I find Kian approaching April as believable as a newly arrived American soldier in Iraq questioning an Iraqi why they're being so ungrateful to their protectors and the Iraqi being fluent in english enough to explain to him why he hates Americans. Not common, but perfectly believable. It was April who would have been the likely one to refuse the conversation, and for all her bitterness and hatred of the Azadi, she's not a native of Arcadia. She's seen too much to have her mind completely closed and shuttered and I think that was why she was willing to engage in a fairly cordial argument with Kian. The conversation consisted of Kian asking a native about what they thought of the Azadi, because after all, how could she possibly disagree with him, and when she did, of course when faced with the light of truth presented by him, she would be forced to recant her position. And for April she was so shocked by an Azadi that wasn't a thug or a raving fanatic that she did what the old April might have done and decided ok, I'll talk to him.
Hold on. I'm not saying I find the scenario unbelievable. On the contrary, I said the scene works fine for me on paper. It's the conversation itself that struck the wrong note with me. The dialogue felt too weighted with authorly intent and after Longest Journey I suppose I was expecting something more subtle. The circumstance and the words they were speaking did not feel natural, however sound the reasoning for them existing.
And, again, I felt like I was being beaten over the head with Kian's naivete. From that point on it was flagrantly obvious where Kian's character was going and so there was no drama there for me. Perhaps that is what jarred for me more than the character's motives - Kian felt flat and puppet-like, and my first instinct was to attack his motivations.
Sigh....You're right about this. I just believe that's it's easy to ask a profound question and then run away terrified of what the answer might be. And it's just hard coded into me that the point of a story is it's ending - what did the Nameless One's journey lead to, I ask? Nothing. That's why it pissed me off.
That's fair enough. To me the journey is the point of a story. That's where the changes occur and it's where the characters grow. The ending is only the expression of how far they've come and the punctuation that closes the story. While there's no doubt that it's important - a strong ending can turn an average story into a good one or a great story into a classic - I have difficulty accepting that a less-than-satisfying one unmakes everything that came before it. If that was the case I'd hate every novel Stephen King ever wrote.
You're wrong about that. Avellone's work is more cerebral than Tornquist's. Tornquist's work has a lot of philosophical undercurrents- they're just not in the forefront like Avellone's. Remember Cortez and his analysis of Warren Hughes's painting? Or his speech about the role of mystery? Or in Dreamfall, the White saying that Zoe's makes her dreams real, and that Faith was the same way? That's how she created the Winter-she dreamed it as she died. There's a lot of lines in Dreamfall (especially April and the Guardian) that say that dreams are the mechanism by which reality is created (which would imply the Undreaming to be the Shiva to dreaming's Brahma). The ideas are there, they're just not as obvious as in Torment or KOTORII.
That doesn't contradict what I said, though. I did not say Tornquist's stories didn't explore any ideas, I said they were not about
them. The spotlight is on the characters and the world they inhabit, and while they are far from disconnected, the ideas are - as you point out - under the surface. The story and the concept are separate things intertwined, and can be enjoyed apart.
Whereas in Avellone's work the questions permeate everything. The characters are expressions of it; the gameplay is representative of it. They're inseparable.
This isn't a criticism of Tornquist's style, but I maintain that he and Avellone write very different kinds of narrative.
And you've gotten the impression that I dislike openly philosophical stories. You're wrong - I adore them. My favorite TV show ever is Angel because it's the only western show I've ever seen that discusses ideas so nakedly and intelligently, which a lot of people condemn as being "preachy". What most people think of as preachy, I think of as direct and honest. I like Charles Dickens. I love Avellone's style. I just think Tornquist is better, and you can't call someone less inquisitive just because they go for the emotional gut-punch and the other guy shies away from that.
I don't think Avellone shies away from the 'emotional gut-punch' at all. On the contrary, I felt more for the Nameless One's various companions than I did for any character in Dreamfall. The story is full of tragedy. But perhaps that's not what you meant.
I haven't seen Angel, so I can't comment on that. But no, I don't like it when something is preachy. I feel like the job of the author isn't to tell people how things are but to give them something new to think about. A different perspective on things. I like authors that leave room for interpretation and trust their audience enough to make up their own mind. Perhaps you're right that it's easier. But I don't agree that it's inferior.