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Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - Thomas - 04-21-2009

Tom (writer for Penumbra) has written a little post mortem on Dr Swanson at his website here:

This is what Tom wanna say about the whole thing:
Quote:This is the first in a (potential) series of character development write ups for the Penumbra series.

I have no idea whether this level of development detail is of interest or not, but I hope it will, at the very least, provide some added background for the die hard Penumbra fan.

On a grander scale, it’s my feeling that although narrative design is an increasingly trendy area, it doesn’t often see the sort of detailed analysis afforded to design, art and code… I hope that by focusing not on what’s in the game, but why it’s there I might go someway towards correcting that.

Though her reviews were mixed and her role small, Amabel Swanson is, for me, a critical character in Penumbra: Black Plague. I hope after reading this, you’ll understand why.

If you have any feedback, questions or requests, please do let me know, either on the Frictional Games forums or at tjubert [at] gmail [dot] com


Tom Jubert
Freelance Narrative Designer, Penumbra Series


RE: Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - WindexGlow - 04-21-2009

I felt like she was forced on too hard - while she had a great character, her introduction (and other times you communicated with her) was badly done.

RE: Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - eliasfrost - 04-22-2009

I agree with Windex. In the game, she seemed to have the worst character script in the game. Mainly because she was pushed into the storyline so fast.

RE: Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - Kedjane - 04-22-2009

In the game she was OK, I believe.
She wasn't an important person to me though, as the player didn't get to know anything about her and you never really met her and get a face to relate her voice to until she was dead.
Now it was a pretty long time ago I played through Black Plague (last fall, but that time I pretty much stressed through it) so feel free to remind me, because this could be a bit wrong.

The first time you were introducted to her it was via a computer (loved having to get the power to work for the computer/lights in that room by the way), voice-only since her webcam was broken or something alike. Felt unusually logical for the series, and in a good way too. That moment after having talked to her I felt I finally had an achieveable goal (let's face it, we saw Howard's death coming and looking for a dead guy ain't much of a goal): getting to this faceless person who obviously was alive. It felt interesting since she both was alive even though there was an infection going around and she worked with the Archaic, so she could probably give some answers. Then it also slowly revealed that she was locked in somewhere (once again very logical, considering the tuurngait). She also was pretty shy and all when she asked for help, which I really liked because it both added to the Archaic wierdness and made her a more realistic person (that was the main thing that stuck out about her personality). Never encountered a person shy to ask about getting rescued from a monster-swarming underground shelter before, usually they scream it out in your face.
Don't remember anything else, except killing her. Was pretty so-so. I liked the whole part about believing she was insane, killing her and then seeing she's completely healthy (well, dead now) but I think it should had been done with someone the player likes more than a random person they hadn't even met before. If the player had met Swanson just once before (perhaps looking through a small opening in a blocked/broken door, through the ventilation or something since making a scripted encounter is easier that way and making it unscripted would be hard) you would had felt a lot worse about killing her.
Oh! Another thing I just remembered: when Clarence sais something and Anabel goes "Did you say something?". That was great. I've probably heard something similar in a movie before (or was it Half Life 2?), where some guy was crazy... but still I really didn't see that one coming although I really should had, since now I'm playing as the crazy one.

And oh, how forgetful I am. Must have thought of it a dozen times while reading and writing but still forgot it in the end: Penumbra meaning that noone is truly good nor bad, that part was really interesting. Never thought of it that way at all, but come to think of it it's pretty much right.

RE: Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - graykin - 04-23-2009

I dunno, I did actually grow fond of Amabel during BP, despite the short length in which we meet her. I did, actually, find her attitude to be somewhat believable, and I found myself really wanting to save her from the research room in the end.

You might not have been able to do her as much justice as you would have liked, Tom Jupert, but I think, with me, you managed to pull on my emotional strings when she died. I did seriously feel bad when I pulled the switch and found out what Clarence did. I think that, even though she got very little air time, you did a damn good job making us pity her, both in life and death.

Overall, she might have been implemented better, but I think all things considered she fit in well enough.

RE: Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - Tommy Gun - 04-23-2009

yeah, the survivor leading the way thing was done i overture brilliantly by Red.
And then black plague, the opening of "accidently" turning on the computer and having a patchy monologue by Amabel, an dinterupted by The fledgling clarence, it was kind of predictable. I mean, the damsel in distress was well done, but the voice needed misery, not a warped calmness.
Really it was the intro, if you had had phillip have a glimpse of amabel being pursued, and her maybe have a gun (remember bullet holes in glass) you see her through a 2 way mirror, she's a bad aimer, she runs out of bullets, she gets struck, she runs, and all the while clarence is jeering. I like something where you see it to believe it.

My opinion. But seriously, i love Penumbra for its amazing storyline. Big Grin:

RE: Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - TJJ - 04-24-2009

Interesting stuff. She's certainly the most divisive character (which is why I wanted to do this), so I'm not surprised to see a mixed response - but pleased at least half of you came away happy.

I'd certainly agree that her introduction and some of her other dialgoues were somewhat forced - she really needed more airtime to communicate her character and place in the game world more clearly. It's something I recognised when her audio was implemented, but we didn't have the resources to catch it in time and correct it.

Don't forget though, guys, that you never actually 'meet' any of the characters in Penumbra.

RE: Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - Tommy Gun - 04-26-2009

Yeah, buts lets face it, Penumbra, by game standards, is pretty short, so in that time you have jam pack 2 different characters (Clarence and swanson) along with recovered notes and characters like dr eminiss. (which we do actually meet:Big GrinSmile

Amabels introduction wasn't exactly strained, but it was find of unbelievable how by a crazy coincidence the computer is on the exact same time as you switch the fuse. And the initial chatter was good, but the thing about "if your in my neck of the woods, would you mind rescuing me" was kind of silly.

RE: Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - MisterJim - 04-27-2009

That was a really interesting read, thanks for sharing. I hope you'll post more things like this... maybe even reveal a little more about Unknown. Smile

RE: Tom, 2009-04-21, "Character Postmortem" - spukrian - 05-05-2009

Interesting read.

I did like Swanson and felt bad when she met her fate. Though I guess it was more horror at what Philip had done than actual guilt. Then again, I did feel really bad about Red too, though not as much.