Reply
Aug 06 2013
By: JadedFozzieBear First Son 2 posts
Offline

[Spoilers] Alternate opening

[ Edited ]
6 replies 557 views Edited Aug 6, 2013

One thing I considered over and over was how to keep the pacing of this opening just right. I think something that helps TLoU story is that TLoU is incredibly human. Nothing was over-the-top; nothing was explicitly spelled out. Whether it was the depth of Joel/Tess's relationship, Bill's homosexuality, the fate of Ish's kids ('they didn't suffer'), or the full intentions and consequences of the Fireflies, what made the story exceptional in my mind is that natural level of human subtlety that never veered too far into the uncanny valley.

 

I think it would've worked if the pacing of this opening was on the slow side. Yes this can make the player really bored really quick, maybe just as bored as you're getting reading this wondering when the point is coming, but that's because entertainment these days is all about instant, high density satisfaction which is altogether contrary to the true nature of real life. Real life is slow and you have to work hard just to achieve those little moments that can be few and far between. On the other hand, it is still a video game meant to distract the player from real life for a while, so the pacing does need some balance.

 

I imagine cold-opening with a cutscene mainly from Joel's wife's third-person perspective. She's already several months pregnant. They're sitting on the couch watching TV. It's the same couch and room as the actual opening of the game; Joel is sitting on the same side of the couch. There are some minor differences about the room, maybe different wallpaper or rug or something, to emphasize the passage of time later on, but the clock on the wall is exactly the same and in the exact same spot. The only background noise is the TV and the faint but noticeable ticking of the clock.

 

After some subtle exposition establishing the depth of Joel and his wife's relationship, the scene ends with Joel's boss, a construction foreman, calling him up because they're short-handed for a job that has to get done right away. Joel doesn't want to leave his pregnant wife during his free time but accepts his boss's request without much more than ':sigh:yeah alright, I'll be down in a few.'. We see Joel gather his things; the wife complains that she doesn't want him to go - Wife: 'Come on, just stay in with me? Please?' Joel, looking down lacing up his boots: 'This shouldn't take long. I'll be back before you know it.' Joel's line here could foreshadow how he unexpectedly saves Ellie from David. Ellie doesn't want Joel to go (i.e. to die) and Joel returns to save Ellie sooner than she was expecting him to recover from his coma, but not before attending to some duties with the overarching motivation of returning to the person he deeply cares about asap - and cut to black on Joel closing the door behind him not before stealing one happy yet somewhat heartbroken look at his wife.

 

This scene establishes Joel as a deeply loving family man.

 

Cold-open to Joel opening the driver's side door of his SUV and meeting up with his boss at the job site. Turns out that not only are they short-handed but there's a young new hire on the site who's gumming up the gears. Boss shows him what needs to get done. Joel spots the rookie. Joel: 'Who's the kid?' Boss: 'Ehh he's <some other worker's> nephew trying to get some experience, but he doesn't know a pilot hole from an @$$hole [or something else equally as crudely funny. This crude humor could offset and emphasize Joel's naturally stoic disposition.]' Joel: 'Heh, alright; well I'll do what I can to pick up the slack.' Joel breaks away from Boss.

 

Joel, wanting to get home to his wife asap, patiently works with the kid to teach him what to do so things can run more smoothly. Joel walks the kid over to a work bench - the same kind of bench used to upgrade weapons later on - and shows him how to put something together, some thing that's relevant to whatever the job needs - maybe fitting a drill with the correct size bit. They walk back over to the site with their supplies and start working. The kid thanks Joel for the help; this translates as positive feedback to the player that they're performing the tutorial correctly.

 

The kid screws up somehow and cuts himself pretty good. Joel sprints over to the office trailer, grabs some rags and alcohol, puts together a first aid kit, sprints back over and bandages the kid. Yadda yadda they finish the job and Joel goes home. This job section establishes simple mechanics like the feel of character and camera movement, how to interact with people and objects, how item construction and the inventory work, how bandages are a cure-all, etc.

 

These scenes establish Joel as a dutiful, selfless, and capable average-Joe(l).

 

As this job-site scene progresses we can see the sun going down; maybe the sun imperceptibly sets a little bit more each time the player completes different tutorial objectives. This way, the setting sun and the passage of time keep pace with the player's progression. The sun starts shining in a partly cloudy but otherwise clear blue sky and ends close to setting in a purple/orange/red sky.

 

Cut to Joel arriving home just after sunset. He finds his wife asleep on the couch with the TV still on. He shuts off the TV, settles in next to her without taking off his work boots, and falls asleep. The scene lingers for a moment - a static shot with the camera facing towards them. With the TV now off, the only lighting is ambient light of the purple/red/orange-post-sunset sky coming through the window. The only background noise is the much more noticeable ticking of the clock on the wall, top left of the scene where it's always been. Time on the shows that it's dusk, maybe 8:10p.

 

Cut to the same scene. Full moon light is now shining through the window illuminating an otherwise dark room. Background noise is the ticking clock along with crickets or whatever authentic noises come with a Texas summer night. We can still see the clock which now reads after midnight, maybe 1:10a. The wife wakes up with a wail of pain. She's gone into labor. The urgency is dramatically intensified compared to earlier scenes. Joel rushes his wife to the hospital.

 

Cut to gameplay with the player controlling Joel. He is in the delivery room next to his wife, supporting her. Everything seems to be going smoothly. The wife is in an expected amount of pain and is pyssed off, but she and Joel still joke around a bit. The mood is otherwise light and it seems like this leading up to be an amazingly joyous day for the two of them.

 

We hear the wife's vitals go chaotic and the doctors are saying less than comforting technical things about the situation. They tell Joel that he has to leave the room. A nurse NPC pushes the player out of the room. All the player can do at this point is walk around. Their movement is restricted to walking. Maybe they can interact with their surroundings a bit, maybe there's a chair they can sit in, generic hospital artwork they can look at, or hospital staff Joel can talk to. The player has little control over doing anything progressive at this point giving them a direct emotional connection with Joel's hopeless frustration. After some time, a doctor comes out of the delivery room, walks up to Joel, and asks him to have a seat. This positions the player into a particular spot.

 

Cut to a cutscene. The doctor takes a seat next to Joel and gives him the news that his wife didn't survive the delivery. Joel is incredulous; the doctor gives him the facts of the situation. Joel's denial disappears and he takes in the full reality of the situation. He breaks down much the same way he does when Sarah is shot and killed. After some time he is led into a different room where a nurse hands him his newborn daughter. We see the awe in his expression of handling his newborn daughter for the first time, an awe that comes from months of joyful anticipation, but we also see that he is still overwhelmed with anger and frustration; he can't help be feel some intense resentment towards his newborn daughter for costing him his wife. In a static shot facing Joel sitting and cradling his daughter in his arms, looking down at her, the full emotional pressure from the situation bursts out of him in a fit of tears. A clock next to them shows that it is early morning, maybe 4a. The scene fades out and back in. Joel has moved to a different chair next to a window. We can see the sun beginning to rise. Joel is still cradling Sarah in his arms and is now singing to her. This could give some background for why he "used" to sing and why he's reluctant to sing for Ellie. As a minor point, this could give some background for Sarah's love for music; notice that the shirt she wears has a singer on it.

 

Cut to the actual beginning of the game where Joel is shown as a deeply loving, dutiful, selfless, but much more tired, stoic, and emotionally reserved father whose daughter loves him equally. Etc...

 

How this opening foreshadows moments in the game:

 

1) The wife's death foreshadow's Tess's death. Before her death she becomes almost maternal towards Ellie. She essentially tells Joel 'you need to protect this girl and carry her toward her ultimate purpose' citing that if the relationship between Tess and Joel means anything to him then he'll do it.

 

2) The resentment bit foreshadows the scene where Ellie reveals that she knows about Sarah and confesses how important Joel is to her: 'you're the only one who's never left me.' Joel responds with 'I'm not your father.' 'Your not my daughter' could parallel how Ellie isn't a replacement for Sarah just as Sarah couldn't replace his wife. If it wasn't for Ellie's involvement in his life a) Tess wouldn't have had a reason to leave the quarantine zone and - shown in her introduction how she can handle herself physically - she'd probably still be alive, and b) Joel wouldn't have had to confront his unresolved issues with Sarah's death.

 

3) The actual opening of the game shows that Joel and Sarah's relationship is strong and healthy. Sarah gives Joel a thoughtful birthday present, she feels comfortable enough with Joel to joke about selling hardcore drugs, and at no point does she show any sign of lacking any respect for her father. This kind of relationship could've only been formed if he raised Sarah as a loving, protective father which he could've only done if he came to terms with the resentment from losing his wife. This foreshadows how Joel gets over his resentment towards Ellie and naturally becomes a loving, protective paternal figure for her, just as he did with Sarah.

Message 1 of 7 (557 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
Sackboy
Registered: 06/27/2013
Offline
564 posts
 

Re: [Spoilers] Alternate opening

Aug 7, 2013

Actually got to read only to the end of the first paragraph - need to correct you there, mate. Ish's kids survived, it was Kyle who wrote the message about being trapped in that room. Ish wrote a message in one of the houses in the Suburbs telling "some of the kids are with me". Well, it doesn't specify it would be actually his children, but we can assume that.

 

That alternate opening with Joel's wife and everything actually sounds great in my opinion. I would like that as a plus item in some DLC (because it would be pretty silly to do have it as one DLC, would take few minutes to complete, lol).

________________________

I have acquired the grade of Master in The Last of Us story/character/game knowledge as I have played it through 9 times.

... I have no life.
Message 2 of 7 (457 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
Lombax Warrior
Registered: 12/30/2009
Offline
93 posts
 

Re: [Spoilers] Alternate opening

Aug 7, 2013

tl;dr

can someone please summarize in a paragraph or less

thanks

<3

   -Juninja the god

Message 3 of 7 (451 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
Sackboy
Registered: 06/27/2013
Offline
564 posts
 

Re: [Spoilers] Alternate opening

[ Edited ]
Aug 7, 2013

Juninja wrote:

tl;dr

can someone please summarize in a paragraph or less

thanks

<3

   -Juninja the god


>Alternate opening is way before the real opening of the game, we see Joel's wife pregnant (with Sarah) and on couch (foreshadowing the actual opening)

>Joel gets to work, leaving his wife to home (foreshadowing saving Ellie in Winter because of the lines, not necessarily the setting), after some time he gets a kid to teach (foreshadowing Ellie)

>Kid screws up and Joel has to bandage him/her with a health kit (tutorial for stuff)

>Joel supporting his wife at the delivery room, wife dies (foreshadowing the death of Tess) and Joel breaks down (foreshadowing end of Prologue)

 

That's all I found right now.

 

________________________

I have acquired the grade of Master in The Last of Us story/character/game knowledge as I have played it through 9 times.

... I have no life.
Message 4 of 7 (448 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
Lombax Warrior
Registered: 12/30/2009
Offline
93 posts
 

Re: [Spoilers] Alternate opening

Aug 7, 2013

WinterEdit wrote:

Juninja wrote:

tl;dr

can someone please summarize in a paragraph or less

thanks

<3

   -Juninja the god


>Alternate opening is way before the real opening of the game, we see Joel's wife pregnant (with Sarah) and on couch (foreshadowing the actual opening)

>Joel gets to work, leaving his wife to home (foreshadowing saving Ellie in Winter because of the lines, not necessarily the setting), after some time he gets a kid to teach (foreshadowing Ellie)

>Kid screws up and Joel has to bandage him/her with a health kit (tutorial for stuff)

>Joel supporting his wife at the delivery room, wife dies (foreshadowing the death of Tess) and Joel breaks down (foreshadowing end of Prologue)

 

That's all I found right now.

 


Thanks dude you're awesome :cathappy:

Message 5 of 7 (440 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
Treasure Hunter
Registered: 08/06/2005
Offline
6196 posts
 

Re: [Spoilers] Alternate opening

Aug 7, 2013
Man... thats some wall you just wrote right now.

"No matter how hard you try... I guess you can't escape the past" - Joel

Message 6 of 7 (361 Views)
Reply
0 Likes
First Son
Registered: 08/06/2013
Offline
2 posts
 

Re: [Spoilers] Alternate opening

Aug 8, 2013

I was a little vague on that point. I didn't literally mean that they were Ish's biological kids; I get that. I was just referencing the kids that were with Ish in the tunnels, but it wasn't that significant of a point to get that wordy with it.

Message 7 of 7 (273 Views)
Reply
0 Likes