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October Exceptional Story: Fading to a Coda Messages in this topic - RSS

babelfishwars
babelfishwars
Moderator
Posts: 1191

9/24/2020
Exceptional Story for October: Fading to a Coda



A notorious bar-room singer has made a surprise return to London. The Growling Radical makes dangerous enemies everywhere he goes – his latest exile was supposed to be his last. What has drawn him back to the Fifth City? Why has he fixed his eye on a Master of the Bazaar?


Written by Nigel Evans
Art by Paul Arendt
Editing and QA: Olivia Wood and James Chew

EXCEPTIONAL FRIENDSHIP

In addition to a new, substantial, stand-alone story every month, Exceptional Friends enjoy:

  • Access to the House of Chimes: an exclusive private member's club on the Stolen River, packed with content
  • Access to Mr Chimes' Lost & Found, a shop in the Bazaar where you can exchange currency earned through playing Exceptional Stories for exclusive companions and items
  • An expanded opportunity deck: of ten cards instead of six!
  • A second candle: Twice the actions! 40 at once!

You no longer need to log in to claim your Exceptional Stories! If you have an active subscription when one is available, you'll receive it automatically.



Edit: BFW, wrestling with bullet-points.

edited by babelfishwars on 9/24/2020

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Robin Alexander
Robin Alexander
Posts: 110

9/24/2020
I'm really, really disappointed by this one.

If anything, I'm actually annoyed.

I started the story, and the writing is good, the premise fine, and it has potential, but . . . there are no choices, rarely any rewards/punishments, and I'm basically clicking the one sole choice (or a simple 'onwards' with no choice at all), like this is a very simple short story and not even a game. A huge portion in the middle, I was able to just skip reading, as it meant nothing; I was "raising my Fading to a Coda" (not really told what this is, how to raise it or any mechanics, so this raising mechanic felt pointless in itself) and the writing was just generic preparations. My God, it really dragged, too; I was waiting for more story or choices, but it was just me preparing and preparing and preparing, with no sign or hint if I was close to raising it enough, and no real choices, except occasionally a choice between a poor crowd or a rich one.

I mean, maybe at the start, if I'd chosen not to help him, something else would have happened? I only chose to help him so as not to waste an action, as I got the impression that wouldn't do much except take me back to London to finish unfinished business, but the whole thing I'm <i>forced</i> into one very linear action. I couldn't even choose not to write his song, but was forced. Later on, I was given some choices, but nothing at all showed if they had any meaning, effect, influence, or what they meant . . . it felt like I could click at random, for all it meant.

I don't know how far I am from the ending, but - to be honest - I just want it to end . . . there have been stories I adored, and stories I hated, in the past, but this is the first and only that I recall in which I wished I could get a refund and never paid to play it. It would probably be an interesting fanfiction or short story, maybe some free promotional material for the overall game, but it's not - in itself - a game and is not fun to play.

Edit: I'm really hoping this story is bugged in some way; every time it says I'll find x in another location, I'm automatically taken to that location without needing to manually move, and hopefully that explains the lack of choices? Even now, I uncovered x secret; I have no choice whether to go along, ignore, let happen, help happen, etc., I'm just automatically going against it, and my "choice" of telling someone is just how to tell them. If this isn't a bugged story . . . I can't express my frustration enough.
edited by Robin Alexander on 9/24/2020

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Valiant
Valiant
Posts: 129

9/24/2020
I couldn't agree with you more.
It may be my least favourite exceptional story, and my character is deeply bohemian! I love when there's something artsy for him to do!
But this was just dreary and boring. The whole story has a rushed (or rushing?) feeling. No choices, no time to talk, just click 'Go', be redirected to another one-option storylet or meaningless "choice", get transported to another location, rinse and repeat.
Despite no action sinks, no need to travel or track back there were quite a lot of text, but... the characters felt shallow and flat, all events were started and discarded at alarming rate, and the story as a whole was structured as if it itself was asking to finish it as soon as possible, and not in a good way. Totally unsatisfying, and it's not something I say lightly.


Robin Alexander wrote:
I mean, maybe at the start, if I'd chosen not to help him, something else would have happened?
edited by Robin Alexander on 9/24/2020

I don't think so. I tried that option as I didn't really want to help a revolutionary, but I just got booted from the storylet and then was presented the exact same choice as before. Maybe some storylet in other location had opened, but I very much doubt that, judging by the following story structure.
edited by Valiant on 9/24/2020

--
Sir Valiant Carrington, a heartless hedonist and honorary governor of Port Carnelian. You can ask him for a sip of Cider if you catch him in London.
Farshin Jarrah, merry trickster and incorrigible optimist.
Serine, gone down the well but not forgotten.

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Sagrim-Ur
Sagrim-Ur
Posts: 25

9/24/2020
That... is possibly the most railroaded and linear story I've seen in FL. Click-click-click, no options at all, and no accountig for previous events: I was actually annoyed enough to consider dropping it at the point, where [spoiler] I had to bribe a cat to arrange a visit to the Flit, - apparently a random cat can help with seeing Topsy King, but my Thief-Oath of Tristram Bagley somehow no longer counts for anything. [/spoiler] Very lazy writing, total disappointment.
edited by Sagrim-Ur on 9/24/2020
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Diptych
Diptych
Administrator
Posts: 3910

9/24/2020
I enjoyed it! There weren't a whole lot of choices, but I still wouldn't mind playing again to try one or two things differently. And I'm kind of hoping the Growler becomes a Mr Chimes' Lost & Found option.

--
Diptych, the Emancipationist Esotericist. Lord Hubris, the Bloody Baron.
Juniper Brown, the Ill-Fated Orphan. Esther Ellis-Hall, the Fashionable Fabian.
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Catherine Raymond
Catherine Raymond
Posts: 2776

9/24/2020
Diptych wrote:
I enjoyed it! There weren't a whole lot of choices, but I still wouldn't mind playing again to try one or two things differently. And I'm kind of hoping the Growler becomes a Mr Chimes' Lost & Found option.


I thought it was a interesting bit of story but it didn't feel quite like an ES, somehow. I was pleased with the rewards I got during the story, as well as at the end. However, I got the impression that the right choices would give me the Rubbery Pianist as a Companion, and that didn't happen. Maybe I just made the wrong choice. I chose to take him in "to keep an eye on him" and not out of kindness.

--
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Zolana
Zolana
Posts: 19

9/24/2020
Catherine Raymond wrote:


I thought it was a interesting bit of story but it didn't feel quite like an ES, somehow. I was pleased with the rewards I got during the story, as well as at the end. However, I got the impression that the right choices would give me the Rubbery Pianist as a Companion, and that didn't happen. Maybe I just made the wrong choice. I chose to take him in &quotto keep an eye on him&quot and not out of kindness.


That definitely sounds like a bug. Send an email to support and they should be able to confirm/fix it for you.

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Catherine Raymond
Catherine Raymond
Posts: 2776

9/24/2020
Zolana wrote:
Catherine Raymond wrote:


I thought it was a interesting bit of story but it didn't feel quite like an ES, somehow. I was pleased with the rewards I got during the story, as well as at the end. However, I got the impression that the right choices would give me the Rubbery Pianist as a Companion, and that didn't happen. Maybe I just made the wrong choice. I chose to take him in &quotto keep an eye on him&quot and not out of kindness.


That definitely sounds like a bug. Send an email to support and they should be able to confirm/fix it for you.


Hm. Maybe I should do that. Thanks.

--
Cathy Raymond
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Catherine Raymond aka Mrs. Rykar Malkus http://fallenlondon.com/Profile/Catherine%20Raymond (Gone NORTH)
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Catherine Raymond
Catherine Raymond
Posts: 2776

9/24/2020
Catherine Raymond wrote:
Zolana wrote:


I thought it was a interesting bit of story but it didn't feel quite like an ES, somehow. I was pleased with the rewards I got during the story, as well as at the end. However, I got the impression that the right choices would give me the Rubbery Pianist as a Companion, and that didn't happen. Maybe I just made the wrong choice. I chose to take him in &quotto keep an eye on him&quot and not out of kindness.


That definitely sounds like a bug. Send an email to support and they should be able to confirm/fix it for you.


EDIT: I was mistaken! I found the Pianist; I'd merely gotten his name wrong and put in the wrong search to look for him in my inventory.

[spoiler]The Boneless Pianist gives -1 Shadowy, +3 Persuasive, if anyone is curious. [/spoiler]
edited by Catherine Raymond on 9/24/2020

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Cathy Raymond
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Catherine Raymond aka Mrs. Rykar Malkus http://fallenlondon.com/Profile/Catherine%20Raymond (Gone NORTH)
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The Curious Watcher
The Curious Watcher
Posts: 349

9/24/2020
My thoughts on this story

[spoiler]It was interesting, though it will not have any lasting impressions. Like many before me stated, it is very linear and the choices don't have much of an impact on the outcome.

It was fun thinking about the music however. I structured my song as a favor for an old acquaintance, so it wasn't as grandiose or narcissistic like my other artistic works. It was a melancholic Downside piece, and I specifically neutered it so that Mr Wines could enjoy it. The Growling Radical was of course unhappy that he couldn't stick it to the Masters, but he did get a chance to stay in London making music forever instead of getting stuck at the Tomb Colonies. I'm surprised he's so ungrateful -- not many get a second chance at life.

And now I have three Rubbery musicians in my ensemble. Wonder if it will get mentioned at Helicon House. [/spoiler]

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Tystefy
Tystefy
Posts: 515

9/24/2020
Thought it was titled "Fading To A Cola" and got excited.

--
Will sometimes return to post absurdity.
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Snort
Snort
Posts: 491

9/24/2020
Not my favorite story either. Do this, do that, few choices, and the choices there didn't seem to make much difference. And ... bribing a cat to get me to the Topsy King? Unlkely, at best.

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Paflick
Paflick
Posts: 32

9/25/2020
Well, that certainly wasn't bad. I enjoyed the story enough, and none of the mechanics frustrated me, but I'll echo what others have said in that it really felt like it was just a single line of storylets to click on with very little choice involved.

Overall, I liked the bits we got, and I'm happy with my Boneless Pianist, but my final feeling when the story was done is, "Well, glad that's done with, time to get back to renown grinding." Which probably isn't the best sign.
edited by Paflick on 9/25/2020

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Captain Blood Storm
Captain Blood Storm
Posts: 612

9/25/2020
As other people said, this story doesn't have anything I can put a pin on to say is actually bad but-it came and went, and I immediately went back to my grinding. One thing DOES stand out to me: The story felt like it expected you to root for the Growling Radical just because you apparently have history with him, and can pick a personal reason for why you're helping him-which feels a little meaningless when immediately after you can choose to go against his wishes, by the way. Speaking of said wishes: He's a Revolutionary who's about ready to give up the ghost and is in serious danger of being bundled away by some stodgy society-type Tomb Colonists, which I imagine must come across as pretty pathetic to Revolutionary sympathisers and as a hater of the Liberation instantly set me against him. If nothing else, his motivations come across as perhaps more selfish than intentional. One last hurrah against the Masters is all well and good but who would've likely paid for it? Probably the Bohemians cracked down on by Constables sent in to prevent further Correspondence terrorism and the Society types blackmailed to avoid speaking of how you can discombobulate a Master.

Stories with characters that stick in my head-say, the Valkyrie and the Turbulent Tabby-felt like they invested a lot in getting you invested in them, and then putting them in a bad position, and then leaving you an option to tip the scales when they faced a critical decision point. Whereas this odd, shifty bastard just kind of barges into your life, acts like you're old friends and expects you to do half the work for him because of his bad and vaguely explained reputation. Which immediately gave me uncomfortable reminders of doing all the work supplying B E S S E M O R I N G O T S for MY bloody railway.

Anyway, if it needs to be said I gleefully sabotaged his project for all those reasons and also because frankly nothing can possibly top bullying Mr. Wines by screaming at him in Correspondence to force him to confess his crimes. I ride a Vake now. I imagine Mr. Wines is just DONE with ever crossing me again, there's no sport in kicking a man who's done nothing to me while he's down.

I did adopt the Boneless Pianist out of kindness, though. He did nothing wrong and had to put up with my curiosity about the Flute Street-exclusive song content.

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Mulligan
Mulligan
Posts: 128

9/25/2020
Most exceptional stories are linear, but this one feels a lot more linear than the others because everything happens so quickly with very little time for in depth exploration. I felt like I was being thrown between events up until the final stretch where the song was performed, and even that lasted only a short while. I think the story might have benefited from brief interludes with the radical in between 'decisions', where you could actually discuss his goals, his intentions, and his potential history with the player. Giving people an opportunity to actually build a relationship based on your character's prior knowledge of them might have given the story more weight. I found that while I enjoyed the idea of the growling radical, I didn't really care much for him as a character simply because there's not much there for you to connect with.

Overall, liked the subject matter but disliked the execution.

Hattington wrote:
I ride a Vake now. I imagine Mr. Wines is just DONE with ever crossing me again, there's no sport in kicking a man who's done nothing to me while he's down.
While I hate to rain on your parade, you ride an aspect of the vake. Still impressive, but an important distinction. The full force of Mr. Wines is probably decently terrifying, even to an accomplished hunter such as yourself.

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Diptych
Diptych
Administrator
Posts: 3910

9/25/2020
I will say, there are some changes I could see being made to improve the execution, but I liked the content a lot.

Also, what kind of song did everyone end up with? I went for a powerful belter about the world beneath our feet, which was very much inspired by Tom Waits' "Underground".

--
Diptych, the Emancipationist Esotericist. Lord Hubris, the Bloody Baron.
Juniper Brown, the Ill-Fated Orphan. Esther Ellis-Hall, the Fashionable Fabian.
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Blaine Davidson
Blaine Davidson
Posts: 396

9/25/2020
I literally saved [spoiler] Tristam Bagley in my ambition. Is there a reason why I still needed to bribe my way into talking to [/spoiler] Was I supposed to equip the appropriate item first?

Everyone is complaining about linearity but this was my biggest gripe.
edited by Blaine Davidson on 9/25/2020

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Blaine Davidson, a reserved and sensible woman with a fondness of collecting rarities.
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Mulligan
Mulligan
Posts: 128

9/25/2020
It seems there is no option to use the Topsy King's favour to arrange a meeting. I do find it very strange that the story leads you into thinking that you're bribing a cat into arranging passage to the flit when it says directly after that it isn't, in fact, a bribe and the cat was just making sure you had the minimum of what you needed to persuade the Topsy King and his court to teach you about the music. I get that cats tend to be a bit... acerbic, but in these cases I think it's better to just be transparent about what might be needed because it could end up leaving players with the idea that their progress is worth less than they thought if they need to go out of their way (narratively speaking) to do something they could easily do otherwise.

Exceptional stories tend to be written in a way that allows every player, regardless of where they are in the game, to finish the story, hence why all of the connected checks only require a single point of renown and the difficulty checks tend to be very easy. This option with the cat was presented so that characters who hadn't yet gotten to the Flit could still speak with the Topsy King. However, once you get to the court there's two options for talking to him and one suggests the story wants to take your progress into consideration, so why not have another option for the cat that's available to those who have the quality 'Route: the Flit' that costs 0 actions and just tells the player to head to the Flit? The whole 'saving you a climb' excuse makes no sense for anyone who can talk to the Topsy King at any time through the Flit and its King storylet.

Convincing the King to teach you was a prime opportunity to make use of that HD item. I'm not a HD player and even I'm quite disappointed that there was nothing there. It would have been such a nice place to add a bit of deeper lore for the correspondence and its effects on people when performed through different mediums. I really don't think the authors should shy away from adding endgame exclusive options where they fit, because it's those rare tidbits of deeper lore that make the exceptional stories all the more worthwhile.

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More than happy to help with menaces.
Licentiate for hire, will murder for Rostygold.
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Frederick
Frederick
Posts: 34

9/25/2020
I know that ES are written to be available to pretty much every player, but when a story is this straightforwardly linear and requires so very little in the way of sacrifice, there should at least be a few options that doesn't entirely treat you like a novice. Some players are intimately acquainted with both Tristram and his sister, and it shouldn't be too unreasonable to acknowledge this.
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Constance Harrow
Constance Harrow
Posts: 26

9/25/2020
Linearity, and for long stretches you're given little to do but wander and talk to people, who abruptly tell me everything then stop existing. The writing does not feel quite as sharp as usual, either.
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