Out Of Order retrospective: The big (speak) easy
Written by Tim Furnish
That's you, that is
You may have noticed that the player character's personality isn't mentioned anywhere yet. That's because he's deliberately not got much of a personality. In the tradition of the player characters in the many, many adventure games which have gone before Out Of Order, there's not much in the way of defining and redefining and adding layers of complexity to who Hurford is outside of the initial set-up. He's someone who's used to living at home who's suddenly transplanted to somewhere odd and who wants to find out what's going on because, frankly, he wants to know. And that's his entire purpose, all explained and summed up before the player even gets to control him.
During the game, the main aims of Hurford's dialogue are to give clues, to give progress reports and to reassure the actual, flesh-and-bone, real-world player that the game is aware of what they're doing or trying to do (and, hopefully, in several cases, that the game is also aware of how they might sensibly be reacting to a situation). Many of the comments which Hurford makes should match what the player's thinking at the same moment, at least on the first play-through. (By extension of that, a lot of his comments also serve as a reminder for someone replaying the game that even though they've seen the area or room or character or situation before, it's the first time Hurford's seen it).
As was discussed earlier in the previous part of this ever-increasing Out Of Order ramblothon, it was also important for me to not have Hurford verbally overrule the player's decision to do something just because the time isn't right yet (with two exceptions, one involving moving an object in the pub and one involving getting into Sylvia's room before you need to). That's because as soon as a player character starts overruling the player's decisions and declaring that they know best, as soon as the player has to fight their character rather than instruct it and have it do his bidding, there's nobody left in the game on the player's side. And that's not a pleasant situation for a player to be in.