HooHah

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #52 on: January 07, 2012, 03:24:15 AM »
Hello,

I just finished To The Moon and I'd like to weigh in my thoughts on the story.  The build up of John and River's story was superb.  I was deeply invested in their life together.  However, I felt that my emotional investment in these two characters was betrayed by the story's resolution.  I understand that the tragedy of River's life was irreversible as she had already passed.  John, on the other hand, although he did not fully understand why, he was seeking to do right by their life together with what little time he had left.  I think that by erasing her life from his mind, Neil and Eva completely dishonoured her memory.  The reason why John and River's story touched me so greatly is that it is relatable.  I am married and can see myself on my last days living with a few regrets.  Even so, the last thing I or my wife would want is for me to erase our years together and replace with it a falsified version of our lives.  The River that Johnny held hands with on the space shuttle was not her.  The real River (or at least as "real" as a fictional character represented by a 2D sprite can be, anyways) was the one that suffered from a mental disorder from a young age.  She was the one that tried so desperately to get John to remember their first meeting as children and their promise to one other.  She was the one who ultimately lived a happy life with him and had her dreams fulfilled.

I would like to have seen John retain his genuine memories and ultimately travel to the Moon.  There he would have remembered as best as he could the reason why he wanted to go in the first place, and in doing so, find himself at peace with the full memory of her intact.  Of course, I am not suggesting that this should have been the ending.  That would be inappropriate as the story is a product of artistic expression, but that is the happy ending that I would have preferred.

Overall, it was a great game.  It was very refreshing change to play a game made with such genuine, heartfelt emotion.

Zombieva

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #53 on: January 07, 2012, 03:58:19 AM »
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I think that by erasing her life from his mind, Neil and Eva completely dishonoured her memory.  The reason why John and River's story touched me so greatly is that it is relatable.  I am married and can see myself on my last days living with a few regrets.  Even so, the last thing I or my wife would want is for me to erase our years together and replace with it a falsified version of our lives.

You might be forgetting that John willingly agreed to have his memories altered to conform with his wish. Neil and Eva didn't replace his memories because they felt like it, they replaced them because they were contracted to do so by a completely willing client. They didn't exactly have a choice -- I do see where you're coming from, though.

Also, as stated prior, they didn't exactly erase his original memories as much as they shoved them into his subconscious mind, in a sense. That might be the reason why I don't see the issue with the game's ending, actually -- changing his memories didn't rewrite the past, it just changed one human being's perception of it. It still happened.

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The River that Johnny held hands with on the space shuttle was not her.  The real River (or at least as "real" as a fictional character represented by a 2D sprite can be, anyways) was the one that suffered from a mental disorder from a young age.

I'm quite sure River was still suffering from her condition in John's new memories, actually. At least, it seems like it, considering she still has issues with making eye contact and communicating with others. That's irrelevant for the most part, I just felt the need to point it out.

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I would like to have seen John retain his genuine memories and ultimately travel to the Moon.  There he would have remembered as best as he could the reason why he wanted to go in the first place, and in doing so, find himself at peace with the full memory of her intact.

Except that's pretty much impossible. Even remembering what happened "as best as he could" would have left him without a reason. The effects of beta blockers are not things you can curb. They leave a permanent scar on the memories of those that take them, so all John would be left with if he "remembered as best as he could" would be... nothing. All he knows is that he wants to go the moon, because that's something he remembered subconsciously.

The only way it would really work out like that is if someone (River, for example) explained what happened to him, but even then, he would be trusting them on blind faith alone, and he probably wouldn't be particularly comfortable believing it. That sort of ending just wouldn't work out logically.

Come to think of it (this is looking back at the previous arguments against the conclusion of TtM), the ending you lot seem to want is much more of a deus ex machina than the actual one. Or is that just me?



Crusism

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #54 on: January 07, 2012, 08:50:02 AM »
"If life could be easily changed, it would be taken for granted. But to relive it is to lose everything to work from the start."


The value of life exists because of the price where the price could be anything. What the machine does is give that sense of happiness with the price of forgetting everything from your previous memories. To take the latest desire of the first line worth of memories, using one check point and ditch them to let the patient relive anew with that desire along with little changes that allow the patient to maintain the direct goal. Thankfully, questions concerning moral ethics are already answered for.


I would like to have seen John retain his genuine memories and ultimately travel to the Moon.  There he would have remembered as best as he could the reason why he wanted to go in the first place, and in doing so, find himself at peace with the full memory of her intact.  Of course, I am not suggesting that this should have been the ending.  That would be inappropriate as the story is a product of artistic expression, but that is the happy ending that I would have preferred.

That would've been impossible even if the beta blockers didn't happen. Why would he want to go to the moon, when he's already with River where as the reason to go to the moon was to find each other if they were lost? We can't ask for everything, for much miracles are followed by many misfortunes.

"In life, we do things. Some, we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times. They make us who we are and, in the end, they shape and detail us. If we were to reserve them, we wouldn’t be the person we are today. So, just live. Make mistakes and have wonderful memories. But, never second guess who you are, where you’ve been and, most importantly, where you’re going."

Merlandese

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #55 on: January 07, 2012, 06:28:30 PM »
Come to think of it (this is looking back at the previous arguments against the conclusion of TtM), the ending you lot seem to want is much more of a deus ex machina than the actual one. Or is that just me?

Yeah, I agree. All parts of the current ending were set up and executed logically. The ending they want would require dismissing all of that logical build up and replacing it with an emotional satisfaction that would drop from the sky on a chariot and rescue Johnny.

Crusism

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #56 on: January 07, 2012, 10:26:16 PM »
Come to think of it (this is looking back at the previous arguments against the conclusion of TtM), the ending you lot seem to want is much more of a deus ex machina than the actual one. Or is that just me?

Hmm, good point.

Yeah, I agree. All parts of the current ending were set up and executed logically. The ending they want would require dismissing all of that logical build up and replacing it with an emotional satisfaction that would drop from the sky on a chariot and rescue Johnny.

:P Didn't I say something similar to that in Page 3 and earlier?


"In life, we do things. Some, we wish we had never done and some we wish we could replay a million times. They make us who we are and, in the end, they shape and detail us. If we were to reserve them, we wouldn’t be the person we are today. So, just live. Make mistakes and have wonderful memories. But, never second guess who you are, where you’ve been and, most importantly, where you’re going."

Merlandese

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #57 on: January 07, 2012, 10:42:29 PM »
Haha! Probably! XD I think I've said my opinion with as many of my own words as I could already. Now I'm just starting to repeat your stuff! :p I think I'll cut out of this thread and leave the rest to you guys. I can't be any more clear without sounding repetitive.

ryan-d

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #58 on: January 07, 2012, 10:58:46 PM »
Come to think of it (this is looking back at the previous arguments against the conclusion of TtM), the ending you lot seem to want is much more of a deus ex machina than the actual one. Or is that just me?

I think you should be wary of conflating all the different opinions here. Speaking for myself, for example, I don't think that John's memories shouldn't have been replaced or that he should have learned of River's love for him.

Anyway, I spent about half an hour drafting another post but I think I've already posted most of what I wanted to say, and evidently not everyone had the same emotional reaction I did to the ending. Let me just state three points:

  • Just because a story is internally consistent and has a logical progression doesn't mean it's a good story. A story should also be cathartic, or emotionally satisfying.
  • Emotional satisfaction doesn't necessarily imply a "cop-out" or "fan-service". Catharsis can result from a tragic ending as well - what's important is resolution. The conflict in the story needs to be resolved.
  • TtM's ending didn't make me feel that way because of its lack of focus on the relationship between John and River that had been the focus of the story prior to the ending.

That's about it. Obviously not everyone feels the same way, but that's how I feel. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an essay to finish. Good luck everyone!

Zombieva

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Re: <spoiler> Please, why ruin the metaphor?
« Reply #59 on: January 07, 2012, 11:38:16 PM »
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I think you should be wary of conflating all the different opinions here.

It's difficult not to, considering the amount of posters in this thread (apologies if I confuse one user's opinion with another, though). In the post you quoted, I was referring to those who had called TtM's ending a deus ex machina, not everyone opposing the ending on a whole.

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Emotional satisfaction doesn't necessarily imply a "cop-out" or "fan-service". Catharsis can result from a tragic ending as well - what's important is resolution. The conflict in the story needs to be resolved.

Personally, I think To the Moon accomplished that. As I see it, the main conflict of the story is the issue between River and John, and while the way it was dealt with might not have been the best solution, that was resolved and taken care of.

In all honesty, it depends on what you see as the conflict of the story. Otherwise, it's reasonable to say it was resolved in one case, but not reasonable the next.

We're all starting to sound like broken records. >>